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Council welcomes Frazier; missing member adds confusion to vice chair vote

Orangeburg County Council welcomed a new member and elected officers on Monday. But a final decision on vice chairman was delayed while council awaited one of its members.

Newly elected councilwoman Deloris Frazier was sworn in, along with veteran council member Johnnie Wright Sr.

Frazier thanked those who voted her into office, and those who were in attendance to witness her officially take office.

Wright was unanimously re-elected chairman of council.

Wright thanked his colleagues and his constituents for re-electing him.

“To the county of Orangeburg, I would just like to say to all of you that I am very honored and very humbled, and very grateful to serve in this capacity,” Wright said.

“I will always try to do my very best, and I’m committed to Orangeburg County, I’m committed to my colleagues, I’m committed to the growth and the betterment for a better quality of life for Orangeburg County,” Wright stated.

The election for vice chairman of council did not go as smoothly.

Councilman Willie B. Owens, who was also set to be sworn in, had not arrived when council began to vote for vice chairman.

Council proceeded to vote for the position.

Councilman Harry Wimberly received votes from Councilmen Heyward Livingston, Johnnie Ravenell and himself.

Vice Chair Janie Cooper-Smith received votes for her re-election from Councilwoman Deloris Frazier and herself.

It appeared that Wimberly won the position of vice chairman 3-2, but council learned Owens was en route to the meeting.

Cooper-Smith asked that the vote be carried forward to the end of the meeting to allow Owens the opportunity to participate in the vote.

Wright granted Cooper-Smith’s request. Once the regular portion of the meeting concluded, Cooper-Smith conceded to Wimberly.

Owens arrived after Cooper-Smith’s concession.

After being sworn in, Owens made a motion requesting that he be allowed to vote. Wright denied his motion.

Owens then made a motion to override the chairman’s denial, but it did not pass.

The original vote stood 3-2, making Wimberly the new vice chairman of the council.

Also during the meeting:

• Council approved a resolution honoring former Councilwoman Ray W. Sabalis for her time on council and her contributions as a council member.

Sabalis served on council from July 2017 to December 2018.

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance amending the Animal Control Ordinance.

The amendment expands the term "domesticated" beyond cats and dogs to farm animals such as cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and goats. It also allows Orangeburg County Animal Control to conduct animal rescues in special cases.

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance authorizing a fire sprinkler tax credit for the installation of fire sprinkler systems in commercial residential living structures where installation is not required by law.

• Council approved first reading of an ordinance amending the Orangeburg County Flood Damage Prevention ordinance. The amendment adds a section regarding zones deemed reasonably safe from flooding.

County Administrator Harold Young stated that the amendments deem areas that aren’t in flood-prone areas as reasonably safe. The amendment allows those areas to be applicable for certain permits, according to Young.

• Council approved third reading of a zoning change for property located at 7018 Old Number Six Hwy. in Elloree from forest agricultural to commercial general.

• Council approved the appointment of Ken Davis to the Orangeburg County Fire Commission. Davis was recommended by Owens and represents District 7.

• Council approved a motion by the Public Works Committee to carry forward discussions regarding discontinuing maintenance of ditches on Bethel Forest Road and Garland Road.

Council approved a motion to allow the committee to deliver letters to loggers who damage county roads. The letters will provide an assessment of the damage done to county roads and an estimate of costs to repair the damage.

Council also approved a motion to allow the committee to conduct one-time fixes on county roads.

S.C. STATE FOOTBALL: Pough back to coach Bulldogs in 2019

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference on the campus of South Carolina State University, Bulldogs Director of Athletics Stacy Danley announced that Oliver "Buddy" Pough will be returning as head football coach for at least the 2019 season.

It will be Pough's 18th season at the helm.

"When I looked at the program, where we are today, and considered our current reality and what the head football coach at South Carolina State is required to do, there was no question to me that Coach Pough is the man for the job," Danley said. "He is the right man for the job.

