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Wedding & Event Venue Near Ridgeland, SC.

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Your Magic Moment Awaits

Your wedding day. Without a doubt, it's one of the most significant events you will ever experience - when you and the love of your life officially seal the deal and get married. On this day, your friends and family will gather to celebrate the next step in your life. Photographers will be running around snapping photos, catering plates delicious food for guests to enjoy, and the DJ sets the mood for a night of fun and libation. You've worked extra hard to make everything look perfect and run smoothly. You have examined every moving part down to the tiniest detail. At the center of all your effort is your wedding venue in Ridgeland, SC.

Your event space can mean the difference between an unforgettable event and an average occasion. Capturing your uniqueness as a couple is paramount to a memorable wedding. But, without the right venue location and staff, your unforgettable event can turn into a painfully average occasion. Fortunately, at Abney Hall, you won't ever have to worry about dingy reception spaces and crummy chow halls.

Constructed in Ridgeland, SC, in 1962, Abney Hall is 15,000 square feet and sits on 500 acres of land, making it a large wedding venue unlike any other. Abney Hall was originally the home of Mrs. Josephine Abney, a Ridgeland native who was a lifelong philanthropist. Mrs. Abney devoted much of her time and effort towards supporting charities, educational institutions, hospitals, and other noble efforts. Today, Abney Hall stands tall as a symbol of love, both in our community and for the couples who choose to get married here.

Abney Hall is an exclusive event experience unlike any other, surrounded by verdant forests and sparkling ponds. Our venue is a natural fit for several occasions, including:

Special Event Space Ridgeland, SC

Weddings

 Event Venue Ridgeland, SC

Bridal Showers

 Event Space Ridgeland, SC

Bridal Portraits

 Rehearsal Dinner Venue Ridgeland, SC

Rehearsal Dinners

 Bridal Shower Venue Ridgeland, SC

Corporate Events

 Business Event Space Ridgeland, SC

Much More!

 Wedding Space Ridgeland, SC

The Top Wedding Venue in Ridgeland, SC

The beginning of your life starts at Abney Hall. With our team by your side, we can create the fairy tale wedding you have dreamed about since childhood. Whether you have 100 guests or 1,000, our waterfront ceremony locations and French-inspired courtyard are perfect for your big day. Celebrate in luxurious style surrounded by shady magnolia trees, a private forest, large ponds, and the beauty of Mother Nature. While our venue location and aesthetic have been praised far and wide, so too have the practical aspects of Abney Hall. Looking for a relaxing, comfortable spot for your bridal party to get ready in? We offer an entire floor in the Abney Hall residence to get the bridal party ready. Want to make your groomsman feel extra-special too? We've got a private, plush house just feet from a sparkling pond that is a proper hangout spot for the guys in your group.

To make life easier on you, we also offer Abney Hall as your go-to spot for rehearsal dinners. Why book an expensive restaurant or travel to another location when unmatched beauty and convenience are right at your fingertips? Abney Hall is just the place for that very important dinner the night before your big day. We are also happy to host your bridal shower at Abney Hall. Our venue makes for one of Ridgeland's most unique bridal shower settings, where your family and friends can gather to give gifts and be merry before you walk down the aisle.

With such a large, magnificent house and a vast property, Abney Hall also makes for an unforgettable location for your bridal portraits and other wedding-related photography needs. Don't take our word for it - book a tour and see for yourself why so many new brides and grooms choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Ridgeland.

 Wedding Venue Ridgeland, SC

What Sets Abney Hall Apart from Other Wedding Venues in Ridgeland?

You've already found the person you want to spend the rest of your life beside. The next step? Finding the perfect wedding venue for your ceremony, reception, and celebration of your lifelong commitment to one another. Remember, the backdrop for photos, dancing, eating, and all other activities will be at your wedding venue. That's why we work so hard to set Abney Hall apart from our competitors - so you and your guests can focus on love and living your new life while we work with your vendors and photographers to make your magic night a reality.

Here are just a few reasons why guests choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Ridgeland, SC, along with some helpful tips from our experienced wedding venue staff:

Venue Size

Choosing the appropriate-sied venue for your desired guest count is a critical decision. A venue's capacity affects the number of people you need to consider having at your ceremony and reception. As you're first starting out, we recommend having a guest count in mind as you're searching for the right venue. Try to stick with that number. You may fall in love with a particular venue, but if its max capacity can't accommodate your guest count, it may be time to cross them off your list.

