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Taking flight with Shaw Air Force Base's new wing commander

Your guide to the best BBQ in Sumter

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. BD Sumter to become

manufacturer's largest facility worldwide


At Thompson, we are a family, and Sumter is where we call home. In 2018 we were proud to add three new divisions to our Thompson family of companies: Thompson Disaster Recovery Services, Thompson Industrial Services Macon, Georgia Division, and Petrochem Services Group, a Division of Thompson Industrial Services in Houston, Texas. Throughout all the Thompson companies, our core values are safety, quality and integrity, and these are put into practice every day by our employees and clients alike. As with any family, we value our people, which is why safety has always been our number one priority. In 2018, we made it our mission to live and breath safety - to take it personally and be accountable to ourselves and each other. Our innovative safety program combines an active leadership commitment, a realtime ability for all employees to record every incident, and advanced data analytics that use leading indicators to proactively manage risk, reduce incidents and enable better business decisions. This has lead to lower recordables and safer working environments for all the incredible people we hold so dear. 2 | 2018-20 1 9 L I F E I S G O O D IN S U M TER

“We will never forget our roots in Sumter, SC” - Greg A. Thompson, CEO/President Just as we value our employees and clients, we are dedicated to serving the people of Sumter and improving our special community. Thompson is committed to sponsoring numerous non-profits in Sumter, such as the Croswell Children’s Home, United Way and United Ministries, which are all imperative to keep our community safe, healthy and thriving. In addition to our strong commitment to community service, Thompson is just as committed to Sumter’s economic development. In 2018 the new Hyatt hotel on North Main Street officially

opened for business! Built by Thompson Turner Construction, the hotel is a welcome addition to the blossoming downtown. Now, visitors can stay right in the heart of all the shops and retaurants to really experience all that Sumter has to offer. In addition to Thompson’s roots in Sumter, we now have over 20 locations across the United States, with mobile capabilities that serve customers across the globe. Thompson Construction Group focuses on industrial construction and on-site maintenance. Specializing in large industrial projects, we build and maintain facilities for a range of industries like Power, Paper, Steel and beyond. Thompson Turner, general contractors, builds commercial, government and educational facilities. We offer single-source, deadlines and budget-oriented delivery, including Design/Build and CM at Risk. Thompson Industrial Services provides safe, comprehensive industrial cleaning services to major industrial facilities. Our work is safer, faster and more precise with our growing line of advanced automation technologies.

Power Services

Thompson Power Services provides construction services related to boiler and major gas-path equipment installation and repair for electric utilities and industrial facilities. Thompson Disaster Recovery Services provides recovery solutions to State and Federal agencies including the repair, replacement, and reconstruction of residential areas impacted by natural disasters.

At Thompson, our commitment to community and customer service is top-of-mind every day. We value every job and every person, and are committed to always serving you safely with quality and integrity. 3 | 2018-20 1 9 Lnew I F E I S Gwebsite O O D IN S U M TER Visit our at: www.thompsonsoutheast.com.





Williamstown Kansas

West Virginia

Richmond Covington





Owensboro Oklahoma




Shreveport Louisiana

St. Gabriel Houston

Greenville South


Decatur Alabama


North Carolina






Wilmington Sumter Georgetown

Augusta Macon





Corpus Christi

Since 1986, Thompson has grown from a modest industrial service business into one of South Carolina’s largest construction and service related companies. After over 30 years in business, we now serve the entire southeastern and central United States with specialty services spanning the globe. Our growing family of companies now has 3,000 employees and covers nearly every facet of the construction and industrial service sectors along with government services. We have come a long way, but Sumter will always be our home, and we are committed to serving our city as proudly as we serve our valuable customers.

www.thompsonsoutheast.com 100 North Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150 4|

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a vibrant



Explore more at SumterTourism.com

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n 1894, Hubert Graham Osteen founded the first small-town daily newspaper in South Carolina. His slogan – “First, the growth of Sumter.” The next 125 years have seen more than a few changes, as you might guess, but that slogan remains at the forefront of our mission at The Sumter Item and at the mission of this magazine. On behalf of The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the Sumter Economic Development Board and my co-workers at The Sumter Item, I’d like to officially welcome you to the 2019 edition of Life is Good in Sumter. When Jack Osteen and some of Sumter’s key community leaders launched the magazine as an annual publication several years ago, “Good” was probably the appropriate term. In 2019, “Good” seems like a classic undersell.

When I think of Sumter today – after a little more than a year living, working and playing in and around this community – words like “thriving,” “bustling” and “boldly transforming” seem more appropriate, but we’ll stick with “Good” on the cover for now. Speaking of the cover, this year’s front brilliantly created by Sumter native Sarah Jones illustrates – no pun intended – some of the young, artistic talent reengaging with our community. It also showcases a now-frequent scene in Sumter – the community gathering in our growing, reinvigorated downtown for fun and fellowship. From The Sumter Item’s own BEST OF SUMTER Red Carpet Event to the annual Oktoberfest to the Fourth Fridays Concert Series hosted by the City of Sumter, our calendars are filling as we spend more time as a community. The past year has seen exciting growth across all aspects of our our community, from new jobs and expanding industries to new military families and growing partnerships at Shaw Air Force Base. We at The Sumter Item have had the pleasure of highlighting it all through our community-driven newspaper five days a week, our most-visited local website at TheItem.com updated throughout each day, our daily video programming including Sumter Today and more. We’re with you, Sumter, boldly playing our part in reimagining and innovating how we build our community and continue to improve our daily lives. Thank you for growing with us, and subscribe to The Sumter Item if you haven’t already. Just be warned – next year, it might have to be more than "Good" on the cover.



What's inside

SUMTER ENTERTAINS An arts hub in your backyard…………………………… 10

Calendar: What to do in Sumter……………………… 14

Taking flight with Shaw Air Force Base's new wing commander

Your guide to the best BBQ in Sumter

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. BD Sumter to become

manufacturer's largest facility worldwide



Downtown Sumter on Main Street, illustrated from last year's Oktoberfest event where family and friends gathered in the street.

Living and learning at the Sumter County Museum………………………………… 18 SUMTER BUILDS BD: A manufacturing monster………………………… 20 Top 10 industries in Sumter…………………………… 22 Sumter Industrial Association: Getting better today and preparing for tomorrow………………………………… 24 Making Sumter: The growth of Broad Street………… 26 Spotlight: Tru Hotel's Raj Patel………………………… 29

Illustration by Sarah Jones, local artist and founder/ editor of Brindle and Black. @jonezee85

SUMTER LEARNS Sumter School District: A new direction……………… 30

PUBLISHER Vince Johnson

Spotlight: Zach Lowe…………………………………… 35

EDITOR Kayla Robins COPY EDITORS Rhonda Barrick Melanie Smith EDITORIAL Ken Bell Dennis Brunson Holly Chase Danny Kelly Bruce Mills Ivy Moore Traci Quinn Kayla Robins Adrienne Sarvis Erika Williams

Spotlight: Shasta Smith………………………………… 32 USC Sumter: The Palmetto College system online………………… 36 Central Carolina Technical College: Finding her niche………………………………………… 38 SUMTER LIVES Tandem Health: Bettering care………………………… 40 Spotlight: CEO Annie Brown…………………………… 41 Palmetto Health Tuomey becomes Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital………………………… 42 SUMTER EATS So what's the big deal about BBQ, anyway? ………… 46


Spotlight: Danielle Thompson………………………… 48

LAYOUT & DESIGN Cary Howard Ryan Galloway

SUMTER GOVERNS More room to serve and protect……………………… 50

AD SALES Karen Cave Rose Jarrett Mark Pekuri

Progress of the penny…………………………………… 52 Meet your elected officials……………………………… 54 SUMTER SERVES Shaw Air Force Base: At the helm……………………… 58

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

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


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U.S. Army Central marks 100 years…………………… 60 Shaw welcomes 1st expansion of MQ-9 Reaper Unit…………………………………… 64 SUMTER PLAYS Palmetto Tennis Center: a world-class place to compete………………………… 66 Patriot Park offers numerous outdoor opportunities…………………………………… 68



n behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and nearly 800 member businesses, welcome to our home. As the economic hub of our region, Sumter offers an unbeatable combination of economic, educational and cultural opportunities. This includes unmatched Southern hospitality to all who visit, as well as to the individuals and families who call Sumter home. Known as the community of "Uncommon Patriotism,� Sumter is where people and business converge. We are near the geographic center of South Carolina and only 45 minutes from our state

capital. Located in Sumter is Shaw Air Force Base, home of the 20th Fighter Wing and one of the largest military installations in the country. Health care, the performing arts, great locally owned dining and much more are just a small sample of why more than 100,000 residents have chosen to raise their families in Sumter and Sumter County. Our businesses and residents are proud of Sumter for many reasons. We are home to a four-year college, a two-year college, a technical college and one of the largest school districts in the state. We are home to one of the oldest festivals in the Southeast, the Iris Festival, held at Swan Lake–Iris Gardens. We are host to national tennis tournaments at the Palmetto Tennis Center and softball tournaments at Bobby Richardson Sports Complex and Patriot Park. With easy access to Interstate 20 and I-95 and employment levels and economic development booming, our community is being recognized across the country as a strong hub for businesses and quality of life. As you can see, we are a proud community and excited about what we have to offer. We hope you will enjoy your experience here as a visitor or new resident. Our mission is to "provide an ideal business environment that promotes growth and total community development." Whether you are just passing through, considering relocation or a long-time resident, we thank you for helping us reach our mission.



Sumter Entertains

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An arts hub in your

backyard BY IVY MOORE

You don't have to drive all the way to Columbia to witness big-city talent. Sumter's arts scene provides yearround, world-class entertainment.


he arts are thriving in the Sumter community with visual art, theater, music, dance and more in myriad venues. Many events are sponsored by or receive some funding from the Sumter County Cultural Commission. The commission supports the arts through grants and presents art shows and performances in the auditorium of its home, Patriot Hall. Fall for the Arts, a weeklong event sponsored by the commission and held annually in October, includes a wide variety of entertainment as well as visual arts. Most recently, the schedule included the widely acclaimed Ailey II dance company, theater, Latin dance festival, a variety of live music and visual art. The commission also presents musical performances during the year, such as a concert by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet. The commission, headed by Executive Director Melanie Colclough, shares the large Sumter County Cultural Center at 135 Haynsworth St. with the Sumter County Gallery of Art and the Sumter Little Theatre, both of which are major players in Sumter’s arts and culture scene. The gallery presents exhibitions throughout the year by local, state, national and international artists. Executive Director Karen Watson and Curator G. Cole Miller show the works of many contemporary artists while also exhibiting those of past artists. The venue has gained a reputation as one of the finest art galleries in the state. In addition to exhibits in its three gallery spaces, the gallery also provides educational opportunities all year long, particularly with its summer art camp for children and youth. Established artists



and art educators teach week–long classes in many mediums, including painting, sculpture, pottery and more. Year–long classes for adults are held in the evenings, as well, meeting several nights a week. In addition to the Sumter County Gallery, the community’s education institutions also host exhibitions. The University of South Carolina Sumter boasts three galleries that show works mainly by contemporary artists from around the country, as well as exhibitions by local artists. Like the Sumter County Gallery of Art, USC Sumter sponsors artists talking about their work while it is on exhibit. Central Carolina Technical College also hosts exhibitions periodically, usually in its Upstairs Gallery on the main campus.

