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.

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.

###

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.

Several members of the Newberry Fire Department were recognized by City Council Tuesday for their efforts that resulted in saving an individual’s life earlier this year. On March 1, 2019, the Alpha Shift at the fire department was working a wreck on Third Street when they received a call of a hit and run incident on Louis Rich Road.

Fire Chief said once crews arrived on scene, they found the victim unresponsive. Able to perform CPR, the victim gained a pulse and was saved. Captain Andrew Morris, Lieutenant Brian Beck, Senior Engineer Benjamin Dukes, firefighter Richard Doran and volunteer firefighter Barry Brown were each presented with a certificate of appreciation from the city.

“We’re very proud of our crew for everything they do,” Minick said.

Dukes was also recognized for his 20 years of service with the fire department. He began working with the department on August 30, 1999 and holds the position of Fire Engineer.

“Ben is very active in fire prevention and very good with kids through our public education efforts,” Minick said. “We appreciate the hard work he does and look forward to many more years of service from him.”

Also recognized Tuesday was Jeff Wicker for his 30 years of service with the city. Wicker began working with the city on August 8, 1989 and holds the position of Heavy Equipment Operator in the Public Works department.

“I appreciate the support you’ve always given me and what you do for public works and the citizens of Newberry,” said Public Works Director Mac Bartley.

Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) representative Jeff Shacker recognized City Council Tuesday for their completion of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute (MEOI). The MEOI was designed by MASC to assist local elected officials in gaining knowledge to manage their municipalities responsively, efficiently and effectively. Elected officials that complete all the required coursework receive a certificate and graduate from the Institute.

There are 271 municipalities in the state of South Carolina, Shacker said, with the City of Newberry being one of 18 to have their entire council finish the MEOI program.

Shacker said the city had been dedicated for decades in participating in various training and development for both council and city staff.

“It’s one of the best run and best led cities in the state of South Carolina and their commitment to education is a big part of that,” Shacker said.

City Updates

Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge provided his monthly update for council on the fiber rollout within the city limits. Crews have been working on Zone 2 for six weeks, Eldridge said, however are approximately two weeks behind due to the large storm that came through Newberry several weeks ago. During the storm, crews were pulled out to do repairs in the areas where fiber fell.

Eldridge said that the Tanyard Street fiber distribution hub had been turned on, with the fiber distribution hub in the Mollohon area about 60 percent completed. As of Tuesday, he said the former design issues in Forest Ridge were fixed and work was expected to begin their soon for residents.

Zone 2 is approximately 45 percent completed. Across all four quadrants of the city, Eldridge said approximately 500 homes were either signed up or had shown interest in the fiber system, which meant word was getting out. It is estimated another six weeks are needed to complete Zone 2.

As an update for council, Mayor Foster Senn said that Constitution Week would be celebrated September 17-23 in the City as September 17, 2019 marked the 232nd anniversary of the framing of the Constitution of the United States of America by the Constitutional Convention. Senn said a proclamation had recently been signed and read that for those in attendance.

City Manager Matt DeWitt updated council of the damage caused by the recent storm in which he said the city had approximately three quarters of their electric system down, while only a small percentage stayed on.

“Our crews were out in bad weather, moving trees out of the road and cleaning up debris,” he said. “Thankfully no one was injured. In a process like that, usually injuries don’t happen during the storm, but rather in the cleanup process.”

DeWitt said crews were still steadily picking up debris and he hoped that within the next few weeks that would be completed. He said he felt cleanup was something that could be managed within the city, rather than calling in outside help.

“I’m proud of the response our team made in getting everyone back up and running and trying to restore a sense of normalcy,” he said. “I thank council for their support and our residents for being so thoughtful, compassionate and patient with our crews as they worked to clean up storm damage.”

As a final announcement, Senn said that City Council’s November meeting held on Tuesday, November 12 would be held at the Old Newberry Hotel in celebration of the renovations. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m.

Public Comment

Sheena Paige spoke to council regarding her 501(c)(3) organization, Paige Community Rides, that provides transportation for those in the city or county that need to get to and from work.

“It birthed from me noticing that a lot of people were walking in extreme temperatures or bad weather conditions,” Paige said.

Paige said at this time she was the only driver with only one vehicle but hoped to someday expand to an additional vehicle and driver. Rides can be requested by text message or emails, she said with a flyer that she created and has circulated through social media. A donation of $3 is requested for the transportation, however, Paige said if someone needed a ride, she was going to help them get there.

“Getting to work on time helps everyone involved, it helps the community and the employers,” she said. “It’s a total win-win scenario for everyone.”

