January 12, 2022

 

First reading was passed Tuesday to change the date of regular elections for the offices of mayor and members of council. If second reading is passed, elections will be moved to South Carolina Municipal Election Day, on the first Tuesday in November of each odd-numbered calendar year beginning November 7, 2023.

Per the current code of ordinances for the City of Newberry, regular elections for the offices of mayor and members of council are currently held in even-numbered years on the second Tuesday in September. A run-off election, if necessary is currently held two weeks following the election.

Mayor Foster Senn read a letter to council from Amy Perkins, director of Newberry County registration and election board encouraging City Council to move the election to the day, now generally known as “Municipal Election Day.”

In her letter, Perkins said the South Carolina State Election Commission continued to encourage the Newberry County Voter Registration and Elections Board to work with their local municipalities to change their election to fall on Municipal Election Day for the following reasons:

  • Statewide focus on elections
    • More media coverage
    • Voter education will improve
    • Voters will know when election day is
    • Meaningful voter participation will improve
    • Election Night Reporting which gives media, candidates, and the public faster centralized results.

Perkins said it would also streamline election administration for reasons such as saving time and resources by eliminating duplication of efforts and simplifying training of poll managers.

Senn said approximately 60% of municipalities in the state currently hold their general elections on that day as well.

Motion was made by Councilman David DuBose and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker to pass first reading. If second reading is passed, the code of ordinances will be amended to state that regular elections for the offices of mayor and members of council shall be held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November of each odd-numbered calendar year beginning November 7, 2023. A run-off election, if necessary, shall be held two weeks following the election.

The ordinance would be effective such that the election presently scheduled for September 2022 for Districts 1, 3, 5 and the office of mayor would be held in November 2023 and the elections presently scheduled for Districts 2, 4, and 6 to be held in September 2024 would be held in November 2025.

Senn also said that council is studying the current starting date for elected officials and election filing fees and that these items may be addressed in a future ordinance.

Also under new business, first reading was passed to provide for amendments to the revenue and expenditure appropriations in the fiscal year 2021-22.

City Manager Matt DeWitt told council that staff needed to amend the current budget due to various unknown factors when submitting the original budget requests as well as the unknown revenues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. The factors are as follows: Purchase of police cars, addition of one position in the police department, completion of the Marion Davis bathroom, purchase of the Newberry Arts Center building, renovations at Wise Street Park, gear and training for new fire department hires, accounting for American Rescue Plan funds, repairs for the Firehouse Conference Center, the purchase of a front gate and mower, as well as polish for the Newberry Recreation Complex, renovations at Wells Japanese Garden, adjustments for the Main Street water line project, and adjustments in the Utility Capital Fund.

Councilman Carlton Kinard made a motion, seconded by Councilman Lemont Glasgow to approve first reading.

Further Discussion

Senn announced that DeWitt had been nominated and elected to serve a full, three year term on the South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust Board. The SCMIT was formed in 1983 as an unincorporated entity sponsored by the Municipal Association of South Carolina for the purpose of providing worker’s compensation coverage to its members.

The City of Newberry joined the SCMIT pool in 1984, Senn said as one of the charter cities to participate. DeWitt said he was honored to be able to represent Newberry and the other participating municipalities from around the state.

Following a return into open session, Kinard made a motion to reappoint Steve Foulis and Frank Kelly to the Accommodations Tax Committee for two-year terms. Councilwoman Jackie Holmes seconded the motion.

Councilman David Force made a motion, seconded by Wicker to reappoint Cile Hursey, Robert Montgomery and Lisa Senn to the Architectural Review Board for two-year terms.

Charles Sims was appointed to the Planning Commission for a three-year term, following a motion by Holmes and second by Kinard.

Senn made a motion to appoint Scott Malyerck to the Planning Commission, also for a three-year term. The motion was seconded by Holmes.

For the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, DuBose made a motion, seconded by Holmes to reappoint Mike Graham and Ed Satcher and to appoint Scott Bellows for two-year terms.

