Abigail Fuller, Newberry County librarian was introduced by Mayor Foster Senn to city staff at Tuesday night’s February City Council meeting.
Originally scheduled as a guest in Senn’s 2021 City Update held last month, council congratulated Fuller on her new role for the Newberry County Library System to include both the Newberry and Whitmire branches.
Having grown up in Gilbert, SC, Fuller said the City of Newberry has always held a special place in her heart. Fuller’s husband is a professor at Newberry College, bringing them back to the area in 2005.
“We just truly love the town and love being able to contribute to it,” she said.
Moving forward, Fuller said the library wants to build upon their already successful outreach program. Dependent on the status of the COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic, Fuller said they hope to start with their summer program as a way to extend their outreach.
“Working through strategic partnerships in the community, really serving every population within the county – from Whitmire and the City of Newberry, to Prosperity and Little Mountain and everywhere in-between so that we’re actually making a difference in all the lives of all the people in the Newberry community,” Fuller said.
Within the next few months, Fuller said they also hope to launch a new website redo their social media platforms.
Also under updates and announcements, Senn introduced Miss Newberry 2020, Peyton Worley and Miss Newberry Teen 2020, Emma Connelly. Due to the pandemic, both Worley and Connelly were unable to compete representing Newberry and offered to continue to in their roles this year, until a date this summer was selected for them to compete.
Worley spoke on her platform, The Mind Matters: End the Stigma on Mental Health. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, Worley said through the Miss South Carolina Organization, she’s been able to show who she is and speak out on something she never thought she would.
On her platform, Solutions Addressing Substandard Housing, Connelly said she worked to gain awareness by starting an online campaign to help inspire other teens to serve causes related to homelessness and substandard housing. She was also able to donate food, books and clothing to local organizations as well as helping to organize a food drive.
Senn told both Worley and Connelly they had continued to persevere and that set great examples through their platforms, representing Newberry well.
As an update for council, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Scott Sawyer said the concrete pads for both the pickleball and ping-pong areas at the recreation complex had been poured. Siding was being installed on the concession building and Sawyer said it was coming along nicely.
For Wise Street Park, Sawyer said while the weather had slowed progress, the construction of the trail had begun, with approximately half of the trail having been poured.
Sawyer said a project timeline was being awaited from the city’s contractor for work at Wells Japanese Garden and that they were trying to complete the project as economically as possible. The first part of the upgrades will include a pond renovation as it is the most critical.
Under tourism, Sawyer said the department was in the process of replacing the holiday billboards on the interstate to their “Visit Newberry” billboard designs.
As a final announcement, Senn thanked city staff for being creative and innovative with their many projects across all city departments, calling it an “entrepreneurial spirit.”
Under old business, council approved second and final reading of an ordinance for amendments to the revenue and expenditure appropriations in the current year’s budget. Senn said city staff see the need to amend the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget due to various unknown factors when submitting the original budget requests. Those items were discussed at the January City Council meeting.
Motion was made by Councilwoman Jackie Holmes and seconded by Councilman Carlton Kinard to approve second reading.
Second reading was also passed with a motion by Councilman Edwin Wicker and seconded by Kinard amending a previous ordinance establishing a rate stabilization fund for the City of Newberry Combined Public Utility System.
While the original ordinance passed in 2019 established a rate stabilization account for the city’s electrical distribution system, the flow of funds into the rate stabilization account were inconsistent with the covenants of the city contained in its bond ordinance.
The city’s amended and restated bond ordinance enacted on April 14, 2015, which provides the mechanism for issuing revenue bonds for the city’s combined public utility system, consisting of its electrical distribution system, waterworks system and sewer system previously provided the procedures to establish a rate stabilization fund. The city’s financial policies dated April 21, 2015 also make provision for funding a rate stabilization fund, which is consistent with the bond ordinance.
Enacting this ordinance to amend a previous ordinance makes it consistent with the covenants in the bond ordinance and policies.
Also approved was second and final reading of an ordinance, establishing fees at the Newberry Recreation Complex. Motion was made by Kinard and seconded by Councilman David Force.
Under new business, motion was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Holmes to extend the city’s face mask ordinance. This will extend the ordinance through April 14, 2021 and have the same requirements as before.
A presentation of the City of Newberry’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policy was approved by council Tuesday. While City Manager Matt DeWitt said the city has always had a FOIA policy, this was just to formalize it and also to add that this policy centralizes the city’s FOIA requests with the Clerk to Council. In the past, each individual department handled their own requests, DeWitt said, however moving forward, they will be handled through the Clerk to Council’s office.
Motion to approve was made by Holmes and seconded by Kinard.
The final item under new business was an approved consideration of an outside water request for a property located at 127 Brown Chapel Drive. The property owner 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 located adjacent to an existing water line, but a bore will be required below Brown Chapel Drive to tie the property into the city system. Motion to approve was made by Wicker and seconded by Glasgow.
City Council will meet again virtually on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Details of the meeting will be announced at a later date.