 Corporate Conference Hall Ridgeland, SC
Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

Keep in mind that this is your big day. You shouldn't feel obligated to invite the college roommate you shared a dorm with for one semester. At the end of the day, your wedding venue should be one that can accommodate those closest to you. Abney Hall is equipped for both small and large weddings, consisting of 500 acres of forest, ponds, and lush natural beauty. Whether you want an intimate wedding with only your best friends or a grand ceremony with hundreds of people, we have the right amount of room to make you comfortable.

Location and Nearby Lodging

On your big day, you're likely to have friends and family traveling in from other parts of the state or country. These folks will need a place to stay during and even after your wedding. Accessibility and ease are important factors when it comes to choosing your wedding venue for both you and your guests.

Located in Ridgeland, SC, Abney Hall is situated in a memorable, natural setting, giving your wedding a private vibe in the midst of Mother Nature. While we pride ourselves on having a secluded wedding event space, our venue is within an easy driving distance of hotels and vacation rentals.

Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

When you contact us for a tour, make sure to speak with our experienced venue manager about nearby hotels and shuttle service options. We understand that your guest's comfort and convenience are important, and we're happy to work with you to figure out the best way to get your guests to Abney Hall.

Venue Staff

At Abney Hall, our staff has earned its reputation as one of the industry's most friendly, accessible teams. We will provide you with a purpose-minded point of contact that can help answer questions relating to timelines, preferred vendors, and every aspect of your wedding. When you tour our wedding venue in Ridgeland, SC, for the first time, we want you to feel like you have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision.

We would be happy to go over:
  • Venue Pricing
  • Ceremony Specifics
  • Reception Specifics
  • Catering Possibilities
  • Decorating Possibilities
  • Entertainment Options
  • Photography and Photo Opportunities
  • Venue Amenities
  • Bridal Party Needs
  • Groomsman Needs

At Abney Hall, our goal is to be your first resource when it comes to setting up and coordinating the details of your wedding day.

Decor

When it comes to your wedding's decor, you probably already have a few ideas in mind. We love it when our brides and grooms have a vision in mind because one of our greatest joys is turning that vision into a reality. At Abney Hall, our team is available to help you and your decorator fit, accent, and accommodate your fairy-tale wedding - whatever that may be.

Are you looking to dress up your wedding with decorations galore? Just want to add a few accents that tie into your preferred color palette? Abney Hall is versatile and ready to help however we are able.

 Reception Hall Ridgeland, SC
Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

If you're thinking about bringing in your own greenery, lighting, floral pieces, and more, we recommend discussing your vision with us on your initial tour of our event space. That way, we can get a head start on making your big day exactly how you envision it.

Photo Opportunities

10 years from now, when you and your spouse are celebrating your anniversary, you will pull out photographs from your wedding and will reminisce about the unforgettable time you spent at Abney Hall. Your wedding photos will be with you forever, and as such, we work closely with you and your photographer to suggest extra-special photo op spots that you can only find on Abney Hall grounds.

From the grand staircase and French-inspired courtyard to our manicured gardens and lovely pond, there is no shortage of photo-op locations for your photographer to choose from. As one of the most popular wedding venues in Ridgeland, SC, we have worked with dozens of photographers over the years.

Our experience has allowed us to cultivate a list of preferred photographers - all of whom have the talent to take your pictures to the next level in a setting they're familiar with. We encourage you to check out our gallery to get a sense of the scope of our wedding venue and gain inspiration from other happy couples.

Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip

The gallery on our website is extensive but be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages as well. We keep our social pages updated with recent wedding photographs, giving you an incredible resource that you can use for your own photography purposes.

Special Event Space Ridgeland, SC

The Premier Corporate Event Venue in Ridgeland, SC

Abney Hall is known across the United States for our stunning weddings, but we also play host to some of the largest corporate events in South Carolina. Why choose a bland, lifeless meeting space when you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature coupled with a professional atmosphere? If you have an important team-building event or corporate conference that you have to coordinate, look no further than Abney Hall.

The epitome of class and style, our corporate event space is large, lavish, and chock-full of onsite amenities for you and your co-workers to enjoy. If your team needs a morale boost, don't bring them to the local Olive Garden for a cheap lunch. Treat them to a refreshing experience in our main dining room, where we can work with you to incorporate your catering options with the goals of your event.

