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Air Field Key to Sumter Economy Sumter’s Rich History Sumter’s Success - 60 years in the Making USC Celebrates a Half Century 2017: SPONSORED BY THE GREATER SUMTER CHAMBER OF OMMERCE AND THE SUMTER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD 1|C 2017-20 1 8 L I F E I S G O O D IN S U M TER


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www.WeSellSumter.com Residential • Rental Land and Commerical Real LIFE I SGOEstate O DI NSUMTE R .C O M | 5

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Sumter offers endless opportunities to get out and explore! • Hit the trails at over 30 parks • Step back in time at our museums & plantations • Find your artistic side at our art galleries and performance halls • Get your game on at dozens of recreational facilities • Eat local at one of our many farms and restaurants

The Sumter Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomes you to learn more about all of the exciting ways people are exploring Sumter at



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803.436.2640 find us

table of contents


Dear Readers, In last year’s welcome letter I commented on Sumter’s fantastic location: close to the beach, mountains and more. This year in considering potential articles, we realized Sumter has grown beyond its prime geographic location and become a destination. Downtown is certainly a “good life” indicator, and yes, life IS good in Sumter. Our offices moved to a more visible spot on Liberty Street, and the change made us even more aware of the pulse of downtown Sumter. Streetscapes are improving, businesses are opening and expanding, and the downtown nightlife is thriving. If you want good food, live music or big name entertainment, downtown Sumter offers excellent choices. Also in this magazine we continue to champion our friends at Shaw Air Force Base and USARCENT. From it’s beginnings as “Shaw Field” to it’s current standing as a premiere base with various missions, the Sumter community continues to thrive because of our military. This issue highlights an unintended benefit from having well-traveled neighbors: the abundant choices in Thai cuisine. Sometimes it is nice to journey across the globe by fork … or chopstick. No passports necessary! With strong base relations we easily live up to our motto of “Uncommon Patriotism.” That commitment also applies to our business leaders, and industry continues to be a driving economic force in our area. This is no accident, but achieved through constant work by our Sumter Economic Development Board and the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce. Both these organizations work hard to bring quality jobs to Sumter, and we salute their success. We are also thankful for our community pillars, including our hospitals and higher education institutions. Without a healthy and educated workforce, we could not hope to attract and retain business. Local options in education and healthcare give Sumter the resources to move forward without moving out of town. But beyond the daily grind, Sumter is a uniquely livable city with many options for leisure activity. Take a peek inside Millford Plantation, bike through Poinsett, relax at Memorial Park or swing a racquet at our award-winning tennis center. Still looking for something fun? Check out page 16 for a comprehensive calendar of events. Undoubtedly, Sumter’s greatest assets are our residents who give back and do so much for this community. Within these pages we feature several community leaders who make life good. The most difficult part of the editorial process was deciding who to write about … we could fill countless magazines with citizens who go above and beyond to make this city great. Sumter is rich in people, and we are glad to have boundless material to draw from in future editions. On behalf of The Sumter Item, The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and the Sumter Economic Development Board, we hope you enjoy this fourth edition of Life is Good.

Jack Osteen Publisher ON THE COVER

Locals and Tourists dance in downtown Sumter with the Opera House in the background. Photo by Keith Gedamke Air Field Key to Sumter Economy Downrown Sumter Still Growing Sumter’s Success - 60 years in the Making USC Celebrates a Half Century CHAMBER OF THE GREATER SUMTER 2017: SPONSORED BY EVELOPMENT BOARD SUMTER ECONOMIC D COMMERCE AND THE

AIR FIELD KEY TO SUMTER ECONOMY……………………………………………………… 6 SUMTER COMMUNITY MADE EMS-CHEMIE EMPLOYEES FEEL AT HOME Now, the company gives back to the community whenever possible…………… 11 DOWNTOWN SUMTER STILL GROWING……………………………………………………… 14 EVENTS CALENDAR………………………………………………………………………………… 16 ELECTED OFFICIALS…………………………………………………………………………………20 THE SOUND OF MUSIC Downtown revitalization hits a high note……………………………………………………22 THAI SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR DINNER Sumter embraces Thai restaurants……………………………………………………………24 SUMTER’S RICH HISTORY…………………………………………………………………………28 COMMUNITY EMBRACES SHAW AFB AND THIRD ARMY………………………………30 USC SUMTER CELEBRATES A HALF CENTURY……………………………………………32 MEMORIAL PARK Popular spot for events……………………………………………………………………………34 MARK CHAMPAGNE Executive Director Sumter United Ministries………………………………………………36 SAMMY WAY Sumter Item Historian……………………………………………………………………………… 37 CHRIS HARDY President Sumter Chamber of Commerce…………………………………………………38 THE WILLIAMS-BRICE-EDWARDS CHARITABLE TRUST A legacy of giving in Sumter……………………………………………………………………40 SUMTER’S SUCCESS 60 years in the making……………………………………………………………………………42 MILLFORD PLANTATION CELEBRATES 175 YEARS……………………………………… 44 BUILDING A WORKFORCE…………………………………………………………………………49 CHANGE IS GOOD One of Sumter’s mainstays is changing with the times…………………………………52 POINSETT STATE PARK Offers highly rated mountain bike trails………………………………………………………54 PALMETTO TENNIS CENTER Boost for local economy, attraction to locals and visitors……………………………56 SUMTER AT A GLANCE……………………………………………………………………………58

staff PUBLISHER Jack Osteen

EDITOR Rick Carpenter EDITORIAL Ken Bell Jim Hilley Ivy Moore Leigh Newman Susan D. Osteen Sammy Way

Adrienne Sarvis Konstantin Vengerowsky Sammy Way PHOTOGRAPHY Keith Gedamke LAYOUT & DESIGN Alex Burrows Cary J. Howard Leigh Mitchell AD SALES Paige Macloskie

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

32 E. Calhoun Street Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 775-1231 LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Air field Key to Sumter economy 8|

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❚ BY JIM HILLEY In the years preceding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many historians believe President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisors became convinced the United States’ entry into the wars in Europe and the Far East was inevitable. “In 1941, war was brewing and we needed to train pilots to become an air force,” said Steve Creech, chairman of the Sumter Military Affairs committee. Seventy-five years ago, community leaders in Sumter saw an opportunity and a delegation was sent to the War Department with a proposal to locate an airfield near Sumter. “The prevailing feeling, was war was imminent in the U.S.,” said Sumter historian Sammy Way. “These people were conscious of the fact this would be a big economic benefit (to Sumter). In a Sumter Item article, Way said the War Department chose one of two sites the Sumter committee had proposed in May 1941. Less than three months later, what is now Shaw Air Force Base was designated Shaw Field on Aug. 7, 1941. The base was named in honor of 1st Lt. Ervin David Shaw who grew up in Sumter. In June 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to England and attached to the American Expeditionary Force as a private first class. Shaw, seeking to obtain a commission as a first lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Service signal corps sought and received his release from Army.

According to the base website, Shaw became one of three “Yanks” in the 48th Squadron, British Expeditionary Force and was ordered to France. As a pilot, Shaw is credited with flying behind the German lines and downing two enemy aircraft over the next three months. On July 9, 1918, Lt. Shaw, 24, along with RAF observer Sgt. Thomas Smith, 18, left Bertangles Aerodrome, France, on a reconnaissance mission near Albert, France. As they were returning from completing the mission, they were engaged by three enemy aircraft. Observers at an advanced battery position reported that Shaw’s aircraft broke apart above the clouds before plummeting to earth. The airmen were buried next to each other at Regina Trench Cemetery, Courcelette, Somme, France, about 100 miles north of Paris. The base’s first assignment was training pilots for aerial duty, and more than 8,600 pilots trained at Shaw and fought in every combat theater of World War II. This year, Shaw Air Force Base celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Among events recognizing the important milestone were air show and an Air Force ball. Currently, the 20th Fighter Wing is the host unit at Shaw AFB, and the wing’s commander Col. Daniel Lasica is base commander. The base is also headquarters for the Ninth Air Force, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the Third Army and U.S. Army Central Command. Spanning more than 3,500 acres west of Sumter, the base also has custodial responsibility for Poinsett Electronic Combat Range

According to a 2015 study by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the base generates $2.2 billion of economic activity in South Carolina. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Complex, a 12,500-acre bombing range southwest of Sumter. According to a 2015 study by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the base generates $2.2 billion of economic activity in South Carolina. If the delegation from Sumter that first proposed an air field at Shaw could see it today, the would no doubt be proud of what they started, not only for its economic benefits but also for its role in the nation’s defense. Many of those in the delegation were veterans as well as businessmen Way said. “They wanted to help the country prepare during a time of emergency,” he said. Creech, who is a grandson of F.B Creech, one of the members of the Sumter delegation who went to the War Department in Washington. D.C. in 1941, said those men accomplished a lot for Sumter and for America’s defense. “They would be pleased it has grown into such a facility,” he said.

Every second of every day, 70 people around the world have blood drawn with a BD Medical device. Those devices are manufactured right here, in Sumter, SC. The BD Sumter facility is a world-class manufacturing plant and a strong community partner since 1970.

BD Life Sciences 1575 Airport Road Sumter, SC 29153 Phone: 803-469-8010 Fax: 803-469-1755 www.bd.com 10 |

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

“Thank you, Team Sumter, for all your support in bringing us to South Carolina! ”



❚ BY RICK CARPENTER Sumter residents have noticed EMS-CHEMIE’s logo on everything from the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s activities to a seat on the board of the Sumter Industrial Association. EMS-CHEMIE North America President and Business Unit Leader Guido Hobi says he commits to the city and county because when the company opened a plant here in 1980, the local government officials and Chamber members embraced the Swiss-based company establishing roots in the Americas. “They made us feel welcome,” said Hobi, who started as a polymer engineer and came to Sumter from Switzerland in 1981 to open the plant. “It’s my privilege to give back to the community now by serving on boards and volunteering for cultural activities.” EMS-CHEMIE manufactures high performance 12 |

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polyamides and additives at its Sumter plant. Since arriving in Sumter, the company has expanded in the Americas from Canada to Argentina. The company employs about 100 people in Sumter. Hobi said the strategic move to Sumter followed the 1970s when a major gasoline price increase shocked the country into creating a demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. To do so required automobile manufacturers to reengineer vehicle components to make them lighter. Basically, that meant turning as many components as possible from metal to plastics. EMS-CHEMIE manufactures tiny polyamide pellets that manufacturers can turn into those components. Besides the automotive industry, those polyamides are now used as housing for thin-walled components such as cellphones, computers and tablets in the electronic industry. Their uses expand to a myriad of uses from

Sumter Community made Ems-Chemie Employees feel at home Now, the company gives back to the community whenever possible

eyewear to medical devices and even packaging. But as South Carolina continues to build its reputation as an automotive production hub, many manufacturing plants that produce automotive components also build facilities here. That keeps the Sumter plant works 24/7 with four shifts rotating an operating mode for most of the year. The entire plant usually shuts down to conduct annual plant maintenance and a physical inventory count for a few weeks in late November and early December. Hobi said back in 1980 when EMS-CHEMIE was searching for a location to expand, it had four criteria that Sumter met: (1) The location need to be union free; (2) The company needed to be able to bring in raw materials from the Atlantic or Gulf ports; (3) Have an available workforce; and (4) Receive tax abatement incentives from the

county government. Hobi said the influence of Shaw Air Force Base provided an added incentive. “Shaw Air Force Base had excellent trained and disciplined employees who became our first supervisors,” he said. Currently, entry level positions pay more than $14 an hour and beginning lab technicians command at least $18 an hour. At the same time, Hobi says the company boasts a low turnover rate in Sumter. He attributes the high retention rate to the company’s positive work environment and benefit package. When EMS-CHEMIE opened, it had a capacity of producing 3,500 tons of polyamides a year. The company has expanded to produce as many as 20,000 tons a year in 2016. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


South Carolina has been great to my company... My intent is help the community prosper and bring more industry to the area. - Guido Hobi

Hobi’s commitment to giving back to the community includes highlighting the area’s attributes that should continue to draw major industry, particularly anything associated with the automotive industry. “I think the business climate for those types of industry is just perfect for South Carolina,” he said. Hobi highlights the four major interstates and ports in the state that can move products quickly. He said the area has a strong workforce and he’s able to draw lab technicians from as far away as Florence and Columbia. He’s working with local colleges and high schools to develop a pipeline of talent to meet the company’s employment needs. In fact, Hobi says the only limitations he sees come from the federal government and the corporate tax structure. And while he could lean on the congressional delegation to improve that tax structure, he would rather focus on developing the local business community. “South Carolina has been great to my company,” Hobi said. “My intent is help the community prosper and bring more industry to the area.”

