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Letter to the Editor

How quickly we forget the lessons of the past

web posted May 3, 2006

Dear Editor,

Back in the late 1980's I was approached by a prominent Edgefield County citizen who informed me that he was promoting the development of a federal prison to be located in Edgefield County, bringing prosperity, employment, and growth to Edgefield County.

As I told this person, most of the economic benefit from the Edgefield prison will be reaped by out-of-towners, not local businesses, and there would be no guarantee from the Federal Prison system that local people would be hired as guards.
Guess what! I was, for the most part, correct on all of my assumptions and the economic value of the Federal Prison on the Town of Edgefield and the County has been virtually unnoticeable.

Recently I have read two articles regarding how a racetrack / speedway will economically benefit Edgefield County ... "How quickly we forget the lessons of the past."

I suggest to the individuals that wrote these articles and others that want to develop Edgefield County economically for the benefit of ALL citizens that they follow some proven guidelines for a process of bringing into the County business that will compliment this area, not destroy it; as would the introduction of drag strips and raceways.

First, envision a development theme for the county and expand upon this theme as the Heritage Center has tried to accomplish in the last few years. This area has the potential to become a tourism Mecca based upon the rich history of this county, its unique houses and buildings, and a downtown business district that could develop into a business square comparable to the successful downtown area of Abbeville, South Carolina.

Also, the hunting and fishing theme needs to be advanced and generate the types of businesses that could support this form of recreation in the downtown business neighborhood. What you do not want to encourage are developments and / or businesses that would possibly create negative images of the County and would impede the history, tourism, hunting and fishing theme that you are trying to encourage. A drag strip certainly would not create the historical image we want to project for Edgefield County.

Second, do not rely on the statements of an outside investor who states that he intends to bring prosperity and a better life to Edgefield and its citizens without thoroughly investigating his personal and professional background, his motives, and his financial stability. Questions need to be asked and answered regarding how the development or business, such as a racetrack, will be financed and business pro-formas developed to show the citizens of this county that the venture will be sustained, and the project will not end in financial ruin, leaving the County and its citizens responsible for the clean-up of an environmentally polluted tract of land that would become an eyesore to both the citizens of and visitors to this area.
The Northside Legal Defense Committee strongly recommends that the concerned citizens of this county complete a thorough background check on this racetrack investor and draw their own conclusions concerning his personal background and his business intentions in Edgefield County.

In conclusion, the Northside Legal Defense Committee wholeheartedly endorses ANY legitimate, constructive development of the county that will benefit all of its citizens and promote favorable county growth and development. What this committee opposes are business developments that detract from Edgefield's cultural and social landscape, thereby hindering the successful growth of businesses and developments that compliment the county's historical heritage, culture, and beauty.

Don Rupert
Northside Legal Defense Committee
Edgefield, SC

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