At the June 9 virtual County Council meeting, Chairman Steve Murdaugh opened with a moment of silence in memory of the Mother Emmanuel Nine and Clementa Pinckney.
The council also congratulated Fred Chambers on receiving the South Carolina Association of Counties Board of Directors’ Scholarship.
In new council business:
• Colleton County Council voted to recognize the 2020 Gullah-Geechee Nation International Music and Movement Festival and proclaim the week of July 25 through August 1, as Gullah-Geechee Nation Appreciation Week in Colleton County. Citizens can participate in educational activities aimed at increasing knowledge and appreciation of the Gullah-Geechee culture.
• The council voted to declare April as Fair Housing Month.
• Members approved a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability status and to designate Deadgrea Sadler as the ADA coordinator.
• Council endorsed the 2020 Community Development Block Grants, Ready to Go application for the school district’s Buckner Building demolition project and funding for local match. The April tornado caused extensive damage to the old school district building, and repairs are not cost-effective.
• Patterson Construction Inc. was awarded the contract in the amount of $28,525.07 for the ACE Greenway Trail Project-Trailhead Picnic Shelter. Funding for the project is available from a South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Grant with matching funds available in the planning and development department budget.
Council awarded the contract in accordance with Bid DB-08 to E.L. Jackson Construction Inc. for $143,794.50 for the Colleton County Commerce Center Lot 3 grading.
• Council members discussed appointments to the Lowcountry Workforce Investment Board.
• The council authorized the council clerk to advertise for board vacancies: Board of Adjustments & Appeals (Building Dept.), two vacancies; Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority (Breeze),one vacancy; Colleton County Resource & Development Board, one vacancy; Board of Disabilities & Special Needs, four vacancies; Colleton County Planning Commission, four vacancies; Colleton County Commission of Alcohol & Drug Abuse, one vacancy; Edisto River Canoe & Kayak Trail Committee, four vacancies (one at-large, one Recreation Commission, one Chamber of Commerce, one Colleton County Development Board); Land Use Zoning Board of Appeals, two vacancies.
• County Council approved the following appointments to the Lowcountry Workforce Investment Board Business Representative Robert Valenca, HR Coordinator Colleton Medical Education and Representative Chris Horvath, director Colleton County Adult Education.
• A budget retreat is planned for August.
• The council discussed questions about moving the Confederate monument from the courthouse grounds, determining that the issue needs more research to find out the history behind the monument.
Councilman Philip Taylor suggested that the monument be moved to the museum property. Chairman Steve Murdaugh told the council that a South Carolina statute prevents any county from removing statues or monuments without a two-thirds majority vote in the state assembly.
Murdaugh suggested creating a memorial park. “History is history,” said Murdaugh. “We can’t erase it or change it. But the monument could be moved elsewhere. However, according to the statute, it can’t be taken down for good. More research is needed regarding the background of the monument and its history,” he added.
The council is considering possibilities.
• The county received an update on a DHEC grant to remove an illegal stockpile of tires at 936 Moselle Road. An estimated 31,000 tires (312 tons) were on the site. Johnny Bartley and Sylvia Singleton with Colleton County Solid Waste and Doug Mixson with County Code Enforcement were instrumental in securing the grant and getting the site cleaned up. Cost for the cleanup was $82,300.
• The Colleton Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) has just been formed in Walterboro to assist with recovery from natural and man-made disasters in Colleton County.
The group’s first focus will be the North Lemacks Street neighborhood in Walterboro after the recent tornado.
Pat Grant and Chris Bickley are serving as co-chairs, with assistance from Samuel “Skip” Taft, Patrick Thomas, and Kelly Whitaker.
Donations to the fund are being handled by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
“Just drive through the neighborhood to understand the need, especially the side streets,” said Kevin Griffin, county manager.
To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit the Colleton LTRG’s Facebook page, email ColletonLTRG@gmail.com or call (843) 584-9064.