Staff from the Newberry Museum presented the City of Newberry with a copy of the 1832 Village of Newberry Charter to thank them for their support of the museum. The charter was presented to council on Tuesday by John Favors, Ernest Shealy and Sheridan Murray.

“The grand opening for the museum is set for Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m. It’s been quite a journey and one that’s been a community team effort,” Favors said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of citizens, Newberry County Council, our city and town councils in the district and financial support that has been key in helping us reach this goal.”

Mayor Foster Senn thanked the museum for the surprise gift and said he looked forward to the museum’s opening and people enjoying it for years to come.

“This is your museum,” Favors said “And we hope it’s one you’ll be proud of. One that we hope your grandchildren will be proud of.”

Several city staff were recognized Tuesday for their years of service with the city. Waldo Tapia was recognized for his five years of service with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) and Public Works departments. Tapia began working with the city on September 15, 2014 and holds the position of PRT Services Supervisor.

Senn said residents may see Tapia working all over town from early mornings to evenings and he appreciated his work for the city.

“It’s not really a question of where is Waldo, he’s everywhere you want to go,” said Scott Sawyer, parks, recreation and tourism director.

Sawyer said Tapia had done an outstanding job and worked all over the city.

“If you see him around town, tell him you appreciate what he does because we certainly do,” he said.

From the utility department, Tim Cogdell was recognized for his 15 years of service with the city’s Waste Water Plant. Cogdell began his employment with the utility department on September 13, 2004 and holds the position of Waste Treatment Plant Superintendent.

“He’s always willing to help out and always does it with a smile,” said Utility Director Tim Baker.

Baker said that Cogdell works with many industries to make sure the wastewater they discharge is held to the same as domestic standards.

When new industries consider the city, Senn said it was crucial to them that the city’s water and waste water departments can accommodate them, and he was proud of the utility department for the work they did with the city’s industrial base.

As a special recognition, council recognized Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge for recently being named as a board member to the Municipal Technology Association. The Municipal Technology Association of South Carolina promotes the effective use of information technology by municipalities and offers training on how to improve services and achieve greater efficiencies using the latest technological innovations for municipal government.

“You’ve done an outstanding job here, so it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve gotten involved on the state level,” Senn said. “We congratulate and applaud you.”

City Updates

Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge provided a monthly update for council on the fiber rollout within the city limits. Eldridge estimated that fiber was approximately 55 percent completed across the city, with Zone 2 about 65-70 percent completed.

The Tanyard Street fiber distribution hub, he said had been turned on for service, with the Mollohon fiber distribution hub completed and the Glenn Street fiber distribution hub having been installed last week.

Eldridge said the Forest Ridge area would soon be ready for service with the fiber already pulled to the area.

“Next week it should be spliced in and be service ready,” he said.

At this time, he estimated they were a little over two weeks behind schedule with their contractor bringing in an additional crew to help get back to their original timeline.

“We look forward to more progress over the next month,” Senn said to Eldridge.

As an update to council, Senn read and signed a proclamation naming October 6-12, 2019 as Public Power Week in the City of Newberry and thanked the utility department for the work their crews did on a daily basis.

Under another update, Police Chief Roy McClurkin provided an update to council on the efforts by the police department to combat speeding in the area of Nance Street as several citizens had expressed their concern several months prior.

McClurkin said they began enforcement efforts in July by looking at traffic patterns as well as speeds in the area, identifying that while there is some speeding, the majority happens earlier in the morning as people are coming into the city limits.

“We have been placing officers in the area doing stationary radar and plan to continue to do that moving forward,” McClurkin said.

As another effort, McClurkin said they contacted the highway department about lowering the speed limit, but that the request was denied.

McClurkin said that the Sheriff’s department had also been gracious enough to help them with enforcement in portions of the street that were not in the city limits.

Senn thanked the police department in their recent efforts during the hostage situation in the city limits as well as thanked all of the departments involved in the city’s recent Oktoberfest event.

New Business

Under new business, City Council approved a request by the Newberry Downtown Development Association to allow alcohol in designated event areas of the Holiday Open House Sip and Shop Wine Stroll in downtown Newberry. The event area includes Memorial Square and the closing of McKibben Street between Boyce and Main Street and Boyce Street between McKibben and Nance Streets to traffic. The wine stroll is in conjunction with the Holiday Open House on November 16. While the additional area would allow participants to carry glasses of wine from one host business to the next within the downtown area from 5-8 p.m., NDDA President Aimee Talbot told council that participants would be encouraged to finish their wine in the business they’re visiting before walking to the next.

Motion was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker.

Also under new business council approved consideration of a request for outside water service for property located at 2136 McCravy Street. The property owner has agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if Council determines it is in the best interest of the City to annex the property. This property is adjacent to an existing City water line and will require no extension beyond a standard tap. Motion was made by Councilman Zebbie Goudelock and seconded by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd.

