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Officials look at year ahead for McDuffie County

Local leaders hope 2004 will be another year filled with cooperation across government lines.

"We'd like to continue the good relationship with the county in our joint efforts," said Thomson Mayor Bob Knox.

At the top of the joint project list are a planned city-county government complex, airport expansion and water and sewer work.

In Dearing, where city leaders are planning for a year marked by few changed, there will be one move that has to be made early on. City Councilman Skeet Reeves recently moved out of the Dearing City limits and had to resign from the board. His seat will be filled during the council's Jan. 12 meeting, said Mayor Ralph Menees.

"And Judge Dunaway is going to be there to swear (the new member) in," he said.

Part of McDuffie County's focus will be on Dearing also.

County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton is hoping planned renovations to the Dearing Gymnasium should come to fruition this year.

"We'd like to get the Dearing Gym done this year. We are in need for the gym space. The folks in Dearing asked me about it, and we looked at what can be done," he said. "We want to stop the bats from getting inside that can cause health problems, we need to put handicapped-accessible bathrooms in so handicapped folks can go in there, we need to put in a handicap ramp, some rewiring needs to be done, and the roof needs to be fixed."

On the state level, money will be at the center of most discussions. Rep. Jimmy Lord said a state tax increase may be needed to soften budget cuts.

"We'll have to start cutting services and employees unless we start getting money from somewhere," he said.

And the McDuffie County Board of Education will be keeping a close eye on the goings-on in Atlanta.

"We're very anxious to see what the legislature is going to do this year because the Governor is talking about a two percent raise, and yet he's talking about no more state money," said McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham. "In effect that takes money away from something in order to generate that two percent raise. So I think it will be another tough financial year for us as far as the budgeting process goes."

This week, The McDuffie Mirror talks to local movers and shakers -- from city councilmen to state legislators -- about what the opportunities and challenges ahead in 2004 mean to McDuffie County.

Web posted on Thursday, January 8, 2004

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