FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Fairfield County Council met Monday with representatives from the Fairfield County School District, Winnsboro Town Council and Ridgeway Town Council at the quarterly intergovernmental meeting at Midlands Technical College.
During the meeting, the elected officials and board members exchanged progress reports and pleasantries.
“It’s great to get groups like this together,” said Beth Reid, chair of the Fairfield County School District Board of Trustees. “It’s important that we work together.”
Reid said she was unsure if Fairfield County’s governing bodies meet with sufficient regularity.
“They’re quarterly, and I don’t know if we shouldn’t do this a little more often,” Reid said.
J. R. Green, superintendent of the Fairfield County School District, shared information regarding the construction of the new career center. Green noted it is one of the school district’s first significant projects in decades and the first construction project he has witnessed in its entirety.
Green said it has been encouraging to see the career center actualize from a drawing and cleared land to a physical, nearly complete building. Green said an open house is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 10.
Fairfield County Councilman Marion Robinson from District 5 asked the superintendent how many students are enrolled in career center courses.
Green said the enrollment window is still open, but he anticipates robust enrollment. “We will be full,” Green said.
Green estimated career center enrollment will increase by as much as 30 percent because of the modern facilities and the new center’s proximity to Fairfield Middle School and Fairfield High School.
“There are going to be programs for every kid in Fairfield County,” Green said.
Green said courses ranging from bio-medical science and welding to barbering will offer options for students who wish to pursue advanced degrees and students who wish to enter the workforce more immediately.
However, Green said although some programs may prepare students for the workforce, he feels it is important to encourage all students to continue to seek betterment post-high school.
“The high school establishes the foundation, but that cannot be the end of the journey,” Green said.
TruVista presented information about the wireless internet options available in Fairfield County. However, the presentation did not lead to definitive statements or suggestions.
“This is just the beginning of a possible partnership throughout the county,” said Carolyn Robinson, chair of Fairfield County Council.
Ridgeway Town Council, Winnsboro Town Council and Fairfield County Council all provided summaries of recent council action. A representative from Jenkinsville Town Council was not present, and no Fairfield County delegates were present.
Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring shared news from the Town of Ridgeway, including new businesses and a new tax.
“Ridgeway did pass a hospitality tax,” Herring said.
Herring said the new tax is fairly commonplace for the region, specifically citing Blythewood’s hospitality tax, and added the additional revenue will help the town.
“A lot of our people eat in town, but a lot of our people go to Blythewood, and they pay it every time they go, so we have passed that, and we will use that as additional income for our budget,” Herring said.
Herring reminded attendees Ridgeway will be recognizing Vietnam veterans July 3.
Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy spoke about progress being made toward drawing water from Broad River.
“We have our DHEC permit,” Gaddy said. “We were the first people to go through that process to be able to withdraw water from a public river.”
The permit authorizes the Town of Winnsboro to withdraw 8 million gallons of water daily.
“We have identified the purchase, where we will have our pump station,” Gaddy said. “We’re just waiting for our survey to purchase that, there’s already been an agreement on the price, engineering is going on for the pump station, and also engineering has started looking at that right of way to get that water from the Broad River to our city reservoir, then transfer to our water treatment plant.”
Gaddy said the Town of Winnsboro has budgeted money to make improvements to the Old Armory.
“We’re going to try to renovate those bathrooms,” Gaddy said. “They’ve gotten fairly deplorable.”
Robinson shared county council’s recent activity — passing a budget with no tax increase.
“We’ve finally passed our budget,” Robinson said. “We do have a $5 fee that will be charged on vehicles, and a $10 fee that is for commercial vehicles,” Robinson said. “That is a fee to set aside money just for improvements to the roads that have been surfaced in the county.”
Robinson said Phase 2 of the commerce park has begun.
“That’s where BOMAG is located, so we’re getting ready to go in and do the second phase of getting it ready to have the infrastructure, so it will be ready for the next person that wants to come in,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the county has been commanded by the state to increase recycling rates.
“We’ve been commanded by the state to get our recycling up to 40 percent, so we’re working toward that,” Robinson said. “It saves us a minimum of $55 for every ton of trash that’s pulled out of here for Screaming Eagle, so that adds up after a little while.”
The next intergovernmental meeting is scheduled for September, and it will be hosted by the Town of Winnsboro.