The following polling places will be open for the District 1 special election (Feb. 9 for primary, if necessary; Feb. 23 for runoff, if necessary; March 29 for actual election):
• Liberty Hill - Beaver Creek Fire Department - 3381 John G. Richards Road, Liberty Hill
• Lugoff No. 1 - Lugoff Elementary School - 994 Ridgeway Road, Lugoff
• Lugoff No. 2 - Lugoff-Elgin Middle School - 1244 Hwy. 1 South, Lugoff
• Rabon’s Crossroads - Pine Grove Fire Department - 833 Pine Grove Road, Lugoff
• Riverdale - American Legion Post No. 17 - 133 Chestnut Ferry Road Ext., Camden
• Salt Pond - Smyrna Methodist Church - 16 Smyrna Road, Elgin
• Shaylor’s Hill - Baron DeKalb Elementary School - 2684 Baron DeKalb Road, Camden
• Springdale - New Home Baptist Church - 9105 Liberty Hill Road, Camden
• Westville - Westville Fire Department - 2 Payne Pond Road, Camden
In addition, the voter registration office, 609 Lafayette Ave. in Camden, will be open for failsafe ballots only.
As a cost-saving measure, polling places around the county will be combined for the Feb. 20 Republican and Feb. 27 Democratic presidential primaries. Polling places will be combined as follows:
• Buffalo and Gates Ford will be combined at the Buffalo polling location - Mt. Pisgah Elementary School - 5160 Mt. Pisgah Road, Kershaw
• Airport and Malvern Hill will be combined at the Malvern Hill polling location - Malvern Hill Baptist Church - 1514 Malvern Hill Drive, Camden
• Camden No. 1, Riverside and Charlotte Thompson will all be combined at the Camden No. 1 polling location - Rhame (City) Arena - 517 Bull St., Camden
• Hobkirk’s Hill and Camden No. 2 will be combined at the Hobkirk’s Hill polling location - Camden Elementary School - 1304 Lyttleton St., Camden
• Camden No. 5, Camden No. 5A and Springdale will all be combined at the Springdale polling location - National Steeplechase Museum - 200 Knights Hill Road, Camden
• Elgin No. 1, Elgin No. 3 and Elgin No. 6 will all be combined at the Elgin No. 1 polling location - Blaney Baptist Church - 1400 Blaney Road, Elgin
• Elgin No. 2, Elgin No. 4 and Elgin No. 5 will all be combined at the Elgin No. 2 polling location - Blaney Elementary School - 1621 Smyrna Road, Elgin
• Lugoff No. 1 and Lugoff No. 2 will be combined at the Lugoff No. 2 polling location - Lugoff-Elgin Middle School - 1244 Hwy. 1 South, Lugoff
• Lugoff No. 3 and Lugoff No. 4 will be combined at the Lugoff No. 4 polling location - Lugoff-Elgin High School - 1284 Hwy. 1 South, Lugoff
• Liberty Hill and Shaylor’s Hill will be combined at the Liberty Hill polling location - Beaver Creek Fire Department - 3381 John G. Richards Road, Liberty Hill
• Antioch, Camden No. 6, East Camden/Hermitage and White’s Garden will all be combined at the White’s Garden polling place - Emanuel Baptist Church - 1643 McRae Road, Camden
• Rabon’s Crossroads and Salt Pond will be combined at the Rabon’s Crossroad polling location - Pine Grove Fire Department - 833 Pine Grove Road, Lugoff
• Bethune and Cassatt will be combined to the new Bethune polling location - Bethune Community Center - 109 College St., Bethune
The Doby’s Mill polling location at Doby’s Mill Elementary School, 1964 Fort Jackson Road in Elgin; and the Westville poll at the Westville Fire Department, 2 Payne Pond Road, Camden, are not being combined with any other polling places.
In addition, the voter registration office will be open during the presidential primaries for “barrier free” voting.
A special election to fill the District 1 Kershaw County Council seat recently vacated by Willie Mickle is set for March 29, according to County Voter Registration Director John Caughman. Caughman said if more than one person files for their party’s nomination to fill the seat, a primary would be held on Feb. 9. If necessary, a runoff would be held Feb. 23.
“Filing for this office opens at noon on December 18 and closes on December 29 at noon,” Caughman said during a presentation to Kershaw County Council on Tuesday evening. “And that’s because we’ll be closing at noon on Tuesday for the Christmas holidays. Our office will be taking filing from 8:30 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) daily except for the 24th, 25th and the 28th due to the Christmas holidays.”
Caughman said all nine precincts which are wholly or partially District 1 will be open on the primary, runoff and election dates. He also said the filing fee for the special election is $100, considerably lower than the normal $450 filing fee.
“We’re marking from the time the person who wins the special election takes office to the end of the term, which (is) 12/31/2016. So, the March 29th election, whoever wins that election on that date would take office the following Monday. So, you’re basically only paying a filing fee for the nine months remaining in the term,” Caughman said.
Councilman Jimmy Jones noted any candidates for the special election wishing to could also file for the 2016 general election, since that is when Mickle would have been running for reelection if he had wished to do so. Caughman said March 16 through 30 is the normal filing period for the November election.
