Bennettsville City Council Tuesday evening approved money to repair the fire department's lone ladder truck.
Fire Chief Chris Burks explained to the council that the truck recently had a required inspection by the American Test Center of River Falls, Wisconsin. Issues were found on the truck, which was purchased last year from the Fountain Inn Fire Department.
"When we agreed to purchase the truck, it had passed the yearly inspection and was certified. This test was a five-year inspection, which is more in depth," said Burks.
Since failing the inspection, the truck has been taken out of duty. Burks informed the council that the repairs will cost $34,147.10.
Having a ladder truck, Burks explained, is important for fighting fires at not only a multi-story building but at any large structure such as a manufacturing site or sprawling store building. Also, having a ladder truck in service aids with the insurance rating for home owners in the area.
Burks told the council that a new ladder truck would cost over $1 million. The city's truck was purchased for $35,000, of which $26,234.48 was paid through donations.
After discussion, the council voted unanimously in favor of approving money for the repair. Since it was an unplanned expense, it will have to come from the general fund account.
Mark Sobiski with the Care First Carolina Foundation and Don Strickland of Pee Dee Rural Transportation Authority gave a report to council on the success of MARTi, Marlboro County's bus service.
Stickland said that even with the drop-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 2000 riders per month are using the bus service, which goes around Bennettsville and to other communities in the county.
He showed the council a sample of a new bus stop sign that MARTi is planning to install at its pick-up locations.
"We are still seeing growth. The Bennettsville routes have done very well," said Strickland.
The service is working on several other routes, including one which would connect the Harbor Freight Tools distribution center with Bennettsville.
- Mayor Carolyn Prince read a resignation letter from Bill Kinney Jr. from the position of chairman of the board of architectural review.
Prince praised his service and proposed he be granted the status as an emeritus member of the board.
Jayne Lee was proposed as a replacement for Kinney and was selected to the board upon her acceptance.
- Administrator Max Alderman updated the council on utility customer cutoffs for non-payment. Prior to re-instituting cutoffs, the city had 1030 customers who were delinquent, accounting for almost $400,000.
Currently, the number has fallen to 442 delinquent customers who owe the city $139,000, which Alderman said approaches pre-COVID numbers.
- Alderman stated that no city employees have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. He praised the employees’ efforts to follow prevention guidelines.
- City employees celebrating work anniversaries are Chester Polson, 7 years; Johnny Roscoe, 6 years; Brantley Douglas, 5 years; Tony Alford, 3 years; William B. Parrish, 2 years; Charmonique Breeden, 1 year; Robert Hale, 1 year; Amanda Hill, 1 year; Markeal Hughes, 1 year.
The meeting concluded on a tense note. As each council member was allowed to make comments, Allen Taylor said that he had a statement he wished to read.
He said that it dealt with last week's council workshop and how police chief Kevin Miller was questioned and treated.
Before Taylor could continue, Mayor Prince rapped her gavel to stop him. She stated that this matter pertained to an employee and should be discussed in executive session.
This was approved by a split vote and everyone in the audience but the council, Alderman and city attorney Mason King were asked to leave the room.
After over 30 minutes, the audience was allowed to return only to have the meeting officially ended with no further comments by the council.