Edgefield County Administrator Tommy Paradise presented to Edgefield County Council at their January 8 meeting an update to the Vision Plan 2023. Under four main headings, Economic Development, Enhance Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire, and Medical Services (Public Safety), Strengthen and Improve Recreation Program, and Upgrade and Expand County Infrastructure, Paradise noted goals and within those goals short term and long term plans. Also within those goals, he noted those items which have been completed, are a work in progress, or are still being contemplated.
Under Economic Development, listed were Goal 1 -Support Business and Industrial Retention and Growth, Goal 2 – Increase Number of Jobs through New and Existing Business and Industries, and Goal 3 – Encourage Quality Residential Growth. Regarding Goal 1, items deemed completed for the short term were establishing meetings with industries to determine ways the County can support business and industries, surveying existing businesses to determine ways that the County can assist them, and developing a brand for the County including a logo. Implementation of recommendations received from the Palmetto Assessment Competitiveness Evaluation, an item noted under the short term heading, is still a work in progress. Works in progress for the long term include revising development standards and regulations based on information gathered by industrial visit reviews, becoming more “business friendly” using feedback from the business surveys, and developing and enhancing Heritage Tourism and Agro-tourism. One long term item deemed completed was finding ways to include the County’s towns in Economic Development. Goal 2 completed short term measures include determining if purchasing additional property in the Industrial Park will benefit the County, ensuring all due diligence is up-to-date on the Industrial Park, increasing funding for the County’s industrial development, and reducing permitting time and communication with applicants. Short term items still being worked on are enhancing the appearance of the Industrial Park and meeting with Cyber Security representatives to determine means of involvement. Developing a plan to recruit business and industry associated with cyber industry is still being thought over for the short term. Completed for the long term are developing plans for necessary infrastructure at various industrial sites and creating development policies for infrastructure improvements and incentives for expansion. Still being considered for the long term is implementing a plan to recruit business and industry associated with the cyber industry. Completed for the short term for Goal 3 is marketing the County for residential development, working with local municipalities within the County to ensure quality development, developing a policy with Water & Sewer for infrastructure for residential growth, and providing protection to residential districts from commercial activities. Still being implemented for the short term is revising the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning as necessary to encourage private investment and reduce barriers. Under contemplation for the long term is developing inventory of potential residential areas and considering additional zoning districts that will promote quality growth.
Under the Public Safety goals, two goals were listed; Goal 1 – Improve services and Facilities and Goal 2 – Maintain a Viable Hospital along with Medical Services. The only item listed as completed under Goal 1 was providing grant writing assistance to help prepare grants. For the short term, determining ways to reduce response times for all public safety, replacing ambulances exceeding 200,000 miles, and studying ways to retain public safety employees were listed as works in progress. Investigating ways to improve radio communication for EMS and Fire was listed as something being considered for the short term. Developing plans for construction of a law enforcement center containing the Sheriff’s Office, Detention Center, and Magistrate’s Office and determining a location for a new EMS station based on need, response time, etc. were both listed as long term works in progress. Items being considered still for the long term are developing funding sources for capital improvements and implementing changes to retain public safety employees based on study. All of the items listed under Goal 2 were deemed completed. They included working with ECH Board to recruit and retain new medical providers with exposure to community and lifestyle of the area, continuing financial assistance to ECH, County Council participating with joint meetings with ECH Board and Operating Board at least annually, providing input to ECH Board concerning community perception, and expanding the partnership with Self Regional Healthcare if it is beneficial to the County.
Under recreation, only one goal was listed; Upgrade and Expand Recreation Programs and Services. Items completed for the short term were listed as strengthening youth sports partnership with municipalities, determining ways to better communicate to the community concerning recreational programs and registration, providing training to all coaches concerning the Code of Conduct and Expectations, and supporting the ARTS, Senior Citizens Programs, and enhancing of Quality of Life projects using indirect support. Items still being worked on for the short term are promoting public awareness of recreation activities offered by the National Forest Service and determining site development for recreational facilities in the Merriwether area. Items still being pondered for the short term are increasing funding for recreation and investigating the creation of a 501c3 to enhance recreational activities. Developing plans for a recreational park in Merriwether was listed as the sole item being worked on for the long term. Considering expanding staff for the Recreation Department and reviewing possibilities for construction of a recreational activities building were listed as items that are still being thought about for the long term.
Under infrastructure, two goals were listed; Goal 1 – Partner with Public and Private Sector to Improve and Expand Existing Infrastructure and Goal 2 – Improve County Road System. For the short term, continuing developing MOUs with the ECWSA and developers to extend water and/or sewer, continuing a partnership with the ECWSA to place additional fire hydrants in the County, and identifying areas where expansion of water and sewer is feasible were all noted as completed items. Supporting additional water, sewer, broadband, cell service, and other infrastructure is still being worked on for the short term. Long term items still being considered are developing plans to develop infrastructure in areas identified as being feasible and increasing residential density to support additional broadband and cell phone service. Items under Goal 2 completed for the short term were listed as continuing a partnership with CTC for maintenance of County owned roads, supporting CTCs Roadway Improvements Prioritization Program of 2016, working with the SCDOT, Upper Savannah Council of Governments, and the Augusta Regional Transportation Study to improve state owned roads, increasing funding for the Road Maintenance Department, and pursuing installation of a traffic signal at Hwy 25 and Bettis Academy. For the short term, studying ways to recruit and retain employees for the Road Maintenance Department was listed. Working with the SCDOT to widen Bettis Academy Road to 4-lanes from Hwy 25 to I-20 and increasing staffing of Road Maintenance Department are still being pondered for the long term.
The entire Vision 2023 Update, with more detailed explanations, can be found on Edgefield County’s website.