Life is Good In Sumter 2020

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Your guide to new businesses and restaurants


How schools are using STEM to develop Sumter’s workforce


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 real-time 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. 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,

“We will never forget our roots in Sumter, SC” - Greg A. Thompson, CEO/President such as the Crosswell 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 more than 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. Visit our new website at:





Williamstown Kansas

West Virginia

Richmond Covington





Owensboro Oklahoma







St. Gabriel

Greenville South


North Carolina

Wilmington Sumter






Decatur Alabama


Augusta Macon




Houston Florida

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. 100 North Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150

We’re celebrating 50 years of manufacturing medical devices in Sumter, South Carolina!

We’re proud to have participated in fifty years of outstanding jobs creation, community support, educational partnerships and charitable giving! Thank you, Sumter, for all you do!!

Advancing the World of Health

Delivering Superior Quality Medical Device Products Through a Talented and Engaged Workforce



The great outdoors? Check. Mouth-watering Southern cuisine? Got that, too. State-of-the-art recreational facilities? Absolutely. There’s more here in your own back yard than you ever imagined. So get out and play. Make memories. Get away from it all — without going anywhere.

Outdoor adventures, great food and timeless memories are Made in Sumter.

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South Caro lina

From Shaw Air Force Base to local industries to our beautiful downtown Sumter, growth is happening, not only through new buildings and incoming residents, but also through the sense of community, unity and belonging. It’s a great time to live, work and play in Sumter. In 2020 and into the next decade, I’d like to encourage you to seek community, to seek belonging. Take a stroll around Swan Lake or Poinsett State Park. Shop and dine at our plethora of locally owned retailers. Attend our lively downtown events. Volunteer at our local nonprofits. As the area’s leader in media for 125 years, The Sumter Item is here to help build that community, hold the powerful accountable and promote economic growth. Local news does that, and we believe it’s important. Whether you’re a longtime resident or a newcomer to the area, we encourage you to subscribe to The Sumter Item either through a digital or print subscription. We tell you the stories of your community. Inside these pages, you’ll see many of the people, places and businesses that make our community great. We’ve come a long way, Sumter, but in another way, we’re just getting started.



Best Regards,

Publisher, The Sumter Item

n 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 2020 edition of Life is Good in Sumter. Throughout prior years and decades, Sumter has laid the groundwork for what it is becoming today. Investments have been made, businesses have been recruited, and a community has been re-inspired to live out the 2020s in an exciting, fulfilling way.



What's inside SUMTER ENTERTAINS A vibrant scene…………………………………………… 10 Calendar: What to do in Sumter……………………… 12 The Sumter Opera House: Celebrating 125 years … 16 SUMTER BUILDS Breaking down barriers…………………………………………………… 18 Future leaders, now………………………………………………………… 20 Top 10 industries …………………………………………………………… 20 SUMTER LEARNS ESTEAM: Something this region needs………………………………… Ready, set, STEM…………………………………………………………… USC Sumter: Turning Tassels……………………………………………… Central Carolina Technical College: A foot in the door………………… Spotlight: Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox………………………

22 24 26 28 29

SUMTER WORKS New doors open: Your guide to new businesses……………………… 30 Spotlight: Business Person of the Year ………………………………… 33 SUMTER LIVES Healing at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital……………………………… Healthy weight management at the YMCA……………………………… Caring for our neighbors at Tandem Health…………………………… Serving patients from the Midlands to the coast………………………

34 38 40 42

SUMTER EATS Sumter Original Brewery: The first of its kind…………………………… 44 Sumter is served: Your guide to new restaurants……………………… 48 SUMTER GOVERNS Our strength is in our citizens: Becoming an All-American City finalist………………………………… Elected officials……………………………………………………………… Spotlight: Teacher of the Year…………………………………………… A community effort………………………………………………………… A plan forward………………………………………………………………

50 52 55 56 58

SUMTER SERVES Shaw Air Force Base is looking out for people and woodpeckers alike …………………………………………… 61 Shaw Spouses Club: Making Sumter feel like home…………………… 63 Three-star general leading U.S. Army Central…………………………… 64 SUMTER PLAYS Expanding recreation……………………………………………………… 65 Ja Morant's meteoric rise puts Sumter back on the map……………… 66 Game on: USC Sumter's new sport……………………………………… 68


A cross representation of Sumter's diverse workforce featuring health care professionals, educators, industrial managers, Shaw personnel and public safety gather downtown. PUBLISHER Vince Johnson EDITOR Kayla Green COPY EDITORS Rhonda Barrick Melanie Smith


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EDITORIAL Ken Bell Dennis Brunson Holly Chase Shelbie Goulding Kayla Green Tim Leible Bruce Mills Ivy Moore Traci Quinn J. Scott Sewell Carrie Anna Strange Erika Williams

PHOTOGRAPHY Micah Green LAYOUT & DESIGN Janel Strieter Ryan Galloway AD SALES Karen Cave Mark Pekuri Xavier Platt

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

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



n behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and nearly 900 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 those who visit, as our doors are open to all 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 with one of the largest military installations in the country, home of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base. Health care, the performing arts, great locally owned dining and much more are just a small sample of why more than 100,000 residents call Sumter County home. Our businesses and residents are proud to call Sumter home for many reasons. We are home to one four-year college, one two-year college, one 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 the Swan Lake-Iris Gardens each Memorial Day weekend. We are host to national tennis tournaments at the Palmetto Tennis Center and softball tournaments at the Bobby Richardson Sports Complex and Patriot Park. With easy access to I-20 and I-95 and employment levels and economic development booming, our community is being recognized across the country as a strong community for businesses and quality of life. As you can see, we are a proud community and proud of what we have to offer. We hope you will share your experience here as a visitor or new resident. Our mission at the Chamber is to “Provide an ideal business environment which promotes growth and total community development.” Whether you are a visitor, resident or considering relocation, we thank you for helping us reach our mission. Sincerely,




A vibrant scene

A wide variety of events happening all year long give Sumter an arts and culture lineup that is worth traveling for.


ocal residents need go no further than their own hometown to enjoy arts and entertainment, and the audiences for performances and exhibitions often include visitors from areas other than Sumter and surrounding areas. Out-ofstate arts lovers travel significant distances to be part of the world-class arts scene in Sumter. The Sumter County Cultural Commission is the organization that oversees much of the arts programming here, while also providing the beautiful venue for many dance, music, drama and art events, Patriot Hall. The Sumter County Cultural Center is home not only to Patriot Hall, but is also home base for the Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter Little Theatre, Sumter Community Concert Band, Sumter Civic Chorale and the Sumter Community Band Jazz Ensemble. Melanie Colclough, the commission’s director, brings a wide variety of programs to the stage as well as to its gallery inside Patriot Hall. The signature event is Fall for the Arts, which each October presents a week of music, theater, dance and visual arts, most of them free to the public. Many of the events have 10 |

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also been presented off the Patriot Hall campus. Just last year, the festival featured an evening of art and jazz at Patriot Hall, an open mic spoken word evening, a salsa night and a concert at various downtown venues. The finale was A Night at the Symphony at Patriot Hall, featuring Orchestra Noir, known as the Atlanta African-American orchestra. Sumter Little Theatre presents classic and contemporary drama, comedy and musicals each year and has gained a reputation as one of the finest theaters in the state, if not the Southeast. Still to come in 2020 are “A Soldier’s Play,” “The Hobbit” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Plays are cast through open auditions. The Sumter County Museum and its partnering organization, Temple Sinai Jewish History Center, both present a variety of programs during the year. Together, they recently presented the Anne Frank Center’s two-person play titled “Letters from Anne and Martin,” which imagined a correspondence between Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. The accompanying exhibit of more than 70 seldom-seen photographs from the Frank

family albums will remain on display through Feb. 29. There is always something to see and experience at both venues, including art exhibitions, chamber music, readings, book signings and historical programs and exhibitions. An ink and watercolor workshop is set for April. The Sumter County Gallery of Art features two spacious galleries that host exhibitions by local, state, national and international artists. Currently, visitors to the gallery can see two of the year’s most anticipated exhibitions, the SC Watermedia Society Traveling Show and the Sumter Artists' Guild Winners Show. Two members of the guild were juried into the SCWS show; Joshua Hatfield won Best of Show, and Denise Greer took third in the guild show. Past gallery exhibitions have included Benny Andrews, Leo Twiggs, Deane Ackerman, Colin Quashie, Aldwyth and many other prominent artists. The gallery also offers art classes for adults and young people throughout the year, hosts artist talks and presents a summer art camp for eight weeks during the public schools’ vacation. USC Sumter boasts three galleries that present exhibitions by established and upcoming artists. In the fall, the Historic Sumter Neighborhood Association presents its annual Art in the Park, an outdoor exhibition and sale with scores of artists from South Carolina and neighboring states. Live music on three stages entertain the hundreds of visitors as they admire the artwork and visit with friends and neighbors. During the summer, Downtown Sumter presents free concerts on Main Street on the fourth Friday of May through September. The Woman’s Afternoon Music Club hosts several Afternoons of Sacred Music during the year, as well as the popular Festival of Choirs on the first Sunday of Advent. Most recently, the club presented the acclaimed classical guitarist Christopher Berg in concert. The Sumter Civic Chorale, directed by the Grammy-winning choir director Herbert Johnson, and the Sumter Community Concert Band, conducted by award-winner James H. “Jimmy” Mills, both perform concerts in Patriot Hall, and the SCCB Jazz Ensemble, comprising members of the SCCB, hosts its annual Big Band Dance. Dance companies often perform to full houses in Patriot Hall – the Sumter Civic Dance Company presents an annual contemporary dance concert and its annual Christmas spectacular, Jingle with the Arts, and Miss Libby’s School of Dance and Gymnastics is known for its annual Sumter Arts Showcase. The Sumter Opera House continues to expand its presentations of music, dance, drama and visual arts, often featuring big-name artists several times a month. This is by no means a comprehensive listing of all the arts and entertainment available in Sumter. New events are continually popping up throughout the area. Details of the activities of each local organization mentioned here are available on their websites.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SOME OF SUMTER'S CULTURAL EVENTS AND VENUES Sumter County Cultural Commission/Center......................... ................................... (803) 436-2260 Sumter County Gallery of Art ................................................... ...................................... (803) 775-0543 Sumter Little Theatre ................................................................. .............................. (803) 775-2150 Sumter County Museum............................................................ ........................ (803) 775-0908 Temple Sinai Jewish History Center......................................... ..  (803) 775-0908 University of South Carolina Sumter ........................................ ........................................................... (803) 775-8727 Downtown Sumter...................................................................... ........................... (803) 436-2500 Sumter Community Concert Band........................................... .......................................... (803) 775-9265 Sumter Civic Dance Company.................................................. .........................................  (803) 773-2847 Miss Libby’s School of Dance & Gymnastics .......................... ............................................ (803) 469-8277 Sumter Opera House................................................................. ........................ (803) 436-2616 T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |




