Fort Mill answers $54 million question

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comApril 30, 2013 

Elections staffers Sharon Woodard and Bob Hemphill demonstrate how they make photo IDs for registered voters without them. One elderly couple had Ids made on election day and voted in the Fort Mill schools referendum, they said.

MICHAEL HARRISON - MHARRISON@FORTMILLTIMES.COM — Michael Harrison - mharrison@fortmilltimes.com

— With less than five hours to go before polls close, a majority of voters questioned after casting ballots were in favor of allowing the Fort Mill School district to sell $54 million in bonds to expand its two schools and build a new elementary school.

The referendum was held today because the school board decided the measure was needed to help the district keep up with the growth in population. Officials considered building a third high school, but were concerned voters would reject the estimated $100 million cost.

By about 1:30 p.m. poll workers at the Orchard Park precinct at Philadelphia United Methodist Church said more than 60 percent of the precinct’s registered voters had cast ballots. There were 251 voters signed in at that point.

A small sampling of voters turned up overwhelming support for the measure.

Rochelle Settle said she voted in favor of the bond because, “I have two children in Fort Mill Schools. Keeping up to date with the schools and keeping up with population growth is important not only for the children, but for the community in general.”

At the Palmetto Precinct inside Tega Cay Baptist Church, Don and Vicky Olson both said they voted in favor of the question.

“We want more schools,” Vicky Olson said. Asked why, she responded, “We have three grandkids in the system a daughter who’s a teacher and not only that, but we definitely support education.”

Her husband said they didn’t favor all of the spending in the measures – some money would be used to install artificial turf at the two high schools’ football stadiums, for example – but voted for it nonetheless.

“I guess we’re in favor of expanding the two high schools before they have to build another one,” Don Olson said.

“I voted in support of it. I feel like we need to do what it takes to keep our schools strong,” Barbara Williams said.

Michael Blondo, who cast his ballot at the Doby’s Bridge Precinct, said he was convinced to vote yes at an information meeting held last week at Fort Mill Middle School.

“I was very impressed at the meeting, what they want to do and save money now to further education and [build new] buildings later on,” he said.

Only one voter asked said he voted no. He declined to give his name or say why he decided to vote against the bond sale.

A voter named Helen LaCombe didn’t want to discuss her vote, but did voice an opinion on another issue.

“I think it’s a great idea they asked for picture ID,” she said.

York County Elections staffers were at the Orchard Park Precinct set up to take photos and print ID cards for registered voters who didn’t have them. Officials there said one elderly couple without drivers licenses received picture IDs earlier in the day and were allowed to vote.

Check back for more.

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