Ministry May Save Former County Offices

WINNSBORO – An historic Fairfield County building, the former headquarters for the County’s Voter Registration, Coroner and Fire Marshal’s offices, may be saved from the wrecking ball. County Council announced during their regular meeting Monday night at the Fairfield Magnet School that they will hold a work session in Council chambers on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. to discuss a proposal from Christ Central Ministries to take ownership of the empty building, located at 117 E. Washington St. in Winnsboro.

Under the proposal, “The County would give Christ Central the building outright,” Council Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) said, “the only stipulations being that the County doesn’t have to invest anything in it and Christ Central provides a suitable policy outlining the number of years it will take for them to build it out like they want it and if they have problems and can’t do so, to tear it down like we were going to do.”

Ferguson said Councilman David Brown (District 7), who sits on the Christ Central Ministries Board of Directors, brought the proposal to Council for their consideration.

Last April, Council was a vote away from demolishing the structure, per the recommendation of then County Administrator Phil Hinely. County moved its offices out of the building in July of 2011, relocating to a remodeled facility at 315 S. Congress St.

“Several years ago, we abandoned the Voter Registration building. It had fire code violations, electrical code violations, public code violations. It had about every kind of code violation you could think of,” Hinely said during Council’s April 22 meeting. “It’s a safety hazard, it’s a fire hazard. I’m really kind of surprised it made it through the winter. We didn’t have any snow, but a heavy snow could have crashed that roof down.”

But Terry Vickers, President of the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, pleaded with Council during the April 22 meeting to give the building another chance. Vickers said the building was part of the Chamber’s long-term vision for the local farmers market, and Monday night Ferguson said the Christ Central proposal did include a commercial kitchen, which would also be part of the farmers market project.

Council will formally vote on the Christ Central proposal during their next regular meeting on Sept. 23, a meeting that Council voted Monday night to also hold either at the Magnet School or a facility of equal capacity.