S.C. Watermedia Society & Guild Winners Exhibition – Jan. 16-Feb. 14 (Sumter County Gallery of Art) Anne Frank: Private Photo Album, a traveling exhibit More than 70 rarely seen photographs from the Frank family albums. – Jan. 23-Feb. 29 (Temple Sinai Jewish History Center) 49th - Annual Chamber Retreat – Jan. 31-Feb. 2 (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce)


One Night in Memphis “The #1 Tribute to Presley, Perkins, Lewis & Cash.” – Feb. 8 (Sumter Opera House) A Soldier’s Play – Feb. 13-16, 20-23 (Sumter Little Theatre) The Mystics An All-American musical journey that spans decades from coast to coast. – Feb. 15 (Sumter Opera House) 12 |

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The Antidote for Everything Talk and book signing with author Kimmery Martin. – Feb. 19 (Sumter County Museum) Lillian Blades – Feb. 20-April 10 (Sumter County Gallery of Art) Unforgettable: Celebrating a Time of Life, Hope and Bravery, a traveling exhibit A collection of 40 images capturing social change during the 1950s-‘70s by Cecil Williams. – Feb. 20-May 16 (Sumter County Museum) Delbert McClinton The three-time Grammy winner from Texas returns to Sumter. – Feb. 21 (Sumter Opera House) 23rd - Annual Sumter Arts Showcase – Feb. 29 (Patriot Hall) Untapped: Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival – Feb. 29 (Benefits Sumter Green, a beautification nonprofit)


Swan Con – March 6-7 (Patriot Hall) Chili Cookoff – March 12 (Young Professionals of Sumter) Annual Rub O’ the Green Golf Tournament – March 13 (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) 8th - Annual Step Off Featuring teams from all over the Southeast. – March 14 James Gregory: Crock Pots and Chicken Legs Rib-tickling reflections on life from the front porch. – March 20 (Sumter Opera House) Fuel Your Entrepreneurial Spirit A 7-week interactive course designed to assist entrepreneurs and new business owners in finance, legal, insurance, accounting and marketing. – March 24-May 5 (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) The Hobbit – March 26-29, April 2-5 (Sumter Little Theatre)

Inspire! Festival – March 26-April 5 (benefits arts and culture organizations in Sumter)

Sumter Disabilities Benefit Gala – April 9 (Sumter County Developmental Disabilities Foundation)

The True Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France, a traveling exhibit The journey made by Curious George’s creators to escape the Nazi invasion of Paris. – March 26-May 2 (Temple Sinai Jewish History Center)

Evening in the Round An intimate night of acoustic music starring Grammy winner Linda Davis and hit songwriters Lang Scott and Bill Whyte. -April 11 (Sumter Opera House)

9th - Annual Boy Scout BBQ Barbecue contest with entertainment and children’s play areas. -March 27-28 Decoda Chamber Music Concert Part of the Inspire! Festival. -March 29 (Temple Sinai Jewish History Center) Unforgettable, Cecil Williams Talk and Book Signing Part of the Inspire! Festival. – March 31 (Sumter County Museum) Farm to Table Sumter Rotary Club’s annual food and local vendor showcase.


Annual Awards Gala Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce honors its members and notable business people. – April 2 Ink and Watercolor Workshop with Sarah Jones In conjunction with The True Wartime Escape exhibit and with Sumter’s Brindle+Black magazine owner Sarah Jones. – April 4 (Temple Sinai Jewish History Center) Sons of Mystro Two brothers use their Reggae-style music and violin to span 10 musical genres. -April 4 (Sumter Opera House) Earth Day celebration – April 4 (City of Sumter) Sumter Clarendon Heart Walk Fundraiser and walk benefiting the American Heart Association. – April 4 (USC Sumter)

Rust & Dust Doug Mathis Car Show – April 11 Festival on the Avenue A West African Bimbe festival of harvest. – April 16-18 20th - Annual Shrimp Feast All-you-can-eat food and beverages. – April 23 (Sumter County Museum) Culture Fest – April 25 (Patriot Hall) Jeanne Robertson A comedy night with special guest Debbie Childers. – April 25 (Sumter Opera House) Holocaust Remembrance Week Event and Memorial Walk – April 26 (Sumter Opera House and its partner, Temple Sinai Jewish History Center) Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators – April 30 (Sumter Opera House) 23rd - Annual Black Cowboy Festival – April 30-May 3 Manufacturing and Technology Expo An event for eighth-graders to showcase advancements in modern technology and manufacturing. (Sumter Economic Development, TheLink) Sumter Farmers Market – Open Friday afternoons at USC Sumter. April-November Best of Sumter Annual readers choice contest winners celebration gala (The Sumter Item) –April 30


Derby Day Watch the Kentucky Derby downtown, featuring food, music and silent auctions. – May 2 (Benefits United Way) Small Business Celebration – May 4-8 (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast – May 7 Downtown Sumter Microbrew – May 8 (Sumter Senior Services) Carolina Backcountry Springtime An interactive living history event that teaches what life was like in South Carolina in the early 1800s. – May 9 (Sumter County Museum) The Ship that Nobody Wanted, The Tragic Story of Kristallnacht and the M.S. St. Louis A talk given by Barry Glick – May 12 (Temple Sinai Jewish History Center) Bethune Legacy Festival Celebrating the American icon Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to four U.S. presidents, human rights champion and founder of Bethune-Cookman College, in her hometown of Mayesville in Sumter. – May 15-17 Shaw Air Expo Once every four years, Shaw hosts a weekend of air show demonstrations, aircraft and vendors. Headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. – May 16-17 (Shaw Air Force Base) Feels like Falling Talk and book singing with author Kristy Woodson Harvey. – May 21 (Sumter County Museum) 80th - Annual Iris Festival One of the longest continuously running festivals in the state. – May 21-24 Shrine Day Parade – In conjunction with the Iris Festival – May 23 (Jamil Shriners) Jesus Christ Superstar – May 28-31, June 4-7 (Sumter Little Theatre) T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


4th - Fridays Concert Series begins Bring your chairs and set up on Main Street to enjoy live music and food, block-party style. (City of Sumter) Memorial Day Ceremony (Sumter County Veterans Affairs) South Sumter Farmers and Flea Market Open Friday afternoons on Manning Avenue. – May-November Downtown Farmers Market Open Saturday mornings at the corner of Main and Liberty streets. – May-September

JUNE Pirate Day A family fun day with the Charles Towne Few. – June 27 (Sumter County Museum) Summer Film Series begins At the Sumter Opera House (City of Sumter) Summer Splash Series At the Sumter Aquatics Center (City of Sumter) Summer Concert At Patriot Hall (Sumter Community Concert Band) Palmetto Pro Open (Palmetto Tennis Center) Fireworks at the Park (Sumter County) Summer Art Camp (Sumter Gallery of Art)


Sumter Artists' Guild Show At the Sumter County Gallery of Art (Sumter Artists' Guild)

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WFC & CFA Softball Tournaments At Patriot Park (Sumter County) Freedom Bash (Shaw Air Force Base) Summer Art Camp (Sumter Gallery of Art)


Commander’s Breakfast Leaders from Shaw Air Force Base brief chamber members. (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) CSA & USSA Baseball Tournaments – At Patriot Park (Sumter County) Back-to-School Bash (Sumter Police Department) General Thomas Sumter Birthday Celebration (Sumter Volunteers)

SEPTEMBER Fall Feast Food and entertainment – Sept. 17 (Sumter Green)

Oktoberfest Downtown Sumter transforms into the streets of Germany, featuring food, music and heritage including authentic attire. – Sept. 19 (Hamptons) Military Appreciation Picnic At Shaw Air Force Base (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) Art in the Park At Memorial Park (Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association)

Sumter County Fair At the Sumter County Fairgrounds (American Legion) Leadership Sumter Learn leadership and business development best practices once a month in addition to having the opportunity to visit and learn about different businesses in the community. – September-May (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce)


Porches of Sumter Stroll the historic neighborhood downtown as homeowners offer local eats and beverages. – Oct. 1 (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) Fall for the Arts A week of performances and events promoting a diverse arts and culture scene. – Oct. 5-10 (Sumter County Cultural Center) Carolina Backcountry Harvest – Oct. 10 (Sumter County Museum) ESTEAM Festival Celebrating advancement and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math, especially with children. (Sumter Economic Development and TheLink) Caffeine and Gasoline Car Show – At Sumter Cut Rate Terror Trail – Halloween hay ride (Boy Scouts) Halloween Trunk or Treat (Sumter Police Department) 13th - Annual Art in the House Fall and holiday arts and crafts for sale out of vendor homes

20 Under 40 Annual event honoring young professionals (The Sumter Item & the Young Professionals of Sumter)

NOVEMBER Election Day – Nov. 3

Sip and Stroll Explore downtown Sumter while tasting samples of local wine with snacks. – Nov. 6 (Sumter Senior Services) VFW Car and Truck Show – Nov. 7 (VFW) Untapped: Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival – Nov. 7 (Sumter Green) Veterans Day Parade & Ceremony – Nov. 11 (Sumter County Veterans Affairs Office)

Carolina Backcountry Oyster Roast – Nov. 19 (Sumter County Museum) Morris College Thanksgiving Parade Along Downtown – Main Street Turkey Trot 5K and Gobbler Dash (YMCA of Sumter) Firefighters BBQ Challenge (Red Cross) State of the Chamber (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce)


Walk with Santa (Sumter County) Breakfast with Santa (Sumter County) Holiday Social (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) Legislative Breakfast (Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce) Carolina Backcountry Christmas (Sumter County Museum) Christmas Parades (Pinewood, Mayesville and Sumter) Festival of Trees – Downtown Sumter windows are filled with trees for charity. (The Tuomey Foundation)

Fantasy of Lights Swan Lake-Iris Gardens comes alive with more than one million Christmas lights in imaginative display. – Dec. 1-31 (City of Sumter)

Christmas at Patriot Hall (Sumter County Cultural Center)

Santa’s Village – Dec. 4, 5, 11 & 12 (City of Sumter)

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's website.