When the hard work is done, and your team needs a breather, what better way to relax than with a quick dip in our pool? To burn off a little steam, head over to our brand-new tennis court - the perfect place to get some exercise in an ultra-private setting while you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Don't forget to bring your fishing poles for a couple of hours of fishing. There's even an opportunity to go hunting if you wish.

 Event Venue Ridgeland, SC

Elegance at Its Finest - Only
a Phone Call Away

If you're ready to learn more about Abney Hall as your wedding venue, don't hesitate to reach out. We would love to hear more about your plans, your vision, and your needs. We know that planning a wedding isn't easy. It takes time, attention to detail, and a whole lot of patience. Our goal is to help provide you with all the info you need to learn more about our venue. Once you decide on a date, we'll work closely with you and your vendors to craft a wedding experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Our available dates for your big day are going quick, especially during peak seasons like spring and fall. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation
 Event Space Ridgeland, SC

Latest News in Ridgeland, SC

Woman who ‘refused to be a statistic’ finds new ways to inspire the best of America

Sharonda Jenkins of Ridgeland was written off as a failure at age 12.She had a baby that year — as a sixth-grader in the elementary school in Allendale.Roadblocks to success were thicker than the pine forests of that poor pocket of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where jobs are scarce and the state has taken over the failing public schools.With a baby, Sharonda’s roadblock...

Sharonda Jenkins of Ridgeland was written off as a failure at age 12.

She had a baby that year — as a sixth-grader in the elementary school in Allendale.

Roadblocks to success were thicker than the pine forests of that poor pocket of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where jobs are scarce and the state has taken over the failing public schools.

With a baby, Sharonda’s roadblocks became cement barriers, now draped with shame.

Yet someone who has watched her life unfold over the past decade says: “Sharonda exemplifies the qualities upon which America was founded.”

And Nona Valiunas of Spring Island says, “She’s not only an inspiration to women who start out in difficult situations, but to all of us.”

On Dec. 10, Sharonda dressed in a starched white dress and matching white cap, white hose and white shoes to be pinned in a ceremony at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort.

She had earned her associate degree in nursing, and, upon passing a national exam, she would become a Registered Nurse.

In a moving ceremony where candles are lit to celebrate Florence Nightingale, Sharonda was surprised to receive the class Excellence Award “for her outstanding performance as an Advanced Placement student in the Associate Degree in Nursing Program.”

Cheering in the audience at MacLean Hall were the baby she had when she was a baby, Laquisea (“Qui”), and her baby, Lyric; her husband, John Jenkins; and their daughter, Sha’mya.

Now 36, Sharonda can say: “I refused to be a statistic.”

The old folks who shamed Sharonda as a child were right about her life being difficult.

As soon as Sharonda was old enough, she began years of the long commute from Allendale to Hilton Head Island to help her family support her baby. She worked as a housekeeper at Marriott timeshares, a cashier at Food Lion, a deli clerk at Publix and an in-home aide for elderly residents at The Cypress.

She met a good man working in produce at the Publix. She and John Jenkins were married at the Sgt. Jasper Park in Hardeeville. They bought a house in Ridgeland, and had a baby girl, Sha’mya, to go along with Qui and John’s daughter, Jontae.

But even with a house full, and even when she worked a 12-hour night shift on Hilton Head, with John often working on the road with Southern Eagle Distributors, Sharonda would show up for morning conferences with a volunteer tutor when Sha’mya was in first grade.

“She was extraordinary,” says that tutor, Nona Valiunas. “Of all the parents, she was the only one who did it consistently.”

Sharonda saved some money and took a chance on a better life by entering the Licensed Practical Nurse program at Denmark Technical College.

Each Monday through Thursday, she drove 90 minutes each way to the small town up U.S. 321. She worked Saturday and Sunday, and kept Friday for herself.

“It’s a big sacrifice,” her teacher Leigh Brabham said of the course load that nursing students take. “You have to put everything else in your life on hold to be in this program. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. These girls, they cry on and off all year — they have so much on them.”

Nona introduced me to Sharonda when she earned that LPN diploma in 2018, and took a job with the Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services.

As we talked at McDonald’s, Sharonda told me about the essay she wrote when the class went through obstetrics and gynecology training.

