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    Gospel Music Showcase on April 25th at Patriot Hall

    Heart Expo_

    Census 2020 team working to ensure complete count in Sumter County

    April 12 2019 Sumter Census 2020 1

    During the 2019 Festival On The Avenue’s kickoff event Thursday evening, the Rev. James Blassingame and Bonnie Disney spoke about the need to participate in the 2020 Census.

    Blassingame and Disney serve as co-chairs of the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee and talked about how Sumter will benefit from having a thorough count when the Census takes place a year from now.

    Speaking to a packed house at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church during the annual program known as ‘An Evening of Elegance – Remembering the Past,’ Blassingame said the committee on which he and Disney serve is reflective of our community.

    “And that is exactly what the 2020 Census is going to do, reflect the community as best as we can,” he said. “As mandated by our nation’s Constitution, every 10 years our government performs a Census and this is why we want you to not only participate, but to help us get the word out about the 2020 Census.”

    Disney said Census responses will begin next spring, and folks can respond either online, via mail or over the phone. There will also be several events throughout the county, she said, so residents can ask questions they may have.

    She stressed how a thorough count means more federal assistance and how each person counted in South Carolina equals about $1,500 in federal funds each year. For each one percent of the population that is undercounted, that’s a loss of over $1.6 million each year, she said.

    “The bottom line is quite simple,” she said, as we need to do our best to make sure every single Sumter County resident is counted.

    It’s safe, confidential, and will directly affect how much money Sumter County gets from the federal government, she said. She asked that people join in and help educate their co-workers or neighbors or fellow parishioners at church about the 2020 Census as it will ensure we get fair representation over the next decade.

    Blassingame thanked Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen and Sumter County Council Chairman Jim McCain, as both the city and county are fully supportive of the 2020 Census.

    Information was available to hand out, he said, and noted that speakers are available to meet with organizations or church groups to help get the word out. Blassingame noted that all of this information is available on https://www.sumtercensus.com/

    He also added that the Census is hiring. You can apply online for temporary seasonal jobs at 2020census.gov/job or call 1-855-JOB-2020.




    Council recognizes Dillard for powerboat racing prowess

    April 10 2019 Brent Dillard recognized by Sumter County Council 1

    Sumter County Council Tuesday evening recognized a Sumterite who has made a name for himself as a champion powerboat racer.

    Brent Dillard, 32, received a proclamation from Sumter County Council for his accomplishments that are now known throughout the international powerboat racing community.

    Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. said was now time to recognize “a gentleman who travels around the world racing powerboats.”

    Brent’s father Steven Dillard told council members that his son received a proclamation from then Gov. David Beasley for being a national champion at 14-years-old following a race in New York.

    Since then, his son has won nine national championships, five North American championships and last year decided to race overseas to compete against 46 drivers representing 18 countries. As the only American driver, Brent Dillard finished fifth in the world last year, he said, missing third place by two points.

    “I just want to thank you for being here,” Brent Dillard said to council members.

    He thanked his sponsor, Dillard Financial, for being able to race abroad and said he can’t wait for the upcoming season.

    Councilman Artie Baker asked a question about a short video compilation of Dillard’s racing feats.

    “Is that a boat or an airplane?,” Baker asked, drawing laughter.

    Brent Dillard said in a straight line, “it’s designed to fly like an airplane but not take off. So the less amount of boat you have in the water, the faster you’re going to go.”

    Baker asked how he controls it.

    “You don’t really control it on the straightaway,” he said, but you just hope it doesn’t fly or flip.

    It’s possible to pull six Gs in turns, he said, referring to gravitational force, and his boat reaches speeds upwards of 120 mph. The cockpit is protected and there’s air bags on the exterior in the event the boat turns over.

    Baker said Dillard is “a courageous person.”

    McCain said he doesn’t imagine “they have brakes on that boat,” drawing laughter.

    Councilman Charles Edens asked the Dillards where they were based out of, and Steve Dillard said Sumter. The overseas team is located in Italy, he said, and they just returned following two weeks of training there.