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 Community

• Skilled Nursing • “The Retreat” Memory Care • Medicare Part A Short Term Rehabilitation


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Call today for your personal visit to our community.

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803-469-7007 | www.covenantplace.org

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SUMTER’S EXCLUSIVE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FIRM Jay Davis I Hugh Jackson I Heather Tickel Leverett Owens I Stephen DesChamps

2 North Main Street, Sumter SC 29150 803.778.1139 www.cbccornerstone.com

One good turn deserves another In hospitals, factories and war zones around the world, critical components turn on Kaydon bearings made in South Carolina. The outstanding employees at our three Sumter plants have been putting quality first for 35 years. And Kaydon in turn has invested millions of dollars to build and support this great workforce — $36 million in the past five years alone. We invest in Sumter in other ways, too, like the United Way, American Heart Association and other community activities. We’re proud to be in South Carolina, where in life, as in bearings, one good turn deserves another. Kaydon Bearings 925 Corporate Circle Sumter, SC 29154 803.481.4410 tel bearings@kaydon.com www.kaydonbearings.com

YOUR FUTURE. YOUR TERMS. WEBSTER UNIVERSITY graduate programs are designed for professionals like you who want to shape their own destiny, upgrade their credentials, and be a strategic player in the world of business. Webster University not only provides you with a degree more and more employers are looking for, but also the critical thinking skills and teamwork experience necessary for today’s interconnected world. Apply today! PROGRAMS AVAILABLE

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• Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission • Classes meet one night a week at Shaw AFB



Downtown Sumter Still growing 16 |

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❚ BY LEIGH NEWMAN For the past 16 years Downtown Sumter has been steadily growing and thriving, and 2016 was no different. From streetscapes to new businesses to successful events, things just keep getting better Downtown. “2016 has been another successful year for Downtown Sumter,” says Downtown Manager Howie Owens. “We saw the opening of four new businesses, the Hyatt took ownership of property on Main Street to begin construction of the new hotel, and several other new projects were begun, including two restaurants and a shared office space building.” Among the new businesses that opened in 2016 is Berenyi Incorporated, an engineering, architectural and construction company based in Charleston. They purchased a building on Liberty Street that they completely renovated,

opening their doors in February. “We specifically chose Downtown Sumter because of the atmosphere, seeing the current growth and believing in future growth,” says Scott Horton, Director of Operations. “We also love the historic features here. We currently have two employees but have plans to expand.” The other new businesses that opened Downtown in 2016 are renting spaces that have been previously renovated. Those businesses are Rumor Has it, a gift shop and embroidery business; Adams Outdoor Advertising, specializing in billboards; and Diva’s Classy Chique Boutique, selling women’s clothing and accessories. Several projects were started in 2016 to be completed in 2017/18. Jay Davis of Coldwell Banker Cornerstone is spearheading the shared office space project. “We get approached a lot by professionals wanting personal/ individual office space in Downtown Sumter,” says Davis. “We are taking the old character of 119 N. Main Street and upgrading utilities and technology. Upstairs offices will house approximately 12 -15 people and downstairs retail will employ more.” Another new project that has been started is the move of Hamptons restaurant to 33 North M a i n Street. The existing restaurant there is currently being renovated. The outdoor venue next to the future Hamptons is being turned in to La Piazza, an offshoot of the restaurant with a stage, sixty foot

bar and green wall. “Hamptons is so excited to move their restaurant to 33 North Main Street,” says owner Danielle Thompson. “The building itself is beautiful and is located next to the Historic Sumter Opera House and will be across the street from the future Hyatt Hotel. The combination of Hamptons and La Piazza will create one more reason why Sumter is a place to live and visit.” Not only were new businesses opening and existing businesses growing but Downtown events were more popular than ever. A Pokemon Lure-A-Thon in August brought 2,000 people Downtown. As of November 1, the Opera House had entertained nearly 15,000 people with acts from Chonda Pierce to Shenandoah. This number is already more than all of 2015, with six shows still left for the year. 4th Friday concerts on Main Street entertained hundreds with beach, country, pop, soul and ‘90s music. Derby Day, Microbrew Festival, Oktoberfest and Sip and Stroll were once again wildly popular, filling Downtown with food, music and people. The Downtown Market kept people coming back on Saturday mornings for produce, prepared foods and locally crafted items. “2016 proved to be another successful year for Downtown Sumter,” says Owens. “New businesses are moving in and the workforce is growing. Downtown Sumter is becoming a destination, and the best is yet to come.”

2016 proved to be another successful year for Downtown Sumter... New businesses are moving in and the workforce is growing. Downtown Sumter is becoming a destination, and the best is yet to come. - Howie Owens



2017-18 Events

❚ SUMTER COUNTY GALLERY OF ART 200 Hasell St., (803) 775-0543 • JAN 12-FEB. 10 — S.C. Watermedia Society and Sumter Artists’ Guild Winners shows • NOVEMBER • Gil Ngole and Sheena Rose exhibitions through Jan. 6 SUMTER COUNTY CULTURAL COMMISSION/PATRIOT HALL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER 135 Haynsworth St. (803) 436-2616

FEBRUARY • Sumter Arts Showcase OCTOBER • Fall for the Arts, third and fourth weekends • Sumter Civic Dance Co. contemporary concert (date varies) DECEMBER • Jingle with the Arts, Christmas variety show (date varies) SUMTER COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St. • Dec. 4, 2016, 7 p.m. – Christmas concert • March 5, 2017, 3 p.m. • May 14, 2017, 3 p.m. 18 |

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SUMTER OPERA HOUSE 21 N. Main St., (803) 436-2616 2016–17 Season • Dec. 8, 7 p.m., Polar Express film and event • Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., A John Berry Christmas concert • Dec. 15, 7 p.m., Third Thursday movie, “Miracle on 34th Street” • Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., John Cowan with Darin & Brooke Aldridge, concert • Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m., When Swing was King, Benny Goodman tribute • Jan. 19, 7 p.m., Movie, “Labyrinth” • Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m., The Barefoot Movement, bluegrass • Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., Pam Tillis • Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., Resurrection, A Journey Tribute • Feb. 14, 7 p.m., Valentine’s Day Special, Say Anything • March 10, 7:30 p.m., The Gothard Sisters concert • March 16, 7 p.m., E.T., movie • March 24, 7:30 p.m., Lawn & Disorder concert • March 25, 7:30 p.m., Six Guitars by Chase Padgett, music

• April 7, 7:30 p.m., Balsam Range concert • April 20 , 7 p.m., Movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off • April 21, 7:30 p.m., magician Ran ‘D Shine • May 18, 7 p.m., Movie, Gone with the Wind SUMTER LITTLE THEATRE 14 Mood Ave., (803) 775-2150 • Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 7:30 p.m, live play, “A Christmas Story” • Feb. 9-12, 16-19, 8 p.m., comedy, “Leading Ladies” • March 23-26, 30-April 3, 7:30 p.m., “Cyrano” • May 25-28, June 1-4, 8 p.m., musical comedy, “The Producers” SUMTER COUNTY MUSEUM 122 N. Washington St. (803) 775-0908 EXHIBITS, 2016-17 • Sumter 1916: The Year the Williams-Brice House was Built” • Finding Africa at Her Own Door: Emma Wilson and the Mayesville Institute • “Can you Identify?” — 9 objects from early 1900s

• Dec. 5, Time TBA — Casandra King book signing and luncheon • Dec. 10, 2-4 p.m. — Carolina Backcountry Christmas • Jan. 12, Time TBA — luncheon with author Karen White DOWNTOWN SUMTER Call (803) 436-774-1661 • Feb. 3, 2017, 6 p.m. — YPS (Young Professionals of Sumter) Chili Cook-Off and Beer Tasting • Saturdays, May 6 - Sept. 30: Downtown Farmers Market • 4th Fridays on Main — Live bands, May through September • May 6 — (Kentucky) Derby Day • May — Sumter Senior Services’ Microbrew Festival • September — Oktoberfest • Oct, 28, 6 p.m. — ZombieFest • November — Sumter Senior Services’ Sip and Stroll wine tasting, live music • Dec. 3, 2 p.m. — Optimist Club Christmas Parade CITY OF SUMTER Swan Lake-Iris Gardens Sumter Recreation Department’s Easter Egg Hunt • April — Sumter Green’s Earth Day • May, Memorial Day weekend — Sumter Iris Festival

• September — Sumter Senior Services’ Backyard Jamboree • Dec. 1 - 31 Fantasy of Lights OTHER EVENTS AND FESTIVALS • Sumter Green Fall Feast — September • Sumter Civic Chorale — Dec. 11 • Sumter Recreation Department Double Dutch World Championship, Sumter County Civic Center, second weekend in June • National Anthem Day around Sept. 14, sponsored by Sumter School District at Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St. • September — Sumter Senior Services’ Backyard Jamboree, Swan Lake PARKS AND RECREATION December 2, 2016 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, 4:30pm Sumter County Courthouse (Sponsored by Sumter County Council) Annual Walk With St. Nick Immediately Following Christmas Tree Lighting

December 3, 2016 South Carolina Recreation & Parks Association (SCRPA) Eastern District Soccer Tournament Patriot Park December 10, 2017 Kickin’ for a Cure Soccer Tournament Patriot Park December 10-11, 2017 South Carolina Recreation & Parks Association (SCRPA State Soccer Tournament Patriot Park January 2 – 12, 2017 Spring Soccer Registration January 30– Feb. 9, 2017 Spring Baseball & Softball Registration March 18, 2017 Annual Kite Flying Contest 10:00am Dillon Park April 15, 2017 Annual Easter Egg Hunt 10:00am Location: TBA



