CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - Labor Day may have carried somewhat of a different meaning this year for the thousands of employees in South Carolina laid-off from their jobs at the V.C. Summer nuclear reactors site in Fairfield County.
One community, in particular, to experience a hardship from the job loss is Chapin. During the Chapin annual Labor Day celebration and parade on Monday morning, it wasn't hard to find neighbors who knew someone affected by the nuclear project's shuttering.
Zebediah Goldston has spent all of his 33 years in Chapin; however, he may now be forced to move as far away from home as Arizona, for a job. That's why the annual Labor Day parade and festival has a bit of a different feel this year for his family.
"I've been coming to this since I was a kid. We used to run up and down the streets catching candy with everyone else and now we've brought our children out here today to do the same," Goldston said, "this might be the last one we get to for a few years, so it's definitely different."
The V.C. Summer nuclear power construction site shut down at the end of July, causing nearly 6,000 layoffs.
"I'd worked there for six and a half, almost seven years. So, now we're looking for a new opportunity, and the first one that can present itself that can keep my family happy and fed, uh, we'll be following it," Goldston said.
Electric companies SCANA and Santee Cooper say paying for the two new reactors became too expensive.
Some lawmakers like State Representative Nathan Ballentine, who walked in the parade on Monday morning and lives in Chapin himself, sit on a committee investigating the problem. They are trying to come up with a solution to relieve some of the economic pain in the community, looking into the state's Public Service Commission and Office of Regulatory Staff.
"It's just unbelievable the way things are structured. You know, the rubber-stamped all nine rate hike requests and basically the director of said 'Well, if I say I'm okay with it, they're okay with it'. So, why do we need both those groups, if that's how it works?" Ballentine (R- Richland) said.
Nonprofits in the Chapin community, like 'We Care' also marched in the parade on Monday. They have been handing out food and paying power bills since the nuclear project failed.
"I suspect that will continue as those final paychecks come in and August kind of sees people finish that capacity to be self-sufficient," 'We Care' director Alecia Klauk said.
Goldston could set out for Arizona, or elsewhere to support his family of four.
"I just hope that another business can come in that can fill the void that we have right now. We have a lot of families that are put out, and we need somebody to come in and step up and be able to fulfill the needs of our community," Goldston said.
The Governor is still investigating Santee Cooper, trying to get another electric company to buy out the reactors and keep working on them. Lawmakers will hold more meetings and get input from electric customers next week.