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The Thompson family of companies is committed to our core values of safety, quality and integrity and providing value added services. When we call ourselves a family of companies, we mean that in the truest sense of the word – and Sumter is where we call home. Along with our core business values, we are also dedicated to serving and improving our Sumter community. The following organizations are doing tremendous things for our community, and we are incredibly proud to have been able to play a small part. For the 7th year, Thompson was awarded the American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite Recognition, Gold Award. This program is designed by the American Heart Association to be a catalyst for positive change in American business.

Photo credit: Val Davis Photography

“We will never forget our roots in Sumter, SC” - Greg A. Thompson, CEO/President The Crosswell been important our employees Christmas extra

Children’s Home has always to Thompson, and every year generously provide to make special.

Thompson is also thrilled to report another great year of sponsoring the Derby Day and Oktoberfest events to benefit United Way and Sumter United Ministries respectively. These organizations are imperative to keeping our community safe, healthy and thriving. 2|

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About our family: Thompson had a lot to celebrate in 2017 including a top 3 recognition in the Best of Economic Development in South Carolina. Specifically, the Construction Group was recognized for ‘Best Contractors for Industrial Projects in South Carolina’. In addition, Thompson received a South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Annual Commendation of Excellence Award for a top safety record. We are extremely proud of our team and the community of clients we are privileged to serve. At Thompson Construction Group, our focus is on industrial construction and on-site maintenance. Specializing in large industrial projects, we build and maintain facilities for a range of industries: • Pharmaceutical • Tobacco • Aerospace • Pulp & Paper • Chemical • Manufacturing • Steel • Automotive • Power Generation Thompson Turner, general contractors, builds commercial, government and educational facilities. We offer single-source, deadlines and budget-oriented delivery, including Design/Build and CM at Risk. Thompson Industrial Services provides safe, comprehensive industrial cleaning services to major industrial facilities. Our work is safer, faster and more precise with our growing line of advanced automation technologies.

Power Services

Thompson Power Services provides construction services related to boiler and major gas-path equipment installation and repair for electric utilities and industrial facilities.

With Thompson, our commitment to community and customer service is top-of-mind every day. We will always value every job. Our focus is on the details, while never losing sight of our core values to best serve you safely with quality and integrity. 3 | 2018-20 1 9 L I F E I S G O O D IN S U M TER Visit our website at:





West Virginia






Owensboro Oklahoma







Greenville South

North Carolina







Wilmington Sumter

Decatur Augusta Alabama


Georgetown Charleston



Valdosta St. Gabriel Houston



Corpus Christi

Since 1986, Thompson has grown from a modest industrial service business into one of South Carolina’s largest construction and service related companies. After 31 years in business, we now serve the entire southeastern and central United States with more than 2,000 employees and four companies, covering nearly every facet of the construction and industrial service sectors. We have come a long way, but Sumter will always be our home, and we are committed to taking care of Sumter as much as we are committed to taking care of our customers. 100 North Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150 4|

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A real estate company is like a home. The great ones have a strong foundation. Our agents come with a network of experience and are backed by the most admired name in business. 1081 Alice Drive • Sumter, SC 29150

1-800-311-1146 Residential • Rental Land and CommericalLIFEReal I SGO O DIEstate NSUMTE R .C O M | 5


Boutique shopping, ďŹ ne dining, award-winning recreation facilities and a charming downtown, are just a few of the reasons Sumter is fast becoming one of the top destinations in the state of South Carolina. Bring the family for the day and experience true Southern hospitality —

in the heart of South Carolina.

Find more at 6 | 2018-20 1 9 L I F E I S G O O D IN S U M TER

You walk into a new restaurant in a new city, take your seat and order. You take a bite, and your world changes forever. One of those life-altering experiences happened to me recently. I took a bite of that brisket, that smoky, flavorpacked, tender, pepperycrusted brisket at Sidebar in the heart of downtown Sumter. It said all I needed to know about Sumter. A few weeks later, my wife, Brooke, and I moved here. You can read more about the brisket later in this magazine, but here’s the thing: It wasn’t created by accident. The process of making that brisket is where life in Sumter is today – in the midst of a deliberate, bold process to create great experiences and an exceptional quality of life. As part of my new gig with The Sumter Item, I’d like to officially welcome you to the 2018 edition of Life is Good in Sumter magazine on behalf of The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the Sumter Economic Development Board and my co-workers at The Sumter Item. I’d also like to thank Jack Osteen, who created and developed this publication through the years and continues to be an incredibly valuable

What's inside HOW WE ENTERTAIN Colclough seeks to unite people through the arts…………………………………………

resource in its content and vision. Outside our office windows in downtown Sumter, business is booming with a new Economic Development headquarters, a Hyatt Place hotel, numerous restaurants and a brewery on tap to open this year. From community events and performances at the captivatingly beautiful Sumter Opera House to Shaw Air Force Base welcoming new families and higher edcuational facilities building a foundation for the business industry, a community is being rediscovered. Throughout this magazine, you’ll see a proud celebration of our past coupled with a courageous charge toward our future. You’ll see a community knitted together by different viewpoints but common goals – goals of prosperity and a healthy dose of innovation. That innovation is happening at The Sumter Item, too. Now more than just a newspaper, we’re building a premier local media company in the country, bringing you news and information through video, mobile, social media and more, in addition to our printed products. It’s an exciting time. We’re proud to be a part of the Sumter community, and we hope you are, too. Please enjoy the magazine, because Life is Good in Sumter.

Publisher HOW WE LEARN Mini-factory, massive opportunity …………………… 36


Now showing: The Sumter Opera House stands the test of time ………………………………… 10 Calendar: What to do in Sumter……………………… 14 WHERE WE EXPLORE Sumter Rocks: Nationwide phenomenon rolls close to home……… 16 Let's get together: Festivals and community events……………………… 18 Swan Sighting: Sumter's iconic Swan Lake-Iris Gardens ……………… 20 WHAT WE DO Tidying your home made (Sumter) EASY …………… 24 BD is in the business of caring………………………… 28 Who we are by the numbers…………………………… 30 HOW WE LIVE Palmetto Health Tuomey ……………………………… 32

USC Sumter eSports continues to grow……………… 38 CCTC: Envisioning a bright future …………………… 40 Industrial whiz kid puts degree to use………………… 42 WHERE WE GO The restaurant scene is heating up on Main Street…………………………………………… 44


Lights from businesses and passersby shine as night descends on downtown Sumter. Photo by Micah Green

PUBLISHER Vince Johnson EDITOR Kayla Robins EDITORIAL Ken Bell Jim Hilley Bruce Mills Ivy Moore Leigh Newman Kayla Robins Adrienne Sarvis Sammy Way Erika Williams PHOTOGRAPHY Micah Green Keith Gedamke LAYOUT & DESIGN Cary Howard Micah Green Ryan Galloway AD SALES Paige Macloskie

A place to stay…………………………………………… 48 Saving Sumter's history (one sign at a time)………… 50 HOW WE GOVERN Pennies for Progress…………………………………… 54 Chris McKinney: Leading Strong……………………… 56

36 W. Liberty St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-1238

HOW WE SERVE Shaw 'Gamblers' demonstrate F-16 mission………… 58 WHAT WE EAT Going Green……………………………………………… 60 HOW WE PLAY Ready, Set, Race………………………………………… 64 Plenty of places to play………………………………… 67

32 E. Calhoun Street Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 775-1231


Seeking to unite a community through the arts


Manning native Melanie Colclough has a winning smile and vibrant personality. It’s easy to see why she was hired in July 2017 to be the director of the Sumter County Cultural Center. “I’m excited for some of the things we have planned for the future,” she said. As Cultural Center director, one might think Colclough sits behind a desk all day while those around her take care of the various operations that encompass the center. Colclough’s duties have her overseeing not only the Cultural Center itself, but also Patriot Hall, the Sumter Little Theatre, the Gallery of Art, Sumter Civic Chorale, Sumter Jazz Band and the Sumter Community Band. With all of that under the Cultural Center’s auspices, one might think she would not have much time for her family. Nothing could be further from the truth. In early 2017, Colclough and her husband, David, adopted four children. “They were siblings,” she said. And Colclough gushes when she speaks of them. “It has been wonderful,” she said. “We were a little nervous at first, but it has worked out wonderfully.” It seems that Colclough has had several things work out in her life. As a child, she knew her future husband. “We’ve known each other since we were 7 years old,” she said. But as they reached college age, the friends went separate ways. Colclough earned a degree in English from the University of South Carolina before being awarded a fellowship to attend Beirut University in New York, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. “I call it a business degree with a heart,” she said. Colclough said it was a culture shock to live in New York City. “But it was nice to leave South Carolina for a while to learn about big business and government in a metropolitan lifestyle,” she said. After returning home to South Carolina, she and David’s paths crossed again, and the couple began a relationship that culminated in marriage. “We’ve been inseparable ever since,” she said. Colclough was happy and worked at USC in Columbia, but she wanted to live and work in the same area. So, the couple moved to Sumter to be closer to friends and family. “I wanted to be sure that the kids were well-acclimated,” she said. Colclough is looking forward to future opportunities for the Cultural Center and its place in the community. “A lot of people don’t know that they can actually rent Patriot Hall for less than $1 per seat,” she said. “We also have space for business meetings, weddings and other events. The Booth Room rents for $100 an hour, and the smaller room, called the Rembert Room, rents for only $30 an hour. It’s all very reasonable.” Colclough said she is looking to bring more events to Patriot Hall. “We recently had a retreat for the Cultural Commission to talk about the future,” she said. “We want to give Sumter County more diverse opportunities to bring people together. There is so much division today — schools, religion, politics. People have a lot of commonalities. We’re trying to use the arts to bring people together.” The Sumter County Cultural Commission provides services to local arts organizations and artists and information to the public. The commission maintains a community cultural calendar, offers a quarterly small grant program, provides artists-in-residence in local schools and provides opportunities for creative expression in literature, play writing, film, the visual arts and the performing arts. Colcough recently learned that Central Carolina Bank offered a “Bring the Community Together” grant.

“The timing was perfect,” she said. So she wrote a grant proposal and learned in November that her proposal had been selected. Colclough said she plans to use the grant to fund a program that has been successful in other areas called yarn bombers. “It’s art outside,” she said. “It’s crocheting and knitting on outside spaces. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to knit. It’s a way for people to learn. It’s going to be fun.” Another idea is to bring something else to Sumter for the first time. “We’re talking with folks about doing a shag festival here,” she said. “That’s never been done here before.” Colclough is working on other areas to support the arts locally. “We’re looking at trying to work with military families to get them more active in the arts. And we’ll be hosting book signings for local authors, art showings and many other things for the people active in the arts in Sumter County.” So get ready. With everything Colclough has planned, Patriot Hall and the Cultural Center will soon be at the forefront of providing opportunities to showcase the arts. And others will be calling to learn her secrets.


The Sumter County Cultural Center offers Sumter residents a place to experience creative and diverse cultural opportunities. Home to the Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter Little Theatre, Patriot Hall, Sumter Community Concert Band, Sumter Civic Chorale, and the Sumter Community Jazz Band, the historic building is a unique treasure for our community. People from all backgrounds come together to present plays, experience art and enjoy shows and performances spanning the spectrum. For more information, call (803) 436-2260.


Since it was established in 1986 as an integral part of Sumter County’s Cultural Center, Patriot Hall has been a beloved staple throughout the Sumter community. From community events, graduations and shows to international symphonies, musicals and performances, Patriot Hall is the place to showcase #SumterArts and experience #SumterCulture. Patriot Hall plays host to nearly 100,000 visitors annually and showcases a wide array of events. For more information, call (803) 436-2260.


Housed on the back side of Patriot Hall, the Sumter Little Theatre, under the direction on Eric Bultman, allows residents to showcase their acting talents through a variety of performances throughout the year. For more information on schedules or opportunities to audition for upcoming performances, call (803) 7752150.


The Sumter Civic Chorale puts on several performances a year. For a schedule or to learn how to audition, call Director Herbert Johnson at (803) 704-492-4761.


The Sumter Jazz Band is under the direction of Rick Mitchum. To learn more about the band or to set up an audition, call Mitchum at (803) 983-6370.


The Sumter Concert Band is under the direction of Jimmy Mills. To learn more about the bands or to set up an audition, call Mills at (803) 479-8230.

