Residents can express opinions, ideas at town hall meeting

Residents and officials of Barnwell County are encouraged to attend a town-hall meeting next week to discuss ways to move the county forward.
County council has set a meeting at Williston Town Hall March 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting will focus on how to bring economic development to the county. The proposed 1 percent capital-projects sales tax - which would need a vote of approval from residents in November - will also be a topic.
Barnwell County faces many problems. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, a shrinking labor force, municipalities facing budget shortfalls and the future of the Savannah River Site hangs over the community like a storm cloud -- the recent announcement that the MOX project at SRS is being put on hold is an ominous sign.
Council Chairman Freddie Houston has said progress will not be made unless people come together. And working partnerships among the county's local governments are lacking. The county is on the verge of a court battle with Blackville, Williston and Barnwell over the county's Economic Development Commission.
Houston hopes the meeting will act as a foundation the community can build on. Other officials have expressed their desire to hold countywide meetings. If the meeting is successful, officials will plan more meetings in other communities in the county.