Gov. McMaster, others discussed SRS settlement in Aiken County

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — South Carolina lawmakers spent the morning Friday, August 20 in a town hall meeting at USC Aiken discussing the settlement from the failed MOX project at the Savannah River Site and how it could be used for parts of the CSRA.

“We feel that we should get the lion’s share,” Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

The Palmetto State is getting more than $525 million from a settlement after the MOX fuel project at the Savannah River site failed. Friday, Governor Henry McMaster met with local leaders to hear ideas about where that money should go. He’s pushing for Aiken, Barnwell, and other counties directly impacted by SRS to have priority when it comes to how that money is spent.

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“We have a rare opportunity to make transformative investments in the future of South Carolina. So everything we do with these funds, we need to be sure that they will make that transformative impact in the way the state grows in the future,” Governor McMaster said.

Representatives for Aiken County say there are several projects the money can help with — including improvements to Whiskey Road, cyberinfrastructure, and expanding broadband to rural areas. Senior Tom Young said other lawmakers in their areas also agreed.

“The sentiments that we expressed today are certainly supported by them and they are united in our effort to make sure we get the majority. A vast majority of these funds are invested here,” Senior Tom Young added.

State Representative Bill Clyburn – whose district includes part of Aiken County is part of a committee tasked with deciding how those funds will be spent.

“So far we’ve had one meeting. That meeting was to organize to talk about what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it,” Rep. Clyburn shared. “We also wanted some people to come in and tell us what their thoughts were, but that was just the first meeting,” he added.

Barnwell and Allendale lawmakers and other stakeholders talked about economic development and other projects in their particular areas.

“We need broadband. We need a consolidated high school. We need, uh, industrial. Most of everything we need,” Creech said. “We don’t get everything, but we deserve more than other counties because the stuff is buried in Barnwell County,” he added.

Meanwhile, other town hall events may be held in the future. McMaster says it depends on conversations like the one held Wednesday.

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