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Letter to the Editor

Former Candidate says it's "Time for Councilman Dorn to Lead"

web posted January 9, 2013

Dear Editor,
On February 27, 2012, Mr. Dorn released a statement through the Edgefield Advertiser that he referred to as his announcement bid for reelection. The announcement stated, “Probably the most disconcerting issue in the county is that Edgefield County Council has turned a “blind eye” to the Northside’s great need for water. My solution to show that help is on the way would be to postpone the ware (the typo was in the release) and sewer development project in the North Augusta area”. Basically, Mr. Dorn told his constituents that he was running to provide water for District 1.

On April 16, 2012, a candidate forum was held on the Northside at McKendree Family Life Center hosted by the Northside Committee of Concerned Citizens.

At this forum, various candidates for different elected positions, including both myself and Mr. Dorn, spoke to a crowd well over one-hundred citizens. During his talking points, Mr. Dorn spoke that he was running to provide the Northside with water and he would pay for it through funds available that were left from an old Tobacco Lawsuit settlement. He also distributed a document he said proved this. Of course when I reviewed the document, it was speaking of waste water treatment and was several decades old and did not even refer to District 1 or Edgefield County. I assumed this was a ploy and strategy to garner votes. Nevertheless, nothing came from this “funding outlet”.

An entire year has almost past since he announced his reelection bid and over half a year since he spoke to the large crowd at McKendree about him running on the platform of providing water. Since then, he was also elected in which he defeated me.

My great-grandfather, Bill Timmerman, was the Councilman for District 5 (Northside at the time) in the late 1970s. At that time, there were residents throughout the community collecting petition signatures for the need of water. Mr. Timmerman lost his reelection bid but the residents still continued with the signatures in seeking help. He supported the cause which still continues to be an issue today.

What Mr. Dorn doesn’t seem to understand is this is a concern that is several decades old. This has been an issue even before the late 1970s. A decade later after my great-grandfather was defeated for reelection, Norman Dorn won election for County Council and has had twenty-plus years to tackle this or seek ways to fund this massive project. He himself continues to claim this is a need. Of course you only hear him speak of this around election time.  I wonder why?

There is no clear cut answer for the people of District 1 in how to fund this massive project. The costs to install water on the Westside and Northside costs well over anything that council can pay for.  If you travel the state, you will not find other county that provides county (local government funded) wide water. This is usually only found in zoned towns or cities, with a few exceptions. York County is an example where there is water throughout the county, but these systems are operated by the municipalities located in York County AND by private water service providers.  This is an outlet that can be looked into but the Edgefield County Water and Sewer Authority need to be brought into the conversation at some point.

As reported on Edgefield Daily in June of 2012 and supported by Council minutes, “Mr. Dorn stated he wanted to have 1.5 mills directed to an escrow account to help fund the non-existent "Northside Water Project" just like had been done for EMS, Fire Departments, the Sheriff's Office, and the hospital. He included the Trenton Airport stating he did not even know that 70-year-old airport in the county even existed.”

Later in the meeting, Councilman Rodney Ashcroft gave his opinion on the subject as reported in Edgefield Daily: “Councilman Rodney Ashcraft began his comments by stating he is charged to represent the entire county and is elected by the voters of District 2, "and that is the way I will vote on every item." He stated that the Westside area, which is included in his district, is also in need of county water and that it was not feasible due to the sparse population and the associated costs.”

“I want you to remember a number, 92," Ashcraft said. "At 1.5 mills (Dorns request) that's the number of years it would take to build the water system that is needed in the Westside and Northside. The system would have been replaced four times. 1.5 mills is not an option." It was also noted that it would take $1.4 million to get water to the first house on the Northside and some roads would cost several million dollars to run pipe that would only service one or two houses.

During that meeting, Chairman Campbell allowed Mr. Dorn to make a motion to approve the millage increase but it was never seconded, not even by Councilman Willie Bright and the motion fell short. This seemed to be the only idea Mr. Dorn had to fund the water besides his Tobacco plan. If that motion would have passed, it would have taken 10
decades to build and would have had to have been replaced four times. That is not a feasible solution. Another topic that has yet to be looked into is manpower to maintain these new lines once built.  That costs money as well.

There has recently been chatter throughout District 1 drumming up support for the water project yet again.  Even talks about Mr. Dorn leading the way. Mr. Dorn has only brought up one motion for funding water and that failed.  He has not even mentioned the water since then. He is out of ideas but still runs on the platform for providing it. Sadly, many fall for this but the people of District 1 need to hold him accountable.

Here are some questions and possible thoughts in moving forward. Maybe Mr. Dorn can use these ideas: What exploratory committee has been formed recently to look into funding water for the Northside? Where has Mr. Dorn’s leadership been to work with the Edgefield County Water and Sewer Authority to find a path forward? Has Mr. Dorn set down with our county administrator to seek out possible grants (besides the CDBG grant) and other options? Has Mr. Dorn spoken to the Edgefield County Water and Sewer Authority?  Has Mr. Dorn spoken to our local delegation, State Rep. Bill Clyburn or State Senator Shane Massey to see if there are any funds through the state that could be allocated or even US Senator Lindsey Graham or US Rep. Jeff Duncan on a federal
level?  Have there been private companies sought out?  Has Mr. Dorn touched base with other counties such as York County for ideas and guidance?

There are many avenues that have yet to be exhausted that Mr. Dorn is simply not looking into. It just seems to be constant finger pointing (we are continuing to wait for that to work) at others and a convenient platform to run for office.  I do believe that water can be provided to areas on the north end. This may have to be privately maintained without county involvement. I do believe first, the people of District 1 need to send a group to each council meeting to make sure this is being represented monthly. I call for the other members of county council to look closer into the matter and do something that
Norman Dorn hasn't done: Represent the people of my district. A true leader surrounds himself with the brightest people he can find and digs for information to better the lives of those he leads. If Mr. Dorn really wants to provide water for the Northside, then he needs to exhaust every effort in searching for the funds. Again, this is the only thing he ran on.

Last night, Council members were sworn in for their seats in which they were elected for the next two years. I welcome Mrs. Butler to council as I had welcomed her to the campaign trail.  I once again congratulate Mr. Dorn on being elected to another term to District 1. However, there are people throughout our district that still go unrepresented. I ask him to work with the rest of council and bridge differences to move forward in providing true representation to all people.

Most candidates that run for an office in which they are defeated usually do not stay involved. That is not who I am and I will continue working for the betterment of my community. Elected or not, I feel it is a calling to stand up for those that are in need and those that lack representation.

It is time for Norman Dorn to do the right thing. It is time for Councilman Dorn to lead.

Many have asked what my plans are.  I have been asked if I will run again. This past election gave me the platform to listen and help others by voicing their concerns. It gave me the opportunity to represent others who feel that no one else will. I am hungry to
continue that work and I will continue representing those throughout my district.

Mr. Dorn may think that I was just another candidate that he defeated. If that is the case, he would be mistaken.  I am just getting started in working for the people of District 1.

Source: www.edgefielddaily.com/council060612.html

William P. Smith
Edgefield, SC

Editor's note: Mr. Smith was a candidate for County Council Dist. 1 in the 2012 elections.

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