Carolina Backcountry Christmas – Dec. 12 (Sumter County Museum)

Wreath Workshop (Sumter County Museum)



The beacon of downtown




he Sumter community is bustling with year-round activities. Everywhere you look, there are projects that will enhance the visits from those who live elsewhere as well as improve the quality of life for Sumter residents. This year will be especially welcoming as the Sumter Opera House celebrates its 125th anniversary. Sumter Opera House Cultural Manager Seth Reimer said he is excited to be able to schedule artists and event for this special year. “We have something for just about every age or special interest group in the Sumter area,” he said. “Every resident of Sumter should visit us at least once, if not several times, this year.” A lot of planning and effort has been put into making this year one ripe for such a milestone. Operations manager Ellen Jansen said the staff has worked hard to develop a special 125-year logo that will be used in promotions throughout the year, and they are working on a special gift that all the opera house’s $125-level and above members will receive. Unique this year will be the showing of old movies such as The Sound of Music and possibly the very first movie shown at the opera house, Earthworm Tractors. Movies will be announced at various times throughout the year in time for families to make plans to see them. “We are proud to say that our line-up includes something for everyone,” Jansen said. “With our Main Stage Series, we bring a variety of artists to the stage. We've brought comedy, country, magicians, Celtic, Shakespeare, rock, Americana, string quartets, bluegrass, blues, Motown, jazz and emerging artists to our stage. So, if you don't see something on our calendar right now that you like, keep checking back. We've transitioned from doing what many people think of as a season to announcing new shows as we book them. Every few months, we'll announce another round of shows that are coming to the Sumter Opera

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House.” She said the opera house is contractually prohibited from announcing upcoming shows too soon. Jansen said another goal, especially with the birthday celebrations, is preserving the rich history of the opera house. “We have a lot of its early history as well as its most recent history well-documented,” she said. “But, if anyone has any memorabilia from around 1936 to the early 1980s, we’d like to see it.” Jansen said items such as playbills or even ticket stubs or any kind of advertisements would be welcome. “We can make copies of these and give the originals back to the owner.” Jansen said they are interested in more than just items. “If anyone has interesting stories, proposals or anything like that, we’d like to know about it,” she said. “We want to save those stories for future generations. If people are cleaning out around their home and find something relating to the Sumter Opera House, we want to know about it.” Another change this year is a new ticketing reservation system. “Patrons will be able to go online and make reservations, choose their seats and even see a record of past shows and events that they attended,” Jansen said. “This will streamline the process and will be user-friendly.” While the Sumter Opera House is rich in history and brings many nationally known artists to Sumter, there is also a focus on elementary and middle school students. Reimer said the opera house wants to play an important role in education. “The variety of performances that we offer at the opera house is a reflection of the very people that make up the beautiful color of South Carolina and Sumter,” he said. “That decision that a family or individual makes to attend a concert impacts more than they realize. Beyond the economic impact, those in attendance are given an opportunity to change the culture of

the arts in Sumter.” That’s where he sees such a strong focus on today’s students. “Students are introduced to the arts and its many career fields from Q&A sessions with the artists,” Reimer said. “Families learn that attending concerts at the Sumter Opera House can create lasting memories and provide healing where medicine can't.”

HISTORY Prior to the opera house being constructed, a building in the same location served as town hall, city offices, city market and city guard house and had a 500-seat auditorium. In those days, it was common for government offices to be combined with an opera house. The town hall was often the only large public space available in small towns, and funds generated from the opera house could offset expenses incurred in building the structure. Construction on the current building began in 1893 following a fire that destroyed the original structure and its contents in December 1892. The rebuilt opera house opened Sept. 19, 1894, and featured comedian Milton Nobles in a play called For Revue Only for its first performance. Through the years, the four-story ashlar brick Richardsonian Romanesque-style structure has served as an opera house, a music academy, a movie theater, city offices, a meat market, a barber shop and even a jail. In the early 1900s, motion pictures were becoming popular, threatening opera houses such as Sumter’s, so the city proposed a $120,000 renovation to transform the structure into a movie theater. Sumter City Council received a grant of $50,400 toward the project from the Public Works Administration, and the city provided the remaining $70,000, creating 300 jobs for local workers. The remodeled theater opened on Aug. 31, 1936, featuring the movie Earthworm Tractors starring Joe E. Brown. With upholstered seats, modern cooling systems a state-of-the-art sound system and a grand marquee, Sumter’s Opera House stood out among those around the Southeast. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. By the late 1970s, competing movie theaters had opened in Sumter with multiple screens, and new technology allowed people to rent movies in the VHS format to play in video cassette recorders in their homes. Malls that opened outside of the main business district pulled traffic away from downtown, and many local shops closed. The Sumter Theater, which faced declining attendance, closed its doors in 1982, its future uncertain.

A NEW LIFE In 1984, the City of Sumter decided to relocate city offices to the upper floors of the opera house to alleviate cramped offices. The move was not popular among some residents who argued against spending money on the aging structure. City officials held fast to the belief that the move would help revitalize downtown in addition to helping save a building that was so significant to the city’s history. General Obligation Bonds in the amount of $1.8 million were approved, and the project moved forward. The completed renovations housed city offices on the second, third and fourth floors. The revamped 550-seat auditorium included a balcony and six boxes. Architects enlarged and curved the stage, painstakingly restoring and painting the Art Deco murals adorning the walls.

City operations began on May 2, 1988, and are credited by many as the first step toward downtown revitalization. Still home to City Hall, many city departments and city council chambers, the Sumter Opera House is once again presenting a performance series in an effort to contribute to downtown revitalization. The opera house today draws visitors to the city to witness performances by nationally acclaimed artists. Visitors from along the Eastern Seaboard as far away as New York, New Jersey and Florida have attended recent performances. The Sumter Opera House is also available for rent for private events. For more information on upcoming performances and events, go online to or contact cultural manager Seth Reimer or operations Manager Ellen Jansen at (803) 436-2616.

Since 2014


the Sumter Opera House has:

Hosted more than 400 events Welcomed 107,034 patrons Brought in $844,457 in revenue Grown in average attendance from 175 to 275 per show ★ Attracted about 40% of its audience from outside of Sumter ★ Welcomed more than 40 volunteers who have contributed more than 4,000 hours ★ ★ ★ ★



BUILDS Breaking down barriers CCTC industrial technology graduate setting the bar for other women to enter manufacturing field — by being the first.



ollowing your passion ideally translates into career success no matter the field, and that’s certainly proving to be the case for Sumter resident Yadira Viera – even though Viera might not fit the industry profile. Viera is 30 and has a two-year associate degree from Central Carolina Technical College in Applied General Technology with a focus in machining and computer numerical control programming fundamentals. Machining technology takes metal and cuts, drills and shapes it into useful parts and components in a manufacturing setting. That has translated into the start of potentially a great career in manufacturing for Viera with one of Sumter’s top-paying employers, BD. Nothing unusual there. What does set Viera apart is that she is a woman. The manufacturing industry has always allowed for outstanding careers, but typically those pathways are filled with men. Last year, the mother of two became the first female machinist ever at the manufacturer’s Sumter facility, which dates back 50 years. And her supervisors say, given her combination of hands-on experience, technical certifications and desire to learn, she’s what every U.S. manufacturer is looking for. 18 |

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While many of her friends growing up in her native Cuba enjoyed playing with dolls inside, Viera liked turning wrenches in the garage with Dad on the weekends. He was a car mechanic by trade and operated his shop business from home. Viera said she enjoyed engine repair the most. Now, she’s turned that love for tinkering and the mechanical into a gratifying job helping to make Class 2 medical devices with outstanding career potential, according to BD Engineering Manager Jon Greenawalt. “What we do makes a difference,” Greenawalt said. “It sounds cliché, but the saying is: ‘There is a patient at the end of everything we do.’”


Viera is ‘making a difference,’ too, Greenawalt said, in the traditionally male-dominated industry. “She’s giving other ladies within the local community the confidence by knocking down those walls to pursue similar

Up close with BD • BD is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Sumter this year. The Sumter facility opened in February 1970. The facility currently has about 1,000 employees. • The Sumter facility is BD’s third-largest plant in terms of production of cost of goods sold with more than $200 million annually produced at the plant. BD has about 80 operations worldwide.

interests,” he said. “And, we’re all about it at BD. We recognize the power of diversity and what she’s doing.” Viera said she loves working with her hands, and about half her Machinist I position involves making spare parts used in equipment maintenance when there are breakdowns on the line in a 24/7 operation at BD. The other half of her job is redesigning engineering parts to make improvements in the production process. One of her mottos, Viera said, is: “I can do anything that a man can do in this role.” “I love to get a piece of metal and make something useful out of it,” Viera said. She gets a big grin on her face when asked about how she is motivating other women to enter technical fields in manufacturing. In 2018, when she was a second-year student at CCTC, she said she spoke to two women who were first-year students and encouraged them to stick with the program, and they have. Viera maintained a 4.0 grade point average in the Applied General Technology program at CCTC and was awarded the Phares Chatham Award as the program’s top student in her class. Greenawalt said in her position Viera makes well above the median wage in Sumter and that people are starting to realize there is great demand for two-year technical degrees and potential for great earnings – often above many four-year bachelor’s degrees.


