Orangeburg County Public Services Director used county resources to fix driveway

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Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Orangeburg County’s Public Services Director used taxpayer-funded staff and equipment to make repairs on his driveway and car, violating the county’s ethics policy.

Photos and video show Public Services Director Henry Summers brought at least one county employee and several large construction machines to his Orangeburg County home in March for work on the driveway.

A county memo states he brought “several county employees.”

Photos and county records also show Summers brought his personal vehicle to the Orangeburg County Public Services auto shop for an inspection.

Warning- adult language is used in the video:

Former Orangeburg County employee Shawn Simmons took the video and the photos of both incidents, reporting them to the county in March and providing them to WIS in July.

“I got him. Orangeburg County taxpayers need to know about this and they need to see it,” Simmons said.

Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young provided WIS county records from late March, showing Summers was reprimanded and suspended for a week without pay.

County Human Resources Director Sandra Aiken wrote a memo on the incident, describing how Summers admitted to Young he repaired his driveway to fix excessive water run-off.

He also admitted to putting his personal car on a county lift to identify “a mechanical issue.”

Simmons provided WIS a timestamp showing the photos of the car at the shop were taken in January 2017, while Aiken writes in the memo the incident was “non-recent.”

Memo by T R on Scribd

Summers did not return a request for comment on this story.

In the memo, Aiken wrote Summers was told county policy prohibits county equipment being used for personal gain. Additionally, it can’t be used on private property without Young’s permission or the permission of a designee.

Aiken wrote it’s also against policy for maintenance shop staff and equipment to be used on personal cars.

Young declined an interview request for this story, stating it’s a personnel matter. It’s unclear how the county investigated the issue beyond Simmons’ photos/video and Summers’ statement to Young.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Orangeburg County FOIA Coordinator Kendeana Stephens reported to WIS there are no work orders, invoices, or receipts for any work at Summers’ home.

Stephens explained that the Public Works Department documents specific addresses if a citizen complains about the driveway.

The county employee handbook specifically bans unauthorized possession, removal, and misappropriation of county property.

Simmons questioned the punishment.

“Do you think a week off without pay fits the crime? I don’t, because he’s using tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, county employees, and materials paid for by the Orangeburg County taxpayers,” he said.

“Do you think a week off is enough? I don’t. I sure don’t because like I’m telling you this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Simmons said.

WIS has submitted a Freedom of Information request for the pay rates of the county employees who worked on his driveway, and other projects Summers has personally overseen.

Orangeburg County resident Tim Crocker lives a short drive from Summers’ home. He said he was frustrated and angry with the video of Summers.

“If you’re going to abuse your position in that way, you don’t need the position. You’re the wrong man in the job,” he said.

Tiffany Haigler also lives near Summers, along a dirt driveway.

“Well, he should have been paying out of his pocket for that to get done instead of using our money, cause what our road needs is more important than what he needs done in his yard or by his house,” she said.

The county provided WIS Summers’ personnel file, showing no prior disciplinary action.

Simmons said he got a tip from a county employee in March about the work on Summers’ property and went to film it.

“Proof. I wanted to have proof. Pictures and video is huge, my word may not be as good with the county,” he said.

Simmons was a public works employee for more than 15 years, working under Summers for roughly half the time.

“It was not good from the very beginning. He took a disliking to me, so every time I’d come to work, I felt like I had a cloud hanging over my head, he was constantly trying to throw something at me,” Simmons said.

Simmons said he took the photos of the car on the lift after their relationship deteriorated.

“At that point, I was an employee. If I turned something over like that and they didn’t do anything, here I am with a target on me again,” Simmons said.

Orangeburg County fired him in the summer of 2021 over an unexcused work absence.

“I can’t deny that I feel some kind of way, I feel like I was robbed of my retirement,” Simmons said.

Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright Sr. declined an interview request.

Summers leads a department responsible for all road, bridge, and fleet maintenance. Additionally, it handles county recycling, solid waste disposal, and street signs.

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