NEWBERRY – Captain Gene Shealy with the Newberry Fire Department briefed City Council Tuesday night on recruitment and retention within the department, as well as the progress of the Safer Grant they received four years ago for efforts within the City of Newberry.
Shealy said a downslide of interested volunteers is a statewide and national issue in the fire service. When he came on board as the Recruitment and Retention Coordinator in 2014, Shealy said the city’s fire department only had 10 volunteers. Four years later, that number has grown to 22 high quality volunteers.
“Since we’ve received the grant, our goal was to increase our number of volunteers and to create a waiting list of those wanting to join,” Shealy said. “We have also developed programs to sustain recruitment and retention for the years to come.”
Several programs the fire department has started since receiving the Safer Grant include a Firefighter One and Firefighter Two program at the Newberry County Career Center. An estimate of 14 students are expected to graduate from the program this year with a certification and be able to challenge the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certification test.
Another program is a new volunteer recruit training program at the Firefighter One level, which allows training to be conducted on weekends starting in January and running through June.
“It’s a weekend program that’s conducive to a volunteer’s work schedule,” Shealy said. “Instead of sending volunteers hours away for training, they can now get it right here at home.”
Other programs, Shealy said included a scholarship incentive and participation award incentive program.
The Safer Grant will run out for the city in October 2019.
Several employees and volunteers were recognized by City Council for their years of service to the city. Emily Seibert was recognized for her five years of service with the police department. Seibert began her employment on March 18, 2013 and holds the position of Sergeant.
“Emily is a hard worker and a valuable asset to the police department,” Police Chief Roy McClurkin said.
Fire Chief Keith Minick recognized Shealy for his 15 years of service with the city’s fire department. Shealy began his employment on March 31, 2003 and holds the position of Captain.
“His dedication to the fire service is above and beyond,” Minick said.
Also recognized from the fire department was Kenneth Swygert, volunteer, for his combined 30 years of service. Swygert began his volunteer service with the city on February 22, 1988. Minick said Swygert was one of the first two volunteers in their district to become a certified firefighter through the fire academy.
From the police department, Johnny Nichols, president of the Newberry County Exchange Club recognized Sergeant Boris Alvarado before council for being named the Newberry Exchange Club’s Officer of the Year. Alvarado holds the position of traffic safety officer and is responsible for investigating accidents, ensuring the safety of streets and sidewalks, directing traffic at various public events, reviewing all traffic reports submitted by patrol officers and preparing various reports and documents.
In addition, he is the fleet manager for the police department, meaning he is responsible for all vehicles assigned to each officer and also coordinates all sporting events assignments for Newberry College and Newberry High School.
McClurkin said he nominated Alvarado based on his work ethic, dependability and devotion to the community.
Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green recognized and commended the Newberry Police Department Tuesday on their re-accreditation. The program is voluntary and is designed to improve the professionalism of participating law enforcement agencies through the implementation of best management practices that are also sensitive to local needs. The department is the first law enforcement agency in South Carolina to receive state accreditation status for a seventh consecutive three-year period.
“That’s saying a whole lot about our police department,” Councilman Zebbie Goudelock said.
Several Newberry College Seniors were recognized by council for their community support. Each was presented with a proclamation honoring their accomplishments. The seniors included Brooks Allen, Devin Blackwell, Chris Dupree, Madison Hargraves, Xavier Hill, LaQuasha Jefferson, Quincy Kroeschell, Hannah Lepaio, Lauren Rawls, Dylan Southerland and Alley Stasky.
“Thank you for all of your contributions to the community,” Mayor Foster Senn said. “You have made Newberry a better place and that’s something we are proud of.”
Members of the Newberry County Coalition on Underage Drinking were also recognized for their work on the Tom Perry’s Better Together Law Enforcement and Youth Basketball Tournament. A proclamation was presented to Terecia Wilson, coalition coordinator on behalf of the coalition.
“We thank you for your outstanding efforts and success of the tournament,” Senn said.
Wilson said they were honored to accept the proclamation and that the tournament was a wonderful team effort on behalf of the community.
Under new business, City Council approved first reading of an ordinance to annex adjoining properties on Smith Road. Senn said city staff received an annexation request from West Development, LLC to annex the properties. A motion to approve the ordinance was made by Councilman Lemont Glasgow and seconded by Councilman Edwin Wicker.
First reading of an ordinance to assign a zoning classification for the properties was also approved by council. Senn said the Newberry Planning Commission recommended a zoning classification of R-10 Residential and to amend the zoning and future land use maps. A motion was made by Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd and seconded by Councilman David DuBose
• A motion was made by Boyd and seconded by Wicker to allow alcohol in designated areas for the Taste of Newberry.
• City Council approved a resolution designating the month of April as Fair Housing Month.
• Motion was made by Goudelock and seconded by DuBose to approve a request for outside water service located at the corner of Giff Street and Upper Lane Drive.
• With a motion by Boyd and seconded by Goudelock, council approved Senn to sign a PMPA letter of intent, which is a nonbinding letter which generally describes the intent of the parties and certain procedural terms relating to renewing or extending the city’s Power Sales Agreement.
• First reading was approved to amend the zoning for 621 Drayton Street. The lot was zoned basic industrial at one time to allow business use of the property. Senn said the Newberry Planning Commission recommended rezoning the property to R-6 residential.