Now showing: The Sumter Opera House stands the test of time

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By the late 1970s, competing movie theThe Sumter Opera House, the crown jew- aters had opened in Sumter with multiple el of downtown Sumter, is a beautiful histor- screens, and new technology allowed peoic site with a rich past. ple to rent movies in the VHS format to play For many visitors who search “Sumter, in video cassette recorders in their homes. SC” online, the Opera House is one of the Malls that opened outside of the main busifirst photos they see. Its four-faced clock ness district pulled traffic away from downtower offers a beckoning welcome to visitors town, and many local shops closed. The to Sumter’s historic downtown Main Street. Sumter Theater, which faced declining atPrior to the Opera House being construct- tendance, closed its doors in 1982, its future ed, a structure in the same location served uncertain. as town hall, city offices, city market and city In 1984, the City of Sumter decided to reguard house and had a 500-seat auditorium. locate city offices to the upper floors of the In those days, it was common for govern- Opera House to alleviate cramped offices. ment offices to be combined with an opera The move was not popular among some reshouse. The town hall was often the only idents who argued against spending monlarge public space available in small towns, ey on the aging structure. City officials held and funds generated from the opera house fast to the belief that the move would help could offset expenses incurred in building revitalize downtown in addition to helping the structure. save a building that was so significant to the Construction on the current structure be- city’s history. General Obligation Bonds in gan in 1893, following a fire that destroyed the amount of $1.8 million were approved, the previous building and its contents in Deand the project moved forward. cember 1892. The completed renovations housed city The first performance in the new Opera offices on the second, third and fourth floors. House was on September 19, 1894, and The revamped 550-seat auditorium included featured comedian Milton Nobles in a play a balcony and six boxes. Architects enlarged called 'For Revue Only.' and curved T h r o u g h the stage, the years, the painstakingly It has changed the services four-story ashrestoring and lar brick Richit provides, altered its painting the ardsonian Roappearance and welcomed art deco mumanesque-style rals adorning crowds for years, but the structure has the walls. served as an Sumter Opera House has City operaopera house, a tions began on failed to do only one thing: music academy, May 2, 1988, a movie theatre, close for good. In fact, the and is creditcity offices, a historic building that rose ed by many as meat market, the first step from the ashes of a 1800's barber shop and toward downeven a jail. fire is widely credited town’s revitalIn the early ization. for sparking the entire 1900s, motion Still home to pictures were revitalization of City Hall, many becoming popdowntown Sumter. city departular, threatening ments and City opera houses such as Sumter’s, so the city proposed Council Chambers, the Sumter Opera House a $120,000 renovation to transform the is once again presenting a performance sestructure into a movie theater. Sumter City ries in an effort to contribute to revitalizaCouncil received a grant of $50,400 toward tion. The Opera House today draws visitors to the project from the Public Works Administration, and the city provided the remaining the city to witness performances by nation$70,000. The project created 300 jobs for ally acclaimed artists. Visitors from along the Eastern Seaboard as far away as New York, local workers. The remodeled theater opened on Au- New Jersey and Florida have attended regust 31, 1936, featuring the movie “Earth- cent performances. It is also available for rent for private worm Tractors” starring Joe E. Brown. With upholstered seats, modern cooling systems, events. For more information on upcoming pera state of-the-art sound system and a grand marquee, Sumter’s Opera House stood out formances and events, go online to or contact Culamong those around the Southeast. It was added to the National Register for tural Manager Seth Reimer or Operations Historic Places in 1973. Manager Ellen Jansen at (803) 436-2616. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M | 11


“We are looking forward to seeing y’all real soon! ”

“Thank you, Team Sumter,

School • Office • Church

for all your support in bringing us to South Carolina! ”

710 S. Guignard Drive | Sumter, SC 29150 803.773.7389 | 800.922.0424 | F. 803.773.0787

TY CORNETT Videographer

You live in Sumter.

Your news should, too.



Digital Sales


KAYLA ROBINS Host I (803) 774-1200 12 |

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Watch new episodes Monday - Friday at

EMS-CHEMIE The leading manufacturer of high-performance polyamides

Have you ever considered why your Mobile Phone is that thin, lightweight and still stable? Or what makes your car more powerful and still less gasoline consuming? It is the use of Specialty Polymer Materials produced in Sumter. We are the leading manufacturer of high-performance polyamides located in South Carolina.

EMS-CHEMIE (North America) Inc. 2060 Corporate Way, P.O. Box 1717 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone (803) 481-9173, Fax (803) 481-3820,

WHAT TO DO January Sumter High School Band Clinic Cornerstone Bible College Graduation Sumter High School Pageant

February Morris College Step Show Palmetto Health Tuomey & Miss Libby’s School of Dance Showcase 'Five Guys Named Moe' – Sumter Little Theatre


Carolina Cook Dance Competition Love Unity Respect 'The Giver' – Sumter Little Theatre


Sumter High School Jazz Band & Sumter Community Jazz Band Recital Plus-sized America Pageant

Freed’s School of Performing Arts Recital Dancing Machine Wilson Hall’s Graduation 'La Cage aux Folles' – Sumter Little Theatre


St. Leo’s College Graduation Lemira Elementary School’s Graduation Alice Drive Elementary Graduation Kingsbury Elementary School Graduation Career Center Graduation The Caroline Mack Center for the Arts Recital


Shag Festival*

August Sumter Yarn Explosion*

Alice Drive Elementary Spring Fling Freed’s School of Performing Arts Recital




Thomas Sumter Graduation Dancing on Main Sumter Civic Chorale Recital Dreamworks Recital

Fall for the Arts*

The Columbia City Ballet’s 'Nutcracker'


Community Concert Band Recital

Jingle for the Arts - Freed’s School of Performing Arts

Miss Libby’s School of Dance Recital

Christmas at Patriot Hall *Month subject to change

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Patriot Hall Since it was established in 1986 as an integral part of the Cultural Center, Patriot Hall has been a beloved staple in Sumter. Close to 100,000 guests visit the beautiful event spaces annually for elaborate productions, weddings, celebrations, business meetings, art showings, performances, musicals and shows. Patriot Hall is the place to showcase #SumterArts and experience #SumterCulture. Patriot Hall’s 979-seat auditorium rents for less than $1 per seat. Book the Booth Room for about $100 per hour. The Rembert Room rents for $30 an hour.


Earn an Associate of Science degree with an emphasis in


Sumter County Gallery of Art 2018 Exhibition Schedule January 18 – February 16 Laura Spong Sumter Artists’ Guild Winners Show

February 22 – April 20 Cedric Umoja Andrew Blanchard

April 26 – June 22 Open

June 28 – August 30 Sumter Artists’ Guild Show

September 6 – November 2 Open

November 8, 2018 – January 11, 2019 Mary Ann Reames Donny Floyd

...and continue on to earn your Bachelor’s Degree through Palmetto College at USC Sumter





Sumter Rocks Downtown Sumter brings nationwide phenomenon close to home. BY LEIGH NEWMAN

In 2015, a life coach named Megan Murphy was looking for a meaningful way to serve her Cape Cod, Massachusetts, community. During her daily walks on the beach, she’d collect tiny treasures – like rocks. The idea struck her to write uplifting words on the rocks and return them to the beach for others to find. And the Kindness Rocks Project was born. Fast forward to May 2017. Downtown Sumter rolled out their own Downtown Sumter Rocks! promotion, not knowing that the Sumter SC Rocks Facebook page already existed. The two collided, and a Sumter phenomenon began. So how exactly does the Kindness Rocks Project work? Pain a rock. Hide it. Others find it. They post a picture of it or with it – cute kids holding them seems to be a trend – on the local group’s Facebook page. They re-hide it or

keep it and hide a new one. It sounds ridiculously simple – and it is – and thousands of Sumter residents spent countless hours this year painting, hiding and finding cold, hard rocks turned bright, heartwarming art. But why? “Honestly, painting and hiding and search-

We have enjoyed every aspect, from handselecting the rocks to painting to hiding to finding. Perhaps the rocks aren’t the focus – maybe the children and the time spent in pursuit of doing something kind is the treasure.

- Ryan Shirah

Teacher and Sumter Rocks participant

ing for these little beauties is just good old-fashioned fun,” said Stephanie Black, founder of the Sumter SC Rocks Facebook page. “In this day and age where electronics and technology seem to rule our day-to-day lives, the simple act of painting

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rocks and hiding them has really been sort of a welcome throwback to times gone by.” Rocks are hidden and hunted all over town, but the most popular locations seem to be downtown Sumter, Swan Lake and Dillon Park. Restaurants, shopping centers, the mall and businesses don’t seem to be lacking, either.

Adults, families with young children, even teenagers can be found hunting and hiding all over town. The phenomenon has continued, though slowed once school started back up, with finds still steadily posted online. Local teacher Ryan Shirah has participated with his two young daughters. “We have enjoyed every aspect, from hand-selecting the rocks to painting to hiding to finding. Perhaps the rocks aren’t the focus – maybe the children and the time spent in pursuit of doing something kind is the treasure.” Speaking of treasure, some rocks had “perks” this summer. When Sumter first rolled out their rocks at the organized event, there were two $25 prize rocks hidden. A local

WHERE WE EXPLORE business owner hid his own $100 rock and upped the ante with a $1,000 rock that brought rock hunters out in droves on a summer Sunday afternoon. Many small businesses around town got in on the fun, painting their own rocks and adding coupons or prizes for the finder. While some felt the prize rocks added to the fun and some felt they took away from it, most seemed to agree that the simple act of painting and hiding rocks was unifying. “I love to see all the families out hiding and hunting rocks,” Sumter resident Bonnie Sherbert said. “It has brought people out of their homes to spend quality time with each other. I love how it has brought the community together in a positive way.” While the rocks brought the Sumter community together, they also brought some love to other states and even countries. Many people painted rocks and hid them as far away as Alaska, Aruba and even Korea. Several schools painted rocks as projects to see how far they would go. In December, The Tuomey Foundation got in on the fun by hiding 60 ceramic stars around Downtown. When someone found a star, they painted it and returned it to the Foundation to be added to a special Christmas tree. Whether you enjoy painting the rocks or just enjoy hunting for them, the Kindness Rocks Project is something that everyone young and old can do. Sumter sure rocked in 2017, and it seems it is continuing to rock on.

Want to get rocking in the fun? 1. Find a painted rock. They're usually in public spaces or outside of businesses. The Sumter Rocks Facebook page also features found rocks and their locations. 2. Take a photo of the rock. Including yourself or your cute kid is a bonus! Post the photo on the Sumter Rocks Facebook page to let people know you found it. 3. Re-hide the rock or keep it. 4. If you keep it, paint a new rock and hide it.

At Covenant Place, you and your loved one will be part of a community that offers endless opportunities to live life to its fullest. Without the hassles associated with a house, life is enjoyed in a safe, secure home at Covenant Place. Call today for your personal visit and discover why Covenant Place is the choice for retirement living.

Covenant Place

Sumter’s Only Full Service Continuing Care Retirement Communityy


• Apartment Living • Assisted Living • Skilled Nursing Care

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Covenant Place is a locally owned, not-for-profit, continuing care community. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Call today for your personal visit to our community.

2825 Carter Road • Sumter, SC 29150

803-469-7007 |



Let’s get together Festivals and community events, both new and those of tradition, make gathering in Sumter something to look forward to.

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Sumter finds time for entertaining events throughout the year, and its festivals and other celebrations attract crowds from all over. The prime example is the Sumter Iris Festival, begun in 1940 and still ranked one of the best festivals in the Southeast. The festival takes place at Swan Lake-Iris Gardens over a three-day weekend, with a parade, non-stop music, car shows, art shows and crafts, numerous activities – including a large special area for children – and all types of entertainment from dancers to magicians. Plants and flowers are on display and for sale, including irises thinned from the gardens’ thousands of the Japanese variety for which the festival is named. On the night before the official Iris Festival begins, King and Queen Iris are crowned, and activities move across the lake for the Taste at the Gardens. A guest band performs as festival-goers enjoy food from local restaurants and caterers. There are also some surprises, both in the gardens and inside the visitors’ center. And don’t miss seeing the lake from the swans’ point of view while touring on a pontoon boat. The boat rides happen only during the Sumter Iris Festival. It’s not exactly a festival, but Sumter’s Fantasy of Lights also attracts huge numbers to Swan Lake each night in December. Thousands of whimsical, Christmas-themed designs in colorful lights cover the fences and fill the trees in Sumter’s showpiece gardens. In 2017, the city boasted it hung up more than one million lights for the show. It takes park employees months to set up what is the largest free Christmas light display in the state. There is cocoa and entertainment on Friday nights, and kids can visit Santa on weekend nights and drop off letters to the North Pole in case they’re so excited to see him they forget what’s on their Christmas lists. The annual Festival on the Avenue is a three-day celebration of the South Sumter community with performances, displays and events exploring the history and contributions of African and African-American traditions. The April festival starts on Thursday evening with students and community members portraying famous African Americans in The Living Museum and continues through Saturday with a parade, live music and delicious food during A Taste of Soul on the Avenue. Performances over the weekend include several genres of music, from gospel and rap to jazz and reggae, dance and storytelling. Throughout Manning Avenue, festival visitors will find visual arts, crafts, discussion groups, poetry, food and other vendors lining the street.

