The Municipal Association of South Carolina is providing money for projects designed to draw visitors into Bamberg and Orangeburg.
Each community will receive a $25,000 Hometown Economic Development grant. Eleven other communities also received grants.
"These grants will help our cities and towns continue to strengthen their economic development efforts to attract and retain businesses in their downtowns and neighborhoods," Municipal Association Executive Director Wayne George said.
Orangeburg’s grant will go toward the development of a downtown farmers market. Bamberg’s grant will be used for the restoration of a historic caboose to honor the town’s history.
Orangeburg farmers market
The Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association is planning the construction of a 6,000-square-foot permanent, open-air farmers market/pavilion.
The grant will be used to develop plans for construction and a firm cost estimate for the first phase of the project, DORA Executive Director Candice Roberson said.
"Once our construction numbers are finalized, DORA will launch a capital campaign to secure the additional funds needed to construct the DORA Market Pavilion,” she said.
The pavilion will be located at the site of the former Sifly furniture building at the corner of Church and Russell streets.
The pavilion will have 12-foot high ceilings with two climate-controlled, handicapped accessible, multi-stalled restrooms. The plans also call for storage and office space.
The downtown farmers market/pavilion will cost about $800,000. The first phase will include the pavilion and the second phase will include a community commercial kitchen.
The facility will be able to house 32 vendors. Power and water will be available for vendors and fans and lighting will be installed.
Construction on the pavilion, which will be built with timber, is expected to begin in early spring of 2019.
DORA hopes to have the pavilion open by the end of summer 2019.
To date, about $170,000 in commitments have been made toward the project.
In addition to serving as a farmers market, organizers plan for the facility to host family reunions, wedding receptions, oyster roasts and even street dances in the case of inclement weather. The pavilion could also host such things as arts and craft shows, flower symposiums and other community events.
The city will match $3,750 for the grant.
Bamberg will receive the grant for the "Caboose in the Middle" project.
The caboose will be placed next to the county courthouse campus. The goal is to create a small museum within the caboose.
The proposed railroad museum will honor the importance of railroads to the history of Bamberg County, in particular the Hamburg Railroad that ran from Augusta, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina.
The caboose will be located adjacent to the historic Hamburg Railroad line.
"It is going to be wonderful," Bamberg Mayor Nancy Foster said. "I can't wait to see it when it is finished. We are so excited."
The first rail line in the state ran through Bamberg.
Both the city of Bamberg and Bamberg County will partner in the restoration project.
The City of Bamberg owns the property where the caboose will be located. Bamberg County will direct the caboose repairs.
Bamberg will receive the funds and will be required to provide a 5 percent match of $1,250.
The grant will be used for crane rental, truck transport, site prep, rail placement, utility relocation and permitting.
The total restoration and relocation project’s cost is $100,000.
Bamberg County will fund about $75,000 of the project out of a $6 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan it received for the restoration of the courthouse.
The caboose is currently located in the Conrad Ehrhardt Railroad Park in Ehrhardt. It was initially given to the Bamberg County Historical Society by Norfolk Southern Railroad, but there were concerns about the ability of the historical society to adequately preserve it.
The caboose was then given to Ehrhardt but has now become too much for the town to take on, Foster said.
Foster says she hopes the caboose will be finished by the end of 2019.