A citywide smoking ban, an unlikely political comeback, and ethics charges were all part of an interesting year in the news. Over the next two weeks, The Gazette is taking a look back at some of the stories in Goose Creek and Berkeley County during 2013.
• Goose Creek City Council passed a smoking ban in January, ending years of debate on the controversial issue. The ban went into effect July 1.
Council voted 4-3 in favor of the ban. Councilmembers Jerry Tekac, Franklin Moore, Mark Phillips and Kimo Esarey voted in favor. Councilmembers Marguerite Brown, John McCants and Mayor Michael Hetizler voted against the ban.
• Ken Gunn – who defeated incumbent Berkeley County Councilman Bob Call in Nov. 2012 – and fellow council members Phil Farley and Tim Callanan were sworn in at Farley’s Hanahan barbershop in a hastily convened ceremony.
Usually the swearing in of the new council members occurs in council chambers on the first Tuesday of the New Year, but with New Year’s Day falling on a Tuesday and the previous council terms expiring at midnight on Jan. 1, three council seats would have remained vacant for nearly a week.
“There was a significant gap between when the old council terms expired and when we would have had the new members sworn in, so we felt it best to do the ceremony now,” said council member Dennis Fish, who helped coordinate the ceremony.
• A Berkeley County man appeared in bond court Feb. 14 in Moncks Corner to face charges on 43 counts of ill treatment of animals. The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office charged Loney L. Garrett, 64, of 408 Garretts Court in the Goose Creek area, with the felonies.
Members of BCSO, Berkeley County Animal Control and Animal Rescue & Relief (ARR) found 45 malnourished dogs and the bones of an estimated 200 dead dogs behind the suspect’s residence off Howe Hall Road, according to BCSO.
“It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen in my career,” Riser said, adding that the dogs were poorly treated, emaciated and underfed.
• The South Carolina Ethics Commission began investigating an undisclosed number of Berkeley County School District employees. The investigation, being done at the request of the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, is in regard to possible misuse of BCSD employees and equipment during a campaign to support a bond referendum.
The campaign – “Yes 4 Schools” – ended after the November general election when Berkeley County voters passed the $198 million referendum with a 59 percent majority.
• The bitter cold, the biting wind, and the incessant rain didn’t seem so bad in March as the Breath of Spring Flower Show officially heralded the arrival of spring at Cypress Gardens. The flower show was sponsored by the Belle Isle Garden Club, the Camellia Garden Club of Greater Charleston, the Garden Club of Otranto, and the Town and Village Garden Club.
The show featured 267 entries over three categories, with 218 horticultural entries, 48 flower design entries and three educational exhibits.
• Berkeley Elementary School teacher Stephanie Wallace was named 2013 BCSD teacher of the year at a ceremony at Trident Technical College in North Charleston.
• Former Gov. Mark Sanford received 26,066 votes in the Republican primary runoff, more than enough to beat former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic for the nomination for the First Congressional District.
Bostic got 20,005 votes, or 43 percent. Of the five counties participating, only Beaufort chose Bostic over Sanford.
Sen. Larry Grooms finished a close third in the initial primary balloting. The primary featured 16 Republican candidates seeking to fill the seat of former U.S Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in late 2012.
Sanford would go on to handily defeat Democrat Elizaeth Colbert-Busch in the special election.
• The Goose Creek Economic Development Study Committee held its first meeting in May.
• Berkeley County’s state legislators had a little bit of time to talk about current topics at the annual Berkeley Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon. Subjects discussed ranged from roads and bridges to offering immediate availability of in-state tuition to dependents of veterans that move into the state.
Seven of Berkeley County’s 11 state senators and house representatives attended the luncheon speaking to a packed house of local civic and business leaders at the Redbank Club in Goose Creek. Attending were Senators Paul Campbell and Sean Bennett, and Representatives Joe Daning, Eddie Southard, Bill Crosby, Joe Jefferson and Samuel Rivers Jr.
• The county Republican Party remained publicly critical of the Berkeley County School District, accusing district employees of promoting the $198 million “Yes 4 Schools” bond while on school district time and using district resources. The bond passed by nearly a two-to-one vote in November 2012.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson assured GOP members during a June meeting that SLED’s investigation into the campaign would be thorough.
• County Supervisor Dan Davis presented Berkeley County Council with a balanced budget during its June council meeting.
The proposed budget included no tax or millage increases and affords the majority of Berkeley County departments to perform at the same level of services as last year.
County dedicates new BCWS plant
• A project seven years in the making has come to fruition with the ribbon cutting on June 21 of the new Berkeley County Water and Sanitation Central Berkeley Waste Water Treatment plant.
BCWS Director Colin Martin and Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis hosted a gathering of civic and business leaders for the ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour of the new facility.