Mayor Foster Senn, City Manager Matt DeWitt and Utility Director Tim Baker recognized Brandon Riddle Tuesday for his 10 years of service with the City of Newberry’s Water Treatment Plant. Riddle began working with the city on July 20, 2009 and currently holds the position of Water Plant Operator C.

“Water is something we use every day and something we don’t have to think about because of the outstanding folks like Brandon that work at our Water Plant every day,” Senn said.

Baker described Riddle as contentious and a leader at the water plant.

Under updates, Senn told council he had received many positive comments across all city departments regarding the efforts of city staff and departments going above and beyond their duties to provide the citizens of Newberry with excellent customer service. Senn went through these comments with council and thanked each department for their efforts to serve Newberry’s citizens.

Project Updates

Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge provided his monthly update for council on the fiber rollout within the city limits. Eldridge said that Zone 1 that included the Newberry Hospital area was now complete with the exception of areas in the vicinity of Forrest Ridge due to underground construction.

Zone 2, he said was underway and includes the areas from the lower end of Wilson Road into the Mollohon area. The Tanyard Street fiber distribution hub that includes the areas around Evans Circle is also being constructed along with Zone 2.

Senn asked Eldridge about the coil brackets in the shape of wreaths that residents may notice on electrical poles in their area. Eldridge said as fiber cable was installed, additional lengths of approximately 50 feet were installed for future maintenance and repair. This additional cable is stored on the coil brackets. As residents see these brackets going up in their neighborhood, Eldridge said they can expect to be hooked to the network within a few months.

Baker updated council on the Nance Street construction of water and sewer infrastructure.

“We’re currently rebuilding the water, sewer, electric and data lines along Nance Street,” he said.

The project was split into two phases. The first, Baker said included the areas of downtown until the intersection of Pope and Nance Streets and has been completed. The second phase from Pope Street to the cross street at Kendall Road is underway.

Baker said the water line for the second phase had been laid and was currently undergoing pressure testing. The sewer line is also in, he said but awaiting testing. As an estimate, Baker said approximately 90 percent of the electric and date lines were complete, with sewer close to that point. The estimated completion of the project would be this fall, he said. The upgrades are expected to last approximately 50 years.

“I know everyone will be glad to see the project completed and we appreciate the residents’ patience as work is being completed,” Baker said.

Baker also provided council with an upgrade on the progress of the Mollohon substation to which he said one transformer had already been put into service. Because of its location to the football stadium at Kendall Park, Baker said they partnered with the Parks, Recreation and Tourism department to have netting installed behind the field goal post with a sign saying “City of Newberry Utilities Supports Youth Athletics.”

Circuits are currently being installed down Dixie Drive, Baker said and are approximately 70 percent completed. The substation will supply the power to the city’s new recreation complex when competed. An estimated completion date, Baker said was mid to late fall.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer provided two updates for council Tuesday, the first on the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) recreation complex. Both the splash pad and playground area should be finished sometime this fall, he said.

Sawyer said the public would have an opportunity for a preview of the complex on Sunday, September 8 as the Newberry Fire Department would be hosting their annual Kids Fun Day event on the property. While the playground will not be available at this time, Sawyer said the public will be able to access the parking lots and multi-purpose fields.

“Whatever we can open, we will as projects are completed,” Sawyer said.

This would most likely include the multi-purpose fields, playground and nature trail, he said.

As another update to council, Sawyer said their department had received a $20,000 Park and Recreation Development (PARD) fund grant to assist in building a bathroom at both Wise Street Park and Marion Davis Park. Sawyer said currently Marion Davis did not have a bathroom that was ADA accessible.

By the end of next week, Sawyer said they were hoping to have three quotes on the projects. The bathroom at Wise Street Park will be installed first, with plans after the first of the year for the bathroom at Marion Davis Park.

“We anticipate within the next month to have work started at Wise Street Park,” he said.