In the discussion for premium pay for city employees, Senn again thanked city staff for their hard work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Glasgow made a motion, seconded by Kinard to approve Tier 3 premium pay of $500 for volunteer firefighters.

City Council’s next monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 8.

January 12, 2022

 

The City of Newberry utilities department will soon begin their water line replacement project on Main Street.

Work is scheduled to begin February 1. However, Utility Director Tim Baker told council Tuesday that the community may begin to see contractors staging and doing preliminary boring to get ready for the replacement.

Last year, the department did multiple point repairs to the city’s sewer system along Main Street, followed by the Public Works department completing full depth patching of the road. However, this project involves moving the water line on Main Street to the right-of-way on the left-hand side of the street (coming from town towards Wilson Road).

This is the final step before the South Carolina Department of Transportation comes in to resurface Main Street, he said.

Baker told council that most of the fire hydrants along Main Street will be moved to the opposite side of the road so that they are closer to the new location of the water line. While this new line should be in excellent shape for many years to come, he said that should any future repairs be needed, the work may not require road closure.

“Our goal is to improve the infrastructure along Main Street while having the least amount of impact to residents,” he said.

While Baker said there was no ideal time for the work to be completed, they felt this time of year would be least impactful to businesses and visitors downtown. Most of the work will be completed during daytime hours.

Work will take place on Main Street between Kinard and Holman Streets, with an estimated completion date of the spring, prior to SCDOT resurfacing the road. While DOT is resurfacing Main Street up through the Nance Street intersection, Baker said the cost and timing did not work for that to be added to the scope of the water line replacement project.

Main Street utility customers should soon be receiving letters from the city’s utilities department informing them of the project. Baker said the city has asked their contractor to communicate with customers if they’ll need to block driveways. They’ve been asked to communicate via door hangers or knocking on doors.

“Should a crew member knock or ring your doorbell please answer if you are comfortable doing so, as they may have information they need to share with you,” he said.

Crew members should be identified by uniform or ID and have been asked to maintain social distancing if interacting with customers. Baker said should any utility customers have questions about the identity of someone contacting them, to call the office at 803-321-1018.

“I understand that everyone on Main Street has had a tremendous amount of patience, and we really appreciate that,” Baker said. “Main Street will have great infrastructure once the work is completed.”

Updates on the project will also be communicated through the City of Newberry’s social media channels.

State GIS Coordinator of the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (SCRFA), Adam DeMars presented the City of Newberry’s redistricting benchmark report to City Council on Tuesday.

DeMars noted a variance in excess of 10% between certain districts and noted the need to proceed with the redistricting process for the city’s district map. A public hearing was held following the presentation to receive input regarding identifying communities of interest as a component of redistricting in the city. No one spoke to identify communities of interest and the public hearing was closed.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer presented council with a Newberry Recreation Update to include future plans in upgrades to Wells Japanese Garden and Wise Street Park.

Sawyer said planning was underway for the future home of the Newberry Arts Center and that Create Newberry, the local arts non-profit organization, had been instrumental in getting consultants to canvas the community about desired programming. The responses and programs offered at the arts center will impact the future floorplan for the facility.

Due to a clause in the city’s financial policy, if at the end of a fiscal year, the minimum unassigned fund balance policy is not met, the city manager must submit a plan of corrective action to city council within six months of notification of the shortfall.

City Manager Matt DeWitt noted the unassigned fund balance was at 11.07%, compared to last year’s number of 11.14%, with the reason being the payback on the city’s fiber project. DeWitt’s recommendation was that the general fund needed to do everything it could to accelerate payback to the city’s utility system so that it could begin to rebuild unassigned savings, including possible use of ARP funds and unassigned economic development funds.

Financial Report

Matt Phillips of McKinley, Cooper & Co., LLC presented council with an overview of the FY2020-2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Phillips said the city’s financial statements were fairly stated in all material respects as of June 30, 2021. The audit format, Phillips said continues to reflect GASB Accounting Standards and that his firm would be issuing an unmodified opinion, which is the best opinion the city can receive.

