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Bethune scores $650,000 grant for intersection

Posted: January 16, 2017 5:37 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

The town of Bethune will soon see some significant and needed improvements at an important intersection in town.

Mayor Charles McCoy announced during council’s Jan. 12 meeting that the town has received a grant for $650,000 from the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The town has been working to have a stoplight installed at the intersection of U.S. 1 and SC 241; currently, the intersection, a four-way stop, has a caution light.  With the grant, the town will not only see a full stoplight installed at the intersection, it will also see delineated crosswalks, pedestrian signal controls, and other such pedestrian friendly amenities.

McCoy reported during the town’s December 8, 2016 meeting the town had received news it might qualify for this grant. He learned the town received the grant in early January, he said.

The town should receive the grant funds and hopefully will be able to start bidding the project in the near future, McCoy said. 

The news is a welcome and somewhat unexpected boost in the town’s fortunes, especially after having weathered a couple of disappointments regarding other grants in recent months. The town had applied for a COPS grant through the U.S. Department of Justice but did not initially receive one.  This grant would pay the salary of a full time police officer for three years.

 The town had also applied for a grant through the state Rural Infrastructure Authority to help fund its upcoming water system upgrade project; town officials were informed they did not receive this grant late in 2016.

“The engineers tell us we will get this grant – they are confident we will -- we just have to be patient and persistent,” McCoy said. “We’ve been working with the appropriate people to get everything in order to obtain that grant as well.”

The town should soon receive the funds and hopes to bid the project in the near future, McCoy said.

Other business discussed:

Town Council passed second reading and final approval ordinances regarding its bond issue to help fund the town water system upgrade. Council actually had to approve two ordinances, one that establishes a master ordinance that sets guidelines and parameters on this and future bond issues for the town, and a “series” ordinance that describes and establishes the current bond issue and its terms. 

“I think we pretty well have settled all the water issues,” McCoy said.

The water upgrade project, estimated at around $3 million, will be paid for with a combination of low cost loans, including the bond issue, and grant funds. The new system will include new pipes, new meters, a generator, stainless steel piping in the pump house, and a state-of-the-art monitoring system for chemicals. 

The current system, which serves 214 residential customers and 50 commercial customers, was installed in 1935. It has a 75,000 gallon elevated water tank. While some of the pipe materials have been replaced over the years with PVC, most of it is galvanized iron; it also has lead joints. Also, meters are inaccurate and beyond useful life. 

The town has entered an agreement to sell the former Sandhills Bank Building in downtown Bethune for $12,000 to Keith Arnold, owner of Bethune Discount Foods.  The town has sent a letter of intent to Sandhills Bank, which must ultimately approve the sale, but McCoy said he foresees no issues. “That building is just sitting there deteriorating so I’m just glad to see somebody get it and do something with it,” McCoy said.

Council thanked Bubba Hinson for his work in organizing and staging the Bethune Christmas Parade.

Council thanked the city of Camden for recently sending a crew to help the town repair a major water leak in town.

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