With a motion by Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose, council approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget to provide for the levy of property taxes with the values of the City of Newberry tax reassessment and to reduce the established millage of 83.8 Mils to 80.7 Mils.

Every five years, Senn said Newberry County performs a countywide reassessment, with the Newberry County auditor determining the reassessment values for property taxes within the city. During this year’s reassessment, the county auditor determined the new value of a mil as $27,239, compared to the previous five years at a rate of $26,125. City Council has decided to rollback the city millage from 83.8 to 80.7. The change represents a 3.1 mil rollback in the city’s overall millage rate.

A public hearing and second reading on this ordinance will be held next Tuesday, October 15 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, Senn said.

First reading was also passed Tuesday on an ordinance to amend the zoning map and future land map for parcels 340-1-57.  Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Glasgow.

The proposed assignment of zoning classification and future land use and Zoning Map amendment is the result of the owner’s petition to reclassify parcels from PD – Planned Development to RD- Residential Development.

The change is made possible now that the zoning code has been updated to include the designation of RD- Residential Development. The parcels intended purpose would allow for single family dwelling use. This designation would apply to the 26.823-acre property located on Smith Road known as Newberry Landing.

The Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of RD – Residential Development for the zoning and future land use maps. A public hearing will be held at next month’s council meeting prior to second reading.

Next month’s City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. at The Old Newberry hotel downtown. Senn said light refreshments would be served immediately following the meeting.

 City Council recognized Waldo Tapia for his five years of service with the City’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism and Public Works Departments. He is pictured with PRT Director Scott Sawyer. 

 Tim Cogdell was recognized by City Council for his 15 years of service with the city’s utility department. Cogdell is pictured with Utility Director Tim Baker.

 Staff from The Newberry Museum presented City Council with a copy of the 1832 Village of Newberry Charter. Pictured from left to right are John Favors, Ernest Shealy, Mayor Foster Senn, Mayor Pro Tem Zebbie Goudelock, Sheridan Murray, and City Manager Matt DeWitt.

Ricky Bernard Brown, 41, of 1139 Copeland Street in Newberry has been charged with five counts of kidnapping, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm within the city limits, pointing and presenting a firearm and resisting arrest while armed with a deadly weapon.

At 1:14 p.m. Wednesday, officers with the Newberry Police Department and Newberry County Sheriff’s Office responded to 2601 Evans Street, South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Newberry in reference to a subject entering the building armed with a handgun and taking five employees hostage. Officers were advised while in route to the scene that Brown had fired a round into the building’s ceiling.

Once officers arrived on scene, two of the employees were able to exit through a rear door. Officers secured the building and set up a perimeter and began to negotiate with Brown. During the negotiations, two other employees were able to exit the building.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) SWAT Team along with a negotiator were requested to respond to the scene. After an hour of negotiations, the final hostage was released and SLED’s SWAT Team along with the Newberry County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) were able to take Brown into custody.

Police Chief Roy McClurkin said the SWAT team did not fire any shots, but Brown fired multiple shots during the incident.

McClurkin said Brown has an extensive criminal record that goes back over many years.

“I’m thankful that none of the hostages were injured during the incident,” he said. “I appreciate the assistance of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.”

With the 2020 census just around the corner, Newberry is doing their part to make sure every person is counted.

Officials in Newberry have joined together to create a Complete Count Committee, a local group that works to promote the census in order to make sure an accurate population count is achieved. The primary goal of the 2020 census being to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

Newberry County had a 75 percent completion rate of the previous census in 2010 on received invitations to participate in the census. With households that did not send in a return response, an in-person follow up was made in an attempt to collect the census data. The goal of the Complete Count Committee is to further improve that rate on the 2020 census by educating the community on its importance.

The census aims to count individuals at a particular address. The results determine a variety of things including how many representatives a state gets in Congress as well as the amount of federal funding allotted for projects such as roads, for hospitals and schools.

“The census is really important locally. That’s how we get our proper level of federal funding and grants for our community,” said Mayor Foster Senn. “In addition, prospective new businesses that are considering Newberry will look at the census results to see how we’re doing.”

Newberry’s committee is made up of many members within the community, including but not limited to representatives from Newberry County Memorial Hospital, Newberry County School District, non-profit organizations, community groups and more.

“I’m very pleased that we have a local census committee that will be helping publicize and promote the census and help people get educated on the importance of it.”

City Manager Matt DeWitt said they want residents living in the city to understand that their census responses are safe and secure.  

For those wishing to volunteer their time to Newberry’s Complete Count Committee, please contact Newberry City Hall at 803-321-1000.

The Newberry Fire Department is working to educate the public on the importance of having a fire safety plan in place. While October 6-12, 2019 is known nationally as Fire Prevention Week, Fire Chief Keith Minick says their department is busy from September to November sharing fire safety messages within the community.