    Brent Dillard said he also just raced in Saudi Arabia.

    McCain said council members had just recognized rising basketball star Ja Morant and Dillard has “already made it.”

    “We’re looking forward to more things from you,” McCain added.

    (More information about Brent Dillard: http://dillardracing.net/home/)

    April 10 2019 Brent Dillard recognized by Sumter County Council 2

    County Council passes two third readings, a first reading and a second reading

    At the outset of Tuesday’s regular Sumter County meeting, City-County Zoning Administrator Helen Roodman spoke about first reading of a request to rezone a 74.69 acre parcel at 2384 Beulah Cuttino Road from Residential-15 (R-15) to Agricultural Conservation (AC).

    The applicants, Donnie and Robin Beard, own a fairly significant tract of land on the north side of Beulah Cuttino Road between U.S. 15 South and Tindal Road just south of the Lakewood Lakes subdivision, she said. Across the street is property with an agricultural zoning designation. Just south is a rural development planning area and west of the property is also a conservation preservation planning area.

    “So the request to rezone this property to an agricultural designation that is a less dense use is actually compatible with the adjacent Comp Plan designations,” Roodman said.

    It’s fairly heavily wooded today, she said, and part of it is planted pine trees. There’s also some wetlands on the west side of property that make it unsuitable for development overall, she said.

    The Beards want to subdivide a piece of the property, she said, closer to the center of tract that isn’t allowed under an R-15 designation. Also, long term plans really are for agricultural uses and not residential development, she said.

    There’s also a lack of sewer and water infrastructure, she said, and the Beards want to subdivide the land for a home and use the remainder for timber management and agricultural uses. The Planning Commission recommends approval and Planning Department staff concur, she said.

    First reading passed unanimously.


    Roodman then spoke about third reading of a request to rezone a five acre parcel at 4980-4984 Cane Savannah Road from AC to General Commercial (GC). No changes to request since second reading have been made, she said. Planning Commission recommended approval of GC, she said.

    Third reading passed unanimously.

    Roodman then spoke about third reading of a request from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office to add Outdoor Pistol, Rifle or Skeet Ranges to the Heavy Industrial (HI) District as a special exception.

    There have been no changes since second reading, she said.

    Third reading passed unanimously.

    Sumter County Attorney Johnathan Bryan spoke about second reading of an ordinance to amend Sumter County Code of Ordinances, Sections 6-19, 6-20 and 6-23 of Chapter 6, Article II, relating to dogs and other animals.

    New definitions for ‘tethering’ and ‘trolley line’ would be added.

    Tethering means attaching an animal to a stationary object by means of a chain, cable, rope, running line, harness or similar device. It shall not include the use of an appropriate leash to walk a dog. It shall not include appropriate leashes attached to trolley lines.

    Trolley line means a run line at least 10 feet in length between two pulley stop points suspended at least three feet above the dog’s head which allows five feet lateral movement for the dog on each side of the primary trolley line as measured on the ground. The secondary line attached to the dog shall have a rolling trolley freely moveable a distance of at least 10 feet along the primary line with a spring/shock absorber attachment and swivels at both ends. A trolley line must allow the dog free access to food, water and shelter and may restrain only one dog at a time. All collars must be made of nylon, leather or other durable and non-metallic material and must be fitted so as not to cause injury to the dog or embed itself in the dog’s neck.

    A new subsection, Bryan said, reasserts that any dog not positively identifiable may be humanely disposed after 10 days if unclaimed by the owner. Any dog that that is not positively identifiable after six days may be turned over to a humanitarian organization for the purposes of being fostered or adopted.

    Second reading passed unanimously.


    The Public Works Committee met earlier, Baker said, and all members were present to receive an overview of the roads system and the percentage of dirt roads and paved roads. No action was needed, he said. It was also decided to spend $9,960 to repair railroad spurs.

