DENMARK – City Administrator Heyward Robinson, during his report at the September Denmark City Council meeting, said he needed approval for a bid for a new fire truck for approximately $400,000; has engaged McDonald Law, Architect to make plans to renovate the old city hall for a police department building; and has $400,000 earmarked for the renovation.
The only bid received for the new fire truck was from Safe Industries for $385,915.
“The fire truck is funded by a Community Development Block grant. The bid includes fire equipment for the truck,” Robinson stated.
Council seconded and approved a motion to purchase the fire truck for the aforementioned amount.
On the renovation of the old city hall, Robinson said, “The renovation (is) … at 4768 Carolina Highway. Mr. McDonald Law, Architect, has been engaged to prepare the plans to renovate the old city hall building for a police department.”
“Mr. Law is the same architect who designed the new city hall building at 64 City Hall Street. The City of Denmark has $400,000 of Sales and Use tax funds for this purpose,” Robinson continued.
Council also gave first reading of an amendment to an ordinance to rezone the Crestwood Golf Course in Denmark and also agreed to sell a parcel on land to Shiloh International Church of God.
Robinson said, “The owners of the Crestwood Golf Course are asking that the property be rezoned commercial.”
He stated previously it was zoned residential but was used for commercial purposes for many years anyway.
Councilwoman Hope Long Weldon stated, “In light of the owner’s story, I think it would be great to accommodate him.”
A motion was made, and council seconded and approved the first reading of the amendment to the ordinance.
Robinson said they needed to change the date of the special meeting for the second reading because the previously written October date was too close to the closing of a potential sale of the property to a business. Denmark City Council was slated to hold a special meeting at city hall at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, to hold a second reading of the amendment of the ordinance.
Council also agreed almost unanimously to sell a parcel to Shiloh International Church of God during the meeting, with one dissenting nay coming from Weldon.
The Rev. Keith Keller, pastor of the church, stated during his presentation that they needed the land to expand for a program to help individuals with learning disabilities.
Weldon asked during initial discussion if they could see Keller’s program in writing, the 501c3 status, the rationale, and more, and that council did not have any of that information in front of them. She stated this is why she was concerned.
Keller stated that he would be happy to meet with Weldon with this information.
When asked about his program by Councilwoman Rosa James, Keller said they have a teacher from the Town of North with over 10 years of experience who will be helping with the program and recruitment.
Councilman Calvin Odom mentioned having worked with those with disabilities and stated that he will be interested to see how the program will get those individuals through the educational cycle.
Police Chief Leroy Grimes was present at the meeting Monday night, has been back to work the past two months, and is continuing to work. Discussion regarding his employment had been held at the July and August meetings. According to past reports, Grimes had allegedly gone into retirement temporarily sometime around July and returned on Aug. 12 – something which state employees can do legally. Robinson, in August’s meeting, stated upon Grimes’ return that he planned to remain as chief of police in Denmark for the next four years. Grimes did not comment on any of this but just proceeded with his report.
Grimes stated they had 47 new cases during the past month, including simple assault, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, purse snatching, vandalism of property, shoplifting, theft from a motor vehicle, drug violation, disorderly conduct, trespass, driving under suspension, traffic collision, driving under suspension and more. No shootings were mentioned in this month’s report.
Grimes introduced officers Chris Coleman and Curtis Johnson III who were present at the meeting and are recent hires. Coleman is from North Carolina, and Johnson is from Bamberg.
Grimes said, “They are in the third week of their training at the police academy.”
“We have seven officers total now, and I have an individual I am working on paperwork for,” Grimes added.
James asked, “Given that the crime rate is high, how do we get the word out to citizens?”
James mentioned having a Facebook page to report crimes.
Grimes stated that it is the time of year when crime increases anyway but that a Facebook page would be a good idea. He also requested that all citizens lock their doors, including their car doors, and to make sure to carry all valuables inside and not leave them in their cars.
Weldon asked if the police department currently has a certified school resource officer.
Grimes said no but had earlier mentioned potentially training one of the new recruits as a SRO.
In other business
• Robinson stated in his report that Public Works has repaired 15 leaks and that they have an opening for 20 hours a week for a custodian.
• Mayor Gerald Wright said that citizens need to stop putting old furniture and mattresses by the road and that the city only picks up garbage bags. He asked that citizens ask the businesses that sold them new furniture to haul the old furniture away.
• A fall cleanup for Bamberg County will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m.--noon and is being sponsored by Be Bamberg. Volunteers are needed, including individuals, community teams, churches, families, school groups and civic groups. There will be free cleanup supplies, T-shirts and water provided to volunteers. Volunteers/teams should pre-register. They will also need to select their site and get supplies. To pre-register to volunteer or for more information, contact Laura McKenzie of Be Bamberg at 803-943-6587.