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Bethune to deal with water line problems

Posted: March 14, 2014 2:05 p.m.
Updated: March 17, 2014 5:00 a.m.

A piece of pipe nearly clogged with corrosion briefly took center stage at Thursday’s Bethune Town Council meeting. According to Bethune Mayor Charles McCoy and Councilman Don Witham, the piece of pipe was from a section replaced following a water leak along U.S. 1 three weeks earlier.

McCoy said the pipe wasn’t very old. Witham referred to the leak while reporting on a meeting council recently had with Bill Taylor of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

“We identified four main areas that the town needs to concentrate on. The first is the water system. Getting the water tank repainted will help, but we have bigger problems than that,” Witham said, referring to the piece of pipe McCoy held. “We have got to get an old engineering study updated or have a new one. We have to determine what the cost would be of getting the system repaired. That’s the major objective and it’s going to take several years but we’ve got to get started.”

McCoy thanked the city of Camden for assistance in getting the damage repaired.

“That water leak cost us nearly $10,000 for the simple reason we don’t have the manpower or the resources. I really want to thank the city of Camden and their water department. We called them for help and they were here within 45 minutes. They got us a contractor out of West Columbia and they were here shortly after that. Camden left a man with us all night long,” McCoy said.

The mayor said that at one point during the work, the a shaft in the contractor’s brand-new pump broke after a piece of asphalt got in it. McCoy said the city of Camden employee went back to Camden and returned with one of its pumps.

“Later that night, when we dug down enough to fix the leak, we didn’t have -- and the contractor didn’t have -- what we needed to fix it. The (Camden) boy jumped back in his truck, went back to Camden and brought the right stuff to fix it,” McCoy said. “I really want to thank Camden for what they did and how they supported us the whole time. Also, DOT (S.C. Department of Transportation), they had people on overtime that provided the signs for us to divert the traffic over to the other lane and I want to take my hat off to them for helping us.”

Council also focused on law enforcement Thursday night.

“Do we need 24-hour police coverage? That’s a question and I’m not sure anybody has the right answer. If the answer is yes, how do we go about doing that?” Witham asked.

Another concern Thursday night was a Kershaw County School District proposal to close Bethune and Mt. Pisgah elementary schools, consolidating students to a new school in the North Central area. Council and residents have expressed desires to keep the local schools open.

“We’re going to fight for our schools. A lot of people have said, ‘let’s give up. We’re going to lose it.’ But we’re going to fight. Maybe there’s a chance we can keep it,” Witham said.

The board also talked about demolishing or renovating old, rundown buildings in town.

“There’s a lot of other, smaller items we want to look at. We talked about a town sign and several other things but those four things will be our main driver for the next few years,” Witham said.

In addition, Witham provided an update on the town’s new drug policy, which gives the town a 5 percent discount on insurance premiums.

Reading from the policy, Witham said, “The town of Bethune prohibits employees from the manufacture, possession, use, distribution or purchase of any type of illegally used controlled substance or any illegal or illicit drugs. All employees as a condition of continuous employment by the town of Bethune are subject to random drug screenings.”

Witham said the screenings would be conducted by The ALPHA Center in Camden, two employees at a time per month. He said the policy also pertains to council.

Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter attended Thursday’s meeting as a special guest, something he does roughly once each quarter. He uses the time to update council and residents and field questions or concerns about the county’s relationship with the town.

“I’m here to tonight to just talk to you, touch base with you, see where we are and see if we’re going in the right direction or do we need to look at the direction we’re going in,” Carpenter said. “The county is working with the town to relocate the fire station. Currently it’s over at town hall, and we’re relocating it over to the old rescue squad building. We’re going to renovate that building. For fire department purposes, it will be a much better facility.”

Carpenter said he was glad to see council meeting in the town’s new recreation building.

“It’s a beautiful building. It’s the nicest building Kershaw County owns,” he said. “I know we do programs here; zumba and senior fitness. Anything we can do to use this facility for the benefit of the town and the citizens around it is something we want to do,” Carpenter said.

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