County seeks federal funding
Dorchester County representatives flew to Washington, D.C. last week to make the case for infrastructure investment here.
The trip is one the county has begun to make annually to keep its needs in front of federal representatives.
Administrator Jason Ward, Council Chairman Bill Hearn, Councilmen Willie Davis and George Bailey, and Economic Development Director Jon Baggett boarded a small plane at the Summerville Airport in the wee hours of April 17 for a whirlwind one-day tour of the capital.
The group was kept busy going from office to office and had a lot of good meetings, Hearn said.
The greatest focus was on the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency. The county wants to bring water from the agency to the Harleyville area.
Savings of $3.5 million from other projects can go toward making that happen, but the county is also seeking funding from other sources.
It applied to the newly-created Rural Infrastructure Authority, housed within the S.C. Department of Commerce, but the county didn’t receive one of the 14 grants made in February.
Bailey thought the trip was a good one, but he was less optimistic than Hearn.
What he learned, he said, is “we are no different from a lot of other counties throughout not only South Carolina but throughout the United States.”
The current political climate and the scorn that earmarks have earned mean Dorchester County is unlikely to get money for its infrastructure projects, he said.
It needs water and sewer down interstates 95 and 26 if it’s to attract industry, he said.
“I don’t think we’re going to get anything out of Washington until the mindset is changed that we do look at worthy projects,” he said.
No one disagreed that the county’s projects are worthwhile, he said; they simply couldn’t make any promises about funding.
But, he said, “I’m glad we went.”