Her website, for more information, Paige said was www.workrides.org.

Old Business

Under old business, council approved second 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 on city property. As part of the process, it is necessary for council to adopt a tree care ordinance. Motion was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd.

Second and final reading was also 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 Edwin Wicker.

New Business

Under new business, council approved a request to allow alcohol in designated event areas of the upcoming Groove ‘N Brew Fall Music Series from the Newberry Downtown Development Association (NDDA). The NDDA requested to sell beer and wine as part of the music series to be held in Memorial Park on September 14 and 27, October 11 and November 2 from 5-8 p.m.

Plastic cups no larger than 16 ounces will be used in the event area and would allow patrons in the designated event area to carry the beer or wine if in the designated event cup and wearing a over 21 wristband. The designated event area includes Memorial Park, McKibben Street between Boyce and Main Street, and Boyce Street between McKibben and Nance Streets.

Aimee Talbot, with the NDDA said they spun the idea of the previous Groove ‘N Brew festival into a continuation of the summer’s Party in the Park events and picked dates that corresponded with home football games at Newberry College in hopes to draw people downtown for entertainment and then follow up by visiting local restaurants downtown.

If a success, Talbot said they planned to continue the series in spring 2020. Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose to approve the request.

Talbot also informed council that FastTrac, the 10-week business school for entrepreneurs originally scheduled for this fall would now be held in January due to feedback that many said fall was a busy time of year.

Motion was made by Boyd and seconded by DuBose to approve a request for outside water service for property located at 2617 Drayton Street. The property owner agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if their 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, Senn said.

 City Council recognized Ben Dukes for his 20 years of service with the city's fire department. Dukes began working with the department on August 30, 1999 and holds the position of Fire Engineer. He is pictured with Fire Chief Keith Minick (right).

 Jeff Wicker was recognized by City Council for his 30 years of service with the city's Public Works department. Wicker began working with the City on August 8, 1989 and holds the position of Heavy Equipment Operator. He is pictured with Public Works Director Mac Bartley (left).

 City Council was recognized by Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) representative, Jeff Shacker for completing the Municipal Elected Official Institute of Government. From left to right: Councilman Lemont Glasgow, Councilman Edwin Wicker, Mayor Foster Senn, Jeff Shacker, Councilman David Force, Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd and Councilman David DuBose. 

 Captain Andrew Morris, Lieutenant Brian Beck, Senior Engineer Benjamin Dukes, Firefighter Richard “RJ” Doran and Volunteer Firefighter Barry Brown were recognized by City Council for their efforts on a call that resulted in saving an individual's life earlier this year.

October is almost here which means it’s time for the City of Newberry’s 18th annual Oktoberfest event in downtown Newberry! Celebrate Newberry’s German heritage by indulging in authentic German cuisine, music and arts and crafts vendors right in the heart of downtown!

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 5 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the downtown historic district, approximately eight city blocks.

Mary Alex Kopp, tourism and events manager for the city said the event will have 17 food vendors this year, with a good variety for all to enjoy.

Vendors

Traveling from the east end, or upper end of Main Street, Kopp said the first attraction visitors will see is Komatsu that will be set up with their big wheel loader and forklift this year for children to take pictures with, climb into, etc.

Continuing down Main Street, the next section of the event area is Community Corner that includes 11 different groups such as churches, non-profit organizations and more.

“This section all represents different groups that are relatively affiliated with Newberry,” Kopp said.

In addition to Community Corner, the Newberry Humane Society and Newberry County Animal Shelter will house pet adoptions in the parking lot of Livingston’s Service Station.

“We advise visitors that are interested in potentially adopting a pet that adoptions are first come, first served,” Kopp said.

Should the weather be particularly warm, Kopp said that the animals may need to be taken back to cool down, however staff will be present with a book of pets to show that are still available as well as other information.

“It’s definitely worth a visit,” she said.

If visitors do adopt a pet during Oktoberfest, Kopp asks that they leave the pet with the vendors, enjoy the festival and then come back to pick up their pet prior to returning back home.

The Ritz Theater, 1511 Main Street will be doing free children’s puppet shows again this year, hosted by the Newberry Community Players. The shows will be at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. put on by the Columbia Marionette Theater. Kopp said this year’s show theme is entitled Space Station Harmony and more information on the show can be found at www.cmtpuppet.org/traveling-show.

For fans of arts and crafts, there will be 31 different vendors lining Main Street during this year’s Oktoberfest, Kopp said selling a variety of items, all handmade or homemade. There will be soap and lotion vendors as well as a variety of different types of artwork, paintings, local plants, jewelry and more.

