Harsh words, accusations at City Council meeting

Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd presents the proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month during the Tuesday, April 4, 2023 Darlington City Council Meeting. PHOTO BY STEPHAN DREW

By Stephan Drew, Editor


Councilmember Sheila Baccus called City Manager John Payne a liar and accused him of insensitivity towards certain Darlington residents during the Darlington City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Mrs. Baccus brought up an incident which happened that morning where a City of Darlington truck (known as a “Cherry Picker”) was working on Jordan Street and accidentally hit a power line at approximately 9am, pulling the electrical connection from the home, cutting electricity to the residents, both senior citizens. An electrician was called, the damage was later repaired and Duke Energy was notified of the incident per protocol. A Duke Energy serviceperson is required to come out and check any repairs before turning the power back on. It was reported that Duke Energy had a heavy workload in Hartsville that day and would be out to check the line as soon as possible. The repair work was checked and power was restored to the residence later that evening.

Baccus stated she had group texted City Councilmembers Elaine Reed, John Milling and City Manager Payne about the incident, and held up her cell phone to show her messages. Payne  also produced his cell phone and stated he had received no such text. “I don’t know why you tell that bald-faced lie,” Baccus stated. Payne repeated, “I never received a text from you today, Mrs. Baccus.” Baccus retorted, “Are you special needs? Stop interrupting me!” Baccus accused Payne of ignoring her text and asked if the city was going to put the elderly couple up in a hotel for the night so they would have power. She also accused Payne of being insensitive to the residents in question because they were not affluent, recounting a story where the city allegedly paid to have sewage quickly removed from a home in a more prosperous neighborhood in North Darlington. Council then went into Executive Session. 

Earlier, Darlington resident Albert Johnson complained to council about a sewage problem at his residence on First Street. He stated he has experienced this drainage for several weeks. Johnson stated he had called a licensed plumber, whom he paid $5,000 to fix the problem. Johnson also said that Charles Shuhart, Director of the Darlington City Water Dept., told him it was coming from the sewer line and assured him the problem would be fixed by Friday, April 7.

James Cooper, of the Hospitality Grants Committee, appeared before council to recommend that the allotted $35,000 in grant money be distributed as follows:

• Darlington Country Club — $0

• Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association (DDRA) — $500

• Federated Organization of Darlington — $4,000

• Grand Old Post Office Foundation — $5,000

• Pilot Club of Darlington — $10,000

• Southeastern Bluegrass Association — $5,000

• Terrence Carraway Foundation — $9,000

• West End Heritage Corporation — $1,500

Darlington Country Club hosts an annual golf tournament which brings in visitors from all over South Carolina and several other states as well. DDRA hosts the Taste of Darlington each year. Federated Organization of Darlington operates the Pine Recreation Center on Jessamine Street. The Grand Old Post Office Foundation hosts the Southeastern Bluegrass Association and many other events throughout the year. The Pilot Club of Darlington hosts Darlington’s Sweet Potato Festival each year. The Southeastern Bluegrass Association holds a series of concerts which bring in tourists from South Carolina as well as surrounding states. The Terrence Carraway Foundation supports the Memorial Park on South Main Street and D Avenue. The West End Heritage Corporation built and maintains the West End Heritage Park and Monument on Pearl Street.

In other business, City Manager John Payne read a proclamation declaring April as Fair Housing Month in Darlington. He also updated council on sewer line and street repairs done to the 300 Block of South Main Street. Payne also reported that a new sinkhole was found on Lee Street on Monday, April 3rd and will be repaired. Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd issued a proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “If people had Jesus in their lives, a lot of these things wouldn’t happen,” Boyd stated. Council also approved the nomination of Adam Houle, author and PhD from Texas Tech University, to the Williamson Park Committee.

The Darlington City Council will meet next on May 2, 2023.

Author: Stephan Drew

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