"I have asked Coach Pough to come back to be our head coach again next year at South Carolina State University. The administration has given approval and negotiations with Coach Pough have begun. Once we have a contract in place, pending board approval, we will announce the details of that contract. Coach Pough, I'm excited, and today I believe in you now more than I have at any time during my tenure here at South Carolina State."

With Pough's current contract expiring after the 2018 season, Danley said he has been given approval by the S.C. State administration to begin contract negotiations with Pough. He also announced that the decision has not yet been made for the contract to be for one year or multiple years.

The announcement comes after a surprisingly strong season that started at 0-4 but ended at 5-6 with a 4-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference record, good for a 3rd-place finish in conference standings with many freshmen and redshirt freshmen playing considerable minutes for the Bulldogs.

"As I look out here today and see members of our athletic staff, I can tell you that none of us are satisfied with the competitive position we are in now, within the industry and more specifically within the MEAC," Danley said. "But, we are going to work tirelessly to change the narrative and turn this athletic program around.

"Football is the cornerstone of our department because it is the biggest revenue generator. We expect to go to Atlanta and be there for the Celebration Bowl, we expect to win. But, we understand that it takes the resources to win. So we want to give Coach Pough and his staff and his players the best chance to win. I'm proud of Coach Pough, his staff and his players for how they finished this past season. There was some adversity, so much so that, at times, I thought it was going to blow up. But it was his experience and expertise that not only did he handle it like a champion, but he used it to turn the team around and finish the season in an impressive way. I believe they gave us some much-needed momentum. I believe we are poised and prepared to build on that momentum."

Pough's teams have posted a 125-71 overall record at S.C. State, including a 97-35 record in MEAC play, where his teams have won two outright MEAC titles (2008 and 2009) and four shared MEAC titles (2004, 2010, 2013 and 2014).

With as many as 15 freshmen or redshirt freshmen playing considerable roles for the Bulldogs throughout this past season, Pough admitted in the postseason that he got more excited about continuing to coach the more he saw the young talent develop and players mesh as a team in 2018. Pough's teams have posted winning records in MEAC play in five of the last six seasons.

"I look forward to being the guy in charge of this program for some years to come," Pough said. "It's always exciting to get to this time of year.

"I think last year you saw the improvement in our football team and the consistency of having us back and having our staff back. We look forward to being here for a lot of years to come, but next year in particular. We will continue at the task of putting football in the place it is supposed to be in the MEAC conference. Toward the end of the (2018) year, I felt like we could play with anybody in our league. The week before the last game of the season, I felt like we were the best team in our league. This team has got a chance to be pretty good this coming season."

Pough mentioned Tuesday that most of his assistant coaches were in San Antonio, Texas, attending the American Football Coaches Association convention. Later this week they will each be back on the recruiting trail, looking to fill needed positions on the Bulldogs' roster.

"Our kids will be back on campus this weekend and I look forward to us getting back together, with them getting back to school and getting back to (off-season football) work," Pough said. "We kind of sort of know who our quarterback is going to be. It's a lot of fun knowing we just need a couple critical positions. It's good to know where we're headed and we just have a few areas to shore up. We know this team a lot better now than we did this time last year. In recruiting, I can tell you exactly what we need; we need eight guys - we need two defensive ends, two defensive backs, two offensive linemen, and we're going to take a wide receiver and a quarterback.

"That's all we actually have space for on our board. And, it looks like we might be bringing in two mid-year guys as transfers. So that might take the quarterback position and the wideout spot. We might chop some scholarships up and make two or three happen out of one. We will be out recruiting for the next couple weeks or so. Most of what really happens for us happens later in the recruiting year, anyway, and that's when we get hot on most of what's our best players."

Pough played offensive line for the Bulldogs in the early 1970s. Prior to taking the reins at S.C. State, Pough spent five seasons as an assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Before his time in Columbia, Pough was among the top high school football coaches in South Carolina, leading Fairfield Central to a 15-0 record and a SCHSL Class 3A state title, and coaching before that at Keenan and Orangeburg-Wilkinson high schools.