    Baker thanked McCain, Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon and Clerk to Council Mary Blanding for their work on Ja Morant Day at Crestwood High School.

    “I just thought it went real well,” Baker said.

    McCain thanked fellow council members for attending that event.

    Mixon gave a report on the annual budget process and how there’s a workshop slated for the next council meeting, which will provide an opportunity to review a rough draft of the budget.

    During the next month and a half, work will proceed on the budget with the third and final reading slated for the first meeting in June, he said.

    There were no comments during the Public Comments portion and at 6:20 p.m. Baker made a motion to go into Executive Session.

    About four minutes later council members returned and made a motion to return and noted no action was taken during a discussion of a contractual matter.

    The meeting adjourned at 6:25 p.m.


    Morant honored with key to city and proclamation

    April 9 2019 Ja Morant Day 30


    Rising basketball star and Crestwood High School alumnus Ja Morant was honored on April 8, 2019, at his alma mater with a key to the city and a proclamation enshrining that day in history as Ja Morant Day in Sumter County, South Carolina.

    Morant’s play for Murray State garnered him All American status and a likely first round pick in the NBA draft.

    April 9 2019 Ja Morant Day 12

    2019 Sumter County Awards Banquet honors SFD and EMS

    April 5 2019 Sumter Fire Department and Sumter EMS Awards at Sumter County Civic Center 1

    The 2019 Sumter County Awards Banquet was held April 4, 2019, at the Sumter County Civic Center to honor outstanding first responders of the Sumter Fire Department and Sumter County Emergency Medical Services.

    Sumter County Council sponsored the event and after opening remarks by Sumter Fire Chief Karl Ford and EMS Chief Bobby Hingst, the Sumter Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors and Patty Patterson sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”

    Chaplain David Bagwell offered an invocation and dinner followed. The guest speaker was S.C. Firefighter Academy Superintendent Dennis Ray and Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon presented the awards. City Councilwoman Ione Dwyer also thanked the first responders for their hard work and dedication.

    EMT of the Year - Private Christopher Kirven; Advanced EMT of the Year - Victoria Matthews; Paramedic of the Year - Cpl. Cody Dyson; Manager of the Year - Asst. Chief Kent Hall; Firefighter of the Year - Joshua Dubose ; Officer of the Year - Cameron Northrop ; Career Center Student of 2019 - Hunter Cockerill

    2019 Station Firefighter of the Year

    Cherryvale – Alexander Farley; Pinewood – Daren Avins Jr.; Graham – T.J. Klavon; Pleasant Grove – Henry Gamble; Mayesville – James Clark ; Dalzell – Richard Palmer; Wedgefield – Wendell Patterson; Rembert – Devante Payne ; Concord – Justin McCoy; Horatio – Gavin Foxworth; Dubose – William Dyson; Bethel – Joshua Dubose; Beech Creek – Jameson Bucci; Byrds – Lee Moore; Dabbs – Ernest Frierson

    2019 Station Officer of the Year

    Cherryvale – Cameron Northrop; Pinewood – K.J. Hall; Graham – Troy Lamontagne; Pleasant Grove – Jim Phillips; Mayesville – Xander Compton; Dalzell – David Bagwell; Wedgefield – Sean Sutton; Rembert – Simon Grant; Concord – Robbie Watts; Horatio – William Boykin; Dubose – Cody Dyson; Bethel – Tripp Mays; Oswego – Bassett Ali; Beech Creek – Victor Smith; Byrds – David M. Floyd ; Dabbs – Johnny Watts

    April 5 2019 Sumter Fire Department and Sumter EMS Awards at Sumter County Civic Center 36

    'Gamecock' sculpture on display at Sumter County Judicial Center

    April 3 2019 Grainger McKoys Gamecock in Sumter County Judicial Center 1

    A work of art created by Sumter artist Grainger McKoy is now on display on the third floor of the Sumter County Judicial Center.

