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Published on Friday, May 12, 2017

Winn-Dixie property transfer gets final approval

This week, Marlboro County Council completed the process of transferring ownership of the old Winn-Dixie building on Oakwood Street in Bennettsville to Northeastern Technical College (NETC). 
NETC will use the facility for a vocational education/industry training center, officials announced earlier this year. They said at the time that  it would offer ongoing vocational education programs such as welding, industrial controls and diesel mechanics, as well as specialized, industry-specific classes as needed by existing industries.
Initially, NETC had looked at the old Bennettsville Elementary School on North Cook Street for this purpose but later chose the Winn-Dixie building instead.
County Council Chairman Jason Steen said when the announcement was made that “this facility will offer training opportunities for our citizens that will help them find and keep good jobs, as well as improve the workforce we can offer new industries that may look at our county.”
Marlboro County bought the Winn-Dixie property in 2010 using economic development grant funds. It is valued at $1.4 million, which is a match to NETC’s preliminary budget for the vocational training site.
Transferring ownership has required three readings of an ordinance. The final reading, along with a required public hearing, took place at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of county council. Now the county administrator and attorney are free to execute the necessary documents. 
In addition to the Winn-Dixie building, the agreement between the county and NETC involves tranferring ownership of two additional properties: the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library and the NETC Bennettsville campus on North Marlboro Street.  These are to be deeded to Marlboro County. 
NETC held title to the library through a funding arrangement made for its construction in 2010 and the county had a long-term lease for its use. The college used only the rear portion, for classes and other activities which will eventually be relocated to Oakwood Street, as will the classes currently held in the NETC campus building.
No comments were made by citizens during the public forum related to this matter, and the council’s vote to approve third reading was unanimous.

Other business
In other business, the county council:
-held a public hearing and approved on third/final reading an ordinance providing economic development incentives to Probitas Ventures, LLC (formerly Carolina AAC) for a project  at the industrial park’s spec building;
-gave first reading approval to an ordinance refinancing a portion of a general obligation bond arrangement the county entered in 2007. The savings will generate  between $750,000 and $1 million to be used for needed facility/building projects;
-renewed for one year an agreement between the county and the city of Bennettsville for the exchange of services including fire protection, 911 dispatching and detention center housing. This agreement has been in place for a number of years;
-renewed for one year an agreement with Marlboro County Rescue Squad for paramedic level emergency service and transfer service in the county. Last year, the county paid Marlboro Rescue $690,000 for this service and an additional $50,000 mid-year due to the hospital’s closure. In the new agreement, the base cost is $725,000; 
-approved a memorandum of agreement between Marlboro County Emergency Management and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC is giving the county two generators for use in emergency shelter operations;
-heard from a citizen, Van Quick Jr., who asked for help with a situation involving an overgrown property near Lindsay Park in Bennettsville. Another citizen, John Jefferson, expressed concern about paying taxes to support the school district. (Note: school taxes are not set by or used by the county.)

Board appointments
Anthony Woods appointed Miranda Ingram to the Clio recreation commission. He recently re-appointed Samuel McCollum to this position but said health concerns required the change.
Charles Midgley Jr. moved the District 3 representative on the Economic Development Partnership board, Bill Jennings, to the Industrial Council seat on the same board, and appointed Frankie Frazier to the District 3 seat.

Employee anniversaries
County Administrator Ron Munnerlyn recognized the following employees with five or more years of service to the county through the month of April:
Teresa Burgess, 15 years; Christopher Byers, 13 years; Arthur Hamer, 19 years; Warren McColl, 11 years; Curtiss McDuffie, 20 years; Sharon Thomas, 12 years.

Reports
-Chairman Steen reported on a meeting the council’s public safety committee had last month with representatives of Marlboro County Rescue Squad and the Marlboro General Hospital Charities Trust;
-Munnerlyn reported the Economic Development Partnership, in conjunction with Northeastern Technical College, held a meeting for local industry at the former Winn-Dixie building in order to receive input into the building layout as well as programs that need to be offered when it becomes NETC’s training center. It was the first in a series of meetings focused on assisting existing industry and business, he said;
-Munnerlyn also reported that the public works department has been working to clear several lots on 15-401 (by Causey’s Home Center) that offer access to the Boro complex on Maple Street in Bennettsville. Low/no cost improvements are being made to the Boro facility in hopes of selling or leasing it. It was shown to one local industry recently but nothing has come from that as of yet;
-Flags on county buildings will be flown at half-staff on Monday, May 15, in recognition of Peace Officers’ Memorial Day; 
-Marlboro County received the “Best Renovation” award for 2016 from the Bennettsville Downtown Development Association for the creation of the parking lot on Market Street, and Marlboro County Recreation received a “Champion of Young Children” award from the school district.

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