Society Hill council discusses fines, garbage and success
By Stephan Drew, Editor
The Town Council of Society Hill met on Tuesday, December 13th to celebrate, among other issues, the success they have had and the advancements made in the town during the last 12 months.
While discussing the recent Catfish Festival, it was reported that there were more vendors this time than in several previous years. The parade, during the festival, took longer because there were so many more entries, and there was only one blemish to be reported. One of the electrical circuits on a power pole kept switching off because there were too many small electrical appliances plugged into one area. Council agreed to discuss and try to fix this issue before the next large event.
Council also discussed the disbursement of ticket/fine money collected by the town. According to Police Chief Renea Worden and Mayor Dwayne Dukes, a significant portion (between 2/3 and 3/4) of the money goes to the state government and the remainder actually goes to the town itself. Official sources, however, state that the amount which is remanded to the state could be as high as 88%, leaving only 12% to the municipality. The state uses this money to fund Public Safety training, the Victim Assistance program, the Public Defender program, the Shock Incarceration program, the Attorney General’s office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Officers Hall of Fame.
The budget for next year was approved and, with the addition of an extra $92,975 from ARP funds, the 2023 budget will be larger than expected. This will give the town the ability to make necessary upgrades, including a $16,000 digital electronic town sign, a $4,000 flat screen TV for the courtroom/council chamber, $8,000 for security cameras, $1,000 for cordless microphones and approximately $50,000 for a 25 x 79 storage building.
In other business, Mayor Dukes addressed the issue of Christmas bonuses with council. In the past, the police chief and town clerk have been given a bonus equal to one-half of their week’s pay for the holidays. Council voted to continue that policy again this year.
Police Chief Worden reported that she had given 2 vehicle violations, 17 warnings and filed 1 report in the past month. She updated council on her recent training as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), in order to better evaluate drunken and drug-impaired drivers. She explained that it is more than just a breathalyzer and hand-eye coordination tests. Using cognitive thought response and a more “medical” type of evaluation, DREs are able to assess which specific drug a suspect has taken.
Worden later disclosed that some people were still dumping trash along main thoroughfares in the town and reminded everyone of the $500 fine in place for such illegal activity. She continued, “If a cat or dog drags it out into the street, that’s $1,000 for littering.” Mayor Dukes reported that he and a few others picked up over 7 bags of trash and had found 5 people’s names, due to the mail left in the debris. “We will find you,” Dukes said. In the 7 bags, the Mayor reported, there were, “Five diesel fuel containers, 2 antifreeze containers and 1 starter fluid container. That’s totally illegal,” Mayor Dukes stated. Chief Worden warned everyone, “If you’re doing it, stop!”
The Town has been trying to sell a used police car for a few months. Four people submitted offers and the winning bid was $4,000 from Sonya Ingram. The next meeting of the Society Hill Town Council will be on January 10th, 2023.