More information on each arts and craft vendor can be found at newberryoktoberfest.com by clicking on Festival Facts and then on the link under “What can you expect to see at Oktoberfest?” The list of vendors for this year’s event are listed in alphabetical order.

Many local vendors can be found in the arts and crafts section, Kopp said, one being Alisha Holbrook with Carolina Pride Pastures. TC Bowers out of Prosperity will have custom items from his store as well as Kayla Samsom with Carolina Soapworks that operates out of a store downtown. Also, out of Prosperity, Charlie and Laura Dukes will sell their recycled metal items and unique gifts.

Other locals include Jeri Lynn’s Farm with handspun yarns and wearables, Megan Achelpohl featuring her handmade pottery and the Newberry Master Gardeners.

Kopp said each year the Newberry Master Gardeners decorate the event area so visitors and residents may see them downtown the night prior to Oktoberfest putting out haybales on the corners of Main Street along with mums and other decorative items. The mums that can be found throughout the festival are also available for purchase, she said.

“They really help us out with making downtown look very festive,” Kopp said.

Kindertown

Kopp said many of the familiar favorites of guests are returning to Kindertown this year, located in the Newberry County Courthouse parking lot as in the past. The carousel rides, rock wall, an inflatable slide and 50-foot obstacle course can be found in Kindertown for guests to enjoy. A bounce house as well as the “human bowling” will also be returning.

Kopp said some of the activities, to include human bowling are not just for kids, but rather for those kids at heart that may want to try their hand at the game. When in doubt, she said just ask the attendants if adults can also play!

A balloon artist will be in the area to make complimentary balloons for children. Free face painting can also be found in this area.

The Lowe’s craft tent will be back this year to allow children to create fun projects for free in Kindertown. Kopp said in the past they have brought supplies to build birdhouses with children.

The carnival band organ is also in this area along with the opportunity to cool down with treats from Pelican’s Snoballs. While in Kindertown, visitors should be on the lookout, Kopp said for the accordion man, dressed in traditional German attire that will be entertaining the crowd with his music.

Kindertown is sponsored by Newberry County Memorial Hospital and they will be in the area with children’s activities geared toward a healthy lifestyle as well as information about services they offer for children such as their new pediatric therapy unit.

Vendors will also be in this area selling a variety of items geared towards children and children’s gifts.

Just outside of Kindertown, is where the first aid, fire safety, police and EMS will be located, Kopp said. The Newberry Fire Department will have their first safety house on display for families to go through as well as other educational materials. For those that need assistance throughout the event, Kopp said this is also where the first aid station, lost item or lost child area will be located.

Past Kindertown, Kopp said visitors will enter the food court as well as two Biergartens (more in additional article) to enjoy.

The Newberry Arts Center will be set up throughout the event offering pottery demonstrations that will be set up throughout the day both on a pottery wheel and hand building. There will be plenty of artwork for sale as the arts center’s vendors have been adding new inventory.

“If you’re new to the area or considering taking on a new hobby in the spring, it’s really worth paying them a visit to see what classes they have available,” Kopp said. “It’s also a great time to consider buying a gift certificate or class for a friend or family member.”

At the corner of Harrington and McKibben Streets, the South Carolina Midlands Muscle and Classic Car Display will be set up for visitors to view and grab a few photos. Kopp said while there was space for up to 30 cars in the area, the group plans to rotate cars throughout the day, so stopping by several times could provide visitors with the chance to see even more of a variety of classic and current muscle cars.

Heading back towards Memorial Park from the car display, the event ATM will be set up for those needing cash. While some of Oktoberfest vendors will be able to accept card payments, a lot will be cash only, Kopp said and asks visitors to be prepared.

Official Oktoberfest t-shirts will also be set up in Memorial Park while supplies last. Shirts this year are royal blue, Kopp said and mimic the Oktoberfest logo. T-shirts will be selling for $10, long sleeve t-shirts for $15 and hoodies for $20. Cash only will be taken for these items during the event. Prior to the event, the former grey t-shirts used in previous years will be for sale at the City’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department at 1323 College Street by cash or check. Sizing and styles are limited.

Entertainment and More

The free, live music stage, known as Rocktoberfest will have entertainment all day in Memorial Park starting at 10 a.m. with a Kerr Chainsaw Carving Demonstration that does wooden chainsaw carvings of all kinds and sizes. Following his demonstration, Kopp said he will be set up by the stage in a booth giving visitors the opportunity to view and purchase items for sale. More information on his work can be found at kerrchainsawcarving.com.

Starting at 11:30 a.m., the Three Dot Polka Band will be returning with traditional Polka music.