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Submissions are accepted from the public. The college offers classes in art history and Film as Art. The Historic Sumter Neighborhood Association has presented its Art in the Park outdoor art show at Memorial Park each fall for several years. Dozens of artists from around the state exhibit and sell their work, while entertainers perform on three separate stages. The popular event attracts hundreds of visitors, including many families. Admission is free, and the event benefits local charities. Under the auspices of the Sumter Cultural Commission is autumn’s Historic District Art Crawl. Many of Sumter’s local artists live and work in the area, and for one day in October, they open their studios to the public. Organizer Laura Cardello said many participants take advantage of the annual opportunity to see artists’ works in progress and to talk with them about their techniques and subjects. Art in the House, organized primarily by Linda Hogon, features local artists and crafters selling their work in a different Sumter Historic District home each fall. The artists are available to talk about their work. Sumter Little Theatre, under the leadership of Executive Director Eric Bultman, offers six or more performances each season of both contemporary and classic plays and musicals. “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Death of a Salesman” and “The Music Man” are among the shows presented in recent years. Plays are cast through audition, and actors and stage crews are volunteers from the community. SLT’s Youth Theatre offers classes by accomplished actors and directors during the regular school year. Students have the opportunity to appear on stage, both in youth productions such as “Wind in the Willows” and “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and in adult plays that feature children’s roles, such as “A Christmas Story” and “Inherit the Wind.” The historic Sumter Opera House, under the direction of City Cultural Manager Seth Reimer for the past five years, has become a major entertainment hub for Sumter and the surrounding area. Many concerts attract audiences from out of state, as well. Nationally recognized artists perform regularly now at the venue, including the late Leon Russell, Aaron Tippin, The Bellamy Brothers, Starship, Ambrosia, The Lettermen and many more. Bob Eubanks presented a live show featuring local “Not So Newlywed” couples in a hilarious version of TV’s

Newlywed Game. These and other performances, including theater, stand up comedy and more, are part of the Main Stage Series, one of four series established by Reimer. The Matinee Series features kid- and family–friendly shows. The Cinema Series is a summer program of family–friendly movies, and the Special Events Series includes local performances. Recent special events included Homegrown, a benefit music performance by some of the area’s finest musicians, and a live show of the multiple awardwinning SCETV program “Making It Grow.” Music lovers can attend performances by the Sumter Community Concert Band, the Sumter Civic Chorale and talented musicians from area churches several times a year at no charge. A masterful performance of Handel’s "Messiah" at Trinity United Methodist Church, for example, drew rave reviews from the audience last December. Downtown Sumter presents a summer music series, Fourth

Fridays on Main, from May through September. The outdoor concerts by local and area bands are free to the public. The Woman’s Afternoon Music Club, which comprises talented singers and instrumentalists, presents several concerts each year, including the highly anticipated annual Festival of Choirs during Advent. Dance companies also perform for the public during the year. The Sumter Civic Dance Company presents several annual concerts, including its contemporary series and the popular Jingle with the Arts, held in December. Miss Libby’s School of Dance presents the Sumter Arts Showcase, a benefit for the Tuomey Foundation, in February. Both “extravaganzas” fill Patriot Hall. Each November, the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians presents its Native American Indian Festival at the Sumter County Museum. The festival not only entertains – it also provides education about the tribe’s history and culture.

For more information about some of Sumter’s cultural events and venues: ✦ Sumter County Cultural Center................................... www.sumtercountysc.gov ❙ (803) 436-2260 ✦ Sumter Opera House..........................................www.sumtersc.gov/operahouse ❙ (803) 436-2616 ✦ Sumter County Gallery of Art......................................... www.sumtergallery.com ❙ (803) 775-0543 ✦ University of South Carolina Sumter................................................. www.sc.edu ❙ (803) 775-8727 ✦ Sumter Little Theatre.............................................. www.sumterlittletheatre.com ❙ (803) 775-2150 ✦ Downtown Sumter................................................ www.sumtersc.gov/downtown ❙ (803) 436-2500 ✦ Sumter County Museum.....................................www.sumtercountymuseum.org ❙ (803) 775-0908 ✦ Sumter Community Concert Band.................................................................www.sumterband.org ✦ Sumter Civic Dance Company...........................................www.freedschool.com ❙ (803) 773-2847 ✦ Miss Libby’s School of Dance & Gymnastics....................... www.misslibbys.com ❙ (803) 469-8277



WHAT TO DO Joshua Lozoff Jan. 25 Sumter Opera House

Delbert McClinton Feb. 2 Sumter Opera House "Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" Feb. 14-17 & Feb. 21-24 Thursday-Saturday: 8 p.m., Sundays: 3 p.m. Sumter Little Theatre

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Farm to Table Sumter Rotary Club Sumter County Civic Center Untapped Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival Sumter Green Sumter County Fairgrounds

Chili Cookoff and Beer Tasting Young Professionals of Sumter Sumter County Museum

Blindside Feb. 21 Sumter Opera House

Rub o' The Green Golf Tournament Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce Sunset Country Club

Resolution Road Race 5K Westside Christian Academy

Annual Disabilities and Special Needs Foundation Gala The O'Donnell House


Manchester Trail Ride Manchester Trail Riders Manchester State Forest

The Magic School Bus March 4, 9:30 a.m. and noon Sumter Opera House

Carolina Backcountry Springtime Sumter County Museum

The Queen’s Cartoonists March 9 Sumter Opera House


The Platters Feb. 15 Sumter Opera House

Sumter Enduro Race American Motorcycle Association Manchester State Forest


Lion's Club Oyster Roast Lion's Club Swan Lake Heath Pavilion

Gene Watson March 1 Sumter Opera House

Kenny Cetera’s Chicago Experience March 14 Sumter Opera House

Derby Day Celebration Benefit for The United Way of Sumter, Lee, and Clarendon Downtown Sumter


Summer Film Series begins City of Sumter Sumter Opera House

The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon April 4-7 Thursday-Friday: 7:30 p.m.

Carolina Backcountry Springtime Sumter County Museum

Downtown Sumter Farmers Market begins City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Sumter Iris Festival City of Sumter Swan Lake – Iris Gardens Spring Concert Sumter Community Concert Band Patriot Hall

4th Fridays Concert Series begins City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Summer Splash Series City of Sumter Sumter Aquatics Center

Manufacturing & Technology Expo Sumter Edge CCTC Advanced Manufacturing Center

Recovery Road Race 5K/10K Young Professionals of Sumter Swan Lake – Iris Gardens

Shrimp Feast Sumter County Museum

Sumter County Relay for Life Sumter County Relay for Life Hillcrest Middle School

Summer Concert Sumter Community Concert Band Patriot Hall

Earth Day Celebration City of Sumter Swan Lake – Iris Gardens

Small Business Celebration Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce

Downtown Sumter Microbrew Festival Sumter Senior Services Downtown Sumter

Avenue Q May 23-26, May 30-June 2 & June 7-8 Sumter Little Theatre

May ✪

Festival on the Avenue City of Sumter Manning Avenue

Annual Awards Gala Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce


Lightwire Theater’s “The Ugly Duckling” April 5, 11:30 a.m. Sumter Opera House

Saturday: 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sunday: 3 p.m. Sumter Little Theatre

Next Generation Leahy March 22 Sumter Opera House

E3 Professional Development Conference June 11-13 Sumter School District



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✪ ✪ ✪

Downtown Sumter Farmers Market City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Backyard Jamboree Sumter Senior Services Art in the Park Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association Memorial Park

CSA & USSSA Baseball Tournaments City of Sumter Patriot Park Sports Complex

Military Appreciation Picnic Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce Shaw Air Force Base

Sumter County Fair American Legion Sumter County Fairgrounds

Commander's Breakfast Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce The O'Donnell House

Downtown Sumter Farmers Market City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Oktoberfest Benefit for Sumter United Ministries Downtown Sumter

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4th Fridays Concert Series City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

4th Fridays Concert Series City of Sumter Downtown Sumter




Sumter Artists Guild Show Sumter Artists Guild Sumter County Gallery of Art

End of Summer Invitational Swim Meet City of Sumter Sumter Aquatics Center

Downtown Sumter Farmers Market City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

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4th Fridays Concert Series City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Palmetto Adult Classic & Open Pro USTA Tournaments City of Sumter Palmetto Tennis Center

Worldwide Double Dutch Tournament Sumter County Sumter County Civic Center

WFC & CSA Softball Tournaments City of Sumter Patriot Park Sports Complex

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USSSA Baseball Tournament City of Sumter Patriot Park Sports Complex

Summer Film Series City of Sumter Sumter Opera House

CSA & WFC State Softball Tournaments City of Sumter Patriot Park Sports Complex

Sumter Green Fall Feast Sumter Green USC Sumter

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Turkey Trot 5K and Gobbler Dash YMCA Sumter

Morris College Thanksgiving Parade Morris College Main Street

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TriSumter Triathlon City of Sumter Sumter Aquatics Center

Untapped Food & Beer Truck Festival Sumter Green Sumter County Fairgrounds

Carolina Backcountry Christmas Sumter County Museum Sumter County Museum Christmas Parade Evening Optimist Club Main Street

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Fall Ride Manchester Trail Riders Manchester State Forest

Fall for the Arts Sumter County Cultural Center Patriot Hall

Carolina Backcountry Harvest Sumter County Museum Sumter County Museum

eSTEAM Sumter Festival Sumter Edge Downtown Sumter

Sip n' Stroll Sumter Senior Services Downtown Sumter

Fantasy of Lights City of Sumter Swan Lake – Iris Gardens

"The Nutcracker" Sumter County Cultural Center Patriot Hall

Fall Oyster Roast Sumter County Museum

Porches of Sumter Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce Sumter Historic District

Children's Business Fair Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce

Holiday Social Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce The O'Donnell House

Festival of Trees The Tuomey Foundation Downtown Sumter



Caffeine & Gasoline Car Show Sumter Cut Rate Downtown Sumter


Downtown Sumter Farmers Market City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

4th Fridays Concert Series City of Sumter Downtown Sumter

Christmas at Patriot Hall Sumter County Cultural Center Patriot Hall

Hosting Organization This is not an exhaustive list. For detailed information on events, look closer to specific dates in The Sumter Item and at the Chamber of Commerce.



Learning and Living at the Sumter County Museum BY KEN BELL

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ne of Sumter’s most valuable secrets is the Sumter County Museum. The museum offers visitors a look at life in early Sumter and how we have evolved. It is housed in the Williams-Brice House, built in 1916. Visitors can also explore the Heritage Education Center that was added in 2003, the Carolina Backcountry Homestead and Temple Sinai Jewish History Center. Visitors who enter the Williams-Brice House can immediately see a dining area and clothing from early Sumter. Relics and artifacts are on display on the main floor as well as upstairs. But the crown jewel on the museum grounds is its Backcountry display. “Our Backcountry is set as a single – family homestead in the period around 1750-1850,” said Amanda Cox, the museum’s educational director. “We have a core of volunteers who help out. We’re actually working to get volunteers from schools. The Junior Civitans helped, also.” Debra Watts, the Backcountry manager, said she handmade the clothing that volunteers wear in the exhibits. “I made all of the costumes by hand,” she said. “I had to fit all of these kids with clothing. I have enough clothes that we now rent them out for other events such as Revolutionary War plays.” Cox said October is a busy month for the museum. “Most Sumter County school students come and see about a 30-minute puppet show,” she said. “We take the kids on a tour of the house and Backcountry. And, it’s all free.” Cox said lesson plans are available for teachers who want their students to learn even more about Sumter’s history. “And even though the Backcountry might not be open,” she said, “the students can come and look at the buildings.” Watts said there are even programs that can be taught during inclement weather. Executive Director Annie Rivers said the museum previously offered time travel kits. “We’re working on Revolutionary War lesson plans,” she said. “We take relics into the schools. We actually go into the classrooms and leave the lesson plan kits for about two weeks.” Rivers said the lesson plans are written up to state standards.


Visitors can also learn about Sumter’s rich Jewish history, including its connection to Holocaust survivors and liberators. In Sumter’s early Main Street years, many shops and businesses

MUSEUM HOURS and TICKETS ✦ The Sumter County Museum's hours are

Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults (18-64), $2 for students (6-17) and seniors (65+) and free for 5 and under as well as museum members. The Sumter County Museum encourages the use of the Ross S. McKenzie Hall and Martha Brice Gardens by cultural, historical and civic organizations as well as private individuals for small receptions and gatherings.

Tickets ✦

for the Williams-Brice House and Carolina Backcountry Homestead are $8 adults, $3 students and seniors 65 and up and free for children 5 and under and museum members.

were owned and operated by Jewish residents, and the Jewish synagogue with colorful stained glass windows on Church Street has recently enlisted the museum's help to combat a declining and aging congregation. “We operate it now,” Rivers said. “The members were concerned with dwindling membership, and they reached out to us.” Rivers said the revised Temple Sinai reopened in June 2018, with a new Jewish History Center, which offers educational exhibits and local artifacts. The center is also the only Holocaust Museum between Atlanta and Richmond. “We now have a site manager and docents,” Rivers said. ”It’s open Thursdays through Saturdays, but we can open it at other times.” Rivers said visitors can stroll through the temple at their own pace. “When you walk in there is an introduction area,” she said. “You can learn about Judaism. Charleston had the largest settlement of Jews in the state, and many of them migrated inward from the coast, settling here in Sumter. “The next section talks about the Jewish businesses on Main Street,” Rivers said. “These businesses helped anchor our downtown area. “We also have an oral history they can listen to." Next, Rivers said, is a Holocaust exhibit. “We have a video from the National Holocaust Museum,” she said. “It goes into (Sumter resident) Abe Stern’s story. We have the dagger that he took off of a Nazi soldier.” Rivers said the Holocaust exhibit is intense so there is an area just after it where visitors can relax. “They can decompress,” she said. “We have an area where they can make a butterfly in memory of a child who died in the Holocaust. “Finally, you walk through the sanctuary,” Rivers said. “If you want a full guided tour, we’re happy to do that, as well. The stained-glass windows are amazing. The sanctuary and architecture of the building are beautiful.” Rivers said the museum is getting ready to work on the Brody Wing. “It will add the Roger and Deane Ackerman Exhibit Hall,” she said. “That will be used for traveling exhibits. We’re looking forward to expanding exhibits and taking them to the schools.” Rivers added that tours of the museum and Temple Sinai are free for school groups.


