On Thursday evening, 8/19, the Voice Of South Oconee (VOSO) and the Fair Play Community Association (FPCA) held an information meeting for area residents at the Fair-Oak Youth Center. District 5 County Councilman Reg Dexter kicked off the meeting with a brief overview regarding the progress being made to provide sewer infrastructure for south Oconee County, and his frustration working with the Oconee Joint Regional Sewer Authority (OJRSA). While Mr. Dexter indicated that he has scheduled several meetings with the OJRSA to discuss a number of open issues, they have been unable to meet since he began asking for a meeting in March. He indicated that there is still some confusion regarding the availability of funding reserved in the past for this project, and he promised to keep residents informed of his progress working with the OJRSA. As reported earlier, DHEC approved the OJRSA’s application for a waste water treatment facility at the Golden Corner Commerce Park in early May.
Dr. Robert Becker, Clemson professor and Director of the Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, then took the audience through his perspective on the current economic status of South Carolina and, specifically, the upstate. While he said that it does not feel like it yet, based on the definition of a recession, South Carolina emerged from the current recession last November. Historically, he indicated, South Carolina was one of the first states to enter a recession, and one of the last to emerge from it. The difference this time is that South Carolina does not have a large property value bubble to overcome, as much of the rest of the country does. His perspective is that once our economy begins to “turn” it will do so very quickly, and we will again see properties selling at a brisk pace, and developers eager to engage in the construction of residential and commercial projects.
The next speaker was Dr. David Hughes, also a Clemson professor, as well as a rural development economist who is the program leader for Clemson’s Institute for Economic and Community Development. Dr. Hughes took the audience through the project that he has designed for one of his classes to execute this fall. Utilizing students throughout the project, Dr. Hughes will thoroughly analyze our area with respect to things like the jobs that exist, where people that live here work, where people that work here live, where residents shop, etc. The students will then interview area residents with regard to what they believe to be the strengths of the area, its weaknesses, and their vision for what they would like it to be in the future. These interviews will include a broad cross section of residents throughout the area, as well as random subjects that they encounter “on the streets”. There will be several feedback sessions conducted by Dr. Hughes and his students, which VOSO and the FPCA will sponsor and invite area residents to attend.
During a question and answer session at the close of the meeting, both Dr. Becker and Dr. Hughes addressed questions from the audience. Councilman Dexter also asked the more than 50 attendees for a show of hands with respect to who supported the council’s efforts to bring sewer infrastructure to the area. The hands of about ¾ of the audience were raised. When asked who did not support that effort, two individuals from the audience raised their hands.
If you have questions, need additional information (including a copy of Dr. Hughes presentation), or would like to get more involved in the Clemson student project described below, please contact VOSO at VoiceOfSouthOconee@Gmail.com.