SC Clay Conference Described as Record-Breaking Year

The eighth annual South Carolina Clay Conference held in February was a record-breaking year, Director of Programming Marquerite Palmer shared with City Council on Tuesday.

Palmer described this year’s event as the most successful conference so far with 91 registered to attend the conference with a waiting list. Registered attendees included people from Alabama, California, Iowa, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and all over South Carolina.

The pottery sale accompanying the conference saw 636 visitors and 512 items sold. Shoppers purchased $17,000 worth of items at the sale, exceeding the previous record by over $5,000, Palmer said.

The 25 percent commission retained from the sale will be used toward scholarships and other needs for the 2025 clay conference, Palmer said.

Updates/Announcements

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Collin Shealy presented council with a conceptual layout of the expansion plans for the Newberry Recreation Complex as part of the Capital Project Sales Tax Referendum.

Shealy went through eight items with council including the skate park with parking, splash pad expansion with a new restroom/office building, the miracle league baseball field, the bleacher shade structure, nature walk, maintenance building with parking, an 8’ sidewalk and new drop off and accessible parking.

Council inquired with Shealy as to the timeline of the start of the expansion to which he replied things were already underway with engineering and the hope was that things would hopefully be moving forward by the third quarter of this calendar year.

Mayor Foster Senn shared good news from around the city including recent employee spotlight, Jason Stuhr, the city’s utilities department receiving a plaque for mutual aid, highlights from the Great American Cleanup on March 30 and Newberry being named as one of the Top 10 Best Towns by Southern Living Magazine.

Senn shared three proclamations Tuesday, the first being designating the month of May as Building Safety Month. The second proclamation designated May 5-11, 2024 as Drinking Water Week, and the third designated April 18 as Lineman Appreciation Day.

New Business

Under new business, council approved an outside water request for a property located at 30 Welch Road. The property owner has agreed to execute an annexation covenant indicating a willingness to annex if the property becomes contiguous to the city limits and council determines it is in the best interest of the city to annex the property. There is a $1,400 tap fee in addition to a $1,500 road bore. There will be no extension.

Motion to approve the request was made by Councilperson Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilperson Carlton Kinard.

Council approved a petition Tuesday for special assessment for historical property rehabilitation for a parcel located at 1100 Main Street.

The owners of 1100 Main Street filed a petition for a Special Assessment for Historical Property Rehabilitation in accordance with Chapter 4, Article IX of the City of Newberry’s Code of Ordinances. This special assessment would allow the property owner to avoid local property tax payments, for a period not to exceed 20 years, on the increased value resulting from eligible renovations.

To be eligible for the special tax assessment, historic properties must receive preliminary certification by City Council and final certification from City of Newberry Department of Planning and Development. The property owner must meet minimum expenditures when rehabilitating the building, with expenditures for rehabilitation exceeding 75% of the fair market value of an owner-occupied building or 50% of the fair market value of an income producing building prior to such rehabilitation.

Councilperson David Dubose made a motion, seconded by Councilperson David Force to approve the petition.

Also under new business, council approved a funding request for an updated historical and architectural survey.

City staff have been asked to research the steps necessary to becoming a Certified Local Government (CLG), Senn said which is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office in partnership with the National Park Service.  The main benefit of becoming a CLG is opening up historic preservation grants where CLG designation is required of preferred.

One of the steps necessary to apply for CLG status is a Historical and Architectural Survey. The last Historical and Architectural Survey in the area was conducted in 2003, Senn said. In speaking with the State Historic Preservation Office, it was recommended that an updated survey be completed for the CLG application.  A 50/50 grant is available through the State Historic Preservation office to conduct a new survey of historic properties in the City of Newberry.

The City of Newberry’s minimum financial obligation in having the survey updated is $3,000, but could be as high as $10,000, depending on the responses to the request for proposals. 

Dubose made a motion, seconded by Councilperson Edwin Wicker to move forward with the CLG survey application process. 

As an update to council, Lorie Graham, business consultant at South Carolina Business Development Centers introduced herself and provided information on an overview of the services available at the SCBDC in Newberry.

Motion was then made was then made by Kinard and seconded by Force to approve an appropriation of funds in the amount of $2,000 for the West End Spring Fling event. The event, being held on Saturday, April 27 will include a bouncy house, face painting, food and more. Councilperson Jackie Holmes said their neighborhood group had been busy planning the event and were looking forward to the community coming together.

2026 marks the 250-year anniversary of the establishment of the United States of America.  The local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution would like to honor and celebrate those who gave their life in the Revolutionary War with a monument in Memorial Park.

Senn made a motion to approve and move forwarded with the request, pending final approval of the monument’s design, height and wording. Glasgow seconded the motion. Councilpersons Kinard and Holmes voted in opposition.

Interim City Manager’s Report

In his report to council, Interim City Manager Ed Driggers said staff was working through their annual budget process and that his first presentation of the budget to council would be on Tuesday, April 23.

Driggers shared that he and staff were continuing to review personnel policies and procedures and asked that council let him know if they’d like to review those in a workshop setting or in an upcoming regularly scheduled meeting.

He then added that work was continuing on the city’s new website.

City Council will meet again for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m.