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|Industry, economics top council wish list|
Winnsboro's leaders on the city council have a big wish list for 2008, with all members hoping increased business and industry will bring new jobs and lead to better financial times ahead. Each member has similar and unique ideas on what they'd like to see happen in the city – and the surrounding areas – in this eighth year of the 21st century.
Councilman Richard Mahoney, who represents District No. 1, is eyeing more opportunities for small businesses along with progress on existing projects.
"I'd like to see a little strip mall. The city buildings are full and downtown is full. There are some young entrepreneurs out there who need places to do business," Mahoney said. "And within 12 months I'd like to see some of our street projects underway, or at least preparing to get some of them done."
Craig Gill of District No. 4 said drawing industry to Winnsboro and Franklin Parish tops his 2008 wish list.
"I hope to see some increase in industry. The city has worked well with our economic development foundation and legislators in securing KenCoil, Vineyard and the tire recycling plant, so we have a pretty good track record."
Gill also expressed concern of the cost of running city and parish government, and suggested 2008 might be the time to look at some alternative governing practices.
"It takes a lot of money to keep the city and parish going, to keep funding so many departments like fire, police and water. We may need to look at the feasibility and the possibility of parish government or home rule charter," Gill said.
Sonny Dumas, the councilman for District No. 3, said he hopes the city can develop its location for small industry and become a transportation hub.
"I'd like to see some industry on a small scale such as recycling and distribution centers. We don't have the ability to do large scale, but because of the four-laning of hwy. 15, our access to I-20 and the Mississippi River at Natchez, on a small scale we could make furniture or metal products that can be shipped to large warehouses or distribution centers," Dumas said.
Dumas said he'd like to see the city get out of the "crunch zone" when it comes to funding.
"This is the financial concern which causes us to have a crunch every time the budget comes up. We really have to squeeze to find some additional funds," he said.
Councilman Rex McCarthy of District No. 5 said promotion of the school system and a closer working relationship with the school board are tops on his list.
"I'd like to see more of a united front from the city council and the school board. We're trying to bring business and industry in and the first thing they look at are the schools and the churches," McCarthy said. "We need to attend each other's meetings."
McCarthy also said increasing city salaries is important to him in 2008.
"We've got to try to get raises for police, fire and city employees. We are behind the times," he said.
Councilwoman Betty Johnson of District No. 3, said jobs are what the city needs this year.
"My first and main wish for our city is that it will increase in job opportunities. I do believe is we had more prosperous jobs that our community could see a change in finances, crime and even in our schools. If we increase in job opportunities, then our community shall expand and those living negative lives can do something positive," Johnson said.
"My second wish is to see our school system flourish. The children are our future, they are the city of Winnsboro's future as well," she said.
The Winnsboro Town Council meets for the first time this year on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. in the city court building.