Taylor leaves mark on Town, County

Jason Taylor’s resignation as Winnsboro Town Manager took effect July 1.

WINNSBORO – The Town of Winnsboro employees bade farewell to their boss, Town Manager Jason Taylor, during a drop-in at town hall on Friday, June 30, his last day at the Town. On Monday, July 1, he would take over as Town Manager for the Town of Newberry.

As the employees and other friends stopped by town hall between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., they visited with Taylor and enjoyed refreshments provided by Sarah ‘N Geo’s restaurant in Ridgeway (four kinds of pizza) and Peace on Earth restaurant in downtown Winnsboro (slices of chocolate frosted cake and white frosted cake).

Taylor came to the Town three years earlier after serving as Fairfield county administrator from 2016 through June, 2021.

In both jobs, Taylor has left his mark.

Former County Council Chairman Neil Robinson was quoted in December, 2020, saying that while much was accomplished in the county in 2019, he had predicted that 2020 could be a breakout year for Fairfield County. And despite the ensuing pandemic and associated challenges, 2020 was just that – a phenomenal year for economic development, jobs, infrastructure and a laundry list of other accomplishments.

Robinson credited Taylor, then-county administrator, with guiding the council’s directives to fruition.

“His vision and knowledge of where we should be and how we will get there surprises me every day,” Robinson said.

Ty Davenport, the county’s Director of Economic Development at the time, cited growth in the county’s manufacturing sector that had brought more than 1,000 jobs under Taylor’s administration.

“It’s been an extremely successful year despite the pandemic,” Davenport said. “We’ve accomplished more this year and last year than we have in the previous ten – as much or more – from a jobs standpoint.”

Before Taylor left the county in June, 2021, the county had brought in more than $100,000,000 in economic development, had approved a new fire station for River Road, and had transformed a worn out, former stable behind the clock into a much needed farmers market building for the county. Taylor was in the process of overseeing the conversion of the former Mt. Zion Institute facility into a new office building for county offices. And it was that same year that council outlawed tethering of dogs in the county with an updated animal ordinance, and the county had begun cleaning up derelict, unsightly abandoned houses in the Zion Hill neighborhood.

In a move that Taylor likened to the physical cleaning up of derelict properties, the county established a Forfeited Land Commission in 2020, which handles the auctioning of long-abandoned properties to get them back into productive use.

After accepting the Town Manager’s position at the Town of Winnsboro in June, 2021, Taylor focused on obtaining earmarks and grant funding to revitalize downtown Winnsboro and restoring Fortune Springs Park to its glory days. Council also voted to eliminate the $500 annexation fee which brought hundreds of annexations into town in less than three years.

With mostly in-house labor, Taylor oversaw the renovation of the historic Armory building last year – the painting, flooring and ceilings are all redone with installation of new heating and air conditioning planned for 2024.

As the Town moved toward revitalization of downtown Winnsboro, council passed new code enforcement laws and a historical preservation ordinance. To date, the Town has been awarded $2 million in state earmark funds specifically for revitalizing downtown. To that end, council has voted to purchase, with plans to restore, seven downtown buildings – including Thespian Hall – and two parking lots, with more purchases and restorations planned. In addition, private investors have purchased the Wells Fargo building and the former Fairfield Country Club with an eye to restoration.

The Town has also done some renovations to the town clock, which it owns, and is currently using the ground floor space for town council meetings.

“The Town must get heavily involved as did Newberry, Camden and Rock Hill,” Taylor said. And while he will now be working in Newberry, Taylor says he wants to see Winnsboro and Fairfield County flourish.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my work as Town Manager and I’m looking forward to the continued revitalization of the town. I wish the best for all of Fairfield,” Taylor said.

He has called on the town council, “to continue to look at what other towns have done successfully and then try to make that work for the Town of Winnsboro.”

Taylor, Dir. Electric Dept. William Medlin, Mayor John McMeekin, Grants Writer Cindi Gawronski, Howard Sanders, and Charlene Young, Finance. | Photos: Barbara Ball
Finance Dept. employees Latonya Feaster, Audrey Evans, Taylor, and Melissa Williams

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]