Representative of the Newberry County Farm Bureau and elected officials came together on Monday to discuss issues over supper.
Six of the seven County Council members were on hand, with County Administrator Wayne Adams stating this year they will focus on economic development, construction projects and the budget.
There are 12 ongoing construction projects being done by the county but Adams elected to highlight a few of them.
The new public works and animal control complex on Highway 34 will be completed in May. The facility will offer one of the cleanest animal shelters in the state, said Adams.
The Clemson Extension, Voter Registration and Veterans Affairs offices are all being relocated to the new Piedmont Technical College campus on Wilson Road at Evans Street.
County leaders are now taking the big box of the former Piedmont Tech, which was the former National Guard Armory, and turning it into the new Sheriff’s Office.
The bids for the construction of the new law enforcement complex are due back in April and the facility will be completed by late this year or early next year, said Adams.
The new facility will give the Sheriff’s Office enough space to last them until 2025.
Adams said a proposed speculative building for an industry will get economic development traffic into the county.
The county should have a virtual version of the new build on its web site in about six weeks.
On the economic development front a host of people from around the county are working to develop a plan for growth that will be ready by late winter or early spring.
The document will provide the area with short term goals to accomplish by 2015.
Adams told the group that this year’s county budget will be a challenge as county leaders work to not raise property taxes.
But District 40 State Representative Walt McLeod told the group that the county was getting less money in the state’s aid to counties and they would likely get less next year.
McLeod added that the Farm Bureau leaders along with others had signed a request for rural roads and bridges to get needed work. The work will cost $3 billion.
But he said to do that the state needs to add two cents to the current 16 cent gas tax, which is the lowest gas tax in the country.
Senator Ronnie Cromer said a current bill that will be of interest to farmers will be the passage of hunters being able to bait for deer in the Upstate and Newberry County. Currently deer baiting is allowed in the low part of the state.
Newberry County School District Superintendent Bennie Bennett told the crowd that the work to make Newberry High School more secure, upgrade the science labs and mini-theater is about complete.
He added that he has meet with Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Todd Johnson about revamping school safety efforts after recent school shootings.
Johnson is a national speaker on school safety and uses the local school safety plan as his model to educate others across the country.
School District Chair Jody Hamm thanked the Farm Bureau leaders for their continued support of the FFA and agriculture related classes in the school district.
Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said he and others were lobbying to prevent bills that would allow solid window tinting on vehicles, guns to be carried under car seats, no mandatory sentences for drug cases and doing away with license plate readers being used in parking lots.
“These bills make no sense to us,” he added.
Sheriff Lee Foster said that law enforcement is facing new issues with those with mental illness.
He states many people with mental illness can not get treated and the issue is becoming a problem for law enforcement.
Foster added the problem with guns is not those that have them but them getting stolen by “kids who are wanna-bes and they get out and start shooting.”