✦ The Temple Sinai Jewish History Center is open Thursdays

and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.   ✦ Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for students and seniors. Admission is free for children 5 and under and museum members.  ✦Combination tickets for visiting the Sumter County Museum and Temple Sinai Jewish History Center are $8 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, and kids free 5 and under and museum members. Combo tickets are good for one week.



Sumter Builds

A manufacturing monster

BD's Sumter facility plans record-breaking expansion as it approaches 50 years



he year 2020 will mark 50 years that Becton Dickinson, more commonly referred to as simply BD, will have been operating it's Sumter facility. Headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical devices with 87 locations worldwide. BD Sumter announced in 2018 an expansion that will bring meaningful job growth and investment activity over the next few years. The expansion in Sumter speaks to the quality of the production and volume of blood collection devices that are produced and distributed here locally. The announcement of the expansion is just one part of the change that BD, located in the Black River Industrial Park off Jefferson Road, encountered. Ken Lee was also brought on board as the new plant manager last year. Lee is not new to Sumter to BD as he worked here over a nine-year stint between 2001 and

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2010. During that time, he held a plethora of upwardly mobile roles to include engineering and facilities management, continuous improvement and operations oversight. A relocation to the corporate headquarters moved Lee away from Sumter to be a part of BD’s Research and Development Team. A turning point for him was his move to the Pharmaceuticals Division of BD. It was in this position that he experienced the worldwide network of BD while living and working in Le Pont De Claix, France. Now, he’s back in Sumter! The place where he lives and loves. The city where both his daughters attended Sumter High School and were provided with strong educational foundations. The location where he went through the Chamber’s Leadership Sumter program and can now see his class’ project “The Beau Graham Square” come to fruition. Lee is excited and ready to engage once more with the Sumter community. “If you’re in a leadership


role, there’s no better way to serve than to be a part of the community,” Lee said when asked about his move back to Sumter. Lee said he is eager to position his team to grow BD Sumter for not only this transition and expansion, but also to be ready for other opportunities to advance the world of health. “We must first seek to understand,” Lee said. “There are lots of moving pieces with diversity of thought. Many people have been employed with BD for more than 40 years. It’s important to be engaged and use that diversity.” He encourages individuals to seek out BD. Learn more about the company, research and then apply. While it’s a very technical working environment, there are various positions that require a diversity of skillsets. Currently employing 975 associates, with the successful implementation of this expansion, BD Sumter will move from its present standing as the second – largest operation to bypass its Mexico counterpart as the largest Becton Dickinson operation in the world.



Top 10 industries in Sumter by number of employees Continental Pilgrim's Pride BD Thompson Eaton

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10

Santee Print Works Color-Fi Caterpillar Hydraulics Kaydon/SKF Glasscock

Keeping Families Comfortable for More Than 25 Years Commercial and Industrial Installations Planned Maintenance Programs




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EMS-CHEMIE The leading manufacturer of high-performance polyamides

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

EMS-CHEMIE (North America) Inc. 2060 Corporate Way, P.O. Box 1717 Sumter, SC 29151 Phone (803) 481-9173, Fax (803) 481-3820 welcome@us.emschem.com, www.ems-group.com



Getting better today and preparing for tomorrow BY BRUCE MILLS


Sumter Industrial Association focuses on a local talent pipeline for the future and sharing what works with others

t’s a group that many of us don’t hear about much, but it has two major purposes in Sumter. One, it wants to help build tomorrow’s future workforce locally. And, two, it wants to help current industries here with best practices and networking in today’s 21st century advanced manufacturing environment. It’s the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s Industrial Association.

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The association includes numerous manufacturing companies and related industries with operations in Sumter. Spreading the message that manufacturing – Sumter’s top industry for decades – can be a great career to youth isn’t necessarily easy these days, even though it’s true, and local companies here are actually growing. For many years, the American culture

has promoted that going off to a four-year university and trying to become a doctor, lawyer or veterinarian is the only path to success. Because manufacturing is often not displayed on prime-time TV or as starring movie roles, old stereotypes can exist of dirty, low-skilled, labor-intensive jobs from the 1950s and 60s. Manufacturing jobs of today – both



Another major purpose of the Industrial Association is to meet regularly and share best industry practices. Those could be new technical applications that an area manufacturer has recently installed in its facility or a new way to look at management or supervisory issues. Walker said the manufacturing motto is continuous improvement, from quality to delivery times and reducing costs all the time. “Our goal as an association is for individuals to share things working within their organization, and hopefully someone else will adopt that within their company,” Walker said. “All of those type activities we share are to help our brothers and sisters locally. We don’t make the same stuff; so, we are not necessarily c o m p e t i n g against each other, but we want to help each other. We want to lean on each other and help each other grow and prosper.”

locally and worldwide – often involve cutting-edge technology including robotics, higher-skilled workers, and outstanding pay and career paths. And job opportunities are plentiful at most local manufacturing companies, according to officials. To get in those jobs today does typically require a strong vocational high school career track and possibly some education beyond high school due to advanced technologies. Employers locally are often

looking for individuals with a certification or up to a two-year associate degree. The association does its best to tell its message to youth and others in Sumter. Rhett Walker, Industrial Association president and business development manager with Kaydon/SKF – a bearings manufacturer in Live Oak Industrial Park off U.S. 15 South – said the association tries to plant small seeds with students to get positively down the road. Those seeds are planted through career fairs, forums, facility tours, manufacturing expos and, last year, even a day-long Saturday festival in downtown Sumter. Walker said Sumter School District, other educational entities and parents are also specific target audiences. “Our education system and families need to promote manufacturing as a viable way to earn a living and have a nice life in the local community here in Sumter,” Walker said. It’s not just youth in the schools that the association wants to connect with. It has consistent dialogue with the Sumter Economic Development Board and Central Carolina Technical College on various apprenticeship opportunities and other programs at CCTC. “There are great opportunities out there at our plants, and we all need trained and

qualified people, whether they’re 17 or 35, who can perform well at the jobs,” Walker said. Adults who might be interested in manufacturing careers could be those who are tired of lower-wage, retail jobs and want a career to sustain their family and then enroll at the college. Others could be veterans retiring from Shaw Air Force Base at a peak age in their work career. This year, the association will also unveil a mobile recruiting kiosk complete with short videos of local companies’ jobs on display. It will be based at CCTC but can be moved to Shaw, area high schools and other places for events. “I think the kiosk will be great, and I think it’s going to grow, and we have the means to do it,” Walker said. Because manufacturing is a leading industry in the area that is still growing, and has some of the highest average wages locally, Walker said everyone has a vested interest in staffing local plants. “We are the growing element within the community right now, " Walker said, "and if we don’t have quality people that growth will stop.”



Hwy. 378 used to have mobile home lots and not much else in the way of live, work, play. Now, the intersection of Alice Drive and Broad Street hosts an Arbys in front of shopping centers with restaurants on each corner.

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ne of the main thoroughfares into Sumter has seen a great deal of development since 2003 when Walmart Supercenter moved to the intersection of Broad Street and Alice Drive. Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon credits the start of Sumter’s greater westward expansion on U.S. 378 with the franchise’s relocation from farther down Broad Street. “And there’s a whole science to what happens when a Walmart relocates,” he said. Some smaller businesses automatically come when a larger one is built. “I think the growth of Broad Street/378 corridor is important because obviously it’s a main corridor for Shaw Air Force Base as well as Columbia and folks coming to the beach,” City of Sumter Manager Deron McCormick said. Sumter is also a retirement destination. “We see it happen all the time whether it be military or just the favorable climate,” he said. “It’s a good place to be, we like to think.” For the citizens of Sumter there are a lot of needed services on the corridor, he said, not just leisure and dining.

Sumter has gone west toward Broad Street and the extension, he said. “There are a lot of folks that are going to be looking at Sumter that maybe hadn’t looked before,” McCormick said. “I think our best days are definitely ahead of us.”


While the businesses benefit from the high traffic and exposure, Sumter has in turn been able to use the growth to bring in more consumers by hosting downtown events and sports tournaments throughout the year. What’s unique about Sumter, Mixon said, is that unlike tourist destinations where weekends are the prime hotel bookings, Sumter’s prime hotel bookings have always been the weekdays. And that’s because of Shaw, local industries and sports tourism, he said. “Obviously, we’re not a destination location,” he said, “so we have to, what I call, program for tourism.” And that’s what sports tourism in the county and city has done for Sumter with baseball, softball, soccer and tennis tournaments, he said. THE DRIVING FACTORS Having enough hotels to accommodate these events helps “Retailers want to be where the people are,” Mayor Joe Sumter capitalize on that effort because the county and city take McElveen said. There has been steady growth along that corridor during on the expense of bringing the events to the community, building the facilities and maintaining the last 10 to 15 years, he said. them, Mixon said. “We’ve been fortunate over the He said the strategic location years.” of the hotels and sports facilities, McElveen said the growth is such as Patriot Park, Dillon especially more substantial than Park and Palmetto Park, near when he graduated from high one corridor has made Sumter school in 1969 and there were very attractive for some of the just a few houses and business franchise tournaments. Sumter on the western end of U.S. 378. should reap that reward, he said, In retail, McCormick said, the though some people still have to traffic count is a major factor stay in other areas. because it means more visibility And the hospitality tax paid in for businesses. hotels actually goes back to help Population, per capita income, Gary Mixon, support this effort, he said. traffic and density also play a Sumter County Administrator large role in a business decision to Sumter County Council open a new location, particularly Chairman Jim McCain said he is the franchises, Mixon said. And they have to be in areas with often asked why there are so many hotels in Sumter. similar services. “Believe me,” he said, “if there was not a need, they wouldn’t It’s easy to see how the hotels and restaurants work in concert be built.” with one another when moving to an area, McCormick said. The people who stay in those hotels also spend money at the He said infrastructure and creating a corridor that is pleasing to surrounding restaurants and stores, he said. the eyes are also top priorities when trying to attract businesses McCain said Shaw is also responsible for hotel bookings and consumers. because of the influx of personnel who need temporary housing, “When people come to our community, they should see good he said. things,” McCormick said. “We’re just trying to make Sumter better for not only our own residents, primarily, but also those SPREADING THE GROWTH that come visit us in the tourism world.” Though much growth can be seen on the Broad Street And somebody had the foresight to prioritize infrastructure Extension, city and county officials hope to see that same along U.S. 378 and recognize that the area between Sumter and expansion along other major corridors in Sumter. “We are very mindful from the traffic count that Broad Street Columbia would be a very high-traffic area, Mixon said. Not to mention that the majority of residential growth in gets a lot more looks than some other areas,” McCormick said.

Obviously, we’re not a destination location, ... so we have to, what I call, program for tourism. -

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“We try to spread that growth around the entire community,” he said, “but some things are driven there just by that traffic count.” “We’ve heard many times from many sources of folks from out of Shaw Air Force Base that never knew downtown was here,” Mixon said. “They thought Broad Street was Sumter.” “I think we’re getting past that,” he said. “We’re having more and more activities downtown to draw people here to see the rest of Sumter, and they’re pleasantly surprised about what we’ve got going on.” But concentrated growth in one area is not unique to Sumter, according to Mixon. You can also see focused areas of growth in other communities, he said. “That’s the way a community grows,” he said. The real challenge is trying to predict where the next need will be, Mixon said. Pinewood Road has sparked a little growth after Walmart opened a neighborhood market and then Arby’s opened on McCrays Mill Road, he said. McElveen said Pinewood and McCrays Mill roads and U.S. 15 are other areas for future growth. That’s where the stores want to be, he said.


While he likes seeing the growth on U.S. 378 by regional and national stores, McElveen said he would love to see more locally owned stores in the area. Sumter’s increasing per capita income and decreasing unemployment are a real opportunity for locals to start taking advantage, he said. But those larger businesses also bring services and products that citizens are looking for, he said, as well as attract people from other areas. McElveen said he’s ecstatic about Baker’s Sweets — a locally owned bakery and restaurant on Alice Drive — but he’s also happy to know Sumter has a Starbucks. “You have to have both,” he said.


