By: Jessica O’Connor
The Colleton County Council meeting for September was held on September 6, 2022.
After approving the previous meeting’s minutes, the council moved into proclaiming September 24, 2022 as “I Love Ruffin Day” in Colleton County. This will coincide with the Ruffin community’s 25th anniversary of “I Love Ruffin Day,” where alumni and residents have gathered throughout the years to celebrate its heritage.
The first order of business was a first reading on ordinance 22-O-12, which would implement a $15 business registration fee. The ordinance was suggested by the Sheriff’s office in an effort to help resolve issues with nuisance businesses. The concept behind the registration requirement is that businesses will have to remain compliant to retain their registration or face being forced to close. This should, in turn, assist the county in handling businesses that have become deemed a nuisance.
First readings were also held regarding an update to the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail Commission Bylaws and the ratification of fiscal year 2022 grant and budget resolutions, and related appropriations of all funds.
The Council approved resolutions on several items at the September meeting, the first of which was appointing employees to the Colleton County Grievance Committee. The appointed employees, whose term will end on January 1, 2026, include Homer Stallings Jr., Charles Bridges, Eartha Cunningham, and alternate Natasha DeWitt.
Members of the Colleton County Safety Committee were also appointed. These employees include Laura Clark, Robbie Williams, Alexa Tuten, Sierra DeFoor, Helen Bowers, Jack Wright, Roger Johnson, George Rouix, Janet Dilliard-Smith, Kaye Syfrett, Gary Rhode, Deagdrea Sadler, and George Welch.
Moving forward, a motion was carried unanimously to authorize the acceptance of a SC Department of Social Services grant for Colleton County’s Child and Adult Care Food Program. This program will have no local match requirement. Meals will be prepared at the Colleton Commercial Kitchen and will service children in afterschool programs throughout the county. The program is expected to run from October 5, 2022-May 30, 2023 and September 1, 2023-September 30, 2023.
The Council also approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Colleton County, the SC Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Combined Arms, Inc. The purpose behind this is to provide assistance to veterans with obtaining benefits and services on a local level, as well as helping those who are transitioning out of the military find information on jobs, education, housing, etc. This would be part of an overall effort to improve the quality of veteran services in the state.
Council members approved the advertising of board vacancies by the county clerk. These vacancies are as follows:
Colleton County Recreation Commission (2)
Colleton County Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority (2)
Colleton County Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail Committee (2)
The County Council also appointed several new members to board vacancies. These included:
Colleton County Library Board of Trustees: 3 vacancies/3 applicants-Janis Blocker,
Sylvia Rowland, and Sally Williams appointed
Colleton County Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail Committee: 1 vacancy/applicant
Gary Herman appointed
Colleton County Keep Colleton Beautiful: 4 vacancies/1 applicant
Richard Shealy appointed
Colleton County Board of Assessment Appeals: 1 vacancy/1 applicant
Kelly Judy appointed
The Council moved on to public comments. Ms. Felicia Johnson, who has appeared before the county council before, started the public commentary with her continued concerns about the bar, Hangtime.
“I’m back again,” Ms. Johnson said. “This club needs to close.”
She went on to explain that she continues to fear for her and her family’s safety due to regular occurrences of gun violence in close proximity to the bar. Her residence has even been riddled by gunfire in the past. Aside from the safety issues, Johnson noted that she’s often kept awake at late hours due to noise from the bar and the area is often plagued by litter.
“When is it going to stop?,” she asked frustratedly. “That other club is closed now, so it’s worse for us. It’s time for us to live in peace. I want my grandchildren to be spending the night with me, but like I told them, ‘I’m afraid.’”
Ms. Johnson expressed frustration that more has not been done to rectify the situation, and another neighbor expressed the same. The council noted in response that the business registration ordinance that the county is working on passing is one of the first steps in handling the problem at hand for both her neighborhood and other communities.
The Colleton County Council meets at 6PM on the first Tuesday of each month. Agendas and meeting minutes, as well as live streamed and recorded videos of the meetings, can be accessed at www.colletoncounty.org/county-council/agendas-minutes.