This time last year…
by The Press and Standard | January 3, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: January 2, 2019 at 8:48 am
A WINTER WALK. 2018 was just a few days old when Colleton County found itself under a blanket of snow that gave residents a chance to walk and play in it while safety forces and utility companies coped with the fender benders, stranded motorists and downed power lines.
2018 was just in its third day when the snow started falling.
By the morning of Jan. 3, Colleton County safety forces knew trouble was headed their way — it is never good when the National Weather Service decides to give bad weather a name. Winter Storm Grayson was coming.
Ice and snow began making roadways treacherous, causing accidents and stranding motorists.
The biggest winter wreck was a 10-car pileup on I-95 near the 60-mile marker.
The weather bringing headaches to safety forces brought delight to youngsters like Hayden Mock. The snow shut down traffic on West Washington Street’s Hargo Hill.
Six-year-old Hayden arrived at Hargo Hill with his parents and a sled. “It is the first time I’ve felt snow,” he said after one trip down the hill.
In the fall of 2018, Colleton County prepared for two more named bad weather events residents are more accustomed to: hurricanes.
In both cases, Colleton County was spared any extensive damage from Hurricane Florence in mid-September from Hurricane Michael, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it was nearing Colleton County.
Florence, which came ashore in North Carolina, was the fourth most powerful hurricane to hit the United States. Michael became the wettest tropical storm ever recorded in the Carolinas.
In Colleton County, both resulted in minimal damage.
The 2018 election cycle saw three officials leave their posts, two of them losing bids to remain in office.
Colleton County Councilman Evon Robinson of Round O was denied a fifth term on council in the June 12 Democratic primary.
In the primary race for Robinson’s Eastern District seat, Art Williams of Walterboro and John Washington of Yemassee challenged him. Williams, who won the race with 54 percent of the vote, said on election night, “Voters want to see a new face.”
Because no Republicans filed to run for the Eastern District seat on council, Williams was assured a seat on county council beginning in 2019.
When Gale Doggette decided to move, she resigned her seat in the Third District on Colleton County School Board. She timed her retirement to have the election for her replacement to be part of the Nov. 8 General Election.
Sharon Witkin was the only candidate to file a statement of candidacy to replace Doggette for the two years left on her term. Witkin joined the school board in December.
The race to represent the residents of the school board’s Fourth District drew four candidates. When the votes were tallied, former school board member William Bowman Jr. collected the most votes, unseating the incumbent board member from the Fourth District Darlene Miller.
A massive fire the morning of Feb. 27 destroyed two of the four buildings that made up the former Cottageville Elementary School complex on Salley Ackerman Drive.
Destroyed were the large gymnasium building and the sprawling one-story classroom building.
Neither of the buildings lost to the flames had been occupied for nearly a decade and were primarily used for storage.
The flames did not damage the two other smaller, more modern buildings that made up the school complex. One of those was used for municipal offices and Cottageville Police Department. The second would later in the year become the home of the new Cottageville library.
Firefighters believe the fire started at the rear of the gym building, near where the electrical lines entered the building.
Multiple alarms drew 77 Colleton County firefighters to the blaze, one of the largest fires the county fire department has contended with in its history.
Seventeen water tankers were deployed to form water shuttles bringing water to the firefighters from three locations.
Members of the Cottageville Police Department and Colleton County Sheriff’s Office blocked roads in the area of the fire and one lane of Cottageville Highway was shut down to traffic to become a staging area for the tenders.
The county fire department had a total of 34 vehicles deployed at the fire and the South Carolina Forestry Commission sent a fire tractor to the complex to help deal with a fire in the woods behind the complex.
Firefighters were on the scene for approximately 11 hours.
On May 12, one of the buildings unharmed by the fire officially became the Cottageville Branch Library.
Cottageville officials and Colleton Memorial Library Director Carl Coffin had been working on establishing a branch library in the town for years, securing the necessary funding to outfit and then operate the branch library had slowed the dream from becoming a reality.
Colleton County government’s continuing search for economic development initiatives hit two new milestones in early October when it was announced that Evanesce Packaging Solutions would take ownership of the county’s 100,000-squarefoot spec building at the Colleton County Commerce Center and turn it into the Canadian company’s first large scale production facility.
Evanesce plans set new highs in both potential employment and company investment. Under the terms of the company’s economic development incentive package with the state, Evanesce invested $70 million in establishing the plant and within five years anticipates employing 386 people.
The company, in order to meet customers’ desires to begin using the company’s compostable food packaging, has been on a fast track to have the spec building completed and equipment installed to begin production early in the second half of 2019.
In late May, Carolina Composites, the manufacturer of Pioneer Boats, announced it would expand its operations at 208 Upchurch Lane.
The plans call for an investment of $3 million and creation of 92 new jobs over the next five years.
The plans allow the company to increase its production from 20 boats to 30 boats a week.
Late April found Lowcountry Aviation Company, a fully integrated aviation service provider, dedicating $1.7 million to establish operations at the Lowcountry Regional Airport, a move expected to produce 36 new jobs.