Bethune will have a new programmable message sign in place within the next few weeks. Bethune Town Council voted Thursday to accept the lowest bid from a Kershaw County business to produce the sign. Councilman Don Witham said donations totaling $26,935 have come in; Signs Unlimited in Lugoff presented the lowest bid of $21,665.
“His bid was about $13,000 to $15,000 less than the other two bids we had. The reason is, he makes his own signs. The other signs, we were dealing with brokers and they buy from sign companies, so you’ve got two profit markups there, where there’s one with Signs Unlimited,” Witham said. “Our warranty is five years on parts and one year on labor. We’re trying to get the one year on labor to five years. That may cost us a little more, but we probably need to spend that money.”
Witham said council will craft a policy on what messages can be posted on the sign, which will be electronically controlled from Bethune Town Hall.
Witham also gave an update on the progress of an engineering study and grant applications for funds to refurbish Bethune’s aging water system.
“It looks like the cost is going to be about $2.2 million. Of that amount, we feel like when we’ll get $1.34 million in grants that will come from two different sources. That will leave us with a loan outstanding of $860,000,” Witham said. “If that number holds, that loan would be for 40 years at about 2-5/8 percent interest. The implication of that is, there is going to be some significant water rate increases over the next three to five years. That is to prove our ability to repay the loan. This project is going to take at least three to five years. When completed we’ll have better water, more pressure and our water system will be in good shape for many years to come.”
In other business, Councilman John Fulmer said the Kershaw County School District is holding a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. this coming Thursday at Bethune Elementary School and another meeting at 6:30 p.m. the following Thursday at Mt. Pisgah Elementary School. The district is holding the meetings to receive public input on facilities needs, which could include a proposal to consolidate Bethune and Mt. Pisgah elementary schools to a new elementary school near North Central High School. Fulmer said a good turnout to both meetings will send a strong message to the district.
“We need to have as much attendance and input as possible. The school district will appreciate and consider our views. We’ve got some people there who are listening to us this time. They are concerned about our concerns and our thoughts on this,” Fulmer said. “Please, if you get the chance come down to the elementary school.”
• Mayor Charles McCoy reminded everyone the council seats held by John Heflin and Cindy Hunter are up for re-election this fall. Heflin came on council after the resignation of former Councilwoman Beverly Farmer and Hunter after the resignation of Joe Casey. McCoy said Heflin and Hunter have filed to keep their council positions and Jimmy Steen is challenging for one of the seats. Bethune Council members do not represent separate districts, so the top two vote getters in the race will win the election in November. McCoy said the Bethune Women’s Club would not be a polling place this year, but the recreation building where council meets would be used instead.
• Fulmer said he has painted a few fire hydrants along Main Street and asked volunteers to step up and paint others. He said the old red paint has faded badly on the hydrants. “If you get a chance to go by and look at the ones we’ve done, they do look a lot better than that pale pink color they’ve evolved to,” Fulmer said. “If you want to do one near your house or in your neighborhood, just let us know what you want to put on it and we’ll go from there.”
• Council voted to sell an old bank building the town owns in the downtown Bethune area. While council voted unanimously, members agreed the building needs a major cleanup before it would be ready to be shown to potential buyers.