Public Shows Support for Mt. Zion Institute

Tuesday night, at Winnsboro’s Town Hall, more 30 citizens showed up at the regular Town Council meeting to show their support for the Friends of Mt. Zion Institute. Vicki Dobbs, co-chairman of the committee, presented Council with a proposal to financially participate in the renovation of the Mt. Zion Institute. After receiving pledges for the last year, Dobbs said the committee is ready to move forward. However, the Winnsboro Town Council has found itself in an awkward situation with the Mt. Zion Institute failing to meet current property maintenance codes.

Dobbs acknowledged the council’s predicament.

“We know you’re on the hot seat with the state of the (Mt. Zion Institute) property,” Dobbs told Council.

The hope has been that the Dru Blair School of Art would soon move into the building, but despite progress made toward that goal over the last six months, Doug Moore said he believes that dream is still quite far down the line.

“We will not be able to move into there (Mt. Zion Institute) for at least five years,” he said.

In the face of that news, Dobbs is still optimistic that renovations can move forward to save the historic building.

“We believe that the Mt. Zion project can move on without Dru Blair and Dru Blair can also move on without the Mt. Zion Institute,” Dobbs said, while adding that the art college was “a good fit.”

Red Clay Development currently owns the Mt. Zion Institute and its representative, James Maynard, met with the Council in an executive session to discuss the legal and contractual progress. After meeting behind closed doors for roughly two hours, Council accepted the information presented by Maynard and will further discuss the progress at the next town council meeting on Dec. 18.

In other business, Town Council approved a motion to proclaim Friday, Dec. 7 as Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a holiday recognized throughout the nation and the world for the planting of trees. It was begun by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 when he proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees. Mayor Roger Gaddy encourages citizens to participate in this holiday to promote the well-being of this and future generations.

“If you go out and plant a tree then, that would be great,” he said. “And if you plant more than one, then that would be even better.”

During Council’s Nov. 20 meeting, town Finance Director Kathy Belton confirmed Winnsboro is in a good spot financially.

“We are right where we should be,” Belton said.

Admittedly, compared to 2011 the town does have more expenditures but also has more revenue. In comparison to last year at this time the town has generated $66,064 more revenue. Town Council members approved the motion to grant all town employees with a Christmas bonus to be paid for out of the savings of the workman’s compensation fund. Last year town employees were given a bonus of $600.

Council also voted yes for one capital expense request and postponed another. The request approved was for a new HVAC system at the town of Winnsboro’s maintenance shop. The existing system was installed in 1975 and certain replacement parts are no longer available. The low bid was won by John C. Stewart & Co. at $14,050 and councilman Clyde Sanders was in full support.

“We need to be able to provide a comfortable environment for the town’s employees,” Sanders said.

The capital expense request postponed was made by Jesse Douglas for a sewer line replacement. Town manager Don Wood said he would like to a little more time to review all the facts.

“We had some last minute information come up,” Wood explained. “We decided to table that request until the next meeting.”

As a part of new business, the council approved the proclamation for the Town of Winnsboro to adopt the S.C. Municipal Association’s legislative priorities for 2013. The proclamation confirmed that as of Nov. 20 the Town of Winnsboro will support the Municipal Association’s legislative priorities to encourage local decision making by the local elected officials that govern the state’s 270 cities and towns.

To close out the meeting, council members decided to donate to both Walk One’s and the Good Samaritan House’s Thanksgiving meals for the under-privileged.

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