Under public comment, Margaret Riebe and Bruce Palmer addressed council regarding the speed enforcement on Nance Street, just beyond the Dixie Drive interchange. Palmer said he was concerned for his safety when backing out of his home into the street and felt the police department needed more coverage in the area.

Police Chief Roy McClurkin said he had had officers running stationary radar of cars traveling in and out of town as well as enlisted the use of a speed limit detector sign from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office in the area while the Newberry Police Department’s detection sign was repaired.

“My officers will be there making sure you all are safe, that is my number one concern,” McClurkin said.

Senn asked if there could be an update presented to council in October with reports of how traffic had been in the area, etc.

Old Business

Under old business, council approved second and final reading of an ordinance to amend the city’s flood damage prevention ordinance. Recently, city staff received communication from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) – Flood Mitigation Program requesting an update to the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to safeguard the public interest by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city.  The Legislature of the State of South Carolina has in SC Code of Laws, Title 5, and amendments thereto, delegated the responsibility to local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry. The adoption of these changes to the model code would align the City with the state regulation. Motion was made by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker.

New Business

  • Motion was made by Councilman Zebbie Goudelock and seconded by Councilman Lemont Glasgow to approve first reading of an ordinance to establish policies, standards and procedures for the protection and management of public trees within the city limits. Senn said council and city staff were working to pursue a Tree City USA designation, a nationwide movement that provided the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. As part of the process, it is necessary for council to adopt a tree care ordinance.
  • First reading was approved of an ordinance to amend the Newberry Opera House bylaws. The Newberry Opera House Foundation requested that council approved changes in the bylaws to better align the practices of the board to match the policy. Changes to the bylaws include an amendment that specifies that no member will receive compensation, an addition of a finance and program committee and a change in staff from a bookkeeper to business manager. Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose.
  • Due to a recent change of leadership at the Prosperity Police Department, a mutual aid agreement was re-executed between them and the Newberry Police Department. With the agreement in place, both departments are within the legal confines of the law to offer assistance in situations that are deemed necessary. Motion was made by Goudelock and seconded by Wicker.

 City Council recognized Brandon Riddle for his 10 years of service with the City of Newberry’s Water Treatment Plant. He is pictured with Utility Director Tim Baker. 

The City of Newberry police and fire departments, along with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies throughout Newberry County will come together August 6 for their annual National Night Out event. Held in Mollohon Park, 211 Player Street in Newberry, the event will be from 6-8 p.m.

Organizing National Night Out for the Newberry Police Department this year is Sergeant Will Bouknight who said the purpose of the event is to promote law enforcement-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

“It’s my first year at spearheading this event for the police department and I’m excited to further build relationships with those in the community,” Bouknight said.

Communities from all over come together on the first Tuesday in August to host parties, festivals and other community events with safety demonstrations, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and more.

“We always enjoy being a part of events like National Night Out,” said City Fire Chief Keith Minick. “This is a time for our fire service team members to show our community how much we care and want to share important safety messages. This also allows our community members to see some of the equipment up close we use during response.”

The Newberry Fire Department will be on site during National Night Out, Minick said to talk about fire and life safety as well as to participate in games with those attending.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will bring their command center again this year, Bouknight said along with other familiar booths and games from last year to include archery with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the dunking booth with the Newberry Police Department.

Other outdoor games will be set up to include inflatables for youth. Police Chief Roy McClurkin said other vendors from the community will also be present to give out information.

“This event continues to grow each year and shows our commitment to the citizens and bringing the community together,” McClurkin said. “We always look forward to this tremendous community-building event.”

Little Caesars pizza will be available for those who attend as well as popcorn and snow cones at no cost.

Towards the closing of the event, the Newberry Fire Department’s ladder truck will be on site for kids to see and to perform the annual ping-pong ball drop for prizes.

The Newberry County Council on Aging will be offering van rides from each apartment complex within the city limits beginning at 5 p.m. on August 6 for those interested in attending. Following the completing of the ball drop with the fire department, the van will begin transports back to the apartment complexes.