April 25 – 28, 2017 Sumter County Senior Fitness Games July 28 – August 3, 2017 Dixie Softball World Series Dillon, Palmetto & Patriot Parks SUMTER COUNTY CIVIC CENTER JANUARY 2017 17th-18th S C I S A Math Meet (South Carolina Independent School Association) 28th - Morris College Alumni Celebration FEBRUARY 2017 Feb. 3, 2017 FABULOUS FRIDAY is an event that is designed to allow individuals 17 years and older a clean night out without feeling spiritually or morally compromised. This is a ticketed event to help cover our cost. General admission is $20 and reserved is $25. 10TH - Red & White Ball (Delta Sorority) 13th - 14th Regional lll Basketball 17th - 18th S C I S A Basketball 20th-25th S C I S A Basketball Tournament MARCH 2017 10TH - Omega PSI PHI Fraternity Inc. Banquet 14th - S C I S A Elementary & Middle School Chess 16th - Farm to the table - “Farm 20 |

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to Table” Night will be held Thursday, March 16, from 6-9 PM at the Sumter Civic Center. The Sumter Rotary Club is putting on the event to help raise awareness of Rotary and our mission. This will be a fun night of socializing, sampling various foods, Jack Osteen Editor The Sumter Item 803-774-1238 20TH - Safe Federal Credit Union Annual Membership Meeting 27th -30th SC DNR Archway Competition APRIL 2017 4th- SCISA (South Carolina Independent School Association) Science Fair 8th- Black River Electric Company Membership Meeting 13th- Fireman’s Annual Banquet 17th- 19th SAFE KIDS this event is for the 2nd grader. We will have safety stations around the civic center. We talk about: washing your hands, car, water, internet, bike, pet, pedestrian, gun safety. The Sumter Behavioral folks will come and talk about not smoking or drugs. The Red Cross comes and talks about disasters. Our plan is to have the roll over simulator to show kids why they need to use their booster seats with the seat belts. Cheryl Jackson Safe Kids Sumter County Coalition Coordinator safekids@tuomey. com www.safekidssumter.com 26TH- “SC Work Job Fair 10:30

a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday Free admission. Open to the public.” 29th - Sumter Combat Veteran Event: 3rd Annual Banquet Event Date: Saturday, Time: 7:30 p.m. Ticket Information: 803-453-5369 MAY 2017 4TH- Mayor’s Breakfast Join us for the annual Sumter Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Breakfast will begin at 6:45 a.m. with the program beginning promptly at 7:30 a.m. 5th - Central Carolina Commencement- 9:00 are Doors open – Ceremony @ 10:00am and 3:00pm, Doors open 2:00pm 6th - Morris College Commencement -9:00am Doors open Ceremony 10:00am-1:00pm 19th - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Eta Zeta Omega Chapter Annual Fundraiser. JUNE 2017 2ND - Sumter School District Commencement Crestwood- doors open@2:00pmCeremony @3:00pm Lakewood- doors open @ 4:00pm Ceremony @5:00pm 8th – 10th National Double Dutch Competition (Free to the Public)


Welcoming New Patients For Exceptional Cardiac Care Heart conditions caused by high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) and family history are on the rise. That’s why choosing the right cardiologist is more important than ever. The McLeod Cardiology Associates team in Sumter includes Cardiologists Dr. Dennis Lang and Dr. Ryan Garbalosa, and Electrophysiologist, Dr. Prabal Guha. These highly-skilled physicians provide the highest quality adult cardiovascular care utilizing the latest techniques. McLeod Cardiology Associates is part of McLeod Health which is recognized in the Top 5% Nationally for Heart and Vascular Services. McLeod Cardiology Associates welcomes new patients. To make an appointment, call 803-883-5171. Physician and self-referrals are welcome.

Dr. Dennis Lang, Cardiologist

Dr. Ryan Garbalosa, Cardiologist

Dr. Prabal Guha, Electrophysiologist Cardiologist

Part of

McLeod Cardiology Associates 115 North Sumter Street, Suite 410, Sumter, SC 803-883-5171

McLeod Heart eart & Vascular V IInstitute nstitut

LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M | 21 McLeodHeart.org

Elected officials STATE ELECTION COMMISSION 1122 Lady Street, Suite 500 Columbia, SC 29201 Phone: (803) 734-9060 Fax: (803) 734-9366 elections@elections.sc.gov 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 (D) 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 jclyburn@mail.house.gov 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 22 |

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 Kevin27@sc.rr.com 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 Thomasmcelveen@scsenate.gov 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 Jdavid2453@yahoo.com 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 Bobby.ridgeway@gmail.com 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

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Phone: (803) 734-3042 murrellsmith@sc.rr.com 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 JN@scstatehouse.net 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 jbyrd@sumtercountysc.org 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 GENE BATEN District 7 P.O. Box 3193 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 773-0815

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 THOMAS J. LOWERY Ward 1 829 Legare St. Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 773-9298 tlowery@sumter-sc.com IONE DWYER Ward 2 630 Aidan Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 481-4284 idwyer@sumter-sc.com 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 chastie@sumter-sc.com STEVEN CORLEY Ward 4 115 Radcliff Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 305-1566 scorley@sumter-sc.com ROBERT GALIANO Ward 5 608 Antlers Drive Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 469-0005 bgaliano@sumter-sc.com DAVID P. MERCHANT Ward 6 26 Paisley Park PO Box 309 Sumter, SC 29150 Phone: (803) 773-1086 (H) Phone: (803) 481-9931 (W) dmerchant@sumter-sc.com MAYOR JOSEPH T. MCELVEEN JR. P.O. Box 1449 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone: (803) 775-1263 Phone: (803) 436-2580 jmcelveen@sumter-sc.com

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The Sound of Music

Downtown revitalization hits a high note 24 |

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❚ BY SUSAN DOHERTY OSTEEN Downtown Sumter is alive! Revitalization efforts and growing businesses have transformed the historic cityscape into a vibrant destination. New awnings, freshly painted facades and colorful planters add to downtown beautification. But the improvement is also apparent in the sound of downtown, and that sound is music. “Live music brings people downtown,” said Johnny Hilton, a long-time Sumter musician and retired middle school principal. “And bringing in more people is the key to revitalization.” Downtown Manager Howie Owens agrees. For 14 years, the city has hosted free concerts to showcase downtown Sumter. “Our main focus with our Fourth Fridays series is to get people downtown,” said Owens. “We want everybody to come and see what downtown Sumter has to offer. We have great local restaurants, wonderful locally owned retail shops, and beautiful well-lit sidewalks to walk and enjoy all the history and beauty of our historic downtown.” A typical Fourth Friday draws 500 to 1,000 people to Main Street to dance and enjoy free musical performances. The event is a reincarnation of Sumter at Six, which was held in the large city parking lot behind the Sumter Opera House. “Sumter at Six was an idea to bring people back downtown,” said Jack Osteen who chaired the downtown

events committee. “It was free. It was fun. And it was a huge success. We held the first concert in 2003 right after the city paved the lot. The asphalt was still wet, but a huge crowd turned out to enjoy the evening.” Sumter at Six continued for a decade. The Footnotes, a Sumter band whose members were inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame, played often and were a crowd favorite. Hilton, a member of the band, says one Sumter at Six concert stands out in his memory. “Bill Pinckney [of The Drifters] joined us onstage for a few numbers,” Hilton said. “It was a thrill, and a real crowd pleaser.” The momentum of those early concerts continues to build with live music every fourth Friday of the month May through September from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Musical genres vary from beach music to country to ’80s and ’90s rock and roll. While the Opera House serves as a beautiful backdrop for the outdoor concerts, the stately building is no longer a bystander. Music is once again a top draw inside the historic auditorium. Built in 1895, the Romanesque clock tower stands on the site of an earlier theater and music conservatory, marking the Opera House as the hub of city entertainment for nearly 150 years. Today the restored 550-seat Art Deco theatre provides Sumter with an intimate venue to enjoy world-class performances. “We present up-and-coming performers to hall-of-fame legends,” said Seth Reimer, cultural manager for the city. “We are geographically a perfect stop for larger acts passing through to the major metropolitan cities.” This means the Opera House can host big names like Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, Shenandoah, and the Doc Severinson Band, while keeping ticket prices between $20 and $40. “It’s so important to support live music. Please go to see, hear, and enjoy the wonderful acts that are coming to the Opera House and Fourth Fridays,” Hilton said. “And don’t forget about us local guys at J O’Grady’s and Hampton’s.” Hilton often performs downtown with his newest endeavor, the Hiltones. The band formed by accident, which underscores the inclusiveness of downtown’s music scene. “The Hiltones started at Tavern on Main,” said Donny Floyd. “Johnny was playing every Wednesday night, sometimes with Darren Polluta on standup bass. I would chime in at my leisure. After a couple of weeks a third mic appeared, and Johnny said it was mine.” The trio continues to play regularly at downtown venues and special events. “Downtown music is active, interesting and more diverse than ever,” Floyd said. “It’s an evolution happening right in front of our eyes. Don’t miss it.” One of the most dynamic forces behind the shift in downtown music is Hampton’s Restaurant, owned by Danielle and Greg Thompson. The Alleyway at Hampton’s features tiered patio seating and a large outdoor fireplace, and the walls provide excellent acoustics.

Velvet Weible, who books Hampton’s Alleyway bands, said they have live music every Friday night, April through November, weather permitting. “Our most popular acts are Eddie Rogers, Todd Norris, Vick and Jay Parnell, Johnny Hilton, and Shifting Gears, just to name a few,” Weible said. “They are all great and bring a large volume of guests with them.” Aspiring musicians can test their material next door at the SideBar, another Thompson restaurant, which holds open mic sessions on Saturdays. “With the hotel coming downtown we will need to do even more to create downtown activities,” Danielle Thompson said of the Hyatt Place scheduled to open in spring of this year. She, her husband and their staff are committed to making downtown Sumter an entertainment destination. Together, they helped create popular Main Street festivals such as Oktoberfest, Derby Days and the Bluegrass Block Party. “The success of these events, and the fact they have grown every year, shows that people want more downtown entertainment,” Thompson said. And she is determined to give it to them. This spring the Thompsons will unveil La Piazza, a large outdoor stage with seating for 400. The venue utilizes the space between Jin Jin restaurant and the building formerly occupied by Angel’s. “The space has really good acoustics,” Thompson said. “The sound is amazing.” She adds that she hopes to partner with the Opera House and host pre and post show performances. She also hopes to attract additional downtown festivals, such as a St. Patrick’s Day party. With the large occupancy at La Piazza, which is partially covered and has an outdoor bar, the city need not block off Main Street. The space will also be available for private events and weddings. “I see us having bigger bands from time to time,” Thompson said. “It’s also a great space for dinner theater and comedy.” Perhaps it is no coincidence downtown Main Street is flanked by Seaco and Standard Music, both of which have weathered the challenges of Sumter’s downtown revival. In front of Standard Music stands a historic marker noting Clara Louise Kellogg. Born in 1856 in what was then the small town of Sumterville, the prima donna rose to international opera stardom and founded one of the first English opera companies. At the height of her career she returned to Sumter to perform as part of her world tour. If Kellogg could hear the sound of music on Main Street today, no doubt she would be proud of the city’s continued legacy. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Thai Something Different for Dinner Sumter embraces Thai restaurants

