County plans public hearing on redistricting of local seats

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

Darlington County is planning a public hearing on possible changes to County Council and school board district lines as a result of new Census figures. Redistricting comes around every 10 years, prodded by the Census, with the goal of preventing some districts from having too many residents and others too few. The Legislature is working on remapping S.C. House and Senate districts. Major changes in local government district lines in Darlington County don’t seem likely, since the county’s population is not growing – Census figures say the county has lost nearly 6,000 people in the past decade. But county officials want to hold a public hearing so residents can clearly see what might be changing. “Before any lines are drawn, or any decisions made on let’s do this or that, public input is supposed to be solicited,” County Administrator Charles Stewart told council during its Oct. 4 meeting. He proposed Nov. 15 as the date for the hearing. Stewart said that in talking to school district officials, the county could hold the hearing at Darlington Middle School or the Darlington County Institute of Technology. The lecture room at DCIT might work best, he said. County elections chief Hoyt Campbell said that the county is only responsible for redrawing County Council and school board district lines, and he said that in the county’s case, those lines are identical. Municipalities like Darlington and Hartsville handle redistricting themselves, Campbell said. Campbell didn’t expect big changes. “The core will probably stay the same,” he said. “We didn’t really have major changes in ’01 or ’11.” Changes in district lines locally won’t have any effect until 2022 elections. In other business, council member Angie Stone Godbold asked about the state of the county’s economic-development offices in the former Wells Fargo bank building on the Darlington Public Square. The building suffered smoke and water damage when two adjoining shops were destroyed in a July fire. Stewart said one staffer is working out of the Courthouse and another is working out of Hartsville, in an office rented from the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce for a very low fee – about $100 a month. “There’s some remediation that’s got to be done” on the former Wells Fargo building, Stewart said. “We’re waiting on the insurance company to tell us when they’re going to do that. Some mold and stuff that came up from behind panels that were damaged – there’s some tear-out and some remediation that’s got to be done.” Godbold also asked about the vacant Bi-Lo and Rite-Aid buildings just outside the Darlington city limits and whether the county had any possibilities for their future development. “Nobody’s talked to us about they’re willing to do anything in particular” with those buildings, Stewart said.

Author: Rachel Howell

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