Edgefield County Council voted at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Feb. 6, to assist the Town of Johnston with their cleanup efforts of debris that resulted from the tornado that hit parts of the town on April 6 of last year. Initially, after the storm, it was determined that the County did not have the equipment necessary to handle the debris along the rights-of-way. Johnston had appealed to the SC National Guard for help with the cleanup, but new regulations have made that assistance unavailable. After learning that that aid was no longer available, County Administrator Tommy Paradise and Road Supervisor Jimmy Feagin reviewed the matter. Since the initial evaluation of the debris, the Town, DOT, and even wood scavengers have helped to lessen the amount of debris. As such, it is now believed that the County can assist with the remaining debris. In their agreement with Johnston, the County will provide staff, equipment, and fuel for the equipment, but the Town of Johnston will cover any costs including tipping fees connected with this cleanup effort. In addition, the County will only be assisting in the removal of debris along the rights-of-way. Also, Edgefield County reserved the right to refer the matter back to the Town of Johnston if it becomes evident that the debris still exceeds the County’s equipment or staff’s capabilities. “I look at this a way of one governmental entity working with another governmental entity,” Administrator Paradise said. Councilman Art Biggs went on to commend Paradise for looking out for other governmental entities “as we should”. This matter was unanimously agreed to by Council.
Council also voted as one to approve contracting with the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor for branding, marketing, and website services for $18,000 and to approve a resolution that supports and encourages the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration’s consideration of Savannah River Site to locate the Plutonium Pit Protection Mission.
Council accepted as information a storm water utility rate study. This study was previously approved by Council in response to DHEC’s notice that Edgefield County will eventually be taking over the storm water regulation for a small “urbanized area” near the Aiken County line. The study identified possible grant opportunities and determined possible fee rates. As it was accepted as information, there was no action taken related to the study at this time. Additionally, it was asked that the study be put on the County’s website for public viewing.
Three public hearings were held; one for an ordinance to establish a multi-park business/industrial park with Aiken County for SE Aiken LLC, another to amend Chapter 20 of the Fair Housing Ordinance, and the third to amend Chapter 8 of the Edgefield County Buildings and Building Regulations Ordinance. No public comments were given. The multi-park ordinance then went on the pass its third reading, and the other two measures passed their second readings. All three of those votes were unanimous.
In his closing comments to Council, Administrator Paradise advised Council that there is an encroachment permit with the Department of Transportation to work on a handicap parking space for the Veterans’ Affairs Office. Paradise also informed Council that an emergency purchase of a new heating unit for the Court House was made after the heat strips in one of the units at the Court House went out during the recent cold weather. Those strips were deemed to be 20 years old and no longer being made. As such, after getting 3 bids, a new unit was purchased from Collum Electric for $5,685. That money will come from the Court House Building Maintenance Account, and there was money in that fund to cover this purchase. Paradise also told Council that SC Works is in the process of moving to the Health Department Building. In a related matter, Paradise noted that the Assessor’s Office and the Neighborhood Building will soon be empty. As such, he informed Council that an informal appraisal of those buildings is being made for Council’s future reference.
In his closing comments, Chairman Dean Campbell thanked everyone who participated in the recent Intergovernmental Meeting. He also informed Council of their Budget Workshop scheduled for March 19. Campbell explained this is a special called meeting in which the Council will “deep dive” into the budget by going through it page by page.
Council did go into an executive session before adjourning to conduct their annual evaluations of County Administrator Paradise and Clerk to Council Jennifer Gilley. Returning from the session, Chairman Campbell told that both employees received excellent ratings. He then made a motion to give both employees a 2% raise. This measure was supported unanimously.
There being no further business to discuss, Council adjourned.