County Council power shift tops 2013 news
A shift in voting power on Berkeley County Council, and a dramatic political comeback by Mark Sanford were among the top news stories during an eventful 2013. Over the next two weeks, The Independent is looking back on some of the top news stories in Moncks Corner and Berkeley County, beginning with the first six months of 2013.
• Ken Gunn – who defeated incumbent Berkeley County Councilman Bob Call in Nov. 2012 – and fellow council members Phil Farley and Tim Callanan were sworn in at Farley’s Hanahan barbershop in a unique ceremony in January.
Usually the swearing in of the new council members occurs in council chambers on the first Tuesday of the New Year, but with New Year’s Day falling on a Tuesday and the previous council terms expiring at midnight on Jan. 1, three council seats would have remained vacant for nearly a week.
“There was a significant gap between when the old council terms expired and when we would have had the new members sworn in, so we felt it best to do the ceremony now,” said council member Dennis Fish, who helped coordinate the event.
• During County Council’s first committee meeting of the New Year, a change in voting power was evident.
Gone were the five-member committees as council returned to “committees of the whole” that include all council members. Also, the committee chairmanships changed hands with Callanan replacing Jack Schurlknight as Finance Committee chairman, and Fish took charge of the newly organized committee of Human Resources and Purchasing. Fish also replaced Steve Davis as vice chairman of county council.
• Moncks Corner Town Council used its first meeting of the New Year to jumpstart its new Regional Recreation Complex with a pre-dawn meeting. “Now we have a direct plan of action regarding the recreation complex in that we can move forward and have something the town can be proud of,” Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler said of the $5.4 million project.
• Berkeley County’s annual financial audit showed the county to be in sound financial shape.
Larry Finney of the Greene, Finney and Horton accounting firm presented his audit to County Council. Council received an “Unqualified Opinion,” which, according to Finney, is the best possible rating his firm could give.
County Supervisor Dan Davis said the audit shows Berkeley County is on sound financial footing.
• The final tally of the 2012 Celebrate the Season program showed there was no sophomore slump, according to Santee Cooper President Lonnie Carter. “Our sponsorships were up, our attendance was up, and all this is good news for charities of Berkeley County,” Carter said.
Carter announced that a total of $145,412 was given back to charity due to proceeds raised from the 2012 edition of Celebrate the Season. Carter presented a check totaling $98,926.54 to the Coastal Community Foundation’s Giving Back to Berkeley Fund. A second check for $15,000 was presented to Carolyn Pilgrim, manager of the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center.
• The bitter cold, the biting wind, and the incessant rain didn’t seem so bad in March as the Breath of Spring Flower Show officially heralded the arrival of spring at Cypress Gardens. The flower show was sponsored by the Belle Isle Garden Club, the Camellia Garden Club of Greater Charleston, the Garden Club of Otranto, and the Town and Village Garden Club.
The show featured 267 entries over three categories, with 218 horticultural entries, 48 flower design entries and three educational exhibits.
• Buoyed by sunny skies and springtime temperatures the 21st Annual St. Stephen Catfish Festival enjoyed a renaissance with the largest crowd to pour through town in recent years.
“Definitely a great crowd this weekend,” said festival organizer Johnny Broome. “The last couple years the weather hasn’t been necessarily kind to us, but this year we had great weather throughout the festival.”
The crowd was estimated between 12-to-15 thousand over the three-day festival.
• Former Gov. Mark Sanford received 26,066 votes in the Republican primary runoff, more than enough to beat former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic for the GOP nomination for the First Congressional District.
Sen. Larry Grooms finished a close third in the initial primary balloting. The primary featured 16 Republican candidates seeking to fill the seat of former U.S Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in late 2012.
Sanford would go on to handily defeat Democrat Elizaeth Colbert-Busch in the special election.
• Berkeley County’s state legislators had a little bit of time to talk about current topics at the annual Berkeley Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon. Subjects discussed ranged from roads and bridges to offering immediate availability of in-state tuition to dependents of veterans that move into the state.
Seven of Berkeley County’s 11 state senators and representatives spoke to a packed house of local civic and business leaders at the Redbank Club in Goose Creek.
• The county Republican Party remained publicly critical of the Berkeley County School District, accusing district employees of promoting the $198 million “Yes 4 Schools” bond while on school district time and using district resources. The bond passed by nearly a two-to-one vote in November 2012.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson assured GOP members during a June meeting that SLED’s investigation into the campaign would be thorough.
• Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler announced that he is running for Berkeley County Supervisor.Peagler announced his candidacy at the Berkeley County Republican Party breakfast in Goose Creek.
“This is not a race against Dan Davis. I’m running to represent the people of Berkeley County,” he said.
Peagler has been mayor of Moncks Corner since 2005 and is currently in his third term of office.
• County Supervisor Dan Davis presented Berkeley County Council with a balanced budget during its June council meeting.
The proposed budget included no tax or millage increases and affords the majority of Berkeley County departments to perform at the same level of services as last year.
County dedicates new BCWS plant
• A project seven years in the making has come to fruition with the ribbon cutting on June 21 of the new Berkeley County Water and Sanitation Central Berkeley Waste Water Treatment plant. BCWS Director Colin Martin and Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis hosted a gathering of civic and business leaders for the ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour of the new facility.