❚ BY SUSAN DOHERTY OSTEEN Sumter is deep in the heart of country cooking. Want fried chicken? We have some of the best. Meat and three? Yes, Ma’am! Biscuits or cornbread? Both, of course. But despite our down-home roots and sweet-tea addictions, Sumter boasts a very worldly palate. Thai food exemplifies that point. With the opening of Yummy, the city of Sumter has six restaurants offering Thai cuisine. That means Thai outnumbers Mexican (three) and Italian (five) restaurants. And we are not alone in our love for Thai. A 2015 cookbook published by the Thai royal government stated Thai food is among the top five most popular cuisines in the world. And The Seattle Times recently reported more people in Seattle eat Thai food than eat pizza. Mama Mia! What in the world? How can a tiny nation 9,000 miles away make such an impact on our dinner plates? “The military has played a major role in the introduction of many cuisines from countries where we’ve had a large, long-term military presence, and Thai food is no exception,” said Neil “Mongo” Neaderhiser, a retired Air Force Lt. Col. now working as a contractor with USARCENT at Shaw. “The U.S. had seven major Air Bases in Thailand during the Vietnam War. That’s a lot of Americans exposed to this amazing cuisine, and a lot of Thai immigrants who had a connection to a military base. I can’t think of an Air Force base that doesn’t have a 26 |

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pretty remarkable mom and pop Thai restaurant nearby.” Try dining at any of the Thai restaurants in town and you will likely see many men and women in uniform. And if you question the patrons in civilian clothes you would find many additional military connections. Neaderhiser said his first experience with Thai food was at a small burger joint outside Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. One of the cooks was from Thailand, and after she finished filling orders she would cook for herself. “People started asking to try the amazing smelling food, and before long the place became known for its Thai food,” he said. “I think that because so many of the Thai restaurants are family run, they maintain a higher quality and greater authenticity than other styles of food. They’ve really benefitted from the lack of chain competition.” Thai food highlights a crossroads of cultures and flavors. Chinese introduced stir-fry cooking techniques, which can be seen in popular dishes such as pad Thai (fried noodles) and khao pad (fried rice). The Portuguese brought heat to the Thai table in the form New World chilies. India, Japan, Holland and France also contributed to the cooking we associate with Thai cuisine. The result is a delightful balance of sweet, salt, sour, and spice. Curries play an important role, but don’t expect Indian-style yellow. Thai curries incorporate a wide variety of herbs and usually use coconut milk, giving a rainbow of curry options including red, green,

yellow, panang and massaman, which vary in sweetness and spice. “Don’t be afraid of ingredient combinations you may not have had together,” Neiderhiser said. “Also, don’t let the spicy reputation scare you. Most dishes can be ordered mild and you can work your way up to ‘Thai Hot’ over time.” Susan Broome, Thailand native and chef at Taste of Thai Restaurant, said herbs are essential to Thai food. Spices such as turmeric, galangal, coriander, lemongrass and fresh chilies are traditionally used in Thai medicine and food for their immune-boosting antioxidants and healing properties. Many of her clients request certain dishes based on their health. For example, someone with a head cold might order a dish containing garlic and ginger. Broome’s husband John opened the business seven years ago, and she says she has been sharing her gift of healthy cooking ever since. Her lunch buffet maintains a loyal following. She also serves a variety of herbal teas, which are popular in Eastern medicine for their health

benefits. Neaderhiser said he has eaten at all the Thai restaurants in Sumter but has a particular fondness for Broome’s collards. “She makes collard greens with a Thai twist that are completely unique and absolutely transcendent,” said Neaderhiser. “Charleston’s best fusion chefs have nothing on this combination of Southern meets Thai. There’s a good chance they will convert even the most traditional Southerner.” And in the South, though we pride ourselves on a leisurely and more genteel pace of life, busy workdays find many of us lined up for fast food, often sacrificing healthy eating for convenience. Enter Yummy, which opened in January and offers counter-service Asian favorites. Owner and chef Chai Singkhonket is better known in Sumter as Mr. Fried Rice. He has owned seven restaurants in Sumter in the last 22 years including Mr. Fried Rice at the mall and Happy Time Bar and Grill (now Thai House). He tried to retire and spend more time with his two young daughters, but he loves to cook, and decided to open a restaurant combining quick service with authentic Asian dishes.

Don’t let the spicy reputation scare you. Most dishes can be ordered mild and you can work your way up to ‘Thai Hot’ over time. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Palam Syprasert

Thai House Restaurant

Sumter Thai Restaurants Chinese Cuisine and Thai Food, 130 E. Liberty, (803) 775-3752, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., closed Sunday. Lucky Corner, 110 W. Wesmark, 773-7450, 11 a.m. -9 p.m, closed Sunday. Taste of Thailand, 11 W. Wesmark, (803) 774-7400, 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m., closed Sunday. Thai Chili, 2354 Peach Orchard Road, (803) 499-6084, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Sunday. Thai House, 718 Bultman Drive, (803) 934-8499, 11 a.m. -10 p.m., closed Sunday. Yummy, 2561 Broad Street, (803) 469-3800, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., open every day. “We want to serve fresh… faster,” he said. “With love and respect, like you would serve family.” The new space is modern and hip, with a menu reflecting the best of Singhonket’s native Northeast Thailand as well as popular Filipino and Vietnamese dishes like Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) and Pho (build-your-own soup). Add in a sushi bar and Thai salads, and Yummy is, essentially, a pan-Asian delicatessen. But Singhonket said in addition to soups, salads, sandwiches and sushi, Yummy also offers noodle and rice entrees as well as steak and seafood specials. Bubble teas and Thai desserts round out the eclectic menu. “Thai food is universally delicious,” said Singhonket. The addition of Vietnamese and Filipino menu items is a nod to Sumter’s military families, many of whom were stationed in those countries and developed a love for 28 |

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Neil “Mongo” Neaderhiser the food. Thai House remains a Bultman Drive staple. On any given night the restaurant buzzes with military families, teenagers and couples on date night. The diverse clientele is truly representational of Sumter. Owner Palam Syprasert greets patrons with a friendly “hello” from his sushi station, using Southern manners to welcome diners to East Asian cooking. One can choose from chopsticks or silverware, spicy or mild, adventurous or straightforward, and sit down or takeout. There are many reasons Sumter is grateful for the influence of Shaw Air Force Base and USARCENT, and world-class cuisine is certainly an attribute to celebrate. In a land of butter and gravy, it is nice to spice up dinner with a taste of the Far East.

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Sumter’s rich history

Charles T. Mason Jr. Telephone Company

❚ BY SAMMY WAY Sumter, originally known as Sumterville, was named for Gen. Thomas Sumter, South Carolina Revolutionary War hero. By 1785, it had become a settlement and in 1798 was selected to receive a courthouse. According to Anne King Gregorie, on Jan. 1, 1800, “the county courts of Claremont, Clarendon and Salem were abolished, and a new circuit court unit called the Sumter District was founded.” Sumter later became the first community to install the council manager form of city government. The region has a multi-cultural ethnic make-up including Irish, German, Jewish, English, Asian and African-Americans. The village located near the geographic center of South Carolina and became a center of trade and commerce. The community was slow to develop due to the lack of a waterway or a railroad which did not reach the area until circa 1843. The town was incorporated in 1845, establishing square boundaries with each side measuring ¾ of a mile. The name was changed to Sumter in 1855, and the city was officially chartered in 1871. With the center of commerce located at the intersection of Main and Liberty streets, the city could “boast of having 90 houses and a population of 840 persons” by 1850. During this era, the downtown district was comprised of some 84 structures dating back to 1828. “Twenty-one structures can definitely be dated 18801912; many others can tentatively be dated in this period according to architectural style. Generally, others date prior to the 1930s. Three structures can be dated prior to 1880,” according to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. Downtown Sumter was declared an historic site by the National Register of Historic Places and since 1975 has undergone numerous restoration projects. Downtown Sumter, civic groups, private entities, and the city of Sumter have undertaken numerous improvements which are returning the downtown area to its former beauty. Sumter landmarks help define the community 30 |

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The following sites are examples of the numerous landmarks located within the city and County: Opera House/ Town Hall, originally known as the Music Academy, burned in 1892, cornerstone placed 1893, opened 1894. The building is referred to as The Opera House and is one of the most recognizable downtown landmarks. The architecture is Richardsonian Romanesque; the four-story structure has a façade of Cumberland Buff Stone with an Ashler finish laid in red cement. The structure is accentuated with a 100foot clock tower. The interior of the building has been renovated several times and has served as a movie theater; currently the striking edifice houses our city government, and the beautiful art deco auditorium hosts plays, pageants, concerts and other cultural events. Sumter County Courthouse, located at 127 North Main Street, was constructed in 1907. The two-story building has a raised basement. The Historic Review notes that “the architecture is Classic Revival constructed of brick and steel with ionic columns featuring hex-style scamozzi capitals; four columns are paired in the center of the structure.” Charles T. Mason Jr. Telephone Company was erected on South Harvin Street. Mason began construction of this large brick building in 1893, and by 1899 the company was a major southeastern manufacturing company which employed some 400 people during the height of production. The building was recently renovated and currently houses the local public transportation authority. RURAL SUMTER As early as 1783, prior to the establishment of the Sumter village, a small community including a post office, courthouse, taverns, race tracks and several stately homes were built at Stateburg. This area played an important role during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Remaining landmark homes include the following: The Ruins was the birthplace of John Mayrant and the home

of Thomas Sumter, The house was also used as the Hawthorndean Seminary for Young Ladies. The house was recently privately purchased and has undergone a restoration. Brookland Plantation, built in 1793 by Thomas Sumter, was later owned by John Bradley and Judge William B. James. It was later used as a rectory for the Church of the Holy Cross. This modified Greek Revival Structure also served as a private school for boys. The stately home resides on a beautiful vista and is currently privately owned. The Borough House is one of the oldest homes in Sumter County. It was originally the home of Thomas Hooper and later came into the possession of the Anderson family. The home and surrounding out-buildings constitute the largest collection in the United States of pise de terre, a French and Spanish term for rammed-earth buildings. The home contains “rare books, beautiful portraits, numerous mementos, antique furniture and historic objects collected over generations.” High Hills Baptist Church was founded in 1770 and construction on a meeting house began in 1803. The existing structure is a small, Greek Revival structure, with a white clapboard exterior, gabled roof and four “paneled” columns placed across the front. It is located on Meeting House road west of Sumter. The church was the home of the Reverend Richard Furman and continues to conduct monthly services. SALEM BLACK RIVER COMMUNITY Salem Black River Church was founded by Scotch-Irish settlers in 1759 on land given by Capt. David Anderson. The first brick church was constructed in 1802 and remained in use until 1846 when the present building was constructed. The bricks used to build the facility were taken from a clay pit located on the grounds. Rip Raps Plantation received its name from James McBride “who once camped by the Rip Raps River in Virginia. He was reminded of the gurgling of the river by rain striking the roof. The house was constructed in 1858 and the twostory clapboard house is identical in both front and back and is located on property acquired by Samuel McBride in the early 1820’s,” according to research conducted by Alyce Kozma Staff writer for The Sumter Daily Item. Shaw Air Force Base, which opened in December of 1941, lies in Sumter. The base is home to the 20th Fighter Wing, the 9th Air Force and the 3rd Army. The 2010 census identified the city’s population as 40,524 and serves as a major hub for business. The Sumter community possesses a rich heritage including historical homes, festivals and noted individuals.