A new event that has proved very popular is the Untapped Food Truck Festival held in March at the Sumter Fairgrounds. More than a dozen food trucks with ethnic menus fill the grounds to eat, listen to live music, visit with friends and sample a wide variety of craft beers. The success of last year’s event – the second total – ensured it will continue each spring. For one night only in September, Downtown Sumter becomes a tiny German town as revelers enjoy music from a German band, eat German food such as bratwurst, sauerbraten and more, and drink imported German beers. Revelers take over Main Street to celebrate Oktoberfest, which got its start in Germany back in the early 19th century as festivities honoring the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The reason may have changed, but the celebration is authentic, as hundreds, many dressed in traditional German outfits, learn German folk dances or improvise their own. For almost half a century, the Woman’s Afternoon Music Club has welcomed the season of Advent by bringing together vocal ensembles from the community for a concert of sacred Christmas music. For 47 years, the Festival of Choirs has been presented on the first Sunday of Advent, the period during which Christians prepare for Christmas and the commemoration of Christ’s birth. The music club’s Festival of Choirs has long been considered the opening of the sacred Christmas season in Sumter. Sumter Senior Services host three popular events each year, all major fundraisers for the organization that supports Sumter’s elderly population. The Backyard Jamboree is a family-friendly barbecue with music, a variety of foods and beverages, a beer tasting and games for kids. It’s held at Swan Lake at the end of February. Both the Microbrew Festival and Sip and Stroll are presented in Downtown Sumter. The Microbrew Festival, held in May, offers tastings of many different craft and microbrew beers at businesses along and around Main Street. There is always a variety of music and food to accompany the beverages. Many a festival-goer has discovered a new favorite at this event. For wine lovers, Sumter Senior Services offers Sip and Stroll in October. The concept is similar to that of Microbrew, except the beverages served are both domestic and imported wines, white, red and dessert styles. Foods prepared to complement the wines served at each business.

Swan Sighting

Sumter’s iconic Swan Lake-Iris Gardens offers more than wildlife viewing. 20 |

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If you need to know anything about Sumter, here are two words: swan and iris. If you need to know one place in Sumter, here are four words: Swan Lake-Iris Gardens. Located less than two miles from downtown Sumter, you’ll find walking paths and botanical gardens that circle shimmering black water broken by islands of cypress. In the spring, the space is bursting with iris blooms. Year round, the grounds are feathered with a more diverse population of swans than any other public park in the nation. The city of Sumter has cultivated a gem after being deeded land beginning in the 1920s, pruning it to today’s combination of leisure, education, entertainment, serenity, man, plant and animal. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


By the numbers ➥ 500,000 visitors a year ➥ 50 states stamped in the Visitors Center book each year ➥ 8 countries stamped in the Visitors Center book each year ➥ 150 acres owned by the city ➥ 4 facilities the city rents on the land ➥ 3 facilities open to the public ➥ 148 total birds ➥ 8 species of swan live at the lake (every kind in the world) ➥ 12-14 years average lifespan of a swan ➥ 1 bird each swan matches with for their life


HISTORY OF THE LAND Two families – the Heaths and the Blands – owned the land in the early 1900s. Being a horticulturalist, naturalist and world traveler, Hamilton Carr Bland brought back Japanese irises and tried to grow them in his own garden. That didn’t work. “He threw them in the lake, and basically with the acidity they kind of spawned and they kind of took off,” City of Sumter Communications and Tourism Director Shelley Kile said. The two families started deeding property to the city in 1927, now totaling about 150 acres of City of Sumter-owned land. HISTORY OF THE SWANS Bland also brought Black Australian swans home from his travels. Without knowing what to do with them, the swans were housed in his basement for the first few months. That didn’t work, either. “They brought them out here over the lake, and over the years they either purchased or were deeded pairs of swans,” Kile said. Now, all eight species of swan found throughout the world also call Swan Lake home. THE ANIMALS OF SWAN LAKE From all white to all black to colored beaks, eight species of swan swim and fly around the lake, each a different creature with a different look and different habits. The species with the largest population is the Black Australian, which find the climate most optimal to mate. The land is also home to ducks, fish, geese and other critters, which do attract predators such as foxes, racoons, possums, otters and, yes, every now and then, a gator. “For six months out of the year, during the birds’ nesting period, we do try to have someone trapping

them,” said Art Hill, the city’s parks and gardens manager. The Critter Getter, they call him. MORE THAN A LAKE Swan Lake is not just a pretty lake that is calming for humans to walk around and view wildlife. It rests within an entire watershed, serving as a filter of storm water to the Atlantic Ocean and what seeps into South Carolina’s water system. “It’s kind of a small display of what the South Carolina ecosystem is all about,” said Brock McDaniel, horticulturalist for the city. “It’s a wildlife corridor, and a lot of migratory birds go through it … It’s a nice park to come to, but it’s also real educational because people can come to Sumter and see this park and see this wildlife and see vegetation in their natural habitat. You know, they also get to see the botanical gardens and all that, but they also get to see what a South Carolina swamp really looks like and how it functions and why it’s important to the ecosystem of South Carolina.” Educational opportunities don’t stop at the knowledge of the lake’s importance. A talking tree trail features buttons aimed at kids. When pressed, a voice tells them about that tree and its role in the larger landscape. The trees throughout the property are researched, cataloged and archived so the city, the state and even national horticulturists can study, for example, outbreaks and natural settings of species. WHAT’S NEW Sumter Made gift shop – Items made by Sumter-based or -native artists, such as oyster shuckers, duck calls, blacksmithing items and other art Sumter Rocks – Hand-painted rocks are hidden throughout the grounds as part of the nationwide phenomenon that especially entices children to get outside, explore and spread kindness.

Royal White Mute – British Isles to Mongolia, North America, Australia, South Africa, China, New Zealand Black Neck – South America, Falkland Islands Coscoroba – South America, Falkland Islands Whooper – Sweden, Finland, Northern Russia, Japan, China Trumpeter – North America, Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia Black Australian – Australia, New Zealand Whistler – North American Tundra, China

Hours of Operation

Gardens: 7:30 a.m. to dusk every day (except during the Iris Festival on Memorial Day weekend) Visitors Center: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Iris Market (Café): Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday, noon5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. (closed December-March)

Bewick – Northern Russia from the Kanin Delta to the Lena Delta, migrates to parts of Japan


Tidying your home made EASY Baskets, shelving, hangers galore. Buckets, bins and so much more…


… All made in Sumter, South Carolina. June 23, 2017 marked a great day for Sumter and for the thousands of customers who purchase plastic injection molded home goods across the country. Most don’t think about how bins and baskets are produced or distributed. Their concern is having them readily available when they visit retailers. Easy Home LLC ramped up in Sumter this year, marking its first U.S.based operations. Housed in the Black River Industrial Park off Jefferson Road, the Asian-based company will manufacture home goods for retail giants across the nation including Lowe’s Home Improvement and Walmart stores. Joining the more than 70 local industries here, Sumter Easy Home LLC is the first to offer housewares direct to the consumer. “We feel as if we’re not just coming to Sumter, we’re coming home,” 24 |

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said Michael Lu, CEO of Sumter Easy Home when the project was initially announced. Currently, the facility is contracted to produce 40 million plastic hangers in bundles of 10 out of the Sumter location. With an overall goal of having an employee pool of more than 85 when fully staffed, the company will add a variety of home and office organizational solutions, storage containers and furnishings to their inventory. “Sumter Easy Home LLC increases our region’s manufacturing footprint and helps to diversify the types of jobs available and the technical skills needed for plastic injection molding operations,” said Brian Rauschenbach, economic development manager for Sumter Economic Development. “Although this company will be providing 88 direct jobs, when using the manufacturing multiplier effect, the indirect job creation will be about 200.”

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Outstanding Local Physicians Come Together For A Healthier You. McLeod Health Clarendon is home to an accomplished and respected group of local physicians. They are committed to providing the healthcare services you and your family expect and deserve. From family medicine to medical specialties, our physicians are here to help you whatever your healthcare need. PRIMARY CARE


Eagerton Family Practice Robert S. Eagerton, MD 200 East Hospital Street, Manning (803) 433-0439

McLeod Nephrology Associates Manning M. Adnan Alsaka, MD 409 Mill Street, Manning (843) 777-7290

McLeod Pediatrics Clarendon S. Chad Hayes, MD 50 East Hospital Street, Suite 4B, Manning (803) 433-8420

McLeod Orthopaedics Clarendon Lawrence L. Conley, DO 50 East Hospital Street, Suite 6, Manning (803) 433-3065

McLeod Primary Care Clarendon Clarence E. Coker, Jr., MD (left) Lisa E. Heichberger, MD (right) 22 Bozard Street, Manning (803) 435-8828

McLeod Orthopaedics Manning David M. Woodbury, MD 15 Hospital Street, Manning (843) 433-5633

McLeod Surgery Clarendon Devonne D. Barrineau, MD 20 East Hospital Street, Manning (803) 435-2822 Palmetto Adult Medicine Sumter Harry A. Jordan, Jr., MD Ansel R. McFaddin, MD Andrew J. Reynolds, MD Hugh T. Stoddard, Jr., MD 1295 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter (803) 905-6800 Images from left to right

McLeod Urology Associates Sumter Christopher S. Fukuda, MD 540 Physicians Lane, Sumter (843) 777-7555


McLeod Cardiology Associates Ryan C. Garbalosa, DO (left) Dennis Lang, DO (middle) Prabal Guha, MD (right) 540 Physicians Lane, Sumter Manning Clinic: 21 East Hospital Street, Manning (803) 883-5171

McLeod Women’s Care Clarendon Pauline O’Driscoll-Anderson, MD (left) Julie A. Mullins, DO (middle) Steven B. Tollison, MD (right) 50 East Hospital Street, Suite 4A, Manning (803) 433-0797

McLeod Health Clarendon 10 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102 803-433-3000

Serving Sumter, Clarendon, Williamsburg, Orangeburg and Lee Counties LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


In the business of caring

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Sumter BD employees know something about storm damage. When Hurricane Maria walloped the Caribbean two years after historic flooding struck South Carolina, they went out of their way to help fellow workers at the Puerto Rico branch with a type of fundraiser Southerners know best – barbecue. "We took turns throughout the day, and we had other people helpTwo years ago, when the 1,000-year flood struck South Carolina, ing us with various aspects of the process," Floyd said. "Cook a while, among those affected were employees of the BD plant in Sumter. run home and get a couple of hours of sleep, and come back and do "We had a lot of associates impacted, but we had six associates it again." that worked here who lost everything," Sumter Plant Manager Kevin Johnson said employees responded by doing more than just buying Johnson said. tickets to the barbecue. Employees held a barbecue at the time to raise money for their "Not only did our associates purchase plates, they went out and co-workers in need. Money raised in the effort was matched by BD, talked to friends and family and people they go to church with," Johnand other sites around the world also pitched in, Johnson said. son said. "Puerto Rico sites were among those that had sent us donations to Floyd said they were initially concerned the response might not help our associates," Johnson said. match the barbecue in 2015. Fast forward to Sept. 20 of this "It was a little bit different," Floyd said. year. Puerto Rico was slammed by "We were a little bit worried we would fall Hurricane Maria, which struck the slightly short of our sales for the 1,000U.S. Commonwealth with Category year flood barbecue because (in 2015) 4 winds. we had the damage all around us, and we The devastation was near total. knew the people personally." Three small BD plants in Puerto Soon, however, ticket sales started pickRico were shut down because of the ing up. storm, Johnson said, and they are "We realized we were on track to exstill working to get back online. The ceed 2015," Floyd said. lives of many employees have been disrupted. Standing over a grill for two days is de"I don't have a total count of the manding work, but Burke said the mild number of associates that lost homes weather made it easier. and belongings, but it's a substantial "The weather wasn't beating down," he number," Johnson said. said. Employees at the Sumter plant More than 1,200 of the $8 plates were decided they wanted to return the sold, raising $12,050. compassion Puerto Rico had shown Johnson said BD is collecting money for Sumter. from sites around the world to assist Puer"We essentially wanted to pay it to Rico. forward," Johnson said. "We are sending this in as part of that The grills were fired up again. collective effort," he said. "I am sure we With Danny Burke on board as grill will have a strong showing as part of that – Chris Floyd master and Chris Floyd coordinating effort." the barbecue, BD's second barbeEvent coordinator Floyd said at one point, Hurricane Maria cue fundraiser was set to begin. seemed headed for Sumter. "The money will be going to help "We dodged a bullet because the hurour BD associates who work in Puerricane was initially supposed to hit us," he to Rico," Johnson said. The barbecue turned out to be a two-day event, with flames flying said. "Cooking barbecue for a couple of days and getting really tired is a pleasure considering what we could have been dealing with." Oct. 20-21. Johnson said it shows the culture at the Sumter plant. "We are a 24-7 operation, so we have different shift schedules and "We work hard, and we care hard," he said. different folks showing up at different times," Johnson said. "We actually had six different cook times and six different serving times." Floyd said it was worth the effort. Floyd said the cooking started about 6 a.m., with he and Burke ful"The silver lining is we had fun doing it," he said. "We were able to filling most of the grilling duties. play off that positive energy to raise a lot of money." LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M | 29 BY JIM HILLEY

We dodged a bullet because the hurricane was initially supposed to hit us ... Cooking barbecue for a couple of days and getting really tired is a pleasure considering what we could have been dealing with.

