Bamberg, South Carolina (February 2022) – Bamberg County has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the South Carolina Department of Commerce to support the construction of the Ed Darnell Law Enforcement Center.
"This is huge news for Bamberg County," said Spencer Donaldson, Chairman of the Bamberg County Council. "This substantial Rural Initiative Fund grant is recognition of the importance of centralizing our public safety and public health departments to combat crime and improve emergency preparedness as we seek to attract industry to our county."
The Ed Darnell Law Enforcement Center, is named in honor of former Bamberg County Sheriff Ed Darnell, the longest serving sheriff in South Carolina and third-longest serving sheriff in the nation, before his retirement in 2021.
This rural initiative/infrastructure grant will help fund the $4.2 million adaptive reuse project at the former Bamberg County Hospital. The abandoned building is currently undergoing a three-phrase renovation that will remove unsafe and outdated structures, incorporate and comply with ADA standards, improve fire and life safety protection, in addition to other functional updates.
The transformed 38,000-square-foot building will serve as a central hub for Bamberg County's public health and public safety divisions housing the sheriff's department, emergency operations center, coroner's office, and emergency management services. The facility will also include office space for the local Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Bamberg County Councilman Larry Haynes hailed the announcement as "a testament to the commitment of our elected officials and our county administration to aggressively identify grant funding opportunities to aid us in economic, workforce, and community development."
In February 2020 the County received a $250,000 grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control for the complex and is still actively working with federal and state agencies to identify grant funding sources for its completion.
"This project will undoubtedly transform Bamberg County and strengthen our community's core," added Haynes, who worked along with county officials and other stakeholders in the grant application process. "The establishment of this law enforcement and health and human services complex, fitted with the latest technology, will aid the County in the planning and execution of emergency operations and streamline the services they provide."
The County Council identified public safety and economic development as high priorities in their Strategic Plan this past year and the former county hospital was an essential element of the County's legislative agenda. This project will support the County's goal to make Bamberg more safe and prosperous and transform the heart of its seat of government by rehabilitating an abandoned building for use while revitalizing the surrounding area's physical environment.
"I'd like to thank the SCDOC for their clear vision, as they support the value of infrastructure investment and the importance of economic development in Bamberg," said Joey Preston, Bamberg County Administrator.
"When completed, this new center will allow us to better serve our community and have more efficient, effective and reliable government services as we build opportunity and prosperity for the people who call Bamberg County home," added Preston. This is a huge win for our entire team and great community."
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