Society Hill council seals its CareSouth deal

By Bobby Bryant, Editor,

With no questions and no qualms, Society Hill Town Council last week gave final approval to a plan that will let CareSouth Carolina turn an abandoned school into an office building for at least 50 employees.

The council governing the town of 560 people quickly and unanimously (one member was absent) gave second-reading approval April 9 to an ordinance transferring the old St. David’s Academy property to Hartsville-headquartered CareSouth, which will renovate the former school into an office building over the next few years.

At least 50 CareSouth employees – some have said perhaps as many as 75 – will work out of the refurbished building. All the employees there will be relocated from other CareSouth facilities, mainly those in Hartsville.

For Society Hill, it means that an “eyesore” unused building will become the town’s largest employer. For CareSouth, it means lots more working space in the area. “I think both parties will be real happy,” Society Hill Mayor Tommy Bradshaw said after the final vote.

John Douglas, the CareSouth representative who has been working with Bradshaw on the deal for several months, attended the council session but did not speak publicly about the project. No one in the audience voiced any questions or comments about the plan.

Bradshaw hopes the CareSouth plan will serve as a “catalyst” for the town’s economy.

The key to finally launching the deal was provided March 12, when the Darlington County school board quickly voted to slice the red tape that has long restricted how Society Hill could use the St. David’s Academy property. The Darlington County School District deeded the property to Society Hill in 2005, but the town never had the power to sell it.

Town Council was in session when the school board voted to take the restrictions off the deed.

School board member Connell Delaine called Town Council to tell the members of the board’s vote, and Town Council took its initial vote on proceeding with the CareSouth deal that night.

In other business during its April 9 session, Town Council agreed to allow Society Hill’s one-man police department to hire a local resident, a retired law-enforcement officer, to work for the department part-time – six to eight hours per two-week pay period. The expense will be “minimal,” Bradshaw told council.

Author: Rachel Howell

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