All children riding the van must be accompanied by an adult to the event.

“National Night Out is a great community event,” said City Manager Matt DeWitt.

DeWitt said the event provided the community with the unique opportunity to interact and get to know local public safety officials outside of an emergency.

“We appreciate these agencies coming together to provide this event for Newberry,” he said.

Newberry Fire Department recently honored Burt Mohler for his retirement after 26 years of service to the city’s fire department.

Mohler retired on June 28 as a Captain within the department. The ceremony was held on Monday, July 8 at the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center for Mohler’s friends, family and colleagues.

Mohler was presented several gifts on behalf of the fire department as well as the City of Newberry during the ceremony.

On behalf of the fire department, Fire Chief Keith Minick presented Mohler with a commemorative bronze extinguisher, which is customary for retiring captains.

The Newberry Honor Guard presented Mohler with the fire department flag that flew during his final shift at Station 21. The Honor Guard is made up of members who volunteer their time to go to retirements, funerals, or other circumstances to represent the department in proper fashion, Minick said.

Following the presentation of gifts, the Newberry County Communications Center made a “last call” broadcast in Mohler’s honor.

Several shift members made presentations including Lt. Stuart Smith who presented Mohler with their “B” shift’s flag, that he had designed for them.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for us,” Smith said. “You’ve supported us and been there for us.”

Minick explained that each shift designs a flag that they’re proud of to display on the fire engine. Mohler’s shift flag was retired with him.

“It’s just a little piece pride and ownership within the department,” Minick said.

Surrounded by a family with those in the service, Mohler said it had to be meant to be that he was too having been involved in the police explorers and attending the cadet program at the academy, EMS and finally, the fire department.

“In 1993, I finally got the chance to become a career firefighter,” he said. “Still not forgetting about my police experience, I later became a reserve officer for the city.”

Mohler said he had been blessed to receive all the knowledge from all of the first responder positions he’d held.

“It’s allowed me to be well-rounded in all kinds of situations and give the community the best I could,” he said.

Throughout his years as a first responder, Mohler said he had seen many things, from bringing life into the world during his time with EMS to the unfortunate loss of life. Mohler said he’d seen the city fire service grow during this time from having one station to now, having two.

“I was blessed to be involved in the saving of a man’s life from fire which is every firefighter’s golden mission,” he said.

To those who started the journey with him many years ago, Mohler said he considers them family and thanks them for the many memories he will never forget. For the newcomers to the fire service, he encourages them to learn the ABC’s of saving a person’s life.

“What it really should mean, is how the public looks at us,” Mohler said. “Appearance, behavior and compassion.”

Mohler said they each owed it to the public for their shoes to be tied, their shirts be tucked and when walking in the door to be sure the public knew that they want to be there.

“Always remember the traditions of the fire service and never forget the ones before you,” he said. “Respect the ones above you, for they have been where you are today. Move up from many hours of training and experience and learn from it.”

Mohler described the fire service as an extended family with one goal and one purpose, all in it together.

A special thank you, Mohler said went out to his family that had supported him completely, he said even when his duties as a fireman interfered with holidays, birthdays, vacations, and more.

“I love you endlessly,” he told them.

Following his speech, Mohler’s children Laura, Sarah and Noah recited the poem, “Why God Created a Fireman.”

Mohler’s sister, Kathy Wicker said that God created special people to be firefighters and first responders and that her brother was truly one of those special individuals created to fulfil that role.

“I’ve watched with pride as he became the man that he is today, she said of Mohler. “And I thank him for his service.”

Mohler’s wife Lynn spoke of the past in the fire service when telegraphs were used to communicate with special codes via fire alarm boxes.  

“When a fireman was killed or fell in the line of duty, the fire alarm would tap out a special signal,” she said. “This would be tapped out in five measured dashes, pause and then five more measured dashes. This came to be known as the tolling of the bells; a symbol of honor and respect that transformed into the ringing of an actual bell.”

