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Group seeks to open new medical office in Kershaw

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Town Council holds off on supporting group; wants to do more research first

By Nita Brown

KERSHAW – Kershaw Town Council heard a plan to open a new medical office downtown.
Chris Dixon, Sandhills Medical Foundation’s chief financial officer, outlined the plan and requested a letter of support from council Monday to submit with an upcoming federal grant application, which is due Dec. 17.
Sandhills offers medical care to anyone, with sliding-scale fees as low as $25, keyed to the patient’s ability to pay.
The 20-year-old nonprofit foundation is based in McBee and serves a number of small towns in Chesterfield, Sumter and Kershaw counties.  
The Kershaw office would expand its service to eastern Lancaster County.
Dixon said, according to demographic research, the new office would fill a niche and not compete with existing services.
It would offer family and pediatric care, as well as internal medicine, infectious disease and behavioral health care. The foundation expects to partner with existing pharmacies and dentists, instead of offering their own, as it does in towns with none of these services.
The new office, projected to open in September 2011, would initially bring 10 full-time jobs to the area. Dixon said the foundation hires locally whenever possible.
Council was concerned about how it would mesh with existing practices and pending plans for the CareNet facility, which provides care to low-income and uninsured patients. Kershaw is supporting CareNet by providing a town-owned building and expects to hear by year-end on their application for a Community Development Block Grant to fund required building modifications.
Councilman Wade Hunter asked specifically if Sandhills had met with local practices.
Dixon said he believes Sandhills would not undermine other practices.
He offered to meet with local doctors and hold town meetings to answer questions from the community.
Councilman Morris Russell made a motion to defer a decision on the letter of support until the December meeting, after council confers with existing local medical services. The motion was unanimously approved.
Park update
Beverly Timmons gave a report on the Kershaw Community Park. The property survey is 95 percent complete and results will soon be available. Funds have been raised for the grill, and plans are under way for a grand opening for the new tennis courts, she said.
Because of the need for community and corporate funding support, she recommended that the park group be incorporated as a non-profit organization. Other requests and recommendations included moving or removing fences and building new parking lots.
She asked council to encourage African-American participation in the park committee.
Hunter said the group needs to find ways to deal with possible competition with the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Department.
Council approved Timmons’ request to establish a joint committee consisting of two council members and two Kershaw Community Park Comittee members to assess and prioritize projects. Mayor Wayne Rhodes and Councilman Eddie Coates volunteered to be on the committee.
In other business, council:
u Approved completion of negotiations with Lancaster County Water and Sewer District for the county to assume billing responsibilities for water and sewer in the Little Dude area and reimburse the town for sewage treatment.
u Approved revised purchase and easement agreements with Romarco in Kershaw Industrial Park, as recommended by Town Attorney Mandy Powers Norrell.
u Authorized Town Administrator Tony Starnes to evaluate and purchase a walk-behind trencher, within proposed budget of $11,022, to replace existing worn-out equipment and enable under-road boring. This would eliminate cost to rent equipment and repave road surfaces.
u Approved a motion to evaluate possible town-owned sites for a medical helicopter pad to be built in support of Talf Wrenn’s Eagle Scout project.
u Approved a declaration to move the December council meeting to Dec. 16, from the scheduled Dec. 20 date, because of the Christmas holidays.
Council adjourned after a closed session for a  briefing on the proposed sale or purchase of property.