Graniteville residents talk consolidation

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A recovery effort a year and a half long, and now, talk of consolidation among three towns in the valley. What difference will it really make?

Graniteville, Vaucluse, and Warrenville are three separate towns that some want to see merge into one, for several reasons.

A merge could pave the way for federal and state grants. After the news that Avondale Mills will likely close next month, it's money Graniteville residents say they could definitely put to use.

"We have several things we want to discuss tonight," said Charles Hilton. "The reason I wanted to have this is to start looking at an individual map of the parcel areas."

Hilton is the chairman of a committee that is seeking to consolidate the three towns.

While they may not look like much, the note-taking retirees could very well be shaping the future of three populations.

"I'm 71 and have lived here most of my life and am proud of my community and would like to see it grow," says sub-committee member Betty Jay.

And she means grow quite literally.

During Thursday night's meeting, the committee used maps to define the would-be city limits.

It's just the first step of a lengthy process that will ultimately require approval from the city of Aiken and Graniteville residents.

"If we don't do something we're in bad trouble. We've got to get something done," said Don Walling, referring to the nearly 2000 Avondale layoffs likely to happen next month.

Residents of this small mill town say the time to act is now.

"We need some industry here. Because people without jobs, what's going to happen to businesses? They're going to say 'There's no money to spend'," said Jay.

"I may not be around but I'd like to see it grow," Walling said. "You know, I'm always for changes and stuff like that."

About 5000 people reside in these three towns.

The committee will meet again in three weeks with a finished map. The next item on the agenda will concern operations and budgets. It includes choosing at least three of these services:

Fire/Police Protection
Water/Solid Waste Supply
Building Codes
Planning & Zoning/Street Lighting
Rec. Facilities

Establishing a city requires a simple majority vote.