Philips summarized the various funds for council and said that no material weaknesses or instances of noncompliance were noted.

Mayor Foster Senn asked Phillips what they were seeing in other municipalities with the pandemic to which he replied they had not seen large deviations and that most were doing well.

A public hearing was held for the purpose of receiving comments concerning amending a zoning ordinance to remove the prohibition of illumination of digital signs from 11 p.m. until sunrise. With no comments made for/against the ordinance, the public hearing was closed.

An additional public hearing was held to assign a zoning classification and amend the zoning and future land use map for a parcel located at 1407 Chapman Drive. With no one speaking in favor or opposition, the public hearing was closed.

Under public comment, Giacomo Knox addressed council with concerns for the intersection of Glenn Street and Adelaide Street. Knox told council he believed the intersection was dangerous and asked them to study the intersection to possibly install an all-way stop sign. Senn asked city staff to reach out to the South Carolina Department of Transportation to conduct the study.

Old Business

Under old business, Councilwoman Jackie Holmes made a motion that was seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard to approve second reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance to remove the prohibition of illumination of digital signs from 11 p.m. until sunrise.

With a motion by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and second from Councilman David Force, second reading was also passed of an ordinance to annex certain areas contiguous to the city limits into the City of Newberry.

Second reading was passed of an ordinance to assign a zoning classification and amend the zoning and future land use map for a parcel located at 1407 Chapman Drive. Motion was made by Holmes and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker.

Final order of old business was passing second reading to authorize the lease purchase of an automated side-loader truck with a motion by Wicker and second by Councilman David DuBose.

New Business

Under new business, a resolution was passed granting city council authorization to its members, managers, department heads, personnel and agents to perform all necessary actions and duties to meet the redistricting criteria in order to accomplish the redistricting of the City of Newberry. Criteria for redistricting is as follows:

  • Adhere to the court ordered constitutional requirement of one person, one vote.
  • Adherence to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as amended and as interpreted by court decisions.
  • Solicit public input.
  • Ensure that parts of the districts are contiguous.
  • To the extent practicable, ensure that the districts are geographically compact.
  • Respect Communities of Interest.
  • Attempt to maintain constituent consistency.
  • Seek to avoid splitting precincts.

Motion was made by Glasgow and seconded by Holmes.

Resolution was also passed Tuesday to adopt the update to the All Natural Hazards Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan for the Central Midlands Region in its entirety as an official plan and will undertake annual recordings of hazard events, their impact duration and cost.

The Central Midlands Council of Governments, accepting the All Natural Hazards Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan from the Central Midlands Regional Risk Assessment and Hazard Mitigation Committee, will submit on behalf of the participating counties and municipalities the adopted All Natural Hazards Plan to the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials for final review and approval.

Motion was made by DuBose and seconded by Force to approve the resolution.

Also under new business, council approved to add Sherwin Williams SW2847 Roycroft Bottle Green as a body color to the Architectural Review Board’s color palette. Senn made the motion, seconded by Glasgow.

The owner of 1109 Caldwell Street requested to paint their storefront in that color, which was not on the approved color palette and needed to be brought before council.

Discussion included DuBose expressing concern about approving too many colors and leading to many requests and a deviation from the ARB’s color palette. Holmes expressed her desire to maintain a historical level to downtown.

Other updates included:

  • Wicker made a motion, seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard to approve the city’s FOIA fees as presented, to include the removal of CD-ROMs as a delivery device and replace them with USB flash drives at a cost of $6.
  • Senn shared information with council, highlighting the 2021 South Carolina Election Calendar and the number of municipal elections that took place on November 2, 2021. He noted that 163 of the 271 cities in SC currently hold elections on “Municipal Election Day.” The state is working to get municipalities uniformed on election days, Senn said. An ordinance would be required to move election day, and if passed, each member of council would have their term extended one year.
  • Glasgow made a motion, seconded by DuBose to approve premium pay of $500 for Tier 3 (scheduled, part-time or contract) employees and $250 for Tier 4 (seasonal) employees. Council expressed a desire to continue studying premium pay for volunteer firefighters.
  • Holmes made a motion to appoint Bobby Patel to the Accommodations Tax Committee. Dubose seconded the motion.

