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Bethune council approves annual budget

Posted: June 14, 2015 1:23 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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Bethune Town Council members John Heflin and Cynthia Hunter discussed town business at the council meeting Thursday.

The Bethune Town Council passed the town’s budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 during a 6:30 p.m. special meeting Thursday before the regular 7 p.m. monthly meeting. Vice-mayor Don Witham presided over both meetings, as Mayor Charles McCoy was away on business.

Town Clerk Gayle Rogerson read through the budget before it was unanimously approved by attending council members Witham, John Fulmer, John Heflin and Cynthia Hunter.

In the regular meeting Witham reported on the progress of having lights installed at the park adjacent to the town’s recreation center. He said the original plan was to install 10 floodlights, but Duke Energy recommended using only five. The money for the lights was granted to the town by Sandhills Telephone Company, and Witham said with the light purchase costing only half what was originally planned for, Sandhills graciously agreed the rest of the donation could go toward the town’s planned programmable electronic message sign.

“That’s a big boost there,” he said. 

Speaking of the sign, Witham said the estimated cost is $24,000 and, as of Thursday night $18,250 had been raised. Witham also reported Sandhills has offered to let the town put the new sign on top of Sandhills’ existing sign in town that shows the time and temperature. He said that sign would remain at the bottom and the new programmable message sign would be mounted on top.

“That was another big boost for us, because that should save us a lot as far as the cost of the sign,” Witham said. “It has to be put on our property because we have a Parks and Recreation grant for $8,000 and to receive that grant you have to build it on property owned by the town.”

Witham said a sign demonstration would be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 18 at Bethune Town Hall. The discussion turned to how to best give recognition and thanks to the businesses and individuals who donated toward the sign. The council members agreed they want the recognition to be fair to all donors and more discussion is needed to determine how best to do it. 

The town is seeking a grant to help pay for water system upgrades and repairs and Witham reported the town has ordered a required engineering study and now just has to wait for the results.

John Fulmer gave an update on the status of a school bond referendum. The council is urging Bethune area residents to attend school board meetings to make their concerns known.

“The best meeting when we could start would be July 14. That’s when our mayor and our town council, we’re all going down there, hopefully, and we’d like to get as many of you to go with us as could,” Fulmer said. “The more people we have behind us, the more attention we’re going to bring to us trying to save our school.”

Heflin thanked everyone who participated in a recent town cleanup, with special recognition for Camden Mayor Tony Scully and six employees from Camden’s Department of Public Works who helped clean Bethune’s streets.

Heflin announced plans are already being made for the town’s Christmas parade, set for Saturday, Dec. 19.

Police Chief Joey Cobb said he has met with ministers and other leaders of the African-American community to build and maintain a good relationship with law enforcement and all residents.

“The reason why I’m doing this is so we won’t run into the same problems a lot of other states are having right now. It’s a huge deal,” Cobb said. “I don’t want to see that in Bethune, South Carolina. We’re not a big city, but we have a whole mixture of folks here. We don’t have problems here. I’m not trying to scare anybody, but I think we need to address some things so we won’t have problems.”

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