Local emergency management praised for performance

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During Sumter County Council's meeting on Tuesday, Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon commended Sumter County Emergency Management for its preparations and operations during the storm caused by Hurricane Irma.

Mixon said county officials put in a great deal of work preparing for Hurricane Irma, starting four days before the storm was expected to reach the area.

This area is very lucky to have avoided the disaster that was anticipated, he said. The emergency operations center, staffed by county and city emergency agencies, did a good job of closely watching the storm, he said.

And even though the path of the storm changed, the emergency operations center remained fully staff in case of emergencies, Mixon said.

He said 48 people stayed at Crestwood High School, which served as a shelter between 5 p.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The majority of those people were Sumter residents while three of them were Florida evacuees, he said.

Mixon said there were more than 2,000 families without power after the storm, but electric companies were able to restore power to most of those houses by Tuesday evening.

He said the county will inspect its utility equipment to see if the damage could qualify for federal assistance.

Also during the meeting, council held a public hearing for an ordinance to approve a fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement with Sumter Easy Home LLC and voted to defer third reading to its next meeting. No one spoke in favor or opposition of the ordinance.

According to the proposed agreement, Sumter Easy Home will create at least 80 full-time jobs and invest $37 million into the county.

Council then approved third reading of an ordinance to expand the boundaries of Sumter-Lee Industrial Park to include property on North Wise Drive that is owned and operated by Sumter Easy Home.

In other news, council approved:

  •  A request from Third Judicial Circuit Solicitor Ernest "Chip" Finney III to create a position in Clarendon County that will be funded by the state;
  •  First reading of an ordinance to allow Sumter City-County Planning Commission to perform certain functions in the town of Pinewood. Sumter City-County Planning Department Director George McGregor said Pinewood needs a planning commission in order to complete its updated comprehensive plan according to state law. He said Pinewood could also request that the planning commission and planning department staff assist in other matters if the ordinance is approved; and
  •  Second reading of an ordinance to convey nearly 17 acres of property at 730 Fulton St. to The Sherwin-Williams Co.