Bamberg City Council voted to appoint Assistant Chief James Smoak as the new police chief at their March meeting.
Smoak began his law enforcement career in Bamberg on March 30, 1998. He and his wife Sandy have two daughters, Savannah Brown and Taylor Smoak; a son, Zachary Smoak; and a grandson, Connor Brown.
In other police business, Councilwoman Robin Chavis, who serves as police commissioner, reported that Officer Alex Finley will be leaving the department on March 14.
“We will be short a police officer once he leaves. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board to find another police officer,” Chavis said.
Smoak thanked the Bamberg Fire Department, Bamberg Police Department, S.C. Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Department of Transportation and others for their work with the downtown fire last week. Smoak also recognized Officer Mitchum for working more than 36 hours straight.
“I was told whenever I checked references on him that my biggest problem I would have with Officer Mitchum is sending him home,” Smoak said “I got a taste of that the other night. Not many of us could pull that kind of duration in a shift.
“We were fortunate that we had no one injured during the incident,” he said.
The closed section of U.S. 301 swill reopen once all safety concerns have been taken care of, he said.
Smoak also said that there have been two vehicles stolen in the past 24 hours of the meeting, one in town and one in the county. He urged the public to not leave valuables in their vehicles and to keep them locked at all times.
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Also at the meeting:
• Council approved a resolution honoring the Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School wrestling team for winning the 2019 2A-1A state championship. This is the second year in a row that the team has been state champions..
• According to the budget and finance report the city is “right on target and right where they need to be.”
• Councilwoman Rosetta Draper, who serves as fire commissioner, commended the fire department for their outstanding effort with the fire. Mayor Nancy Foster and Gary Williams of Bamberg Fire Department commended all agencies for all their assistance.
Williams reported that the fire department responded to 17 emergencies and six EMS-related calls, both inside and outside the city limits.
• Councilwoman Bridget Kinard, who serves as parks and recreation commissioner, said that the city will host a baseball, softball and tee-ball bash April 6 at the Ness Complex.
• Under new business, Odell Sherman and Jerry Halmon were reappointed to four- year terms to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
• The inaugural City of Bamberg Golf Tournament will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at the golf course. The cost will be $55 per person.