Alexandra Whitbeck, The People Sentinel – Mayor Ronnie Pernell is determined to revitalize Blackville; a point he ran his campaign on and a phrase he frequently uses in monthly Blackville Town Council meetings.
A step in doing so is demolishing the Shamrock Hotel, which has stood since its construction in 1912. A $170,000 bid was accepted to demolish, remove, grate, lay and level new dirt by Dec. 31 where the Shamrock Hotel once stood.
Mayor Pernell explained he is working with community members on ways to save pieces of the building to preserve its ample history in the town.
“You’re going to see a lot of activity in Downtown Blackville,” said Mayor Pernell, who has been in recent conversations with Representative Lonnie Hosey to acquire funding for the construction of a new Town Hall.
To upgrade storefronts, repair roads, and demolish buildings as desired by the council, funding needs to be acquired from local, state, national, and even international sources.
Dr. Prince Brown and Esther Brown provided the council with grant information at their Oct. 17 meeting. Dr. Brown is the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Chief Development Officer at Voorhees College, and Mrs. Brown is the Director of Research and Grant Writing at Voorhees College.
In collaboration with Councilman Kelvin Isaac, Dr. and Mrs. Brown are actively searching for applicable grants for the town based on the needs determined by the council.
“Grant funding is finding someone to fund your ideas,” said Dr. Brown, who encourages the council to be open to a multitude of partnerships to fulfill various projects.
The Browns will be responsible for tasks such as writing budgets, submitting grants, creating timelines, and much more through advice from council members.
On Sept. 30 the town approved a resolution committing the Town of Blackville to providing a 5% local match of $1,250 for a Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) Hometown Economic Development Grant.
At the Oct. 17 meeting, Mayor Pernell’s wife, Rita Pernell, was appointed unanimously to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Also, Chastity Williams took to the podium to share her ideas on activities for individuals her age in Blackville.
Mayor Pernell and Councilman Enterick Lee both agreed there is not much for teenagers to do in Blackville, and hope Williams’ ideas will lead to this changing.
“Sometimes we fail to listen to our young folks,” said Mayor Pernell, who personally asked Williams to speak at the meeting once hearing her energized ideas.
Williams detailed her idea for a community lounge and arcade where youth can gather to study and relax in the safety of one establishment. She explained how a place such as this would give teenagers a hub to hangout at after school.
Williams also feels like providing more volunteer opportunities for students would be beneficial, and proposed a clean-up effort.
Activities Coordinator Fonda Patrick said she looks forward to working with Williams to bring her ideas to fruition.