Who we are by the numbers We're Moving the Needle

Shaw Air Force Base Sumter School District Palmetto Health Tuomey



Largest Employers

This information was compiled by the Sumter Economic Development Board. They work to attract distinguished businesses and industries to the area while increasing the wealth and quality of life for all residents in Sumter and the surrounding counties.

Growing Economy Project Highlights


Per capita income continues to increase


Thompson Construction Group Continental Tire the Americas Pilgrim's Inc. Sykes Inc. Eaton Electrical BD Diagnostics, Preanalytical Solutions Sumter County Government Source: Chmura Economics & Analytics; U.S. Census Bureau 2017 30 |

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As of 2016, total GDP in Sumter County, South Carolina

Unemployment rate is going down (Aug. 2017)


Cost of living is lower in Sumter County than the U.S. average


Average annual wages increased in the region

$47 million in capital investment 313 new jobs as a result of new projects


average annual salary

R.O.I The math is simple: job creation + capital investment = per capita income growth

Impact of job creation


Size of workforce

Unemployment Rate Wages Demand for Goods & Services

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Palmetto Health Tuomey Continuing to grow, provide new services



There is no shortage of change in the world of health care these days, but one thing remains constant: 100 years after the creation of the “Sumter Hospital,” Palmetto Health Tuomey maintains an unwavering commitment to providing safe, high-quality and cost-effective care to our hometown of Sumter. As we enter into our third year as part of the Palmetto Health family, we celebrate growth and new ways we can serve the community. In late 2017, we expanded our circle of care by creating a new company in partnership with the Greenville Health System – together forming the largest health care company in our state. We are better together, and we are excited at the new opportunities this has created so that we can continue our commitment to quality care and patient satisfaction into the future. The Tuomey campus of Palmetto Health includes more than 1,700 team members and 228 practicing physicians representing 37 medical specialties. Our local facilities include a Level II Nursery; an Intensive Care Unit; 10 operating suites; centers for Outpatient Surgery, Imaging and Cancer Treatment; an Infusion Center; an award-winning Wound Healing Center; as well as cardiac, speech, physical and occupational rehabilitative services. Our diagnostic capabilities feature comprehensive pathology services, interventional radiology and cardiac catheterization. Transitional care is provided through our Home Health Services program, as well as hospice, and palliative care. The formation of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group brought more specialties to the Sumter campus. New in 2017 were a pulmonary practice with Sumterite Charlie White, M.D., and an infectious disease practice with Bhatraphol Tingpej, M.D. Carolina Family Medicine welcomed two new providers this year, Melanie Jordan, N.P. and Serena Smith, M.D. joined Kristen Wyrick, M.D. at the practice. Palmetto Heart provides electrophysiology and medical and interventional cardiology at Palmetto Health Tuomey with care provided by Rosie Gilliam, M.D., Strat Stavrou, M.D., John Rozich, M.D. and Thomas Schultz, D.O., as well as Cameron Thomasson, N.P.


Chronic wound care impacts 6.5 million people a year nationwide, costing $20 billion. Palmetto Health Tuomey’s wound center specializes in the treatment of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, venous stasis ulcers and dehisced surgical wounds. The center offers outpatient care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy as

The PH-USC Medical Group has more than 100 locations throughout the Midlands. The nine Sumter practices are: 1. Palmetto Heart – Sumter 2. Sumter OB/GYN 3. Palmetto Health-USC Infectious Disease 4. Pediatric Cardiology 5. Sumter Pain and Spine 6. Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center 7. Palmetto Health-USC Pulmonology 8. Sumter Surgical 9. Carolina Family Medicine of Sumter LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


well as disease management and diabetes care, vascular studies, tissue culturing and pathology, biological skin substitute applications, and clinical or surgical debridement.

Cancer Treatment Center

more quickly and perhaps even avoid being admitted. We provide treatment for Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as infusions of medications such as antibiotics, antivirals and iron drugs in an outpatient setting. Infusion therapy is also utilized for hydration.

Aggressive technology + clinical expertise + personalized care: The center ensures that local patients receive the best cancer care without having to travel to get it. For nearly 25 years, CTC has maintained cutting-edge technology and new services to fight cancer. It was one of the first facilities in the state to offer TrueBeam radiation treatment, using state-of-the-art linear accelerators, paired with CTbased treatment planning, which allows radiation oncologists to offer intensity-modulated radiotherapy. The center utilizes Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy for early stage lung cancer to allow highly precise delivery of high doses of radiation to a small target.


The Women’s Center | Birthplace

Palmetto Health wants a healthy workforce and a healthy community, so they provide services to help people get and stay well. Corporate wellness initiatives, cholesterol and diabetes screenings and drug testing options are available. Some employers partner with Palmetto Health to bring nurses into their facilities, to provide on-site first aid, check blood pressures, work on health and safety initiatives and evaluate jobs for ergonomic issues.

The 18,000-square-foot Women and Infants Pavilion is a dedicated unit designed to meet the unique needs of our gynecological and obstetric patients. The facility features 24 modern inpatient rooms, designed to create the optimum conditions for in-room treatment and examinations, while accommodating supportive family and friends comfortably. For postpartum patients, the center provides a worthy extension of our labor and delivery rooms. The Level II Nursery allows the hospital to treat high-risk newborns. The center also features breastfeeding rooms, a lactation consultant and education nurse, antepartum rooms and a bereavement room.

The Infusion Center Efficient, convenient and patient-friendly: Having an infusion center on site means that patients are able to get home from the hospital 34 |

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Telemedicine eliminates distance barriers and offers patients access to great care and quick intervention. Palmetto Health Tuomey uses telemedicine technology to provide clinical care in the areas of mental health, advanced intensive care and stroke. If a patient presents with stroke-like symptoms, time is of the essence; neurologists from MUSC can guide intervention and save lives. We use credentialed psychiatrists and intensivists as well to improve medical access to services not consistently available.

Community Wellness

Wesmark Boulevard Campus Our satellite campus on Alice Drive offers outpatient imaging, programs in physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, cardiac rehab, audiology and one of the most comprehensive sports medicine/ orthopedics programs in the region. We provide pre-season screenings for athletes, injury clinics to assess injuries post-game and onsite sporting coverage. The Imaging Center provides noninvasive testing

procedures such as MRI and CT scans, ultrasound, bone density studies and X-ray, as well as 4D ultrasounds for pregnant women.


The Heart Hospital is South Carolina's only freestanding hospital dedicated solely to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hearts. Our continuum of care begins with disease prevention and management, and extends to emergency services and procedures, diagnosis and surgery and rehabilitation. Services include Cardiac catheterization and diagnostics, cardiovascular surgery, pulmonary rehabilitation, a Chest Pain ER and a mobile Coronary Care Unit.

Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital The state’s first children's hospital treats more than 80,000 children each year. It has a Children’s Emergency Center and offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children. Supportive, family-centered care includes centers for Sleep, Cancer and Blood Disorders and Cystic Fibrosis, as well as a Critical Care Transport Team, physical and specialty therapy, Pediatric Intensive Care and Palliative Care and the Tom Bates Day Hospital.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit The NICU at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital is an extraordinary place for healing and growth for some of the tiniest and sickest babies in our region, and we are committed to it remaining that way. As only one of five Level III NICUs in South Carolina and the designated Regional Perinatal Center, the NICU provides expert care for the smallest and sickest babies in a 16-county region, which encompasses Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties.

Palmetto Health Richland Trauma Center It’s the only Level I Trauma Center in the Midlands, caring for an average of 2,400 serious injuries each year. The interdisciplinary team is composed of trauma and specialty surgeons, emergency medicine and other specialty physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers and other health care professionals to provide total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention through rehabilitation.

Stroke Center The only Joint Commission-designated Primary Stroke Center in the Midlands is led by an internationally recognized stroke neurologist and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. The stroke team is often referred to as the "Brain Attack Team." We are ready to treat victims of stroke, brain aneurysms and other abnormal vascularities of the brain 24/7 as well as provide interventional treatment to retrieve clots causing a blockage of blood supply to brain tissue. For more information about Palmetto Health Tuomey, visit LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |



Mini-factory, massive opportunity

CCTC’s newest training equipment helps prepare students for 21st century manufacturing careers. BY BRUCE MILLS

Central Carolina Technical College’s newest industrial training gadget will help students in its advanced manufacturing program, and local industry representatives are tickled pink to have the equipment in place. In technical terms, the new contraption is a four-station, flexible, integrated manufacturing assembly system. But in layman’s terms, you could just call it a “mini-factory,” according to industrial officials. Bert Hancock, academic program manager for Mechatronics at CCTC, illustrated the new automated training system to local industry officials and other leaders last fall at the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center on Broad Street. The college acquired the training equipment in 2017, and the “mini-factory” helps simulate a present-day manufacturing plant filled with automation and robotics. Today’s manufacturing plants are becoming more and more focused on automation with advanced technologies in place, as opposed to a traditional worker production line, Hancock said. The benefits of these advanced technologies are increased product quality, speed and labor cost savings.

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Students training today for the advanced-manufacturing workplace need to be multi-craft technicians able to troubleshoot all that machinery and problem-solve because down machinery means money lost. “Every plant manager today knows when their plant is down how much it’s costing them by the hour and down to the minute,” Hancock said. With the advanced technologies, a growing percentage of jobs in the manufacturing sector today require education beyond the high school level, such as what’s being offered in the technical college’s Mechatronics program. Students train for in-demand careers as electrical/mechanical maintenance technicians in the program. Pay in these manufacturing jobs can easily reach $50,000 within the first few years. CCTC’s “mini-factory” represents a real product assembly line and manufacturing setting because it includes numerous sensors and switches, a motorized system, air-operated components and a conveyor system. Assembly on the “mini-factory” consists of programming part placements to include various bearings, shafts, caps and other items, Hancock said. Different steps in the assembly process depend on previous steps – a malfunction noticed at stage/ station four might trace back to stage/station two. For the industrial technology division at the college, the “mini-factory” is the most advanced system it’s ever had. Hancock said the system cost about $150,000 and was paid for with grants. BD Plant Manager Kevin Johnson, one of Sumter’s largest and most advanced manufacturers, is happy to have the new training system in place at CCTC. He said the automation equipment system is close to what he has in place at his plant. “Getting students to understand programmable machinery that picks and places and does other tasks and then to troubleshoot for problems, there is a tremendous skill that has tremendous value,” Johnson said. “Previously, the only way to learn troubleshooting was for someone to show you through experience, until now. Now, we have a technical college setting that sets these students up to come walk into a place like BD and be value-added immediately, and that’s attractive to us.”




Game on

USC Sumter eSports team is increasing its competition, one control at a time.


