WINNSBORO — The joint meeting of Fairfield County Council, Winnsboro Town Council, Ridgeway Town Council and the School District of Fairfield County on April 29 echoed one main sentiment: the need for intergovernmental communication and cooperation.
Rep. MaryGail Douglas called on the governmental entities to converse with one another, keep one another in the loop and therefore be more effective in working for the betterment of the county. School Superintendent J.R. Green asked elected officials to have short memories and to give one another opportunities to build coalitions and work past prior differences and historical disagreements.
As an example of synergy and collaboration, Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring mentioned how the county’s new ordinances and code enforcement provided Ridgeway with a model to offer similar services. She mentioned a new business opening in Ridgeway but how the town would love to add a new restaurant, too.
She touched on Arts on the Ridge and how arts are used in Ridgeway as a relationship builder to unify the town, promote the schools and encourage economic development. The Fairfield County Arts Council now is housed in Ridgeway.
Mayor Roger Gaddy was absent due to illness so Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Wilkes spoke for Winnsboro Town Council. He mentioned that the main concern of town council right now is water and that they are revisiting options for alternate water sources.
Other projects include stabilizing the town clock and rebuilding power lines along U.S. 321 Bypass. The town is in month two of its budget process and Wilkes reported the Mt. Zion property looked better after recent landscaping efforts.
Dwayne Perry, vice chairman of the Fairfield County Council, added that the water situation is one where the town of Winnsboro is trying to work with county council and move forward. Jenkinsville had a place reserved but its town council members and mayor did not attend.
Coming together to support home rule
Council Chairman David Ferguson encouraged all the elected officials present to contact their senator to voice opposition to the eroding of county home rule with regard to House 3390 Bill.
The bill would, in theory, promote a pro-business environment by allowing contractors to bid to provide services with waste management. The fear by critics is that the county would become a dumping pit for fecal waste and that property owners would have no say as to where a landfill would go.
If 3390 passes, Ferguson said it would be detrimental to growth in the county.
Beth Reid, chair of the school board, shared that Green was a finalist for State Superintendent of the Year in 2013-14. Green spoke later in the meeting, thanking the school board and community for supporting his vision for education in Fairfield County.
He mentioned the new STEMS early college academy as proof Fairfield County can offer education as rigorous as any in the world. He was proud of how engaged area students were when they attended V.C. Summer, asking questions about nuclear energy and Chernobyl among others.
“I am excited to work with anyone who is willing to work to move Fairfield forward and make Fairfield County the best it can be,” Green said.
Reid reminded those present how they are all there to work together to make sure that nothing is a hindrance to the county. She asked Rep. Douglas about a bill in the House that would have money raised by nuclear plant construction to go to the state and then filter back down to the county.
Douglas assured her that bill was in committee and should remain there. She said other businesses such as Boeing were opposed to that policy because it would set a precedent their companies would have to follow.
Ferguson mentioned the zoning program to clean up the county and asked Winnsboro Town Council for a status report on their clean up efforts, particularly on U.S. 321 coming from Columbia.
Town Manager Don Wood said the town is working on a master ordinance and that next year it has budgeted to hire a code enforcement officer.
“We are several months away (from this happening) but we are working on it,” Wood said.
The next intergovernmental meeting is June 17 and will be hosted by Fairfield County Council.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @kevinboozer.