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Butler re-elected mayor; three Orangeburg council members will also return

Stroman

Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler was re-elected to a third, four-year term on Tuesday.

He celebrated his victory with supporters, thanking them and all the residents of the city.

“I just want to thank the voters for the confidence they had in me. They went to the polls, they spoke and they spoke loudly,” he said.

Butler also thanked the people who didn’t vote for him, saying “I want to serve them, too.”

“Orangeburg is a great city with great people,” Butler said. “I thank them for the opportunity to serve them.”

Butler received 613 votes to challenger Paige Waymer’s 258. There were 27 write-in votes.

Councilwoman L. Zimmerman Keitt said, “Thank God for Mayor Michael Butler.”

She said she’s served under four mayors and “he’s the best mayor I worked under.

“He’s doing what needs to be done for the citizens of Orangeburg.”

Keitt was among the three city council members who were re-elected to four-year terms with no opposition on Tuesday. They are:

• Richard Stroman, District 1. Stroman received 235 votes to nine write-in votes.

• Jerry Hannah, District 3: Hannah received 118 votes to 41 write-in votes

• L. Zimmerman Keitt, District 5: Keitt received 50 votes. There were no write-in votes.

All three said they’ll spend the next four years working to improve the city.

“In the next four years, we’re really looking to put Orangeburg on the map,” Keitt said.

She mentioned specifically the effort to improve Railroad Corner. Keitt foresees improvements downtown from Railroad Corner to Edisto Memorial Gardens.

Railroad Corner “is the gateway to the City of Orangeburg. We’re almost sure we’re going to be able to revamp that area. From there to the gardens, a lot of investments will be coming in here,” Keitt said.

Ultimately, city council wants to ensure residents and recent graduates who want to remain in Orangeburg can find good-paying jobs, she said.

Keitt also noted that the city plans on making the former First Citizens bank on Russell Street into the next city hall. Council also approved the purchase of a building at the corner of Middleton and Russell streets.

The city is working with police and the sheriff’s office to curtail crime, Keitt said.

“In the next year or two, Orangeburg will look like a totally different city,” she said. “We want everyone to love, work in and enjoy their city.”

Keitt has served on council since 1989, except for a period when she was out of office from 2001 until 2004.

Stroman, who won a fourth term Tuesday, said “I’d like to thank the people who supported me for the last 12 years and I plan to work for everybody, work for all the citizens of Orangeburg.

“I plan to keep the taxes low and the utility rates low for everybody.”

He noted taxes and utility rates were not increased for the upcoming budget year.

“I want us to have a good safe town with good police protection,” he said.

Stroman said he’s not planning to let the voters down.

“I represent everybody – rich, poor, black, white – I represent everybody,” he said.

Hannah was re-elected to his second term. He says he has several goals for the next four years, including improving health care.

He’d like to attract more doctors, dentists and other health care professionals to the city, saying that will lower costs for patients.

Also, “We must do something to revitalize our appearance in Orangeburg,” Hannah said. That includes picking up trash.

Improving the look of the city will also improve its ability to attract new industry, he said.

Orangeburg is a “lovely” city, he said. Hannah would like for other communities to want to mimic it.

Hannah said the city must also, "must find a way to engage our citizens in our process. We need more persons on our commissions and boards.”

He said his district is demographically diverse and he gets a chance to speak with residents as he’s riding on his golf cart. He carries a pad to take notes.


Crime-and-courts
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Heartbreak to ‘howl-lelujahs’: Donors step up to replace stolen items

Orangeburg County Animal Control employees were disheartened to find that someone broke into their storage unit, stealing their supplies.

And then the community responded.

“This was a blessing in disguise,” Orangeburg County Animal Control Assistant Director Margaret Girardeau said.

The theft was discovered on Sept. 3, when OCAC Director Dana Lang went to department’s off-site storage facility, located 2530 St. Matthews Road, to get dog food that was donated to the Ellis Avenue shelter.

The locks on the department’s unit were gone and replaced with new ones.

With the help of other Orangeburg County employees, Girardeau and Lang were able to enter the locked unit. They were upset by what they saw.

“We realized when we opened it that a majority of everything had been stolen,” Girardeau said.

