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KCC launches new public safety commission

Mickle sworn in for first term

Posted: January 10, 2013 6:35 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Michael Ulmer/C-I

Recently elected Kershaw County Councilman Willie Mickle (center) took the oath of office Tuesday night to begin his first term in office. With his wife Roetta (left) by his side, he was sworn-in by Chairman Gene Wise (far right).

Looking to examine ways to protect the community, Kershaw County Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to support the creation of a county wide commission tasked with identifying public safety needs.

Recognized as the Safe Communities Commission, the group would consist of various community leaders charged with assessing safety measures and presenting findings to council.

Kershaw County School Board of Trustees Chair Mara Jones presented the proposal, explaining the community should proactively approach safety needs following December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

She envisioned the commission would be comprised of a core management team that would pick members of a steering committee to establish a comprehensive assessment of the community’s safety.

“I’m asking county council to make our community even safer than what it is and to be proactive versus reactive,” Jones said. “I’m asking you the leaders of Kershaw County to take a leadership role.”

Explaining the commission should incorporate a “cross section” of the county, she named 14 members expected to be involved:

•Kershaw County Councilmen Stephen Smoak and Sammie Tucker Jr.;

•Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan;

•Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Director Kevin Rhodes;

•Elgin Mayor Brad Hanley;

•Elgin Police Department Chief Harold Brown;

•S.C. Department of Mental Health Director John Magill;

•Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews;

•S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice Director Margaret Barber;

•Camden Mayor Tony Scully;

•Camden City Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford;

•Camden Police Department Chief Joe Floyd;

•Former Bethune Town Councilman John Heflin; and

•ALPHA Center Director Paul Napper

Jones indicated that each member expressed a willingness to serve on the commission and hoped the initiative would be a broad based effort.

“It should involve educators, parents, students, law enforcement agencies, businesses, local government, and faith based organizers. Those individuals are going to have to look at the numerous risk factors that affect violence in our community,” she said.

Councilman Smoak categorized the proposal as an effective way to address safety, noting it wasn’t “draconian” or simply a “knee-jerk reaction.”  

Councilman Jimmy Jones, Mara Jones’ husband, praised the individuals chosen for the commission, saying the group was comprised of “the strongest community leaders in Kershaw County.”

Also Tuesday, council heard a funding request presentation from Santee Wateree Mental Health Center Director Richard Guess. While no action was taken, Guess requested council appropriate $30,000 in order to help the agency establish a fund to provide non-emergency outpatient mental health treatment. He explained the organization would match funding provided by council and hoped to create a partnership to “keep Kershaw County safe.” 

 In other business, council appointed Smoak to replace Tucker as vice chairman, a decision approved on a 6-0 vote with Smoak abstaining.

Tucker, who made the motion to select Smoak, noted he enjoyed serving as vice chairman and expressed gratitude towards council for allowing him to fulfill that role. Smoak said he was honored to take over the position and looked forward to what council could “accomplish together.” The vice chairmanship spans a two year term and is selected at the initial meeting in January following each election.

Other items unanimously approved by council included:

•a construction contract totaling $234,000 for Conder Construction to add a lagoon liner at the Kershaw County Waste Water Treatment Plant;

•a bid from Nafeco Inc. of Rock Hill, S.C. to provide bunker gear for the Kershaw County Fire Department at a cost of $42,000;

•a resolution honoring Michael Genova and Bruce Brutschy for their support of communities and law enforcement in the Midlands of South Carolina;

•second reading of an ordinance amending the zoning classification of Sun Valley Subdivision in Elgin. The proposal would rezone the property from R-15 (low density, single-family residential district) to RD-2 (rural resource district).

•second reading of an ordinance authorizing the conveyance of real property on Pheasant Walk in Elgin. Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter previously explained that the proposal was related to a “sliver” of property that needs to be paved.



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