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Posted on: January 4, 2018

What’s happening in Jasper for 2018

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The past year brought many new opportunities into Jasper County, including new industry, schools and buildings which will be constructed next year.

Here are some projects the county can look forward to in 2018:

Ridgeland Fire Station’s new addition

A groundbreaking for a new addition to the Ridgeland Fire Station was held in late December.

“This is a project we have been working on for years, and I’m finally glad to see it coming together,” Ridgeland Mayor Joey Malphrus said. “We are very excited about the building.”

The project is underway with site prep, including some plumbing and electrical work being done, and the slab has been scheduled to be poured. Town Administrator Dennis Averkin said the town hopes the new addition to the station will be operational by the middle of 2018, at the latest. The town will also renovate the small structure on the corner of West Adams and South Railroad Avenue with new stucco, windows, doors, and paint. This will be the last phase of the expansion-renovation project.

Airport runway expansion continues

Last January a groundbreaking was held for the Ridgeland Claude-Dean Airport. The airport is currently undergoing a four-phase renovation that includes the expansion of the runway (4,200 feet), a parallel taxiway, converting the current runway into a taxiway, moving the hangars, and constructing a terminal and a new entryway.

The airport’s expansion became a reality in the early 2000’s when the FAA agreed and funded a grant for land to host an expanded airport. The FAA is paying 90 percent of the cost of expansion ($18 million), the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission is paying 5 percent of the cost ($1 million), and Jasper County will pay 5 percent ($1 million).

Upcoming elections

Jasper County residents head to the polls in 2018 to make some important decisions as to who they will select as some of their leaders from around the area.

Four Jasper County School District seats are up for election: Debora Butler, Randy Horton, Kevin Karg and Tedd Moyd face re-election. Butler serves District 2 which encompasses the Hardeeville area; Horton serves District 4 which is in the Gillisonville and Grays area; Karg serves District 6 which is part of the Hardeeville and Okatie area; and Moyd serves District 8 which represents the Levy area of the county.

Two seats on the County Council will also be up for grabs. The seats include: Coosawhatchie Township, now represented by Marty Sauls, and the Robertville Township seat represented by Theodus Drayton.

Two seats will be up for election in the city of Hardeeville: Carolyn Kassel and David Spisso.

Three State House of Representatives seats are also up for re-election, including District 118, currently held by Bill Herbkersman, the District 120 seat currently held by Weston Newton and the District 122 seat currently held by Bill Bowers.

The primary election is June 12, with the General Election Nov. 6.

Developments continue to grow

Developers have decided to make Jasper County home in 2018 with several newly-planned additions, including Latitude Margaritaville and East Argent in Hardeeville.

Hardeeville announced in June there would be a new senior-living community, known as Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, opening in 2018. Plans for it include 3,000 homes with a resort-style pool, tennis and pickle ball courts and arts and learning programs. Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams believes it will be a destination spot for retirees.

The community, at Hilton Head Lakes South about 2.5 miles off Interstate 95, expects to have homes in the low $200,000 range, with a wide range of home designs and floor plans, according to Minto Senior Vice President William Bullock.

Hardeeville announced in late November plans for a 7,351-acre community, to be known as East Argent, that will include 9,500 residential homes and 1.5 million square feet of commercial retail and office space.

The East Argent planned development is between U.S. 278 and Hwy. 170. The development includes Hampton Pointe and other planned communities. Development is expected to begin in 2018 with the first home sites anticipated in early 2019.

Schools growing with additions, new construction

Several schools in the county have made some changes that will be seen in 2018, including Royal Live Oaks, a new CATE building for the Jasper County School District, and Polaris Tech, a new charter school slated to open in 2018.

Following a Nov. 30 meeting with the South Carolina Public Charter School District, Royal Live Oaks in Hardeeville received permission to transfer to the Charter Institute at Erskine.

The Royal Live Oaks campus remains in Hardeeville and Erskine College would work along with the school.

The Jasper County School District is working toward approving a new Career and Technology Education (CATE) building. The building is tentatively planned to be located on the campus of Ridgeland Hardeeville High School in Ridgeland.

The school district’s school board voted unanimously during its Sept. 25 meeting to approve MB Kahn and Stevens and Wilkinson to construct a new CATE facility on the Ridgeland campus. The size of the facility and cost is yet to be determined, but more decisions are expected in 2018.

The newest charter school in Jasper County, Polaris Tech, continues to move forward to open in 2018. True North Companies of Roswell, Ga, was hired to develop the school’s Ridgeland site. Plans remain for Polaris Tech Charter School to open for the 2018 school year. Gen. Lloyd Newton said as of November, there had been more than 200 parents and students interested in the school.

The first phase of the school is expected to be about 28,000 square feet on land formerly occupied by Ridgeland Hospital.

U.S. 17 project moves ahead

The S.C. Department of Transportation’s U.S. 17 expansion project expects to continue. Resurfacing began last year.

The highway will expand to four lanes – two in each direction — that will be 12-feet wide each. The north and southbound lanes will be separated with a 36-foot median. The intersection of U.S. 17 and S.C. 315 will be converted into split-T intersection with a three-phase traffic light added with the southbound righthand lane set to a continuous green.

Construction expects to begin in late 2018. The project is estimated to cost $70 million and be completed in 2021.

New industry announced

In November, the county announced Coca-Cola Consolidated is investing more than $5 million in a new sales and distribution center at Cypress Ridge Industrial Park in Ridgeland, bringing 45 existing jobs and creating at least 2o new jobs. J&J Machinery Transport, Inc., plans to invest $2.5 million and created eight jobs at the former Daniel Defense facility in Ridgeland.

Waste Management plans to bring 53 jobs and invest $23 million into the county. It will be located at the RiverPort site in Hardeeville and will be the first building/business in RiverPort.

New County Fire Chief

In July, Jasper County Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Services Wilbur Daley announced his plans to retire after 33 years in fire service. He served in Jasper County for the last 17 years.

Daley had been fire chief since 2008. He continues to work until a replacement can be found.

While the process of finding a replacement was set for around 90 days, severe weather, including a hurricane, delayed the search.

According to Jasper County Administrator Andy Fulghum, the closing date for applications for the position had been extended due to the fact that the original closing date happened to coincide with the time period when county offices were closed during Hurricane Irma.

The extended date passed and there were 13 official applicants for the position, Fulghum said. At this point, Fulghum said, applications are being reviewed and initial interviews were scheduled with the hopes of finding a replacement early in 2018.

RHHS searches for a new football coach

The Ridgeland-Hardeeville Jaguars football team will have a new leader in 2018 after the school decided to not bring coach Jahmaal Nelson back. Athletic Director Jeremiah Faber said the school wants to take the program in a different direction. Ridgeland-Hardeeville will advertise the open coaching position.

Jasper County Sun Times
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