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The City of Orangeburg received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Working for Wheels program. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 20. The city won in the public safety category. Twenty-nine cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
For more than a decade, the City of Orangeburg Department of Public Safety has used bicycles in several ways to promote academic success and smart decision-making among the community's youth and to fight against the influence of gang activity.
The effort has several aspects including the Rivers Bridge Ramble, an organized bicycle ride and self-supporting fundraiser that takes place in the fall. The most recent event brought together nearly 130 riders and generated close to $4,000 in funds for the project.
The Working for Wheels program is another example of using bicycles to promote success. At the beginning of the school year, the Department of Public Safety contacts schools for nominations of students to receive bicycles based on their academic success and model behavior. The program distributes the bicycles around Christmas and provided bicycles for more than 60 children last December.
The department also hosts a gang prevention and intervention summit in September. The summit is aimed at fifth and sixth graders, who are at the age when officers say many begin making critical choices and could be tempted to gravitate toward gangs, given the wrong influences. The 2018 event at Claflin University brought in more than 1,200 fifth and sixth graders.
2019 will see the 12th Annual Rivers Bridge Ramble. For this year, the department is looking to gather more Working for Wheels bicycles than in years past by inviting participants to donate new or used bikes during the event.
"Orangeburg's Department of Public Safety encourages the students in its community to excel in school and brings residents together through these three extraordinary programs," said Eric Budds, interim executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website www.masc.sc (keyword: Achievement Awards).
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.