In it, she begged the nurses-to-be not to shame the young and confused mothers they would encounter.

Her essay concluded: “I say again to all nurses, please be sensitive to our situation because the odds are already against us, but if you ever feel the need to judge, I want to leave you with this quote:

“‘There is not enough good in the best of us to criticize the bad in the rest of us.’”

Sharonda tasted failure in her latest challenge.

But she ended up calling it a blessing to have to repeat the toughest class because it all made sense the second time around.

Her life had hit a nice rhythm before subjecting herself to that failure.

Nona and a friend at Spring Island were so inspired by Sharonda that they pitched in to send Sha’mya to Pope John Paul II Catholic School in Okatie, where she’s a sophomore cheerleader making all A’s and B’s.

Sharonda also had granddaughter Lyric lighting up her life.

But she saw at work that it was time to make a move.

“I have trained medical office assistants, LPNs, and RNs at BJHCHS, and I have been taught many things by Nurse Practitioners Lori Lee and Jessie Goethie,” she said.

BJHCHS helped her work around her new class schedule.

At TCL, instructor Ashley Turbeville said Sharonda stood out, even in a school of non-traditional students who all have their own story, their own barriers.

“Nursing is not for the faint of heart,” Turbeville said. “It’s not easy. But she hit it out of the park. She came prepared, ready to go.”

And Sharonda has an “it” factor of compassion that made patients want to take her home, Turbeville said.

“She’s going to do great things in nursing. I’m proud of her. I can’t wait to see what she does.”

Sharonda likes a quote often shared on the internet: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

She adds:

“I don’t know how my story will end, but I do know one would never read that I quit.”

SC prisons to pay nearly $1M to town that hiked water rates 400% in move likened to Mafia

The South Carolina Department of Corrections has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle a water rate dispute with a small Jasper County community that houses one of the state’s prisons.The settlement, reached in October and approved Tuesday by the five-member State Fiscal Accountability Authority, provides a large lump sum payment to Ridgeland and reduces the water and sewer rates the state prisons agency pays the 3,...

The South Carolina Department of Corrections has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle a water rate dispute with a small Jasper County community that houses one of the state’s prisons.

The settlement, reached in October and approved Tuesday by the five-member State Fiscal Accountability Authority, provides a large lump sum payment to Ridgeland and reduces the water and sewer rates the state prisons agency pays the 3,700-person town.

The agency’s quarrel with Ridgeland stems from the town’s 2018 decision to hike the prison’s combined water and sewer rates more than 300% and assess $1.4 million in capacity fees, a move Corrections Director Bryan Stirling likened to a Mafia tactic.

“The only thing that’s missing from this is someone saying … leave the guns, take the cannolis,” he told the state’s fiscal oversight board, quoting from “The Godfather.” “They literally came to us and said they were going to shut the water off at a prison that houses about 1,000 people. It could have been very bad for us.”

Corrections officials sued the town in 2019 after it threatened to disconnect water and wastewater services at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution over what it said were more than $11,000 in outstanding bills.

The agency claimed in its suit that its payments to Ridgeland were up to date and the city was improperly charging it for water and sewer use at elevated rates before they had taken effect.

“SCDC was actively negotiating with the town when the rates were raised in 2018; SCDC paid those rates pending the negotiations,” spokeswoman Chrysti Shain said in an email. “When the rates were raised again in 2019, SCDC continued paying the lower rates, as we were still in negotiations and did not believe we would continue to be forced to pay the higher amounts.”

Despite alleging that Ridgeland was “gouging” the state for water and sewer use, corrections officials resolved to settle the dispute because the town’s rate hike was “completely legal,” Stirling acknowledged.

“Honestly, we probably would have lost this in court,” he said.

Going forward, the state prisons agency will pay Ridgeland a minimum of $22,552 per month for water and $40,000 per month for sewer. If the prison uses more than 7 million gallons of water or 5.5 million gallons of wastewater, it will pay the town an additional amount per 1,000 gallons used.

The new monthly rates are about 27% less than what the agency currently pays for water and sewer use at the prison, and more in line with the rates paid by other prisons in the state, Stirling said.

The prison’s water and sewer rates will increase 7% in July 2023, per the settlement, and in July 2024 will become tied to the rates Ridgeland charges its residential and commercial customers.

