By Advertiser Staff
A Once-a-Year Event –
How to make a meeting of reports interesting? First the setting, then the food, and to have brief and “meaty” reports so the audience may stay aware. Of course certain personalities can add humor and spice which is always welcomed. It all happened on Tuesday evening, January 29, at the once-a-year intergovernmental meeting for Edgefield County.
The setting, the Senior Center across from W. E. Parker Elementary, was more inviting than ever. Larry Bowe welcomed the crowd (at his time of reporting) to say how glad they were to have the group there, and to remind all their families of the services they offer.
New since many had been to the Center were the sofas arranged in seating areas in the lobby, and more wall decorations to give the large, dining area centers for congregating.
The food, a Ten Governors’ spread – they won the bid for the job – was quite nice as it was barbecue and the trimmings, the favorite menu for this event for some time.
Dean Campbell, County Council Chairman, was emcee and opened with his report, the first being “no tax increase.” He reminded folks of the strategic plan, and if one wants to know more about the plan, it is on the county Web site, with an update on what has been done with the plan. Three council members were there to support his remarks: Ashcraft, Blackwell and Butler, the newest member.
Sam Crouch reported on the audit made of the County Transportation Committee, the first time to have such a good audit report (though he emphasized that they were never so bad as to have to pay a fine) and he gave their administrator Donna Lybrand the credit for keeping good books. A round of applause was given to her and it was announced that she will soon be retiring. In his report he noted that they are interested in improving Bettis Academy Road, and plans are to widen it, but there is a long range plan to do more, in time.
Town Administrator Roger LeDuc reminded the audience that he had been County Administrator at the beginning of his service in Edgefield County, and was pleased with how his work had gone – alluding to other administrators having problems – and now he is part time with the Town of Edgefield, and he was representing the mayor who was sick. He spoke of two main focuses for the town: to so something with the hotel (which according to sources has come under ownership with a local nonprofit agency) and to work with two other properties as “drawing mechanisms” (industry, people, new homes) for the town, Slade Lake and the Kendall property. Basic to all of this is the development of a nonprofit, in the making.
The Mayor of Johnston followed saying, as he draws close to the end of his term of service, he wanted to aknowledge “good people of Johnston.” He said, for the first time, Johnston has a “full police force,” led by Chief Aston. He listed the schedule of events for the town and area and mentioned a Web site that is newly formed. Also, they will be adding another person to the wecome mural on the warehouse wall, the first since the 2000. Also, watch for FFA members who will be redoing the plantings in the town.
The outgoing Trenton Mayor Helen Summer was showing pleasure in the “great year” that they had had. It was the “best festival ever,” the 42nd Ridge Peach Festival. She wasexpressing gratitude for the two manufacturing concerns within the city limits. Helen’s reports and energy for her town will be missed, as well as the pronunciation of “Trennun” which we all want to say.
Senator Massey of the Edgefield County Delegation spoke about what is happening in Columbia, at this time, as well as noting some local issues: they will be looking at redistricting for the Edgefield County School Board; there will be some changes in the county Election Commission, giving representation to more areas of the county.
The Superintendent of Education came to the podium with “show and tell” and a joke to mellow the crow. He showed a good public relations style in his praising of the teachers and the school system. He showed a picture of the future field house planned for the Thurmond Athletic Field and told of the funding plans. The funds will be divided in half, half to the Athletic Field and half to the schools for need things, among the technical materials. He spilled forth with numbers as many did: The school budget is 25 million; they employ 575 people (county’s largest employer); in one year fee 443,000 lunches to 3375 students; 2500 students ride busses, the longest trip is 177 miles; there are 132 routes and 47 buses. They are trying to get a bus for Merriwether and to quit the cost for students riding the express bus.
More numbers rolled out with Will Williams who is director of the Economic Development Board that serves this county. He complimented the industrial base and spoke of the enlarging initiatives that are underway for several of the industries. Six hundred thousand dollars come into Edgefield County revenues from the taxes paid by the industries.
Fab Burt, who has served the longest of anyone on the EC Planning Commission and is now the chairman, was there with two of his commissioners. He said that the commission’s work is “keeping up with the times.” A new ordinance is in the making. They have spent a great deal of time working on highway overlay. This year they did not have many subdivisions to deal with.
Donna Livingston, Administrator for the Chamber of Commerce in the county, seemed to be practicing for her yearly report which comes up at the Smorgasbord, next week. Fil-a-Bus was a major project, and they collected $5000 in goods and funds. They are looking forward to an oyster roast on March 9 with a chili cook-off with it. And don’t forget Bags of Love, a more immediate project. The Chamber boasts 160 members.
John Hare, Gen Manager, spoke for the EC Water & Sewer Authority. He spoke of two issues: the Highway 25 expansion, which was alluded to by others, will interrupt water lines and they are working to minimize this; they are a part of studies that have to do with removing water from the Savannah, which is the source of water in this county. There were 150 new customers for water this year.
And last, the CEO of The Edgefield County Hospital Pat Robinson used the evening’s platform to announce that she would be retiring soon. She reminded folks of the services there, and noted that they have added urology, gynecology, and general surgery. They have augmented the MRI services and are working toward electronic medical records, this year. And the dedication of the Nicholson-Turner Wing, brought some sad thoughts as it was only a few weeks later that Dr. Nicholson died, the loss of an important doctor in this community.
The emcee bade us all farewell, and the group lingered to conversation with colleagues – unusual to have all these leaders in one room at one time.