Anson county commissioners took a break from budget talks and resident requests to focus on their legacies during their retreat on Jan. 28.
Board chairwoman Anna Baucom asked her fellow board members what they want their legacy to be.
“I want my legacy to be relationship among my board members,” Baucom said. “I would rather my legacy not be the landfill, but if it is, I’ll own it.”
Jim Sims said that he hoped his would be economic growth.
“I would like mine to be that I’ve done all I can for my county,” Bobby Sikes said.
Vancine Sturdivant said that she wanted hers to be that she helped her community, while Jarvis Woodburn said that he wanted to be known for being “a good listener and making decisions on the facts.”
Baucom said that the community had been good to them, and that she felt they were making progress.
“It’s systematic and incremental, but improving,” she said.
The board identified its top concerns in the county: poverty, illiteracy, perception of the county, drugs and littering.
Some of those problems may go hand in hand, Baucom said. To reduce litter, the commissioners discussed setting a high fine and employing a deputy to enforce a litter ordinance.
Sims suggested that in order to help improve literacy, the board increase its teacher supplements and work on adding things to do in the county to draw top teachers to the area.
The board also focused on the best of the last year. The upcoming Agri-Civic Center, commitment to the Department of Social Services and Health Department and deciding to purchase a new county software system made the list.
The board also heard from three guest speakers: Dr. Maria Pharr, new president of South Piedmont Community College; John Marek, director of the Anson Economic Development Partnership; and Tyler Fitzgerald, district manager of Waste Connections at the Polkton landfill.
Pharr told the board that she is still settling into her role — as she had only begun the new job at the beginning of January — but that she had plans to move forward.
One concern was making higher education accessible to students, she said. Another was encouraging professionalism in students by having them wear more appropriate clothing and showing up on time.
She said she doesn’t want the college to focus just on teaching the students, but on increasing their “employability,” making them strong candidates for jobs when they graduate.
“I think you’re a very articulate young lady with vision, and I think you will be very successful,” Sims said.
“I want to listen and learn to make the right decisions,” Pharr said. “But I don’t want to wait too long.”
Marek told the commissioners that he wasn’t there to ask for anything in particular, but to apprise them of his plans.
He told them that he believed site development would be crucial in marketing county properties to interested businesses.
“It used to be that you could put up a sign with a number, but no one wants raw land anymore,” Marek said. Most businesses want to be close to transportation, have water and sewer access, a partially cleared site and more.
He said he wanted to narrow down his list of preferred sites to five or six he could focus on, all with different strong points. All should have one or two acres cleared to help potential investors envision businesses on the site.
Marek also said that he wanted to look at a uniform incentive policy for businesses considering moving to the area in the interests of promoting consistency and transparency, and in improving workforce development to have people able to fill staff positions when the jobs come.
Fitzgerald said that a landfill in the region has eight to nine years of life left if it keeps at its current pace — but rather than doing that, the landfill will cut its intake. The landfill, owned by another company, has already started to reduce its intake.
“It’s a good company, they know what they’re doing,” Fitzgerald said. “But what it’s done is it’s shifted some of the volume to us.”
Fitzgerald said that about 60 percent of the his company’s waste comes from Waste Connections operations while 20-25 percent comes from municipalities. About 10-15 percent is “third-party special waste.”
The increase is a problem when paired with a tonnage cap for Polkton, he said, and the life of the site is questioned. The landfill is in the end of stage two.
“We have 133 acres of actual footprint at the landfill,” he said. “And it’s broken out into four phases. Phase one, two, three and four. And this year, we will build the last cell of phase two, so we still have phase three and phase four. If you recall, a few months ago, really, just three months ago, I came in and asked for the franchise to be extended, and that’s because phase three and four were beyond the current franchise term. It’s like 2020, 2019. So what we really want to do is we’re going to come to the county at some point close and talk about a phase five.”
The 133 acres would increase to “another number,” he said. Waste Connections already owns almost 1,200 acres, but only 133 is permanent, he said.
“So what we need to do is talk about, at some point, the new footprint and increasing the volume,” he said. “And I know what that means. It means a public hearing. And I know what that means. So, I hate to do that. And we would have a public meeting as well, and—”
“We’ll deal with it,” Baucom said.
“It’s great opportunities for everybody, believe it, even though there’s some pain involved,” Fitzgerald said. “We just talked about economic development. Here it is right here. Growing and creating jobs in the county.”
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.