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Positive changes in the making

A Column by the Editor
web posted July 7, 2008
COLUMN – I made a comment last week that there were some positive things that would be taking place in Edgefield County. With all the emails, phone calls, and comments I got you would think I was giving away $100 bills. Before you get too excited, I said there were some positive things that would be taking place, I did not say some miracle has occurred and our county government and our long lasting ills were over. But things are looking up and there will be good news to report in the very near future.

Replacing two seats (and possibly a third in November) on the county council has already started a bit of a shake-up. The evidence of that will be seen over the next six to ten months.

Unrelated is the much debated and contested purchase of the Calliham property. It will probably fade into the history books as one of the greatest debacles that never took place. The legal issues that have delayed the purchase will no doubt continue well beyond the option to buy date in August. An option that has already been extended once.

That is good and bad.

The bad news is that the county council could vote to extend the option period well into the fall, but with a limited amount of time to start using the insurance money from the fire that destroyed the county offices on Church Street; a delay could cost the county in excess of $150,000. Call it a hunch, but I just don’t see that happening.

That is the good news. If the Calliham purchase falls through - that will force the county to rebuild the offices on the Church Street property saving the taxpayers a debt of $425,000 on the purchase and an additional cost of almost $800,000 in renovations to a dilapidated fifty-year-old building. Reconstruction of the Church Street office space will be a huge savings.

The long-term changes are the most exciting. With Merriwether District 5 County Council candidate Genia Blackwell unopposed in the November General Election as well as Westside District 2 candidate Rodney Ashcraft, two seats are assured to change hands. District 1 long-time incumbent Norman Dorn is facing his first real challenge from another newcomer, Trace Faust. If Mr. Faust is able to pull off an upset in the District 1 race positive changes could come faster than expected.

The leadership on the county council is acknowledging that real changes are inevitable already. 

Indeed, with Blackwell and Ashcraft winning from grass-roots campaigns, and Faust sweeping the Republican Primary in a three-way race, the leadership knows that the people of Edgefield County are tired of politics as usual. The “good old boy’s” club of the county council has been handed an astounding defeat already and it is sink or swim for the remaining members.

Ashcraft, Blackwell, and Faust ran on a promise of making the public aware of what is taking place on the county council before it is discussed “on agenda” in a meeting. All stated they wanted to seek the public’s opinion on things the county council is considering long before it is made known in a meeting and votes were cast. That shift in constituent service will force, begrudgingly, other members of the county council to follow suit.

That can only be a good thing.

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