Lamar Council taking aim at town’s vulture problem
By Samantha Lylesslyles@newsandpress.net
Lamar Town Council held their regular monthly meeting on Jan. 13 and discussed strategies to rid the town of a destructive flock of vultures roosting around the recently repainted water tower.
Council talked about the vulture problem in December and citizen Angela Grooms volunteered to investigate abatement options, which she delivered as a report during this meeting.
Grooms said the vultures currently troubling Lamar are the aggressive variety that attack small or vulnerable live animals, rip out rubber gaskets and silicone seals around roofing and windows, short out transformers and substations, and deposit massive amounts of acidic droppings and urine – which can lead to costly property damage.
“The accumulation of bird droppings can reduce the functional life of a building’s roof by 50 percent,” said Grooms. “They can also damage metal structures and the painted finishes on cars. We have that problem around our church … because they like to roost all the way across the top of our church.”
Vultures are a protected species because, as carrion eaters, they serve an important purpose by cleaning up dead animals. This protected status complicates the problem for towns like Lamar, where the roosting birds pose a threat to public works infrastructure like the town’s water towers. Grooms said that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources offers a few legal options: try to drive the birds away with noise; purchase a permit to kill one vulture and hang the dead bird at the roost site to drive away the flock; or pay $250 for DNR to bring a dead bird for the town to use.
“I’ve read that within three days, at most places, that they’re gone. And most times, they don’t come back,” said Grooms.
Grooms said SC DNR had emailed her a proposal, which she would forward to Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson and Council members, and DNR could get an agent to Lamar as early as the following week.
Greg McCutcheon of engineering firm Davis & Brown gave an update on the ongoing water and sewer system improvements.
He said there was a delay in installing new aerators in the town’s water treatment pond due to the wrong sized cables being ordered. McCutcheon said correct cables have been ordered and should be installed shortly. He added that a meeting with SC DHEC was scheduled for Jan. 14 to touch base and make sure all projects are still on track.
Police Chief Carl Scott introduced officer Stephen Sweikata, who joined the department in November. Sweikata, a native of Bronx, New York, has been a police officer for 8 years. He said he has enjoyed going around Lamar and meeting people, and he loves the town.
“Everyone here has got a really nice vibe,” Sweikata said, noting that the local Halloween and Christmas celebrations were really enjoyable, and he looks forward to seeing his first Egg Scramble Jamboree in the spring.
Chief Scott said that the department is taking applications and he hopes to add more police officers in the near future.
Also at this meeting, Council voted to adopt Darlington County’s building codes and permit fee schedules, which will allow the town to use county building inspectors on local projects.
Council also voted to change the payment schedule for franchise fees received from Duke Energy and Spectrum. By breaking that annual fee into quarterly payments, the town will have improved financial flexibility during the year.