From his house, Tony DeAloia has watched motorists speeding down Old Number Six Highway on the western edge of Santee.

He has seen them overtaking vehicles in no-passing zones and coming up dangerously fast behind cars that are slowing down and turning off the road.

He gives Santee police officers credit for trying to stem aggressive driving along the busy main thoroughfare.

“I see the blue lights in front of my house,” he told the Town Council during their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

But he called on county and state law enforcement agencies to join in those enforcement efforts, especially just outside the town limits.

Residents Thomas DeBose and David Giet echoed DeAloia’s concerns.

Mayor Donnie Hilliard encouraged them to express their concerns directly to the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

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DeAloia also sought a lengthening of the no-passing zone. Hilliard advised him to contact the state Department of Transportation.

Giet praised the town for its Christmas lights displays.

He also expressed concern about the fire department’s response time to the blaze that destroyed the Lone Star Barbeque restaurant and event venue.

Hilliard replied that the town does not operate the fire department. He advised Giet to address the Santee Fire Service District commissioners at one of their meetings.

Two people in the audience expressed their disapproval of actions that the council took during their December meeting.

DeBose gave his opinion that the vote to award accommodations tax money to a specified list of recipients was a “waste of tax money.”

Hilliard replied that local governments must give those revenues to entities that promote tourism. “They cannot be used for any other purpose. That’s the law,” he said. “If we don’t give it to local people, the state takes it back.”

The town’s Accommodations Tax Committee receives applications for portions of the money and makes recommendations to the Town Council.

Frederick Goodwin expressed criticism that the town spent $43,550 on a lease purchase for a vehicle to be used primarily by the new town administrator.

“You can buy a car for $20,000,” Goodwin said.

The website lists six 2024 models with retail prices beginning under $20,000.

Hilliard replied that the town is obtaining a vehicle that is “designed to accommodate multiple functions.”

Goodwin also criticized the council’s acceptance in December of a $479,864 grant from the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority.

Santee will spend the money to move lines out of the footprint of a project to greatly expand and improve the town’s wastewater treatment facility.

Hilliard said he misspoke when he referred to the lines in December as electric lines. In fact, they are water lines.

Goodwin claimed that he knew of an “ulterior motive to moving those lines” that will benefit owners of nearby properties, and that “the town does not have control of the water system.”

Hilliard said he didn’t know what Goodwin was talking about and that the town does have control of the water system.

In other business, Town Administrator Rodney Tucker said he looked into complaints that were raised by Bradford Village residents during the December meeting that Cracker Barrel allows campers and recreational vehicles to stay overnight in its parking lot.

Most of the RVs and campers keep their generators running all night to provide warmth and electricity – but some Bradford Village residents say the generators’ noise keeps them awake at night.

Tucker said the venue can’t be regulated as a campground because people stay a short length of time and Cracker Barrel does not charge rent or a fee.

All the town can do is to monitor the sound levels and issue citations to people who violate the town’s noise ordinance, Tucker said.

Some residents asked the town to require Cracker Barrel to install a noise-reducing wall between their property and the Bradford Village properties, but “I don’t think we have that authority,” Tucker said.

The only new business item was approval of the calendar for crafting the municipal budget for fiscal year 2025. The process is set to begin in February. The town council will have work sessions in April and May. A public hearing is tentatively set for June 5. The new fiscal year will begin on July 1.

Residents were reminded that the Town of Santee will celebrate its 75th anniversary the week of April 22-27.

The Santee Town Council’s next meeting will be held one week later than usual, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. in council chambers, 192 Municipal Way. The independent auditor’s report might be presented. Also, details may be announced for a meeting to gauge interest in a community garden.

Contact Town Clerk/Treasurer Willia Wright or Town Administrator Rodney Tucker at 803-854-2152 for more information.

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