FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Florence County Council met Thursday to discuss child abuse prevention month, road projects and an upcoming archaeological dig.

Ellen Hamilton, executive director of the Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault addressed the council. She reminded them April is not only child abuse prevention month, but the 35th anniversary of the organization’s creation.

Sheriff TJ Joye praised Hamilton, calling her compassionate and a “fireball.”

Hamilton thanked the council for its support over the last three-and-a-half decades and stressed the importance of reporting crimes related to child abuse — especially when it relates to young boys, a demographic she said is often overlooked.

“People have to be willing to report, and for a lot of victims it’s embarrassing. They don’t want to come to public attention,” Hamilton said. “Everybody’s going to be talking about it and about you. No one wants to do that and for children, it’s especially difficult.”

She recounted a case where a young boy reported abuse to two of his teachers, who brushed him off. A third teacher finally reporter the crime.

The county council also awarded two bids to paving contractor CR Jackson, Inc. Together, the contracts amount to more than $700,000 to be used for repaving roads in districts one and five, which include Lake City and Scranton, respectively.

Rusty Smith, the Florence County administrator said the improvements in district one will be paid for with discretionary funds, while district five’s improvements will come from the penny sales tax.

“The aforementioned bid was advertised in SCBO, the South Carolina Business Opportunity Newsletter on March 11,” Smith said. “Two compliant bids were received and CR Jackson was the lowest responsive bidder.”

The roads to be improved in district five are currently dirt, and the project aims to improve the area’s drainage as well.

The council also approved the use of nearly $20,000 to support an archaeological dig on the Pee Dee River. The dig is set to start May in the Pamplico area. It aims to uncover information about the Mississippians, a group of Native Americans who once lived in the region.

Smith said the council was asked to fund a study of the site. He said the project is helmed by Christopher Judge, an archaeologist at USC Lancaster focusing on Native Americans. SCDNR will assist.

“The project will entail 11 days in the field, from May 16 through 27,” he said. “All artifacts that are found in this excavation will become the property of the Florence County Museum and be there for public display.”

The council unanimously voted to use money from its contingency fund. The dig is organized by the recently-formed Archaeological Society of the Pee Dee.