County Council quizzed on stormwater, mosquitoes, private roads

Citizen George Cannon asked Darlington County Council about plans to deal with mosquitoes. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Citizen George Cannon asked Darlington County Council about plans to deal with mosquitoes.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County Council heard about two recurring issues at their March 7 regular meeting: flooding in the South Hartsville area and the attendant mosquitoes produced by that standing water, and the persisting troubles with Lide Springs Road in the Mechanicsville community.

After forging through a long series of public hearings (mostly dealing with bookkeeping issues and grant expenditures), council heard from citizen George Cannon, who again pleaded for assistance with the flooding and poor drainage issues in his South Hartsville neighborhood.

“For 25 years now, you can say that I’ve been asking about drainage,” said Cannon, noting that he has received calls from neighbors expressing worry about mosquito breeding in local stagnant ditches – especially since the discovery that the birth defect-causing Zika virus can spread through mosquito bites.

Cannon said that since County Council opted to defund the mosquito-spraying program, citizens are concerned about the insects breeding and causing illness. He asked how the county planned to deal with the problem.

Council chair Bobby Hudson and county administrator Terence Arrington discussed a few ideas, namely contracting an outside business to conduct mosquito spraying (since Arrington said the county lacked the staff to perform the task), and distributing mosquito larvae-killing cakes to areas with standing water. Arrington suggested council look at those options during the upcoming budget cycle and set aside funding for mosquito control programs.

Council also heard from another regular visitor, Lide Springs Road resident Smiley Capers, who again asked council to take some sort of action to help the 15 families that live along that severely degraded private road. Capers reminded council that these homes havecouncil that these homes have limited access to ambulances, fire trucks, and school buses, and the poor state of the road presents a public health issue that should surmount the county’s legal obligation to never use public funds for repairing private roads.

Darlington County is bound by ordinance to refuse to adopt into the county road system any private road that does not meet county standards, but Capers assured council that while residents continually fill deep holes with dirt and brick, they cannot afford major improvements.

Darlington County Council chairman Bobby Hudson (right) and vice chair Robbin Brock. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Darlington County Council chairman Bobby Hudson (right) and vice chair Robbin Brock.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

Hudson expressed sympathy for Capers’ plight, but maintained that the county cannot provide material or financial help in this matter. He suggested Capers speak with state officials and promised that council would back him up if he found a willing ear in Columbia.

Council also heard from Beverly Hammond of Pee Dee Mental Health, requesting that the county reestablish funding to her agency in the amount of $2,200 per year. Hammond reminded council that PDMH does extensive work with adults and children in need of counseling and guidance, and any funding the county could provide would be appreciated.

On the regular agenda, council approved the hiring of a network administrator to help deal with connectivity issues. The approved salary is $20,000 for a part-time position and $30,000 for a full-time position, which could be funded in the coming fiscal year 2016/17-budget cycle.

Council carried over discussion on a plan to spend $99,421 for architecture and engineering firm Michael Baker International to formulate a development plan for the county-owned Lake Darpo recreational site.

When council members Bobby Kilgo and David Coker questioned the wisdom of spending so much money on a document rather than making physical improvements to the Lake Darpo facilities. When Coker asked for an opinion from Parks and Recreation director Ken McRae, Arrington took umbrage. He questioned whether council trusted his judgment and assured them he had already discussed this plan with McRae.

“You guys are really making me feel that ‘we don’t care what Mr. Arrington says, we just hired him as a placeholder. Let’s check with staff!’” he said.

Coker conveyed to Arrington that he did not intend the request to be disrespectful, and Arrington insisted that it could be perceived as such. With several council members chiming in to be heard on this matter, often talking over each other, ultimately the body decided to take up the issue at their April meeting.

Darlington County Council’s April 4 regular meeting will begin at 6 pm at the Courthouse Annex located at 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington.

Author: Jana Pye

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