It’s the biggest sport you may have never heard of. Colleges and universities across the U.S. have teams for the sport that is not played on a field or in a gym. Players don’t even touch an actual ball or racket. While most of the about 50 schools that participate have teams organized in unofficial clubs, University of South Carolina Sumter’s varsity team was among one of the first groups to join what has become a digital craze. Varsity eSports teams, or organized competitive video gaming, 38 |

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It’s just as competitive and just as viewed as other sports, so it’s kind of hard not to consider it a sport. – Kris Weissmann Team coach and eSports director

have coaches, recruit players, use a dedicated facility to play and practice in, are part of a national collegiate association, broadcast games and even offer scholarships to students. Kris Weissmann, USC Sumter’s team coach and eSports director, said the college has close to 30 students in the program who are on three teams that each compete in one game - video games called “League of Legends,” “Overwatch” and “Hearthstone.” Students are called “gamers,” and the program is housed under the Student Services umbrella at

USC Sumter, not the Fire Ants Athletics Department. USC Sumter has the only official varsity team in South Carolina, Weissmann said. Other schools, such as USC and Clemson, have club-level teams. Although organized online and offline competitions have long been part of the video game culture, participation and spectatorship has surged in popularity just within the last decade, according to Weissmann. Led by professional events with large prize pools in sports arenas that draw millions of online viewers, eSports has become an entertainment industry. Most colleges were slow at first to meet demand for a collegiate version, but interest is growing as more schools see a chance to benefit from the industry’s growth, according to The Associated Press. Robert Morris University in Illinois launched the first college varsity eSports team in 2014. Weissmann said USC Sumter and about 20 other schools across the U.S. jumped on board with teams in 2015, when the National Association of Collegiate eSports was created. He said the college’s dean, Michael Sonntag, thought an eSports varsity team could increase exposure for USC Sumter and expand activities available for students. Other small colleges - both public and private - have shared a similar perspective, Weissmann said. The varsity eSports program at USC Sumter has grown in each of its three years in both the number of students who participate and video games they compete in, Weissmann said. The college is looking to add its fourth and fifth games next year, he said. The college streams portions of its competitions online and practices through a platform called Twitch, which Weissmann described as “YouTube strictly for gaming.” Other USC Sumter students help promote the team and competitions on social media. The college holds fundraisers to offer partial scholarships for the gamers, Weissmann said. He said he doesn’t get into the debate of whether eSports is a sport. He said he treats it like one - teams compete, and students must attend practices and maintain a certain GPA. The program benefits students similar to any other sport - gamers learn the value of teamwork, camaraderie and competition.

“It’s just as competitive and just as viewed as other sports, so it’s kind of hard not to consider it a sport,” Weissmann said. “It just depends on what your definition on what a sport is.” He said eSports is even being considered for the Olympics. The national collegiate association says interest is growing daily by colleges and universities. Weissmann, 33, said he grew up playing video games and probably had every console - Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox. He said he would have been “ecstatic” if an eSports program was available while he was in college. He said the program meets the current generation of high schoolers where they’re at and that it could entice kids to go to college. “Some kids may never go to school, but if they see this they might change their mind,” Weissmann said. “They might say, ‘Hey, I can do that and get an education. Maybe make Mom and Dad happy because I am going to school and getting a degree, but I am also doing something I want to do.’” USC Sumter student and eSports Team Captain Clark McDaniel said he has enjoyed the opportunity to compete on the team. “Being able to play with other like-minded people in a game that I love to play has been fun,” McDaniel said. “It’s been a good outlet to meet other people.”



Envisioning a bright future 40 |

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Michael Mikota wants Central Carolina Technical College to be more than a school. He wants it to be a platform to jump into any career. He wants it to be a community outreach mechanism. Since taking over leadership at the college, he’s been on the right path. BY KEN BELL

Central Carolina Technical College is in good hands. Michael Mikota, former executive director of the Sumter-Lee Regional Council of Governments, assumed the presidency of the college on July 17, 2017, and already has a vision for its future. Mikota graduated cum laude from Wofford College with a bachelor's degree in English. He continued his education at Gardner-Webb University, where he earned his master's degree in business administration. And he was awarded his doctorate in policy management from Clemson University. He has worked his way through the ranks and became a branch bank manager with Wachovia Bank. He later decided to work in government and was a senior analyst with the Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C. Mikota moved to Sumter and assumed the executive director of the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments on July 1, 2013. He decided to accept an offer to become president of the two-year higher learning institution to challenge himself to help make a difference in the lives of the people of Sumter, Kershaw, Lee and Clarendon counties. “I love Sumter. I love the people of Sumter,” he said. “I want to see Sumter succeed.” Central Carolina Technical College has its main campus in Sumter, along with a new 40,000-square-foot addition to the Kershaw County Campus in Camden that opened in January. There are also campuses in Lee and Clarendon counties. “We are the future of higher education,” he said. “Our output meets the demand of the workforce.” To back that up, Central Carolina boasts a 92 percent placement rate for its graduates during the past three years. “We’ve even had people with four-year degrees come here and graduate with us so they can locate employment,” he said. “In the 1960s and ‘70s, employers wanted a four-year degree. Now they want you to have a skill set.”

Mikota said there is a traditional mindset that technical schools and colleges only prepare students for blue-collar jobs. “We don’t have carpentry programs or plumber programs. Today, our students write the codes for the (computer) processors that do the work. Our automotive students no longer get greasy while they learn. We are what some areas call a community college. Our focus is on the four-county area that we serve.” Mikota recently met other college presidents from universities located all across the United States in Dallas. “They were from many four-year institutions,” he said. “Most of them wanted to talk about enrollment and tuition. I told them there were 60,000 unfilled jobs in South Carolina.” Mikota said job placement is what’s important. “What good is a degree if you can’t find a job?” he asked. Another issue Mikota has is students who graduate with a large debt from student loans. “If you are a student without a full scholarship and you have a 2.0 or better (grade point ratio), you can get your first two years of college here free,” he said. “You can graduate without any debt. Then, you can transfer to any four-year college in the state.” Mikota stressed that Central Carolina works with four-year institutions to help students earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “We have agreements with 13 four-year institutions and are working on more,” he said. Mikota is also exploring agreements with overseas institutions. Locally, a student who graduates from Central Carolina with an associate’s degree is automatically accepted into the University of South Carolina in Columbia, he said. Mikota said continuing education is also important. “We took 30 current BD (Becton-Dickinson) employees and put them through our industrial maintenance program. After the one-month training, 10 of the 30 received promotions,” he said. “A lot of people think of continuing education as just academics. But it’s much more than that. “Our mechatronics course is amazing. We have more than 80 students enrolled in it today. Those students leave us and go right into a job.” Mikota is also proud of other courses that are unique to Central Carolina. “We are the only one in South Carolina that trains wastewater operators,” he said. “We have people coming here from all across the state. We also have the only natural resources program for resource management offered at any technical college in the state.” Mikota is also planning to expand the college’s K-12 outreach program. “It’s backing back down into what we need. We want to provide the highest level of education available. We have to do more things to involve our students and their families. That’s going to take a partnership with the school districts. We’re not just thinking industrial. We’re also talking medicine,” he said. “Can you imagine graduating high school then coming here and in one year have your nursing degree? The pathway to success for backing down in to K-12 is important.” Mikota said it’s also important for the community to invest in higher education. “These local investments have a global impact,” he said. “We not only rely on state and federal funding, but also funding from local governments. That, as well as tuition, are also vitally important.” Mikota said he is using all available resources to make Central Carolina Technical College the envy of other area institutions of higher learning. “I’m putting the resources we have into the people,” he said. “People make the college what it is. I’m going to focus on the people, making sure we bring the best people to our college. We are the launching pad for just about any career you want to go into.” Central Carolina Technical College, located at 506 N. Guignard Drive in Sumter, can be reached by telephone at (803) 778-1961. It can also be found online at LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Industrial whiz kid 21-year-old Zack Barwick is working full time in manufacturing with his CCTC degree in his hand. BY BRUCE MILLS

Zack Barwick is a model that the Sumter community and greater region would like to build on. He's 21, working full time locally, making more than $30,000 a year with benefits plus a 401K and didn't even have to leave Sumter to get his degree. Barwick is a recent graduate of Central Carolina Technical College's Mechatronics program with an associate degree. He works as a multi-craft

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(electrical and mechanical) technician in the manufacturing field at Kaydon Corp. in Live Oak Industrial Park. He started full time at the plant in June 2017. Barwick grew up working various jobs but always enjoyed mechanical work, especially with cars. When a car was broken at home, he said he always liked to diagnose what the problems were. He attended Lakewood High School, and about six years ago in the 10th grade he saw a flier for a new Mechatronics program of study at Sumter Career Center that involved mechanical and civil engineering. He said it was everything that he wanted to look into for a career, and he then found out the career center had an opening for its first class. So, for his junior and senior years of high school, Barwick spent half a day at Lakewood and the other half at the school district's career center. In the program, he was able to fix machinery with his hands and also conduct the logical part of diagnosing and troubleshooting machinery for problems. That part he said he's always enjoyed. Central Carolina Mechatronics instructor Bert Hancock also came to the career center and told the students about the college's program of study. He was also able to get credit for two college courses in the program while still in high school. By that time, he was all in. After graduating high school in June 2015, he enrolled as a freshman at CCTC in August that year. He said he picked up on the concepts pretty quickly and enjoyed the variety offered in the coursework. "I really liked the fact that the profession is mixed," Barwick said. He said one day you could be doing something electrical, such as fixing fuses, working your mind and programming. Then, the next day, you could be doing something mechanical and hands-on, such as preventative

maintenance on machines. Barwick said he enjoys that variety available in one job. At the start of his sophomore year in August 2016, Barwick's current supervisor at Kaydon, Paul Brewer, called Hancock at CCTC and said he would like a student intern. Barwick was the choice. After starting, he said he wanted to learn and progress, working as many as 32 hours a week including weekends. Brewer said within four or five months on the job, he and management were already talking to Barwick about hiring him full time after the two-year degree program was complete. "A want-to attitude and a cando attitude really helped him a lot," Brewer said. "He really wants to do it. He's just an outstanding young man." Barwick said his parents and family helped instill a strong work ethic in him. He said he would encourage the route he took to other students who are good in math, organized and like to tinker with things. "There's a lot of work in the maintenance technician field," Barwick said. "They are good-paying jobs." He said he has the opportunity for four raises during his first two years with Kaydon.

Most importantly, he encourages high school students to not delay in going to college.

It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship between a technical college and manufacturing, right here in Sumter.

- Rhett Walker

Value Stream manager at Kaydon

"Don't wait to go to school because it's harder to go back once you've had a break," Barwick said. "A lot of my friends who say they are going to take a year off and go back end

up not going. They start making money, even if it's $9 or $10 an hour, and then say, 'Well, I can't make that money if I'm in school.'" Rhett Walker, a value stream manager with Kaydon and a member of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce's Industrial Association, thinks Barwick is a great example for other teenagers to follow. He said all industry in the local community -- whether it be Caterpillar, BD or Continental Tire – is looking for young people who want to better themselves with education. The internship through CCTC is a great way to learn the trade and for manufacturers to see someone's performance and potential. "It's the perfect symbiotic relationship between a technical college and manufacturing, right here in Sumter," Walker said. "I think industries here have a great partnership with that school to feed us welleducated and qualified people. Zack was definitely one of those. I think he's going to fit in on our team perfectly."




Dining downtown The restaurant scene is

heating up on Main Street. B Y K AY L A R O B I N S

It may take a village to raise a child, but sometimes it takes a dedicated duo with the right resources and savvy to entice the village to town. Danielle Thompson has lived in Sumter for about 30 years. Her husband, Greg Thompson, president and CEO of Thompson Construction Group Inc., is a Sumter native. This is their home, she said, and they 44 |

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want to make it the best it can be. “We first decided when my husband needed to have a corporate location to renovate a building downtown. We did that two years before Hamptons opened. We quickly realized just updating a building for his office was not going to be the thing that was going to kick start the downtown. And my husband was always interested in opening a restaurant.”

Running a restaurant – let alone (soon to be) three – is not a day job, so Thompson said goodbye to her real estate job and hello to Hamptons. Nine years later, the Thompsons are at the center of downtown Sumter’s revitalization, and they’re just now getting to the main course. Making a downtown – or any area – a destination is a chicken-or-the-egg of amenities. Restaurants are needed to bring something


What I want to see is that people go, ‘Let’s go downtown. Let’s just park our car, and let’s just decide where we’re going to eat.'

