Search Results for: richland county

Meet Ashley Miller – Richland County Recreation Commissioner

Ashley was born in Columbia, SC and she and her husband Brandon have three children, Ava, Eason and Nora. She attended Irmo high school and has been a native to the Columbia area her entire life.

Brandon and Ashley own a small investment company in Columbia as well as own and operate German Autowerks in West Columbia.

Irmo Little League and Friarsgate Park are near and dear to her family and Ashley and her husband have both volunteered for several years at the park. In addition, all of their children have played at Friarsgate Park and they are very familiar with the facilities and many of the families currently using the park.

Ashley told me “A large portion of our time is spent watching our children grow, play, make lasting friendships and become better athletes at this park. I am deeply passionate and a strong advocate for safety and positive change for all children and families entering our parks and recreation throughout Richland County. I look forward to using my voice for good and I am excited to serve!”

If you have ideas, suggestions or advice for how to improve our parks (Friarsgate Park and Ballentine Park) please let her know by calling 803-955-6110.

We’ve been very fortunate to have been served through the years on the commission by John Ecton, Todd Latiff, Cynthia Shepard and now Ashley. You may have noticed many rennovations recently and in years past as part of funding I secured for Friarsgate as well as improvements at Ballentine Park. Those monies come from state allocated funds to each county delegation. Serving on a large delegation of 15 Democrats and only 2 Republicans makes it challenging to secure the funds we need out here in the northwest corner of the county; but building relationships and advocating for our community – along with having a community member on the commission – helps tremendously.

Thank you Ashley for your willingness to serve!

Meet Mike Swindell – newly appointed Richland County Transportation Committee

Late last year, I put out a request to gauge interest in the community about serving on the local county transportation committee.

I had a few inquiries and some asked to be considered. Thank you to those that did. I’m pleased to share that as of today, our local representative on that committee is Mike Swindell. I met Mike years ago on the campaign trail and know that his demeanor and skills will be needed to help Northwest Richland County with our ever growing needs.

To be clear – he’s not your pothole guy. You can come to me for those or our local county councilman, Bill Malinowksi. But Mike will get a vote on the committee for some smaller funding projects in the county.

Mike’s bio from his paying job is below…

Michael S. Swindell focuses on Workers’ Compensation and Social Security cases. He is licensed to practice law in the state of South Carolina.

Michael is a native South Carolinian from Bamberg, S.C. Michael completed his undergraduate work and earned his J.D. at the University of South Carolina. Michael was a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard from 1981 to 1991 and reached the rank of Captain.

He is a current member of the South Carolina Bar, the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association, and the Association of South Carolina Claimant Attorneys for Workers’ Compensation.

He serves on a number of boards for his profession and community. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Education Association. He is also a board member for the Mizpah Foundation and the Chapin High School Booster Club. He serves on the Board of Directors at Kid’s Chance of South Carolina.

Michael is married and has three boys: Scott, Chad and Ben. Michael’s hobbies center around sports, including football, wrestling and fishing. He is currently a member of Chapin United Methodist Church and enjoys singing in the church choir.

Broad River Widening – update from Richland County Penny Tax

Like you, I’ve been wondering what the county has been doing for us with the Penny Tax revenue that passed years ago (our area being one of the few that voted against the tax ). Outside of a roundabout on Kennerly Road near Riversprings Elementary, that’s about all I see – from the county.

I did some searching on my website and can’t believe it’s been NINE YEARS since the county passed that tax!

After seeing all the work ramping up at the state level from DOT , I decided to check locally today with the county to see what they were doing for us. Glad I did, apparently “things have changed”. I learned a word I haven’t heard before. I was told the project has been “descoped” and that those changes were approved by Richland County Council.

Appears cost overuns is a primary reason for the change from an article from last year that sheds some light.

In any event, here was the update I saw this afternoon before calling to speak with Michael Niermeier, Director, Department of Transportation with Richland County Government.

A description of the “descope” is below and also can be seen by clicking here.

So, bottom line, it looks like we are 2-3 years away from the county using the Penny Tax to start construction on this improvement.

Not the news I wanted to hear today. I was told the county would come out here once the “descope” has been finalized so that we can see what they have proposed. I was told there isn’t enough money to do the “5 lane project” that we were originally sold. (I see what it’s hard to trust government anymore)

BROAD RIVER RD. WIDENING

Original Project Scope
The project scope for the Broad River Road Widening Project was to widen the roadway to 5
lanes between Royal Tower Drive and Dutch Fork Road in the Irmo community. In addition, the
road was to be widened to 3 lanes between Dutch Fork Road and I-26 (Exit 97).
(2) 4-foot wide bike lanes and (2) 5-foot wide sidewalks are included in the project scope.
Revised Project Scope – Based on traffic volumes, public input, and funding, the PDT recommended to
only include the widening from North Royal Tower to Dutch Fork.
Referendum Funding – $29,000,000.00 Current Cost Estimate: $39,663,756.37

Traffic Analysis and Results

The traffic study evaluated 15 intersections along the length of this project along with the
intersections of the off\on ramps of I-26. SCDOT plans to widen I-26 in this area, so the off\on
ramps would be addressed with their project.

