Bobby Hudson takes chair at county council
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlington County Council held its first session of 2015 with a regular meeting on Jan. 6, and the first order of business was a swearing-in ceremony for returning council members.
Rejoining council for another four years were members Mozella “Pennie” Nicholson (District 6, Hartsville), Dannie Douglas (District 2, Society Hill), and Bobby Hudson (District 4, Lamar). Also sworn in was new member David Coker, who takes over the Hartsville District 8 seat vacated by the retirement of former council chair Wesley Blackwell.
Council also elected new officers, with Hudson elected chair, Robbin Brock elected vice chair, and Dannie Douglas elected as chaplain.
Following an executive session, council unanimously approved the offer of a salary and benefits package for presumptive county administrator Terence Arrington. Council agreed to offer him a two-year contract with $100,000 in salary plus $5,000 in moving expenses for the first year, and $105,000 in salary the second year. Arrington would also receive benefits at the level of a fifteen-year county employee.
The contract was termed an “at will” arrangement, which county attorney Jim Cox explained would allow either party to terminate the contract with adequate cause. As of press time on Jan. 12, there was no formal announcement of Arrington’s acceptance or refusal of the contract.
Arrington has served as deputy city administrator in Salisbury, Maryland since January of 2014. His contract with Darlington County would begin Feb. 15. Interim Darlington County administrator Tommy Edwards turned in his resignation to council, effective Feb. 15.
During the regular meeting, council held several public hearings, including a proposal to spend $190,000 to purchase the old Post Office building located at 201 Pearl Street in Darlington to house a county museum and gallery. This item was on the agenda for first reading; council did not vote on the matter and no one spoke at the public hearing.
Council also held a public hearing and second reading on Ordinance 14-30, which would levy a 2-percent hospitality tax on prepared food sold in unincorporated areas of Darlington County. Council member Le Flowers moved that council not approve this new tax, but his motion was defeated with a 4 to 4 tie vote.
Council member Bobby Kilgo then moved for approval of the hospitality tax and received a second from Douglas. Nicholson, Hudson, and Coker voted to approve and the ordinance passed by a vote of 6 to 2. By amendment, the tax – pending third reading approval – will take effect July 1, 2015.
Also at this meeting, council heard from citizen Vivian Wright, owner of Plantation Pines Mobile Home Village. Wright said that even though only 16 lots are currently occupied, she still has to pay a $53 per lot solid waste fee on all 77 lots at her facility. She asked council to consider waiving the fee for unoccupied lots. Council voted to instruct county staff to investigate ways to verify the lots are unoccupied and create a plan to stop collecting solid waste fees for vacant lots.
Gil Rogers of Rogers Brothers Farm received council approval to temporarily block JoJa Road with an irrigation rig. Rogers said the irrigation system would need to cross the road perhaps 15 times during June and July, and it would block a section of the seldom traveled road where no residents live. Council agreed to allow the temporary blocking provided Rogers uses safety equipment to warn motorists of the situation, and calls 911 to alert emergency responders when the road is impassable.
Darlington County Library System director Jimmie Epling received council approval to investigate the possibility of acquiring – by donation – a strip of property behind the Darlington Library.