Museum gets rolling
The McDuffie County Museum will host a professional consultant from Maryland Dec. 4-7. John W. Durel, PhD., is board president for Durel Consulting Powers, and an affiliate with Qm2, which offers management for museums. Before becoming a consultant, Mr. Durel served as executive director of several museums.
"He's very highly respected in his field," said Rusty Lovelace, chairman of McDuffie County Museum Board of Trustees. "He has a long list of clients nationwide in the non-profit sector. ... This gets the ball rolling for us."
Mr. Lovelace said the purpose of Dr. Durel's visit will be to create a museum master plan that will guide the decisions and actions of the board of trustees over the next three to five years. The consultant fee is covered by a grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation.
Mr. Lovelace said the board hopes to open the museum in 2006, and the master plan will enable them to seek funding. The museum will be housed in the old SunTrust Bank and Thomson Drug Company buildings on Main Street in Thomson.
"This will be one part of the pie: the pie being the renovation of downtown Thomson. We will be one of the early slices that will be finished and up for operation," Mr. Lovelace said.
Wrightsboro Cemetery beautification
The Wrightsboro Foundation has received a $600 grant from the Watson Brown Foundation Junior Board to continue conservation and beautification efforts begun on the Wrightsboro Cemetery last November.
"I am pleased with how much better the place looks and how the community responded," said Epp Wilson, who spearheaded the project last year. "So when the junior board came up with some more ideas, I said 'Yeah, sounds great to me,' so we're going to implement the plan. They gave us some money, and I'm going to take care of the rest of it."
Mr. Wilson said the plans include a drip-irrigation system, some sandy top soil, a two-rail cedar fence to mark off property boundaries, and planting flowers.
Because the property is county-owned, permission was received from the county commission to carry out the work. Mr. Wilson said he hopes to do the work in the next few months during the dormant season.
"I just love it up there, it's just God's country," he said. "The Quakers did a heck of a job developing this part of the country, and they brought a special beauty to this land which already had its own intrinsic beauty. ...We just want to do our part to keep that going."
Hotel hasn't paid taxes
McDuffie County officials are hoping to get a local hotel to pay up on its share of hotel/motel taxes. According to documents released at last week's County Commission meeting, the Holiday Inn near I-20 has missed paying the past three months of taxes while attempts by officials to acquire the payments have gone unsuccessful.
Currently the county's attorney is exploring options to force the hotel to pay what it owes. According to the ordinance, the county holds the right to audit the books at the hotel to find out how much is owed. Commissioners may also explore the option of putting more "teeth" into the ordinance.
The hotel/motel tax is set aside to promote tourism within the county. Each business is responsible for reporting and paying the amount of taxes owed to the county each month. Despite the Holiday Inn's inconsistency, income from those taxes is up 18 percent over this time last year.