BAMBERG -- “We’re gathered here today to preserve a legacy,” Bamberg County Councilwoman Sharon Hammond said Monday.
“Denmark Tech is a legacy in this community. If we don’t fight for our legacies, no one will. We must do whatever we can do.”
Hammond spoke on the steps of the Bamberg County Courthouse during a press conference about the lawsuit filed against South Carolina and state Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education.
The DTC Foundation, DTC National Alumni Association and others are trying to stop a House plan to close the college and reopen it as an area trade school. The plan is included as a proviso in the S.C. House version of the state’s 2019-2020 budget.
The Senate’s version of the state budget does not include a proviso closing the college.
Bamberg County Council member Evert Comer stated that the Senate’s decision is a great sign, but it is not the final decision.
“A conference committee will now determine the final version of the budget. As I understand it, that will be sent on to the governor for his consideration. It’s been said by at least one state senator that it’s up in the air what will happen to Denmark Technical College,” Comer stated.
Comer said supporters not only want to keep the college open, they also want equal, fair and adequate funding.
Plaintiff Thomas Williams, a former Barnwell County Council member, stated that underfunding is not a new issue for the college.
“The state of South Carolina has shown a pattern, a pattern where they have underfunded Denmark Tech for as long as we can remember. There is no reason why we have got to go to Columbia every year and beg for money when other institutions are getting everything they need,” Williams said. “We need to fight, and that what this lawsuit is all about.”
Danny Singleton, president of the Denmark Technical College Foundation, said the college needs money for different areas of the institution.
“We need infrastructure money, we need modification money,” he said. “All we want is our fair share.”
Singleton said with the help of the legislature and governor, the college can be just as strong as other technical colleges in the state.
“We hope we can dismiss this lawsuit down the road and get the governor’s office and the General Assembly to work with us,” Comer stated.
Barnwell County Councilman David Kenner, who is an alumnus of the college, said “Let’s allocate the proper monies to be spent on the front end to educate those, and make them a positive influence in the community, so they can be a progressive influence in the community.”
Comer said he believes the efforts of the technical college supporters will pay off in a positive way.
“We’ve been petitioning the General Assembly left and right. We believe that we will prevail,” Comer said.