Hartsville City Council recognizes SROs and heroes during meeting

Left to right: Hartsville Police Chief Jerry Thompson recognizes Cpl. Marqus Personnet who saved Sgt. Ronnie Free’s life. PHOTO BY STEPHAN DREW

By Stephan Drew, Editor

During their monthly meeting on September 13, the City Council of Hartsville and Hartsville Police Department recognized two new School Resource Officers and a Corporal who recently saved a fellow officer’s life.
Hartsville Mayor Casey Hancock thanked two recently hired employees for joining the police dept. and working with the children at local schools. Sgt. Gary Cook, who has 23 years experience in law enforcement is the SRO for Carolina Elementary School. He is also the 2nd Vice President of the South Carolina Association of School Resource Officers. Lance Cpl. Dave Trotter, with 24 years of law enforcement experience, is SRO at Hartsville Middle School. He previously lived in Alabama, and has experience as a SRO as well as a background in drug investigation and criminal investigation. Police Chief Jerry Thompson stated, “They might be new in name but, they have a lot of history behind them.” Thompson went on to say, “We’ve been blessed to get these guys.” Mayor Casey Hancock thanked both officers for joining the Hartsville Police Dept.
Chief Thompson also introduced two other officers – Cpl. Marqus Personnet and Sgt. Riley Free — who were involved in a recent heroic event. “I’ve got something special here, dear to my heart,” Thompson said. He described how, on July 30th, Free helped a woman at Walmart who had passed out. He discovered she had a controlled substance in her possession and, after assisting the female, he took the item back to the police station only to find it was a different, and much stronger, type of Fentanyl. Even from his limited proximity to the substance, Free was greatly affected by it and collapsed. Personnet was tasked with saving his life. “He had to shoot this big rascal four times with Narcan”, Thompson declared. Thompson described Personnet’s actions, “He kept his wit, did what he could and saved him.” Thompson then presented him with the Hartsville Police Department’s Lifesaving Award, recognizing his “selfless and courageous act of rendering aid in a sudden and unexpected situation.” The Chief added, “We do honor and commend you and we will be forever grateful for your dedication and service.” Personnet was visibly emotional during the presentation. Mayor Hancock thanked Personnet and congratulated both men for their service and commitment. He described a conversation with Chief Thompson last year when the chief told him, “Every officer has to be ready for anything at anytime.”
The mayor read a proclamation declaring October 8th and 9th as the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Days, honoring firefighters and other personnel who have sacrificed their lives to save others. Hancock also proclaimed Oct. 9th thru 15th as National Fire Prevention Week.
Hartsville City Manager Daniel Moore discussed upcoming events, including Main Street in Hartsville, which will occur on Sept. 27, and the Darlington County Joint City-County Board of Education and Legislation Delegation Dinner, planned for Oct. 24. The dinner, usually an annual event, has not been held since before the pandemic.
Assistant City Manager/CFO Karen Caulder reported that the Neptune Island and Waterpark is now officially closed for the rest of 2022. She went on to say the park had 89,500 attendees this year, falling just short of its 90,000 goal while still adding 10,000 more visitors than last year. She explained that several days of rain slowed attendance in the last days of the season.
In other business, council approved the first reading of Ordinance 4444, which allows the lease of property on the corner of Marlboro Avenue and Seventh Street to the Hartsville Rescue Squad. Also approved for first reading was Ordinance 4445, which allows the leas of a portion of the property, located at 114 South Fourth St. to The Station, a business owned by Brandy Stellingworth.
Council approved Resolution 09-22-02 to amend the contract with Fire Recovery USA for fire service billing issues. This includes the ability to collect fines on overdue false alarms from fire alarm devices. Hartsville Fire Chief Jeff Burr explained, “That’s for false alarms, where people don’t take care of their alarm systems. This is not an actual phone call. These are nuisance calls where they’re not maintaining their fire alarm system.” The resolution allows for a collection agency to retrieve these outstanding fines. Presently, the first “false” alarm carries no fine, the second imposes a $100 charge, the third a $200 charge, the fourth a $300 fine and so on.
Council members also approved Resolution 09-22-03, which authorizes the acquisition of a new fire truck and deals with other matters relating to that purchase.
The council then entered Executive Session. Council will have a work session on Oct. 4 and their next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Author: Stephan Drew

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