Additional support services will be coming to Orangeburg County for family members of people suffering from addiction.
The Courage Center in Lexington County will branch out into Orangeburg County with plans to offer weekly support group sessions starting in April, according to Mike Dennis, a board member of The Courage Center and executive director of the Orangeburg-based Tri-County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
“It is a wonderful program,” Dennis told Orangeburg County Council during its regularly scheduled meeting on March 6.
“Substance use and addiction is a huge issue not just in our counties but around the world. We need all the help we can get,” he said.
“Folks are stigmatized, they are shunned, they are cast out by other members of the community,” Dennis said. “A caring community doesn't ostracize and stigmatize people. A caring community embraces those families in order to provide the support they need.”
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Dennis said the goal of the support groups is to provide family members with healing and to spur those struggling with substance abuse and addictions to get into treatment and recovery.
The services at The Courage Center are free to those who cannot afford to pay.
The Courage Center focuses on youth ages 14-26 and families of loved ones struggling with substances.
Programs offered by The Courage Center include peer recovery coaching, support groups, substance-free social events, life skills training and counseling.
S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, asked Dennis what services he needed in Orangeburg County and he told her The Courage Center, he said.
The Courage Center received $301,461 in appropriations from the state for the 2022-2023 fiscal year to expand its program into other parts of the state.
While the program will be held in Orangeburg County, the program will be open to people from other counties. Organizers have not yet determined where the Orangeburg County services will be offered.
In addition to Orangeburg County, the program will expand into Richland County and into other parts of Lexington County.
The funding will go toward training support coaches who will provide services perhaps once or twice a week. The Courage Center also receives money from fundraisers and grants.
The nonprofit will have its annual fundraising breakfast at the River Center in Saluda Shoals Park in Columbia on May 12 at 8:30 a.m.
Tax and tourism funding
Council unanimously approved allocating $57,012 to various events upon the recommendation of the county's tax and tourism committee. Funds come from hotel accommodations taxes and are to be spent bringing visitors to the county. Other funding requests will be addressed at a later time.
Events or agencies receiving money include:
• $14,000 for the Grand American Coon Hunt
• $5,000 for advertising for the Branchville Raylrode Daze Festivul
• $25,600 for the County of Orangeburg to provide security at Indian Bluff Recreational Park during the weekends and summertime.
• $12,412 for advertising and security for the Orangeburg County Fair
• Council unanimously approved the purchase of the former Norway Baptist Church and fellowship hall at 5004 Norway Road for $225,000.
The church will serve as a community center and the fellowship hall will serve as a senior citizens center.
Young said the current senior citizens center in Norway is beyond repair and the purchase will provide seniors a new location.
• Council gave unanimous second reading to leasing the former Holly Hill library and county's current regional center to the Town of Holly Hill.
The town approached the county about using the buildings for youth programs.
Under the lease agreement, the town will be responsible for bringing the buildings up to an acceptable condition for usage. County officials say there will not be any monetary cost for leasing the property.
The property is located next to the Town of Holly Hill Administration Complex.
• Council unanimously approved a contract with West Columbia-based Palmetto Air and Chiller for $93,225 to replace the HVAC system in the County Administrative Center’s second floor server room.
“The server room needs to be cooled to a certain temperature to keep the servers from overheating and that is vital,” Young said.
• Council gave unanimous second reading approval to the rezoning of about 3.71 acres on Eutaw Road in Holly Hill to rural community to allow for the placement of a boat, recreational vehicle and equipment storage facility.
The property is currently zoned forest agriculture. It is located near Garrett's Body Shop and Auto.
Council initially gave first reading to the request in December but then tabled a second reading vote in January to allow county staff to do further research after hearing concerns from town officials.
• Council gave unanimous second reading to an ordinance authorizing the postponement of the 2023 reassessment of county properties.
The county, under state law, has to conduct a reassessment of all properties every five years.
The law allows a county to postpone the reassessment for one property tax year. County officials said they want additional time to ensure the reassessment process is done correctly.
• Council gave unanimous third and final reading to changes in its fee-in-lieu of taxes and joint county industrial park incentives with Orangeburg County Solar Project LLC.
Council initially approved an incentive agreement with the solar farm in October 2019, but three additional parcels of land should have been included in the project.
• Council gave unanimous third and final reading to an ordinance entering into a lease agreement with Orangeburg County farmer Roy Hungerpiller III that allows Hungerpiller to farm undeveloped, county-owned industrial park land.
• Council read a resolution honoring National Women’s History Month, which is observed in March.
• Councilwoman Latisha Walker thanked those who have helped her navigate the process as a new councilwoman and for those who have helped her address concerns she has had in her district. Some of these include helping her move forward a road revitalization project, the apprehension of viscous dogs off of Whittaker Parkway and helping to put up security cameras in a problem area.
• Orangeburg resident William Green asked the county to develop or help improve the access to affordable housing in the area.
Krista Hassell of Elloree suggested the county purchase abandoned homes from owners, renovate the homes and then rent out the homes. She said rent would be paid to the county and could be used by the county for other projects.
Councilwoman Deloris Frazier said it has been difficult to locate or convince owners of abandoned homes to sell their properties.
• Wright gave a shout-out to Cobb-Hunter for her leadership role in the effort to have the Medical University of South Carolina partner with the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties.
He encouraged county residents to thank Cobb-Hunter for her role in the process. RMC officially became a part of the MUSC Health System March 1.