February 14, 2024

The Newberry Police Department will soon see a new juvenile crime prevention sergeant in Khadijah Caldwell, as she’s recently been promoted from her former position of corporal.

Police Chief Kevin Goodman said he’s excited to see what personal touches Caldwell will put into that position. Caldwell will be the first African American female investigator for the police department.

Caldwell takes the place of former investigator Caitlin Branch. Goodman thanked Branch for her two years in the role as well as her six years total with the police department.

“She set the bar high in that position and with the work she’s accomplished within the community. She was very passionate about her work,” he said. “We wish her well, love and support her.”

Caldwell began her career with the police department on July 6, 2020 and Goodman said she has risen through the ranks from patrolman, to corporal and now into her current sergeant position. She recently became a certified field training officer, meaning she is responsible for training new officers during their 12-week program.

A goal of Goodman’s he said is as young officers are hired with the department, to begin training them from the beginning to move up into leadership roles within their career.

“We’re a young department, but packed full of talent,” he said. “We have intelligent, talented officers here.”

February 7, 2024

The Newberry Public Safety Complex, located at 1507 Nance Street is now home to a memorial for fallen City of Newberry police officers and firefighters thanks to a generous donation.

Tami Taylor, owner of La-T-Da’s Garden Creation, LLC in Spartanburg reached out to Police Chief Kevin Goodman last year after the passing of Lt. Michael Wood, wanting to do a memorial garden in his honor.

“She advised that she goes around the state doing memorials at no cost for departments that lose officers in the line of duty,” Goodman said.

Goodman said it had been a desire of his since becoming chief to have a memorial for fallen officers. The idea had been shared with Keith Minick, former fire chief and now current Chief Gene Shealy and they echoed the same desires, Goodman said.

“When Tami met with me to look at the building layout, I shared with her about our previous plans to do a memorial for both police and fire between the two employee entrances,” Goodman said. “She fell in love with the idea and it took off from there.”

The statues in the memorial were donated by Taylor and the mulch was a donation from The Original Landscape Supply in Chapin.  Members of both the police and fire departments also donated their time to help assist in pulling everything together.

“It is great to finally memorialize our fallen firefighters and police officers in the city,” said Shealy. “These are sacrifices that should be recognized by future generations of staff and citizens.”

Shealy said the city was truly appreciative of Taylor and the teamwork that made this a reality.

January 29, 2024

Newberry will soon welcome an influx of visitors for the eighth annual South Carolina Clay Conference (SCCC), and pottery sale held this year on February 23-24 at the Old Newberry Hotel. The conference is being held at the Edward Kyzer Newberry Firehouse Conference Center.

The SCCC pottery sale has become one of the largest pottery sales in South Carolina, with this year’s sale including the work of more than 40 potters. The sale is free to attend, and visitors are welcome to view the work and purchase anything they’d love to take home to their own collections.

The pottery sale is held at the Old Newberry Hotel, 1110 Caldwell Street in Newberry on Friday, February 23 from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Saturday, February 24 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“The quantity and variety of the work offered for sale, by the attendees to the conference is amazing,” said Marquerite Palmer, NAC program director. “Not only will you be able to view and purchase work of many in-state and out-of-state clay artists, but you will also have the opportunity to purchase the work of the 2024 presenters.”

While the pottery sale is open to the public, the conference itself is only open to those who have registered to attend. The three-day conference brings attendees from all over South Carolina, as well as additional states, to learn from presenters, demonstrating their expertise in clay. 

Sponsored by the Newberry Arts Center (NAC), this year’s conference presenters include Jennifer McCurdy, whose work resides in collections of museums and patrons around the world, including the Smithsonian Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Everson Museum of Art. McCurdy has been working with porcelain for over 40 years.

Christian Orthwein, an additional presenter, is a sculptor and potter who creates work for everyday use as well as realistic figural sculptures. She currently teaches at Bryn Athyn College, Pennsylvania.

A break-out session will be led by Alexis Gregg, Associate Professor of Studio Art and Wesleyan College in Georgia, on the importance of public art and architectural clay murals and structures.

For more information about the conference and the pottery sale, call the Newberry Arts Center at 803-321-1022, or visit the conference’s website at www.southcarolinaclayconference.com. You can also visit the NAC website at www.newberryartscenter.com.

February 2, 2024

The Newberry County Career Center has a new addition to the fire program thanks to a donation from the Newberry Fire Department. The department recently donated their former Engine 2 (1996 International) to the career center for use in their training of their fire program students.

The fire department and career center held a dedication for the engine on Thursday, January 25 at the Newberry County Career Center outside of their fire program classroom.

The engine will be used for firefighter training at the program and will allow the career center to use the truck to help recruit for the program at career days at community events. 