“So, you would actually have to file it at the same time you’re running for the remainder of the term,” he said. “And, of course, that would be open to anyone. Just because you didn’t file for the remainder of the term doesn’t mean you can’t file at that time for the June (general election) primaries.”
In addition, Caughman said presidential primaries will be held in February, with the Republican presidential primary set for Feb. 20 and the Democratic presidential primary for Feb. 27. With those primaries -- unlike the Feb. 23, if necessary for District 1 council candidates -- polling places will be combined, Caughman said.
“When the state legislature turned authority for running the primaries over to the state election commission and the local election boards, they ordered cost-saving measures, which means that the state is requiring us to combine polling locations for the presidential primaries only,” he said.
According to Caughman, the county normally has 34 precincts open along with the voter registration office. He said, however, during the presidential primary elections only 15 polling places will be open.
“We have taken into consideration location, facilities that are large enough to handle crowds and locations (which are) easy for people to get to,” Caughman said. “Also, the state is estimating a 20 percent turnout. I checked; in the 2008 and 2012 presidential primaries, we had between 21 and 25 percent turnout. So, that’s what I’m planning for; not the 20 percent but the 25 percent.”
Based on his experience, Caughman said he believes there will be between a 15 to 20 percent turnout for the special election to fill Mickle’s seat in District 1. He said he wanted to think optimistically in terms of good voter turnout for any of the upcoming elections because with the upcoming presidential election, “people are paying attention.” Caughman noted the possibly Feb. 9 primary and Feb. 23 runoff elections for the District 1 seat are “right in the middle” of the presidential primaries.
“We want everybody to show up. Our goal is to everybody show up, vote and out of the polls in as short amount of time as possible. I like to see a real good turnout,” he said.
Caughman said he is trying to get information about the special election and presidential primaries out as early as possible -- including putting up signs about the combined polling places -- in order to reduce confusion among voters.
So far, only Al Bozard of Lugoff, has announced his intention to seek Mickle’s seat (see accompanying story).
Several members of council praised Mickle’s service
Also Tuesday, council voted unanimously on third and final reading of a fee in lieu of taxes agreement with “Project Aurora,” revealed during the meeting to be INVISTA. With Chairman Julian Burns calling it “terrific news,” the ordinance spells out how INVISTA plans to invest a minimum of $45 million during the next five years, creating a minimum of 20 jobs.
According to a subsequent press release from the Kershaw County Economic Development Office, the investment concerns the installation of nylon polymer and spanning units along with other modernization projects. The press release noted INVISTA’s decision to hire 200 new positions, most of which were replacing contract positions, earlier this year.
Kershaw County Attorney Ken DuBose noted to council during a discussion on the ordinance the actual agreement with INVISTA calls for a total $80 million investment during the next 10 years.
The INVISTA vote led Burns to note many of council’s Fiscal Year 2016 goals have already been met. Among them, he included working on recreational projects, improving the Kershaw County Detention Center (KCDC), taking over emergency management services from KershawHealth, successfully working on the hospital’s transfer to Capella and MUSC Health, beginning work to improve the county’s industrial sites, starting the countywide “Vision 2030” effort, funding the county’s capital fund and supporting the effort to create a joint Central Carolina Technical College, Applied Technology Education Campus and Economic Development complex.
“I want to tell you how proud I am to be among this team of teams up here who achieved that along with the help of Mr. Mickle,” Burns said. “In a short period of time, with the effort of Peggy (McLean) and Lauren (Reeder, of the economic development office), we have brought in some $200 million in investment some 500 new jobs to this county. We’re not just a great place, we are the great place.”
Burns concluded with a call to continue working on having a “trained, ready and motivated” workforce in order to fill the jobs coming to the county.
Finally, during his own briefing, County Administrator Vic Carpenter announced KCDC Jail Administrator Peggy Spivey had just completed an “extremely grueling and complicated process” to become a nationally certified jail manager.
“In the state of South Carolina, there’s only 14 of these people and Director Spivey is now one of them,” Carpenter said. “Again, it is extremely difficult, very time consuming and is indicative of the level of excellence and commitment to a job very few accomplish and aspire to.”
Jones, a past KCDC administrator, said the test is not merely “grueling” but that there is no word he could come up with to describe it.
“I was shocked when I heard Peggy had completed it, and I’m so proud. She’s been with us 21 years and for us to have a nationally certified jail administrator. Guys, we’ve never had that before in Kershaw County. You go back only a couple of years ago and there were only about six (in the state). When I was here, there were only two. That was 15 years ago,” Jones said.
In other business Tuesday, council:
• unanimously, and by acclimation, appointed Robert “Laurin” Burch and John A. Koumas Jr. to the Health Services District of Kershaw County Board of Trustees;
• unanimously approved its 2016 meeting schedule;
• learned of a letter of thanks from the Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority for work performed by county personnel during October’s historic flood; and
• agreed, based on a request from Jones, to set up times immediately before council’s January meetings to recognize former council chairman Austin Sheheen and Steve Kelly for their more than 20 years of past service on county council.