Robert Mills designed Court House on Main Street 1821

General Thomas Sumter



Community embraces Shaw AFB and Third Army ❚ BY SAMMY WAY The Sumter community has long embraced Shaw Air Force Base and it military and civilian personnel. There are many events throughout the year that allow the community to show its appreciation to the military. Many military personnel choose to stay in Sumter after ending their military careers, not only because of the warmth of appreciation for the military shown by its citizens, but also its proximity to both the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. A relatively mild climate also contributes to its popularity. Shaw Air Force Base is home to the 20th Fighter Wing; which flies F-16CJs and serves as the host unit. The Wing operates the 55th, 77th and 79th Fighter Squadrons, and is responsible for providing facilities, personnel, and material to operate the base; USAFCENT Headquarters; and, as of 2011, Headquarters for the Third Army.The move put the Army closer to commanders of the 9th Air Force, which is responsible for the same geographic region’s air forces. 32 |

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The history of the 20th Fighter Wing traces itself back to 1927 with the authorization of the 20th Balloon Group. From these humble beginnings, the 20th Pursuit Group was formed in 1930. After World War II the redesignated 20th Fighter Group was inactivated in October 1945. Nine months later the Group was reactivated. In 1947 the 20th Fighter Group was assigned to the newly activated 20th Fighter Wing and in 1955 the group was absorbed by the wing. Construction of Shaw Field, named for Sumter native Second Lt. Ervin David Shaw who was killed in combat during World War I after downing one of his attackers. Shaw Field’s original mission was to produce new pilots for the Army Air Force. On Jan. 13, 1948, Shaw became an Air Force Base and the host organization became the 20th Fighter Wing. The 20th Operations Group, 20th Maintenance Group, 20th Medical Group and 20th Mission Support Group all fall under the auspices of the 20th Fighter Wing. The 20th Operations Group is responsible for the three fighter squadrons, as well as the 20th Fighter Wing Air Defense Alert Force; Detachment 1, 20th Operations Group and the 20th Operations Support Squadron. The 20th Maintenance Group’s mission is to provide combat-ready Airmen and aircraft: Anytime, anywhere. The 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron and 20th Maintenance Operations Squadron comprise the 20th Maintenance Group. The 20th Medical Group provides ambulatory medical services to the 20th Fighter Wing. Headquarters 9th Air Force, Headquarters USAFCENT, Shaw associate units and thousands of military retires in the area. Its subordinate units include the 20th Medical Operations

Squadron, 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 20th Dental Squadron and the 20th Medical Support Squadron. The 20th Mission Support Group operates Shaw Air Force Base like a self-contained town. In addition to supporting more than 6,600 military and civilian employees along with more than 11,000 family members, the 20th Mission Support Group is responsible for thousands of acres of land, including the base, a 24acre outdoor recreation area located on Lake Wateree and the 12,000-acre Poinsett Electronic Combat range located about 10 miles southwest of the base. The 20th Civil Engineer Squadron, 20th Communications Squadron, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 20th Force Support Squadron, 20th Comptroller Squadron, 20th Contracting Squadron and the 20th Security Forces Squadron comprise the 20th Mission Support Group. In 1954, 9th Air Force Headquarters transferred to Shaw from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. In August 2009, 9th Air Force and Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) formally separated after military leaders assured Congress that the split would be temporary to allow AFCENT to focus exclusively on ongoing operations in Southwest Asia. Stateside, 9th Air Force has continued to be based at Shaw and provides oversight for six wings and one direct reporting unit. The Air Force temporarily re-designated 9th AF/AFCENT as AFCENT and activated a new 9th Air Force. No date has been set to re-combine 9th Air Force and AFCENT.

US ARMY CENTRAL In 2011, the US Army Central, also known as Third Army, officially moved its headquarters from Fort McPherson, Georgia, to Shaw Air Force base. The move followed a 2005 decision during Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) hearings. US Army Central operates five headquarters worldwide to include Atlanta, Kuwait, ARCENT Support ElementIraq, ARCENT Support Element-Afghanistan, and since last summer Shaw Air Force Base. As a command whose forces are deployed on a regular basis in 12 of the 20 countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, many Third Army personnel who come to here will be processed into the unit and sent on to forward operations, with their families living in local communities. Army officials said about 1,400 soldiers and civilians came to Shaw as part of the move. US Army Central operates five headquarters worldwide to include Atlanta, Kuwait, ARCENT Support ElementIraq, ARCENT Support Element-Afghanistan and since Shaw Air Force Base. The command supports U.S. forces in a 20-nation region, and relies on constant communications with forces ranging from those fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to support for military-to-military operations in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kazakhstan.



USC Sumter Celebrates a Half Century 34 |

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â?š BY MISTY HATFIELD In 2016, the University of South Carolina Sumter celebrated its 50th Anniversary - 1966 to 2016 as a unique and remarkable university initiated by the citizens of Sumter. During the year, USC Sumter acknowledged fifty years of never-ending passion for student success; fifty years of defining success as our alumni impact their chosen field, their community, nation and the world; fifty years of faculty and staff, students and graduates serving others and fifty years of higher education that impacts the world we live in today. To understand where we are, it is important to understand where we began. America and South Carolina in 1966 was a different time, a time of great upheaval in our nation. USC Sumter was created in the shadow of a great American tragedy, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The so-called secret war in Laos and the not-so-secret war in Vietnam were dividing our nation. Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the

voting rights act, guaranteeing that every American has a voice, the same year the ground was broken for the first building on the campus. On a local level, Sumter resident and Clemson fan James Cuttino began talking about a two-year Clemson University campus in Sumter. The Clemson President at the time, Dr. Robert Edwards, was extremely reluctant to hear about any concept of outlying campuses. After much persistence and agreeing to develop technical education first, Cuttino was able to convince Dr. Edwards to allow Clemson University at Sumter to be built and ready for classes by the fall of 1966. Since that day, USC Sumter has thrived in every way. Athletics left the campus in 1979 but returned with a vengeance in 2006. USC Sumter has touched the lives of nearly 50,000 students since the doors opened. Those students are now serving Sumter and other communities as successful attorneys, astronauts, computer engineers, doctors and hundreds of other occupations. Now with Palmetto College, even more students can receive a bachelor’s degree without ever leaving the area. To celebrate the anniversary, the university kicked off the year in January 2016 with a dedication of a new permanent campus statue created through a partnership between USC Sumter and Central Carolina Technical College’s welding department. The fire ant statue has a new home outside of the Science Building. In the fall, a Donor Gala was held to recognize donors over the past fifty years. Opening Convocation is an annual tradition

on campus welcoming students back for the fall, this year it was made even more special with the unveiling of a pictorial history wall in the Nettles Building. Finally, a time capsule capturing fifty years of memorabilia was buried in the Library Gardens. The capsule will be removed in the year 2066. The university is privileged to have the opportunity to build on 50 years of success. What USC Sumter has done in its first fifty years is incredible, but where it could go and what it could do in the next fifty years almost defies imagination.



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â?š BY IVY MOORE The Sumter Historic District is a popular spot for events, as the area is not only beautiful, but easily walkable. Various groups present events for the public in and around Memorial Park, the centerpiece of the district, at different times during the year. At other times, the park is a beautifully landscaped spot for walks, picnics, impromptu lunches, games of Frisbee and croquet and quiet chats with friends on the wooden benches scattered throughout. On many days, you can spot an artist or two, his or her easel set up to catch the clear light and the nuances of shade from the venerable trees planted decades ago by famed landscaper Julia Lester Dillon. Two art events, one well established as an annual event, and one begun in 2016, are anticipated to continue and expand each year. Art in the Park, tentatively set for Sept. 23 in 2017, brings dozens of artists and craftsmen to the park with their work to sell or just view. Music and other entertainment, food and beverages are on site, too, at this family friendly event. Dates vary for three other popular events in the area. The Historic District Art Crawl will take place in October 2017 for the second year in what is planned as an annual

event. Many artists live within a block or two of Memorial Park, resulting in a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood to see observe them at work and view their art. Porches of Sumter, sponsored by the Sumter Chamber of Commerce, celebrates the Southern tradition of greeting friends and neighbors on your front porch and sharing food and drink there. Each year a dozen homes in the historic district, all within a block of Memorial Park, participate in the event. Wine and food, some prepared by the residents themselves, some by local chefs, caterers and restaurants, are served to those who spend the early evening strolling from porch to porch, visiting with friends, listening to live music and enjoying the refreshments. Each fall the Main Street Society presents a tour of two or three homes that are of historical interest and are not generally available for public viewing. Homeowners are available to talk about different features of the homes, and refreshments are served. Proceeds from tickets benefit the Society, which works to maintain and improve Downtown Sumter on and around Main Street.

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Mark Champagne Executive Director Sumter United Ministries 38 |

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❚ BY SUSAN DOHERTY OSTEEN Mark Champagne is on a mission from God. Seriously. “In early 2003 I felt God was calling me to start a ministry in Sumter,” Champagne said. While wrestling with the idea of building a ministry he heard Katy Greenawalt, then director of United Ministries of Sumter, speak at his church. “It immediately struck me that she was describing what I felt moved to start,” he said. “I realized that I was not being called to begin a ministry but to get connected with one that already existed.” Champagne began volunteering at United Ministries, often sharing his vision of helping others with Greenawalt. When she retired in 2005 he took the helm. Under Champagne’s direction. the non-profit has grown from offering crisis relief to home repair, a medical clinic and a homeless shelter. “I know this will sound very odd to many people, but our leadership and board doesn’t have a grand plan or vision for what do we do next – we are OK with the status quo,” he said, noting the shelter and clinic emerged organically, without the organization looking to expand. “We do nothing until God directs it,” he said. “If God isn’t moving the hearts of people in the community, we aren’t doing it, no matter how great the need may be. However, if God is moving us to do something, we don’t care how big or complicated it may get. In that respect we are fearless.” He said the SUM is a platform for people to help others in the community and was developed as an extension of the Christian churches in Sumter. Champagne is proud of Sumter, a place he learned to call home while stationed at Shaw Air Force Base. Originally from Connecticut, he graduated from USC, married a local girl, and raised his three children in Sumter. “The City of Sumter’s slogan is Uncommon Patriotism, and that is true,” he said. “But we also have Uncommon Cooperation, Uncommon Compassion, Uncommon Drive and Uncommon Faith.” Champagne credits his wife, Cheryl, for starting him on his journey of faith. “Jesus Christ is integral to this ministry,” he said. “We will continue as long as He is first.”

I know this will sound very odd to many people, but our leadership and board doesn’t have a grand plan or vision for what do we do next – we are OK with the status quo.