Fire Chief Gene Shealy approached Newberry City Council last November about the possibility of donating the engine to the program. The engine was replaced in operation at the Newberry Fire Department in 2020, he said, but was previously only meant to be donated if the career center had a building for the engine to be housed in.

Shealy said the engine would not bring in more than $5,000 if sold and he felt it much better spent to be donated to the career center as the program was very beneficial for both the city and county. Council agreed unanimously to move forward.

Mayor Foster Senn said that City Council appreciated Shealy’s idea to donate the fire engine.

“What a great partnership it’s been between the career center and the Newberry Fire Department,” Senn said. “The career center has educated many talented firefighters that have joined the City of Newberry staff and other fire departments in the county. Their graduates are doing an outstanding job.”

About the Partnership

Shealy said the career center’s fire program had been a huge benefit to both the fire department and Newberry County as a whole.

Prior to 2014, Shealy said the career center had had a law and fire program before it was split into two separate programs.

“This was due to a statewide push to develop certified firefighter programs in the career technology centers across the state,” he said. “Chief Minick at the time, along with the Newberry County Career Center and the South Carolina Fire Academy worked together to make this a reality in Newberry.”

In 2014, Shealy became involved in recruitment and retention for the city’s fire department and worked with Gary McGlohorn, to become a certified instructor for the program. The Newberry Fire Department is also a program sponsor and acts as the liaison between the career center and the South Carolina Fire Academy (SCFA).

“We assist with instruction, provide equipment when needed and line up all SCFA testing,” Shealy said.

Students in the level two program also do their service learning with the Newberry Fire Department, spending six hours per week for one semester with the department.

“We appreciate that the city does this,” McGlohorn said. It lets the students know if this is for them or not and lets the fire department know if this would be a good hire or not.”

The program has come a long way from the early days, both Shealy and McGlohorn agreed. Starting out with little to no gear or equipment, Shealy said the city along with other departments throughout Newberry County have donated gear, self-contained breathing apparatuses and other equipment to assist with the program.

While the class has a small number of participants, McGlohorn said they purposefully vetted the participants to keep numbers low and to ensure they have students who want to be there and understand the seriousness of the program.

“We must have students who are serious about the program due to the high risk associated with working within a hazardous environment,” Shealy said. “This keeps the program realistic and meets our standards of training.”

The course covers a lot of material in a short time and also contains a good bit of bookwork and written tests, Shealy said.

“While it is a small group, we have high quality students who are serious about the program,” he said. “Many programs around our state have higher numbers, but I believe our certification and placement rates are some of the best around.”

Each student who passes the high school written exam will be allowed to perform a skills evaluation test through the SCFA to gain a state recognized certification that meets a minimum standard.  Once they meet this requirement, they can challenge the national certification test to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications.  This is what the Newberry Fire Department requires for a minimum standard.

Shealy said one-third of their operational staff has come straight from this program through the career center with national accreditation.

“Had it not been for this program, I’d have been in a world of hurt for firefighters,” he said.

Shealy said donating this engine was the fire department’s way of thanking the career center for sticking with them.

“While the numbers may not be hitting the same mark as other programs, the benefits to the community are here,” he said. “You’re helping both the city and county.”

January 22, 2024

 

City Council celebrated milestones and achievements of employees Tuesday during their first council meeting of the new year.

Recognized for five years of service, Brad Abrams works within the city’s Public Works department and holds the position of vehicle maintenance supervisor.

“He is open to learning and very motivated to solve problems,” Abrams’ supervisor, Kip Gunter said of him. “He is compassionate to fellow employees.”

Shakeen Collins was also recognized for his five years of service with the public works department. Collins began working with the city on October 1, 2018 , and holds the position of heavy equipment operator III.

“He displays a great attitude, is very conscientious about his job, never meets a stranger and is always striving to do the right things,” Gunter said of Collins.

For her five years of service with the city’s justice department, Deana Linowski was recognized by council Tuesday. Linowski began working with the city on November 11, 2018 and holds the position of clerk of court.

Assistant City Manager Jeff Wicker shared words from Linowski’s supervisor, Judge Frank Partridge.

“She is well organized, always prepared, meticulous with documentation and always courteous with defendants,” Partridge said of Linowski.

Jake Longshore was recognized for his five years of service with the city’s fire department. Longshore began working with the city on October 8, 2018 and holds the position of senior engineer.

During his time with the department, Longshore has completed his certifications in Technical Rescue, Hazmat Technician, Fire Instructor I and Fire Officer.

“Jake is an asset to the fire department and the city,” Fire Chief Gene Shealy said. “We’re proud of him.”

Joe Kitchen was recognized for his 20 years of service with the public works department. Kitchen began working for the city on December 1, 2003 and holds the position of service supervisor.

“He is one of the most polite people I know,” Gunter said of Kitchen. “He is dedicated to the citizens of Newberry and always has a smile. He’s my go-to guy.”

