In June, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Bamberg County $225,800 in grant funds and loans through the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grant/Loan program. The grant was endorsed through the SC Promise Zone. With these funds, the county purchased six new patrol vehicles.
County Sheriff Ed Darnell recognized the substantial award, stating, “It’s a great day in Bamberg County! We can finally dispose of our unreliable vehicles; our officers will be able to go anywhere in the county without fear of a breakdown. I thank Joey Preston, his staff, and county council for taking care of our officers so that we can take care of the people of Bamberg County.”
Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston and his staff prepared the application to the USDA Community Facilities Loan/Grant Program. This national program provides both grants and loans to support essential services in rural areas.
In 2015, the county replaced seven of its most ineffective vehicles, but the sheriff’s department still operated a few old, unreliable vehicles that posed a hazard to both the deputy and the resident awaiting the deputy’s service.
“We are particularly grateful to the efforts of Karen Phillips (USDA Area Specialist) and John Perry (Bamberg County) to ensure Bamberg County was awarded these funds,” remarked Preston.
The USDA awarded Bamberg County with two separate grant and loan funding packages. The first award includes a grant for $50,000 and a low-interest loan for $63,000, for a total award of $113,000. The second award is a grant for $49,900 and a low-interest loan for $62,900, for a total award of $112,800. These two awards netted the county $225,800 in grant and low-interest loan funds for the purchase of new patrol cars for the county deputies.
”At USDA Rural Development we understand the value and importance of our public safety officials having safe and reliable vehicles,” stated Michele Cardwell, USDA Acting State Director. “We want our rural citizens to feel protected and safe within their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.”
The new patrol vehicles were presented to the public in front of the Bamberg County Courthouse on June 28.
“It is essential that our sheriff’s deputies have reliable vehicles so they are able to serve our citizens,” said Evert Comer Jr., County Council Chairman. “This USDA funding will benefit the sheriff’s department by ensuring they have adequate transportation to do their important work, and the public, by keeping them safe and ensuring timely responses to calls.”