- Danielle Thompson Restaurateur

like a hotel. People need somewhere to eat on a business trip. A hotel or an opera house or a calendar of community events is needed to make people want to stay somewhere. Broad Street or Columbia is not too far to not be competitive. Hamptons marks the fine dining check off the list. Their executive chef brings fresh menu items centered on fish, meat and vegetables and a five-star resume LIFEIS GO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


from Italy by way of The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia. The Thompsons opened Sidebar on Main in October 2015 to add Southern cuisine and a wall-to-ceiling whiskey, beer and bar selection to the choices downtown. Those are going well. Very well. Any given day (except Monday, and only for brunch on Sunday), the outdoor patio along Main Street is filled at Sidebar. Hamptons is so successful the Thompsons are moving it across the street for bigger and better days ahead. They’re on track to open the new Hamptons in early 2018 next to the Sumter Opera House. It will share a kitchen with La Piazza, a brick oven pizza establishment meant to be a casual, cheaper option fueled by the same chef, set to serve its first meal sometime this spring (Thompson: “hopefully”), in conjunction with the Hyatt Place Hotel opening. To top it all off, they plan to open a Tex-Mex option where Hamptons currently resides. “Not only do we want to know that we’ll get extra [out-of-town] business because of the hotel, but I feel like with all of the improvements that have happened downtown, the parking garage, the choices for people downtown, that we’ll get a lot more 46 |

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Sumter people coming down here, too. There’s a lot of people that are used to all the restaurant choices out on the end of Broad Street … With these choices and

out onto Main Street, is already open for business. When Thompson and I talked at the beginning of December, there were still remnants from a 360-person Christmas party a group held there the day before by renting it.

The final goal is that it’s just a very diversified downtown that offers a little bit of something for everyone.

Thompson wants downtown Sumter to be a destination. A place to stay. A place to dine. A place to entertain. Somewhere that can entice more industry to set up shop, that can convince families and the military base to stay in town for a night out instead of spending their resources in Florence or Columbia. “The final goal is that it’s just a very diversified downtown that offers a little bit of something for everyone.”

price points, different kinds of food, I hope people will just come and park their car, walk here and walk there.” La Piazza’s outdoor venue, featuring curved architecture hanging above an almost venue-long bar/counter space, outdoor, open-air seating and a stage looking

Come this spring, that transformation will be more apparent than ever before. “What I want to see is that people go, ‘Let’s go downtown. Let’s just park our car, and let’s just decide where we’re going to eat.’”

A sidebar on Sidebar (and that oh-mah-gawd-cut-it-with-a-spoon brisket) Food is universal, the Thompsons know. Why not make it more than necessary? Why not make it crave-inducing? A reason to get together. Something to tell your friends about. “We eat three times a day, seven days a week. And people don’t cook as much as they used to, and they’re going to eat more at restaurants,” Danielle Thompson said. “That never goes away. And I think, too, that people have that inner chef in them to begin with – at least our customers do – so people love to come here and figure out how we do it and share how we do it.” It’s not so easy to copy and paste (Not everyone is a chef, though many think they are. A lot can get by with basics. Some put the cardboard in the oven with the frozen pizza.), but the Thompsons knew they had to when they realized what downtown Sumter was missing: really, really good barbecue. “We had some friends who did a trip out to Texas, and they

were going to whoever had the best barbecue, and they based their whole trip over barbecue destinations.” Hamptons had already opened, but Thompson was pretty sure no one was vacationing to Sumter, South Carolina, from a different state for one specific meal off one specific menu. “So we went to Austin and did a lot of research,” she said. (Barbecue research. Sounds rough. Can we have her job?) “Everybody made it no secret how they do their smoker.” People are more than willing to share their smoker secrets because they know not everyone has the time and capabilities to do it themselves. And if they do, the more barbecue the better the belly feels, right? “My husband had his shop convert a 1,000-gallon propane tank into our smoker. You can give anybody the recipe to how to do something, but, at the end of the day, it’s an eight-hour procedure.”



A place to stay Downtown Sumter’s success hinges heavily on two buildings: a hotel and a headquarters. Both will bring industry and class to an area already bursting with opportunity.


“Picture it Sicily, 1922” — If you’ve ever watched an episode of the 80s sitcom “The Golden Girls,” you’ll be familiar with the spicy matriarch Sophia using a similar line to deliver a nostalgic anecdotal perspective during the show. It’s a phrase meant to reminisce yet highlight some element that she deemed significant to the issue of the storyline. In that same measure, we invite you to… Picture it Sumter, 2018 — a bustling downtown complete with shops, arts, culture, a state-of-the art Economic Development Headquarters and a chic hotel. It’s all a part of the Downtown Sumter Revitalization effort that is certain to cause pause and command attention.


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We hire the smile and personality. We can train the skill.

- Cheryl Baker

Hyatt Place general manager


With operations currently in Charleston, Greenville, and Columbia only, Downtown Sumter will mark only the seventh location of Hyatt Place Hotel in the state of South Carolina. This modern boutique hotel will feature 93 suite-style rooms along with on-site fitness, a pool and patio area all up fitted with the quality of furnishings and fixings true to the Hyatt Place brand. Consistency is key in providing excellence of service. Hyatt Place General Manager Cheryl Baker knows about consistency as she has dependably operated in the hotel industry for more than 30 years in several administrative roles across the state. “We hire the smile and personality. We can train the skill,” Baker said when asked about



work-related requirements for the 35 crew members she’ll need to fully staff the hotel. Skills and training are increasingly the cornerstone to employment – things that go hand-in-hand with today’s industry recruitment that will be the primary focus just across the street from Hyatt Place at the two-story world-class business opportunity center, the Regional Economic Development Headquarters. Since 1957, Sumter Economic Development has been operating to increase the tax base and raise the per capita income for Sumter residents. Now, with private investors involved through the Sumter Smarter Growth Initiative, and through a partnership with Lee County’s TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, the multi-faceted organization is working to expand existing business while engaging companies from across the globe to attract them to our Region. “Economic Development is extremely competitive,” said Jay Schwedler, president and CEO of Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK. “Inviting prospects into the heart of our region is like inviting them into our home — it’s personal.” Baker shared a similar perspective as she beamed while talking about groups having already contacted her to book space for family reunions, weddings and other gatherings for 2018: “People want to be downtown, and we look forward to showing off our newly revitalized city center area.” It is important for hotels to be visible. In the past, hotel sales required knocking on doors. Now, just as with economic development, it’s internet-based. It’s done through computer networking systems and by gaining the online attention of site consultants in the wave of economic development and travel agents to obtain large hotel contracts. Everyone is seeking immediate answers and expecting quick responses. “Technology impacts not only how we do our business, but how we get our business,” Baker said. Increased downtown activity is sure to


Economic Development is extremely competitive. Inviting prospects into the heart of our region is like inviting them into our home — it’s personal.

- Jay Schwedler

CEO Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK

lure additional businesses to the local area. “Downtown is the nucleus, the core,” Schwedler said. “When it’s thriving, it can be traced throughout the entire community.” So why Hyatt Place? It’s an opportunity to


expand the brand. Sumter is fortunate to have many popular hotel franchises already here. Hyatt Place adds another tab to our portfolio.




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Saving Sumter's history (one sign at a time) One man is taking the lead on preserving and restoring advertisements and murals found on the sides of historic buildings in downtown Sumter. His thought – as revitalization continues and expands, the visual history of the area can be told without words on brick walls.


Todd Touchberry, manager of the Cut Rate Drugs and Coffee Shop, has developed an interest in the history of the Sumter community. This passion to better understand the past led to his acquisition of a unique collection of artifacts relevant to the city’s history. His collection covers myriad topics ranging from yearbooks to sports to auto memorabilia. Currently, he has developed a profound interest in Sumter’s unique method of advertisement – principally the usage of painted signs often seen on the walls of Sumter’s downtown buildings. Artisans in Sumter, principally the Crocker Sign Company and Irvin and Sons Company painted numerous signs during the 1940s. These companies consisted of skilled artists who painted many of the early signs ordered by their customers. Later, machinery capable of mass production of signs of various sizes, colors and designs arrived.



However, the signs that most readily captured Todd’s interest were the gigantic ones that were painted on brick facades located on Sumter’s buildings throughout downtown. Examples of these paintings can be seen on the Perfection Bakery building on West Liberty Street and on the structure located across from the Liberty Center. Other examples of this wall art are visible on the Kimbrell’s Furniture building on Dugan Street and the Chero Cola ad found on Caldwell Street. There are many examples of this art currently being photographed and documented by Touchberry and those who share his concern. His plan centers on preserving these beautiful edifices and restoring them to their historic magnificence. He hopes to form a committee to identify these overlooked artists treasures and convince the owners to ensure their survival. With the use of social media, the public can now be introduced to these images and made aware of their history in a way they couldn’t before. This initiative could prove another example of how our city is following through with its commitment to re-develop downtown.

Where doors are open & deals are closed.

10 E. E Liberty, Sumter, SC 52 |

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Come join OurTeam!

• Great Benefits: • 401K • Health Insurance • Flex Spending Accounts • Opportunity for Advancement • 1000 team members • Part of the largest meat company in the world. • Serving Sumter since 1966

2050 Highway 15 South • Sumter, SC tel 803.481.8555 • fax 803.481.4263 LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |



Pennies for Progress BY ADRIENNE SARVIS

Road construction projects and improvement plans may cause grumbling to commuters and an eye sore to residents, but they’re good news for those who want Sumter County to ultimately be a better, easier place to get around. The first Sumter County Capital Penny Sales Tax referendum — also known as “Penny for Progress” — was approved by voters during the general election of November 2008, and the Sumter County Council authorized a temporary sales tax levy to fund 16 capital projects. According to the referendum, the tax would be removed when the $75 million goal was reached, or after seven years — which-

LAFAYETTE DIAMOND $6 million What it is The plan for the 2008 project is to redesign the area where North Main Street, the U.S. 378/76 bypass and Pike Road meet to reduce traffic congestion in one of Sumter’s busiest intersections. Where it is in the process The South Carolina Department of Transportation has approved project designs, and Sumter County continues to negotiate with property owners regarding land and right-of-way access for the project. An anticipated start date has not been set.


ever came first. Since then, only one 2008 penny project has not been completed — the Lafayette Diamond. After the success of the first set of projects, a second tax referendum — including 28 new capital projects — was approved during the November 2014 general election for a goal of about $75.6 million. Collections for the new project list began in May 2016. As of December 2017, about $15.4 million had been collected. Following are some of the most high-profile projects being worked on that were made possible by Penny for Projects collections.

PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX $10.6 million What it is A new 36,000-square-foot and a 21,600-square-foot building with a fourbay garage on North Lafayette Drive are being constructed and will serve as the new headquarters for the Sumter Police Department and Sumter Fire Department. Where it is in the process Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of this year.

What it is Almost four of a total 19 miles of deteriorated paved county roads have been resurfaced since May 2016 Where it is in the process The county is prioritizing the most damaged road first, and project completion is expected within the seven-year collection timeline for the tax. 54 |

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What it is Installation of new lighting systems to improve safety and increase use for highly-attended sports events. Where it is in the process All planned renovations are complete.


NORTH MAIN STREET AND MANNING AVENUE STREETSCAPES $16 million What it is Approximately 1.2 miles along Manning Avenue from Watkins Street to South Lafayette Drive and approximately 1.4 miles along North Main Street from East Calhoun Street to North Lafayette Drive will undergo improvements for pedestrians. Both roadways serve as north and south entrances into the downtown Sumter area. The revitalization projects will include: • Upgrades to pedestrian facilities and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements • Intersection improvements • Landscaping and street lighting Where it is in the process The projects will be funded using local, state and federal dollars: • $1 million for North Main Street • $4 million for Manning Avenue • The remaining $11 million will be provided by state and federal entities Work on the streetscapes are expected to start by late 2019 or early 2020.

SHOT POUCH $4 million What it is The Shot Pouch Greenway will provide pedestrian access from Dillon Park to Swan Lake, crossing over multiple major corridors including the U.S. 378/76 bypass, Broad Street and Guignard Drive. Where it is in the process The project is in the design phase with a good portion of environmental engineering and permitting already underway. Construction is expected to begin late this year or in early 2019.

PAVING DIRT ROADS $8.9 million What it is A project to transform 18 miles of dirt roads to paved roads to make travel easier and allow for more accessibility for emergency vehicles. Where it is in the process The county has paved 3.5 of the selected 18 miles of roads. The average cost to pave one mile of dirt road is a little more than $500,000, according to Sumter County Public Works Director Eddie Newman.

