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$725,000 in grants approved for York Co. tourism

More than $725,000 in grants will go toward projects designed to make York County more attractive for tourists.

Monday night in York, the York County Council unanimously approved the grants with no discussion.

The money generated from hospitality tax revenues must be used for tourism purposes.

All four applicants that requested support this year received it, said Bennish Brown, executive director of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Culture and Heritage Museums received $150,000 for upgrades to the Settlemyre Planetarium in the Museum of York County, located on Mount Gallant Road in Rock Hill.

The grant will help replace the decades-old star ball and projection system with new, digital technology.

"We're delighted that the County Council has continued to support us," said Harry Exell, interim executive director for the museums.

Securing the hospitality tax grant will allow the museums to move forward with contracts for upgrading the planetarium. The total cost will top $557,000, according to a memo provided to the council.

The Catawba Cultural Preservation Project was awarded $188,985.50 for improvements aimed at making the Catawba Indian Reservation, located east of Rock Hill near the Catawba River, a niche Native American tourist destination in South Carolina.

The grant will help build a new living history village illustrating the development of Catawba Indian culture over time.

It also will help pay for improvements to existing buildings and exhibits.

A new York County Wayfinding Signage project was awarded $86,400 to help guide tourists to points of interest in the county. The signs will be located in the unincorporated county and will guide visitors along routes with retail and dining businesses.

The town of Clover was awarded $300,000 toward the first phase of construction of its New Centre Park.

The first phase will include sports fields, concession stands and parking.

The project's full vision includes a 50-acre park with sports fields, an amphitheater, splash pads and more.

Pet restriction pleas

Local animal rescue and animal hospital workers urged the council to restrict tethering, requiring a trolley line which would allow an animal to run between two access points. They also asked for harsher penalties for animal abuse.

County leaders will hear more from staff next month on possible changes to existing county pet laws.

Evaluation of manager

After a nearly three-hour executive session in which the council evaluated County Manager Jim Baker's performance, Chairman Britt Blackwell read the following statement:

"The council admires Mr. Baker's abilities as county manager and the job he is doing for York County. We recognize the skills he exhibited in working with a largely new council these past nine months and moving the county forward, and as a team look forward to the betterment of York County."