The Municipality of Chavdar is 70 km to the east of Sofia and 120 km from Plovdiv. It is located in the hollow of Zlatitsa and Pirdop, at the foot of the Balkan Range. Today it looks more like an Austrian village after it has been renovated in the course of 10 years and at the cost of about 6 million euro. Chavdar is among the very best examples in Bulgaria of how European funds can be properly absorbed and used to transform the scenery and life of local people. It is a small municipality however it boasts most successful policies of implementing projects financed by EU and the national revenue.
Pentcho Gerov has been a mayor of Charvdar for a fourth term now. He has graduated the Higher College of Transport in Sofia and has worked in the nearby copper-yielding plant and in a private construction company. In 2003 he ran for mayor and was successful. Gerov admits however that the challenge of being a mayor is that problems virtually mushroom all the time and a good mayor should find quick and lasting solutions to them.
„All the time you have to think of ways to improve life in the village so that people remain to live here. At the beginning when I started work in Chavdar, the water supply was a problem. In the summer we had water rationing and the local residence were unhappy. There was no water treatment plant either. Now these problems have been solved. My first task as a mayor was to find financing and begin changes in the village. I was lucky to have a young team at the municipality, so we started preparing for various tenders and won quite a few of them.”
Pentcho Gerov first started with the reconstruction of the main road outside the village. Itused to be in a poor shape with big holes, so buses even refused to enter Chavdar. The mayor and his team won a project for the road’s reconstruction. Besides, every year the municipality earned profit of up to 100,000 euro from its forest and would use the money to win and carry out projects. In the period 2008-2014 the municipal government won many projects and invested funds to reconstruct streets, build parks, museums and sports facilities. Today all streets in Chavdar are asphalted which is not at all the case across Bulgaria. “I am a lucky mayor; I had the full trust of the people including the municipal councilors,” Pentcho Gerov says.
He is very much in the know how to run and win tenders and to manage the implementation of projects:
“Winning tenders requires perseverance, and of course you need a really good team to prepare the papers. It is also vital to carry out strict control in a competent way. In this regard I rely on my long experience controlling investments in the construction sector. Unfortunately, over the past 2 years the evaluation of projects includes the number of municipal residents. This places the Municipality of Chavdar (which has below 2000 residents) in an unfavorable position. For this reason, we have recently failed to win projects. This year, though, we are running for the construction of a gym at the school and we are set to win. Another tender that we have targeted is for the construction of a timber processing enterprise. We stand a good chance to win, given that we have our own forest, and this is an advantage. Also we want to complete all the village streets with the sidewalks and we run for financing in this regard too. In terms of cross-border cooperation we are applying for a machine to clean our nice asphalted streets.”
The village of Chavdar is the successor of the earliest known population in the region of Sredna Gora. Archaeological digs have found that there was life there 7000 years ago.
The key sights in the area of Chavdar include Topolnitsa Archeological Park with a museum and replicas of dwellings from the Neolith Age, St. Archangel Michael Church built in 1883, the locality of St Petka, as well as the lovely center of the village with a rock garden, a Japanese garden, the renovated community club, school and kindergarten.
Chavdar Municipality Day is celebrated every year on the first Saturday after Easter at the locality of St Petka. Gergiovden (St. George’s Feast) is also marked with diverse festivities at the St. George Chapel.
Edited and translated by Daniela KonstantinovaPhotos: archive
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