At one point, the car dealerships on the Broad Street Extension were on the outskirts of Sumter, Mixon said, but now everything has expanded to – and past – them. He said he does not know how far growth on U.S. 378 can go because of limitations with infrastructure and encroachment on Shaw. “It’s a community interest to protect encroachment around that base,” he said. “We’re very cognizant of that.” At some point, you’re going to press it as far as you can, he said. However far the growth on U.S. 378 reaches, Sumter city and county governments will tackle the project together, as they already demonstrate with many projects. Some of the corridor is in the city and some parts are in the county, McCormick said. “But we tend to work together no matter what.” “If the city looks better, the county looks better,” McCormick said, “and if the county looks better the city looks better.”


Raj Patel: Broad Street businessman The 40-year-old businessman already owns five hotels in Sumter: Springhill Suites, Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn Express and, most recently, Tru by Hilton. And he’s not stopping there. Plans are already underway for a sixth hotel to be built beside Chili’s on Broad Street. “We’ll probably start building in January,” he said. “Sumter still needs more of a modern hotel at a price range of $90 to $100 a night. They need something modern. And my goal is to give

that to them.” Patel is also presently building a hotel in Orangeburg. But, at this time, he’s not planning to expand much more out of Sumter beyond this one. Orangeburg is his first investment outside of Sumter. From the way he talks, it could be the only property he develops outside of Sumter. Patel said he learned the hotel business from his father, who bought the Sharolyn Motel in Sumter in 1983. From that humble beginning, Patel worked to learn the ins and outs of the business. He worked hard, saved his money and watched his father. He eventually developed good business relationships, which allowed him to open his own business. “You hire a good electrician, a plumber, a contractor, a Realtor, a lawyer and earn their respect while they earn yours,” he said. “Then, when you need something, there’s someone there. They are like long-term relationships. You love these kinds of relationships.” Patel said Sumter is fortunate to have a loyal workforce. “When people move to Sumter, they tend to stay here,” he said. “We are fortunate to have the military base as well as a large corporate presence in Continental. One reason Continental moved here was because of Sumter’s steady, dependable workforce.” Patel admits he could make more money in larger areas such as Charleston. But it’s Sumter that he likes, and Sumter is where he plans to stay. Patel’s love for the Gamecock City is evident. His investments prove he thinks Sumter is the right place to raise his family. “We believe in Sumter,” he said. “What else can I say? Sumter is a thriving city. We have great recreational facilities such as Palmetto Sports Complex. It’s a city that has the right combination of business, education and recreation.” But Patel said the businesses, recreational facilities and educational systems aren’t what makes Sumter such a great location. “Sumter is really on the map,” he said. “It’s the people who make it what it is.”




Sumter Learns


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here was a buzz in the air for most of 2018 for Sumter School District, fueled by new nationally recognized academic programs that engaged students to want to learn and a summer professional development conference that enticed teachers who want to spend their summer days learning. In her two years as interim superintendent, Debbie Hamm has righted the district’s ship and instilled a new sense of energy, according to many district employees and local leaders. Among the new programs, many schools across the county are trying to follow the path of Alice Drive Middle School and become nationally certified in their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – also known as STEM – curriculum. Currently, Alice Drive is one of only 80 nationally certified STEM schools in the nation. The school went through the accreditation process and earned the AdvancED STEM certification a few years ago. Now, it’s going through a recertification process as nine other district schools seek initial accreditation, according to Lori Smith, the district’s STEM coordinator. Smith said just going through the formal accreditation process is invaluable and shows what a quality STEM program would have. “That was one of the reasons behind going after it with Alice Drive Middle,” Smith said. “They already knew they were doing STEM, but the question was, ‘How good are we doing STEM? Are we touching all the bases, and do we have a quality

program?’” The nine additional schools are reviewing indicators now to see if they have those components of a quality STEM program, their strengths and weaknesses and how to shore up weak areas. All the schools are using a highly regarded and rigorous curriculum – Project Lead the Way – to challenge students effectively in various subjects. The district is likely to pursue the AdvancED STEM certification process for the individual schools in 2020. Widespread research shows STEM is the next frontier for all schools – no matter where you’re located – because a growing number of jobs today and into the future will be found in the concentration area. “We’re trying to prepare our students to be college and career ready, and it’s where we want to take our students,” Smith said.

Almost half of the public schools in Sumter are on the way toward gaining STEM or STEAM accreditation, which focuses curriculum on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. ✦ Alice Drive Elementary ✦ Cherryvale Elementary ✦ High Hills Elementary ✦ Kingsbury Elementary ✦ Wilder Elementary ✦ Willow Drive Elementary ✦ Alice Drive Middle (nationally accredited) ✦ Bates Middle ✦ Ebenezer Middle ✦ Hillcrest Middle T H EIT E M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


To enhance the professionalism of the district’s teachers and show their appreciation to them, district administration and local economic development leaders hosted an inaugural professional development conference in June 2018. The conference’s name was E3, which stood for “Educate your mind,” “Empower your learning” and “Enrich your future.” Attendance at the conference was capped at about 500. A total of 420 district teachers and administrators attended E3, which featured 86 presenters – some internal to the district and many from the outside – who led various development sessions at the three-day event. No money from the district’s general fund balance was used to put on the conference. The Sumter Economic Development Board/TheLink covered a portion of the costs as well as the district’s other community partners from local business and industry. The district also used funds from a state educator recruitment and retention agency based at Winthrop University. Conference sessions covered myriad topics from teacher leadership to personal attitude and classroom technology. Local private-sector businesses and industries also fully funded a block party in downtown Sumter one night during the conference.

Shasta Smith is leading collaborative teaching Her principal says she's a perfect fit for High Hills Elementary School. She's a military spouse and teaches at the Sumter School District school on Shaw Air Force Base, where most of the school's students come from. In just a few minutes of observing or talking to Smith, one can sense Shasta Smith’s passion for her profession and love and compassion for students. Given her superlatives in the classroom, it should come as no surprise that she was named the 2018-2019 Sumter School District's Teacher of the Year for this school year. Smith, 29, is in her fifth year at High Hills after her husband was transferred to Shaw from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. She says being a military spouse gives her the unique perspective of understanding students from military families – the deployments, family moves and "transitional lifestyle" it can create for children. Since she was in second grade, Smith said, she wanted to become a teacher, and because math was always her favorite subject in school - "calculus and trigonometry, the most loved" – it was a natural choice for her. The most rewarding part of being a teacher, Smith said, is when "the light bulb comes on for her students" and they grasp a concept for the first time or when they present a new way for understanding a math concept to the entire class. "When a student surprises me while I am teach-

ing, and he or she brings something to the table for the lesson that I didn't even think of," Smith said. "I think for teachers that is like the aha! moment when your own student becomes the critical thinker. When they bring something to the lesson that made it better for everybody." For the last couple years, Smith served as a classroom math and science teacher, but this year High Hills Principal Mary Kay Norton moved her into a math coach position where she can reach all fourth- and fifth-grade students at the school and the six math teachers on staff. In the role, Smith models instruction for teachers and also co-teaches with them in the classroom. Norton said one of Smith's many strengths is she understands "grouping students" and differentiating instruction within the classroom so well. "Grouping kids in the classroom is a special talent as a teacher," Norton said. "Now, she is going to be taking groups, the teacher will be taking groups, and there will be two certified teachers in the classroom to assist those students. With that in mind, we're thinking that is going to help the at-risk students, and the students that really need the help will get a whole lot more attention with her being in the classroom.


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Sumter School District by the Numbers 12 AVID Schools Teachers and other E3 attendees socialize in the middle of Main Street as a live band entertains during the block party at E3. Left, teachers work during an earlier day of the conference.

Hamm, the interim superintendent, said E3 was as good as national-level conferences she had attended, given the variety of subjects tackled, quality of keynote speakers and the community support that was provided to help put it on. Stephanie Harper, a teacher at Oakland Primary School near Shaw Air Force Base, said the conference made her feel appreciated. She said other teachers felt the same way. "That conference was amazing and collaborative," Harper said. "I have never felt more appreciated by Sumter School District than at the conference." Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Chris Hardy also spoke highly of E3. "That professional development conference last summer was a huge success," Hardy said. "I think it brought a lot of new attention to our school district that our community probably didn't have before as far as how we approach education as a community."

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Barry Ham

The lowdown on Mr. Lowe

In his five years of teaching, all of which have been in the Sumter School District, Zachariah Lowe has raked in accolades, awards and professional development opportunities, emerging as a leader not just in Sumter’s public education sphere but in the community as a whole. Lowe was named the 2017-18 District Teacher of the Year as a sixth- and seventh-grade social studies teacher at the former Mayewood Middle School and went on to become a top-five finalist for the State Teacher of the Year. He is also a 2018-19 South Carolina Honor Roll Teacher. “In not many jobs do you get to go in and really put your mark on something much greater than yourself and your community.” Garnering his passion for teaching from his high school band director in Ohio, his drive is to make a mark on the future generation of leaders. In addition to, at only 26, boasting a Master’s degree in Education Administration and touting a litany of professional development courses, programs and conferences, he has led his students – now eighth-graders at the R.E. Davis College Preparatory Academy – to numerous local and national awards for their own educational projects. Lowe was named one of The Sumter Item’s 2018-19 Top 20 Professionals Under 40 last fall, is a member of the Sumter Teacher Forum, which organized and hosted a public debate for candidates running for school board last November, and somehow finds time to tutor at John K. Crosswell Home for Children. “If you think about the, what, 200 kids I’ve taught so far, and how many people they can go on to influence.”

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Be a USC graduate right here Palmetto College program allows area students to complete bachelor’s degree from USC Sumter BY BRUCE MILLS

PHOTO PROVIDED Palmetto College graduate Jose Ortiz, right, helps Brandon Franklin navigate the USC Sumter website as he looks at various degrees available through Palmetto College.


ou can start here and finish here.” That’s the slogan the University of South Carolina Sumter uses more and more now as it has expanded its online, four-year bachelor’s degree options. Traditionally a two-year college with a few cooperative degree programs with four-year schools on its campus, now since the 2016-17 year USC Sumter offers 13 online bachelor’s programs covering a wide array of career interests – from business to nursing to education with many in between. Those programs are under an umbrella of the USC system called Palmetto College. These days, USC Sumter is officially referred to as a Palmetto College campus instead of a regional campus in the state system, according to Chris Knezevich, Palmetto College coordinator at the school. Three other traditional two-year colleges in the system – USC Lancaster, USC Union

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and USC Salkehatchie – are also considered Palmetto College campuses. The system also has four four-year degree campuses in USC Columbia, USC Aiken, USC Upstate and USC Beaufort. They are considered “host campuses” for Palmetto College students, and the students are officially enrolled in one of those four universities even though they don’t step foot onto the campuses. The flexibility that online coursework and degree programs offers cannot be matched, Knezevich said. Online degree programs can be done from home any time of day, making it ideal for people who work full-time or are raising a family or who don’t want to commute or move. “You can log in any time of day and even pull it up on your phone at work on your lunch break and do your class participa-

tion that way,” Knezevich said. The most popular online degree programs locally are Organizational Leadership and Liberal Studies (via USC Columbia), Nursing (via USC Upstate) and Business Administration – Management concentration (via USC Aiken). Organizational Leadership and Liberal Studies are so popular, according to Knezevich, because USC Sumter also has classes available on campus with hands-on professors who are available to teach the bachelor’s-level coursework. So, they are a mix of classes and online work, he said. The online bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) is popular with CCTC graduates as feeder students. The BSN credential is a growing requirement of health care employers, and Central Carolina registered nurse graduates can go from RN to BSN in one calendar year, starting in the summer and concluding the following May, Knezevich said. A little more than 1,000 students are currently enrolled in one of the state’s four Palmetto College campuses, and, since the launch of the program in 2013, there have been 1,234 graduates from the four host campuses. “You can become a USC graduate with a four-year degree right here,” Knezevich said. USC Sumter also offers all Palmetto College students internship opportunities locally for three credit hours toward their degree. Online coursework via Palmetto College is competitive in price with other online schools, he said, and significantly cheaper than “on-theground” courses at different colleges. According to Knezevich, one of Palmetto College’s target audiences is people who have the majority of their general education college pre-requisite courses done. Even if potential students lack a chemistry course or something else, they can typically do that online now to fill in any gaps. The program will certainly continue to grow in the years ahead, Knezevich said, and online graduates can have a degree with the USC brand name. A 2006 USC Sumter graduate and 2008 USC Columbia graduate with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, Knezevich said he could have really used the program when he was commuting daily from Sumter to Columbia for classes. “I had my first child when I was commuting,” Knezevich said “So, I can attest to a lot of students what it’s like trying to manage being a student in Sumter and commuting back and forth.”