THE OLD COURTHOUSE $3 million What it is Improvements and renovations to the historic landmark will include: • Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and making areas of the building more spacious • Transforming the main courtroom's early '60s designs into a space to be used for ceremonies • Making energy efficient upgrades • Replacing the elevator at the North Harvin entrance of the building Where it is in the process Improvements are ongoing, and an anticipated completion date is not available.

MANNING AVENUE BRIDGE $2.5 million What it is Complete replacement of the bridge — required by the South Carolina Department of Transportation — that extends between Watkins Street and East Oakland Avenue. Where it is in the process SCDOT is expected to schedule the project early this year.

For a complete list of 2008 or 2016 Penny for Progress projects, go to Sumter County’s website, LIFEIS GO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Leading Strong

Even in retirement from the Air Force, Chris McKinney is putting his 30-plus years of experience in military service to use in his role as executive director of the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments for a common theme – to help those around him.


Chris McKinney, executive director of the Santee-Lynches Council of Government (SLRCOG) hails from the small oil and farming community of Luling, Texas, located east of San Antonio. He facilitates the strategic vision and oversees assistance that the organization provides to residents of Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties. SLRCOG has a professional staff of 30 people based in Sumter who serve a population of about 223,000. McKinney said the Air Force brought him to Shaw Air Force Base and Sumter. He said he took many leadership courses and began looking for opportunities when it was time to retire. “They put you on a leadership list. I got a call from Steven Yost, and they chose me,” he said. McKinney, 49, arrived in Sumter on June 1, 2015. In September 2017, he retired from active duty after more than 30 years of service. Prior to retiring, McKinney served as Comm. Chief Master Sgt. for the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw, where he was an executive advisor to the wing commander and the installation’s senior enlisted leader. He was responsible for the training and professional development of 8,500-plus 56 |

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military personnel, the morale and welfare of more than 31,000 families and retirees at the nation’s largest F-16 combat fighter wing in the Combatant Air Forces. From April 2013 until June 2015, McKinney served as the group superintendent in the 33rd Operations Group at Eglin AFB, Florida, where he was an executive advisor to the operations group commander. He helped provide oversight to facilitate the training of F-35 pilots, F-35 intelligence professionals and air battle managers. He was also responsible for the training, professional development, morale and welfare of 368 military personnel. His military service includes combat tours of duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan. He said challenges offered by SLCOG intrigued him. “The mission attracted me,” he said. “I’m driven by purpose and I think this possibility matches perfectly for this season in my life.” McKinney, a married father of six, said, “Faith drives me in all that I do.” He said that the 30-plus years he spent in the Air Force made it easy for him to throw his heart into something that is a story about the nation. And the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments offered McKinney and his family

an opportunity to do just that right here in Sumter. “It’s not all about the perks or the money” he said. “I have a 90-day evaluation period, and I want to make the organization more resilient.” McKinney said he knows there will challenges ahead — especially fiscal obstacles. “Cuts are inevitable,” he said. “Just because you received the money one year does not guarantee that you will get it the next year. “We have to be judicious in funds coming in. We have to offer superb service and make sure that we constantly do well. We’re doing great now, but I still want to improve.” McKinney said he wants to house the organization in its own building. Right now, it is renting office space in the Sumter Industrial Park. But he understands that it might take some time. “You’ve got to go slow to go fast,” said McKinney, who holds a master’s of science degree in organizational leadership from Columbia Southern University. With McKinney at the helm, the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments will continue making its mark on residents of Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties.

Who represents us STATE ELECTION COMMISSION 1122 Lady Street, Suite 500 Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 734-9060 Fax: (803) 734-9366 SUMTER VOTER REGISTRATION AND ELECTION COMMISSION Sumter County Courthouse 141 N. Main St. 1st floor, Room 114 Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 436-2310 Fax: (803) 436-2405 U.S. Representatives FIFTH DISTRICT Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw Lancaster, Lee (part), Newberry, Sumter (part), Union and York counties REP. MICK MULVANEY 1004 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-5501 Fax: (202) 225-0464 Rock Hill 1456 Ebenezer Rd Rock Hill, SC 29732 Phone: (803) 327-1114 Fax: (803) 327-4330 SIXTH DISTRICT Allendale, Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton, Jasper, Orangeburg, Richland and Williamsburg counties REP. JAMES E. CLYBURN 2135 Rayburn House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-3315 Fax: (202) 225-2313 1225 Lady St. Ste 200 Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 799-1100 Fax: (803) 799-9060 U.S. Senators SEN. TIM SCOTT 167 Russell Senate Office Bldg Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-6121 Fax: (202) 228-5143 1305 Gervais St. Ste. 825 Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 771-6112 Fax: (803) 771-6455 SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM 290 Russell Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-5972

130 S. Main St., Ste. 700 Greenville, SC 29601 Phone: (864) 250-1417 Fax: (864) 250-4322 State Senate SEN. KEVIN JOHNSON District 36 Calhoun, Clarendon, Florence Lee and Sumter counties P.O. Box 156 Manning, SC 29102 Phone: (803) 435-8117 Fax: (803) 435-0827 502 Gressette Building Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 212-6108 SEN. THOMAS MCELVEEN III District 35 Lee and Sumter counties P.O. Box 57 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 775-1263 Fax: (803) 778-1300 508 Gressette Building Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 212-6132 State House REP. WILL WHEELER District 50 Lee and Sumter counties P.O. Box 11867 Columbia 29211 Phone: (803) 484-5454 Phone: (803) 229-2407 REP. J. DAVID WEEKS District 51 Sumter County 2 Marlborough Court Sumter, SC 29154 Phone: (803) 775-5856 Fax: (803) 778-1365 330-C Blatt Building Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 734-3102 REP. ROBERT LEE RIDGEWAY III District 64 Florence and Sumter counties 117 North Brooks Street Manning, SC 29102 Phone: (803) 433-0797 Phone: (803) 938-3087 422-A Blatt Building Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 212-6929 REP. G. MURRELL SMITH District 67 Clarendon and Sumter counties P.O. Box 580 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 778-2471

Fax: (803) 778-1643 420 B Blatt Building Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 734-3042

GENE BATEN District 7 P.O. Box 3193 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 773-0815

REP. JOSEPH H. NEAL District 70 Richland and Sumter counties P.O. Box 495 Columbia, SC 29202 Phone: (803) 776-0353 Fax: (803) 734-9142 309-B Blatt Building Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 734-2804

SUMTER CITY COUNCIL All Council Members may be reached at the following: 21 N. Main St. P.O. Box 1449 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 436-2500 Fax: (803) 436-2615

SUMTER COUNTY COUNCIL All Council Members may be reached at the following: 13 E. Canal St. Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 436-2107 Fax: (803) 436-2108 CHRISTOPHER “CHRIS” SUMPTER II District 1 1200 Broad Street PMB 180 Sumter, SC 29154 ARTIE BAKER District 2 3680 Bakersfield Lane Dalzell, SC 29040 Phone: (803) 469-3638 Phone: 803-983-9318 JAMES (JIMMY) BYRD JR. District 3 1084 Broad St. Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 468-1719 Phone: (803) 778-0796 Fax: (803) 775-272 CHARLES T. EDENS District 4 760 Henderson St. Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 775-0044 Phone: (803) 236-5759 VIVIAN FLEMING-MCGHANEY District 5 9770 Lynches River Road Lynchburg, SC 29080 Phone: (803) 437-2797 Phone: (803) 495-3247 JAMES T. MCCAIN District 6 317 W. Bartlette Street Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: 803-773-2353 Phone: 803-607-2777

THOMAS J. LOWERY Ward 1 829 Legare St. Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 773-9298 IONE DWYER Ward 2 630 Aidan Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 481-4284 CALVIN K. HASTIE SR. Ward 3 7 E. Hampton Ave. (W) 810 S. Main St. (H) Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 774-7776 Phone: (803) 464-7337 STEVEN CORLEY Ward 4 115 Radcliff Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 305-1566 ROBERT GALIANO Ward 5 608 Antlers Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 469-0005 DAVID P. MERCHANT Ward 6 26 Paisley Park PO Box 309 Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 773-1086 (H) Phone: (803) 481-9931 (W) MAYOR JOSEPH T. MCELVEEN JR. P.O. Box 1449 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 775-1263 Phone: (803) 436-2580



HOW WE SERVE An F-16CM Fighting Falcon flies over Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, near Wedgefield on Sept. 22, 2017. The 20th Fighter Wing employs F-16 airpower to provide close-air support and the suppression of enemy air defenses to maintain control of the skies in combat zones. (Photos by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

Gamblers demonstrate F-16 mission SHAW AIR FORCE BASE

A U.S. Airman stands in front of a flare during a simulated combat search-and-rescue mission (CSAR) at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, near Wedgefield on Sept. 22, 2017. The CSAR mission was one of various demonstrations held during a 77th Fighter Squadron range day.

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Children of various ages step out of the 77th Fighter Squadron and onto a sunny flightline accompanied by Air Force fighter pilots. With wide smiles, the local youngsters bounce excitedly as they learn about the F-16CM Fighting Falcon, an image that can be found across the patriotic community of Sumter. The 77th FS Gamblers hosted a career day for two youth groups at Shaw Air Force Base and a range day at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, near Wedgefield, for the families of 20th Fighter Wing members. “It’s absolutely important that our younger generation know the opportunities available to them through not only the Air Force but the military itself and (for us) to give them exposure on what it is we do in the military,” said Capt. Scott Neidrick, 77th FS pilot and coordinator. Neidrick also said it is important

the children receive an opportunity to see various facets within the military, such as medical, maintenance and pilot careers. After spending time on the flightline, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators transported range day attendees to Poinsett to experience the combat capabilities of the fighting falcon. “I think it’s very important for families to know what their spouse or family member in the military is doing to help contribute to the greater good,” Niedrick said. “I hope today was an opportunity for them all to see how their family member significantly impacts our mission and enables our pilots to get in the air and go ahead and do the job that our nation has called us to do.” As Gambler Falcons soared through the air, their pilots deployed munitions. Audience members had the opportunity to listen as a narrator explained the

HOW WE SERVE tactical communication between the pilots during their training, which was being broadcasted over loudspeakers. “When the aircraft came overhead, we first started out with a high-angle rocket pass, where they shot 2.75-inch diameter rockets at the conventional circle,” Neidrick said. “They then moved to low-angle rocket passes, where they did about six more rocket passes, and we got to watch the aircraft actually employ rockets.” There was also a combat search and rescue event, where a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist simulated being a downed pilot and marked his position via flares. By viewing a mission demonstration, some of the Airmen in attendance were able to leave with a better understanding of their role in the 20th FW mechanism. “It’s very awesome to be able to see what the pilots get to do,” said Airman 1st Class Whitney Smith, a range day attendee. “As a public health technician, I am in the deployment section. They come see us, and we make sure they get all of their medical requirements finished before they leave. It’s cool to see that we take part in having them come down here and we get to see their mission after we accomplish our mission.” The 77th FS Range Day aimed to educate members of the Shaw community by providing an opportunity for individuals to come together and learn about the mission. By maintaining community and family support, the 20th FW can continue to prepare rapid, ready Airmen to provide combat-ready F-16 airpower.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott Neidrick, 77th Fighter Squadron (FS) pilot, narrates an F-16CM Fighting Falcon demonstration at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range. The 77th FS hosted a range day to inform 20th Fighter Wing families about the flying mission. During the range day, pilots performed aerial maneuvers such as highand low-angle rocket passes and low-angle strafes. Attendees of a 77th Fighter Squadron range day watch as an F-16CM Fighting Falcon performs aerial maneuvers at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range. The fighter squadron invited 20th Fighter Wing families and two local youth groups to join them in experiencing some of the combat capabilities of the aircraft.

It’s absolutely important that our younger generation know the opportunities available to them through not only the Air Force but the military itself and (for us) to give them exposure on what it is we do in the military.

- Capt. Scott Neidrick

77th FS pilot and coordinator




Going Green

A lot of food is good. Not all of it is good for you. Sumter’s latest restaurant trend is finding a way to put ‘good’ in every aspect of the meal.