In honor of Mohler, Lynn presented a bell to the Newberry Fire Department so that they could continue the tradition of honoring the selfless men and women that completed their tasks on Earth and had been called home.

Volunteer firefighter Ben Bowers said Mohler cared deeply about the citizens of Newberry that he served.

“You remember your losses and remember your saves, but sometimes you never know the lives you have saved,” Bowers said to Mohler.

Bowers said that Mohler was one of the reasons he became interested in performing fire inspections and hopes that what he learned from him will help him touch and save lives, even if he never knows how many.

Fire Chief Keith Minick spoke of Mohler and said while they may not have always seen eye to eye, he thinks that’s what made them a stronger team.

“I think that’s what made us stronger in real time, because we were able to come to a conclusion of what was best for the city of Newberry’s citizens,” Minick said. “I appreciate what you’ve done for me, the department and the city of Newberry as a whole.”

Whether it was lives in the community with the department’s Goodfellow Baskets, the golf tournament fundraiser, or anything else he put his efforts into, Minick said Mohler made a difference and that he was appreciated.

Minick thanked Mohler’s family for allowing him to be a part of the department family.

“We congratulate you on your retirement,” he said.

 Captain Burt Mohler pictured with Fire Chief Keith Minick

 Burt Mohler pictured with his wife, Lynn and  daughters Sarah (left), Laura (right) and son Noah.

 

Sitting from L-R: Lt. Stuart Smith, Retired Capt. Blake Davis, Capt. Tim Swygert, Retired Capt. Burt Mohler, Admin. Asst. Lucille Kinard, Capt. Andrew Morris, Chief Keith Minick

Second row L-R: Vol. FF Chris Johnson – Honor Guard, Firefighter Chris Fulmer, Eng. Robert Dowd, Lt. Chris Connelly, Lt. Brian Beck, Eng. Michael Parker – Honor Guard, Firefighter Kody Jacobs, Firefighter Jake Longshore, Vol. FF Chansel Minick, Eng. Daniel Werts

Back row L-R: Firefighter R J Doran, Chaplin James Henricks, Retired Eng. Benji Morris, Vol. FF Ben Bowers, Retired Lt. Jimmy Bickley, Firefighter Tyler Truesdale, Vol. FF Corey Shealy, Eng. Ben Dukes, Firefighter Carlisle Barwick, Vol. FF J C Counts

City Council recognized Captain Burt Mohler for his retirement Tuesday after 26 years with the Newberry Fire Department. Mayor Foster Senn said it was a bittersweet moment to recognize an outstanding staff member and fireman that had served with great dedication and leadership for many years.

Mohler began working with the department on July 3, 1993 and had previously served as a volunteer with the Newberry Fire Department before making it his career.

Fire Chief Keith Minick said Mohler had done many good things within their department and for the community including helping with the goodfellow basket program, the department’s golf tournament and Kids Fun Day.

“He’s put in countless hours of educational training,” Minick said. “We appreciate the time and energy he’s put into serving the community.”

Mohler was presented with the helmet he wore as captain which is now retired along with a fire service window decal.

Senn updated council Tuesday of a recent proclamation signing designating July as Park and Recreation Month in the City of Newberry. In 1985, the U.S. House of Representatives designated the month of July as Park and Recreation Month, with the aim since then being to promote the benefits of local parks and recreation centers to the community, encouraging people to get outside, explore local parks and trails and enjoy outdoor activities.

“We’re proud of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department,” Senn said.

The official proclamation was presented to Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer Tuesday before council.

“We stay very busy, but we couldn’t do it without every other city department’s support,” Sawyer said.

Utility Director Tim Baker was also recognized Tuesday for his recent election to the South Carolina Association of Municipal Power Systems (SCAMPS) Board.

“With only five people on the board, it’s quite an honor to have someone on the board that represents our town,” Senn said. “We’re honored they’ve chosen Tim.”

Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge provided his monthly update for council Tuesday on the fiber rollout within the city limits. Eldridge said that zone one was approximately 75-80 percent completed. Within zone one, are five fiber distribution areas, with three previously being released for service.

Eldridge said for customers within this zone, there was currently about a ten-day process from putting an order in to being hooked up to the fiber network.

Under new business, council approved a request for outside water service for a property located at 5682 SC Highway 34-121. Senn said the property owner had agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if the property became contiguous to the city limits and council determined it was in the best interest of the city to annex the property.

The property is adjacent to an existing city water line and will require no extension beyond a standard tap.

Motion was made to approve by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd.

Also under new business:

  • Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose to approve a request to allow alcohol (beer and wine only) in designated events areas of Newberry Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 5 sold by the designated event vendors and venues with proper permitting using pre-approved plastic cups to be no larger than 16 ounces. The event area includes Main Street from Nance to Holman Streets, Boyce Street from Nance to Lindsay Streets, McKibben from Boyce to Main Streets, Caldwell from Boyce to Friend Streets, College from Boyce to Main Streets and Lindsay from Martin to Main Streets.
  • Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker to allow the city’s police department to execute a mutual aid agreement with Saluda County Sheriff’s Office. Senn said the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office approached the Newberry Police Department to sign a mutual aid agreement for the purpose of securing to each other the benefits of mutual aid in the event of natural disaster, disorder, special events, emergency situations or any other law enforcement activities.
  • Council approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the city’s flood damage prevention ordinance. Recently, Senn said city staff received communication from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) – Flood Mitigation Program requesting an update to the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to safeguard the public interest by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city. The Legislature of the State of South Carolina has in SC Code of Laws, Title 5, and amendments thereto, delegated the responsibility to local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry. The adoption of these changes to the model code would align the City with the state regulation. Motion was made by Glasgow and seconded by Boyd to approve first reading.
  • Following executive session, council entered into open session with a motion made by Glasgow and seconded by Councilman David Force to appoint Corbett Miller to a three-year term of the Planning Commission. Motion was then made by Councilman Zebbie Goudelock and seconded by Boyd to appoint Kevin Clamp to a two-year term of the Architectural Review Board.

 Mayor Foster Senn, Mayor Pro Tem Zebbie Goudelock, Captain Burt Mohler, Fire Chief Keith Minick, City Manager Matt DeWitt.

 Sarah Mohler, Laura Mohler, Lynn Mohler, Burt Mohler, Noah Mohler, Fire Chief Keith Minick. 

City Council approved second and final reading Thursday to adopt the budget for FY19-20. Motion to approve the budget was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd.

Mayor Foster Senn said that a balanced budget was presented for the upcoming fiscal year with no increases in taxes or business license fees. However, the budget does contain an incremental increase in sanitation services of one dollar on residential garbage pickup and the elimination of one free pick up on commercial garbage containers.

Senn told City Manager Matt DeWitt he appreciated his and city staff’s work on preparing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The total proposed General Fund budget plus special accounts for FY19-20 total $14,031,872.

Included in the budget is a four percent increase for employees broken down by a three percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and one percent merit pool.

Major capital items included in this year’s budget are a new pumper fire truck and rear load dump truck. The pumper truck will be replacing a 1996 model, with the current truck to be donated to the Newberry County Career Center for their firefighter program to help train students getting their certifications.

The total of the utility fund budget including special accounts totals $49,995,258. Retail electric base rates will remain flat this fiscal year and all scheduled Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA) credits will be passed through to the benefit of the customers.

Both the minimum meter charge for water and sewer meters will increase this year by two percent, yielding an average of .74 per customer increase per month based on a 5/8 inch meter (standard residential meter size).

Both budgets combined for FY19-20 show a total of $64,027,130, representing a decrease of $2,746,529 from last year’s budget, FY18-19.