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KCC provides property for new Lugoff playground

Posted: April 24, 2014 5:16 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Thanks to a unanimous vote by Kershaw County Council, a modern, state-of-the-art play area will soon become a reality in the West Wateree area. A group of concerned parents presented a proposal to council at its meeting Tuesday. Laurie Carpenter, Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter’s wife, spoke on behalf of the West Wateree Community Playground Project.

“Our mission for Kershaw County is to develop and build our community while improving the quality of life for residents of Kershaw County,” Carpenter said. “There is a need for individuals for play. Through studies, we found out that children in neighborhoods with good access to playgrounds and parks and recreation facilities are less likely to be overweight or obese. We know that is a problem in America right now.”

Carpenter said productive play helps children develop physically, mentally and emotionally. She said the plan is to involve the community in all aspects of the playground, from planning to financing to construction.

“We’re going to get residents, businesses and civic organizations that are going to help us. It is going to be a community design, developed and built for a regional playground. Not to exclude local government, but this project is intended to be primarily driven by the community and by the residents.”

Kershaw County Parks and Recreation Director Joe Eason said he is in full support of the playground project.

“I’ve been involved in a number of builds throughout the years. This project is among the most exciting I’ve ever been a part of,” Eason said. “It involves a lot of different people and the components of this are really neat.”

Eason said the proposed design blends traditional equipment like swings and slides with more modern features like a rubberized surface for safety, a climbing wall and other up-do-date features.

Elgin Town Councilwoman Melissa Emmons, who is part of the playground project, said members are not asking for tax dollars to fund the playground, only the land to build on between Lugoff and Elgin on U.S. 1.

“This is the first of many projects. Once we have completed this one, we plan to move on into other areas of the county, because we know there are other areas that have the need,” Emmons said. “But this is where we would like to start.”

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Jason Ramsey, of Intrado, updated council on technology that will allow Kershaw County 911 to receive text messages. Ramsey told council the county has already purchased the technology to make 911 texting possible.

“The deaf and hard-of-hearing community, they now have a viable way of reaching 911 just like everybody else,” Ramsey said. “Young people use text as their preferred mode of communication. We’ve found the public thinks they actually can text 911. There are 2 million texts each year to 911 that don’t get answered.”

Ramsey said the Federal Communications Commission has mandated that all cell phone service providers be required to provide text service to 911 starting next month. He provided a demonstration of how a text message would be received and handled by 911 dispatchers and said the training to use the new capability would be minimal.

Council unanimously approved having the system updated to accept text messages. Ramsey said in doing so, Kershaw County is one of the first in South Carolina to do so.

In other business:

• Council unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance that would authorize the county to enter into an “installment purchase transaction” not to exceed $8.5 million. The ordinance states the funds are to be used for “improvements to the county jail facilities, improvements to recreational facilities of the county, improvements to the campus of Central Carolina Technical College, and for other authorized purposes.”

• Council passed a related resolution declaring the county’s intention to reimburse itself “for certain expenditures with the proceeds of debt.” County Administrator Vic Carpenter said the resolution allows the county to spend money in advance of selling bonds, then pay itself back later. “It essentially allows us to start spending money for this purpose in advance of the bond being sold, then reimburse ourselves once the bond is sold,” he said.

• Council approved a resolution proclaiming Correctional Officers and Employees week, May 4 through 10. Council Chairman Gene Wise said the annual week was first held in 1984 after being approved by Pres. Ronald Reagan.

• Council also resolved to renew the county’s membership in the Santee-Lynches-Wateree home consortium. “Four counties are part of a process whereby funds are received and disbursed to the counties for the benefit of home construction and home improvements,” Carpenter said. “It is time to renew our membership in this. It has been a profitable membership for us. I recommend we continue to stay in the organization.”

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