Lodge's water at the heart of campaign for mayor

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By HEATHER RUPPE

The two candidates competing to be the mayor of Lodge each received 19 votes in last week’s mayoral election, and the two are preparing to face each other in an upcoming mayoral run-off, which is scheduled for Nov. 16th.

Larry Carter, Sr. is the current mayor of Lodge. He has been mayor for 10 years, but has served the town on council since the 1970s. “I’ve done this a long time,” he said, following Tuesday’s municipal results, in which Carter tied with mayoral opponent R. Christopher Smith. “If I win, this will be my last time running,” said Carter.

Carter, 75, says he is running again because he has several projects he wants to continue. Most importantly, he said the town is experiencing water leaks that he wants to correct. According to Carter, the town’s water system has been in place since 1982. There are pipes bursting within the system and there are water leaks happening at faucet heads.

“We have installed a new generator and redone the pump house, which was a big help. But there is still work to do,” he said. “We need to redo the water meters.”

The town operates on two pumps: a main water well and a backup well. The newer upgrades were paid for recently with one-sent sales tax funds given to the Town of Lodge from Colleton County.

However, Carter says he will pursue grants to help the town pay for new water meters.

“We are a very small town and I’m trying to keep what we have going,” he said.

On the flip side, Smith is a newcomer to the town’s political scene. At 36, Smith is a water-based systems inspector. He said he has a passion to work for the community and to make sure Lodge has a positive lifestyle for its residents. “We are a town but we are not a community. If there is a gathering, no one knows it. We need to become more of a community,” he said.

Smith said the town’s roads also resemble “third-road countries.”

“Our sidewalks are a law suit waiting to happen and our water system is nothing more than broken pipes and leaking water mains,” he said.

Smith said he plans to petition the county for additional funds to upgrade Lodge’s water system. He also wants to speak to the state and to federal authorities about upgrading water. “We can’t risk deaths because of a shoddy water system. They did it twice a month trying to repair leaks, and the residents won’t drink the water because it is so filled with sediment,” he said. “People here are afraid of pesticide runoff from the crops, and they know the water system is not able to filtrate it and clean it.”

Smith said he is running on an issue to get the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office more involved in Lodge. “I have a wife and three children, and we have too many speeders through our town because they can,” Smith said. “When we call for law enforcement, it takes 45 minutes for someone to get here. We need more regular patrols or even a substation here.”

The Lodge mayoral run-off election will happen on Nov. 16th and polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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