Following are highlights from Richland County Government in February:
· Two weeks after responding to a winter storm in January, Richland County officials geared up again to face a weather incident that proved to be worse than the first. February’s winter blast covered roads in ice, toppled trees and knocked out power. Weather conditions prompted Richland County officials to close County offices for three days out of safety concerns for the public and employees, and Council Chair Norman Jackson declared a “State of Emergency.” While County offices were closed to the public, many employees remained on the job throughout the storm to help ensure the safety of residents and to get operations and roads back to normal as quickly as possible once the storm passed. The County’s staff meteorologist accurately predicted the storm track, conditions and timeline, which made planning and responding more efficient. Jackson signed a termination of disaster declaration effective the Saturday after the storm hit, as the County began to thaw out.
· A joint effort of Richland County, the City of Columbia and Lexington County to address homelessness received national recognition. The regional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and government partnership to fund and support the homeless facility Transitions was honored with the Audrey J. Nelson Award.
· Chanda Cooper, the Education Program Coordinator for Richland County’s Conservation Department, received statewide recognition for her efforts to educate the public on conservation issues. Cooper was named the 2013 Outstanding Conservation District Employee by the SC Association of Conservation Districts.
· The Richland County Airport Commission, which oversees the operation of the Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport, elected new officers for 2014: Don Purcell, Chairman; Jim Christopher, Vice Chairman; Bruce Cole, Secretary; and Stuart Hope, Treasurer. The Commission is composed of nine members appointed by the Richland County Council.