NEWBERRY — Big changes are coming to downtown Newberry as approved by City Council Tuesday evening.
Bob Montgomery and other supporters made a request to County Council that the old library building in downtown Newberry be used as a museum for Newberry College and Newberry County artifacts. Officials from Newberry College and the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society were present and supported the request.
“I think this will enhance cultural awareness and economic growth in Newberry,” Montgomery said.
Denise Reid with the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society gave a presentation to council on the benefits a museum would have in Newberry.
“We’re in a unique situation where the college and town need space,” Reid said. “Many valuable items are in storage.”
Reid said Newberry Museum and Newberry College artifacts, gifts, bequests and donations deserved to be housed and displayed in a safe and secure environment that this museum could provide.
The museum would be housed in the old Newberry County library, which was constructed in 1911 by James Knox Taylor as a post office.
“The building was designed originally to exhibit public pride,” Reid said. “We feel like this would contribute to that tradition.”
Scott Joyner, vice president of institutional advancement at Newberry College, spoke on behalf of President Maurice Scherrens who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
“Finding the appropriate place to store artifacts has been a priority of the college for years,” Joyner said.
The vision of both the college and the society are to have permanent exhibits, as well as a rotation of exhibits to encourage repeat visitation.
“If we design it to be interactive, it will quickly become a magnet attraction for locals and out of town guests,” Joyner said.
County Council unanimously voted to accept the museum proposal at their last meeting. County Councilman Scott Cain asked city council members to endorse the development of the museum, as well as partner in business to plan to move the project forward.
City Council unanimously accepted to approve the proposal as well.
In other business:
• Council approved first reading of an ordinance to execute a contract of purchase and sale of commercial real estate owned by the City of Newberry. Second reading will be held at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Bob Shirey with the KCB Group would like to buy the Bergen’s property. The purchase price will be $100, which is symbolic in nature, according to Mayor Foster Senn. KCB Group will have a 30-day property inspection period.
The purchasers agree to invest not less than $100,000 per year over a period of five years for a total minimum investment of $500,000. Expenditures must also be verifiable annually. The closing of the property must take place within 60 days after the inspection period expires, which would be during February.
According to Senn, Shirey has plans to turn the previous Delamaters restaurant into an Italian restaurant, as well as turning the Jezzabelle’s property into an upscale grocery store. Bergen’s plans to have an open-type atrium environment for dining, receptions, and parties.
• Council recognized Jim Liptak, water/sewer maintenance superintendent, for 10 years service with the county, and Lt. Roy McClurkin, an investigator with the police department, was recognized for 30 years of service.
• Sheryl Medders of McKinley, Cooper and Company LLP presented an overview of the 2012-2013 comprehensive annual financial report. Medders told council it had a positive net position of $898,870 for governmental funds, with a negative $401,162 due to the project revenue ending from the capital project sales tax funds. Those funds paid for the 20-inch water main line last year.
• The Newberry Police Department was given with AAA’s Traffic Safety Community of the Year award. This made the seventh time in 10 years that the department had received the award.
• Council approved second and final reading of an ordinance to amend the 2013-2014 budget so as to provide for funds for a two percent merit bonus for city employees. Having concluded the audit, council saw that there were sufficient funds to accommodate the bonuses.
• Council approved second and final reading of an ordinance to amend the budget to include a Newberry Streetscape fund. The $460,500 will be derived from existing cash-on-hand in the Streetscape fund.
• Council unanimously approved second and final reading of an ordinance to amend sections and adopt sections of the code of laws pertaining to recreation registration and participation fees and Firehouse Conference Rental policies and fees. The purpose was to provide higher quality of programs and better equipment for participants.
• Council approved a request by the Newberry Opera House Foundation to serve a champagne toast in Memorial Park at midnight to welcome in 2014.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.