The deal, which also includes a lump sum payment of $917,682 for past due bills and capacity fees, saves the Department of Corrections more than $23,000 per month in water and sewer costs and provides the agency certainty regarding future rate increases, officials said.

The past due amount and capacity fees will be paid with carry-forward money the agency has historically used for retention bonuses, one-time equipment purchases and emergency needs, Shain said.

Future water and sewer rate hikes will be paid for out of the Department of Corrections’ general operating fund and will not affect any agency programs, she said.

In asking for the state financial oversight board’s approval to settle the lawsuit, Stirling implored its members, who include Senate Finance Chairman Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, and House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, to enact legislation to prevent municipal price gouging.

“I understand home rule,” he said, “but there should be some redress for state agencies. There’s nothing to stop other water and sewer districts from doing this, across the state, to state institutions.”

When reached for comment Wednesday, Ridgeland Town Administrator Dennis Averkin declined comment on the town’s settlement with the Department of Corrections.

“Technically, it’s still pending litigation,” he said. “We cannot comment on any pending litigation.”

This story was originally published December 23, 2021 5:00 AM.

Ridgeland to add several new housing developments

Ridgeland will soon see more construction as new housing developments move into the area.Town administrator Dennis Averkin confirmed there are several developments underway.Averkin said the Fox Chase subdivision on Grays Highway will have about 180 owner-occupied townhomes "with a projected 5-year buildout." He said Forino Homes is the builder/developer and the homes will be between 825 and 1,7565 square feet."That is a fully-approved subdivision and site work is underway," Averkin said...

Ridgeland will soon see more construction as new housing developments move into the area.

Town administrator Dennis Averkin confirmed there are several developments underway.

Averkin said the Fox Chase subdivision on Grays Highway will have about 180 owner-occupied townhomes "with a projected 5-year buildout." He said Forino Homes is the builder/developer and the homes will be between 825 and 1,7565 square feet.

"That is a fully-approved subdivision and site work is underway," Averkin said.

Another planned development is the Groves subdivision on Bees Creek Road, which will have about 90 single-family homes with a three-year buildout, Averkin said.

"The subdivision plat and layout has been approved by the planning commission and we are currently working on storm water and architectural elements," Averkin said. "HVP3 is the developer, and we are told that Mungo Homes will be the builder. We anticipate homes to be between 1,800 (and) 2,400 square feet."

The Highlands subdivision on Tillman Highway will have 250 single-family homes with a five-year buildout, Averkin said.

"The subdivision plat has been approved by the planning commission and we are currently working on water/sewer, storm water, and USACE/OCRM approvals," Averkin said. "We have not yet entered the architectural review phase of the project and have been informed that Forino Homes will be the builder."

Averkin said the town was informed the homes will be between 1,800 and 2,400 square feet.

"We also have Bees Creek Plantation Phase II development (120 single family homes), a Mungo Homes development (90 single family homes) on Grays (Highway), and the Captain John Graham development on Bees Creek (120 single family homes) under review," he said. "We anticipate being able to approve these in the coming weeks."

Averkin said the growth will help attract shopping and job opportunities to the town.

"We have unprecedented interest from major retail brands coming to Ridgeland to include restaurants, grocery chains, food and clothing stores," he said. "Additionally, the demographics of the new residents coming to town will bring much-needed purchasing power — that is a key indicator retailers look at when considering whether or not to locate in a new area."

Averkin said Ridgeland is in a great location with three interstate exits, several major thoroughfares, a downtown area and multiple green spaces in the heart of town.

"It’s a planner’s dream because it makes growth manageable and allows growth to be managed responsibly," he said. "Ridgeland used to be known as the 'hidden gem' of the lowcountry and there’s a good reason why so many developers are looking at Ridgeland right now. I think our new residents will agree with us, this is a great place to live."

Ridgeland, state reach settlement over prison's water and sewer bills

Ridgeland and the South Carolina Department of Corrections have reached a settlement concerning the facility's past-due water and sewer bills, town officials said.SCDC will pay the town $312,682 for past-due bills, town administrator Dennis Averkin said. He said the settlement also includes $605,000 in water and sewer capacity the prison used over its contracted base peak capacity at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution.The settlement was reached in October and approved in December by the State Fiscal Accountab...

Ridgeland and the South Carolina Department of Corrections have reached a settlement concerning the facility's past-due water and sewer bills, town officials said.

