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County will buy fountain, despite debate on cost

As local government officials and employees prepare for the move into the new city-county government center in downtown Thomson, controversial issues still are unfolding over the purchase of certain items.

The latest centered on a fountain planned for the courtyard at the government complex and judicial center, which now is more than 90 percent completed.

At the Jan. 18 meeting of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners, two of the five commissioners -- the Rev. Fred Favors and Paul McCorkle -- said they opposed the county purchasing and erecting a fountain on the site.

They expressed their personal feelings after Project Manager Jud Bryant informed commissioners how much such a fountain would cost.

The price tag: $88,125.

Mr. Bryant explained that the majority of the money to pay for the new fountain would come from the budgeted landscape fund.

"I still think we ought to do some soul searching," Mr. McCorkle said.

"I'm opposed to doing it."

Mr. McCorkle pointed out that commissioners had received a quote from a swimming pool contractor several months ago that had a reflecting pool costing $40,000.

"To me, it's an esthetic feature," Rev. Favors said. "I have a problem with spending the money."

Rev. Favors said he did not have a problem with putting something in the courtyard, just not something that was going to shoot the price up.

"We have a beautiful building and it is state of the art." Rev. Favors said.

The Rev. Favors compared changes to the courtyard to the cufflinks on a shirt: "We can always change it."

Commission Chairman Charlie Newton told board members that having a fountain in the courtyard will make a statement to those that visit.

"It will say to them that McDuffie County is moving forward," Mr. Newton said. "The fountain was on the original plan. We pitched this to the voters."

Mr. Newton said the fountain will serve as "a jewel" for the complex.

"I think the fountain would be nice," Mr. McCorkle said later, noting he had a problem with the cost of it.

"I'd like to see more than one price."

"I'd hate to cheapen it," Commissioner Bill Jopling said.

A brick walkway is expected to surround the fountain.

Each brick will be purchased by individuals to honor a veteran.

The project is being spearheaded by members of McDuffie Leadership.

After more discussion, a roll-call vote was requested. It ended in a 3-2 vote to purchase the new fountain.

Mr. Jopling and Commission Vice-Chairman Sammie Wilson Sr. voted to approve purchasing the new fountain, while the Rev. Favors and Mr. McCorkle voted against.

Web posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

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