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Cobb leaving Bethune Police Department
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The town of Bethune will be searching for a new police officer.

Police Chief Joey Cobb announced his intention to resign during Bethune Town Council’s Nov. 12 meeting. His resignation became effective Sunday.

Cobb, who started working in Bethune in August 2014, cited family reasons for his decision to step down.

“I want you all to know that this was not an easy decision to make,” Cobb said. “This is a great place and you are great people, and I appreciate everything you have done for me. But I am at a point in my life where I really feel like I need to spend more time with my son. I do not regret for a moment the choice I made when I made the decision to enter this profession, but I did miss a lot of time with family, especially my older children, who are now out of the house and grown.”

Cobb thanked council as well, saying his relationship with council was always the best.

“A lot of times you hear that, being in a small town department, you will have council in your business and trying to run your department,” Cobb said. “That has never happened here -- not once. And I really appreciate that.”

Cobb also noted his great fondness for and appreciation of Bethune’s citizens, who he said were very welcoming and supportive of him.

“You guys here in Bethune have been very good to me -- that makes it that much harder for me to stand here and tell you this,” he said. 

Council expressed their great appreciation for Cobb’s work with the town, as did several residents in the audience.

“You can’t let this man leave until we find another one just like him,” noted one resident. “We’ve got to have another Joey.”

Cobb said he would be happy to assist the town in finding a qualified replacement.

“That’s your decision, of course, but I’m glad to help with that,” he said.

Cobb takes a new position as a community liaison officer with the Darlington Police Department starting Nov. 23, he said.

In other business:

• Councilman Don Witham gave an update on the town water system upgrade project. Witham said he had recently received the preliminary engineering report for the project. Currently, the cost to do the upgrades is estimated at $2.693 million. While council is working on grants to help fund the project, the town will have to incur some debt – for the first time in its history – to undertake the project. That means the town will also have to increase water rates in order to show that it can pay the interest on that debt.

Currently, the interest rate for a State Revolving Fund loan is around 2.67 percent, he said.

If all goes as planned, the town will have the funding put together by Oct. 2016, bids let in 2017 and the project completed in 2018.

Witham also gave an update on the new electronic town sign. He said the town had awarded the bid to Signs Unlimited of Camden, and that the town should see the new sign before Thanksgiving.

• Councilman John Fulmer gave an update regarding the future of Bethune Elementary School. He reported the Kershaw County School District has held several meetings to gather input on a possible referendum on school facilities. Fulmer said council has informed the school district that the town wants to keep Bethune Elementary open or if that can’t be done, have a consolidated school in the Mt. Pisgah area.

“There are no other options for us,” he said. 

Fulmer also encouraged citizens to contact school board representatives and let their concerns be known. 

• The town continues to work toward finding a buyer for the old bank building downtown. Mayor Charles McCoy reported that building is clean and debris has been removed from it. The town plans to sell the building as commercial property.

• McCoy officially welcomed Council members John Heflin and Cindy Hunter back to council; both won re-election to their seats during the election held Nov. 10.

• McCoy also reminded citizens that the Fire Department has free batteries for smoke alarms for town citizens. The department will supply two free batteries per home.

• Councilwoman Cindy Hunter gave a brief overview of a new initiative, Bethune Yard of the Month. The idea is to vote on an especially well presented yard each month; the town then places a sign placed in the winning yard proclaiming it the yard of the month. Also, once a quarter the town would present a $25 cash award once a quarter for the yard of that quarter. On a motion from John Heflin, council agreed to provide the sign and the cash award for the program.

• Heflin also proposed that the town buy holiday lights for the town’s park. Council agreed to do this, and McCoy said the town would host a holiday drop in for town residents after council’s Dec. 10 meeting.

• Council passed a proclamation designating Nov. 15-21 as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and heard a brief presentation from Marie Sheheen of the Kershaw County United Way about various efforts by United Way and community partners to alleviate hunger and homelessness in Kershaw County.

• The ninth annual Bethune Memorial Tree and Candle Lighting ceremony will be held Sunday, Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in Bethune Memorial Park with refreshment and fellowship to follow at the Bethune Women’s Club.

Bethune Town Council next meets at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 in the Bethune Recreation Center.