January 12, 2022

 

City Council recognized many employees and retirees Tuesday at their regular council meeting. Each staff member was honored with a certificate, plaque or gift commemorating their years of service.

Mayor Foster Senn said one of the positive things that had come out of the past few years was that city staff were now recognized quarterly outdoors in Memorial Park. Senn thanked the staff as they heard praise about employees across all departments.

“This is quite the list of impressive folks,” Senn said of the honorees. “We would not be able to operate as the city without the quality work done by the names on this list.”

Tim Baker, utilities director was recognized for five years of service to the city’s utilities department. City Manager Matt DeWitt said the city was very fortunate to have Baker’s expertise and experience in helping run the city’s utilities department.

“Tim is an integral piece in the continued successful operations of the city’s utilities department,” DeWitt said. “He has overseen the advancement of our systems and continues to ensure that the public utilities our customers pay for are operating at their optimal levels.”

Also with the utilities department, Robbie Long was recognized for five years. Long is an electric lineman. DeWitt described Long as a very hard worker, reliable and with outstanding performance.

Casey Proctor, water sewer foreman within the utilities department was also recognized for five years of service to the city. DeWitt said Proctor worked well with his co-workers as well as with other departments.

“He has excellent knowledge of the job and is very dedicated,” he said.

For his 10 years of service to the city’s Public Works department, Britt Worthy was recognized by council. Worthy is a heavy equipment operator III. Worthy was described by DeWitt as a dedicated employee that took his job very seriously.

Chris Bouknight, maintenance worker, was recognized for 15 years of service to the city’s Public Works department.

“Chris always has a positive attitude and never complains about assisting other departments,” DeWitt said.

Also within the Public Works department, Jody Day was recognized for his 15 years of service. Day is a supervisor within the department. DeWitt said that Day was an employee that had to wear several different hats within the city and that he was always willing to take on new duties and projects.

Finance Director Shannon Smith was recognized Tuesday for her 15 years of service to the city’s finance department. DeWitt said Smith has continued a tradition of financial excellence at the City of Newberry.

“Shannon has overseen many changes within the city throughout her tenure and always ensures the city’s best financial interests are being met,” he said.

William Brown was recognized for his 25 years of service to the city’s utilities department. Brown is an electric foreman within the department and was described as a first-class foreman and huge asset to the city.

Described as dependable and dedicated, Leo Cannon was recognized for his 25 years of service to the city’s Public Works department. Cannon is a maintenance worker within the department.

Kevin Longshore was recognized for 30 years with the city’s utilities department. Longshore is a water plant operator and does work within the plant’s lab as well as maintenance and keeping up with parts and supplies needed at the water plant. DeWitt said that Longshore had spent many long days and overnights during various matters at the plant and was a dedicated employee.

Fire Chief Keith Minick was recognized for his 30 years of service with the Newberry Fire Department. DeWitt said after 30 years in the fire service, there wasn’t much that Minick hadn’t seen.

“Keith has a passion for fire safety and the Newberry community, and it is evident in the work he does each day,” he said.

Municipal Judge Frank Partridge was recognized by council for his 45 years of service. DeWitt said as judge, Partridge had never had a case reversed on appeal and was known to be a good and fair judge.

Retirees

Angela Summer was honored for her retirement after over 30 years of service to the city. At her retirement earlier this year, Summer was Water Plant Superintendent within the utilities department.

DeWitt said that Summer was committed to the job and could be counted on to make sure the city’s water system was reliable.