Online bachelor’s programs..................... Host campus Business Administration – Management.......... USC Aiken Business Administration – Accounting............. USC Aiken Criminal Justice............................................. USC Upstate Elementary Education................................ USC Columbia Health Informatics......................................... USC Upstate Health Promotion.........................................USC Beaufort Hospitality Management..............................USC Beaufort Human Services............................................USC Beaufort Information Management and Systems........ USC Upstate Liberal Studies............................................ USC Columbia Nursing (RN-BSN) ......................................... USC Upstate Organizational Leadership......................... USC Columbia Special Education............................................. USC Aiken


CHRIS KNEZEVICH Palmetto College Coordinator at USC Sumter 803.938.3771 knezevic@uscsumter.edu



Artist rendering A 21-year-old took her artistic love and combined it with an engineering design career. Now she's the youngest at her job in the city. BY BRUCE MILLS 38 |

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ver wonder about what goes into supplying water for your home, what kind of flow is necessary for your sewer line or what factors are involved in paving sidewalks and roads around town? Kristen Nygaard, a Kershaw County native, has found a niche – and a good job – working around these aspects of the civil engineering field with the City of Sumter Engineering Department. At 21, Nygaard is the youngest member of the city's four-person engineering staff. She got to that point from initially always being "very artistic," she said, but life circumstances didn't allow her to go to an "art college after high school and study to become a graphic designer." Instead, with some part-time work experience under her belt making and designing tools with a local company, Nygaard discovered through her own research she could work in the field of Computer Aided Design (CAD) within a couple years by staying home and going to school locally at Central Carolina Technical College. She said she immediately had a love for the design aspect of the field of study – called Engineering Design Technology at CCTC – and still considers it an "artistic-type field," even though some others do not. After graduating from Lugoff-Elgin High School in 2016, she enrolled at CCTC in August of that year in the two-year Associate Degree program. Through a scholarship opportunity the college offers to high school graduates who meet necessary requirements in the greater region, Nygaard was able to go to school tuition free. She said she was able to apply other scholarships she received toward book fees and other areas and basically went to CCTC for free. Less than two years later (22 months precisely), Nygaard graduated in May with her Associate in Engineering Design Technology in five semesters at the college.

With degree in hand, she began as an engineering associate with the City of Sumter in June. Now, she spends her days using CAD programming to design technical drawings for water and sewer line installations and repairs, sidewalks, driveways, roads and other general infrastructure construction in the city. Recently, she was reviewing a Manning Avenue sewer line replacement project where she had to calculate the slope – or angle of the pipe – necessary to ensure there would be enough flow in the line so it wouldn't get clogged. Another project related to a new doctor's office coming soon to Cuttino Road calls for replacing older sewer and water lines made of clay, ceramic pipe with PVC pipe. Because of trees in the area, the water line is going to be moved to the opposite side of the road to allow for ease of maintenance, she said. Nygaard said she loves various aspects of the position, including her ability to use her creativity, and wants to stay in the field for the rest of her career. "Not only am I getting to do a 'hobby' – I'll call it – that I enjoyed so much as a kid growing up, but I'm also getting to create things that are going to be around for a long time," Nygaard said. "This work helps people in their everyday life. It's kind of cool knowing, hey, I did that, and it's going to be there for a long time, and people are going to use it." "So, I guess, having that impact on everyday life is a cool thing to have in my back pocket." She called her main professor in CCTC's Engineering Design Technology program, longtime instructor David Tuders, a very good mentor and encouraging. Tuders called Nygaard a model student who worked hard every day in class. "Once she showed me her level of commitment," Tuders said, "that's when I was willing to place her in an internship and help her build a career."

Want more info?

For more information on CCTC's Engineering Design Technology program, Academic Program Chairman David Tuders said parents and students can go online to https://ctech.edu. He also invites those interested to come out and visit the program at the college's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Training Center, 853 Broad St.

More on the field

Like many Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers, pay is good in Engineering Design. Tuders, the academic program chairman, said graduates of CCTC's two-year program earn about $20 per hour on average, or $40,000 annually. With five-plus years' experience in the field, graduates can earn up to about $30 per hour, or $60,000 annually, he said. Tuders said he has one former graduate who works locally and earns about $70,000.

Skills needed

Tuders said students who tend to do well in the program like math and have good communication skills, or "soft skills." He also said students who play video games tend to excel in the program because of the 3D aspects and modeling.



Sumter Lives




andem Health, formerly Sumter Family Health Center, is a community health center providing comprehensive, affordable care to thousands of patients within Sumter and surrounding communities. Tandem Health’s mission focuses on ensuring that everyone in the Sumter community has access to high – quality health care and revolves around their commitment to building a healthy community by improving the health and well-being of each person served. The history of Tandem Health details a story of continuous growth that has been in direct proportion to the health needs identified in the community since 2003. From its origin as a safety net provider operating out of a single site on West Liberty Street to its current operation of a multi-site primary care and multi-specialty practice with 220 plus employees serving more than 15,000 patients annually, Tandem Health has continued to grow in response to the health needs of patients and their families. As a community health center, Tandem Health also works with patients to help eliminate barriers related to financial circumstances and/or social situations that often have a negative impact on their access to quality healthcare. By addressing such barriers, patients and families are ensured the provision of comprehensive health care and social services regardless of their ability to pay. Providing patients with the compassionate care they need all the while treating them with dignity and respect is what has enabled Tandem Health to thrive over the years.

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Tandem Health Main – 1278 N. Lafayette Drive, Sumter, SC 29150 • Adult Medicine, Behavioral Health & Counseling, Infectious Disease and Pharmacy (803) 774-4500 Tandem Health Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics – 370 S. Pike West, Sumter, SC 29150 Obstetrics & Gynecology (803) 774-6448 Pediatrics (803) 774-7337 Tandem Health Family Medicine – 25 E. Clark St., Pinewood, SC 29125 • 803) 774-4501 Tandem Health Dental – 1105 N. Lafayette Drive, Suite C, Sumter, SC 29150 • (803) 774-3600 For more information on Tandem Health and the services provided locally, please call (803) 774-4500 or visit www.tandemhealthsc.org.


Annie Brown CEO of Tandem Health SC BY HOLLY CHASE


nnie Brown is the CEO of Tandem Health, formerly Sumter Family Health Center. Born and reared in Sumter, Brown graduated from Sumter High School in 1994. She receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Carolina in 1998 and went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2007. With more than 20 years of health care experience, Brown began her career in health care in 1997 working at Tuomey Healthcare System as a registered nurse in the Newborn/Special Care Nursery. Before becoming the CEO of then Sumter Family Health Center in March 2004, Brown served as the clinical coordinator of obstetrics and as the director of nursing. Tandem Health is a federally qualified (community) health center and, as the CEO, Brown is accountable for the overall responsibility of the organization, including the well-being of each individual employed and every patient served. She works to develop and maintain the capability for providing ambulatory care in a productive and cost-efficient manner and is responsible for the oversight of financial, administration, operational and service activities and for assuring compliance with all government regulations and organizational

policies. She also oversees short – and long – term strategic and operational planning in conjunction with the Tandem Health Board of Directors. Brown is a dynamic member of the Sumter community, serving on many nonprofit boards and committees at the local, state and national level. She is a Leadership Sumter Graduate of the Class of XVII, a Riley Institute (Furman University) Diversity Fellow of the Midlands Class of VII, as well as a sustaining member of the Sumter Junior Welfare League. Brown was a Shaw Air Force Base Honorary Commander with the Component Maintenance Squadron from 2007–09 and is currently a Weasel Pack Member with the Shaw Air Force Base 20th Fighter Wing. She is on the board of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association and serves on the legislative and finance committees. She is also a member of the National Association of Community Health Centers. Brown is known for being an honest, compassionate, fearless, loving visionary. She is inspired by doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time – every time. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with friends and family – most specifically her little boy.



Different name, evolving hospital care Palmetto Health Tuomey becomes Prisma in merger BY TRACI QUINN

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hrough 105 years of growth and evolution, one thing hasn’t changed: Tuomey hospital’s commitment to the Sumter community to provide safe, skilled, specialized care in our hometown. Palmetto Health Tuomey, which became part of the Palmetto Health system of hospitals in January 2016, is celebrating even greater growth in 2019: Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System have united to form Prisma Health, the largest not-forprofit health organization in South Carolina, serving more than 1.2 million patients annually. The new company employs more than 30,000 team members. Its objective is to improve the health of all South Carolinians through improved clinical quality, access to care and patient experience, while also addressing the rising cost of health care. Tuomey is now known as Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital. The name change represents our membership in this exciting organization while reflecting a century of continuous service to Sumter. The local campus includes more than 1,700 team members and 228 practicing physicians representing 37 medical specialties. Our local facilities include a Level II Nursery; an Intensive Care Unit; an Acute Rehabilitation Unit; 10 operating suites; centers for outpatient surgery, imaging and cancer treatment; an Infusion Center; an award-winning Wound Healing Center; as well as cardiac, speech, physical and occupational rehabilitative services. Our diagnostic capabilities feature comprehensive pathology services, interventional radiology and cardiac catheterization. Transitional care is provided through our Home Health Services program, as well as hospice and palliative care. The formation of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group brought more specialties to the Sumter campus. A pulmonary practice brought Sumterite Charlie White, M.D., back home, and an infectious disease practice with Bhatraphol Tingpej, M.D., was established. Montgomery Pate, M.D., opened a Medical Group practice in Bishopville. There are two general medicine practices on campus: Palmetto Family Practice and Carolina Family Medicine. Palmetto Heart-Sumter provides electrophysiology and medical and interventional cardiology with care provided by four cardiologists and several advanced providers, and most recently, Sumter Plastic Surgery welcomed Dr. Emily Grace Clark.

The PH-USC Medical Group has more than 100 locations throughout the Midlands. The Sumter practices are: ✦ Palmetto Heart Sumter ✦ Sumter OB/GYN ✦ Palmetto Health-USC Infectious Disease ✦ Pediatric Cardiology ✦ Sumter Pain and Spine ✦ Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center ✦ Palmetto Health-USC Pulmonology ✦ Sumter Plastic Surgery ✦ Sumter Surgical ✦ Carolina Family Medicine of Sumter ✦ Palmetto Family Practice




Chronic wound care impacts 6.5 million people a year nationwide, costing $20 billion. Prisma Health Tuomey’s wound center specializes in the treatment of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, venous stasis ulcers and dehisced surgical wounds. The center offers outpatient care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy as well as disease management and diabetes care, vascular studies, tissue culturing and pathology, biological skin substitute applications and clinical or surgical debridement.

Cancer Treatment Center

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

The Women’s Center | Birthplace

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

The Infusion Center

Efficient, convenient and patient-friendly: Having an infusion center on site means that patients are able to get home from the hospital more quickly and perhaps even avoid being admitted. We provide treatment for Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as infusions of medications such as antibiotics, antivirals and iron drugs in an outpatient setting. Infusion therapy is also utilized for hydration.


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

Acute Rehabilitative Unit Community Wellness

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


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

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital

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

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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

on health and safety initiatives and evaluate jobs for ergonomic issues.

Wesmark Boulevard Campus

Our satellite campus at Alice Drive and Wesmark offers outpatient imaging, programs in physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, cardiac rehab, audiology and one of the most comprehensive sports medicine/orthopedics programs in the region. We provide pre-season screenings for athletes, injury clinics to assess injuries post-game and on-site sporting coverage. The Imaging Center provides noninvasive testing procedures such as MRI and CT scans, ultrasound, bone density studies and X-ray, as well as 4D ultrasounds for pregnant women. For more information about Prisma Health Tuomey, visit PrismaHealth.org.

Prisma Health Richland Trauma Center

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

Stroke Center

The only Joint Commission-designated Primary Stroke Center in the Midlands is led by an internationally recognized stroke neurologist and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. The stroke team is often referred to as the "Brain Attack Team." We are ready to treat victims of stroke, brain aneurysms and other abnormal vascularities of the brain 24/7 as well as provide interventional treatment to retrieve clots causing a blockage of blood supply to brain tissue.

Acute Rehabilitation Unit

The Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital is dedicated to helping patients maximize functionality, mobility and independence after an injury or illness. Patients who have had a recent hospital stay, are prone to falls, or have a decline in functional status work with a broad team of specialists to redevelop and improve skills and help restore the health and independence. Emphasis is placed on relearning or adapting skills associated with the care of self (feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting), mobility (moving from chair to bed, walking, using stairs), communication (understanding others, expressing oneself), social awareness (interacting with others, solving problems, memory) and community re-integration (readjustment to family and community life and leisure activities.)