All of the items had been donated to the OCAC.

“It was heartbreaking, really; quite unbelievable,” Girardeau said.

“We still had a lot of blankets and stuff like that left, but a majority of our crates – we had at least $2,000 to $3,000 worth of crates that had been donated to us – had been stolen. All of our dog food, all of our cat food had been stolen,” Girardeau said.

The shelter’s large, canopy-like umbrellas were also stolen from the unit. They’re used for special events.

Not long after they made the discovery, Girardeau posted a photo of the emptied storage unit to the shelter’s Facebook page and asked for donations, she said.

It didn’t take long before Orangeburg’s Tractor Supply Company donated two pallets of dog food and one pallet of cat litter, Girardeau said.

And in the days that followed, private donors placed orders for delivery to the OCAC from Tractor Supply Company.

Soon, the front lobby of the OCAC turned into a makeshift storage unit.

Girardeau said some donors have given financially.

“I didn’t think we were quite expecting all of this, but we’re greatly appreciative of it,” she added.

Following the theft, the OCAC plans to build its own storage facility on site.

“I’m really proud of Orangeburg and everyone else who’s donated. Orangeburg really did come together when this happened,” Girardeau said.

Donations are always welcome, she noted. If anyone would like to donate to the Orangeburg County Animal Control, they may send donations to 1596 Ellis Avenue, Orangeburg, SC 29118.


Local
editor's pick alert top story
Orangeburg County expanding Animal Control

Orangeburg County is moving ahead with the expansion of the Animal Control facilities.

Orangeburg County Council awarded Orangeburg-based Skip Welch Construction the contract to expand the facilities. The project will cost $491,496.

The project includes the addition of a medical facility and more space to house animals. The project is expected to be completed within a year.

The county received three proposals for the expansion project.

In other business last week:

  • Council gave second reading to an ordinance allowing the purchase of radios for the county's Emergency Medical Services first responders, the sheriff’s office, county emergency services and fire departments.

The county plans to borrow no more than $1.6 million for the equipment, Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

A public hearing was held but no comments were made.

  • Council approved recommendations from the county's Tax and Tourism Committee to give the town of Norway $5,000 for its Norwegian food cook-off and festival; $20,000 for Santee Cooper Country for promotion of tourism; $10,000 for the Holly Hill Christmas festival; and $10,000 for New Perspectives Media.

The county's tax and tourism committee held off on South Carolina State University's request for $30,000 until further information is obtained from the university.

County Council also held off on approving the money for the university. The university is seeking the money to build up the university's sports app and website, as well as attract more female athletes.

  • Council approved the sale of timber to Midland Carolina Timber for $149,402. The timber was obtained from land the county cleared for an economic development project.
  • Council gave first reading by title the sale of between 1 and 1-1/2 acres to a buyer designated as Project CMR. The prospect has asked to remain anonymous.

The property is located in the Santee area but the exact site was also not provided.

"There will be a thorough explanation of the ordinance that will come before council before second reading," county attorney Jerrod Anderson said.

  • Council agreed into a mutual aid agreement with Beaufort County regarding the relocation of detainees on a temporary basis during an emergency such as a hurricane.
  • The county’s legal staff has been tasked with developing two ordinances.

One would require construction companies to repair county-owned roads damaged by the companies with flowable fill. Flowable fill is longer-lasting material than what companies currently repair roads with.

The other ordinance would aim to bring Orangeburg County's fees for the installation of commercial driveways in line with the state's current fees.

  • Council held a public hearing and gave third and final reading to an amended ordinance to enter into a joint industrial park agreement with Dorchester County related to BRN Sleep Products. The agreement is not a physical industrial park, but is an incentive mechanism counties use to attract industries to the area.

The Turkish-based company is a supplier of online mattresses, box springs, covers and ready-made brands. It is looking to invest about $4.3 million and create more than 300 new jobs in Orangeburg County over the next five years.

The company will locate at 3771 Cameron Road, which is the former Utica Tool building.

  • Council went into closed session to receive an update on several economic development projects, including Premium Peanut, Project Diego and Project Dahlia.

Council also discussed negotiations related to a proposed contractual agreement with the Regional Medical Center


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