DENMARK – Denmark Police Chief Leroy Grimes has retired through the state retirement system but will be back to his position at the department as announced by City Administrator Heyward Robinson during Monday night’s live July Denmark City Council meeting.
Robinson stated earlier in the meeting, “Grimes has retired through the state retirement system for 30 days, but he will be back.” According to the State Retirement System website, https://www.peba.sc.gov/returning, in summary, a state employee may resign, retire and then return to a state job after 30 days.
Councilwoman Hope Long Weldon, who heads the police committee, stated after the announcement, “If we were transparent, I would have known about this information (before the meeting).”
Mayor Gerald Wright suggested that they stop the discussion as it related to a personnel issue and amend the agenda to include an executive session to discuss the issue, and an executive session was held after the meeting.
In an unrelated matter, the shooting death of Charles Walker in late May, the ongoing investigation into his death and his relatives' concerns about it were also discussed.
Several of Walker’s relatives asked during public comments if a suspect has been arrested and about the status of the investigation. Robinson stated, in the chief’s absence, that he did not know.
Several of Walker’s relatives discussed trying to get information about the investigation from the police department and having trouble reaching Grimes or anybody for information pertaining to the shooting.
Wright stated he and council would be glad to meet with Walker’s relatives after the meeting, but that the council meeting was not the forum in which to discuss the shooting death and investigation.
Robinson, in Grimes’ absence, gave the police report for the month of June, which, among 30 new cases, included manslaughter and attempted murder.
Recently, in a previous meeting, Councilwoman Rosa James made a motion for the Public Safety Committee to meet and develop a plan to improve public safety in Denmark. The motion was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Jake Bookard, was passed and the vote was unanimous.
James, later during the meeting on Monday evening, stated she had nothing to report from her committee.
Weldon, in her separate police committee report, stated, “We have had a shooting every month since January.
“During the last six months, we have been trying to come up with a salary that is attractive to police officers. We have lost two officers. They have left the force. We are down to three officers,” Weldon added.
Weldon said that not only that but that the chief is not available.
Weldon concluded, “This is not going to cut it.”
Robinson, in his presentation, said that the city may be receiving a part of an approximate billion in federal aid which is being offered throughout the country.
Wright stated, “We are in the midst of some exciting things.”
He then mentioned the federal funds Robinson discussed.
“I am optimistic about what we can do in the future because of funds that are coming to us,” he added.
Wright also mentioned some potential sales tax revenue projects, including remodeling the Dane Theatre and the old city hall.
Robinson said that the City of Denmark has been awarded $950,903 in Community Development Block Grant funds to construct a new well to service the water system.
“The City of Denmark is in compliance with all drinking water regulations. There were no violations for the year,” Robinson added.
Robinson continued in his water and sewer report, “Four leaks were repaired in the water system, and we built a shed over the pump house at the spray field.”
In other business:
• A representative from Southern Carolina Alliance, in his presentation early in the meeting, mentioned a USDA grant, analyzing demographics in the area, and finding good business fits for Denmark using those demographics.
• City Accountant Rusty Munoz stated in his report, “Water and sewer revenues were less than expected. … Overall, though, we ended up with an increase.”
• Councilman Calvin Odom stated in his committee report that the Growing COB organization he assists with has not created any new gardens this year but has been doing many food distributions throughout the region to seniors and the needy. He added that the organization hopes to start a new garden in the area in the fall. Part of Growing COB’s mission is improving health by providing access to sustainable gardens, distribution of fresh produce and nutritional and garden education. Distributing produce during the pandemic appeared to fulfill part of the organization’s mission. Growing COB is asking for donations through Cash App at $GrowingCOB, via PayPal at paypal.me/GrowingCOB, and via the mail at: P.O. Box 287; Orangeburg, SC 29116.
• Odom also added that citizens need to continue to take precautions because of the COVID-19 delta variant.
• Bobby Monroe, vice president of sales for Data Max, gave a presentation on the company he works for assisting cities and counties in the collection of business license fees. He explained that this was for companies that the city may be unaware are coming into the city to do business and not for brick and mortar locations in town who are already paying their fees. Council approved using his services.
• The Denmark Fire Department, according to a report distributed, had 20 total fire calls for the month. None of these were structure fires, but there was one grass fire and vehicle fire.
• Municipal Judge James Spellman’s next court date is July 30 at 10 a.m. at the Brooker Center.
• Criminal domestic violence court is scheduled to convene on Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Bamberg County Courthouse.