In tiny towns like Gifford, S.C., population 289, the city government can be downright minuscule. Gifford’s municipal government comprises a total of 12 employees, most of whom are unpaid and/or work part-time. Here, the entire city council -- Alvin Murdaugh, Lindsay Strong, Leon Blake and Horney Mitchell -- stands in front of the town hall, a former family home that was donated to the city. (Photos by David Kidd)
Laquan Keith Mitchell, elected in 2013, is the fourth mayor of Gifford. His father is a councilman.
Municipal Judge Sheryl McKinney holds court once a month and typically hears a dozen cases, mostly traffic-related.
Clerk of the Court Patricia McTeer is often the only employee on duty at Gifford Town Hall.
Police Chief James Mitchell (no relation to the mayor) brings in a sizable portion of Gifford's revenue by writing tickets.
George Woods is always on call to take care of general maintenance.
Town Clerk Carleen Wright is also the treasurer.
In 2014, the town's government moved into the first floor of this house donated by a prominent local family.
Mayor Mitchell and Councilman Murdough react to comments from a town resident at their monthly meeting.
A new sign awaits installation in front of the town hall.
The second floor of the town hall is just as it was when it was vacated years ago. When funds are available, it will be refurbished and used for office and meeting space.
Until 2014, this building contained all of Gifford's government offices. For the time being, only the police department remains here.
Now retired, James Risher Sr. served as mayor of Gifford from 1976 to 2013.
U.S. Highway 321, the Columbia Highway, runs through the middle of Gifford.
This store, one of the few businesses in Gifford, closed its doors over the summer. Town hall sits across the road.
A seed business was one of the many endeavors owned by Gifford's most prominent family.
Remnants of the town's better days are still around.
"Gray's One Stop" is still in business on the Columbia Highway.
Shelia Gray owns Gray's One Stop, serving "fish, chicken, burgers, fries, porkchop, hotdog, shrimp, beer, chips, soda, candy, etc."
This former "whites only" school is a reminder of the past.
This historic Rosenwald School was completely hidden by brush and vines until 2013. Thousands of these schools were built with financial assistance from a wealthy philanthropist in the early 1900s to provide a decent place for black children to go to school. Efforts are underway to raise money for its renovation.
An old piano sits inside Gifford's Rosenwald School.
This is the only traffic light in Gifford.
Hattie Mae Curry runs a snack shop behind her house.
Herbert Lee Milton plays pool behind Curry's snack shop. People congregate here to catch up with friends and neighbors.
On Sunday nights, Mayor Mitchell stops by Hattie's for a home-cooked meal.
The citizens of Gifford raised enough money on their own to fix up a local park.
Everything in Gifford is on a small scale.
This is what remains of a sawmill that was once an important part of the town.
Many of the roads in Gifford are unpaved, but they don't get much traffic.