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City honors 'everyday heroes'

Posted: January 25, 2011 4:12 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Four Camden Fire Department (CFD) firefighters were honored by the city of Camden and their chief, John Bowers, during Tuesday morning’s Camden City Council meeting.

Capt. Johnny Mullis and engineers Skip Hannon, Matt Seals and Gavin Locklear were all honored as a unit for saving the life of an unidentified 46-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack Dec. 31. Bowers, reading letters from KershawHealth officials, said Mullis and his team responded to a downtown bank with their automated external defibrillator, or AED, in tow.

“The CFD were the first responders,” said Bowers. “They assessed the patient, administered CPR and deployed the AED. As the EMS unit arrived on the scene, the AED administered two shocks. They got back her breathing and a pulse. She was flown to Columbia where the outcome is hopeful.”

Bowers then called Mullis, carrying the very AED used in the effort, and his team up before council,

“It has proven its worth time and time again,” said Bowers, who then presented the unit citation and ribbon to each firefighter. “No one of them did more than the others; they worked as a team.”

Mullis, on behalf of his shift, was also presented a letter of commendation from the city by Mayor Jeffrey Graham who called then “everyday heroes.”

It was something of a “Capt. Mullis Day,” as City Manager Kevin Bronson put it, as Mullis was also presented his 20-year service pin.

“He has one of the most difficult jobs: leading a shift … on a 24-hour basis. The call I just described is an example of the service we’ve received from Capt. Mullis for more than 20 years,” said Bowers.

Four other employees were recognized for their years of service Tuesday.

Dale Harper was recognized for 10 years of service in the public works department. Director Tom Couch said Harper left the city for a short time and then returned to work in the sewer/water division and, later, the streets division for several years each.

Camden Police Department (CPD) Cpl. David Morales was then recognized for five years of service by Maj. D.A. Trapp.

“It really is a great honor to recognize Cpl. Morales this morning,” said Trapp. “If there is one word to describe him it’s ‘sacrifice.’ When we hired him, we had a Hispanic population that tended to distrust us. David went to work right away to cultivate relationships for us. But that meant his phone started ringing -- all the time. Chief Floyd discovered this … but David just said he was doing what he needed to do.

“We’re happy he’s been here five years and we hope he’ll be here even longer.”

Trapp said Morales also works with United Way of Kershaw County and Junior Leadership of Kershaw County.

Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford, who also works with Junior Leadership, said Morales brings “a perspective I and the others just can’t.”

Also recognized for five years of service was the finance department’s Kathleen Morris. Assistant City Manager Mel Pearson noted that Morris had grown up in Westville and was a graduate of Baron DeKalb High School.

“She met her husband at Camp Lejeune and they moved to Slidell, La., which is between New Orleans and the Mississippi line,” said Pearson. “They lived there for 35 years. It’s where Hurricane Katrina hit. They were flooded out and moved back here to South Carolina. We met Kathleen a few days after they arrived in South Carolina. She came here, to city hall, with her mother who was having a problem with a utility bill. The staff saw how quickly she took care of the situation and her mother. She picked up an application to work here that day.”

Pearson said Morris is a customer service representative with a “great personality who knows how to defuse a situation.”

“She sets an example for the rest of us. We would like to see you here for years to come,” said Pearson.

Couch then returned to speak about Randall Lane, a public works employee receiving his five-year service pin.

“He actually hit his five years in October, but was sick the day he was supposed to receive this pin,” said Couch. “Randall is one of our commercial sanitation truck drivers. He starts at 4:30 a.m. in the morning to get ahead of the merchants. He does a great job and he’s dependable. He’s also the chief cook down at public works, so it’s good to have him after hours, too.”

Before moving on with regular business, Mayor Graham presented a copy of “A History of Kershaw County, South Carolina” to council. He said it was presented to him during a recent Kershaw County Historical Society ceremony. The book will be housed at the Camden Archives and Museum.

In regular business, council unanimously passed second and final reading of an ordinance repealing the city’s procurement code. However, things did not go as smoothly when it came time to adopt, by resolution, a new city procurement administrative policy.

As he had during a Jan. 20 work session, Councilman Willard Polk said he felt a section needed to be added to the policy where council would have final approval authority over any purchase over $100,000.

“I believe it’s incumbent upon council to exercise some measure of control,” said Polk, and made a motion to that effect; it was not seconded and failed.

Drakeford and Councilman Walter Long explained why they did not second Polk’s motion; Councilman Pat Partin was absent Tuesday.

“We have a council-manager form of government here,” said Drakeford, adding that such purchases have been approved by council through the budget process. “Now, if a purchase over $100,000 is not in the budget, then, yes, council should have to approve that. But we don’t need to tie the city manager’s hands. If we don’t trust him, then he doesn’t need to be here.”

Long said he “completely understood” Polk’s motion, but believed the protection he wanted was “already there.”

“(Bronson) is simply acting on what we’ve already set in the budget,” said Long.

Polk said his motion was not a reflection on Bronson.

“It’s not to denigrate or take away anything from the city manager,” said Polk. “I just think it’s incumbent upon council to exercise control of purchases over a certain amount. It simply adds another measure of protection.”

The final vote was 3-1, with Polk voting against.

Council did unanimously vote to approve a resolution providing for just shy of $100,000 in matching funds for a “Ready-to-Go” Community Development Block Grant. The grant, if awarded by the S.C. Department of Commerce, will provide another $500,000 toward sewer rehabilitation in an area bounded by Market, King, Fair and Bull streets.

Council next meets in work session at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 3. Its next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8. All meetings are held on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and are open to the public.

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