City Council hears from residents

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Two presentations by local citizens were given regarding face masks at the Walterboro City Council meeting on Jan. 5 on Zoom.

Chad Simons spoke about a situation where he went into a store and noticed that the employees were not wearing masks. He entered a comment on a comment card saying that he would not be returning to the store and submitted it to the manager. Soon after, Simons received a visit from law enforcement at his job asking if there could be a reconciliation.

“I was surprised by this. I didn’t understand why law enforcement came to see me. The ordinance is in place to protect the population. It needs to be enforced,” said Simons. “I like shopping in Walterboro, but lately I have spent a lot of money outside of the county so I can be safe when I shop. The mask ordinance is a matter of life and death,” said Simons.

Another citizen, Carol Black, also commented about the lack of masks. Black said that she had been complaining to the police since the beginning of the ordinance about business people not wearing masks. She was informed by law enforcement that officers had gone to several businesses that were not complying with the ordinance to speak with owners.

“I wonder if any tickets have been written at all. When I have complained in stores, I have been told that it isn’t a law, it is just an ordinance. But an ordinance is a law,” said Black. “I have noticed that the businesses that do not enforce masks are having a banner year, but the businesses that do enforce masks are struggling. I have called the police before about this. Have any tickets been written? If this is not enforced, it is a waste. Something needs to be done. People in town are not paying attention,” said Black.

According to Jeff Molinari, city manager, as of Jan. 5, 2021, no tickets have been written by city law enforcement regarding refusal to wear masks.

In other business, CDBG needs assessment was discussed by Michelle Knight, who has assisted the city in many community projects. She reminded the council that discrimination in housing will not be tolerated and should be reported. Grants are also available for future projects in low-to-moderate income areas (LMI). Income is based on criteria found on the Lowcountry Council of Government website.

There are deadlines in March and April for the grants. There is a 10 percent match for all projects.

Several grant opportunities are available to the city in different categories:

• The Business Development Program: $2,000,000. This program provides financial resources for local governments to pursue opportunities that create new jobs, retain existing employment, stimulate private investment and revitalize or facilitate the competitiveness of the local economy. Funding will be prioritized based on new or expanding business tied to job creation, area economic development activities not associated with job creation, and new or expanding local businesses that provide essential goods and services in predominately LMI communities.

• The Regional Planning Program: $500,000. This program is designed to provide Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to assist local governments in developing plans and building local community development capacity.

• State TA and Administration: $703,850.

Local governments can apply for additional CDBG grants if they have no more than two open grants and do not exceed a 30-month grant period. Colleton has one open grant for the Gadsden Loop project that will soon be finished.

• Potential additional funds are available for Covid response. These funds are for LMI areas and require no match.

Suggestions regarding grant funding can be made to City Hall.

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