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1% Sales Tax Projects Tops Discussion at Edgefield Town Council Meeting Again

By Anne Waits
web posted February 5, 2014

EDGEFIELD The Edgefield Town Council met Monday night, with the One Percent Sales Tax Project Submissions and a presentation on the Willowbrook Cemetery situation taking up the majority of the meeting time. Following the Invocation and Call to Order, the January 6, 2014 Minutes and the January 2014 Financial Report were adopted unanimously by Council.

Tonya Guy, representing Friends of Willowbrook Cemetery, then spoke to Council requesting the Town to provide security lights for the cemetery. She informed Council that the organization as well as the Edgefield Cemetery Association had discussed the lighting of the cemetery, which is located in the heart of the Town of Edgefield.

"We thought about the possibility of luminaries (small solar lights), such as the ones placed in the Newberry Cemetery, instead of the big security lights which might act to encourage vandalism," she said. "These are cost effective and a possible route to go."
The Edgefield Cemetery Association is dedicated to the operation, restoration and preservation of Willowbrook and Eastview Cemeteries, she said, with their primary concern at this time being Willowbrook Cemetery, the second most historic cemetery in South Carolina.

Guy went on to say that there are soldiers buried there from every major war in the United States, along with many political figures, missionaries and Edgefield County newspaper editors.

"Cemeteries perish from disasters, both man-made and natural, and from vandalism and neglect," she said. "Willowbrook has been the victim of all three."

Roots from nearby trees have broken and pushed up graves, there has been extensive vandalism with stones being knocked over and shattered, and neglect has taken a toll on the cemetery, she said. Metal fences and gates are broken and some are missing completely. Some gravestones are weathered to the point of being almost illegible and other stones are in dire need of being properly cleaned. Some markers are leaning so precariously that they might fall at any moment, Other stones have brickwork that is crumbling beneath them. Friends of Willowbrook Cemetery, along with the Adopt-A-Grave program, are sponsored by the Edgefield Cemetery Association.

The purpose of Friends of Willowbrook Cemetery is to restore, preserve and promote the cemetery and its unique ands rich heritage. Education walking tour of the cemetery and an informative power-point presentation are two methods of promotion they use.

The Adopt-A-Grave program is one in which individuals organizations and businesses may adopt a burial plot in the cemetery to support its restoration, preservation and upkeep. For more details, one can visit the website, www.OEDGS.org and choose the Willowbrook Cemetery page.

Mayor Durham asked about their requesting help under the One Percent Sales Tax, and Guy said they had applied but were told they did not qualify because they were not a government entity. However, they were asking the Town about the possibility of making them a line item so they could get under the umbrella for help. She was also bringing the Town up-to-date with the situation. Beth Worth, representative for the One Percent Sales Tax, said she thought they would qualify.

The mayor said Council will take her presentation as information until they could find out more their eligibility under the One Percent Sales Tax, but felt sure that Council would be willing to help.

Guy also addressed Council requesting permission to host the Third Annual Southern Studies Showcase on Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in the town of Edgefield and also to place a banner at Town Hall and to host a Block Party reception on the Town Square from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on that Friday night. Council approved the request unanimously.

The other major item on the agenda was the Preliminary List of Projects to be submitted to Edgefield County  for the One Percent Capital Sales Tax,
"Keep in mind this list is very preliminary and these are merely estimates right now," the mayor said. "They will look at the lists from each town and select what is deemed the highest priority,"

The list is as follows: Under Public Service, a Substation and Fire Equipment, $350,000, and $30,000 for police department upgrades; under Tourism, Downtown Revitalization, $975,000; under Recreation, Soccer Field, $30,000, Dixie Youth 50,000, Playground Equipment for the Park, $40,000; the Gymnasium, $375,000 and the Rail Trail/Sidewalk, $40,000. The list totals $1,890,000.

There was some question as to public restrooms downtown, which had been discussed, The mayor said the Welcome Center is usually open and they are willing to place a sign outside that restrooms are available. He said it was felt that other items take priority. The mayor said the hospital is also planning to put in a request for help.

In further business, Council approved a letter of request from Sonny and Wanda Seawright to host the 12th Annual Heritage Jubilee on Friday, Sept. 26, and Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 with use of the Town Square and they also granted permission to hang a banner on the trestle.

Council also approved a request from Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church to use the Edgefield Town Square for their Fifth Sunday Youth Service on Sept. 28, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with use of the Town Gym (in case of rain) and chairs.

In a final item requiring a vote, Council approved, on first reading, Ordinance 2014-01 an ordinance adopting and enacting a new code for the Town of Edgefield, providing for the repeal of certain ordinances not included therein; providing a penalty for the violation thereof; providing for the manner of amending such code; and providing when such code and this ordinance shall become effective.

Under committee reports, Council member Herbert Yarborough reported 19 fire calls for the month of January, over twice the normal amount for this time of year.

The mayor commented that the Intergovernmental Meeting had been a good one. He also stated that in a meeting with the Legislature he had brought up the concerns with tankers on Sweetwater Road. The Department of Transportation had said they would look into the matter, but he got a letter back stating there was nothing they could do about the situation. The mayor said he has written a second letter citing the Trestle situation a few years back.

"We don't want to wait until it takes someone's life," he said.

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