Sammy Way

Sumter Item Historian ❚ BY KEN BELL Sammy Way is a Sumter icon. It’s difficult to talk about local sports or history without his name coming up in the conversation. From 1972 until 1986, Way was the track coach in the Sumter School District. During that time he also helped coach football, tennis, golf, cross country and basketball, and he even coached a team for the Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department. And he collected accolades along the way including being named the Coach of the Year by Track and Field Coaches Association in 1981, 1983 and 1985. In 1984, he was named South Carolina High School Coaches Association Track and Field Coach of the Year. He was the Sumter County School District 17 Teacher of the Year twice and was the social studies teacher of the year several times. Way earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate all from the University of South Carolina. Now

his interest and enthusiasm for history has made him an area celebrity. Anytime someone wants to know about Sumter-area history, Way is the go-to guy. Today, Way works as the archivist for The Sumter Item. In addition, he and his wife Rita operate the Sumter Military Display museum on weekends. “That started as a project,” he said. “And it just took off.” Today, about 10 years after it first started, there are in excess of 5,500 photographs of veterans in all of the conflicts, he said. “It’s open to all veterans, whether or not they are Sumter County natives,” Way said. Asked what he would choose if he could only teach, coach or be a historian, Way couldn’t decide. “Is there no way I could do all three?” he asked. “I sure do miss coaching, though.” Way finally gave up teaching in 2010, so he could spend more time with his family. “I gave up the children I loved to be with the children I loved,” he said.

I gave up the children I loved to be with the children I loved.



Chris Hardy President,

Sumter Chamber of Commerce 40 |

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❚ BY KEN BELL Chris Hardy, president of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce, moved to Sumter in 2015 from Albany, Ga. After being recruited as a possible candidate to take the reins, Hardy said Sumter seemed like a good fit. The Lugoff native saw this as an opportunity to move back “close to home and family.” “One thing that attracted me to Sumter is the collaboration between the Chamber and other entities such as the Economic Development Board,” he said. “That doesn’t happen every day.” As Sumter Chamber of Commerce President, Hardy is responsible for the general oversight of daily operations and also serves as counsel to the Chamber’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He also serves on the Sumter County Economic Development Board and is an active member of the

Sumter Rotary Club. Hardy is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Organization Management and received his Certified Chamber of Commerce Executive (CCE) from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. And Hardy isn’t resting on his laurels. He has goals, both shortand long-term for the Sumter Chamber. “The ceiling is set high here,” he said. “Still, there are things I can do. A long-term goal is to develop a long-term strategic plan. We don’t currently have that. “Short-term, one of the priorities is educating the community of who we are and why we’re here,” he said. “We are going to stress the importance of doing business locally.” Hardy, who received his bachelor’s degree from Francis Marion University, said he enjoys hunting and golf in his spare time.

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The Williams-Brice-Edwards Charitable Trust A legacy of giving in Sumter ❚ BY SUSAN DOHERTY OSTEEN Frank Edwards has big shoes to fill. For more than 12 years he worked side-by-side with his uncle, Phil Edwards, to ensure the Williams-BriceEdwards Charitable Trust continued to fulfill its mission to give back to Sumter County. Phil’s death in July of this past year left a remarkable legacy for the younger Edwards to follow. Phil was a quiet gentleman, known widely for his commitment to giving back and helping others. “Phil’s philosophy was to do something that also encouraged others to give back,” Frank said, noting that the trust often supplied the seed capital to spur other agencies and individuals to give. “Their [Williams-Brice-Edwards Trust] $1 million gift is the largest donation ever made to one of the USC two-year campuses,” said University of South Carolina Sumter Dean Michael Sonntag. “This gift funded a wide variety of initiatives including funding faculty and staff development, a student leadership endowed fund, several scholarship endowments, matching funds to encourage other donors, naming and signage for the administration building and capital improvements to our administration building. We continue to feel the effects of this donation even today as others are encouraged to give by the Edwards’ generosity.” 42 |

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The trust was also instrumental in capital improvements for the YMCA, the Sumter County Gallery of Art, Trinity United Methodist Church, the Sumter County Library and the Sumter County Museum. Additionally, the trust gave substantial gifts to Sumter United Ministries, the Sumter Smarter Growth Initiative and helped make possible the acquisition of the Granger Owens Recovery sculpture at Swan Lake. “Thanks to contributions from the Williams-BriceEdwards Charitable Trust, we’ve been able to maintain and improve our historic and educational buildings allowing us to hold more community programs and reach a bigger audience,” said Annie Rivers, executive director of the Sumter County Museum. The museum is located in the Williams-Brice house, given by the family to establish a museum for Sumter County. In truth, the abundance of charities impacted by the trust is impossible to document completely in one article. “Phil was so appreciative of what the family had done before him,” Frank said. “He always talked about how blessed he was to be able to honor them.” The history of the family’s commitment to philanthropy stretches back multiple generations. They never forgot that the people of Sumter were behind the remarkable success of Williams Furniture Company, one of the largest manufacturing companies in the South.

Martha Williams Brice set an exceptional example when she left her nephews, Phil and Tom Edwards, as executors of her estate charged with dispersing it to benefit others. “They were brought up that you work hard and give back,” said Frank of his father, Tom, and uncle, Phil. Most notably Brice’s bequest to USC enabled the construction of a new Gamecock stadium. But her generosity also included funding for USC’s college of nursing and substantial gifts to USC Conway, Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia and Trinity United Methodist Church in Sumter. The lesson of giving was not lost on her nephew Phil. After his mother Louise Williams Edwards died, Phil and his wife Flora McLeod Edwards founded the WilliamsBrice-Edwards Charitable Trust. Established in 1984, the new trust was designed to solely benefit Sumter, a nod back to the Williams Furniture employees who built the brand. “The charitable trust was established to give back to our community,” Frank said. “It was Phil’s vision and goal to do the most good with his money. He always felt he was blessed and wanted to share his blessing with worthy causes that would improve our community and its people.” All funding from the Williams-Brice-Edwards trust stays in Sumter and supports projects and charities within the county. According to Frank, the philosophy of keeping the trust’s financial support in Sumter will not change.

Frank said the first question he asks when considering a potential charitable project is, “What would Phil have done?” This can be problematic, as Phil did many things quietly and anonymously. The scope of his generosity may never be fully realized. Luckily, Frank has trusted family to help him move forward. Phil’s sister-in-law Florence (Florie) McLeod Ervin serves as trust secretary. He said the trust will expand its board in the next few years as it continues to look for ways to give back to Sumter. As for future giving, Frank said that projects and services focused on education continue to factor prominently. “[Phil] understood the value of higher education in Sumter,” Sonntag said. “Frank and the trust continue their generosity, showing their faith in USC Sumter to serve the needs of Sumter and surrounding counties. We are truly thankful for all the family has done for us over the years.” Aside from education, Frank said the trust continues to support organizations that promote youth development, healthcare, job creation, the arts and history, as well as fund capital projects that benefit and unite all citizens of Sumter County. He noted the trust always looks at what is relevant. And the board always considers if Phil would have supported and approved the request. “If it’s a valid need, we [the trust] want to be part of the solution,” he said. “I’m excited about where it can go and what it can do.”










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Sumter’s Success – 60 Years in the Making ❚B  Y ERIKA WILLIAMS

Manager Communications and Strategic Initiatives

Webster’s Online dictionary defines development simply as: the act or process of growing or causing something to grow, become larger or more advanced. The Sumter County Development Board was established in 1957 under the guise of the General Assembly with a purpose to formulate an organized process to recruit jobs and meet the needs of what was becoming a bustling community. The organization was born during a time when housing, recreation, healthcare, and jobs were in high demand. Even prior to the official establishment of The Development Board, Sumter County had several industries and companies that proved to be salient. Early in the 20th Century, Sumter’s growth spiraled. In 1941, Shaw Airforce base was built providing an economic surge after the extensive business loss of the Great Depression in the 30’s. Soon after, capital projects such as improved roads and bridges were built to assist with the increased population that arrived after World War II ended. With 16 million servicemen returning home across the nation, jobs were required to meet basic life needs-- hence the emergence of The Development Board as the entity to oversee industrial recruitment. In its infancy stages, one of the most significant economic projects of The Development Board was the recruitment of the Campbell Soup Company (now Pilgrim’s) to Sumter. Employing more than 1,300 people at the time, this was one of many businesses that gravitated towards the Sumter Region. Sumter Packaging, Exide, Caterpillar and the like, all found business success in Sumter, SC in the 1980’s. In addition, Crescent Tools (now Apex), and Eaton Electrical (formerly Cutler-Hammer) and other companies set up operations and called Sumter home. And while these company names may be household to 44 |

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many, most people are not aware of how the economic development process unfolds. Rarely, are companies set on the community where they want to expand their business operations. Usually, a site consultant is contacted by the company with a set of criterion which enables the qualified communities to be vetted more closely. After the top 6-8 municipalities are identified, community visits ensue to further examine if the assets satisfy the need. The process can be grueling and is quite involved, particularly if you are in the remaining areas being considered. It is necessary to not only tout the quality of the area, but also to overcome the obstacle of having any weaknesses identified. Once under the umbrella of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the Sumter Development Board emerged in the mid 1990’s as a distinct organization with ongoing support from the Chamber, Sumter County, City of Sumter and other key members of “The Team”. Together, Team Sumter rallies to bring businesses to build, grow, and develop Sumter into the place we all love. With 60 years of experience, a per capita income that nearly meets that of the State, and more than 100 local industries, we look forward to ongoing community success. From the onset, The Development Board was created to engineer and maneuver business recruitment and we continue to do so. Now more than ever, we are developing our talent pool and the skillsets needed for the advanced technology in manufacturing today. As we create regional economic partnerships such at TheLINK, which connects Sumter and Lee Counties, we have a vested interest in making our region stronger and even more appealing to onlookers desiring growth and opportunity.

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Millford Plantation Celebrates 175 years



❚ BY RICK CARPENTER During late 2016, owners and supporters of the Millford Plantation celebrated the 175th anniversary of the construction of the Millford Plantation, a remotely built Greek Revival style mansion in rural Sumter County. Future South Carolina Gov. John Laurence Manning had the plantation built from 1839 to 1841 when he and his wife, Susan Hampton Manning, were just 22 years old. Manning served his term as governor from 1852 to 1854. Manning inherited the property from his maternal Richardson family grandparents, and Susan Hampton Manning inherited great wealth from her father, Gen. Wade Hampton. Due to their age and the grand expense of $125,000 to build the plantation, many dubbed the project “Manning’s Folly.” Peter Kenny, co-president of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, which now owns and manages the property, provided that information and much more during a lecture, PowerPoint presentation and a walk through the house during an event in September. Kenny gave a little history of the architecture of the plantation, referring to it as Greek Revivalist and explaining the 48 |

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detail builder Nathaniel F. Potter used in the construction process. A brochure provided by the trust includes copies of architectural drawings by Potter. Kenny also talked about how after the Civil War when Union Troops went to burn the compound, Brig. Gen. Edward Potter, who shared the same surname as its builder, reportedly told his troops to spare the plantation because his brother built it. Kenny called that an “unconfirmed report,” but there’s no doubt the surname made a difference in determining whether to torch the plantation. Kenny explained that Manning appreciated classical music to the point that he had musicians train slaves to play string instruments and provide performances. During Kenny’s lecture, he told of how at one time before the Civil War when Manning and his right-hand man, a slave named Ben Pleasant, traveled to Ontario, Canada. Representatives of the movement to free slaves separated the two and set Pleasant free. Manning went home without him, and Kenny said that Pleasant was such a loyal assistant to him, he returned to the plantation to serve Manning.

