The S.C. Department of Transportation dispatched a maintenance crew to address a neighborhood’s flooding concerns a day after someone brought the concerns before Orangeburg County Council.
"There are some community concerns about a flooding issue on Kings Road and I believe Terry Street would be the problem street in that area. It has been an issue that has been consistent in the area for a while," Darnell “Bubba” Johnson said.
Johnson, who is running for sheriff, spoke to county council about the flooding Monday during its regularly scheduled meeting.
Johnson noted that the flooding is near Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
"We have about eight to twelve residents that have been flooded out each time in the area," he said. "It is very bad. It is in such a high-demand and high-traffic area."
Johnson said he is also concerned about someone losing their life in the flood waters.
S.C. Department of Transportation District 7 Engineering Administrator Kevin Gantt said crews were sent out Tuesday to investigate the situation.
An SCDOT vac-truck was sent to vacuum and suction the dirt and debris from pipes on Wednesday.
Gantt said the cause of the frequent flooding is due to an, “undersized drainage structure that was attached to SCDOT’s drainage outlet without an encroachment permit.”
"The water will continue to back up and cause temporary flooding during heavy rains until the drainage system located off SCDOT’s right-of-way is repaired by the property owner," Gantt said.
During Monday’s meeting, Council Vice Chairwoman Janie Cooper-Smith said, "That area has been addressed millions of times, millions of times.
"The neighbors can't do anything about the flooding, but they can do something about the littering."
"When it floods, the litter in the ditches just comes out and pours out like the rain does," she said. "It really adds to the trash."
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said the county is also aware of the situation, noting the roads and ditches in the neighborhood are state-owned and maintained.
Young explained the area was clear cut many years ago with plans to build a housing development.
"There is debris that got in the woods and whenever you have a big flood like that, it pushes all that trash out of the wooded area onto the road," Young said. "We have talked to our GIS department and we are going to get a drone flight done in that area so we can actually find the clog point."
Young said the information will be presented to SCDOT and the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities for review.
In other matters:
• Council gave third and final reading to economic development incentives for a fish hatchery company planning to invest $30 million and create 82 new jobs in Orangeburg County.
Despite third and final reading, Young said there are some details of the project that are still not finalized and declined to provide the company's name. The company is currently known publicly as Project Hunter.
"We are waiting for one last thing from (the S.C. Department) Commerce. As soon as we get that, we will announce," Young said.
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"It is an aquatic project but not at the fish hatchery,” he said.
The company plans to invest $17.2 million in buildings and $12.4 million in machinery and equipment at the John W. Matthews Jr. Industrial Park at the U.S. 301 and U.S. 176 intersection.
The company will receive a 30-year fee agreement and a 15-year special source revenue credit from the county.
The company will be located in a multi-county industrial park with Dorchester County. There is no physical joint industrial park. The designation allows the project to receive some development incentives.
• Council gave third and final reading to incentives for Black Water Tea, LLC (Project Orange A). The project will be a solar farm near Bowman on Charleston Highway.
The land purchase agreement has yet to be finalized, but officials say the farm is “several hundred acres.” The company's name was not released Monday.
The company will make a minimum capital investment of $85 million and will receive a 30-year special source revenue credit and 30-year fee-and-lieu of taxes agreement.
As with most solar farms, there will be no new permanent jobs, but jobs will be in place for construction and maintenance.
• Council gave unanimous second reading to lease-purchase financing for eight Kenworth dump trucks for the county's Department of Public Works. The total cost for the eight trucks is $1,547,500.
"Our trucks don't just haul dirt, but they haul asphalt and other things as well," Young said. "We also do housing demolitions, so those trucks really get wear and tear."
"They are to the point now where maintenance has become such an issue that you spend more money fixing them than you would having a new one," he said. "With us any day that truck ain't running, that means somebody is not getting dirt on their road. The down time is what affects us."
Young said the lease-purchase agreement is, “the best financial situation for us.”
"Under a lease-purchase agreement, the debt payments are smaller than it would be if we bought them outright," Young said. "At the end of the lease, you have an option to put the equipment on lease hold with a buy-out option."
Young estimates the county will save at least $100,000 over the lifetime of the lease-purchase agreement, compared to purchasing the trucks outright. The trucks should be in the county's possession by the end of the January.
• Council was informed the Lower Savannah Council of Governments is conducting a community needs assessment survey and is seeking public input.
The survey will help determine grant funding allocations by the LSCOG when it comes to Community Development Block Grants.
Surveys are available through Feb. 6. The survey is online at www.lscog.org.
• Council was informed there will be a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Day event held at the new Orangeburg County Courthouse MLK monument.
The event will begin at the downtown Memorial Square Monday, Jan. 20 at 11 a.m. Participants will march to the courthouse.
The event will feature music, speakers and food.
• Miss Orangeburg County 2020 Shantavia Edmonds informed council that her platform is to be an advocate for families who are on a waiting list for organ transplants.
Her platform is in honor of her father, James, who received a double-lung transplant.
Edmonds is a senior at Claflin University where she is pursuing a biochemistry degree. She asked for the county's support as she competes for Miss South Carolina in June.
• Council appointed Rogers C. Ideozu to the Orangeburg County Board of Assessment Appeals/Tax Equalization Board for District 5.