    The ‘Gamecock’ sculpture was commissioned to celebrate Sumter County’s 200th anniversary and to honor General Thomas Sumter, who earned that nickname for his tenacity in battling the British during the Revolutionary War.

    “The bird I chose to carve is known as a Brown Red Cock, and I was assured by the locals that his ancestors would have been strutting in our area long before our General did,” McKoy said on his website about the work, which was created in 2000.

    Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said the sculpture is meant to be enjoyed by the general public and has been in several locations.

    “We’re proud to have the Gamecock on display so folks can enjoy this work of art that honors our namesake,” he said.

    Helping install the Gamecock were McKoy’s niece Sullivan McKoy and Trey Parker.

    Sumter County Clerk of Court Jamie Campbell said Grainger McKoy is a “world-renowned artist and his sculpture really enhances our lobby.”

    The Gamecock is on display outside the Clerk of Court’s office on the third floor of the Judicial Center at 215 N. Harvin St., which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. We ask visitors to please not touch the case.

    April 3 2019 Grainger McKoys Gamecock in Sumter County Judicial Center 4


    County and Chamber of Commerce celebrate new EMS station on Frierson Road

    March 28 2019 Sumter County EMS Frierson Road 1

    With the help of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, a ribbon cutting was held on March 28, 2019, for Sumter County Emergency Medical Service’s newest station on Frierson Road.

    County Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. welcomed everyone to the event and recognized fellow council members Vivian Fleming-McGhaney, Eugene Baten, Vice Chairman Jimmy Byrd, Artie Baker and Chris Sumpter.

    “This is great for this community,” McCain said, “and great for our EMS staff as well.”

    Councilwoman Fleming-McGhaney offered an invocation, followed by Councilman Baten, who led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Councilman Baker said the community he represents truly appreciates the new station. In the past, the site utilized a trailer to house EMS and Baker also recalled the days when EMS was run by Tuomey Hospital.

    Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon thanked the Chamber staff and ambassadors and also thanked City Manager Deron McCormick for being present, along with Sumter Fire Department Chief Karl Ford.

    “This is Team Sumter, Team Sumter County, and everyone participates on some level,” he said. “And we appreciate that always. I’m certainly proud of all of you.”

    EMS Director Bobby Hingst vocalized the need for a new station, Mixon said, which helped foster cooperation with Sumter County Council. Coordination is the next step, and involved Purchasing Director Bobby Galloway, Facilities Manager Dennis Powell, and Finance Director Jamie Michaelson. Mixon also thanked Clerk to Council Mary Blanding for her work in organizing the ribbon cutting ceremony.

    Mixon thanked Palance Design Service and Hardee Construction.

    “It’s great to have a local team working on projects like this,” he said.

    Chief Hingst told the crowd it was “a momentous occasion for EMS. For the county, and for this community.”

    He thanked County Council and Administration for their support of the project, and for recognizing the need.

    “To my staff: I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do every single day,” he said. “You work very hard, you work long hours, you work in some of the roughest conditions there are. You do it every day with dignity, integrity, with courage, with bravery, and you do it well.”

    Hingst also thanked Powell and Galloway for their help in seeing the project through to completion.

    “This definitely signifies to our community that we’re here and we’re here to stay,” Hingst said. “We’re here to provide you with service and we want that service to be the best service it is.”

    He also thanked Chief Ford for providing a place to stay while the construction was taking place.

    “We have a good partnership,” with the Sumter Fire Department, he said. “We work together very well.”

    March 28 2019 Sumter County EMS Frierson Road 2


    Public hearing slated for County Council's April 23, 2019, meeting

    March 25 2019 Public Hearing Ordinance 19-907

    Auditor, Assessor and Treasurer's Offices located in old Item building at 20 North Magnolia Street

    Magnolia Place Jan 2019

    The Sumter County Auditor, Assessor and Treasurer's offices are located at 20 North Magnolia Street, now known as Magnolia Place. It is across the street from the Health Department and behind Wendy's. Handicapped parking is available in front of the building, and there's a ramp into the building.
    Normal business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.