WINNSBORO — Recreation, roots, and recycling were among the topics reported to county council at its final January meeting.
Lori Schafer with the Fairfield County Recreation Department showed improvements to playground equipment at a park in Monticello and at Drawdy Park. The new equipment is more compact and has mulch-filled landing buffer zones to help children be safer while at play. The mulch comes from the county’s new wood chipping site.
Schafer obtained a grant that enabled the playground equipment to be bought as buy one, get one free. The equipment is fit for children age 2 to 5 and children age 5 to 12. It includes a swing set, a sun canopy, a rock climbing wall and slides. Additionally, a football field under construction will be locked and gated to ensure it is just used for games and to keep four wheelers off the property.
Last year, using the baseball field for football and soccer put too much wear and tear on the surface and it led to scheduling conflicts. With flag, 8-10 and 11-12 year old teams, there can be more games played now so that All-Stars do not run into basketball season, Schafer said.
Councilman Kamau Marcharia asked her if a flea market could be explored for the walking trail in the Monticello Park and was advised that would be taken into consideration. Also, the parks and recreation department is converting the old Everette cafeteria into office space.
“Before the playground equipment was so spread out. Now it is more compact and that freed up space (for expansion),” Schafer said. “So we can do a baseball field, football/soccer field and add another baseball field.”
She did not mention when the projects will be completed. The playground was moved next to the shelter so parents can better confine children to the play area and not interfere with the ball games.
The talk of ball fields and and renovations led Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson to bring up recycling.
She suggested giving people recycling bins in their homes to encourage them to sort their trash and set the goal of getting the county to 35 percent in recyclables. She noted that often on Saturdays the bins are full so that people are asked to just put recyclables into the general trash bin.
Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson said the county needs to find another vendor to send the recyclables to, which would free up space. Anderson also touted the success of the wood chipping center at removing debris from the waste disposal fees the county pays while producing a quality product for residents to use.
Eddie Killian chipped in with the report that led off the meeting and gave a recap of the Fairfield Genealogical Society. He reported on the group and outlined reasons why they need a full-time staff member at the Fairfield County Museum to assist with research and stimulate economic development in the county through history tourism. He requested that council consider hiring someone for a minimum wage position at the cost of about $18,000 per year.
Killian, whose father’s ancestors are from Fairfield County, reported that more family reunions have incorporated the genealogy society. An ancestry.com presentation at the Chester County Library also extended the group’s reach.
In the summer the state archives department conducted a workshop on genealogy and he is excited by the University of South Carolina digitization of newspapers program, noting that old News and Herald papers should be available soon through the program.
Through the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, area welcome centers and online contacts via discussion forums, Facebook and the genealogical website, the genealogy group seeks to bring in people from other states and other counties to do research here. In 2012 he estimated 25 percent of patrons were from other states and 50 percent came from other S.C. counties.
He requested council assistance with the society’s microfilm project, noting the equipment costs $6,000 plus a $1,000 maintenance contract and that the society had raised about half the money for the machine which would help preserve the bindings on manuscripts since they would be scanned in a large scanner in a way that puts less strain on bindings.
Killian cited the State Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism’s statistic that each museum visitor from out of county left a $151,000 economic impact on Fairfield. In January 2012 the museum had 74 visitors but so far in 2013 it had 192, so there is reason to hope it would make a greater than $250,000 impact on the county.
Finally, fatherhood and its impact on Fairfield County were discussed at the meeting. Fairfield Fatherhood Coalition Director Rudolph Walker thanked council for its steady support of the Fairfield Fatherhood Coalition over the years and he gave a summary of the organization’s efforts to reconnect fathers into the lives of their children. He mentioned the education curriculum, the economic stability curriculum, the family curriculum and the health relationships programming that help to mold young fathers into the men Fairfield County needs them to be.
Currently 40 men are in the program. Over the last six months, of those 40, five completed all the programming. Thanks to the work of Jackie Workman as an employment liaison, 17 of those men are now employed. Five are working on GEDs, one completed his GED, one was assisted in getting a driver’s license, four received assistance with utilities and 28 received assistance with transportation. Eight unemployed fathers received help to give Christmas gifts to their children from Families Helping Families and from the Fairfield Fatherhood Coalition.