Sumter Eats

So what’s the


about BBQ, anyway? BY DANNY KELLY

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f you’re not from the South, then you may not know why people in this region of the country obsess over it religiously. To some, having the best barbecue in town is just as important, if not more important, than winning your college football rivalry game. And that’s saying something. Barbecue is not one–size–fits–all. What makes it so alluring is the variety of ways in which people cook it, what kind of sauce they use and what sides they use to complement it, just to name a few things. And all this culminates to one very important end-game: taste. If I’ve managed to make you hungry, the following contains an inside look at six prominent barbecue establishments in the Sumter area from restaurants to food trucks to made–to–order caterers, with insight and tips from professionals who have been in the business for years.

Smoqueology BBQ Adrian Bradley – The Food Truck

•W  here: Mobile food unit set up at different locations around town, also does catering. •H  ow long: Bradley has been smoking meat for seven years, but Smoqueology just got rolling last year. • Why he does it: He said there are not a lot of barbecue trucks here in town, love of barbecue, not a lot of places in town for brisket. •B  est item: Brisket “by far.” Pulled pork also sells. Mac and cheese brisket is the most popular brisket item – bed of mac and cheese topped with smoked brisket, jalapenos and barbecue sauce. New item: Brisket grilled cheese – two slices of Kraft bread, choice of cheese (gouda is most popular) on top of brisket and sauce in the middle. “People have been liking it.” •S  tyle: Red vinegar-based and mustard-based sauce (most popular) •T  ips: Cooking brisket: “Don’t rush it, let it take its time. Use salt and pepper, and season it good. Smoke the brisket for 10 to 14 hours depending on its size. Some are upwards of 16 hours.” • On the side: “Real barbecue doesn’t need sauce.”

Scooter’s Firehouse BBQ David Bagwell – The Pitmaster

• Where: Certified judge with the state barbecue association; cooks for Bethesda Church of God and around town. • How long: About 20 years • Why he does it: “  Barbecue is a big part of South Carolina history. It’s a bit of an art. That’s where the bug bit me.” • Best item: Shoulder or Boston Butt • Style: Prefers mustard and brown sugar for a sweet mustard-based sauce • Tips: “Patience is important. It’s a slow process. Use low heat and a lot of smoke. Low and slow is what they say in the barbecue business.” • On the side: “An old barbecue guy told me, ‘There’s no such thing as bad barbecue, just good barbecue or better.’ It just kind of stuck.” T H EIT E M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


Spotlight Business Person of the Year offers wide menu of options downtown

Think about downtown Sumter. Have you lived here your whole life or at least for a while? Are you returning to Main Street for dining and entertainment? Are you new to the area? Have you been told about all the new restaurants and revitalization downtown has undergone in recent years? Or have you simply wandered Main Street to explore for yourself? Whether you’re a lifelong Sumterite or a recent transplant, whether you moved your family or yourself here for a manufacturing job or were stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, there is one name most often associated with downtown. You may have already heard Danielle Thompson’s name in connection to redevelopment, to the opening of first Hamptons, then Sidebar, then the moving of Hamptons and the opening of Rafters, an upscale cocktail bar with gourmet appetizers (and pizza on Wednesdays and Thursdays) and La Piazza, an event rental space adjoining Hamptons and Rafters. Soon, the opening of a Tex-Mex restaurant where Hamptons used to be. Thompson was named the 2018 Business Person of the Year by the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce at its annual gala. She’s not the only one who has opened

new businesses and put time, effort and investment into downtown Sumter, but someone had to start, and someone had to lead. “Danielle’s efforts not only include just running high-quality businesses and event venues, but also organizing events downtown such as Oktoberfest and Derby Day that provide the energy you look for in thriving downtowns,” said Chris Hardy, president and CEO of the Chamber. “Proceeds from these events benefit worthwhile causes in our community such as Sumter United Ministries and the United Way of Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties.” Thompson’s first venture downtown was Hamptons, a fine-dining restaurant that spurred more growth and development in other business and restaurant owners. “All of our past, and I know our future, recipients were and will be extremely deserving of the award, but with what Danielle has been able to accomplish in just a relatively short period of time is simply amazing,” Hardy said. “If you look at many other successful and thriving downtowns across our state and even our nation, you will always see a Danielle Thompson. We are just glad we have the real one.”


Sidebar Danielle Thompson – The Restaurateur

• Where: 30 N. Main St. • How long: Three years • Why she got into it: Having opened Hamptons downtown, she wanted something more casual to bring more people with more affordable menu options and to get into barbecue. • Best item: Biggest seller is the true Texan-style smoked brisket • Style: Let people put on their own sauces, choice of mustard-, vinegarand tomato-based. • Tips: “Maintain fire and smoke at 275 degrees; people smoke a lot lower than that. Let brisket and ribs sit for an hour until room temperature to soak in the salt and pepper. For ribs, wrap them, and put them down on the smoker. Then leave them unwrapped for two hours, and let the juice flow down to the meat to give it flavor.” – George Cain, Sidebar head chef. • On the side: “Attention to detail (is important) every time you smoke. It’s different because each piece of meat is different.” – Cain

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Kirby Q LLC Competition BBQ and Catering Richard Kirby – The Caterer

• Where: Food truck (catering and vending) • How long: Cooking and catering professionally for six years • Why he does it: Started cooking at age 7; cooked a hog for the first time and gained a love for it. • Best items: Pulled pork and barbecue sundae – From top to bottom: Baked beans, pork, coleslaw, barbecue sauce in a clear cup or mason jar. “People rave about it, and I love it myself.” • Style: Sweet vinegar-based sauce • Tips: “A lot of people think it’s just throwing meat on the grill. You have to do prep work, and cook the meat at the right temperature for the right amount of time. You have to have a love for it. There’s more work in the prep of it than anything else; people don’t realize it’s hard work.” • On the side: “My favorite thing about cooking is watching you eat my food and enjoy it. It makes the late nights and long hours worth it.”

Ward’s Bar-B-Que

Charles Hodge (owner) and Julie Bochman (operations manager) - The Local

• Where: Four locations in Sumter – 416 E. Liberty St., 1087 Alice Drive, 12 Pinewood Road, 3330 U.S. 15 S. • How long: In operation since the 1950s • Why and how they got into it: Thad Ward Sr. had a store on Boulevard Road and someone owed him money and paid him with a hog. Ward Sr. decided to use the hog to sell barbecue sandwiches, and eventually decided to open his own barbecue restaurant. Hodge ended up buying the business from Ward Sr.’s son, Thad Ward Jr., in 1996. • Best item: Hash. “The hash is different. Other barbecue places don’t have the same type of hash. Some people will buy four to six quarts of it and bring a cooler. The meat is (also) delicious; I love the sauces developed by the Ward family. The chopped pork sells more than the others (pulled pork, chicken and ribs).” – Bochman • Style: Mustard-, ketchup- and vinegar-based. Also, the hot sauce has a lot of black and red pepper in it. • On the side: “Our recipe is the same (as it’s always been). We figured what was tried and true (works).” – Bochman

Bar-B-Que Hut Jimmy Condrey – The Spinoff

• Where: 1380 S. Guignard Dr. • How long: 25 years in April • Why he got into it: “I hated what I was doing otherwise. My brother-in-law (Thad Ward Jr., former owner of Ward’s Bar-B-Que) was in the business and I had done it before, but it didn’t work. Thad sold me the business in 1994, and I changed the name three years later.” • Best item: “Everything I got is good. Fried chicken, barbecue chicken, pork. Naturally, I sell more barbecue than anything.” – Condrey • Style: “It’s basically the same as Ward’s; it’s a combination of ketchup-, vinegar- and mustard-(based). It’s something I started doing from Thad, but I changed it a little bit.” – Condrey • On the side: Bar-B-Que Hut has been in its current building for 19 years, but before that it was where the Piggly Wiggly is now. The old building was torn down and the new one was built in 1999.



Sumter Governs

More room to serve and protect BY ADRIENNE SARVIS


orth Lafayette Drive is now the central hub of city emergency services with the location of the new Sumter Fire Department and Sumter Police Department headquarters at the $10.6 million Public Safety Complex. Sumter residents voted for a second time to approve a onecent sales tax to improve roads and infrastructure (for a full list of projects, see page 53.) A combination of projects on the 2016 Capital Penny Sales Tax Projects list, construction of both headquarters buildings started in February 2017, and both departments were moved in by May 2018. After years in their previous locations on East Hampton Avenue, the police and fire departments are enjoying their new spacious digs along with major upgrades to the daily operations. One such upgrade for the fire department is a four-bay ga-

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rages for its engines. And though this facility does not have a firefighter pole — however, one is on display in the lobby — the building is equipped with spacious lodging, conference and classrooms, a gym and a mini museum displaying the fire department’s history of service to the Sumter community. Next door, the police department is also enjoying more of the additional elbow room as well as technology upgrades including more electronic capabilities and data storage. 911 Dispatch also made the move with the law enforcement agency and now has a more high-tech section for 24-hour operations along with an updated E911 digital radio system, which was also a penny project. An open house was held on Sept. 18, 2018, where local officials celebrated the new additions to the east side of Sumter with a ribbon cutting.

Fire headquarters: $5.6 million

Police headquarters: $5 million

By the numbers Sumter Police Department

110 officers 68 civilian staff including dispatchers

36,000-square-foot headquarters

4 divisions 17 units 100+ vehicles

Sumter Fire Department

109 career firefighters 3 civilian staff 200 volunteer firefighters 32 support personnel 21,600-square-foot headquarters

21 stations 25 fire engines 17 tankers 18 brush trucks 7 service trucks

"It's a great thing for public safety," Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark III said. The selection of the Public Safety Complex for the penny sales tax demonstrates the partnership between the community and elected leadership to pick certain projects that have an effect on all of Sumter, he said. Roark said the location and investment the community made in the area will only spawn growth throughout this area.

“It’s greatly appreciated,” said Sumter Fire Chief Karl Ford about the new headquarters. “We’re very honored to have it.” The department actually outgrew the old building, he said, and there is room for growth at the new one. Ford said the department is thankful the community is also enjoying the new building, which they helped fund. Everybody shares in the cost of penny projects, he said, even people who are visiting when they shop in Sumter.



Progress of the Penny BY ADRIENNE SARVIS

Voted for by Sumter citizens in a county-wide referendum, the Capital Penny Sales Tax is a 1 percent sale and use tax where the money collected is used to fund local projects. Sumter’s first penny tax was enacted after a 2008 vote to fund 16 projects for approximately $70 million. The 2016 tax, which will end in 2023, is funding 28 projects estimated to cost $75.6 million.

$6 million

Lafayette Diamond

Project details: Reconstruction of the intersection of North Main Street, the U.S. 76/378 bypass and other connecting roads to accommodate high traffic in that area. “The Lafayette Diamond is the last one,” Mixon said about the remaining 2008 penny projects. The county has already started clearing the right-of-way for that project behind McLaughlin Ford, he said. The county has tied down all of the necessary properties except for one, he said, and the county is negotiating with the final property owner. “They’ll start early next spring with the rest of that project,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have it complete probably in about eight months.”

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$3 million

Sumter County Courthouse renovations

Project details: Restoration of the historic courthouse downtown with handicap accessibility to improve functionality and to make energy-efficient upgrades in work spaces. “So far, it’s been moving along really well,” Mixon said. The HVAC system and roofing have already been replaced, he said, and the next step is replacing the old windows. He said the windows have to be measured, removed and custom built in order to replace them. And the exterior of the building has been painted and sealed, he said. Crews have also started construction on the back side of the courthouse for an addition that will include an elevator and restrooms, Mixon said. “You can see it looks a lot better now than what it used to,” he said.

$275,000 Millcreek clubhouse Project details: Renovations to the 1940 lodge will include energy-efficient and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades. This project in Millcreek Park — a county park on the Manchester Forest property — will hopefully be finished before spring, Mixon said. “It’s a very rustic park,” he said “It’s got a lot of history there.” Equestrian groups, like the Manchester Trail Riders, use it two times

$12 million

Road resurfacing and paving Project details: 18 miles of dirt roads and 19 miles of roads to be resurfaced. “We will, hopefully by the end of 2019, have all of our road projects complete," Mixon said.

a year, Mixon said, and those events bring people in from all over the country. There’s a 1940s-era dining hall there, he said, and minor renovations were done in the '80s but it’s in need of a new roof now. Other parts of the facility will be remodeled, such as the restrooms, and energy-efficient elements will be added to bring it to better standards.

“Our public works team, along with our procurement team, have been working very closely with the local paving providers,” he said, “and they have really done a fine job in Sumter.” A lot of other communities, as you could imagine, haven’t been this successful, he said. Through this project, Mixon said, the county has been able to turn a lot of gravel roads into paved roads which will be helpful in the long run. “We’ve still got a lot of roads that are going to be gravel and a lot of roads that are going to be dirt, but there’ll be fewer in number, so we can make the rounds faster,” he said about county services.