Viera said she loves all aspects of engineering, from the design piece to creating the parts. She wants to now pursue her bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and eventually move into management with BD. Greenawalt said Viera’s skill-set and personal motivation are a perfect fit in the industry. Manufacturers are not just after people with four-year degrees. They are also looking for someone who can put it to use. “So, when you have someone with that hands-on experience – who can turn a part, who can make a part from print – on top of the education, wow," he said. "That’s what we’re all after. The sky’s the limit for her.”



Future leaders,


Community leaders in Sumter know the key to future economic development and business success. They’re growing up before our eyes. BY ERIKA WILLIAMS

ing. Involving the student nurtures cohesive partnerships that are more advantageous because organizational and governmental decisions often impact the communities in which these students actually live; therefore, their input can be beneficial in making sure projects and programs are meaningful and represent every demographic. “In order to retain our talent in this region, we must demonstrate the need and show the students available opportunities where their unique leadership skills can be fostered and utilized,” said Jay Schwedler, president and CEO of Sumter Economic Development. Other partners of the program are the City of Sumter, Sumter County, Lee County, The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Department of Commerce-Workforce Division. Graduates of the inaugural class have gone on to serve in a number of key roles, and evidence of their efforts can be witnessed throughout the community. From serving on the YMCA Board of Directors to being a member of the Sumter Arts Commission, from decorating Christmas trees for the Tuomey Foundation to participating in the Veterans' Day Parade, Emerging Leaders can be seen showcasing a positive display of the best of Sumter and a broad stroke of community knowledge. Be it participating on civic boards, in Chamber of Commerce education forums, apprenticeship programs, the manufacturing expo, the eSTEAM Festival or Emerging Leaders, these workforce and talent development initiatives allow students to both bond and blossom in a community that we hope they will continue to call home.

In order to retain our talent in this region, we must demonstrate the need and show the students available opportunities where their unique leadership skills can be fostered and utilized.


ypically, when we hear the terms “talent” or “workforce” or “workforce development,” which have become increasingly common, we are forecasting the future needs of employers and the community. Talent and resource retention are equally, if not more, important as recruitment for continued and sustained economic growth as we compete against other communities for business. There is a program in Sumter where students can satisfy current needs and, based on the training and curriculum of the program, end up prepared to step up in future capacities. Now in its second year, the Ross McKenzie Emerging Leaders Program, presented by The LINK Economic Alliance and USC Sumter, is designed to build young leaders by exposing high school juniors to a variety of topics that surround community development. The students are allowed a “peek behind the curtain” to gain valuable knowledge and insight from university professors and career experts on the day-to-day operations of Sumter and the surrounding area. Upon completion, students graduate into leadership roles with a heightened sense of awareness in addition to receiving three credit hours through USC Sumter. As Emerging Leaders, these students sit at the table with city officials and agency directors. They observe procedures, provide valuable input and receive experiential learn-

- Jay Schwedler, President and CEO of Sumter Economic Development

Top 10 industries in Sumter by number of employees Continental

Pilgrim's Pride BD

Thompson Eaton

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1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10

Santee Print Works Caterpillar Hydraulics

Kaydon/SKF Color-Fi American Materials Company

ExcEllEnt carE. Outstanding Physicians. Serving Clarendon | Sumter | Williamsburg | Orangeburg | Lee Counties Primary Care

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Eagerton Family Practice Carmen Cribb, DO Robert S. Eagerton, MD Renee Ward, FNP 200 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-0439

McLeod Women’s Care Clarendon Monica Ploetzke, MD Steven B. Tollison, MD Tom Chappell, CNM 50 East Hospital Street, Suite 4A, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-0797

McLeod Primary Care Clarendon Clarence E. Coker, Jr., MD Lisa E. Heichberger, MD Amber Ballentine, DNP, FP-C Susanne Johnson, FNP 22 Bozard Street, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 435-8828

Orthopedics McLeod Orthopaedics Clarendon John Carpenter, PA-C 50 East Hospital Street, Suite 6, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-3065

Palmetto Adult Medicine Sumter Harry A. Jordan, Jr., MD Ansel R. McFaddin, MD Andrew J. Reynolds, MD Hugh T. Stoddard, Jr., MD Katherine S. Coffey, PA-C Abbie F. Kirby, PA-C James R. McMahon, FNP Emily J. Miller, PA-C 1295 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 905-6800 McLeod Family Medicine Kingstree Raymond K. Allen, MD Andrew Gulledge, FNP 512 Nelson Boulevard, Suite 200, Kingstree, SC 29556 (843) 355-5459

Cardiology McLeod Cardiology Associates Ryan C. Garbalosa, DO Prabal Guha, MD Dennis Lang, DO 540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 883-5171 Manning Clinic: 21 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102

McLeod Orthopaedics Sumter David Woodbury, MD Rodney K. Alan, MD 540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (843) 777-7900

Surgery McLeod Surgery Clarendon Devonne D. Barrineau, MD 15 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 435-2822

Urology McLeod Urology Associates Sumter Kelly Maloney, MD 540 Phyisicans Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 340-5100 Manning Clinic: 21 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102

Vascular McLeod Vascular Associates Gabor A. Winkler, MD 540 Phyisicans Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 777-7043




61653 Revised 12/17/19

LEARNS 'Something this region needs' The eSTEAM Festival, now having completed its second year, brought thousands of children and their families downtown to enjoy a day filled with kid-friendly science, art, math and tech.



scissor lift rising to give children a different point of view was not the only thing reaching new heights on an October Saturday morning in downtown Sumter. Thompson Construction's lift, which employee volunteers used to demonstrate safety and job site equipment by harnessing kids and letting them "ride" it, showed them the 69 other businesses, schools, industries and organizations set up along South Main Street in front of Central Carolina Technical College for the second-annual eSTEAM Festival. The event offered children of all ages the chance to both play and learn at booths featuring hands-on activities centered around STEM and the arts. "Education is the foundation for the community," said Jason Browder, tool coordinator for Thompson, a presenting sponsor for the event that is put on by TheLINK and Sumter Economic Development. Near the scissor lift at ground level, activities at the Thompson booth included a water gun station to represent the Thompson Family of Companies' use of high-pressure washing, a photo booth station where families could stand in front of a massive banner featuring one of the company's actual construction sites and a drill station where kids made holes in a piece of wood to create a triangle peg game.

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Near them, half the CCTC parking lot at Main and Bartlette streets was transformed into a bounce house city, with kids shooting basketballs into inflatable creations, others climbing up to slide down next door. After a parade and opening ceremony kicked off the day - a new feature this year headlined by cheerleading and marching band combinations from Sumter's three high schools and Morris College - thousands of people meandered up and down South Main. A lot of kids - and even adults - have never operated a power tool before, Browder said, so their stations were meant to introduce them to the job duties entailed when working at a national construction company such as Thompson. Other booths welcomed kids to make paint handprints on a piano with the Sumter County Opera House or perform CPR on a dummy at the Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital booth. Kids helped build a bicycle at Bicycle Corporation of America's booth and made slime at EMS Chemie's booth. They created and tested, drew, drove, detonated. Browder said events like eSTEAM make him and other employees at Thompson feel like they belong to more than just a paycheck. "We're not just part of a company but part of a family," he said. "It's really about giving back."

A Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital employee demonstrates how blood is drawn during the eSTEAM Festival. Giving back and bringing the community together are what make companies like SKF do more than plant roots in Sumter. Being this year's titanium sponsor of eSTEAM, the company formerly Kaydon Corp., which was recently bought out by the global-market Swedish company - is growing and hiring. SKF's bearings produced in Sumter have been on Mars. At the event it had some of its products on display, including small robotic vehicles kids could drive. Marcus Jakob, director of operations for SKF-Sumter, said he hopes events like eSTEAM draw in the next generation of industrial workers. Industry is more than iron workers now, he said. With the field trending more toward high-skilled, high-wage jobs that require certifications in high-tech areas of study, they want those living in the Sumter and surrounding region to know they can get those jobs here now. "Our people are our biggest asset, so we're hiring," Jakob said. "You see it in this festival right here. It's not a big city where you're lost. Everyone can come together." Growth in both companies with local plants and branches and the festival itself is what eSTEAM's organizers are working toward. This year it felt like fall as opposed to the inaugural festival where it was so hot the attending food trucks could cook an egg on their hood; Erika Williams was all smiles. "It's all about getting them exposed. You don't know what you don't know. Some of these kids are absolutely amazed because they don't always think about how things are made," said Williams, who is the manager of communications and strategic initiatives for Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK, an economic development alliance between Lee and Sumter counties.

She said not mutually exclusive of the 70 booths, about 20 organizations made the event happen, from sponsorships to planning to executing. There was chalk art already imprinted on the road, and food vendors were set up as nearby restaurants busted at the seams all day. That collaboration is not a new idea for those who have been paying attention to the redevelopment of Sumter in recent years, but even those who came by eSTEAM this year without having heard of it before could likely reap the results. "I love seeing the smiling faces on the kids running around having a great time. This is something that Sumter needed. This is something this region needs making sure we're answering the call to give Sumter and this region what it needs to grow," Williams said as kids squawked past her. "This is their future workforce. Not only is this their future lawyers and future doctors, it's also their future technicians, engineers, IT people, administrators, principals. It all comes together uniquely and collaboratively."



Ready, set... BY BRUCE MILLS


e live in a world today with technology innovation across all business sectors, and Sumter School District is changing right along to fully prepare kids for their futures. Lori Smith, the district’s science and fine arts coordinator, has helped lead the way in Sumter, where the movement picked up steam in 2018. More and more careers nationwide are moving to a science and technology focus, and many best practices say STEM, an educational curriculum focused on the integration of science, technology, engineering and math with the other core subjects, is the best approach to reach all students with the necessary skills. Smith is a big proponent of STEM and serves as the district’s STEM coordinator. Integration of subject matter and relevance have a big emphasis in STEM, she said. Reading and writing are still essential in the educational model. “It has a focus on reading and writing for a purpose,” Smith said. “The goal is to integrate real life and, of course, social studies in the middle of that. The same thing for public speaking and being able to communicate ideas. One of the big ideas behind STEM is that students develop something and solve a problem, but then you present the problem to a real-life audience who actually cares about it. “The bottom line is that STEM is good teaching, and every subject integrates.”

