Friends of Mount Zion schedules session with town
by Lucas Vance Staff Writer
WINNSBORO — During the public comments section of a recent Winnsboro Town Council meeting, Vicki Dodds from the Friends of Mount Zion Institute organization requested a time to meet with council and discuss the future of the Mt. Zion building.
“I would like to respectfully express my dismay that from May until now (September) FOMZI has been trying to get a work session together with council,” she stated. “The spirit of communication and collaboration has fallen short of what we’d hoped for. I’m here tonight with no emails or telephone calls involved to ask for a work session. We’ve lost valuable time and the building is deteriorating every minute we don’t repair the roof.”
Dodds said she would attend a work session with a proposal and would bring a non-profit attorney to discuss the role of Friends of Mount Zion Institute and the town in the rehabilitation of the Mt. Zion building.
On the spot, council agreed to set up a work session.
Sanders asked if the organization had a plan to rehab the building. In reply, Dodds said Friends of Mount Zion Institute has had a plan since May, but could not execute the plan without the town’s agreement. She suggested allowing Friends of Mount Zion Institute to have the same role as Red Clay had previously.
“Maybe we could work out some type of lease agreement,” Dodds replied. “There is all kinds of ways this can work. We’re prepared to raise more money and spend what we have on the roof.”
In reference to a time table, Dodds said the windows would be the next step after the roof is repaired.
“We’ll do the best we can,” she said. “We need to stabilize the roof first so that the deterioration stops and then start addressing the windows.”
During that time, Dodds requested the town to cover the insurance cost and maintain the grounds.
Between the prospect of Dru Blair’s School of Art moving into the building and a businessman from Lexington with hopes of expanding a hydroponic farming system, Dodds said there is hope for the historic building.
“Mt. Zion is getting interest from the public,” she noted. “As long as we can maintain the building and stabilize it, it is a worthwhile thing to do.”
Dodds said there is a non-profit attorney in the Friends of Mount Zion Institute organization that is familiar with contractual matters and Mayor Roger Gaddy suggested the attorney attend the work session as well.
“I think FOMZI should come with everything on the table,” he stated. “I look forward to hearing FOMZI’s suggestions, plans and funding opportunities.”
Gaddy said the town would provide a synopsis of what all has occurred with Mt. Zion since 1994 (when the school district was looking into making the building its district office).
“The town has done what we could to support FOMZI by finding an alternative option to tearing the building down,” he noted. “We had a contract to tear down Mt. Zion and we didn’t. We’ve instead worked with developers and have incurred cost throughout the process.”
The work session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
Fairfield Behavioral Health’s director Vernon Kennedy requested financial support from council to throw a community block party to celebrate national recovery month.
“We want folks to understand that substance abuse is a real issue,” Kennedy said. “However through services like our’s (FBH) addiction can be managed throughout a person’s life.”
Kennedy noted that the Center for Disease Control recently made a site visit to Fairfield County because of FBH’s success.
“It’s all about health and understanding smoking does have an effect on health,” he said. “But prevention is possible and recovery does happen.”
Out of the crime prevention fund, council agreed to donate $350 to the FBH event. The entire event is estimated to cost $700.
“We appreciate all the work Fairfield Behavioral Health does and the recognition they’ve received,” Gaddy said. “It is a real positive in Fairfield County.”
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