$2.8 million

Sumter County Administration Building Project details: Renovations to provide a secure access point and enhance security and operations for the administrative offices in the building. In January, the county anticipates starting the demolition of the vacant, two-story brick building next to the county administration building along Harvin Street, Mixon said. Mixon said he expects the addition to be completed eight months after the construction starts.

$2.75 million

Dillon Park Project details: Renovations include a new football complex, paved parking lot, repaved walking track and other updated park features. By mid-spring the football fields will be ready for multiple activities such as lacrosse and soccer tournaments, Mixon said. The walking track has already been repaved.


$10 million.......................... New E911 Emergency Services Facility $5 million.............. New Sumter police headquarters $5.6 million................ New Sumter fire department headquarters $2 million........ Industrial infrastructure $2.5 million... Manning Avenue bridge $4 million.... Manning Avenue corridor $1 million...North Main Street corridor $600,000...Wilson Hall Road and Wise Drive $900,000...................Wilson Hall Road and Carter Road $2.8 million.................. Sumter County Administration Building renovations $2.75 million... Dillon Park renovations $200,000............Pinewood Sports and Wellness Complex and Recreation park $875,000............Mayesville downtown revitalization $4 million..........Shot Pouch Greenway $8.9 million.......... County road paving $3.1 million....County road resurfacing $1.5 million...........Downtown building renovations $3 million............... Downtown Sumter intersection and infrastructure improvements $6 million......... County recreation and Cultural Center renovations, additions and parking enhancements $1 million.......... Industrial Engineering Building CCTC renovation $2.2 million....... Property and building acquisition and renovation $275,000............ Millcreek renovations $300,000........Animal Control building renovations $500,000.... Palmetto Park renovations $3 million.......Courthouse renovations $300,000................... Carnegie Library renovations $2.3 million....... Community sidewalks $1 million..................Community-wide demolition of distressed structures for open space



Elected Officials SUMTER COUNTY VOTER REGISTRATION AND ELECTIONS OFFICE Patricia Jefferson, director 141 N. Main St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 436-2310 Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 5 Ralph Norman (R) 2350 Rayburn HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-5501 454 S. Anderson Road, Suite 302 B Rock Hill, SC 29730 (803) 327-1114 1115 Little St. Camden, SC 29020 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month Cherokee Admin. Building 110 Railroad Ave. Gaffney, SC 29340 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. every Thursday norman.house.gov/contact/ U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 6 James “Jim” E. Clyburn (D) 242 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-3315 1225 Lady St., Suite 200 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 799-1100 130 W. Main St. Kingstree, SC 29556 (843) 355-1211 176 Brooks Blvd. Santee, SC 29142 (803) 854-4700 clyburn.house.gov/contact-me U.S. SENATOR Lindsey Graham (R) 290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5972 508 Hampton St., Suite 202 Columbia, SC 29201

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(803) 933-0112 Upstate: (864) 250-1417 Pee Dee: (843) 669-1505 Lowcountry: (843) 849-3887 Piedmont: (803) 366-2828 Golden Corner: (864) 646-4090 www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/ U.S. SENATOR Tim Scott (R) 717 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-6121 1901 Main St., Suite 1425 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 771-6112 Upstate: (864) 233-5366 Lowcountry: (843) 727-4525 www.scott.senate.gov/ STATE SENATORS To email a member of the state Senate: https://bit.ly/2C2JWGK Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter) District 35 Kershaw, Lee, Richland, Sumter 508 Gressette Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6132 or (803) 775-1263 Home: (803) 778-0597 Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon) District 36 Clarendon, Darlington, Florence, Sumter 606 Gressette Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6024 Home: (803) 435-8117 STATE REPRESENTATIVES To email a member of the state House of Representatives: https://bit.ly/1LMCNs7 Will Wheeler (D-Lee) District 50 Kershaw, Lee, Sumter 422D Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6958 or (803) 484-5454 Home: (803) 428-3161 David Weeks (D-Sumter) District 51 Sumter 330C Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 734-3102 or (803) 775-5856 Home: (803) 775-4228

Robert Ridgeway (D-Clarendon) District 64 Clarendon, Sumter 422A Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6929 Home: (803) 938-3087

Charles Edens (R) District 4 3250 Home Place Road Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 236-5759 charlestedens@gmail.com

Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) District 67 Sumter 420B Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 734-3042 or (803) 778-2471 Home: (803) 469-4416

Vivian Fleming-McGhaney (D) District 5 9770 Lynches River Road Lynchburg, SC 29080 Home: (803) 437-2797 Business: (803) 495-3247 vmcghaney@sumtercountysc.org

Wendy Brawley (D-Richland) District 70 Richland, Sumter 309D Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6961 Home: (803) 776-9286

James McCain Jr. (D) Chairman District 6 317 W. Bartlette St. Sumter, SC 29150 Home: (803) 773-2353 Cell: (803) 607-2777 jmccain@sumtercountysc.org

SUMTER COUNTY COUNCIL County Council meets each second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers on the third floor of the Sumter County Administration Building, 13 E. Canal St. www.sumtercounty.sc.org

Gene Baten (D) District 7 P.O. Box 3193 Sumter, SC 29151 (803) 773-0815 council@sumtercountysc.org

Chris Sumpter (D) District 1 1200 Broad St. PMB 180 Sumter, SC 29154 (803) 305-9375 csumpter@sumtercountysc.org

SUMTER CITY COUNCIL City Council, a non-partisan governing body, meets each first Tuesday of the month at 1 p.m. and each third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St. www.sumtersc.gov (803) 436-2578

Artie Baker (R) District 2 3680 Bakersfield Lane Dalzell, SC 29040 (803) 469-3638 council@sumtercountysc.org Jimmy Byrd Jr. (R) Vice Chairman District 3 P.O. Box 1913 Sumter, SC 29151 (803) 468-1719 jbyrd@sumtercountysc.org

Joseph McElveen Mayor (803) 436-2580 jmcelveen@sumtersc.gov

Thomas Lowery Mayor Pro Tem Ward 1 (803) 773-9298 tlowery@sumtersc.gov



Elected Officials Ione Dwyer Ward 2 (803) 481-4284 idwyer@sumtersc.gov

Calvin Hastie Sr. Ward 3 (803) 774-7776 chastie@sumtersc.gov

Steve Corley Ward 4 (803) 305-1566 (803) 468-5875 scorley@sumtersc.gov

Colin Davis Ward 5 720 Oak Brook Blvd. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 494-3337 (work) (803) 469-0375 (home) cdavis@sumtersc.gov David Merchant Ward 6 dmerchant@sumtersc.gov

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SUMTER SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES The Board of Trustees, a nonpartisan governing body, meets on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at pre-designated locations and on the fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the district office. For a meeting calendar, go to www.sumterschools.net.

Brian Alston Area 1 3385 N. Kings Hwy 261 Rembert, SC 29128 Cell: (803) 572-1938 alston4sc@gmail.com Sherril Ray Area 2 528 Mimosa Sumter, SC 29150 Cell: (803) 491-7628 sherrilray@outlook.com Matthew ‘Mac’ McLeod Area 3 2985 Bruce Circle Sumter, SC 29154 Cell: (803) 938-2701 macmcleod87@gmail.com Johnny Hilton Area 4 2691 Wedgefield Road Sumter, SC 29154 (803) 468-4054 Johnny.hilton@sumterschools.net Rev. Daryl McGhaney Clerk Area 5 9770 Lynches River Road Lynchburg, SC 29080 Home: (803) 437-2797 Business: (803) 436-2343 daryl.mcghaney@sumterschools.net or vivian1@ftc-i. net

Ralph Canty Sr. Chairman Area 6 312 S. Main St. Sumter, SC 29150 Home: (803) 775-2263 Business: (803) 773-3323 ralph.canty@sumterschools. net or pastorralphcanty@ yahoo.com Barbara Jackson Area 7 1510 Reedroman Road Sumter, SC 29153 (803) 775-2520 barbarar.jackson@sumterschools.net Frank Baker Vice chairman Member At-Large Seat 8 8670 Black River Road Rembert, SC 29128 Cell: (803) 968-5901 Shawn T. Ragin Member At-Large Seat 9 3835 Quiet Court Sumter, SC 29150 Cell: (803) 464-6859 Shawnragin89@gmail.com

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he top dog of the 20th Fighter Wing can be spotted on any given day parking toward the middle or back of any lot on Shaw Air Force Base. All the colonels and chiefs, too. The lack of designated parking spaces for those with the highest rank at the base in Sumter is not a mistake and not a random act. Removing parking space privilege, reducing administrative meetings to favor trust in squadron commanders and telling airmen’s stories, many of whom are 18, 19 and in their early 20s, on social media are just a few of the ways Col. Derek J. O’Malley is trying to empower the men and women stationed at Shaw and create a positive culture at his first assignment as a wing commander. “Why do I need a parking space? Why does rank afford me some privilege? I can walk to the commissary or wherever. Rank gives me more of a responsibility to take care of more

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Col. Derek J. O’Malley’s roots to Shaw Air Force Base trace back to before he donned his first Air Force uniform. A framed photo on the wall in his office tells the tale. His father, stationed at Shaw in the '60s, throwing his infant son into the air. It was the new commander of the 20th Fighter Wing’s ‘first flight.’ Now, at his first base as a commander, O’Malley is trying to take his airmen to new heights. people,” O’Malley said as he sat in his office on base, surrounded by memorabilia, documents, awards, photos, and a couple Star Wars statuettes in the corner, all representing his personal and military life. “You’re going to tell the airmen, the young pregnant airmen, that you need that spot more than her?” O’Malley, or “Maestro” as his call sign designates (we’ll get to where that came from later), arrived at Shaw in June 2018, having previously served as vice commander of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Two hurricanes later, one of which included taking in displaced airmen and their families from a decimated base in Florida, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, native and identical twin brother (we’ll get to that later, too, in the Maestro story), O’Malley has had time now to reflect on his being commander of America’s largest F-16 Fighting Falcon combat wing and to look ahead to his goals for the base during his time in Sumter. “Being vice commander at a much smaller wing, we didn’t have as many planes or people, but we had lots of attention and lots of resources,” he said. “You come to the true combat Air Force, and people are working very hard. Our jets are deployed all the time. Our people are deployed all the time. And when we’re home, we’re working very hard for the next combat deployment. And I was not prepared for that pace.” He said his philosophy is different than what Shaw may have seen in the past, than what he has seen in his wing commanders as he came up the ranks. “The greatest gift I can give my commanders is time to maneuver. My squad-

ron commanders know far better than I do how to get their units ready … I’ve empowered them, and I trust them to make sure that we’re ready,” he said. He gives base leadership the parameters and the goals. Constant combat readiness has been, is, and will continue to be the goal. Train, exercise, plan so that when the time comes and Shaw’s airmen are called, they have the resources, the knowledge and the training to win. “A lot of meetings that happen in fighter wings I’ve been a part of my fighter pilot life, we do not do those,” he said. “So, the downside is there is not as much communication back to me, but if you just give them time and space, they will be more effective.” O’Malley is asking why instead of simply continuing with what has always been done just for the sake that it has always been done. “We don’t always stop and go, is this making us better? Any time I make my commanders be in a room, I make sure that time is very well spent. And if it’s not, then I cancel it,” he said. A piece of paper rests under the glass in O’Malley’s desk. It’s the only document in there. The note, from his predecessor, Col. Daniel T. Lasica, says, ‘Valor One, command without fear.’ O’Malley knows he can use his position and his power to compel results from people. But that’s not how he wants to win. And whatever he does, whatever way he chooses to lead, he keeps that note in mind. Do it with confidence. “I want it to be in a way where they can also be successful tomorrow. I don’t want to burn out the airmen. I don’t want to run our jets into the ground. I want to fly at a reasonable pace so they’re ready for combat. I want us to fight in a sustainable way,” he said. The airman who has wanted to fly an F-16 since second grade, the airman who is now leading the fighter wing where his father was stationed as a maintenance officer in the '60s, is not one to change tradition or introduce a new way of doing things for no reason. He said he is trying to break down barriers and create a positive culture on base. What better way to bridge a gap between a wing commander and the young airmen he leads than selfies and social media? Seriously.

