Lack of bathrooms putting a damper on South Carolina State Guard’s operations

Lack of bathrooms putting a damper on South Carolina State Guard’s operations

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina State Guard is the oldest military institution in the state.

They can trace their roots back to 1670. Hundreds of South Carolinians volunteer for the State Guard.

They respond to natural or man-made disasters in the state quickly to protect people and property and to help communities recover. According to officials, the State Guard has provided 44,000 hours of professional services when called upon.

"We're soldiers,” Brigadier General Leon Lott, who is the commander of the S.C. State Guard. “We go out wherever we're called to go, we're going to go."

Over the last few weeks, Brig. Gen. Lott has been giving lawmakers a tour of the South Carolina State Guard's headquarters in Columbia. He's been showing them the bathroom situation at the Olympia Armory.

"We've been without a bathroom here since 2015," he said.

During the flood in 2015, a septic tank flooded at the armory. The bathrooms and showers at their facilities haven't worked since.

Every time they've been mobilized, which has happened every year since 2015, hundreds of soldiers use the facility. It's used for events and monthly training drills.

The solution to the issue has been the four portable toilets located behind the armory.

Brig. Gen. Lott said there are three full-time employees that work at the armory year-round. "These porta-johns are temporary,” he said. “Bathrooms are something you need to have in a facility when you have the number of soldiers and full-time staff we have here."

Brig. Gen. Lott said, after the flood, they discovered termites in the floor as well.

The State Guard is asking the General Assembly to set aside $1.2 million to fix up the historic building and connect the bathrooms to the city's water and sewer system.

"It's a jewel,” Brig. Gen. Lott said. “It's just something that needs to be brought up to today's standards. We need bathrooms."

Lott said it costs about $500 a month to keep the portable toilets at the armory.

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