NORTH – The Town of North will be having a special election early next year to fill two vacant council seats.
Originally, only one seat was to appear on the ballot, but that number changed after an announcement by Tonya Jeffcoat, who was elected to council on Nov. 5 along with Jeff Washington, who received 143 votes in a three-way race for two seats. Jeffcoat got 125 votes
Jeffcoat was to be sworn in as a councilwoman but said later she was not in attendance because she will not be serving on council.
"I have accepted a full-time military position with the Army at Fort Lewis, Washington. It was a sudden and unexpected offer. I will be resigning my post as a town council member as soon as I speak to Aurora Smalls (of the Orangeburg County Election Commission),” Jeffcoat said.
Smalls said Thursday she has spoken with Jeffcoat and is waiting on an official resignation letter.
Smalls said a special election on Feb. 4 will fill the seat to which Jeffcoat was elected and the seat vacated by Julius Jones, who was elected mayor of North on Nov. 5
The town council seats are at-large, meaning all voters who live within the town limits can cast a ballot in the special election.
The Town of Bowman will also be having a special election on Feb. 4 to fill the council seat vacated when Patsy Rhett, who was elected mayor on Nov. 5.
The town council seat is at-large, meaning all voters who live within the town limits can cast a ballot in the special election.
In North, Jones was sworn in as mayor and Washington took the oath of office as a councilman at the November council meeting.
Previously a councilman and mayor pro tem, Jones said after the meeting, “We are going to work together for all citizens of the town of North. We are going to work to make North the vibrant and vital town it was before.
“We are going to be working for all citizens.”
Washington, who resigned from council in the last term and ran again and won, said, “I feel good. I wanted to come back. I have some unfinished business that I want to complete for the town.
“I want to promote business for the town and get a grocery store again,” he said. “Also, I want to start the backpack and tennis shoe giveaways for the schools.
“I think we will do very much for the town.”
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As his first order of business as mayor, Jones declined allowing a citizen to make public comments because she had not adhered to the town’s policy. Per the policy, the citizen’s comments did not relate to what was on the current agenda, nor did she notify the town clerk in writing ahead of time.
Patty Carson, while still acting as mayor before the swearing-in, stated there was a 298% increase in revenue during her four-year term, from $197,896 as of Oct. 31, 2015, to $789,460 as of Oct. 31, 2019.
Looking at budget totals from September to October of this year, Jones asked about a decrease in the checking account from $300,382 to $169,321 and an increase in the water/sewer reserve from $20,063 to $140,064.
Carson said, “Once every year, we have to ‘true up’ our bank accounts.”
She said the town’s accountant told her to move funds from the checking account to the water/sewer account and that it was moved because the funds could not be used for municipal expenses.
Carson said that $27,000 had to be used for two water leak repairs.
Councilwoman Jennifer Williams inquired about the cost and asked if was because it had taken so long to repair the leaks.
Carson said that it was not the amount of time that it took to repair the leaks, but that the contractor had to dig under the highway to do the repairs.
She also said she had some conversations with the elevated tank company, and that by spring or fall of next year, the tank will be painted white and blue and some antennae will be moved from the tank to make them OSHA compliant.
Carson added that she recently found an article of incorporation from 1892 for the town in a drawer and had it hung on the wall in council chambers. She also thanked all involved with the Veterans Memorial Park dedication ceremony.
Carson also reported that the town did not receive the Hometown Economic Development Grant that Councilwoman Deborah Cook applied for again this year. She said Police Chief Lin Shirer has completed paperwork for a new police cruiser – possibly with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In other business:
• Shirer reported that a store in town had been robbed over the weekend of Nov. 8 and that the robbery is still under investigation. He also said that his school resource officer reported seven incidents at a local school, including two with weapons on school property, third-degree assault and battery, student threats to a teacher and three counts of possession of tobacco under the age of 18.
Shirer said that the police department presented 60 cases in municipal court for the month, obtained six arrest warrants and received 21 bench warrants to be served from North Municipal Court. Police also entered 44 incident reports and responded to 31 calls for service. He said they made arrests for the following charges: possession of stolen vehicle, assault and battery high and aggravated, failure to stop for blue lights, third-degree burglary, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, shoplifting, trespassing and petit larceny. The department will also be conducting traffic checkpoints within town limits in the next 30 days, he said.
• Williams said she did not get the Opportunity Zone funds for North but said she had spoken with state Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, and that he would be looking into assisting the town with potential funding.