WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - On a cool, gray Friday morning in Winnsboro, you needed to step inside the Italian Garden Restaurant to see some sunshine and feel some warmth. On Friday
On the 13th - of all days - Senator Mike Fanning, a Democrat from Fairfield County, was there with good news.
"For the last two months, we haven't had too much good news," the state senator said. "For the last several months, we have been mired in a lack of hope."
A lack of hope set in after the swift abandonment of the nuclear expansion project at V.C. Summer. Thousands were laid off as a result.
"My old yellow pick-up truck is stopped and flagged by former workers that might be standing on the side of the road or are stopping a car and want to know, 'Where are we? Is there a chance we can go back to work?'" Fanning said.
Now, Fanning can tell them the odds have improved. After a meeting with Governor Henry McMaster and others earlier in the week, he's convinced of that.
"He has a minimum of six Fortune 200 companies that have made written requests to be allowed to consider to purchase any combination of Santee Cooper - Santee Cooper with the reactors, the reactors by themselves," he said.
After the meeting, the senator said there's a 50/50 chance work on the two new reactors will be revived. Impacted workers, who sat with Fanning for lunch Friday afternoon, now have hope.
"I'm willing to go back out there if I get a chance to go back out there to work," said James McConnell, a laid-off worker.
If they get that chance, Fanning said Republican Governor McMaster will deserve a lot of the credit.
"I'm a Democrat that lives in Fairfield County. I have never had, really, any type of relationship with Governor McMaster. One way or the other, I just haven't. I'm new. I've been there six months. I have never seen any human being work harder in an open-mind towards finding any solution possible than Governor McMaster has in this situation," Fanning said. "Several folks have said, 'Senator Fanning, you need to watch out for that, because he may only be doing that because he's running for governor!' My response is everyone's running for something. If someone's providing leadership, what possible reason do I care about the motivation? We want to see results."
Senator Fanning also praised the legislature for working across the aisle and investigating what went wrong. He said the "next step" of the process will be determining the exact value of Santee Cooper's worth.