STEM JOURNEY Alice Drive Middle School was the district’s first school to seek STEM certification and became a nationally certified STEM 24 |

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STEM school in 2015. That produced many positive outcomes for the school, including growth, Smith said. In 2018, then-Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm met with Smith and another district administrator to consider other schools that were already integrating STEM on their own, without any real funding sources at the time, that might be interested in joining a district cohort to pursue the certification process. Smith said they thought of three schools that day and that Hamm told them to arrange a meeting. “By the time the meeting took place, we had 11 schools interested through internal communication,” Smith said. “Other schools would call me and say, ‘Can we join you?’ And, I was like, ‘Absolutely. We’re taking all comers because the bottom line is we want all schools to have this focus. So, if you want to join us, join us.’” To earn national STEM certification now through Cognia, formerly known as AdvancED, STEM must be consistently pervasive throughout the school building, she said, meaning the curriculum must be a focus for multiple years. That’s different from traditional educational models that were more silo-based with math classrooms in one hallway, science in another, and so forth. Smith, who spent about 12 years as a classroom teacher before assuming her district-level post, said she has always seen the core subjects as intertwined. “There’s a funny saying about science that ‘science is the language of math,’” Smith said. “It really all connects. But, when I was going to college, my professor thought I was going to do something with social studies because I loved it. So, you can’t separate everything. For example, the way people treat the earth today, that’s all social studies and science. It’s all together.”

Sumter School District growing by leaps and bounds in teaching curriculum The district enters 2020 with two other schools already having earned the national STEM certification in fall 2019 – Bates Middle School and Alice Drive Elementary. Alice Drive Middle’s accreditation is up for renewal this year, and High Hills Elementary near Shaw Air Force Base is likely the next school that will seek the STEM certification, Smith said. Six other district schools – five elementary and one middle – are officially at some point in the certification process, which can be up to a few years. Those include Cherryvale Elementary, Kingsbury Elementary, Oakland Primary, Wilder Elementary, Willow Drive Elementary and Ebenezer Middle. In the private school arena, Wilson Hall, a private faith-based K-12 school in Sumter that has historically taught students in a traditional, tried-and-true

ST EM C E RT Distri Smith said she hopes in about three years the district will have anywhere IF c up to 10 nationally STEM - accredited schools. curren t schools I ED accred tly with ST EM itation B a : Other schools working tes M i d toward STEM certification: Alice Driv dle e Elem Alice Wilder Elementary Oakland Primary Ebenezer Middle Cherryvale Elementary for re Drive Midd entary newal High Hills Elementary le (up i n 202 Kingsbury Elementary 0) classroom-lecture setting, earned national STEAM accreditation in fall 2019, which adds the arts to STEM.

Willow Drive Elementary




tassels Robin Sherman graduated from USC Sumter last year. The 52-year-old didn’t let her cerebral palsy or the 21 years it took stop her. BY KAYLA GREEN


he stood as a testimony of perseverance, tassel to her left, 21 years in the making. It was not easy to get to the moment when the name "Robin Sherman" was called during USC Sumter's graduation ceremony. Not much about Sherman is typical. She walked across the stage to receive her bachelor's degree from sitting on the stage instead of in the audience with the rest of the 99 graduates so she could use her walker. It took her as many years to graduate as many, if not most, of her fellow Class of 2019 have been alive. She is 52, has cerebral palsy and, while her words come out slowly, they deliver a quick sense of humor. "You can use my age because as I say, not using it won't make me younger," she said after the ceremony and as students, families and faculty dispersed from a free lunch in the USC Sumter Nettles Building gym put on by the college's alumni association. CP is a group of disorders that affect a person's movements, balance and posture and is the most common motor disability in childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms vary from person to person, but CP always comes with some form of abnormal or damaged brain development that can range from walking a little awkwardly to needing equipment to walk or not being able to walk at all. 26 |

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Sherman has let neither her CP or what others thought she should be limited to because of it hold her back. "There were so many people out there thinking we have to stay home and collect their checks, but I'm not going to do that," she said, with red glasses that match her USC Sumter robes. USC Sumter launched its Opportunity Scholars Program, federally funded and known through the U.S. Department of Education as the TRIO Program, in 1997. When its first two students arrived onto campus the next spring, Sherman was one of them. TRIO provides services for students with disadvantaged backgrounds such as low-income individuals, first-generation college students and students with disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Education website. Sherman took two classes a semester, receiving her associate degree in 2003. Then she had to take a break to address health issues. She had a lot of people tell her, as they have throughout her life, that she wouldn't make it or wouldn't finish. She also had professors who made her promise to come back. A major support system sat around her at graduation. Lisa Rosdail is the director of OSP and Upward Bound, two TRIO programs at USC Sumter. She hasn't even been at the college as long as Sherman. "There's a mass of people who know her story," she said.

There were so many people out there thinking we have to stay home and collect their checks, but I'm not going to do that,

-Robin Sherman "Even through the break, she would always pop in here like her usual self." Rosdail's daughter is 16. She used to pick her up from school every day before dropping Sherman off at home. Sherman has overcome obstacles in and out of school, from paying for classes to learning how to live alone in an apartment provided by the Sumter County Disabilities and Special Needs Board to writing a 35-page, 25-source paper for her final class of her bachelor's degree. Monique McCause tutored her in English to help her with the paper. In her time off from school, Sherman also became an ordained minister. "I always think I can't do it," Sherman said, "But God says I can." Bell Leslie, Sherman's spiritual sister, traveled from Tennessee to see her friend graduate. "I've known her since the late '90s," she said, "and to see where she was and to see her graduate today." Sherman said she used to receive in-home services to help her with daily life. "I was just sitting at home, and I let them give me a bath, comb my hair, but I just felt empty inside," she said. "People would squash my dreams of achieving things not because they don't believe in me, but because they don't believe in themselves." She overcame any transportation issues in getting to school by walking from her Blanding Street apartment. Plus, walking helps her headaches go away. Her hands would be red from the cold in winter, McCause said, but she made sure to get her exercise in. Serving pilots and aircraft owners, since 1998, we are Sherman said her next goal is to get a job and to, as a longa full service FBO providing the following as well as a term goal, get off government dependence. A bachelor's won't host of other airport services: be enough, and she's overcome everything placed in front of her so far. Rosdail has never known USC Sumter without Sherman. • Flight instruction "It's going to be weird. She's just always been there," she said. • Aircraft rental "But it's good. It's good. It's a natural progression." • Hangar space Sherman, smile wide, said she felt "very proud" to walk across the stage. • Pilot service She is a testament to being scared and doing it anyway, to us• Aircraft management ing people's doubts as challenges to overcome. Not much about Sherman is typical. After all, how many people would stick with 2945 Airport Road • Sumter, SC 29153 college for 21 years?

On Eagles’ Wings at the Sumter County Airport...gateway to your dreams of flight.

Phone: 803-469-4639 • Fax: 803-469-6726



A foot foot in in A the door door the Central Carolina Technical College renewed its free tuition program, allowing college-ready high school grads two years to continue their education without financial barriers. BY BRUCE MILLS


entral Carolina Technical College President Michael Mikota said the biggest challenge facing South Carolina, the nation and the world today is growing and retaining a talented workforce. In that effort, the school is continuing for another five years a partnership with area cities and counties to offer two years of free tuition for high school graduates who test ready for college. The program is called Central Carolina Scholars and is open to public- and private-school graduates in the upcoming Classes of 2020-24 in the college's four-county region consisting of Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw. All six school districts in the counties have signed on to the agreement, Mikota said. The scholarship allows high school graduates to finish with a two-year associate degree from CCTC and directly enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year college/university and complete a bachelor's degree with two years of schooling behind them, tuition-free. That can help tremendously in today's world where many college students graduate with high levels of debt to pay off, according to Mikota. The scholarship can be used for tuition only and does not cover fees, books or supplies, the college said, though other scholarships exist to pay for those items. A total of 1,117 students participated in the program in its first five years, Mikota said, and he hopes that number will grow in the next five years. "To have the opportunity to get the first two years of college with free tuition is tremendous, and it's an opportunity you can't underestimate," he said. Of that initial five-year pool of scholars, 68% of them have graduated and moved into jobs or gone on to further their education. Kristen Jackson, 22, an engineering associate in the City of Sumter Engineering Department, is one of those "success stories." A 2016 graduate of Lugoff-Elgin High School in neighboring Kershaw County, Jackson said she and her parents couldn't afford to send her off to college. Luckily, she was able to take advantage of the scholars' program at CCTC.

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Two years later, she graduated from the college with an associate degree in engineering design technology. In July 2018, she became the youngest member of the city's engineering department. Along the way, Jackson said she had "unlimited opportunities" as far as internships and awards. Now, she's married and recently bought a new car and a house. "I can't be more thankful for what [Central Carolina] Scholars allowed me to do in my time here," Jackson said. "I walked out of college with absolutely no debt and nothing to owe." She said she was glad when she first heard the program was extended for another five years. "I am excited for the college, the school districts and also for the students themselves," she said. "Now, they have the same great opportunity to make something of themselves - to go and get an education and then go into the workforce and not have to worry about paying."






umter School District’s new superintendent, Penelope Martin-Knox, credits numerous role models in her life with helping her become a leader – the most important of whom came from Sumter. Both of Martin-Knox’s maternal grandparents were born and raised in Sumter County, though they eventually settled in Baltimore, Maryland. Her grandmother Dorothy Martin raised Martin-Knox in the Baltimore area. “Always finish what you started,” be independent, self-sufficient and “always treat people the way you want to be treated,” were some of the many values Martin-Knox’s grandmother taught her in her youth and teenage years, she said. During those years, she frequented Sumter in the summers when her grandmother returned home to see family and friends. Some of those extended family members still worship locally at Clark United Methodist Church, she said. Martin-Knox said she continues with those life-long lessons. “I recall them on a daily basis,” she said. “I do believe that some of those things she instilled – some of those values – have come from Sumter. And so, with my return back here, sometimes I look out and say, ‘Ah, is that where that come from?’ I often wonder where it came from. But, I have to give her credit because without her, I don’t know where I would be.” A life-long educator primarily in Baltimore County Public Schools – one of the largest systems in the country with an enrollment of 114,000 students – Martin-Knox took the helm here in July 2019. Since then, she has also referenced several educators – beginning as early as her elementary school years – who believed in her and encouraged her. “I have been fortunate and blessed to have people who saw talent in me and saw potential leadership in me,” she said. Having high standards, accountability, focus and determination were all qualities she learned from those mentors. A middle school music teacher, Alvin Wallace, stands out, she said. “He made me realize I needed to become a teacher,” Martin-Knox said. “I needed to be a teacher because I wanted to give kids the same opportunities that he had given me, and I am forever grateful for that.” T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |




Sumter welcomed a range of new businesses to the community in 2019 with eyes set on continued future growth.