The Power of Partnership Working for You Many Pleasant family members still live in the area and during an annual fall concert in September, called Music at Millford, musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a free concert for the youth in the area. Some were Pleasant descendants. The architecture of the home provides a showcase for visitors to see original Duncan Phyfe & Son furniture constructed in the Grecian plain style as well as classical art from the 1700s. The Manning family owned the Millford for the first 60 years. In 1902, the Clark family from Michigan purchased it and family members held it until 1992 when the family sold it to Richard J. Jenrette. In 2008, Jenrette donated the property to Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, a foundation established to preserve and open to the pubic historic homes Jenrette had purchased. The Millford Plantation is open to the public on the first Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a $15 admission fee. Military discounts are available. Millford is closed in the month of January and open every Saturday in April. Guided tours can be arranged by appointment by calling 803-452-6194. Time slots for tours are 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.

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❚ BY BRUCE MILLS It’s often called today the “new infrastructure” needed by communities for economic development. It’s not water, sewer, land or any way tied to an actual building. What is it? It’s the people. Or, to say it more precisely, the skills of the people – spelled out as “W-O-R-K-F-OR-C-E.” In recent years, skilled labor availability has become the No. 1 site selection factor among corporate executives in the U.S., according to Area Development magazine, the nation’s leading economic development journal. Why do business and industry place so much value now on workforce in the site selection process? The answer relates to shifts in the U.S. economy. Just 15 to 20 years ago, many employment sectors – from manufacturing to financial services to retail – were labor intensive since the U.S. economy was very strong related to other nations and technology was not advanced. With minimal technology in the workplace, labor was needed to perform many routine and repetitive work tasks. Fast forward to today and the U.S. economy across all employment sectors has become more technical and knowledge-based with an emphasis on fewer, but more highly skilled, workers. Besides technology and automation, another factor affecting local economies and workers across the U.S. has been globalization, which has given firms 50 |

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– especially manufacturers – greater accessibility to lower-cost overseas labor for lower-skilled operations – such as repetitive, assembly-line-type work. With globalization, many companies have moved portions of their operations to lower-cost nations. The impact of globalization was especially felt in manufacturing in the southern U.S. in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many communities that had traditionally depended on a large, lower-skilled manufacturing sector for their economic livelihood were hit hard. Many in the labor force who lost jobs faced the proposition of upgrading their skill levels through additional education and training to match transitioning skills that competitive businesses needed, or no longer being able to earn family-sustaining wages. In decades past when labor-intensive manufacturing was very prevalent, a high school diploma – or even less -- was the educational requirement for entry into the industrial labor market. A high school diploma was the educational requirement in many other employment sectors as well. Sumter was one such community that faced the crossroads of the new economy. But much has been done to improve the local workforce. A mindset change has gradually taken hold that young people need more than four years of high school education to achieve a middle-class status in today’s 21st century, knowledgebased economy. Widespread national research shows the future for

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employable students must include at least two years of postsecondary education beyond high school, according to TIME magazine. Locally, Central Carolina Technical College’s enrollment has grown and Sumter School District has made strides to better market technical careers, such as manufacturing, to their student body that may have an interest or fit the career profile. SUMTER LANDS CONTINENTAL TIRE After more than a decade of not landing a significant new manufacturer, Sumter struck gold when internationally known Continental Tire announced plans to launch just its second U.S. manufacturing plant here in October 2011. With that came a state-ofthe-art $500 million facility and 1,600 new jobs by 2021 when the plant is at full capacity. For a small community like Sumter, the win was on par with landing a Toyota plant. It was that big. According to one of the state’s leading research economists, Doug Woodward of the University of South Carolina, it was an announcement that put Sumter on the map. “Before this, who knew about Sumter? Now people do,” Woodward told The Sumter Item at the time. “Sumter went through a rough patch in terms of employment, but once things start coming back, you get this resilience, and people think it’s a healthy part of the state.”

All these programs can yield great careers in manufacturing and other sectors with outstanding wages for students who have an interest and also for others to strongly consider who may have not proven themselves ready to tackle a four-year university out of high school. Brent Russell, dean of CCTC’s industrial program, says new graduates from the various two-year programs can find work locally and expect to earn starting pay in the range of $15 to $20 per hour. Mechatronics is a vastly popular program to begin a career in manufacturing today, according to Russell. By definition, mechatronics is a field of science that provides graduates with the skills and knowledge to perform technical troubleshooting of industrial equipment with mechanical, electrical and electronic components. “Mechatronics is definitely a hot program locally with employers, and also across the entire country,” Russell said. “Being able to troubleshoot electronic and mechanical issues in manufacturing is a critical skill set in plants today.” Central Carolina’s enrollment in its Mechatronics program is at all-time high, according to Bert Hancock, academic program manager. “In July 2016, we had 20 graduates, which was a record for us” Hancock said. “With 50 new starts between Fall 2015 and Spring 2016, we think Summer 2017 will set another record for us with an estimated 40-or-so graduates.” According to Hancock, keys to additional recruitment have been talking to more high school students and their parents about the CCTC program and high school district career and technology centers beginning basic mechatronics programs in the region.

Before this, who knew about Sumter? Now people do ...Sumter went through a rough patch in terms of employment, but once things start coming back, you get this resilience, and people think it’s a healthy part of the state. - Doug Woodward

CCTC’S NEW ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY TRAINING CENTER Success breeds success in the world of economic development and that has held true for Sumter. With Continental, came the vision to build a new advanced manufacturing training facility at Central Carolina. The facility opened in Fall 2015 and is home to three of the college’s six Industrial and Engineering Technology programs – Mechatronics, Computer Numerical Control (CNC)/Machine Tool, and Engineering Graphics. The three other industrial programs are still housed on the Sumter main campus: Welding, Automotive Technology, and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). 52 |

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CENTRAL CAROLINA SCHOLARS PROGRAM In January 2016, CCTC and Sumter School District bonded closer with a new scholarship initiative that provides the first two years at Central Carolina tuition free for district high school graduates. To be eligible for the program, high school graduates must test ready into college-level coursework through ACT, SAT or CCTC placement exam scores; have completed high school with a minimum 2.0 grade point average; and begin

taking classes in the summer or fall semester immediately following high school graduation. Graduates of any private high school in Sumter County are also eligible for the program. The partnership also applies to public and private high school graduates in neighboring Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw counties. Called the Central Carolina Scholars program, the college considers the program an economic development tool for existing and new industries while affording expanded higher education opportunities to high school students in Sumter. In short, it’s a pipeline to boost the county’s skilled workforce and an affordable start for students on track to a four-year college or university. By these efforts, Sumter has made tangible progress, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Business and industry is never at status quo and workforce skill requirements will continue to rise through the years. “Education beyond high school is really needed for the success of industry and our country’s competitiveness going forward,” Hancock said. “These companies have multi-million dollar pieces of equipment. To work on this equipment, you must have some technical training. “I can see the days coming, where industry is only looking at young people’s resumes if they have some postsecondary education beyond high school on it.” CONNECTION TO LOCAL INDUSTRY BD, a global manufacturer of medical supplies and devices and a leading Sumter industry as far as automation, robotics and technology, is dependent on a skilled and innovative workforce for its future success. BD employs a little more than 750 individuals. Plant manager Kevin Johnson needs a steady pipeline of technically skilled workers. “More than 50 percent of our total plant employment is technical positions, requiring varying skill levels and the ability to diagnose and repair mechanical, electrical and electronic processes,” Johnson said. “I am a huge fan of the CCTC mechatronics program and the Sumter School District’s mechatronics program at the district’s career and technology center,” Johnson added. “These programs present opportunities for growth for students and for our company as those students can prepare to become our next generation of technical talent.” Johnson is pleased with the progress that’s been made in technical training, and hopes it can continue. “There’s still much work to be done with regards to sharing the message on these amazing opportunities,” Johnson said. “Many manufacturing plants in the Sumter area offer the opportunity for technically competent students to make a big impact on their businesses; while earning impressive wages and benefits with Fortune 500-level companies. “Our focus is making sure the message is heard,” Johnson added. “We are working with local education and community leaders to ensure that our need, and the potential lifestyles our jobs can provide, are understood by both middle and high school students and by their parents as well.” LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Change is good One of Sumter’s mainstays changes with the times

❚ BY KEN BELL One of Sumter’s mainstays is changing with the times. The Sumter Item is not standing still. As social media and other technology force many newspapers to cut way back or even shutter, The Sumter Item, Sumter’s oldest family-owned business, is standing strong. The paper is also the oldest newspaper in South Carolina owned and operated by the original family. Just recently, The Sumter Item moved from its North Magnolia Street location to the old “Osteen-Davis” building located at 36 W. Liberty St., a 13,000 square-foot building. “It was important to us that we stay in downtown Sumter,” said Jack Osteen, editor and publisher of The Sumter Item. “And with this location, we have come full circle. We maintained presence in downtown and were able to renovate a building that was vacant and make it into something of which we, and all of Sumter, can be very proud of.” Sumter County bought the 20 N. Magnolia St. location, as part of the 2016 Penny Sales Tax Referendum, and plans to move various local and state offices there. “The Magnolia Street location was 28,000 square feet,” Osteen said. “We simply did not need that much space since we outsource our printing to Charleston now. We looked at several other locations but this one just stood out as the best option.” The move isn’t the only change coming to The Sumter Item. With the onslaught of electronic medium platforms, The Sumter Item had already cut its daily production from publishing seven days a week to six. And in November of 2016, it reduced its production even more from six days down to five. The newspaper no longer publishes a printed edition on Saturdays or Mondays. However, The Sumter Item does send out a Saturday newsletter every week and is committed to updating its website 24/7. To compensate for the changing times at Osteen 54 |

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Publishing Co., brothers Graham, Kyle and Jack formed a separate company, under the leadership of CEO Larry Miller, and bought several non-daily newspapers, websites, shopping guides and magazines outside of South Carolina in Alabama, Florida and New Mexico. “In buying the other properties, we were able to add jobs right her in Sumter with additional page designers, graphic artists and business office personnel,” Osteen said. “We have reporters in Las Cruces, New Mexico who can send their stories and photos to Sumter and we can edit the them and put the pages together right here,” Osteen said. “Then we send them back electronically to the respective printers in whatever market it may be.” Hubert Osteen, chairman of Osteen Publishing Co., remarked how much has changed since he began working with his father in the business. “It’s been amazing to see the technology develop since I started working in this business over 55 years ago,” HUMBLE BEGINNINGS The Sumter Item began publication as The Sumter Daily

Item on Oct. 15, 1894, when Hubert G. Osteen, with the help of his father Noah Graham Osteen, creating Sumter’s first daily newspaper. Noah Osteen began his career as a “printer’s devil” at the age of 12 working at The Sumter Watchman. He spent 81 of his 93 years in the newspaper business. On Saturday, June 18, 1921, a fire destroyed The Daily Item’s building and all of its printing and production equipment. The following day, the Osteen family made arrangements for the paper to be printed by the Orangeburg Times and Democrat and the paper printed as usual on Monday, June 20. The Osteens first sought a temporary location but ultimately decided to begin construction of a new building on Liberty Street. Groundbreaking was on June 29 and work was completed on July 12 of that year. The newspaper resumed operations in its new location fewer than 30 days from the time ground was broken. In 1929, the Sumter newspaper took a giant leap with new technology, subscribing to wire services offered by The Associated Press. At the time words came across “the wire” at a staggering 40 words per minute. A few years later, speeds increased to 70 words per minute. Today, not only words, but also graphics and photographs can be sent over the Internet in mere seconds.

