Council OKs Newberry County Handbook change

By Andrew Wigger -

NEWBERRY — Newberry County Council has approved a change to the Newberry County Handbook, as well as a requirement for annual stipend payments to first responders.

Katherine Cook, Human Resources director for Newberry County, said the change to the handbooks involved the “Tobacco Products in County Buildings” section.

“The proposed policy would prohibit smoking not only in County buildings, but on county property in general, and in county vehicles,” Cook said.

The changes were approved after Councilman Johnny Mack Scurry made a motion and Councilman Travis Reeder seconded.

Council also approved a requirement for annual stipend payments to first responders. According to Cook, to ensure proper payment of the stipend, the county will now require either a copy of the first responder’s Social Security card or a completed W-9 form.

“There are 227 first responders that are scheduled to receive the $500 stipend this year; 225 have already complied with this request,” Cook said.

Council approved this requirement as policy after Councilman Scott Cain made a motion and Councilwoman Harriett Rucker seconded.

In other business, Council approved a variety of different holiday related items.

After a motion by Rucker and a second by Cain, Council approved the holiday schedule. The county will observe the following holidays on the following days: Thanksgiving: Nov. 28, 29; Christmas: Dec. 24, 25 and 26; New Year’s Day: January 1.

Council also approved the date for the employee Christmas dinner, after Rucker made a motion and Scurry seconded.

“The employee Christmas dinner will be held on Friday, December 20 from Noon until 2:00 p.m. at Community Hall — Bill and Frans will cater. The total cost is approximately $1,700. As is customary, the dinner will be paid for from the Non-departmental Subsistence account,” Cook said.

Council also approved the purchase for employee Christmas gift cards, in the amount of $9,500. The gift cards will come from Food Lion, according to Cook, at $50 apiece.

“Food Lion offers a five percent discount for the purchase of these cards,” Cook said. “As is customary, these gift cards will be paid for from the Non-departmental Subsistence account.”

Other business:

• Council approved a bid from the Municipal Emergency Services for structural firefighting gear in the amount of $36,516.96. Crystal Waldrop, procurement director, said there was only one bid from the solicitation. The specific equipment bid was 24 sets of turnout gear. She said that this is basically the clothing firefighters wear when going in to fight a structure fire.

• Council approved third reading, and held a public hearing, for an ordinance to provide for the issuance and sale of not exceeding $1,250,000 general obligation bonds. This borrowing pertains to capital expenditure items approved as part of the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget: facilities maintenance building, $300,000; fleet maintenance building, $250,000; fire service training grounds, $150,000; animal shelter storage building, $62,500; improvements and/or additions to Mid-Carolina Commerce Park, $420,000.

• Council approved two second readings on ordinances changing two parcels from R2-rural to General Commercial (GC). The two land parcels are located behind Wilson Tractor on Wilson Road and are owned by Wilson Tractor. The stated purpose of the rezoning is to utilize these parcels as part of the property owner’s business.

• Jay Tothacer, county attorney, presented information to Council to make them aware that staff is working on proposed changes to the Planning Commission Rules. According to Tothacer, there are currently twelve County Council appointed seats – one for each council district and five at large members. The proposed plan will suggest eliminating the five at large appointments. Another six seats would be eliminated in the form of representation for the City of Newberry. The City of Newberry has its own separate planning commission and planning-related ordinances. The existing ordinance also calls for one appointee each for the municipalities of Whitmire and Silverstreet. Neither of these entities 1) has zoning regulations of their own, or 2) uses Newberry County’s zoning regulations within their corporate limits. In sum, the existing ordinance requires 13 unnecessary appointments that are a burden to the Commission.

By Andrew Wigger

Reach Andrew Wigger @ 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.

Reach Andrew Wigger @ 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.