BY SHELBIE GOULDING umter was all about economic growth and bringing new business opportunities to its community in 2019, and business entrepreneurs made their dreams come true in a variety of ventures. Community leaders want Sumter to have everything you need to live, work and play. With every new business that opens, there’s one less reason to spend your hard-earned dollars elsewhere. After the economic downtown of the late

2000s, Sumter is rebuilding and ready for a future that is headlined by expansion, growth and prosperity. From unique boutiques and salons to one-of-a-kind businesses, local business owners made their dreams become a reality in Sumter last year. Whether you’ve lived here your whole life or just started to call Sumter home, here’s your quick guide to what sprung up last year.

McLeod Health Occupational Clinic

Focusing on helping employees stay healthy requires an ongoing partnership with health care professionals. McLeod Occupational Health Clinic offers services and resources so Sumter’s workforce can stay healthy and productive. 540 Physicians Lane

(803) 848-8120

1912 Bed and Breakfast

Modern-day hotels can’t compare to the 1912 Bed and Breakfast’s old-world charm. This historic home has been restored to its former glory with some modern touches, making it the perfect staycation destination in Sumter’s Downtown Historic District. 24 Warren St.

(803) 883-4598

The Man Cave

Getting a haircut shouldn’t feel like a chore. The Man Cave ensures fun and relaxation for any customer who walks in the door. Its goal: to have customers leave feeling like a VIP. Customers even get to enjoy a complimentary beer with any service. 1313 Peach Orchard Road

(803) 294-0314

One Core Workforce Solutions

Empowering businesses to recruit, train and retain a unique and talented workforce, OneCore Workforce Solutions helps businesses stay on top through its effective and high-quality training and professional development services. 32 E. Calhoun St. 30 |

(803) 403-9968

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Lorine Olive Oil

Oil and vinegar fans will love Lorine Olive Oil. Products are naturally rich in flavor and stocked with probiotics, a result of aging in wooden barrels for up to 18 years. A 200-milliliter bottle of oil or vinegar retails for $11.99. The 375-milliliter bottle sells for $15.99. Once finished with a bottle, customers can wash it, dry it and bring it back for $1 off a refill. Location: 584 Bultman Dr.

Phone: (803) 983-9594

Carolina Curby Cleaners

When trash bins aren’t properly washed, bacteria can grow and create a foul smell, causing neighborhood streets to smell and pose a health risk. Carolina Curby Cleaners is a bin washing service that cleans trash bins with eco-friendly solution that will rid germs of their bin havens. There is a monthly plan that costs $8.50 per bin, a quarterly plan that costs $24 per bin, a yearly plan that costs $96 per bin and a one-time plan that costs $30 per bin. Mobile*

Phone: (803) 494-2469

*Serving Blythewood, Camden, Columbia, Dalzell, Elgin, Forest Acres, Hopkins, Lugoff, Northeast Columbia and Sumter.

The Retreat at Sumter

These new, luxury apartments have four unique floor plans that offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes. All apartments feature high-end finishes such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, oversized closets, private outdoor storage, coat closets and pantries. Every apartment is designed and built for a resident’s comfort and convenience in mind, and the location is only minutes away from Shaw Air Force Base and Sumter’s eateries and shopping centers. Prices start as low as $975 a month. 3330 Broad St.

(803) 494-1500

1-on-1 Plus

Teaching young children the importance of diversity is key in today’s world, and 1-on-1 Plus focuses on preparing children for a bright future. This educational center offers childcare, preschool, tutoring and before- and after-school care while encouraging the Spanish and American language and culture to its students. Focusing on academics, music, Spanish and physical education, 1-on-1 Plus creates an integrated community while providing educational programs that honor the importance of diversity. 4107 Thomas Sumter Hwy, Dalzell

Phone: (803) 306-6010

The By Name Project

To help those in need and build life-changing relationships, all you need is a truck, a trailer and some helping hands. The By Name Project is a nonprofit that serves Sumter’s low-income community with a unique purpose and story. From giving away food to providing clothes to those in need, The By Name Project has many fundraising and volunteer opportunities for others to help better the Sumter community. Donation Drop offs Vary*

(803) 938-4879

*Clothing donations can be dropped off at Gamecock Insurance at 640 Bultman Drive and Palmetto Family Dentistry at 2590 Tahoe Drive during business hours.

Be U Boutique

Sumter's plus-size options were minimal until Be U Boutique joined the community. Offering "feel good" styles, this personalized clothing store for plus-size women has fashion in business wear, casual wear, party wear, evening wear and accessories. Be U Boutique has everything a woman needs to look stylish and feel confident. 1121 Broad St., Suite 8

(803) 869-4285



SCENT, Allergy and Sleep Medicine

South Carolina Ear Nose & Throat (SCENT) is a full ENT and allergy service and walk-in clinic. SCENT is the premier and largest ear, nose and throat practice in the Midlands. As an independently owned practice, SCENT does not have high expenses like other medical facilities. Sumter is one of eight locations trained in pediatric ENT, sleep medicine, allergy, otology, facial trauma and head and neck surgery. 410 W. Wesmark Blvd.

(803) 736-3277

Le Bon Temps Boutique

Le Bon Temps Boutique is a multicultural-styled salon that makes you feel gorgeous in your own way. Catering to multiple hair types and diverse clients, the stylists promise a fun environment with positive results for all. 1148 Broad St.

(803) 869-4691

Immunotek Bio Center

Being an emerging bio-tech company committed to the safe collection and acquisition of human blood plasma, Immunotek Bio Center provides a reliable supply of quality biological products that meet and exceed all government, customer and industry standards. 236 S. Pike West

(803) 305-4162

Ricochet Range

Sumter’s indoor shooting range provides members of the public with fun activities and training opportunities right in their hometown. The indoor, 10-lane training bay range features an automated state-of-the-art target retrieval system that stretches as far as 25 yards. Membership rates for the private range include a $20 single-day Brass membership and three annual memberships: Lead, Copper and the premier Steel. 1410 U.S. 15 South

(803) 938-5713

ADDITIONAL NEW BUSINESSES TO VISIT Daniel Wealth Management Prisma Health Tuomey Wound Healing Center Your CBD Store Salon La Vie The Firefly Cinema Silver Spoon Event Center

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3 N. Main St. 100 N. Sumter St., Suite 300

(803) 774-3121 (803) 774-8715

661 Bultman Dr. 1116 Alice Dr., Suite B 1029 Broad St. 670 W. Liberty St.

(803) 774-5614 (803) 469-5433 (803) 774-4660 (803) 757-9208

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Business Person of the Year Cary Coker BY KAYLA GREEN


s they were describing the man who was about to be named Business Person of the Year, he thought it sounded familiar but never expected to win. Then his four daughters walked in. Cary Coker, president and CEO of Nu-Idea School Supply, was presented with the 2019 Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce's Phillip L. Edwards Business Person of the Year award, the organization's highest honor they bestow on a member. "Things like this are things that you see all these other people that are more deserving," Coker said. "At least me, I never thought of myself as fortunate enough to be standing in those shoes to be honored among these privileged people." The honor was the culmination of a set of awards given out at the Chamber's annual gala, a time to celebrate their members with a goal to create a positive mindset in Sumter. Coker, a Sumter native, said he loves his job at the school and office furniture and equipment supply store, but he talked more about the support of his family, including his father-in-law, and the community support through tough times. He joined the Nu-Idea family in 2005 as a stakeholder and VP of sales, beginning his management training. In 2012, he began to work with his investment partner to put together an aggressive offer and buy-out package that would ensure sustainable local family ownership that made his company the success story it is today. Just a few months into the five-year buy-out plan, the former owner of Nu-Idea, Coker's mentor and friend, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. That five-year plan became a now-plan. Coker and his family decided he was ready to take over as the company's new president and CEO. The rest isn't quite history. He has worked hard for the

I never thought of myself as fortunate enough to be standing in those shoes to be honored among these privileged people.

successes the company has today. Nu-Idea has grown to 25 full-time employees and sometimes an additional 50 part-time positions during heavy months. They have relocated to a modern 30,000-square-foot office and distribution center in Sumter while adding a showroom and an additional 10,000 square feet of warehouse space. They have expanded their sales into Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina, while also recently adding Tennessee and Kentucky to their territory. Who knows what the next five-year plan may bring?




Healing at


A Century in the making

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At Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital,

the fundamental tenets of health care will never change: Care and compassion come first. Treat every patient as you would treat your own family. Consider their emotional health as well as their physical health. Acknowledge the needs of their families and caregivers. However, technology is changing the way that care is delivered — and Tuomey Hospital is committed to staying at the front of that technological tide. Today, innovative robotic-assisted surgery can reduce patients’ pain and hospital time. The growth of telemedicine brings high-quality care to schools and impoverished areas, allows quicker treatment for stroke and mental health issues, broadens the care in the intensive care unit. Infusion pumps deliver medicine and nutrients with precision. Implanted defibrillators use digital networks to give cardiologists up-to-theminute data on their patients. Linear accelerators target cancer cells precisely and with minimal impact on other tissues. As we look to the future, the goal continues to be to provide the highest-quality, safe care; find new and innovative ways to help our community stay healthy; widen access for consumers; and, when possible, allow more people to heal at home.