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S.C. State, S.C. Technical College System sign pact to streamline transfers

South Carolina State University and the S.C. Technical College System on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow students who take classes at any of the state's 16 technical colleges to transfer to S.C.State to participate in its baccalaureate program.

S.C. currently partners with several of the state's technical colleges, including Piedmont Technical College, Midlands Technical College and Denmark Technical College, but Tuesday's signing sealed its collaboration with the entire technical college system.

The MOU signing was held in the President's State Room on the S.C. State campus and included comments from Dr. Tim Hardee, president of the S.C. Technical College System.

"While we may have a great concept and a great idea, that only happens when you have a good partner. I just want to express my appreciation to the administration here at South Carolina State University. We can be willing to partner, but it takes two to dance," Hardee said.

"We appreciate the fact that you see this as a great partnership for both of us. We look forward to continuing and expanding on this in the future," he added.

Under the agreement, students from the state's technical college system can transfer to S.C. State to complete a bachelor's degree in the following programs: nuclear engineering; speech pathology; biology; music merchandising; psychology; mechanical engineering technology; electrical engineering technology and industrial engineering.

Other degree programs include: business; accounting; marketing; special education; elementary education; social work; history; criminal justice; political science; early childhood education; child development; English and middle-level education.

Hardee said the partnership is about making college access easier and more affordable in a comprehensive way, and he praised S.C. State President James E. Clark's leadership in making the agreement a reality.

"We'll have over 75,000 students across our 16 technical college system that we will be serving when the spring semester starts. President Clark is looking at that as, 'How do I pull some of those best students from 16 technical colleges to come to South Carolina State University?'" he said.

"And that is what I will call a gold mine of opportunity for South Carolina State. What we're doing today is providing access to those students. Not only does it benefit South Carolina State University, but the reality is it provides those individual students access to more opportunities," Hardee said.

Clark said the university has made an ardent push to diversify its population as it seeks to increase enrollment. He said the agreement with the S.C. Technical College System will provide a valuable pool of transfer students to help the university continue its reversal of declining enrollment.

"Today we're concluding an effort that reaches out to the entire technical college system in South Carolina ... . It is important for us to provide this access, the accessibility and the affordability to the students and families in the state of South Carolina. This is a win-win situation, I believe, because all partnerships should be win-win," Clark said, noting that the agreement provides students with a "frictionless path to the next level of degree."

"It provides to us the opportunity to get access to some of the best and brightest. The students that come to us after doing two years at the technical college system, they're focused, they're mature, they tend to know what they want out of life," he added. "They focus on their education; they tend to graduate sooner with higher grade point averages. And we see this as a major win for everyone in the state."

Dr. Hope Rivers, executive vice president of the S.C. Technical College System, said, "It is about access, particularly for students who may not recognize that they can, too, be part of this system, that they can, too, be part of this entire higher education thing. And they don't understand what that means, but that's the role that we play, me and others across the state."

Rivers thanked her staff for their efforts to make the memorandum of understanding come to fruition.

Clark said the agreement ties in with the university's strategic plan to diversify its population, including with transfer students.

"This is one of those critical buckets, or cohorts of students, that we're looking forward to receiving. As we look back over the last couple of years, we had eight years of declining enrollment. But ... each of the three falls that I've been here, we've actually had increasing enrollment for the first time in eight years," the S.C. State president said.

"A good component of that has been the transfer students from the technical colleges. And we anticipate that that will continue to be critical to our existence going forward. It's critical to our existence in terms of increasing enrollment, but it's also critical in terms of the type of student, the focused student that's coming."

Clark added, "I think it will keep us sharp because we'll be bringing in students who have had educational experience from 16 different places. So the high expectations that they will have, that rising tide will help lift our boat as well."

The president said "students are not just going to show up" and that partnerships must be sought.

"We have to go to the technical colleges. We have to be there. We have to share what our offerings are. We have to make them aware of what our unique offerings are and what the opportunity is for (students) to come to S.C. State versus going somewhere else," Clark said.

"So we have to go and win them one at a time, and that's what we plan to do."