The 2043 Level of Service in this corridor has been identified as “Adequate” for the proposed
improvements while the 2043 “No- Build” evaluation showed that the majority of the
intersections would operate at a “F” Level of Service. The recommended proposed
improvements from the traffic study are to improve the intersections by increasing turning bays.

Crash Data between 1/1/13 and 12/31/15 (3 years) shows that there were 161 crashes near these
15 intersections with the majority being rear-end collisions.
1 fatality

Public Input Results
185 residents attended the December 15, 2016, Public Meeting

The design alternative supported by the most residents was a 5 lane travel way that included 2 4-
foot wide bike lanes and 2 5-foot wide sidewalks

Residents agreed that removing the 3 lane section between Dutch Fork Road and I-26 was
preferred

Right-Of-Way

ROW Obtained To Date – 0 Expended To Date – $0

Possible Design Modifications to Lower Cost

Widen the road to 3 lanes (2 driving lanes and a median) and also provide turning lanes at the
intersections that are missing them at this time. This could improve turning movements in and
out of the many businesses in the corridor and decrease the number of rear-end collisions.
New Approx. Estimate: $30M (Approx. Savings $9.6M)

Note: This option would not improve capacity but would improve safety and would improve
flow since left-turning vehicles would be able to pull into the median instead of block the
flow of traffic.

The cost estimate includes approximately $1,150,000 to relocate a 54” waterline at SCDOT’s
request. Staff is currently working with SCDOT to possibly have this requirement removed.

Did you request an absentee ballot (Richland County)?

Just got this email this morning. Be on lookout in your mailbox next week!

Also, don’t forget you can always go vote in-person absentee (Richland County) at Ballentine Park

Update from Richland County Elections Director

I met with the new Director several weeks ago to offer my help to her and her team so that our voters will face less issues than previous elections in the county.

Some of the concerns I shared were:

1) Lack of poll workers at precincts.
2) Lack of machines at precincts.
3) Lack of working machines at precincts.
4) Number of laptops to check-in voters at precincts AND the inability of those laptops to access voters for all precincts that may be combined that location

Since that time, I’ve heard from a handful of you that have applied to be poll workers but have not heard back. I have given those names to the elections office and, if you have not heard from them by now, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT NATHANBALLENTINE@SCHOUSE.GOV and let me know the approx date you applied (ie, early June, late June, etc) so I can have them check and contact you and get you connected.

Below is a response from the new director. It appears they have exceeded their goal of workers (which is good because MANY do not show up the day of election for whatever reason). I will continue to get answers and do what i can to help this office do their job.

Poll: Face mask requirement for Richland County

Be sure to complete the survey by going to this link (note: you can always leave comments below on my website, but the only way to have the county get your answers is to complete at that link I just provided)

Richland County Council is seeking public input on an ordinance requiring residents to wear face coverings in public for the purpose of helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The City of Columbia is considering a similar ordinance. Please give County Council your input through this brief poll.

Note: Face coverings can include cloth or washable masks, as well as disposable surgical and N95 masks.

Richland County thanks you for your input.

Do you support a County ordinance requiring people to wear a face covering while in public?

* I have no opinion on the matter
* Yes, I think we need to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19
* No, the decision to wear a face covering in public is up to each individual
* Other:

AGAIN: be sure to complete the survey by going to this link (note: you can always leave comments below on my website, but the only way to have the county get your answers is to complete at that link I just provided)

Interested in serving and helping Richland County?

Don’t get me started on the struggles and frustrations with county government ….we need more quality, capable, and honest people working to help our residents.

If that describes you – and if you are interested in WORKING (because there’s a lot to do) – please (1) read the announcement (2) let me know if you send application in and (3) be sure to send application in before the January 30th, deadline.

The process is not a smooth one and I have fought for a “better way” ever since I was elected. With a block of delegation members usually “controlling” most appointments, it’s difficult to change the boards and commissions, but if you’re willing to serve, I’m willing to see if we can get you in a role that is best for you and Richland County.

Richland County Recreation News

You may recall the past mess that was the Richland County Recreation Commission .

Once the delegation was able to make changes, we finally had someone from our area serve – and serve well, she has. Cynthia Shepard served for the past two years and recently stepped down to focus on other things in life. I’m hopeful the 14 Democrats and my fellow Republican on the delegation will support replacing Cynthia with another qualified individual from our area – so that we are not forgotten about while other parts of the county are seeing vast improvements and we are left with two antiquated parks.