SCDC will pay the town $312,682 for past-due bills, town administrator Dennis Averkin said. He said the settlement also includes $605,000 in water and sewer capacity the prison used over its contracted base peak capacity at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution.

The settlement was reached in October and approved in December by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority.

"Even though they initiated the action to bring us to court, we were confident that when we got in court that we would prevail, as we obviously did," Mayor Joey Malphrus said. "We were confident that once a neutral entity heard our professional rate consultants that we had obtained and had studied our system, we were just very confident we would prevail."

The lawsuit

The Department of Corrections said it sued the town over water and sewer rate increases at the prison.

SCDC spokesperson Chrysti Shain said town officials contacted the department in 2017, saying they wanted to renegotiate the rates because the existing contract from 1991 had expired.

"SCDC was actively negotiating with the town in 2018 when, with no notice, the rates were raised," she said. "SCDC paid those rates pending the negotiations. When the rates were raised again in 2019, SCDC continued paying the lower rates, as we were still in negotiations and did not believe we would continue to be forced to pay the higher amounts."

Averkin said the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control requires utilities to have sufficient water and sewer treatment capacity to meet peak demands for all customers. It issues permits based on these peak demands.

"Based on the regulatory requirement, the Town of Ridgeland has to assign capacity in its treatment facilities for its customers and charges water and sewer capacity fees based on their peak demand," Averkin said. "The state prison in Ridgeland regularly exceeded its contracted base water and sewage capacities over the past decade."

Averkin said town residents were effectively subsidizing the state for about a year when the prison did not pay its full bills, despite the state carrying a $1 billion savings account in its surplus.

Shain said SCDC began using the 2018 rates after a temporary restraining order was issued against the town in 2019. She said the rates continued with the understanding that SCDC would pay the difference if the negotiated settlement amount was more than the base rate the prison was paying.

Shain said the past-due amount was calculated from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 rates, and SCDC negotiated to pay this amount as part of the settlement.

"We currently do not have anything indicating that SCDC was aware of the increases or aware of meetings in which increases were to be discussed," Shain said. "SCDC learned of the increases as we received our bills. After the first increase we started receiving rate structures for the additional increases after they had been passed by the Town Council."

Averkin said it is too early to say exactly what will happen with the town's water and sewer rates following the settlement, but it will have minimal effects on the town's customers.

"Because we have settled, there will be a minimal effect on customers," he said. "The fact that we have settled is a relief and that there's less uncertainty for rates. I expect, if there is a rate increase this year, I expect it to be minimal. It depends upon planned expenditures the town needs to make. Most of that is behind us; a lot of our planned expenditures are going to be funded by grants."

Though the settlement was reached by both parties, SCDC officials feel they do not have any way to protect state taxpayers from local rate increases, Shain said.

"In discussing the matter with Gov. Henry McMaster and legislative leaders, SCDC director Bryan Stirling advised them that they should change the law to prevent other entities from taking advantage of state agencies, who have no recourse in these situations," Shain said. "Rep. Murrell Smith, chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, said he wanted to talk further about the implications of this."

Expired contract

Averkin said when he was hired 2016, he took inventory of every contract the town had with vendors.

"Whether it was water or office supplies, you have to understand what the contractual obligations of the town are," he said. "As it turns out, the biggest contract we had was with the prison and it had expired. They were the town's biggest customers at that time."

Averkin said the contract the town had with SCDC expired in 2011.

"I can only speak for what we did since I arrived," he said. "One of the first things we did was we looked around for rate consultants. We found Raftelis, the foremost rate consultant in the United States. Their client list is impressive — Charlotte, Philadelphia — they are a nationwide firm. They model water usage and consumption for utilities across the country, municipalities that serve prisons. This is nothing new for them."

Averkin said the town attempted to renegotiate the contract in 2017, using industry-standard cost-of-service principles. He said after nearly two years, SCDC declined to renew the contract and began to short-pay the town's invoices.

Averkin said all water and sewer rates for the town are based on the American Water Association's manual.

"I think we have a solid agreement with the prison," Averkin said. "I hope going forward we will have more fruitful discussions with them. If we do have rate increases, we have a structure in place where we have agreed up to a 7 percent rate hike; (it) may not be 7."

Averkin said the objective was not to enrich the town, but to make it whole.