This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape, Plan and Practice Your Escape,” putting the focus on households having two escape routes set in place for their family in the event of a house fire.

Throughout the month of October, Minick said they will be visiting schools, daycare centers and hosting tours of the Newberry Fire Department in an effort to start the education of fire prevention and community risk reduction at a young age.

“What we hope is the message goes back home with these children and for the parents to participate in developing and practicing a plan of fire escape with their family,” Minick said.

While Minick said they can teach young children to get down low in the fire safety house, what a smoke alarm sounds like and ask if they have working smoke alarms at home, the best teaching moments are at home with parents, grandparents and relatives working and practicing with them to make sure they have a plan in place.

“Show them the smoke alarms, test them to make sure they are working and within the 10-year recommended window of use,” he said.

Over the past year, Minick said stove fires have been a high trend in the community. Because of unattended stoves and other causes of house fires, he said having a fire safety plan is of utmost importance along with having working smoke alarms.

Those needing assistance with smoke alarms can contact the Newberry Fire Department at 803-321-1030. Minick said the Newberry Fire Department has partnered with several organizations to provide free smoke alarms to owner-occupied residences through a grant program.

“We will be more than happy to come out and install those in households that qualify,” he said.

Carbon Monoxide detectors are also being incorporated into the department’s educational messages now, Minick said as many households are using natural gas and they are needed in the home.

“We’ve been fortunate to not have any significant injuries this year and we want to keep it that way by having the message out there of the importance of working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and having a fire safety plan in place with your household,” Minick said.

The goal, Minick said with this year’s fire prevention message was to get families involved with asking their children what they’ve learned after the fire department visits their school.

“Go over that message, ask them what they’ve learned and reinforce those practices,” he said.

If your child is old enough, Minick expresses the importance of teaching them how to dial 9-1-1 along with the information they’ll need to give the operator whether they need the fire department, law enforcement or EMS.

“It’s not just about fire safety, it’s community risk reduction,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re instilling that into our children so that no one gets into a situation and doesn’t know what to do.”

Fire safety materials provided to the Newberry Fire Department by the National Fire Safety Council will be distributed to Newberry County Schools in honor of Fire Prevention Week and include a variety of fire safety information for all ages.

“We can’t thank the community enough for those that sponsor these coloring books and other promotional materials that make this happen in our schools,” Minick said.

More than 2,000 community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities that collectively provide electricity to 48 million Americans will celebrate Public Power Week October 6-12.

The City of Newberry Utilities Department is celebrating all the services they provide customers by hosting Public Utilities Week (#PublicUtilitiesWeek), along with the National Public Power Week.

“The City’s Public Utilities Week celebrates the reliable, affordable electricity the City of Newberry provides to our community,” said Utility Director Tim Baker. “Public utilities put the people of Newberry first, and Public Utilities Week gives us the chance to emphasize the advantages of locally owned power that supports strong communities,” Baker said.

Newberry’s utility services are reliable and safe and Baker says they take pride in serving their friends and neighbors.

“We are proud to have served Newberry for over 120 years,” Baker said.  

The City of Newberry Utilities Department invites community members to participate in a variety of Public Utilities Week events. Activities include:

  • Local school students were invited along with their classmates to paint a mural at their individual schools that represents what Public Utilities mean to them. Following Public Utilities Week, the murals will be on display for a period of time at Newberry City Hall, 1330 College Street.
  • A Public Utilities Week celebration on Thursday, October 10 from 3-6 p.m. in Marion Davis Park (2905 Fair Avenue) in Newberry. There will be inflatables, a few games of Bingo, games, ice cream and much more for the whole family. Please come join us in celebrating Public Utilities Week. In the event of inclement weather, the activities will be relocated to City Hall.
  • Follow City of Newberry Public Utilities on Facebook and Newberry Utilities on Twitter for the latest updates in energy saving techniques, updates on Public Utilities Week and how public utilities benefit the community as a whole.

Today the City of Newbery Utilities Department has 47 employees.  The electric system currently maintains three delivery points, has a peak system load of 41.3 megawatts and maintains 280 line miles.  It serves approximately 4600 residential customers and 400 commercial and industrial customers.  The water system has a capacity of 8.1 MGD and serves approximately 4200 residential customers, 800 commercial and industrial customers and 2 wholesale customers through roughly 127 main line miles.  The sewer system has a capacity of 5.0 MGD and serves approximately 3600 residential customers and 600 commercial and industrial customers through roughly 124 main line miles.

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Public Power Week is an annual national event coordinated by the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C. The association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 48 million Americans. APPA partners with its members to promote public power, helping community-owned utilities deliver superior services through joint advocacy, education, and collaboration. More at www.PublicPower.org.