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Buddy Brand sworn into Florence County Council
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Buddy Brand sworn into Florence County Council

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Florence County Councilman Frank J. "Buddy" Brand II is sworn into office Thursday morning.

FLORENCE, S.C. — Frank J. "Buddy" Brand became the newest member of the Florence County Council Thursday morning. 

Brand was sworn into office by Florence County Master in Equity Haigh Porter at the beginning of the monthly meeting of the council. His wife, Janet, held the Bible for him during his swearing in. Also in attendance were two of Brand's grandchildren. 

He will fill the remaining two years of the term of late Councilman James Schofield. Schofield died in mid-July, necessitating a special election to fill the remainder of his four-year term. Because of the proximity of the special election to the general election, state code mandated that the election take place on Nov. 3. 

Brand, a Republican, defeated Rev. Amiri Hooker, a Democrat, to win the special election. He won the Republican primary over William Schofield and Randy Propps. 

"I think all y'all know me pretty well after 15 years on city council," Brand told the council after he was sworn in. "I don't have a lot of words to say."

Brand served as the councilman from District 3 on the city council. He also spent several years as the mayor pro tempore. 

Brand then thanked Porter for assisting. He also said he hoped Thursday would be the beginning of an improved relationship between the city and the county. He added that Porter previously served as Florence mayor. 

"He [Porter] put me on my first committee after I got back to Florence after graduating from the Citadel, the board of zoning appeals," Brand said. "If y'all haven't tried to do one, you can do that. It's quite an interesting place." 

Brand also said that he wanted to make it clear that he was not taking Schofield's place. 

"I want to continue what he has done because James was a friend of mine," Brand said. "James was a great councilman for our city and for our county. And he moved Florence in the right direction." 

Prior to being elected to the county council, Schofield served on the Florence City Council. 

He added that he looked forward to working with the rest of the council to better the county and the Pee Dee region. 

Council Chairman Willard Dorriety Jr. said it was an honor to have Brand working with the council. 

Dorriety also announced that Brand would be assigned to the Administration and Finance Committee for one month. 

The county council holds a reorganization meeting in January. With those elections come new committee assignments for the members. 

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Later, Dorriety designated Brand to serve as his appointee to the City-County Civic Center Commission, the governing board of the Florence Center. 

Brand has been an appointee of the city on the same committee for the previous 12 years. 

Councilman Kent C. Caudle jokingly asked Dorriety if he needed a second on the appointment. 

Dorriety then explained that the position was a chairman-appointed seat. 

"I just think with Buddy on there, it needs a lot of discussion," Caudle joked. 

"Don't worry, I'm fixing to load him down with paperwork," Dorriety added. 

Caudle added that the council expected a detailed report every month. 

Brand spoke about Ruiz Foods' expansion during the meeting.

The council unanimously approved third and final reading of an ordinance modifying a fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement with the company at the meeting. 

The ordinance notes the project will be a $40 million expansion of the facility on the Touchtone Energy Pee Dee Commerce Park off Exit 170 on Interstate 95. 

The original fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement between the county and the company was signed on June 15, 2017, according to the amendment provided to the council. At that time, Ruiz announced a $79 million, 705-job expansion to take place over seven years.  

The agreement called for a 6% assessment ratio with a millage rate of 348.1 mills and special source revenue credits of 50% of the fee-in-lieu payments for years 1 to 10 of the expansion and 25% for years 11 to 30. 

The ordinance also calls for special source revenue credits of 37.5% for investments placed in service during the company's 2020 tax year for the first 10 years of the agreement and special source revenue credits of 12.5% for years 11 to 30 of the agreement. 

Prior to the approval, Brand said the company was a real asset to the community and it  had always gone above what it said it was going to do in the county. 

He also made the motion to adjourn the meeting. 

Brand will be the newest member of the Florence County Council for one more meeting. 

Newly elected Councilman Jerry W. Yarborough Jr., a Republican, will be sworn into the council — barring a successful appeal by Democrat Kenneth McAllister to the South Carolina Election Commission — to represent Council District 4. 

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Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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