"It is not as though we won; we are just simply being paid what we are justifiably owed," Averkin said of the settlement. "I felt that the staff attorneys at the Department of Corrections knew it was the right thing to do."

'Glad to work with them'

Averkin said the town has been able to work with the prison to create a rate structure using methods acceptable to the town and SCDC.

"We did not threaten to cut off the water; we simply informed them that nonpayment could potentially result in action," he said. "We did arrive at about a $900,000 settlement, with $300,000 of that was in past due amounts as a result of the prison short-paying our bills, and the remainder was for capacity."

Averkin said the prison was using far more water and far more sewer treatment than it had contracted for in 1991.

"The key fact is when you set the rate for a customer or a prison, by law, I have to set that rate by someone's peak consumption,” he said. “That peak consumption means my system can handle all that strain. The prison just simply did not want to agree to that; they said, well, we do not use that much. We said you may not every month, but there are months when you do hit your peak consumption and that unfortunately is when DHEC says we have to prepare for."

Shain said the increases will not affect any SCDC programs.

"The past-due amount and the capacity fees will be paid from carry-forward funds generated by the previous year’s vacancies," she said. "These funds are historically used for retention bonuses, one-time equipment purchases, and emergency needs. The increase per year from rate hikes will come from general fund operating money. The agency has not requested these funds in a budget request because the issue was ongoing and the outcome uncertain."

Malphrus said the town appreciates the contributions the department makes to the state and town.

"We have worked with them since the prison was built back in the early ’90s, and with our emergency responders often out there," he said. "We had a disagreement about our rates. We were glad we could get this resolved without having to let a judge decide. To me, on behalf of staff and council, we are working together now and have put this behind us. Entities have disagreements at times and that's life, but we are glad to work with them and appreciate everything they do for us."

Builders FirstSource establishing operations in Jasper County

$16 million investment to create 126 new jobs COLUMBIA, S.C. – ...

COLUMBIA, S.C. Builders FirstSource, a leading supplier of structural building products, today announced plans to establish operations in Jasper County. The $16 million investment will create 126 new jobs over the next five years.

Established in 1988, Builders FirstSource specializes in value-added components and services to the professional market for new residential construction, repair and remodeling. The company offers integrated solutions to shorten construction times, reduce costs, increase build quality, improve safety and reduce waste.

Located in Point South Park in Yemassee, the new Builders FirstSource location will allow the company to expand its offerings and production capacity. Additionally, this site will complement its 23 current locations throughout South Carolina, including its Cherry Point Yard in Ridgeland.

Operations are expected to be online in the fourth quarter of 2022. Individuals interested in joining the Builders FirstSource team should visit the company’s careers page.

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. The council also approved a $750,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to Jasper County to assist with related project costs.

QUOTES

“We are excited for the opportunity to expand our footprint in South Carolina. Builders FirstSource is invested in building communities, and our growth in South Carolina not only benefits the people of Jasper County, but our business as well. We look forward to a continued successful partnership with Jasper County.” -Builders FirstSource Division President Steve Herron

“Builders FirstSource’s decision to locate in Jasper County is yet another win for one of our state’s rural communities. This $16 million investment and 126 new jobs will make a significant impact across the Jasper community. We applaud Builders FirstSource for their commitment to doing business in South Carolina and are excited to see the great things they’ll continue to do here.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“Manufacturing continues to be a catalyst for investment and jobs across all areas of South Carolina. Builders FirstSource’s new operations in Jasper County are a testament to the business-friendly environment Team S.C. continues to cultivate. Congratulations to Builders FirstSource and Jasper County!” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III

“Jasper County welcomes Builders FirstSource to the Point South Commerce Park, and we are thrilled with the 126 jobs they are creating in our community – a significant economic development announcement! We will continue to work with the company to ensure a business-friendly environment as they grow their operations in Jasper County, and we are happy to have Builders FirstSource as the newest member of our industrial community.” -Jasper County Council Chair Barbara Clark

“SouthernCarolina Alliance congratulates Jasper County and Builders FirstSource on bringing good jobs to our area. Every job created affects the future of a local family, so we are excited to share in the good news of 126 new jobs in Yemassee. The great location at Exit 33 on I-95 will provide advantages to both the company and the employees who are hired, and we look forward to seeing this project realized.” -SouthernCarolina Alliance Chair Marty Sauls

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