Medical Group physician practices in Sumter:

Giving You The Best Care Possible

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Palmetto Health-USC Pulmonology-Sumter Carolina Family Medicine Palmetto Heart-Sumter Sumter OB-GYN + Manning satellite office Sumter Surgical + Manning satellite office Pain and Spine of Sumter Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center of Sumter Palmetto Family Practice Palmetto Health-USC Family Medicine-Bishopville Palmetto Health-USC Family Medicine-Sumter Palmetto Health-USC Family Medicine-Turbeville Palmetto Health-USC Infectious Disease-Sumter Palmetto Health-USC Plastic Surgery-Sumter Palmetto Heart-Manning Palmetto Health-USC Specialty Pediatrics-Sumter Hospitalists Professional Medical Services Hospitalists-Sumter

*As of January 2020 T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital facilities THE WOUND HEALING CENTER

Chronic wound care impacts 6.5 million people a year nationwide, costing $20 billion. Tuomey Hospital’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.


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, the center 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.



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 Prisma Health to bring nurses into their facilities, to provide on-site first aid, check blood pressures, work on health and safety initiatives and evaluate jobs for ergonomic issues.


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

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The 18,000-square-foot Women and Children’s Pavilion is a dedicated unit designed to meet the unique needs of our pediatric, 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. Pediatric hospitalists are specifically trained to provide inpatient care to children and are often able to keep smaller infants and those needing special care close to home and their families by treating them in the local hospital. 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.


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.


Telemedicine eliminates distance barriers and offers patients access to great care and quick intervention. Tuomey Hospital 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; through a partnership with neurologists from the Medical University of South Carolina, the hospital can guide intervention and save lives. We use credentialed psychiatrists and intensivists as well to improve medical access to services not consistently available.

Prisma Health Tuomey



risma Health Tuomey Hospital is a part of the largest nonprofit health care company in South Carolina. The Prisma Health organization has given the hospital new opportunities to continue its commitment to clinical quality, increase access to care and focus on the patient experience. The campus, located in downtown Sumter, includes more than 1,700 team members and 200-plus practicing physicians representing 37 medical specialties. Facilities include a Level II nursery; an intensive care unit; 10 operating suites; centers for outpatient surgery, imaging and cancer treatment; an infusion center; an award-winning Wound Healing Center; as well as cardiac, speech, physical and occupational rehabilitative services. Our diagnostic capabilities feature comprehensive pathology services, interventional radiology and cardiac catheterization. Transitional care is provided through our Home Health Services program, as well as hospice and palliative care.

Here are just a few ways it serves the community:

The hospital became a satellite for Prisma Health—Midlands Children’s Hospital, providing pediatric care that includes support from a pediatric pharmacy, nutrition therapy, and the ability to keep smaller infants and those needing special care close to home and their families. With a generous grant from The Tuomey Foundation, the hospital purchased a $2 million “game-changing” daVinci Xi surgical robot. This technology provides Sumter surgeons an impactful new tool to make certain surgeries less invasive, which means less pain and a shorter recovery time for patients. The hospital achieved the prestigious Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Tuomey Hospital is now recognized for encouraging nurses to be their best, to seek continuous learning and higher certification, to provide strong leadership and help that engagement flow into other departments. It demonstrates that we are committed to making sure nurses know they are valued by building an environment that empowers and engages them and all team members. Prisma Health strengthened its SmartExam virtual visit software, helping consumers feel better faster without having to visit a physician in person. The hospital purchased a new linear accelerator for the Cancer Treatment Center, expanding our already comprehensive radiation-oncology treatment capabilities. An Intensivist Care program is dramatically changing the way care is provided in the Intensive Care Unit, with measurable increases in patient quality of life and significant drops in patient mortality among our most critically ill population. Through the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, the hospital was able to add new medical specialists, including a pulmonologist, an infectious disease specialist and several primary care providers. We opened a satellite office in Manning, providing surgical and obstetrics care and making access easier for patients across the tri-county area. Tuomey Hospital became home to its first Prisma Health Residency Program: Four family medicine physicians will complete their residencies at Tuomey, in collaboration with Tandem Health, in an effort to bring greater access to primary care to residents of Sumter. In February 2020, the Heart Failure Clinic will be available at Palmetto Heart-Sumter, with three cardiologists rotating to work there each week.



A healthy partnership healthy weight

s school A started in the fall of 2019

and parents got back into the practice of asking their kids what BY KAYLA GREEN they learned today, a group of parent-child duos set out to learn how to live healthier together. Instructors at the Sumter Family YMCA welcomed 14 pairs of parents and their children in middle school to their new community health room as they begin the organization's second 15week round of its new Healthy Weight and Your Child Program. The class targets children ages 7-13 with a body mass index in the 95th percentile or higher, according to Patti Trzcinski, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Tandem Health. Physicians must refer children and their parents to the program, but prospective

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participants can ask to be referred if they are interested in learning how to tackle childhood obesity and get actionable ideas on how to eat, exercise and live healthier. According to the YMCA and Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital, a support partner for the program, 33% of Sumter's youth is overweight or obese. By the time they become adults, that percentage increases to 35%. "I've been at Tandem Health for 23 years, and it's just always been something that I've been passionate about and felt strongly about. It's heartbreaking when little kids come in, and they're 2 years old, and they weigh 40 pounds," Trzcinski said. All three health-focused groups - the YMCA, Tandem Health and Tuomey - want to get ahead of childhood obesity and keep Sumterites healthy rather than treat them once they get sick. The Healthy Weight and Your

Child Program and the new community health room where this second round is being held are working toward realizing that vision. "We try to focus not so much on the weight and the scale," Trzcinski said, "but more about encouraging healthy eating and the lifestyle and to increase physical activity."

'Empowering families to make better choices' The class is a commitment - participants must attend half of the 25 sessions to graduate - but the curriculum and vision are evidence-based, she said. The first group served as a pilot study to build future programs at Tandem Health based on the evidence proven in the pilot that success is more rampant when the whole family is involved and committed. Sessions - 10 of the 13 families graduated from the pilot program that finished this summer - included learning about the benefits of drinking more water and where to find certain fresh ingredients in a grocery store. They learned how to read labels and about portion sizes. "We played a game where we had a big dice, and we wrote exercises on a piece of paper, and whatever number it landed on, we had to do that exercise," said Cheyenne Burrell, a 13-year-old who completed the pilot program with her mother, Jahydia Peeples, and brother, Joshua Peeples. Burrell said she reads labels at the store with her mom now and that they learned to drink half a bottle of water before and after eating to help control portions. More water, less soda. "And I walk home from school now," she said. Peeples said and wrote in her evaluation form for the program that she saw her children's self-esteem grow and that they make better eating choices now. "Once you get used to it, it really does make a difference in our energy levels," she wrote. "Portion sizes help make a difference. Staying busy or active is always good. Keeping a healthy spirit, mind and body is what is our biggest takeaway from this class."

John Hoffman, CEO of Sumter's YMCA, said the program matches the overall goal of the gym. "It's empowering families to make better choices," he said. "We don't want to tell them what they can't do. We're giving them a healthy alternative."

Staying ahead of the curve on community health Childhood obesity can affect more than physical health and energy levels, and being able to tackle bullying and self-esteem was another reason to start the program from the YMCA's point of view. "It also deals with stress, bullying and cooking and the human body and how it works," said Missy Corrigan, executive for community health at the YMCA and a weekly health columnist for The Sumter Item. The program Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital officials had been wanting to do mirrored the idea of Healthy Weight and Your Child, so they partnered with the YMCA on it. The Tuomey Foundation supported the renovation of the gym's front reception area, turning it into an enclosed room with tables and chairs, flat-screen TVs and space to hold the classes. With the new space, the YMCA and local physicians have a way to bring the health-inspired community together. "This just makes sense," said Michelle Logan-Owens, chief operating officer at Tuomey. "It allows us to be proactive instead of reactive. We're meeting people where they are. We're advancing their care in their community." Tuomey partners with the YMCA to offer this and all of the gym's other community health programs at little or no cost to those who meet the criteria for the respective program and are referred by their physician. If these three groups and this program continue getting teenagers like Cheyenne Burrell excited about reading food labels and drinking water, who knows where the possibilities might reach. Kids might even eat their broccoli without being threatened by a forever seat at the kitchen table. T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


Caring for our neighbors Through history and growth, Tandem Health strives to provide affordable and accessible care to all.


andem Health, formerly Sumter Family Health Center, has been providing comprehensive medical care and health services to thousands of patients within the Sumter and surrounding communities since 2003. With a mission focusing on the delivery of quality health care that is both affordable and accessible to all, Tandem Health works tirelessly to enhance the health and well-being of our community by engaging with our patients in meaningful ways that truly make a difference. We do not simply treat patients, but rather we serve the health needs of our neighbors and their families. This makes all the difference. From inception through present day, Tandem Health’s history details a story of continuous growth that has been in direct proportion to the health needs identified in the Sumter community. From its origin as a safety net provider operating out of a single site on West Liberty Street to its current operation of a multisite primary care and multi-specialty practice with 220-plus employees serving well more than 17,000 patients annually, Tandem Health has continued to grow in response to the needs of our patients and their families. While we have enjoyed witnessing the extraordinary growth over the last 16-plus years, we are also cautious to avoid the “growing simply to grow” phenomenon. Strategically, our intent is to respond to what our community is telling us it needs versus developing services that are either effectively being administered elsewhere or are not meaningful to our local residents. Presently, we offer patients a wide array of medical services including primary care, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral medicine, dentistry, immunology and two full-service onsite outpatient pharmacies, which also offer an optional mail-order prescription delivery service for patients. Embedded within these specialties is the availability of counseling focused on diabetes, nutrition, sub-

