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Bethune adds third police officer
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The town of Bethune is adding a third officer to its police department, effectively tripling its manpower in less than two months.

After going into executive session to discuss a personnel matter, council returned to regular session and voted unanimously to allow Police Chief Joey Cobb to hire Joshua Gainey as a reserve police officer.

Gainey is a certified police officer with some 10 years experience, Cobb said. Gainey, who currently works in the private sector, had approached Cobb about working as a reserve officer in order to maintain his certification.

“This is a great thing for the town of Bethune,” Cobb said. “He is a trained, qualified and experienced officer -- he can do anything we do -- who will be volunteering his time up here to help us out.”

Cobb said adding Gainey will not only bring even more law enforcement presence to the town but will give Cobb and Almus Rose, who the town hired three weeks ago as a part time officer, some much needed relief.

Cobb said Rose, who is only paid for 20 hours per week, has already put in some 80 hours since he started; Cobb himself put in 150 hours during the previous two weeks.

“We just want you to know we are out there, even though you might not see us,” he said. 

Since Jan. 1, he said, he has generated 88 contacts, 65 of which will go to town court; the rest will be tried in general sessions court. 

“We’ve generated 22 incident reports; we had 31 total in 2015,” Cobb said. 

Cobb also updated the town on the progress of his investigation into the rash of break-ins which recently plagued the town. Cobb and deputies from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office recently made one arrest, charging Jeremy Rashad Woodall, 22, of Dinkins Circle, with multiple counts of second degree burglary and at least two counts of malicious mischief. That investigation is still ongoing, Cobb said.

“He is in jail and he’ll stay there,” Cobb said. 

In other business:

• Council voted to accept the county’s VisionKershaw 2030 vision plan, but will add some commentary to it. Council discussed the plan briefly, with Councilman John Heflin stating he believes the plan should showcase Bethune far more than it does.

“There are places that are historically significant, places along the Lynches River that we know both Union and Confederate armies camped and occupied, for example,” Heflin said. “That’s just one example -- but I truly believe that Bethune needs to be showcased far more than it is if this vision plan is to actually be an accurate representation of all of Kershaw County.”

• Council deferred discussion of a possible Hospitality Tax for the town until its March 10 meeting.

• Mayor Charles McCoy commented on people talking out of turn and interrupting others during meetings, asking for people refrain from doing so -- in any public meeting -- and instead respect the rules and extend courtesy to others who are speaking.

• Councilman Don Witham gave a brief update on the town water system upgrade project.