As the community continued to grow, The Sumter Daily Item mirrored that growth and in 1953, moved into a new, larger building located at 20 N. Magnolia Street. Dignitaries for the ribbon-cutting included future South Carolina Governors Ernest F. Hollings and Strom Thurmond. The Osteens continued to be on the forefront of technology when, in 1969, the newspaper installed what was then a state-of-the-art offset press capable of producing 20,000 copies per hour and greatly increased color capability. Since then, the Internet has created both a boon and a bust for news leaders. Those able to adapt with the swiftly changing platform have survived. Unfortunately, many have not. Today the Osteen family continues to look toward the future with enthusiasm. It is this enthusiasm and a keen eye on changing trends that has allowed The Sumter Item to forge ahead when others have failed. It is this outlook that has the Osteen family eager to look ahead toward a bright future for many more years. “We are proud to have been a part of Sumter’s historic past. Today, we stand on the forefront looking to its future,” said Jack Osteen.

We are proud to have been a part of Sumter’s historic past. Today, we stand on the forefront looking to its future. – Jack Osteen



Poinsett State Park offers highly rated mountain bike trails ❚ BY RICK CARPENTER As temperatures drop and winds pick up, a group of bicyclists in Sumter County move from the roads to trails during winter months to take advantage of some of the best mountain biking trails in South Carolina. On most Sundays from November through March, many members of the Midlands Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and the Sumter Chain Gang – primarily a road-riding club – meet at Poinsett State Park to ride on a series of excellent, well-maintained mountain biking trails. The park offers about 15 miles of trails, and riders familiar with the system of trails often ride portions of four trails that make an 11-mile loop throughout the park. The trails are free as park officials welcome the mountain biking community. Users need to know that Manchester State Forest, adjacent to the state park, also has trails but requires users to purchase permits to ride the trails and administers fines to people who have not purchased permits. The core area of the trails at Poinsett was originally built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan to put unemployed citizens to work. Three main hiking and biking trails – the Conquina, Hill Top and Laurel Group trails – were built at that time. Later, the Scout Trail was built by the Boy Scouts of America, although the exact dates weren’t available. Then, in 1994 the Palmetto Conservation Foundation began building a trail system across the state and incorporated a section of that trail into Poinsett State Park. It originally took people through the park on the park roadway. The Midlands Southern Off-Road Bicycling 56 |

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Association, or SORBA, helped build some trails in Manchester State Forest in the early 2000s. SORBA hosts a series of mountain bike races across the area from Virginia to Alabama. Because of Sumter’s mild climate, the organization began the race series in Manchester State Forest. The first race of the year, held in March, was called the “Killer 3 Race.” But the Midlands SORBA group, which organized race, realized the 30 miles of trails it had helped maintain in the state forest were subject to periods of time when trees were harvested. That meant that some trails might be closed depending on where the forest service was clear cutting. Midlands SORBA had tried unsuccessfully to work with Poinsett State Park to utilize its existing trail system while thinking long term about adding some trails. As part of the Palmetto Trail, bikers were traveling on the main road entrance to the park, which worried Park Manager Zabo McCants. So he worked with Steve Tipton and Toni Merritt, local members of Midlands SORBA, to construct a trail that parallels the road and connects Palmetto Trail on each side of the park. The new trail, which opened in 2012, was appropriately called “Splice,” because it linked Palmetto Trail through the park to Manchester State Forest. That began a good working relationship between the organization and the park. Midlands SORBA and Poinsett State Park developed a five-year plan to construct new and improve existing trails. The 2.9 mile Knot Trail opened in 2013. In 2014, the group built and opened the 5.3 mile Whippoorwill Trail. Riders can now begin at the park office, ride Knot Trail to Splice Trail, which connects to Whippoorwill Trail, which eventually brings the rider back to the park office via Scout Trail for an 11.2 mile loop. The Killer 3 Race has now morphed into Knot Mountain Bike Race and is held entirely in Poinsett State Park. Riders with different skill levels ride different distances with the top riders going multiple laps to ride more than 30 miles. Midlands SORBA usually hosts the race the first week of March and the event brings hundreds of riders and their families to the area. Midlands SORBA and Sumter Chain Gang, as well as

other volunteers, helped build a new trail in the park in 2016, called the Cowassee Trail. It adds 2.2 miles of single track trail to the system. Steve Tipton, a major force in developing the trail system in Poinsett, said Midlands SORBA received significant support from Continental Tire, which has a tire manufacturing facility in Sumter. Continental provided money to help build bridges and buy trail maintenance tools. Besides manufacturing automotive tires, Continental Tire makes some of the most well-respected bicycle tires. Tipton said Continental has employees who mountain bike and give back to the community. In fact, after posting a Facebook request for help in 2016, 17 people showed up to help build the new trail. Continental Tire also sponsors other events organized around mountain biking in the park. On the first Saturday of October each year, the park hosts “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.” Organizers, including Midlands SORBA and Continental Tire, use the event to introduce children to mountain biking. The event includes an area where children of all ages can illustrate their biking skills while navigating their bikes through a series of obstacles. That helps organizers determine the skill level of each rider so they can group riders with similar abilities on a guided ride. The free event includes a meal, a T-shirt, trail maps and other appropriate goodies. During the winter months, riders meet at Poinsett anywhere from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sundays in the parking lot near the park office. It’s a friendly group of riders who welcome all levels of riders. Most riders will often provide instructions for the courses. And, if that fails, Park Manager Zabo McCants will instruct, if he’s available. Also, during longer sunlight periods from March to October, riders meet on Thursdays at 6 p.m. for an organized group ride. These are primarily social rides, not competition. For people looking for extended weekend adventures at the park, it offers cabin rentals daily all year and it has more than 50 camping sites, some with electricity. But if you’re planning to go during the race weekend, book your site or cabin early.


To book a cabin at Poinsett, call 1-866-345-PARK. For more information and to download a map of the park, go to www. southcarolinaparks.com/ poinsett/introduction.aspx. LIFE I SGO O DI NSUMTE R .C O M |


Palmetto Tennis Center: Boosts economy, attracts locals and visitors ❚ BY KONSTANTIN VENGEROWSKY Palmetto Tennis Center has served the Sumter community for more than a decade and attracts more than 30,000 individual visits, including repeat players, on annual basis. The economic impact of the center on the Sumter community has been about $15 million in the last year, said Susan Wild, City of Sumter recreation programs and facilities director. This is due to the thousands of players, coaches, family members and visitors who come for the 12 tournaments the center hosts and use local amenities, such as hotels, restaurants and gas stations. Tournaments can range from two days to a full week, and include collegiate, amateur and professional level events. Tournament players have included professionals, some of whom now rank in the top 10 in the world, Wild said. One of the most prestigious events the center hosts annually is the USTA Pro Circuit-Palmetto Pro Open, a professional women’s tournament with a top prize of $25,000, one of three in South Carolina. The public facility is open seven days a week, yearround, and is free for anyone to use, she said. “I think what really makes it unique is its location and design,” Wild said. The center consists of 18 hard courts and six deco-turf courts, all of which have lighting. The center has been ranked one of the top public facilities in the state, and among the top 11 public center facilities across the nation, according to the Sports Planning Guide. 58 |

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The center was completed in 2004, and built with monies from the hospitality fund. Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen said the city wanted to construct a “first class center” that would not only provide a place for locals to play, but also bring an economic boost to the city. “We wanted a place for residents to play for free and also a center where the tennis industry could grow,” he said. “My view of its success is not only the tournaments that we have here, but the local players who use it on a daily basis.” Three professionals offer a variety of lessons at the facility: Sam Kiser, general manager and USC Sumter head tennis coach and director of tennis, Brian Hodge, tennis development professional, and Michael Pereira, tennis training professional. The center offers clinics and private lessons for all ages. Children as young as age five can start taking lessons. Once children reach the age of 11, they can choose various tracks, such as a tournament level play or recreational play. Levels include “drop shots,” ages five to seven; “slammers,” ages eight to 10; “aces,” ages 11 and up; “performance” intermediate level, ages eight and up; and “high performance,” advanced level, ages 18 and under. Clinics and private lessons for adults are also offered. “Prior to the facility being completed, we knew we really needed to identify and capitalize on the quality of tournaments we could bring here,” Kiser said. “By having the tennis pros here we also have the opportunity to teach

lessons, from beginner to advanced, and help grow the sport in our area.” The center has been the training ground of local high school stars who’ve gone on to play in college. From 2004 to 2016, about 20 local players, all who spent their days perfecting their skills at the center, went on to play at Division I and Division II collegiate levels, Kiser said. Kaitlin Knight, a collegiate tennis player and a junior at Converse College in Spartanburg, started hitting on the courts in the fifth-grade. Kiser coached Knight throughout her middle and high school career. Knight said she would practice at the courts at least four to five times a week through clinics, while also practicing with her school’s team, Sumter High School. “If it wasn’t for the tennis center being here, I don’t think I would have had the training to play college tennis,” she said. “It’s such an uplifting and positive environment. It’s also very family oriented.” Tennis is a sport for all ages. Charles M. Hodgin, 86, a local tennis legend and coach, plays at the center three times a week. “It’s a lifetime sport,” he said.




107,480 - Total population Sumter County Under 18 Years.................... 27,431 18 to 24 Years...................... 11,579 25 to 34 Years...................... 14,198 35 to 44 Years...................... 12,996 45 to 54 Years...................... 15,188 55 to 64 Years...................... 12,143 65 to 74 Years........................ 7,883 75 Years, and Over................ 6,038


at a glance


industries TOP INDUSTRIES IN STop UMTER COUNTY in Sumter ■ Other General Merchandise Stores ■ Gasoline Stations ■ Health and Personal Care Stores ■ Automobile Dealers ■ Restaurants and Other Eating Places ■ Grocery Stores ■ Department Stores ■ Building Material Supplies Dealer ■ Clothing Stores ■ Automotive Parts and Accessories Stores

Per Capita Income


increase of 2.10% (Dept of Revenue – 2015) Unemployment rate


(December 2016)

Other General Merchandise Stores Gasoline Stations Health and Personal Care Stores Automobile Dealers Eating Places COMPANY’S Restaurants and Other APPROX. NUMBER

Top 10 Non-Manufacturers By employment in Sumter COunty



Grocery Stores Department Stores Building Material and Supplies Dealer Clothing Stores Automotive Parts and Accessories Stores APPROX. NUMBER COMPANY’S

Top 10 Manufacturers By employment in Sumter COunty



Shaw Air Force Base


Continental Tire


Sumter School Districts


Pilgrim’s Inc.


Palmetto Health Tuomey


Sykes, Inc.


Thompson Construction


Eaton Electrical


Sumter County Government


BD Diagnostics. Preanalytical Solutions


City of Sumter


Santee Print Works


Wal-Mart Associates


Kaydon Corp.


Colonial Family Practice, LLC


APEX Tool Group


Central Carolina Technical College


Color-Fi Inc.


SAFE Federal Credit Union


Glasscock Company


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Profile for The Sumter Item

Life is Good in Sumter 2017  

Life is Good in Sumter 2017  

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