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TOWN COUNCIL ELECTION: Wood hopes to retain seat

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By Nancy Parsons

Councilwoman Maxine L. Wood wants to retain her seat on Great Falls Town Council. Wood has served 18 months on the council. She filed for re-election in the April 8 election.

Wood was elected to office in September 2006 to complete the unexpired term of the late Councilman Wayne Autry. Wood, 65, said her primary goal is to return Great Falls to the great town it was before industry left and the highway passed it by.

"Great Falls has an opportunity to reverse the negative impact of progress while at the same time using progress to move us forward," Wood said.

The town, the S.C. Department of Commerce and the Chester Development Association provided money to develop a master plan for improving the town to bring commerce back, Wood said. The plan is being used as a guideline for making the town more attractive.

"This plan could also be used to gain more grant money to make the changes recommended," Wood said. "As a town council member, I will continue to work diligently to use the master plan to pursue grants and to implement improvements that such grants would allow us to make."

Wood encourages greater citizen participation at all public meetings of the town council.

"Our town needs her citizens' ideas," Wood said. "Great Falls belongs to her citizens .Without input from the citizenry, our representatives have to do what they think is best based on the information they have. Unless we as citizens participate in our public meetings, we give up the right to complain when things are not done as we feel they should be. Every citizen must take ownership in the future of Great Falls."

Wood said she would also like to see more unified representation of the citizens within the council and various departments of the town.

"We must work with a mutual respect of one another before we can begin to gain the respect of the citizens we represent," Wood said.

Economic revitalization is the single most important issue facing the town, Wood said. The town must focus on using readily available resources as well as those outside the town to revitalize the economy.

Water recreation on the Catawba River, nature-based tourism and the chance to become a bedroom community along the I-77 corridor are potential internal resources that can be used, Wood said.

The external resources include grant money from the state and federal government.

"The projected state park on Dearborn Island should have a definite and lasting impact on the economic potential for our town," Wood said.

If re-elected, Wood said she will propose local legislation that will allow blighted areas of the town to be cleaned up and dilapidated houses and businesses demolished.

Wood said she would also like to see ordinances enforced for loitering, dogs running loose, junked and abandoned cars and appliances removed from yards and other debris that makes for an unsightly and unhealthy environment.

Wood said she will solicit the help of various agencies to curtail drug traffic. She said she would also like to see expanded activities for senior citizens and a safe environment for youth who enjoy skateboarding.

Improving the image of the town is another of Wood's goals.

"We have a lot to offer but we are not demonstrating that right now," Wood said. "Many of our citizens are very disenchanted with our town. I feel some of this has to do with our present economic situation, frustration over the lack of jobs in our area and the general appearance of the town; however I am not ready to 'jump ship.' There remains much work to be done."

Considering the economic situation of the town, services provided by the town meet the needs of most citizens, Wood said. Wood said she will explore options to improve trash pick-up services for those who need help.

To attract industry and improve economic development, Wood said she will pursue the development and implementation of the master plan.

"Nature-based tourism remains one of our greatest untapped resources," Wood said.

Wood said she does not see tax incentives as an option in attracting industries.

"We don't need another industry to be tax-free. We need industry that will relieve the tax burden on citizens," Wood said.

Wood said she would also like to see the town's website updated. She does not see any way to cut taxes.

Gas prices and utility costs would have to decrease to do so, she said.

Some citizens would like to see speeding and other traffic violations curtailed, Wood said. "This all takes gas and manpower," she added.

"Eighteen months ago I had the same agenda as every candidate running for office today change, change, change. The thoughts were easy, the results near impossible. My experiences have really opened my eyes and hopefully enhanced my ability to make sound and just decisions, have more patience with all town employees and citizens and strive to be someone you would want to continue as your representative.

"I truly feel we are on the radar screen for some good things to come our way, but it won't happen tomorrow. In the meantime, we must pull together as a community to help ourselves," Wood said.

The widow of Frank Wood, Wood has lived on Pinecrest Avenue for 16 years. She has a son, Patrick, and daughter-in-law, Kathleen, of Columbia. She has three grandchildren.

Wood is an active member of the Great Falls Presbyterian Church where she has served as treasurer for the past three years.

She is also an elder, choir member and member and treasurer of the Presbyterian Women's group.

She is the former chairwoman and member of the Great Falls Home Town Association and a member of the natured-based tourism committee and a poll manager for the Chester County Election Commission.

Wood graduated from Shelby High School, in Shelby, NC and completed several computer and managerial courses at York Technical College. She has more than 40 years experience in accounting, management and human resources. She was the accounting manager for Borden, Inc. and Eagle Family Foods, Inc. in Chester for more than 20 years before her retirement.