County Launches New Era

Carolyn Robinson, Chairwoman

Kamau Marcharia, Vice Chairman

Robinson Elected Chair, Marcharia Vice Chair

WINNSBORO – County Council launched its 2015 session Monday night by tapping Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) as its new chairwoman. Robinson took five of the seven votes in the secret ballot election. Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) earned two votes.

Councilman Kamau Marcharia (District 4) was elected vice chairman with four votes over District 5 newcomer Marion Robinson’s three votes. Marion Robinson, Dan Ruff (District 1) and Billy Smith (District 7) were all sworn in earlier in the evening in a ceremony prior to Monday’s meeting.

“I know we are going to have some changes,” Carolyn Robinson said after her election as chairwoman. “One of the things is we are going to have to continue to promote economic development. It’s most important for our county, but in order to meet the challenges that are going to be facing us, we’re going to need to communicate and to work together so that we can face all of the problems, all of the challenges that are presented to us.”

On the Road Again

Chairwoman Robinson, adding the item to the agenda after the meeting had convened, informed Council that State Rep. J. Gary Simrill (R-46, York County) and his House Transportation, Infrastructure and Management ad hoc committee had met earlier in the day to consider moving forward with a state plan to turn over to S.C. counties about half of the state’s roads and highways. Part of that plan, she said, includes a promise to fully fund the state’s local government fund, but even that, County Administrator Milton Pope said, would not be enough for counties to maintain roads.

“We don’t have anywhere near the funding to take over and to maintain state roads,” Pope said. “In regards to the local government fund, that’s really a separate issue altogether. The state actually owes local governments to be able to fund the local government formula fully, as to what’s due for local governments to where we can help to reduce taxes on the local level. Combining those two issues, it’s a little skeptical packaging it that way. Even if we were to get what’s fully funded, that’s not going to go anywhere near where we need to be.”

On Robinson’s recommendation, Council voted to send a letter detailing their opposition to the Simrill plan to every member of Simrill’s committee, as well as to Fairfield County’s local legislative delegation.

State Sen. Creighton Coleman (D-17) told The Voice last month that he was not in favor of turning over state roads to the counties, adding that he did not think the plan would muster enough votes to pass.

“It’s a pretty radical idea,” Coleman said in December. “To me, it’s a state problem and the state ought to find a solution.”

Jenkinsville Sidewalks

Jenkinsville Mayor Gregrey Ginyard, addressing Council during Monday night’s second public comment session, asked Council for support in completing a sidewalk project in the western Fairfield town. Ginyard said three-quarters of the project, from Buttercup Lane to approximately a quarter of a mile shy of Baltic Circle where the Lake Monticello Park is located, had been completed using Department of Transportation grant money. To take the sidewalk all the way to the park, Ginyard said Jenkinsville is applying for another grant and needs $100,000 in matching funds. Ginyard said the town only needed half of that – $50,000 – from the County, and in two installments of $25,000 each in 2015 and in 2016. Ginyard said Jenkinsville didn’t need the cash right away, but did need a letter of commitment from the County by March to submit with their grant application.

Council took no action on Ginyard’s request Monday night.

Meeting Schedule

Council also reviewed and approved their meeting schedule for the remainder of 2015, voting to delay their Feb. 22 meeting until 7 p.m. to accommodate a drop-in at the Carolina Events Center to honor former Sheriff Herman Young.

During the discussion, Smith noted that the Aug. 10 meeting had been listed as ‘canceled’ on the schedule. The meeting would have come on the heels of the annual Association of Counties conference on Hilton Head Island, but Smith pointed out that the conference ran from Aug. 2 through Aug. 5.

“You would have five days to get back from Hilton Head to Fairfield County,” Smith said, and moved to hold the regularly scheduled meeting.

Ruff seconded the motion, which passed with only Mikel Trapp (District 3) voting in the negative.