2014 Year in Review
As we bid farewell to 2014, we now welcome in 2015. Happy New Year to everyone and we hope your holiday season was fulfilling. We would like to take time to reflect on what the Town of Batesburg-Leesville’s elected officials and staff have accomplished this past year.
To roll back to December 2013, we swore in new Council members Rachel Taylor (District 1), Bob Penick (District 5) who is also a previous member of Council, and Meggie Ricard (District 7). Council member Cain (District 3) was re-elected. Rita Crapps was elected and sworn in as the new Mayor.
On January 6th, Ted Luckadoo was hired as the Assistant Town Manager by Town Manager Joan Taylor. Ted entered the door at full speed embracing many projects that have now been finalized, and others that are ongoing.
In March of 2014, Tim Schumpert was brought on board as Director of Utilities. His professional engineering experience, coupled with his knowledge of our water and waste water systems, is already paying dividends. Tim is diligently working on streamlining operations, eliminating wasteful practices, and providing the professional engineering expertise the town has lacked for decades. With Tim, we are reducing engineering costs and creating better service delivery to our citizens.
On August 31st, Joan Taylor retired after serving as Town Manager for 12 years. Joan had served the Town for over 30 years in various capacities. Town Council chose Ted Luckadoo to take the reins, on September 1st, as the third Town Manager of Batesburg-Leesville. Remember, B-L consolidated by public referendum in 1992 changing the form of government to Manager/Council. Previously Leesville had strong Mayor, and Batesburg had strong Council forms of governing. Consolidation wrought much change that is benefiting the community.
Here is a list of accomplishments by elected officials and staff over the past year:
- Received $500,000+ in grant funds to install new sidewalks on Highway 23 from Columbia Farms to Walmart, from Livingston Place (Shealy Realty) on Highway 1 to North Lee Street, and from Bojangles to the Post Office down Hendrix Street. Construction will begin in the next two years. SCDOT is administering the grant.
- Updating Town Ordinances: Since consolidation of the towns, ordinances have not been codified. The ordinances of the two towns were combined into one viable, working code by the first manager, Olin Gambrell. Since then, ordinances have been adopted and amended, but never truly codified and thoroughly reviewed for relevance. Over the past year, we have had the general code of ordinances codified, and will finalize them in the next two months. We have updated the Business License Ordinance that was 21 years old. It will now be reviewed and updated annually. We also updated our Employee Policy and Procedure Manual that was due for revision.
- We updated our building permit fees that have not changed in many years.
- As a part of the Emergency Declaration from the February 2014 winter storm, we worked with FEMA and recouped over $26,000 in expenditures from the federal government.
- We adopted new Rules & Procedures for council meetings better streamlining meetings and defining a code of conduct for the Town’s meetings.
- Coordinated with the National Guard for a litter pick up on several major roads leading into Town. This Guard unit, led by Try Bruner, picked up over 1,500 lbs. of litter in two hours.
- In conjunction with Lexington County Solid Waste, the Town hosted an Electronic Recycling and Shredding Event.
- The Town received an ISO Class 3 rating, becoming the only Fire Department in Lexington and Saluda Counties with that outstanding rating. The ratings range from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best rating achievable, and 10 the worst. Our Fire Department is now one of 60 fire departments in South Carolina with a rating of 3 or better. We now rank in the top 6% nationally.
- The Town purchased new capital equipment to include a street sweeper that will be in operation very soon. Two new Ford Interceptor patrol vehicles were purchased for the Police Department. An Extrication RAM that will assist the Fire Department in rescue efforts during automobile accidents, was purchased as well.
- Dave Bouknight became the Code Enforcement Officer, a position previously held by Randy Fellers. The Code Enforcement Officer will work diligently toward “cleaning up” the Town and enforcing the codes and ordinances that are in place. From overgrown properties to abandoned, and dilapidated buildings, we will be working to clean up properties that have become an eye sore and improve the overall appearance of our town. Additionally, Dave will ensure all businesses obtain the necessary building permits and licensure required by our ordinances.
- The Utilities Department has been conducting smoke testing on sewer lines in Town to search for any leaks or issues that may exist.
- The Utilities Department is working in conjunction with Lexington County to GPS all water valves, water lines, and sewer lines in town to better enable staff to locate and control situations as they arise.
- The Utilities Department implemented new technology this year that led to better control of the chemical feeds in water treatment, reducing costs through better means of controlling the amount of chemicals used.
- Council and staff worked with engineers to design water and waste water infrastructure to the B-L Industrial Park. We are ready to move forward with installing all the infrastructure in, and to the Industrial Park so we may, with Lexington County, better recruit new industry and manufacturing companies to Batesburg-Leesville.
- We signed a contract to purchase a new home for the Town Hall. A new Town Hall has been a conceptual idea for years; staffing and the need for office space have long outgrown the current facility. This year the opportunity was dropped in our lap and was financially sound. This new space will increase working area from 2,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet. The current facility will be sold.
- Council approved a new Town Website in this year’s budget. Finishing touches are being placed on content for the website, and it will soon be online. The new website will be informative for citizens, businesses, and visitors creating an appealing view of the Town to all who visit the site.
We have held many “special” council meetings over the past year to accomplish many goals. We may have even set a record for special called meetings. B-L is still in the throes of developing and building a new water treatment facility on Lake Murray. The application and all necessary paperwork have been turned over to the federal government, USDA/Rural Development. It is now up to them; so we wait.
As we move into 2015, there are many irons in the fire with new things for Batesburg-Leesville. We have a progressive council, and an energetic staff that is ready to “shake, rattle, and roll” growing the town, improving and expanding infrastructure, and improving and expanding services. We will be ever vigilant in seeking new business and industry to bring new jobs, as we rebrand and reimage Batesburg-Leesville.