Lamar encourages masks
By Samantha Lyles
Lamar Town Council is the latest local government body to endorse the idea of “encouraging” citizens to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With social distancing in place, council met for their regular meeting July 13 and discussed the role personal protective equipment can play in slowing Darlington County’s high rate of infection.
Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson said that a recent report from CareSouth indicated that Darlington County’s per capita infection rate is among the highest in the state, and while businesses can require workers to wear face masks and can install Plexiglas shields, it’s much harder to sway the general public toward such considerations.
“At least we can go on record saying this is what we encourage … for our citizens to wear masks when they go out in public,” said McPherson.
While no formal action was taken at this meeting, McPherson indicated that a special called meeting would be held soon to vote on a resolution encouraging the use of face masks.
In other matters, water and sewer consultant Jannie Lathan said that while the town has met all the initial requirements to receive a $500,000 grant for sewer system improvements from SC Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA), the agency has requested additional information regarding Lamar’s matching funds. Lathan said she anticipated providing that information to RIA within the week, which should enable the town to proceed with an overhaul of the Zion Pump Station and installation of 3,200 linear feet of new sewer line.
Lathan added that at a June 29 meeting with representatives of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), she presented information on Lamar’s efforts to comply with consent orders regarding certain components of its aged sanitary sewer system. Lathan said that the “vast majority” of action items referenced in the consent orders have been completed.
She and Mayor Pro Tem Lang Howell then accompanied the DHEC reps on a site inspection to review work completed and items still outstanding. Lathan said that two action items – newly installed but inoperable treatment pond aerators, and new doors for the wastewater treatment plant building – are awaiting action by the town’s former water operator, Davis and Brown, and Evans Construction, which installed the aerators.
Council also discussed amending Lamar’s current code forbidding the location of mobile homes within town limits. Council member Angele White-Bradley explained that while older mobile homes were grandfathered in, several new mobile homes have located in town within the past few years, leaving the town with the choice to either force their removal or adjust town codes to allow certain exceptions. Bradley said the suggested amendments are modeled after the city of Darlington’s mobile home ordinance. The matter will undergo further review and possible committee input before any changes are formalized.
During a brief update, Chief of Police Carl Scott focused on the need for unity and understanding between citizens and the police officers who serve them. He noted that during traffic stops in recent weeks, he has given out Bibles to motorists, sometimes in lieu of a traffic ticket.
Scott said that the Lamar Police Department is hiring a clearance clerk to handle paperwork, thereby freeing up more time for officers to patrol the community. He also noted that COVID-19 concerns continue to delay municipal court proceedings, with the new restart date tentatively set for September.
“We are looking at that. We’re trying to find some other alternatives so that we don’t have to keep pushing it off, but we’re also looking at what’s feasible for COVID-19,” Scott said.
In the meantime, the office of Lamar magistrate Craig LaCross has been notifying traffic offenders that they can pay their fines online.
Also at this meeting, council member Inez Lee read a proclamation naming the first Monday of each month as a “day of prayer and fasting” for all houses of worship in Lamar, and encouraged all to pray for a “complete healing” of the physical and spiritual suffering afflicting our world.
Lamar Town Council holds regular monthly meetings at 6:15 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. These meetings are live streamed to the public via their Facebook page @Town of Lamar SC.