“I am on social media a lot, and my posts focus on being kind to one another,” he said. “My generation is not as comfortable with selfies and things like that. I was reluctant at first and thinking it’s too much about me. My predecessor and I even talked about it, and I was like, I’m not going to do that. But now I’m going to keep doing it.” This, coming from the airman who sent a hand-written letter to a woman on a friend’s suggestion that, to combat the awkwardness of writing to a stranger, said they should be married immediately. He even named a date. They beat that date, and he and his now-wife have that letter framed. He now goes around base telling stories of individual airmen, and O’Malley – who has a son at Sumter High School – said they seem to be receiving it well. “I’m trying to do things I always wish my wing commanders before had done,” he said. Oh, the Maestro and the twin? His brother, Collin, is three minutes older than O’Malley. Collin is a professional musician and often composes and conducts for Disney World in Orlando. He had a concert in Orlando when O’Malley was a lieutenant that was hosted by then-President and now the late George H.W. Bush. O’Malley said his brother wrote a piece called “The Pilot’s Hymn,” and he got to fly his F-16 to Orlando to see the concert. “They bring us up on stage and hand me the baton, and I just got caught up in the moment,” he said. He starts to “conduct.” The band, knowing their real conductor was standing next to the man in his Air Force uniform, played along. The crowd chimed in and clapped along. “I was doing flips and twirls,” he said. If you know something about the TV show “Seinfeld,” you can get the picture. If not, just know you don’t need your legs to be in the air to conduct. “It’s important for the airmen to see me as I really am,” he said. “I never knew my wing commanders, and that’s OK, as long as you know your squadron commanders. But it’s also good … This life is hard. We’ve got to be good to each other.”




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Living historian Denny G. Hair portrays Gen. George S. Patton Jr. at U.S. Army Central for a 100th birthday celebration in November. Left, he stands with Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, USARCENT commanding officer. Above, he talks to Gerald White, a WWII veteran, and George Patton Waters, the famous general's grandson.

Patton's Third Army, the notorious band of World War II Americans who led the final pushback of Nazi Germany toward defeat, still runs its active lineage through U.S. Army Central, which is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base. Last year, the Third Army turned 100.


eorge Patton walked the halls of U.S. Army Central in Sumter not decades ago but in November. Not the actual Gen. George S. Patton Jr., the one who is considered one of the U.S. Army's and the world's greatest commanding generals, the one who led the victory in pushing back the Nazis from France all the way to Austria in World War II. But a professional living historian re-enacting him was, and so was his actual grandson. On Nov. 7, 1918, Third Army was activated in Chaumont, France, five days before World War I came to a close. Today, the lineage and honors of Third Army remain established in ARCENT. Patton's Own held a 100th birthday celebration in November at its headquarters that is on Shaw Air

Force Base. "When I was put in charge of the centennial campaign after coming here to headquarters, I thought, 'What is the common thread between our past to today?'" said Col. Angela Funaro, chief of public affairs for ARCENT. "And with our lineage and our motto, although we were the Third Army, we were the first to be preparing individual soldiers and units that were being activated and going into war. And 'Third, Always First' was supposed to signal to us always being in a constant state of readiness for the Army." Third Army trained hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Louisiana Maneuvers as World War II began. Since 9/11, USARCENT has led and sustained the fight during combat operations in Af-



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ghanistan and Iraq and is present in an area of responsibility that spans 20 countries. A common thread between past and present. Part of the centennial celebration of Third Army/ARCENT has been to refurbish the headquarters. Its halls now feature historical artifacts, including uniforms, literature, weapons, patches and more. A major component of the celebration was the addition of Patton and His Third Army Living Historians, a group that re-enacts Patton, his army and his time WWII to educate the public and give tribute to veterans. "This is what would have appeared in 1944 and 1945, in the winter of 1944 before the Battle of the Bulge. We do a scenario skit, and all of this was actually there and was being said at headquarters before the Battle of the Bulge," said Denny G. Hair, who donned a full Patton uniform and character and could spout out endless facts and events about Patton and his Third Army. The skit featured Patton and his other military allies realizing the Germans' imminent last major offensive of the war. The decision would eventually take Third Army through Europe to effectively end Hitler's ability to fight. He led Third Army soldiers on eight major campaigns across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria before returning to the U.S., setting up headquarters at Fort McPherson, Georgia, and assuming a training role similar to its initial pre-World War II mission. "What we do as historians is to honor our veterans, and we point them, the Greatest Generation, to our soldiers today," Hair said. "This is Third Army today ... It's not as big as it once was, but we're not at war. And let's hope we don't ever have to go to war again. The idea is Third is always first. If they go to war, they will be there, and we will vanquish the enemy if need be." Combat when needed, training in the meantime. A common thread between past and present. As Hair stood in front of the audience full of soldiers, dignitaries and community members, George Patton Waters watched him become his actual grandfather. "It's just emotional. It's wonderful to see the memories of Gen. Patton, but what's really wonderful is to see the new soldiers coming up and the belief of Gen. Patton and the commitment to the Army. It's alive right here on this property," said Waters, a Mount Pleasant resident and the son of Patton's daughter and first-born. Waters was a U.S. Navy officer for five years and said he never got to know his grandfather but that Hair's impression was great. "I saw him when I was 5 years old, so my recollections are really more of a mean guy that just was there," Waters said. "He was only there with us 15 days. I've seen Denny before, and he's good." Waters said the history and the education Hair and his group give is invaluable. "It's warming to me to realize that [Patton's] legacy goes on. That's the big thing we got to remember. Their legacy can't be forgotten, and our schools don't want to teach a lot of this," he said. "There was a sacrifice made, and there's still a sacrifice being made. The 3,000 people here, they're making it every day." A common thread.

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‘A community to wrap around you’ BY KAYLA ROBINS

MQ-9 Reaper unit at Shaw welcomes new airmen in 1st expansion as group


haw Air Force Base's newest unit, which flies remotely piloted aircraft to protect Americans and their allies throughout the world, recently welcomed a new group of airmen to the East Coast. Base leaders, airmen, their families and community members attended an activation of command ceremony at Hangar 1200 on the base for the 25th Attack Group, the airmen who pilot the Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. The addition of these airmen marked the initial expansion of the MQ-9 Reaper enterprise at Shaw after the first round arrived and activated in February 2018. "Through intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, it

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sounds like big fancy words, but they're guarding and protecting those on the ground against those that would do us harm," said Col. Travis Norton, commander of the 25th ATKG, who took command at the ceremony. "They're able to sit out there and loiter and be airborne for a long time." The Air Force has promoted the MQ-9 Reaper as an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance RPA that can target enemy systems and serve as an intelligence collection asset, according to previous coverage in The Sumter Item and fact sheets. The "M" is the Department of Defense designation for multi-role, while the "Q" means it is remotely piloted, and the numerical value represents it is the ninth in the series of RPA systems. The RPA aspect takes out the risk of human life and allows for less airmen to be deployed.

With those positives come challenges. The Air Force’s response to those challenges is the reason MQ-9 Reaper pilots are at Shaw. Norton said the Air Force has been using RPA for “several decades.” “We’ve had so many of these airmen stuck, well not stuck, but located in one location primarily, which has been out in the western desert,” he said, referring to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. “And our airmen talked and said, ‘Hey, for the sake of our families and the love of what we need to do to keep serving, we need other locations to serve from.’ The Air Force answered with Shaw.” Airmen, whose schedules are based on time zones across the world, work in an enclosed trailer to destroy enemies and can see the strikes hit or miss targets, a difference from manned aircraft where the pilot is focused on what's in front of him or her. Being stationed at Shaw gives them the chance to live around green and to be on the East Coast, often closer to family. It gives the military spouses and children more activities and social opportunities and an Air Force-wide known supportive community in Sumter. Norton said more than 100 airmen have volunteered to come to Shaw. Everyone who is here is so because he or she wants to be. “It’s a place that isn’t as hustle-and-bustle with traffic. Just good values and people (where) manners (are) still a thing,” he said. The 25th ATKG is helping to fly two combat lines and provides direct support to the 50th Attack Squadron, the 482nd ATKS, which was activated raround the same time, and the 25th

Operational Support Squadron, which was to be activated last fall. “Just look at what the 50th ATKS airmen have done. Just a skeleton crew, and in a few months they did what people said couldn’t be done in years,” Norton said. Since February 2018, the MQ-9 Reaper airmen at Shaw have gone on more than 400 missions, recorded more than 7,000 flight hours, completed more than 75 air strikes and successfully targeted 134 enemies, including multiple high-value individuals captured, according to Col. Julian Cheater, 432nd Wing and 432nd Expeditionary Wing commander. The work is grueling and hard on the airmen and their families. That skeleton crew has not had a break since starting. “Fighting combat from home is a weird mindset to then go home at night, pick up your wife and go to an Air Force ball, go dance, go take care of the kids at soccer practice ... the community is important,” Norton said. “You can only do that for so long if you’re by yourself.” Now, with these new airmen on board, the units can establish reconstruction periods following combat engagements where commanders can “develop upcoming leaders and hone aircrew readiness skills by having the time to foster unit cohesion, cultivate stronger relationships and encourage professional growth.” “When you have a community around you to support you and to love you and be there so that when you have a rough day and you’ve seen some things go really tough for guys on the ground, the ability to have a community wrap around you is really important,” Norton said, “and I think that’s what we’ve found here, which is great.”

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Sumter Plays

A world-class place to compete BY DENNIS BRUNSON

When Taylor Townsend played in the Palmetto Pro Open in June 2018 as the top seed, she became the first top-100 player to compete at the Sumter-hosted event. The then 22-year-old was ranked No. 71 in the world at that time.

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ver since Palmetto Tennis Center opened in Sumter 2004, it has held a number of high - quality events. In fact, the day Palmetto Tennis Center opened, it was to host the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference – Conference Carolinas – men’s and women’s tournaments. Since that auspicious start, the PTC has added to the level of events it has hosted. Along with other college events, it has hosted several big youth events. In 2008, it hosted a WTA event – the Palmetto Pro Open – for the first time. It has done so every year since, and the $10,000 event for young female players has become a $25,000 event. General Manager Sam Kiser has been at Palmetto Tennis Center from the beginning, watching its growth. One of the things he’s most proud of though is the growth of the adult league offered by the facility. “When we started with the adult league, we had 13 teams,” Kiser said. “Now we’re up to 31 teams, and there are anywhere from 12 to 15 players on each team. So, we have quite a number of people involved.” The adult leagues are part of USTA League Tennis. It is open to men and women age 18 and up and players of all levels. Players compete against teams from other communities and facilities and vie for the chance to advance to state, sectional and national championships. Sumter plays in a Pee Dee League against teams from towns like Florence, Manning and Hartsville. Palmetto Tennis Center started with 14 courts but now has 24 courts available. “This facility was well-designed,” Kiser said. “Also, all of the city helps maintain it and keep it clean. It’s been kept to high standards.” Palmetto Tennis Center is one of several recreational facilities available for local residents as well as having the ability to host tournaments. While Patriot Park SportPlex is the newest venue to be able to host to baseball, softball and soccer events, Bobby Richardson Sports Complex, located next door to PTC, is a top notch facility for baseball and soccer. Also, Dillon Park is available for baseball, softball, soccer and football. Riley Park is the baseball home for the Sumter American Legion P-15’s, the University of South Carolina Sumter and Morris College.



Patriot Park offers numerous outdoor opportunities I BY DANNY KELLY

f you’re looking for something to do in Sumter, consider checking out Patriot Park, located at 380 General Drive. The 144-acre park has a lot to offer Sumterites. “It has a soccer facility, a pavilion, and for baseball and softball, four fields with stadium seating and in-ground dugouts,” Sumter County Recreation and Parks Director Phil Parnell said. “It also has walking trails that go around ponds and a boardwalk.” The pavilion on the pond, which was finished in November 2018 and is across from the baseball and softball facilities, is available for rentals and has a porch and a boardwalk that goes out to a gazebo on one of the islands. “People like it because there’s a lot of green space to walk and go out there with their dogs,” Parnell said. The park has 1.5 miles of walking trails. The soccer side of the park was finished in 2006 as part of the Capital Penny Sales Tax, and in July 2009, the park held its first tournament: the Dixie Softball World Series. “Fifty-five teams from 11 different states (played in the tournament),” Parnell said. “We used four fields at Patriot Park and six at Bobby Richardson Park.” For more information, visit www.sumtercountysc. org or call (803) 436-2248.

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2019- 2 0 2 0 L I F E I S G O O D IN S U M TER



Our name has changed. Your doctor won’t change. Your hospital won’t change. Who you trust for your health care matters. As your neighbor, we’re here to care for you and your family. And we’re still defined by the personal, memorable moments we create for our patients and their families. Our physicians and team members are a part of our community, and we are dedicated to putting you first. Because caring for each of you is our way of improving the health of our entire community. To learn more about how we can help care for you, visit PrismaHealth.org or call 803-774-CARE (2273).

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Life is Good in Sumter 2019  

Life is Good in Sumter 2019  

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