“They usually tell jokes in-between sets, and this is a time when we see a lot of families in the area as it’s a good time to potentially expose your children to something a little different,” Kopp said.

At 1 p.m. the judging will occur for the traditional German dress contest in three categories – Women’s Traditional Dress, Men’s Traditional Dress and children (up to age 16). There will be no fee to enter, but Kopp invites visitors to meet at the stage during this time and judging will be based on applause from the audience. Winners will receive a free Oktoberfest t-shirt.

Following the costume contest, Retro Vertigo will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. playing 80s and 90s hits for the crowd. At 3 p.m., Grand Illusion will perform a variety of music followed by Rahsaan Barber and Everyday Magic at 4:45 p.m. Kopp said their music includes jazz, R&B and hip-hop influences and that they were excited to have this as a new addition to the Rocktoberfest stage this year.

Housekeeping Rules

A full map of the event area is available at newberryoktoberfest.com which includes areas for free parking available to visitors. The map is available for download, making it easily accessible prior to the event.

Those that live and frequent downtown area asked to please have cars removed from the event area by 1 a.m. the day prior to the event. Street closures will begin at 4 a.m. on Saturday, October 5 and will run until 8 p.m. that evening. Cars still remaining in the event area, will be towed. This also includes the Newberry County Courthouse parking lot and parking lot on the corner of Harrington and McKibben Streets.

There are many free parking areas surrounding the event area to include Friend Street, Harrington Street and spots at the Newberry County Library. Should visitors have problems finding parking spaces, a free shuttle, provided by the Newberry County Council on Aging will be running on a loop all day. Shuttle stops include the Tractor Supply Parking lot, Newberry County Public Library, Newberry Police Department, Newberry College and by Kindertown in the Wells Fargo parking lot. The first shuttle pickup will be at Tractor Supply at 9:30 a.m. with the last shuttle pickup being at the Newberry County Public Library at 6:30 p.m.

Kopp says she highly recommends not going to the library at 6:30 p.m. expecting to be picked up, but rather recommends getting there within the last hour of the event to ensure that you are picked up promptly. Should visitors have trouble with the shuttle bus pickup, the main line at the Newberry County Council on Aging is 803-276-8266.

Handicapped accessible parking spaces are located around the 1300-1400 block of Main Street as well as at the Newberry County Library. The shuttle bus will also be accessible for those wishing to use that service.

Kopp reminds the community that golf carts are subject to the exact same laws and regulations as regular vehicles and they cannot drive through the event or be parked on sidewalks or side-streets leading into the festival area. Barricades also must be left open in the event of an emergency and vehicles nor golf carts should be parked there.

There will be three portable restroom stations within the event area and are marked on the map. For those not wanting to use the portable restrooms, Kopp said the Newberry Opera House had graciously offered to have their doors open for public restroom use.

Lifebridge, located at 1510 Main Street is once again offering a diaper changing station as well as a quiet place for mothers to nurse their children.

While there will be pet adoptions ongoing throughout the event, Kopp asks patrons to please leave their pets at home. Service animals are allowed into the event area, but staff asks that non-working dogs/pets please remain at home for their safety.

“It is not banned from the event, but there will be high volumes of traffic and we don’t want to run the risk of them being stepped on or hurt because of the amount of people,” Kopp said.

If visitors still choose to bring their pets, Kopp asks that they be leashed and muzzled as needed. There will not be doggie bags on site and pet-owners are responsible for cleaning up after their own pet.

“We want everyone to have a safe, fun time and enjoy themselves,” Kopp said.

For more information on all things Newberry Oktoberfest, visit www.newberryoktoberfest.com.

Get ready to show off your skills - Newberry’s annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition will be held Saturday, September 21 at 9 a.m. at Newberry College’s Setzler Field.

Once hosted by the NFL, the competition is now run by the City of Newberry’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department and is open to both boys and girls ages 6-15. Collin Shealy, deputy director for PRT, said they will have participants divided into five age groups.

The competition works by having each participant attempt one punt, one pass and one kick. The distance of each attempt is then totaled for a final score. The top three males and females in each age group will receive medals, Shealy said, with age group overall winners receiving tickets to a Newberry College home football game.

Shealy asks that those interested please register by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 20. Registration can be completed by visiting the City’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism office at 1323 College Street or online at www.cityofnewberry.com/punt-pass-kick-information.

“Although the NFL no longer sponsors the Punt, Pass and Kick event nationally, kids have really enjoyed participating, so we want to make sure that we continue to offer it at the local level,” Shealy said. “Participation has grown since we brought it back and we hope to have the event in Newberry for years to come.”