Enough to Go Around

The resurrection of a downtown is no magic trick, no cheap conjure. One doesn’t simply reach into a collapsible top hat and pull out something along the lines of, say, the Vista in downtown Columbia. It takes time, and vision, and planning and, perhaps most of all, it takes a community ready to snap out of its collective daze of apathy. But it also takes something more than all that, something Pastor Jimmy Jones put his finger directly on – or in – at last week’s orientation meeting on the future of the old Fairfield Country Club and its place in revitalizing downtown Winnsboro: It takes a change of heart.

There are some old demons lurking in Fairfield County, Jones said, and until they are destroyed, finally and forever, no amount of investment will lift downtown out of the dust. Indeed, if money were simply the answer, Fairfield County and downtown Winnsboro would be the envy of the South. After all, for decades the nuclear industry has been pouring millions of dollars a year into County coffers; and while it staggers the imagination to consider how grim things could actually be without it, all of those dollars have not lifted much of the community out of poverty, have not educated our children and have not rescued downtown from the tumbleweeds.

A project on the scale of revitalizing an entire town requires significant private capital, but people with that kind of money are reluctant to throw it around in a place where people cannot see beyond the color of their skin. That investment was here, in fact, not so very long ago, until it got chased out of Western Fairfield by those with a short-sighted political viewpoint grounded in small-headed bigotry.

Judging by the turnout at last week’s meeting, Winnsboro is ready to change their town. But what does it take to change a heart?

The prejudice, Jones said – and we agree – exists on both sides of the spectrum. It is the one thing, sadly, of which there is plenty to go around. Unless and until that ends, get used to the idea of tumbleweeds.