Newberry Observer

County to relocate magistrate court

NEWBERRY — Plans are currently in development to relocate summary court (magistrates) to 833 Main Street, which is currently occupied by SC Works.

“A budget of approximately $850,000 would allow for the purchase of the building ($535,000), making necessary upfits to the building ($200,000), and preparing a new space for the state agency currently occupying the building ($86,000),” said County Administrator Wayne Adams. “While borrowed funds would ultimately pay for the project, the required pacing of it will require county expenditures from cash before the borrowing can be completed.”

In order to do this, Newberry County Council approved a resolution declaring the intention of Newberry County to reimburse itself for certain expenditures with the proceeds of debt to be incurred by Newberry County, which will allow the county to repay its cash reserves.

The SC Works building is approximately 9,100 square feet, and is served by more than 70 parking spaces. The building currently occupied by the magistrates, which they share with the Detention Center, is approximately 6,000 square feet and served by approximately 35 parking spaces.

“Parking at the current facility has long been inadequate, regularly resulting in cars being parked on adjacent road right of way during court,” Adams said. “Moreover, the magistrates must move in order to allow planned work on the detention center.”

The Resolution was approved after Councilman Bill Waldrop made a motion and Councilman Kirksey Koon seconded.

Council also approved a bid from MAR Construction for $86,000 to relocate the SC Works staff from their current location to a county owned space adjacent to Piedmont Technical College. Council approved the low bid after Waldrop made a motion and Councilman Travis Reeder seconded.

The work will include moving SC Works and MAR will upfit the building, which will include new layout, framing and drywall, ceiling installation, HVAC and electrical.

A bid was also received from RJ Dean for $98,000.

In other business, by a 4-3 vote Council approved proceeding with filing of an opioid lawsuit, and for staff to enter into negotiations with Lisa Senn and Thomas Pope III. This pertains to a national legal effort to recover costs for plaintiffs who have suffered financially as a result of the opioid epidemic. The defendants include pharmaceutical companies and others alleged to have contributed to the problem.

As plaintiffs, local governments would have to establish costs incurred as a result of this epidemic. These could conceivably involve expenditures by various public safety entities and perhaps the detention center, among others.

Councilman Scott Cain said he had a lot of issues with this lawsuit, bringing up three points.

“First, from everything I can see, the County does not, at this time, have a real issue with opioid or any kind of drug related cost to the county. We’ve had two deaths, and one is one too many. Compared to other counties and compared to the overall health record, and that’s contributed a lot to Sheriff Lee Foster and his deputies for controlling the legal side, and our health providers for being conscientious and dedicated,” Cain said. “Second, trying to tie a bridge between legal and illegal use, meaning if someone took opioids at any time, now went and got addicted to another drug, that would tie that to the opioid issue in some way. I have a hard time trying to make that bridge.”

Cain’s third concern involved what he called collateral damage. He said there is a potential for the pharmaceutical companies to turn it around and blame the health providers in Newberry County.

Reeder said since it would not cost the county anything to pursue, and regardless of the outcome, the county won’t lose anything, and to go ahead and pursue it.

Reeder made a motion to accept the lawsuit, with Koon seconding. Reeder, Koon, Councilman Steve Stockman and Councilwoman Harriett Rucker voted for it, and Cain, Waldrop and Councilman Henry Livingston voted against.

Other business

• Council approved the third reading, and held a public hearing, for an ordinance rezoning property on Marina Way from General Commercial to Single Family Residential.

• Council approved a first reading providing appropriations for the fiscal year, the general operating purposes is balanced at $24,930,250.

• Council approved first reading of an ordinance providing appropriations for Newberry County Library, Piedmont Technical College and Newberry Agency for Disabilities and Special Needs for the new fiscal year.

• Council approved the first reading to rezone property located near the intersection of US 76 and SC 773, near Mid-Carolina High School, from Industrial to General Commercial.

• Council approved an ordinance to rezone property located off Pender Ridge Road from General Commercial to Rural.

• Council approved Central SC Alliance FY 2017-18 third and fourth quarter invoices totaling $36,000. Council approved this by a 6-1 vote with Koon voting against.

By Andrew Wigger

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.