Cheraw Town Council members agreed unanimously on several issues Tuesday evening, including a yearlong extension for the curbside recycling service, the 2014-15 general operating budget, the purchase of a marker from the National Register of Historic Places for the Robert Smalls school building on Front Street and repairs to the tarmac at the Cheraw Fire Department.
The only issue council members did not favor unanimously involves the removal of a beam inside the Cheraw Complex that would allow the gymnastics program to expand. Removal of the beam will open up the space for floor exercises and eventually enable the building to host regional gymnastic competitions.
Cheraw Town Administrator Mike Smith said bids requested a couple of years ago on the cost of removing the beam were in the neighborhood of $25,000. Now that the council has decided to move forward with plans for the complex, Smith said bids will have to be taken again.
Councilman Billy Wallace Jr. was not present for the vote Tuesday, but has been adamantly against the Cheraw Complex project from the beginning. Councilwoman Jacqueline Ellerbe-Shannon chose to abstain from the vote. The motion passed with the approval of council members Reid McBride, Randy Butler, John K. Melton and Fred Harris.
Council members honored requests by concerned residents to continue the curbside recycling service for one year. Cheraw resident Sarah Ann Thompson was one of the leading voices in that plea. Mayor Andy Ingram asked Thompson to head a committee that will “seek ways to better promote and educate the public about recycling during the coming year.”
With fewer than 200 people in town actually using the curbside recycling service, Smith had suggested several weeks ago that the council do away with it. Smith said the program costs the town about $10,000 a year. Ingram made it clear the issue would be revisited next year to see if the number of participants has increased enough to warrant keeping the program.
There were no major changes in the town’s budget — and no tax increases. The town’s annual budget operates within four major categories. The unanimously approved general fund for 2014-15 stands at $6,647,060, the hospitality fund at $340,100, the capital fund at $74,456 and the water and sewer department at $2,667,000.
Those figures combine to create the total cost of the town’s operations at $9,728,616.
Council members voted unanimously to purchase a sign for the old Robert Smalls building, which currently hosts the Pathfinders program and the EOC office. The building was recently approved for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The cost of the sign is $2,090.
Council members approved the purchase of a new air conditioning unit for the upstairs portion of Town Hall. Estimates were higher than expected, Smith said, because new lines to accommodate updated units will have to be installed. The lowest bid, approved by the council, came from Pee Dee Heating and Air of Cheraw at $8,963.
Problems with cracks in the tarmac at the Cheraw Fire Department must be addressed soon, Smith told council members.
“The cement at the front of the bay area of the fire department has been experiencing cracks and has been an issue for several years now,” said Smith. “Although the fire chief has requested this problem to be corrected through a capital request, the problem was not seen to be of immediate concern. The problem is now getting worse and if not corrected soon will become a hazard to the fire trucks.”
The lowest quote for the job, which the council chose unanimously, came from Griggs Trucking of Chesterfield for $6,850.
“If we don’t do it now, we’ll pay a lot more to do it in the future,” said Smith.
No action was taken on a request to open the Inglis-McIver Law Office on the Town Green for public display. Ingram referred the matter to the finance committee for consideration.
Locals residents have offered to donate period furniture for the building, which Ingram said is getting a good deal of tourist attention.
“It sounds like a worthy project and a generous offer,” said Ingram. “We look forward to hearing more about that.”
— Reach Staff Writer Karen Kissiah at 843-537-5261.