Last updated: November 17. 2013 8:13PM - 731 Views
Lucas Vance Staff Writer



The historic Mt. Zion Institute was the first school established in the South Carolina Upcounty in 1777. The Mt. Zion building's most prominent needs included a patched roof and new windows.
The historic Mt. Zion Institute was the first school established in the South Carolina Upcounty in 1777. The Mt. Zion building's most prominent needs included a patched roof and new windows.
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WINNSBORO — The Friends of Mt. Zion Institute (FOMZI) will soon have the opportunity to renovate Mt. Zion and save it from a demolition crew.


Following a brief executive session during a Winnsboro Town Council work session on Nov. 13, council gave the go ahead for town attorney John Fantry to begin drafting an offer to give FOMZI the control they need to begin rehabbing the historic school building.


Mayor Roger Gaddy said the contract will be presented to FOMZI within the next seven days and that the offer will detail the purchase of the Mt. Zion building and five other buildings on the property.


Exact details of the prospective contract were not released, but Gaddy did say there would be benchmarks to be achieved along the way to ensure the continuation of the renovating process.


“There will be stipulations and milestones written into the offer by Mr. Fantry,” Gaddy noted. “But upon the offer’s acceptance, FOMZI will have the shot they’ve been looking for.”


Town officials confirmed that once the agreement is finalized, the contract will be made available to The Herald Independent.


Councilman Jack Wilkes was confident that FOMZI would be pleased with the impending offer.


“It is an offer that will not only be better than what Red Clay received, but will also be better than what they (FOMZI) asked for,” Wilkes said.


The deed of Mt. Zion was transferred back from Red Clay to the Town of Winnsboro on Apr. 19. According to a town timeline, FOMZI sent a letter in Nov. of last year stipulating their desires and plans for the development of the Mt. Zion property.


During a recent town council meeting, FOMZI’s chairperson Vicki Dodds stated the citizens group has $60,000 in the bank and is ready to begin work as soon as possible. In addition to those funds, there are also $17,000 in pledges to be claimed and most recently a donation of $26,000 worth of materials by Chuck Herrin.


Councilman Stan Klaus knows the renovation effort will need additional funding, but he is ready for the project to move forward.


“They’ll (FOMZI) be happy to have this opportunity (to rehab Mt. Zion),” he stated. “They have asked for it and now it is time for them to live up to it.”


The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.


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