Clarendon County’s Miss America Marian McKnight, Sam Gamble, several petitioners with Briggs v. Elliott, a Tuskegee airman and other local legends were looking down from murals on the back walls of Council Chambers as Clarendon County Council held its first meeting in the new administration building at 411 Sunset Drive.
“This is an exciting time in the county,” Chairman Dwight Stewart told those at Monday’s meeting. “What do you think? It’s very nice. It was a long time in coming.”
Stewart said that a formal ribbon cutting and reception would be held from 2-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 16 at the county’s new administration building with a brief program, tours of the facility and light refreshments.
“It’s your building,” Stewart told the audience. “It’s our building. It’s good to have a place and a sense of government all consolidated under one roof.”
Stewart said J.C. Witherspoon’s mill in Alcolu milled all the cypress that is featured throughout the new facility.
“We used as much from local people as we could,” he added.
The first item of business in the new chambers was to appoint Charles M. “Charlie” Gavin as a District 2 representative on the Clarendon County Development Board.
Council voted unanimously to allow Sheriff Randy Garrett to sign a mutual aid agreement between his office and the South Carolina State University Police Department.
While council members were all smiles with the new facility, there was also a bittersweet moment when Stewart read a resolution recognizing James T. “Jim” Darby’s 25 years of service to the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Government and Clarendon County.
“What an outstanding executive director he has been,” Stewart said in presenting Darby with the framed resolution. “I’m on the search committee to replace him. That’s a tough job.”
Included in the resolution was naming Aug. 14 as Jim Darby Day in Clarendon County.
“I appreciate this recognition,” Darby told Stewart and council. “It would be foolish on my part to allow you to believe that I’ve done all this by myself. There have always been others who have been involved.”
Darby told council members and those in the audience that he was “extremely proud of Clarendon County.”
“Truly, Clarendon County is ready in my professional opinion ... on the cusp of many great things,” Darby added.
In the Administrator’s Report, Administrator David Epperson updated council on the county’s financial status.
“We just started the new fiscal year,” he said. “From this month into fall, it will be lean times, but it’s better than last year.”
Epperson added that once the county’s tax notices are mailed in October, revenue would begin to increase.
The county’s water and sewer department is doing well, Epperson said. The two new systems are online and doing well.
In the Chairman’s Report, Stewart gave council a list of meetings and events he attended since the last council meeting, including the countywide National Night Out and a Council of Governments alternative energy meeting.
After a brief executive session, council took no action on the two matters discussed in executive session: a legal briefing on the courthouse renovation project financing and construction, and a legal briefing on the Lake Marion Regional Water System.
Stewart said that council asked Epperson to contact the LMRWS to discuss a counter proposal from that agency to pay back $145,000 that Clarendon County had paid into the LMRWS when it was a member of the multi-county system.
Council’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 in Summerton.