Mt. Zion Vote Delayed

WINNSBORO – While Town Council once again deferred to a later date any final decision on a proposal by the Friends of Mt. Zion Institute (FOMZI) for renovating the former Mt. Zion Institute property, a parade of FOMZI supporters lined up at the microphone Tuesday night to encourage Council to give the historic, yet beleaguered, Winnsboro landmark one last stay of execution and turn renovations of the former school over to the local citizens group.

“I don’t want to be from the generation that let 200 years of history go,” Pelham Lyles told Council. Lyles was one of nine members of the public to address Council in favor of saving Mt. Zion Tuesday night.

Pam Smith, who lives in the Mt. Zion neighborhood, said the building represented an “awesome opportunity” for the potential future home of the Dru Blair College of Art, and reminded Council of the campaign promises from last spring.

“During the election, many of you said you wanted to save it,” Smith said. “Give FOMZI three years, just like you gave Red Clay (the N.C. development company that most recently had control of Mt. Zion’s future, but failed to even adequately maintain the grounds). They had no money, no plan. FOMZI at least has some money and people willing to work with them.”

One of those willing to work with FOMZI was on hand Tuesday night to offer his help in restoring the windows on the old school house. John “Chuck” Herin, who 10 years ago restored the old Greenbrier School on Highway 269, offered up $26,000 worth of the aluminum materials that he used to restore the Greenbrier School.

But after a one hour and 20 minute executive session to discuss handing over the Mt. Zion reins to FOMZI, Council emerged to make no decision other than to hold a work session in the next “week to 10 days,” Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy said.

“We only had three Council members here tonight (Stan Klaus [District 2] and Danny Miller [District 1] were absent) and I don’t want to make a decision on something this important with just the input from three of us,” Gaddy said. “I think the importance of the situation is such that we ought to have adequate representation from everyone.

“We’ve all been dealing with this issue for a long time and we’re ready for it to be resolved,” Gaddy said.