Retiring in July 2021, Tamra Tootle was recognized for her service to the city for over six years. At the time of her retirement, Tootle was Division Director. DeWitt said Tootle’s involvement in human resources and risk management saw many advancements to the interactions and technologies serving the city’s employees.

Senn thanked the retirees for being “all-star” city employees.

“They have been so dedicated, done so much for our citizens and we are appreciative,” he said.

 Tim Baker, 5 years

 Robbie Long, 5 years

 Casey Proctor, 5 years

 Britt Worthy, 10 years

 Chris Bouknight, 15 years

 Jody Day, 15 years

 Shannon Smith, 15 years

 William Brown, 25 years

 Leo Cannon, 25 years

 Kevin Longshore, 30 years

 Keith Minick, 30 years

 Frank Partridge, 45 years

 Angela Summer, Retirement 

December 15, 2021

 

Newberry City Council recognized city staff members Tuesday for various achievements and milestones.

Council recognized Captain Gene Shealy with the Newberry Fire Department as he was recently honored as the School District of Newberry County’s first honorary inductee of the National Technical Honor Society for his hard work, mentorship and dedication to the Newberry County Career Center’s Emergency and Fire Management Program.

Also honored were Captain Brian Beck, Engineer Michael Parker and Firefighter Malik Gibson as they were awarded the Commendation Bar/Unit Commendation award for actions regarding service rendered on an emergency call in the City of Newberry earlier this year.

Mayor Foster Senn said that the Commendation Medal/Commendation Bar was awarded to a member of the department for a credible act in the line of duty which was commendable in nature and displayed admirable initiative and accomplishment. The Unit Commendation is awarded to those who have performed service to the department in a highly commendable manner.

Fire Chief Keith Minick said these gentlemen acted with a lot of courage and compassion during this call, performing their medical first aid and CPR until EMS arrived. Minick said they were proud of their hard work and dedication of what they do, not only to fight fires, but also in the area of mutual aid to help the city’s citizens.

“We’re proud of the hard work and dedication of what they do, not only to fight fires, but also in the first aid and medical field to help our citizens,” Minick said.

Shealy was also recognized along with Engineer Michael Parker for receiving the lifesaving award as their actions on a call earlier this year resulted in saving a life. To receive the lifesaving medal, the firefighter must be a member of the department who is principally involved in saving the life of another person and whose personal actions were directly responsible for the lifesaving act.

Senn commended the fire department on their variety of skills within their department that extended past firefighting.

The city’s finance department was also recognized by council for receiving the Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the twenty-eighth year in a row. The award is presented annually by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States to those governments that have achieved the highest standards of perfection in their accounting procedures.

Senn said there were very few municipalities in the United States that achieved this level of competency, and that council was proud of the department and to receive this award. 

 Council recognized Captain Gene Shealy with the Newberry Fire Department as he was recently honored as the School District of Newberry County’s first honorary inductee of the National Technical Honor Society. From left to right: Councilman Lemont Glasgow, Mayor Foster Senn, Gene Shealy, and Fire Chief Keith Minick. 

 Captain Brian Beck, Engineer Michael Parker and Firefighter Malik Gibson were awarded the Commendation Bar/Unit Commendation award for actions regarding service rendered on an emergency call in the City of Newberry earlier this year. From left to right: Councilman Lemont Glasgow, Mayor Foster Senn, Malik Gibson, Brian Beck, Michael Parker and Fire Chief Keith Minick.

 Gene Shealy was recognized along with Engineer Michael Parker for receiving the lifesaving award as their actions on a call earlier this year resulted in saving a life. From left to right: Councilman Lemont Glasgow, Mayor Foster Senn, Michael Parker, Gene Shealy, Fire Chief Keith Minick.

 The city’s finance department was also recognized by council for receiving the Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the twenty-eighth year in a row. From left to right: Councilman Lemont Glasgow, Assistant Finance Director Taylor Jackson, Finance Director Shannon Smith, Mayor Foster Senn.