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It’s 12:30 p.m., and you’ve just gone on break for lunch when you realize you forgot to pack one. Or it’s 6:30 p.m., and you’ve just gotten off work and you don’t have time to go to the grocery store, get home and cook a meal before the kids have to start winding down. Even more often, maybe, you just don’t want to spend the energy. That fastfood sign sure is bright, isn’t it? Cheap and quick, too. With the way America is overworked and rushed to the next bullet item on the schedule, it’s a wonder sometimes how kids even know where a carrot comes from or what lettuce is – that’s not in a paper-wrapped taco or on top of a fried square of mystery “fish.” Or even what any fruit or vegetable is other than being cooked to buttery oblivion and served with fried anything-of-theday in the South. (Blasphemy? Maybe. True? Definitely.) Sandra Metzdorf, owner and chef at With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods, Sumter’s first and only food truck, thinks we have traded quality for convenience. She may be right. She’s trying to do something about it, though, by giving Sumter an option to eat natural, real food that is good for both the body and the wallet. And she’s not the only one. Whether it’s a food truck, a juice and smoothie bar, a café and dinner destination or anything in between, a trend has taken root in Sumter – accessible, unique, delicious food. If you haven’t gotten on the train yet, hop aboard because the seeds these restaurant owners have sowed are sprouting into something you’ll want to taste without being forced to by your mother.



The Sidewalk Café The inspiration

Between training for body-building competitions and taking her daughters all over the place for competitive gymnastics, it was almost impossible for Tracey Flemming to find time to make clean meals and definitely impossible to find it on the go out of town. “It took a lot of time, and you don’t have a lot of that if you’re a full-time mom, you work, and your kids are active and you’re trying to go to the gym six days a week.” Her final, grease-coated straw? She was up all night sick, quite literally, to her stomach – her body said no to the food as fast as she

could grab it from the window of her car. Why don’t you just open up a restaurant? Her trainer asked after. You know what, I just might, she said, knowing she had no intention of doing so. Little did she know…

The vibe

Southern cuisine and healthy are not historically synonymous. Think more about slathered, fried, smothered, saturated. Now you’re getting there. Don’t tell Flemming or her chef, Kristyn Compton, they can’t nix those stereotypes. “What we’ve found is that you can have

food that tastes good – it’s just prepared in a healthier fashion. We don’t have a fryer on the premises. We air fry our sweet potatoes,” Compton said. Sidewalk’s selection trades iceberg lettuce with mixed greens. Butter with olive oil. Maybe even (coming soon) olive oil with pecan oil. “You’re still getting your chicken, your shrimp and grits. You’re still getting your burger, your salads you love, but we’re showing you they don’t have to be filled with calories to taste amazing. And I think that’s what sets up apart,” Compton said. “You can make Southern food taste amazing just by having the right flavor.” The proof is on the menu that they’re not just talking green. They’re dishing it out and labeling each menu item with its nutritional facts. Dinner – or lunch – is served, y’all.

Johnny’s Garden Juice Bar The inspiration Carll Fields’ grandfather, Johnny Gowdy, never believed his health problems – including Parkinson’s Disease – could be extenuated by his not-so-great diet. Fields and his wife, Kimberly, bought a Vitamix to try to show him the benefits of natural juice and smoothies. After all, Kimberly credits a juice detox with helping her climb out of a 10-year illness. But Johnny Gowdy never believed it was anything except natural age. When he passed away in March 2013, they couldn’t stand by and not try to blend

their experience into helping others. “We were kind of fed up with the whole idea of nothing healthy being around,” Fields said. “We started with four juices and four smoothies. We learned it at 4 o’clock in the morning and opened up at 6 o’clock. We didn’t know what we were doing.” In September 2013, they juiced their first juice, and they’ve been drinking in the goodness since.

The vibe The Fields duo isn’t trying to say they

don’t believe in medicine. They’re just saying eating and drinking healthy can’t hurt. Really, that it can do wonders. “I’m not talking about anything that’s a specialty thing. I’m just talking about strawberries, pineapple,” Kimberly said. “People aren’t getting enough, and it just blows my mind … You don’t even have to do it full on. You can just add it in there, and it makes such a difference. You can die living your life, or you can die in a hospital bed.” We choose Door No. 1. And strawberries.

With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods The inspiration

Sandra Metzdorf’s family just wanted her to go to school. They didn’t really know what that meant, but they knew she had to go. As she would do her homework, her grandmother would call. Sandrita, she’d say. If your soup is too salty, just add a little bit of water. Now, go do your homework. OK, grandma. She’d start doing her homework again, and her grandma would call back. Sandrita. If your meat is too tough, just turn the heat down and just wait a little bit longer. 62 |

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She was being unintentionally groomed to be a caretaker, Metzdorf said, and her calling came full circle when she started to sell empanadas at a soccer game at Shaw Air Force Base, eventually growing into the food truck she runs today.

The vibe

Our relationship with food is distorted. Metzdorf knows that, and it’s not just because she grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia, eating food from the earth – real food cooked with hands, not a machine,

and served on a plate, not in a box. It’s not just because she served in the military, where her body was her – and her employer’s – most valuable asset, not just because she lived in Europe and Israel, where she bought produce and grains from the person at a market who cultivated them, not just because she believes it is her calling to provide God’s provision – real food. Good food. Un-supersized food. She gets people don’t have time. She gets people don’t know how to cook gourmet meals. She gets not everyone is a nu-

The favorite

Sidewalk Salad Chicken, apples, cranberries, pecans, carrots and tomatoes with a house-made raspberry vinaigrette (332 calories, 1g saturated fat, 5g unsaturated fat, 29g protein, 30g sugar, 39 carbs) Shrimp and Grits House-made parmesan grits with sautéed shrimp in a spinach and onion gravy (501 calories, 2g saturated fat, 2g unsaturated fat, 40g protein, 1g sugar, 59g carbs)

The favorite

Johnny's Green Pineapple, celery, cucumber, spinach, banana, agave Ginger Shot A shot of blended ginger

tritionist or a chef or an avid student of natural eating. But she knows they’ll eat tasty food. “We’re open for lunch. Because I’m a mom, we’re focused on that. We serve until 1, and I close down, clean up the truck and go park it and get in the carpool lane.” She serves to serve, and she earns to educate. All her tips go to Sumter United Ministries, but that’s not her only way of giving back. “Our ministry is in everyday education to people that food should be filling and should be nourishing. Just eat real food. Did it come from the Lord or from the world?”

The favorite

Sumter Gourmet Salad Grilled chicken on fresh leafy greens and a selection of seasonal vegetables

Photo by Waxed Designs LLC LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |



Ready, set, race


Gamecock Speedway races to forefront of Sumter history B Y S A M M Y WAY

The Gamecock Speedway was scheduled to open in the March of 1957 under the management of promoter Wade Shugart. The newly constructed stands positioned along the straightway were designed to seat 2,000 fans. The new facility was to also feature concession stands, a ticket office and convenient restroom facilities. Thirty-five large floodlights were designed to illuminate the race area completely. “An added touch thrown in by promoter Shugart was a special elevated platform at the west end of the main grandstand with an inclined ramp leading to it. This area was designated for all local wheelchair patrons who had an interest in racing but who found it difficult to view the action. Special season passes were sent out by the management to

persons confined to wheelchairs. Those who may not have received complimentary tickets had only to show up, and they would be ushered in at no cost. Ample parking added to the convenience for patrons. Racing fans did not want to miss the opening night of racing since they would witness the skills of many of Sumter’s most talented racers. Some of the drivers who committed to compete in the opening night competition were Chuck Lattuca, Bobby Lee, Colin Weathersbee, ‘Hambone’ Mathis, C. D. Galloway, C. O. McCathern, Cleveland Crocker, Buck Jackson, Charlton McLeod, Maxie Hicks, George Rowland, Rus-

sel Pritchard, Buddy Price, Billy Rhodes, R. T. Young, Liz Singletary, Jimmy Alsbrooks, Jim Surrie and Marion Bailey. These drivers were eager to tackle the quarter-mile banked track. The cost of admission was designed to accommodate everyone: Adults $1.50, servicemen in uniform 99 cents, children 10 to 14 years, 50 cents; and children under 10 free of

Account openings and credit are subject to Bank approval. Member FDIC. LIFEIS GO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


charge. The track was located 2.5 miles out of city on the Wedgefield Highway. Everything was set for the first race, including an appearance by Miss Sumter of 1956, Sandra Jernigan, and a special performance by the Florence Quarter Midget drivers. These Florence youngsters, whose ages ranged from 6 to 12, put on an exhibition race on a specially marked oval located in front of the grandstand in their tiny, one-cylinder speedsters.” The winner was guaranteed a $500 purse. Sgt. Harold Rickman, a former Midwest racer and flagman, served as chief steward and flagman. W. C. Hatfield was selected to be the chief inspector; F. M. Hurst was announcer; J. B. Burke and Horace Avins were judges, and James Montalbano was in charge of the pit gate. Dr. W. A. Stuckey was track physician, and Luther Keith served as assistant to the chief steward. The grand opening of the Gamecock Speedway proved to be a “huge success with 1,600 fans witnessing a smashed-packed speed spectacle.” Promoter Wade Shugart was pleased with the turnout, which saw 42 drivers take part in the initial race at the newly constructed facility. Ernest Nicks, driver of No. 26, a Ford, won the first main event on the new track. Nicks, who came from second place, nosed out Johnny Dangerfield of Columbia to claim the first place prize and etch his name in the record books. Nicks was presented a trophy by WFIG radio station manager T. Doug Youngblood. The Florence Quarter Midgets provided the fans with an entertaining exhibition. Prior to the beginning of the race, Miss Sumter and Sheriff I. Byrd Parnell rode around the track in a Ford convertible driven by her husband. The initial race and the raceway proved to be great successes and assured that racing would become a part of Saturday night for the citizens of Sumter for years to come.

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Plenty of places to play Parks and sports complexes are proving to be more than field space for Sumterites. The city and county are using them to host tournaments and attract tourists. And their plan is a grand slam.


Sumter County and the City of Sumter made the decision several years ago to build and upgrade athletic facilities to help entice tourists to visit the area throughout the year. And that decision now pays off every year. Between Patriot Park SportPlex, Palmetto Park and Dillon Park handling softball, baseball and soccer and Palmetto Tennis Center bringing in tennis players of all ages, Sumter is a destination for all kinds of sporting events. “When you bring in out-oftown people, it’s a good thing,” said Phil Parnell, the director of the Sumter County Recreation

and Parks Department. “They come here, and they spend money in our town. “We’ve used the Penny For Progress [tax] to build and upgrade these facilities,” he added. “This has done a lot to help us get tourists into the city.” Patriot Park opened in 2009, and the first event it hosted – along with Palmetto Park – was the Dixie Softball World Series. The World Series returned to Sumter this year. However, there are weekend softball and baseball tournaments held at the facilities throughout the year. Parnell said there were 22 tournaments held in Sumter over the year.

This has done a lot to help us get tourists into the city.

- Phil Parnell

Director of the Sumter County Recreation and Parks Department LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Patriot Park also plays host to 20 soccer events annually. The Penny for Progress is still being used. Three football fields will be built at Dillon Park beginning in February 2018. Also, it is being used to remodel the recreation department’s gymnasium on Haynsworth Street with plans for a new gymnasium to be built in the future. And while the facilities are used to bring in visitors, they are obviously still available for the rec department’s baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and football leagues.

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Palmetto Tennis Center opened in April of 2004 by hosting the Conference Carolinas men’s and women’s tournament, something that it has done every year since. Of course, though, there is much more that takes place. The tennis center has hosted the Palmetto Pro Open, a USTA event, for the past 10 years. This year, it added a second USTA event in the fall. The inaugural Pink Open was held in October. “We’ve developed a good relationship with the USTA,” said Sam Kiser, the general manager of PTC. “They lost one of their

sites, and we agreed to host the tournament.” The facility has hosted several youth events throughout the year. With PTC now established, Kiser is hoping to get bigger tournaments to come to Sumter. “We’re hoping for more regional and national tournaments,” Kiser said. “We’d like to get these bigger tournaments where we can bring in the same number of people but not have the center closed to the local players as often.”

◗ Only hotel in downtown Sumter ◗ Walking distance to historic Opera House, Temple Sinai and Holocaust Museum, Palmetto Tuomey Hospital, Sumter County Museum and numerous restaurants ◗ Free Everywhere Wi-Fi ◗ 24-Hour StayFit GymTM ◗ Coffee to Cocktails Bar ◗ Outdoor Pool and Courtyard ◗ Two Meeting Rooms ◗ Spacious Guest Rooms ◗ 24/7 Dining on site

Coming April 2018 18 N Main Street Sumter, SC



Our community. Your hospital. We are deďŹ ned by the personal, memorable moments we create for our patients and their families. Our physicians and team members are a part of our community, and we are dedicated to putting you ďŹ rst. Because caring for each of you is our way of improving the health of our entire community. Learn more about our care at or call 803-774-CARE (2273).

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Life is Good in Sumter 2018-2019  
Life is Good in Sumter 2018-2019