Community updated at Coffee with the City

Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer
Michelle Long, Fire Chief Keith Minick and Suzanne Elston help themselves to a cup of coffee prior to Coffee with the City on April 23. - Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer
Mayor Foster Senn welcomed the community to the first evening Coffee with the City event. - Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer

NEWBERRY — Great things are happening in the City of Newberry, Mayor Foster Senn told the community at Monday night’s first evening Coffee with the City event.

Senn said local businesses seemed to be doing well and the City’s most recent Pork in the Park event was a big success.

Mary Alex Kopp, tourism and events coordinator for the City of Newberry said staff was thrilled with how the event turned out and they couldn’t have asked for better weather.

“We had an estimated number of 7,500 people in attendance this year, the largest crowd we’ve ever had at Pork in the Park,” Kopp said. “Overall, it was just a really nice, wonderful day in downtown Newberry and a great time for the community to come together.”

Senn said the next City event would be the Taste of Newberry on Friday, May 18 held at the Friend Street building downtown. Admission to the event is free, with patrons purchasing what they wished to eat and drink.

Other updates Senn provided included those on the Miss Newberry and Miss Outstanding Teen who would be competing in the Miss South Carolina Competitions June 22-30 in Columbia. Both ladies recently attended a Miss South Carolina workshop and are raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Senn commended the Newberry County Coalition on Underage Drinking for their annual basketball tournament held last month which attracted a crowd of over 100 youth participants as well as volunteers from the community.

“It really brought law enforcement and our young people together and was a big success,” he said.

The City’s police department was also complimented by Senn for receiving re-accreditation for the seventh consecutive time, which he said was the longest streak of any police department in the state.

“We are certainly proud of the job they do,” Senn said.

Senn said he had received several comments from the community and visitors alike of how approachable our police and fire department staff always are which was always appreciated.

City Initiatives

City Manager Matt DeWitt spoke on City initiatives to include their partnership with Keep Newberry County Beautiful and their Great American Cleanup event.

“We hope you feel as I do that we do a good job of keeping things looking nice,” DeWitt said.

DeWitt said through community meetings the City learned residents felt certain areas of the community may not be as clean as they could be. Because of this, DeWitt said they really have tried to encourage residents to clean up their yards and keep their roll carts pushed back from the road following garbage collection.

“This is why we really appreciate your presence at these meetings,” DeWitt said. “This type of active engagement means that you care and we appreciate that.”

Joseph Berry, district coordinator for the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District, is hosting the next Great American Cleanup event on Saturday, May 19 and will have all supplies needed available at Piedmont Technical College on that day between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

“The City has been a great partner with us and we’d love to partner with you all to tackle the litter in Newberry County,” Berry said.

DeWitt said the City believed that keeping the county beautiful started with the City keeping the county seed looking its best.

Parks and Recreation

Scott Sawyer, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism said the City currently maintains 16 parks that covers 315 acres.

Over the past year, Sawyer said parks had been updated with more inclusive playground equipment to include two wheelchair accessible swings, known as IP 15 I-Swings, the first of their kind in the United States, installed at Marion Davis Park. Other swings installed included zero-gravity swings which provide more head support for those who may need it as well as an expression swing, which allows baby and adult to swing facing one another.

For those who may benefit from the use of the wheelchair accessible swings, Sawyer said to contact the Parks and Recreation Office at 803-321-1015 to obtain information on how to access those as they remain locked when not in use.

Sawyer updated the community on the future home of the City of Newberry’s Recreation complex, funded partly by the city and by the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) initiative. The facility will be home to baseball and softball fields in addition to a splash pad. The pond that is on the property, Sawyer said they hope to add fish and ducks to as well as possible paddle boats for families to enjoy.

Once bids are received for the project, Sawyer said the contract for the complex is for 270 days. Sawyer said the complex is not expected to open before Spring 2019.

Sawyer reminded the community of the opening of the Oakland Tennis Center with six hard courts and three clay courts were available to use and that programming was offered for both youth and adults.

The Newberry Arts Center has lots of exciting programming coming up for the summer months, Sawyer said as well as painting and pottery parties available. For more information, residents can contact their office.

Under tourism, Sawyer said a program that was started this year was with Welcome Centers. The City of Newberry currently has window clings on the North Augusta and Landrum Welcome Centers.

“We picked those because they are the closest to us,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer added that they put a lot into their advertising efforts because once visitors come to the area, they want them to come back to stay.

Utility Improvements

Utility Director Tim Baker spoke with the community about the City’s newest prepaid billing system option for residential customers.

With prepaid billing, city residential utility customers can pay for their utilities how and when they choose. By purchasing their utilities before they use them, this system allows the customer to manage their budget and pay how much they want when they’re able.

Instead of a monthly billing statement, utility usage is calculated daily and customers can track that usage by smartphone or online.

“We want to create a better customer experience, not just good customer service,” Baker said.

Other updates Baker said included a new substation being built in the Mollohon area. The substation will be adjacent to the Kendall football field on Glenn Street.

Currently the city has a single delivery point in that area, Baker said once the new substation is complete, the delivery point will be eliminated, also eliminating the lease fee the city currently pays to Duke Energy for that delivery point.

Other updates

Denise Reid spoke on behalf of the Newberry Opera House and Newberry Museum. The Opera House is currently looking for more ambassadors to join their team and continue the success there and those interested can contact their box office.

Reid said the Newberry Museum was in the works and that it was exciting as all of the layers of history were stripped away and revealed. The museum renovations were also funded by the CPST initiative.

Scott Joyner, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Newberry College spoke of the college’s new residence hall that would be completed by May of this year. The dorm is located between Walker Hall and the football stadium.

Enrollment at Newberry College, Joyner said is also up from 900 students when he first arrived in 2012 to almost currently almost 1,200 students.

Michelle Long, Fire Chief Keith Minick and Suzanne Elston help themselves to a cup of coffee prior to Coffee with the City on April 23. Long, Fire Chief Keith Minick and Suzanne Elston help themselves to a cup of coffee prior to Coffee with the City on April 23. Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer

Mayor Foster Senn welcomed the community to the first evening Coffee with the City event. Foster Senn welcomed the community to the first evening Coffee with the City event. Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer

Elyssa Haven | For The Newberry Observer