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Ten speak at Capital Project Sales Tax hearing in Kershaw

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By Denyse Clark

 Denyse Clark

dclark@thelancasternews.com

KERSHAW – Less than 10 people signed up to address the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission at a hearing Thursday, May 8, at the Andrew Jackson Recreation Center, but those who did, had powerful things to say.

This meeting was the fourth of five planned public hearings to help determine potential future uses of the county’s one cent capital project sales tax.

Residents such as Billy Self, of the Buford community, said he attended the hearing “on behalf of the youth” to address the need for sports complexes.

“I’m blessed to have used sporting facilities through my schools,” Self said. “We’re 10 years behind where we need to be. Children are practicing in parking lots. A lot of facilities need to be upgraded.”

Self said many of the county’s sports facilities are outdated.

“We’re losing our children – my children, your children – to other areas simply because we don’t have the facilities to take care of them.”

Katherine Walters, assistant director for Lancaster County Parks & Recreation, also addressed the commission about the need for additional sporting facilities.

“Parks and Rec is in dire need of a sports complex,” she said. “The citizens deserve quality ball fields.”

She said Lancaster residents deserve a “gaming site” to lessen travel across the county.

The county’s current capital project sales tax expires in 2015, with early completion of the Lancaster County Courthouse it funded. Larry Durham, chairman of the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission, told those at the Kershaw area hearing that the courthouse is “almost paid off, the bonds are almost paid.”

The intent of the commission hearings, which began April 24, is to solicit input on what capital needs projects residents would like to see funded by a reauthorized sales tax, if any.

Richard Band, former Lancaster County Library director, addressed the tax commission about the need for library upgrades, especially at the satellite branch in Kershaw.  

“The Kershaw library has a rich service of serving Heath Springs and Kershaw,” he said.

Band said currently there’s no room for books and the need for expansion is great.

Kershaw Fire Department Chief Tracy Caldwell said upgrades need to be made to the existing emergency services and law enforcement radio system.

The “dead areas” of the county make it difficult to make calls, he said. The radios these emergency workers carry do not reach other emergency personnel.

“Right now, we’re unable to communicate with the agencies we do mutual aid with,” Caldwell said.

Doug Spinks, the contract firefighter for Kershaw, agreed with Caldwell.

“The problems with communication in this area cause me great concern,” he said. “I cannot communicate with Kershaw County until I get on the scene.”

Spinks said the communication problems are causing delays in knowing what type of aid is needed.

“The ultimate goal is for us to provide services to Kershaw,” he said.

Ken Faulkenberry  told the commission that up to this point, he had listened to mostly county employees address the need for a sporting facility and fire services but he thought this meeting was about paving roads.

“This is a road capital fund and everybody thinks this is a project to fix roads,” he said. “If you make county council responsible for parks and rec and fire services, you can focus on the road projects.”

Gary Horton of Heath Springs resounded the issues Faulkenberry had addressed.

“This end of the county will not grow until we do something with the roads,” he said.

Lancaster County Councilman Jack Estridge agreed.

“The goal of this county has always been public safety,” he said.

He went on to say that the condition of the county’s roads is deplorable.

“I’ve been thinking about getting bumper stickers that tell the police ‘I’m not drunk, but I’m dodging pot holes,” he said, laughing.

Estridge urged the commission to “think safety.” 

“If you don’t have a safe road to travel on, it’s wrong. It’s just wrong,” he said.

A final hearing is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Heath Springs Town Hall, 103 Duncan St., Heath Springs. 

When the hearings end, commission members will choose projects with the highest importance to county residents, based partly on input received during the meetings. It will then be included as a ballot question for voters to decide during the general election in November.

The commission will also accept public comments via their website, email or traditional mail.

Deadline for public comments and submissions is May 30.

Information, forms and public comments on the proposed sales tax can be found in the County Administration Office at 101 N Main St., Lancaster, or online by visiting www.mylancastersc.org.

Choose “Boards and Commissions” under the “Government” tab and then click on “Capital Project Sales Tax Commission” in the left side bar.

Written comments may be submitted via email to dhardin@lancastercountysc or by mail to County Administration Office, Attn: Capital Project Sales Tax Commission, P.O. Box 1809, Lancaster, SC 29720.

 

Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152