Orangeburg County Council has taken another step in the journey to bring broadband Internet service to rural areas.

Council on Monday awarded a core router project to EnfoPoint Solutions LLC of Brentwood, Tenn., whose $90,973.16 bid was the only one submitted for the work.

“We have to get this equipment shipped to us and installed, then we can start turning on customers,” said Robert Richardson, an engineer with W. Metts Engineering Co. Inc. of Branchville.

“Rowesville will be the first area” to receive service, and that should happen in the first two or three months of 2013, Richardson said.

County Administrator Harold Young said the county applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for federal stimulus dollars to install broadband connections in rural communities.

“The first phase of the project is moving at a swift pace,” Young said. “After one solid year of construction, we are getting close to seeing the fruits of our labor. ... We are studying other areas. Our goal is to take it across the county.”

In other business, council:

* Accepted the low bid of $244,022.25 from BES Construction LLC of Walterboro to pave Baronet Lane, Cumberland Court, Houser Street, Lucky Leaf Street, Readmon Street, Rivers Street and Sand Street, for a total of 1.87 miles, as recommended by the County Transportation Committee. Funding comes entirely from the county’s share of the state gasoline tax.

* Agreed to replace paper time sheets in the Public Works Department with Time Clock Plus software from Data Management Inc.

“We’ll save a lot in manpower, time and fuel” by not having to pick up time sheets at each work site every two weeks and by better managing overtime, Young said. He said the $27,120.39 system eventually will pay for itself in savings, and a similar switch at the Detention Center has been successful.

* Held a pair of public hearings, at which no one spoke, then gave second readings to two separate ordinances providing economic incentives for Albemarle Corp. to expand its facilities in the county.

* Approved a resolution and gave first reading to an ordinance granting a fee-in-lieu of property tax incentive for “Project Sunrise,” an expansion of an unnamed company’s facilities in the county.

* Accepted a plaque from the National Association of Development Organizations, which recognizes the Eastern Orangeburg County Sustainability Study as one of the most innovative projects in the nation. Plaques were also awarded to Bowman Mayor Marion Glenn, Santee Mayor Donnie Hilliard, Eutawville Mayor Jean Akers and Vance Mayor Michael Aiken. Holly Hill Mayor William Johnson was absent due to the town council meeting that night. A plaque was also presented to the Town of Elloree.

* Discussed an economic development matter in closed, executive session.

Vice Chair Janie Cooper-Smith, who presided in the absence of Chairman Johnnie Wright, complained about receiving an anonymous letter.

“We are professional enough to talk to anybody,” she said. “We are willing to discuss any item that you would like to discuss with us. Come forth and say what you have to say. Give us your name. You don’t have to write to us anonymously.”

Contact the writer: lhendren@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-533-5552.

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