Yemassee, Furman to get new fire trucks

Hampton County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliot announced during Monday’s Hampton County Council meeting that the county has received confirmation that $500,000 will be provided by Community Development Block Grant funding for the purchase of a new fire truck to serve the towns of Yemassee and Furman.  This will be the first new fire truck Hampton County has received in seven years, said Hampton County Fire Chief Greg Cook and Dobson-Elliot.

The news of the new truck was met with applause by officials and the audience members. The new truck will help keep residents safe, as well as benefit the county during ISO insurance reviews. One of the reasons certain areas of the county have had higher-than-average fire insurance premiums has been because of the need of an additional truck.

Dobson-Elliot credited the Lowcountry Council of Governments for their assistance in helping the county receive the funds, as well as Chief Cook and his men for their hard work.

SCA representative speaks about Promise Zone

Dean Van Pelt, of the SouthernCarolina Alliance, informed Hampton County Council Nov. 20 of the organization’s continuing involvement in the Federal Promise Zone program and partnerships with organizations involved in Promise Zone programs. He informed council of Connect South Carolina’s intent to bring increased broadband internet connectivity to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  

He stated nearly 40 percent of Hampton County residents have access to broadband internet access. The areas which will most benefit from increased broadband access are areas several miles away from main roadways.

According to Connect South Carolina's website, the non-profit organization’s mission is to increase high-speed Internet access, adoption and use to diversify the economy and ensure South Carolina's competitiveness in the connected global economy of the 21st Century, the website states.

Connect South Carolina was commissioned by the Office of the Governor to work with each of the state's broadband providers to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and to assess the current state of broadband adoption, community-by-community, across South Carolina.  

Connect South Carolina will continue to develop and update broadband data over time, ensuring state policymakers and citizens alike are equipped with important information.  Connect South Carolina's efforts are funded by the United States Department of Commerce's State Broadband Initiative (SBI) Grant Program through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.  More information is available at www.broadbandusa.gov.

“Rural and Tribal areas face unique challenges and we are ready to take on those challenges with creative solutions that strengthen communities,” said USDA Secretary Vilsack.  “The Promise Zone initiative delivers proven results by encouraging collaboration between the federal government, community organizations, the private sector and state and local governments. Through these partnerships, we are supporting jobs and economic opportunities that enable rural areas to thrive.”

The SCA representative also informed council of the SCA’s plan to bring a forensics crime lab to the area to serve the six counties which fall under the SC Promise Zone declaration in the future. Furthermore, the SCA will look to bring additional technical colleges to the six-county region in which they serve.  

District 2 Financial Update

Scott Allen, Hampton School District 2 Financial Advisor, informed the county council that District 2’s finances continue to remain in good standing. According to Allen, the district’s finances are slowly dwindling, which is to be expected nearing the end of the fiscal year. However, the district has $200,000 remaining in the debt services fund. Allen went on to inform council District 2 will have no need to borrow any money from their general fund to cover any expenses.

Allen also informed council of the district’s desire to purchase a new accounting system. Currently, the outdated system the district uses is extremely time intensive for employees. As well as saving district employees hours, the new paperless accounting equipment will save the district money with regards to paper and printing costs.

The new system would cost the district $79,000, said Allen. He was asked by council if the districts purchase of a new accounting system would negatively affect its ability to repay a loan from the county. He stated the purchase would not affect the loan payback. The cost of the accounting system will be repaid over several years. 

In other county council meeting news:

  • County Chairman Shedron Williams informed those who attended the meeting the county was currently in the process of collecting delinquent business taxes.
  • Councilman-elect Ronald Winn asked questions regarding school taxes and millage rates during the public comments portion of the meeting. Councilman Charles “Buddy” Phillips noted school districts set their own rates and can raise or lower the millage rates after a special referendum is held. “We are just the collectors,” Williams told Winn.
  • Williams stated he would like an Ad Hoc committee to be formed in the future to research current county employee salaries.
  • Dobson-Elliot informed council fuel tanks have been installed at the Hampton County Airport and fuel suppliers were being researched.
  • Quincy Jones of Company2, of Varnville, approached council seeking permission to test large airport fire trucks on the H.C. Airport runway. Jones will attend the next county council meeting for a response from council.