Leo Cannon was recognized on his retirement from the city’s public works department. Cannon spent 28 years in the department, with 14 as a maintenance worker. Gunter described Cannon as a true asset to the city and someone who was a joy to be around.

Finance Director Shannon Smith presented the monthly financial report to council sharing that the city had received a $600,000 state grant in January that would be used for the renovation of the future home of the Newberry Arts Center.

Marcy Loucks with McKinley, Cooper & Co., LLC was present via Zoom Tuesday to answer any questions from council related to their firm’s December presentation of the city’s FY2022-2023 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.

Council asked questions about the city’s unassigned fund balance. The audit, Mayor Foster Senn said has the city’s total unassigned fund balance of the general fund as 64% of the total general fund balance expenditures and asked Loucks if she felt like that was a good number.

“I agree that’s a healthy number,” Loucks said.

Updates/Announcements

Senn shared many good news updates Tuesday including compliments on downtown’s Christmas décor and festivities last year, Tracy Long as the recent city employee spotlight, recent honorees from both the police and fire departments as well as a new business, The Barn Nutrition Bar + Hangout open at 2857 Main Street.

Other updates included the announcement of the 2024 Spartan Race Weekend, coming on November 16 of this year to Newberry.

Senn also shared he’d had correspondence by phone with CSX and that while the city knew they’d be coming to town, they did not know that they’d be closing all railroad crossings at once.

Correspondence was also shared from the family of former City Manager Al Harvey, thanking the city for their support in his passing. Senn also shared a note about a utility supervisor, Brad Rikard who received praises from a citizen for his work in solving a problem.

A public hearing was held Tuesday of an ordinance to amend the zoning map for tax map number 341-3-1-5 located at 2433 College Street to RMX – Mixed Use Residential.

With no one speaking in favor or opposition to the proposed ordinance, Senn declared the public hearing closed.

Following the public hearing, second and final reading of this ordinance was held and passed with a motion by Councilperson Carlton Kinard and second by Councilperson Jackie Holmes.

New Business

Under new business, council approved a resolution authorizing signatures for check signing. Interim City Manager Ed Driggers said the city was in a transitional time with their city clerk position and the city’s assistant finance director was currently out on leave for the birth of a child.

“We always want to make sure we have staff here, present and available for check signing,” Driggers said.

Driggers said it was his recommendation to give Utilities Director Tim Baker permission to sign checks if needed.

This resolution authorizes any two of the finance director, assistant finance director and utility director to sign checks.

Motion to approve the resolution was made by Councilman David DuBose and seconded by Holmes.

First reading of an ordinance was then passed amending the city’s business license ordinance by adding a new Class 9 rate category. Driggers told council as the city was processing the ordinance in December, this section had inadvertently been omitted. This corrects that so this specific portion related to industrial products can be included.

Motion to approve first reading was made by Glasgow and seconded by Wicker.

Council approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning and future land use map for parcel 341-1-19-1 at Nance Street. This is the result of the owner’s petition to reclassify the parcel from R10 – Residential to R6 – Residential.

The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification change of Ry for the zoning and future land use maps.

Planning and Development Director Wayne Redfern said the intent of the property owner would be to subdivide the lot into two parcels, putting a single duplex on each side, with the idea they could be a rental or full-sale depending on the market.

Motion to approve first reading was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilperson David Force. Prior to second reading, a public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 13.

Driggers then presented a report to council and audience members regarding the search for the next city manager. He elaborated that the city would be reaching out on an international basis, but more so concentrating on the southeastern states. He said the city planned to spend the month of February receiving applications, with the deadline being the first Monday in March.

In March, Driggers said the city would bring information forward to council, with a plan to schedule initial interviews in April, final interviews in May and for June to be a transitional month.

“Our desire is to have this person on board with us by July 1 of this year,” he said.

Driggers said the city would be reaching out to employees as well as holding focus groups to inquire as to what employees would like to see in the next city manager.

Public Comment

Under public comment, Mary Beth Heath and Tracy Wise spoke on behalf of Feed They Neighbor Kitchen and 4 Real Second Chances, which operate out of O’Neal Street United Methodist Church. They spoke on the services they provide and expressed a need for more resources to make a larger impact.

Wayne Pratt then shared concerns about the CSX railroad crossing closures. While the closings were advertised, he stated that many residents had trouble with all the crossings being closed simultaneously and felt emergency response could be an issue.

Steve Corsini addressed and invited council to participate in a production to bring awareness to Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.  The production will take place at the RitzFest February 2-3.

City Council will meet again on Tuesday, February 13 at 7 p.m. at the Center for Teacher Education, the former, Speer Street Elementary School.

 Brad Abrams

 Shakeen Collins

 Deana Linowski

 Jake Longshore

 Joe Kitchen

 Leo Cannon