Bill Malinowski is our county councilman and works directly with the county budget. I’m trying to help use some state funds that are set aside for each county to use in their parks. The county commissions must request the funds and our commission hasnot since 2017.

Today, I have again asked the county to support Friarsgate Park and Ballentine Park in our community. Because the majority of the delgation refuses to meet more than once a year, it will probably be January before I can hopefully give a positive update on my email to the County Recreation Commission Assistant and my colleagues on the legislative delegation.

As I learn more, I’ll obviously update!

***

To: Cornelia Watts;Jimmy Bales;Wendy Brawley;Beth Bernstein;Ivory Thigpen;Kirkman Finlay;Christopher R. “Chris” Hart;Todd Rutherford;Seth Rose;Leon Howard;Kambrell Garvin;Annie McDaniel;John Scott;Dick Harpootlian;Darrell Jackson;Mia McLeod;Thomas McElveen;
CC: Kim Janha

Ms. Watts, please share this email with the Chairman and Board. I do not have their emails.

Chairwoman Cotten and others,

First, thank you for your tireless service to the county and the commission. I cannot tell you how glad I am we no longer hear of the former turmoil and activities that occurred prior to your service.

As you know, a board member from my community recently resigned. We greatly miss Cynthia and I hope the delegation will meet soon and appoint a replacement. I will push for a replacement from our area as we have multiple county run parks that are very outdated compared to the others in Richland.

I’m sending this email to you and the delegation for 3 reasons:

1) Let’s appoint a replacement commissioner in the next 60 days – per notice by law, etc. I can certainly find very qualified individuals from the Irmo/Chapin area.
2) Can you and the Board contact the Irmo Little League (run from Friarsgate Park) and ask what safety and other improvements they NEED for that park?
3) Can you and the Board contact the Ballentine Civic Association (who, along with others, use Ballentine park) and ask what safety or other improvements they NEED for the park?

Today I received a packet from Alseha Cushman with SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism showing the Richland County PARD account balance is $513,308.08. I also see there have been no requests for 2018 or 2019 or for the upcoming 2020 budget year.

I’m certain our parks – especially the two mentioned above (Friarsgate and Ballentine) could use improvements that these funds were created for.

I’m also certain any matching funds could be raised by the groups that use the facilities.

Please call me if you have any questions or if you need contact information for Irmo Little League or the Ballentine Civic Association. It’s my hope the delegation will discuss and support requests this year to help our county parks – and keep county funds servicing county parks.

I hope you’ll visit my website often to stay informed about what’s going on in the State House and in our community!

Nathan Ballentine

www.nathansnews.com

House of Representatives, District 71

Richland-Lexington Counties

320A Blatt Building

Columbia, SC 29221

Republican Craig Plank appointed to Richland County Election Commission

For years, there have been issues with our local Richland County Election Commission . Rather than rehash those, click that link and you’ll remember the nightmares.

In any event, I was very pleased this week to learn that Craig Plank had been approved by the Governor’s Office to serve on the commission. It’s my hope, Craig, along with independed Duncan Buell, and the 3 other Democrats will finally “fix” one of the most vital parts of our democracy.

NEVER should we experience what we did in 2012 , and never should votes go “missing”. I need to stop before I get fired up again.

Why is this news? There are 15 Democrat members on the Richland County Delegation. There are only 2 Republicans – me and Rep. Kirkman Finlay. Law requires there to be at least one member of the “majority party” and “minority party”.

After reviewing more than 100 applications and hearing from more than 50 applicants over a period of 4 hours, the delegation voted. Unforutnately, the Delegation did not appoint a Republican in the Top 5 – although we were told one of the 5 “voted Republican”. Equally shocking, 3 of the top 5 vote getters didn’t even bother to attend the public meeting to present themselves before the delegation.

In any event, I feel better that we were able to have the former Chairman of the Richland School District Two Board of Trustees appointed and serve our county in this capacity.

Better things ahead for our county once the commission hires a new director and works to ensure smoother elections for all.

Richland County needs you!

I’m hopeful we have constituents in Irmo/Chapin willing to serve on and, in many cases, improve upon, our Boards and Commissions. I could spend all day talking about the process and the outcomes.

Our Delegation is looking for good people to volunteer their time and expertise to our county boards and commissions. See press release below for more details and click here to print application (please submit to the county – and let me know by contacting me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov)

If you have any questions about the boards/commissions, please reach out to RCLegDel@rcgov.us or contact me.

Thanks in advance for your interest!

*Note: For those with attention to detail, you’ll notice the Delegation Office hasn’t updated letterhead yet. You’ll still see names of individuals no longer on the delegation.