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It is time for Edgefield County to leap, not crawl, into the new
decade: Part 1
A Column by the Editor
posted January 13, 2010
COLUMN – It is a New Year, that wonderful
time of year when people shed the old and look towards the new. A time
when their lives, minds, and goals are recalculated and resolutions to
better one’s life are on the front burner. A renewal of the inner
spirit in all of us. That is something I think our county is awakening
to this year and it would be a tragedy to see that not bring forth
great changes our county so desperately needs. Some of those changes
have already been made.
The first change is the news of Alton Brown of White County Georgia
verbally accepting the job as the next County Administrator. A highly
qualified executive with experience and no connections to Edgefield
County are the two assets no county administrator in the past 20 years
could claim. That can only be a good thing.
With the budget planning to get underway next month, there is no doubt
Chairman Monroe Kneece and Councilwoman Genia Blackwell on the Finance
Committee will be aided by Brown’s involvement. No doubt, he will have
to hit the ground running in February to avoid another stalemate such
as last year’s talks when a budget could not be passed.
While others were seeing doom and gloom, Councilwoman Blackwell stated
she saw the shortfalls as a “positive”, a chance to cut the “fat” from
the budget and rein in costs and did just that. Councilwoman Blackwell
took the two budgets and reconciled them and was able to win passage
and provided no tax increase, no benefit cuts to employees, and no
reduction in services while cutting over $600,000.
However, with that good news behind us, we should set our sights even
higher to bring this county leaping into the new decade. And first on
that agenda item should be the abolishment of two unfruitful endeavors
that in the past decade has cost county taxpayers around $460,000 and
provided basically nothing in return, the Edgefield-Aiken Economic
Development Partnership and the Edgefield County Economic Committee,
which have both outlived their uselessness.
Currently we supply the Partnership $46,000 a year to try to recruit
industry to Edgefield County. Fred Humes does a fair job for Aiken
County’s portion of their funding, which is larger, but he just cannot
seem to place Edgefield County as a priority for our funding.
The ECEC has no authority and brings nothing to the table. Ironically,
the Chairman of the Committee, Bettis Rainsford, oversaw his latest
development hit with a multi-million dollar foreclosure last year and a
repeat at the Pine Ridge Development he oversaw this year. Nearly two
pages of Mount Vintage properties also just went up for tax sales due
to unpaid property taxes. Some still remain to be sold. To top it off,
records from Augusta Richmond County show he owes $230,620.46 in unpaid
property taxes for property he owns there.
And this is who’s “economic advice” is leading this committee? Lead it?
He should not be allowed within 1,000 feet of a meeting being
So what would work? Accountability for the money being spent at a time
when budget restrictions are only getting tighter, let’s get what we
With the same $46,000 the county could hire our own “in-house” economic
development envoy that actually has nothing but Edgefield County at
heart and is not divided between two counties as to loyalty.
We already have someone I believe would be uniquely qualified for that
position and could do it with ease and still hold down his current
self-owned business commitments, Former County Administrator turned
realtor John Pettigrew.
He has the skill to sell - be it cars, real estate, why not our county?
We all know he loves this county and he would be a great ambassador
trying to sell prospective industry leaders on locating here. Let’s
face it, he’s a lawyer turned politician turned used car salesman,
turned realtor. This guy could sell a Muslim a pig farm.
Too often we hear our county leaders proclaim, “We’ve always done it
this way”. Well, quite honestly, we’ve lagged behind surrounding
counties for doing it “that way” for the last twenty years. It is time
for a change for the positive.
For the first time I see things moving in a very positive direction
with new candidates already elected and a list of others seeking to
serve to help take the reins from the old guard and usher in new ideas,
new direction, from those with executive experience who are willing to
give of their advanced degrees, abilities and services to make that
I have always said that change is inevitable, but progress is not. This
time I see change and progress having a chance to run hand in hand.
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