Ridgeway Takes Aim at Sidewalk

Police Station Move Sparks Compliance Debate

RIDGEWAY (Feb. 18, 2016) – The sidewalk near Ridgeway’s Post Office has been a sore spot – and an eyesore – for Town Council for several years. Worse than that, it has been a hazard; and repairing it is an expensive proposition.

With the State Legislature still scrambling to find money just for bridges and roads, sidewalks are not even on the back burner. Repairing Ridgeway’s broken stretch between the Lopez house and the Post Office on 290 S. Palmer St. could run the Town as much as $200,000, according to Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring.

But during Council’s Feb. 11 meeting, Herring said local resident Dwight Robertson had volunteered his labor and if the Town can come up with the approximately $5,000 to cover material, grading and removal of the old concrete, the sidewalk could soon be on the mend.

Council voted unanimously Feb. 11 to cash in one of their Certificate of Deposits (CDs) to fund the project, provided the Town has a CD that is nearing maturity. The project will also need the approval of the S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT), which legally owns the sidewalk.

Herring said she had recently sent a letter to the DOT and was awaiting a response. Once the DOT provides specifications for the project, Town Clerk Vivian Case said this week, and a firm dollar amount was established, the Town would tap into a CD.

Police Department

Relocation

Council also scheduled the relocation of their Police Department from 160 S. Palmer St. to the Century House at 170 S. Dogwood Ave. for Feb. 27. Still in question, however, is how Council will secure their current chambers once it has been converted into a police station.

Installing a gated door on the room could cost the Town around $800, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said during the Feb. 11 meeting. But a pair of cipher locks, he said, could be installed on the existing doors for less than $100. Cipher locks use a digital code for access instead of a key, and Cookendorfer suggested officer Christopher Culp and the Town Clerk have a code for the office.

“The only problem with that is you can’t have a bunch of codes floating around,” Culp told Council. “When you start issuing keys and codes, everybody’s responsible for what’s in here. You can’t issue keys and codes out to people who aren’t in the police department. If you have people coming in, you have evidence (in the office), you’re all subject to subpoena to court based on did you have a key to this office or a code to this office.”

Storing evidence is another upgrade Council will have to consider. Culp told Council that the evidence locker currently in use is not a “proper evidence locker,” and the Town should invest approximately $130 in a new one.

Councilman Donald Prioleau, who supervises the Police Department, said the Ridgeway P.D. was outdated and not in compliance with state guidelines. The department desperately needs to be modernized, he said, and the move to the Century House was a good opportunity to begin some of that modernization.

“How long have we been operating in that police station (on S. Palmer Street) with no issue?” Cookendorfer asked. “How long?”

But just because the department has skated by in the past, Prioleau said, was no reason to skate into the future.

“This police department is so far behind, we’re not in compliance. So what we need to do is revisit this and make sure we’re in compliance with the state statute,” Prioleau said. “We’re behind on everything. It’s been all right, but is it right?”

Herring said an inspection of the department by SLED, were it conducted today, would likely leave Ridgeway facing a fine for non-compliance with standards on storage of evidence and vital records. Cookendorfer called that “speculation,” but said that he would research the law to determine who could and could not have access to the department.

Meanwhile, Council agreed to advertise for the rental of the soon-to-be formal police station on S. Palmer Street. Council set the rent for the building at $600 a month, utilities not included. Council will also have to obtain permission from Norfolk-Southern Railway, which owns the property on which the station sits, to lease the building. Half of the rent would also have to be paid to the railway, as well as a one-time fee of $750.

 

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