BY HOLLY CHASE stance use disorder and medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Additionally, Tandem Health 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 health care. 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. As we look to the future here at Tandem Health, we are excited by the numerous ways we can further enhance the delivery of high-quality health services to our patients both within and outside of the walls of our various locations. It is becoming more and more important to explore new avenues that allow us the ability to enhance accessibility to care, all the while maintaining the element of affordability. From the examination of telehealth technology that enables our patients to receive care without having to physically visit us to the mobilization of services through our Health Reach program, we must continually move forward in response to what we believe is important to the overall health and well-being of our community. Utilizing feedback from patients, community partners, the local business sector and various other mechanisms, we will work to enhance the patient experience, improve health outcomes, and strengthen relationships both with those we treat as well as the community at large. If you are looking for a new medical home, we welcome the opportunity to become your partner in health. Contact us at (803) 774-4500 or visit us at

Tandem Health Main – 1278 N. Lafayette Dr., Sumter, SC 29150 • Adult Medicine, Behavioral Health & Counseling, Infectious Disease and Pharmacy • (803) 774-4500 Tandem Health Acute Care – 319 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 • (803) 774-4500 Tandem Health Family Medicine – 25 E. Clark St., Pinewood, SC 29125 • (803) 774-4501 Tandem Health Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics – 370 S. Pike West, Sumter, SC 29150 • Obstetrics & Gynecology • (803) 774-6448 • Pediatrics (803) 774-7337 Tandem Health Dental – 1105 N. Lafayette Dr., Suite C, Sumter, SC 29150 • (803) 774-3600

For more information on Tandem Health, its locations and the services provided locally, please call (803) 774-4500 or visit 40 |

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Coming in 2020


We proudly support all branches of our military, past and present.

BarrySignaturepg2.qxp_Layout 1 5/21/18 1:43 PM Page 1

Why Should Local Banking Matter To You? It’s a world of difference when you bank with someone who lives and works in your community. Shops at the same stores. Sends his children to the same schools. Supports the causes that matter to you and your neighbors. You see, our bankers have roots right here.We develop products and services that meet your specific needs. And we make decisions locally, not in a board room hundreds of miles away.Whether you need a car loan, checking account, credit card, or home mortgage, we speak your language. Other banks can try. But if they are not truly local, they just can’t measure up. At Bank of Clarendon, we’re all the bank you’ll ever need. As the bank’s president, I make sure of that every day.

Bank of Clarendon

Barry Ham

Backing our communities... Sumter & Clarendon. MANNING • SANTEE • SUMMERTON • SUMTER • WYBOO

803 469-0156



McLeod Health

Serving patients from the Midlands to the coast

McLeod Health Clarendon continues to expand its coverage footprint into Sumter, adding vital specialty care services to improve quality of life. BY CARRIE ANNA STRANGE


larendon Health System joined McLeod Health on July 12, 2016, and began a season of transformation that continues even today. In a constantly changing health care industry with increasing operating costs and lower reimbursement, McLeod Health Clarendon leads the way in providing the highest quality of medical care one would expect from McLeod Health. “Community hospitals play a vital role in the economic growth and development of that community,” McLeod Health Clarendon Administrator Rachel Gainey said. “At McLeod Health Clarendon, we strive to create meaningful, positive patient experiences with those who entrust us with their care. Although improvement efforts are continually in motion, the hospital has made significant progress in increasing access to specialty care through the McLeod Health network and making sure every patient gets the quality care they deserve faster.” Dedicated to serving the needs of patients from the Midlands to the coast, McLeod Health was able to expand its footprint into the Sumter community. Shortly after the acquisition of 42 |

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McLeod Health Clarendon, Palmetto Adult Medicine, located at 1295 Wilson Hall Road in Sumter, joined McLeod Physician Associates network in 2017. The providers of Palmetto Adult Medicine include Dr. Ansel McFaddin, Dr. Harry Jordan, Dr. Andrew Reynolds, Dr. Hugh Stoddard, Physician Assistants Katherine Coffey, Abbie Kirby and Emily Miller and Family Nurse Practitioner James McMahon, who bring years of experience providing quality, compassionate care to the residents of Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Williamsburg counties. Established in 2017, McLeod Medical Park Sumter, located at 540 Physicians Lane, provides services including McLeod Orthopedics, McLeod Cardiology Associates, McLeod Vascular Associates, McLeod Occupational Health and McLeod Urology Associates. The physicians of McLeod Orthopaedics Sumter include Dr. Rodney Alan and Dr. David Woodbury. “McLeod Orthopedics Sumter consists of a comprehensive team of orthopedic surgeons and nurses,” Gainey said. “Part

of our commitment to the community includes the continuous improvement of care, service and access to advanced subspecialty trained orthopedic surgeons and services.” The physicians of McLeod Cardiology Associates include Cardiologist Dr. Ryan Garbalosa, Dr. Dennis Lang and Electrophysiologist Dr. Prabal Guha. Dr. Gabor Winkler, a vascular surgeon, serves patients at McLeod Vascular Associates. “It has been a goal of the McLeod Heart and Vascular Institute to build the strongest cardiac and vascular program possible to significantly reduce the lifestyle disease that places patients at risk for the No. 1 killer in the United States,” Dr. Gabor Winkler said. “We are pleased to bring the best in heart and vascular care to Sumter residents.” McLeod Health expanded occupational health services by opening an on-site health clinic in 2018. The clinic provides companies in the community with the following occupational health services: work-related injury/illness treatment; on-site X-ray and EKG services; DOT-certified exams and physicals; comprehensive drug and alcohol testing programs; spirometry testing; firefighter physicals; flu shots; wellness programs including screening and disease care management; flu shots; immunizations and vaccinations; and pre-employment physicals. McLeod Health opened McLeod Urology Associates Sumter late 2019 to provide treatment and surgical options for patients with urological conditions. Dr. Kelly Maloney, a Board-certified urologist, brings more than 30 years of experience to the community. “The continued expansion of McLeod Health in the Sumter area will have a great impact on the health of our region. The increased access to specialty services will bring experienced physicians to those in our region, making it much easier to receive care. As a testament of our commitment, we are continually developing plans to meet the spectrum of needs in the communities we serve,” Gainey said. “Every day, residents from the Sumter area choose McLeod Health for their care, and it is our privilege to locate the specialty care services in this community,” said Rob Colones, president and CEO of McLeod Health. On the horizon for McLeod Health is a new medical office building that will offer patients greater access to primary care and specialty physician practices in the Clarendon market. In Sumter, there will be continued expansion and recruitment of speciality services as well as advancements in clinical and quality care and upgrades in technology. “We trust,” Gainey said, “that patients will continue to look to McLeod Health as the choice for medical excellence.”

What’s Your Path?

Find Out More at





Sumter Original Brewery Downtown Sumter is expanding its community reach by joining the craft beer revolution with the county’s first brewery. On tap in 2020. BY KAYLA GREEN

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"What I adore about beer or food is you find out right away; It’s either good or bad. And people are pretty honest about that.”

-Troy Bervig


hey had already created the logo for what would be Sumter’s first brewery. A man’s face, circular and bald, accented by a long beard made of bushy hops. Troy Bervig arrived at his interview for head brewer hours late because of weather and flight delays. Sitting at Sidebar, a restaurant downtown in his arsenal of industry experience, Gray Shuler looked up. In had walked his logo. When Sumter Original Brewery opens, it will be because of a community that supported growth via change led by a group of people who want to get it right for generations to come. The first time you do anything, it requires extra work and fine tuning. To pave the way for the first brewery to open in Sumter County, there had to be rezonings, ordinance changes and businesses to support the foot traffic. Just like a brewer’s recipe, everything had to be right. Some could say it’s a science. Bervig’s knowledge of the scientific brewing process will go over your head within the first few phrases, but he prides himself on creating goodness, tastiness. The guacamole he made for our interview for this story was more than homemade, more than chopping and combining ingredients. He squeezes the water out of fresh grape tomatoes, adds sharp onions and loads of garlic. What’s the point in cutting corners? His path to finding himself as the first head brewer at Sumter’s first brewery, responsible for the enjoyment of patrons at the already iconic three-story downtown building, involved a lot of moving, a lot of brewing and often minimal pay. After years of working in the medical field, he quit his job at Abbott Laboratories, got his degree in fermentation and got brewing. Eight breweries in 10 years took him to Moonshine Brewery in Chicago, Duck-Rabbit then Mother Earth in North Carolina, Iowa Brewing, Enchanted Circle in New Mexico, Galena Brewing back outside Chicago and Aero Plains in Wichita, Kansas. He’s happy now. His medical job was a “good job,” but he spent his days looking forward to his next vacation. “In the pharmaceutical world, you can be working on a drug for six years. What I adore about beer or food is you find out right away,” Bervig said. “It’s either good or bad. And people are pretty honest about that.”

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A dream 12 years in the making People often go through multiple careers and build a varied resume before landing at their dream job. Both Bervig and Gray Shuler are no different. Take a political science major and history minor, a dabble of legal work, a pinch of mortgage work, a solid foundation in alcohol distribution and a successful climb up the restaurant industry ladder, and Shuler, owner and operator of the brewery, is ready now to open the doors to what is already a 12-year-old dream. His Air Force-brat upbringing sounds like one. Starting in Louisiana, Shuler moved all over the world in his first 20 years, never anywhere longer than two years and 10 months. His family’s first move after he was born was to Rhode Island before heading to Germany. Then came Washington, D.C., and Wyoming, Nebraska and Maine, Georgia, Guam, back to Louisiana and back to Nebraska. He didn’t know any different, and he wouldn’t change the opportunities it gave him to learn new things and meet new people. Who wouldn’t want to go scuba diving for Christmas on Guam? After graduating from Louisiana Tech University, he moved to Sumter, where his brother, Frank Shuler, had found home. After a few months there, five years of selling school furniture at Sumter’s Nu Idea and a year in the mortgage business, he took his first fork in the road that started to head toward the brewery: working in the beer business but in distribution. Opening a brewery has been Shuler’s goal since getting into the industry. Moving to the food side at J. O’Grady’s before transitioning to Danielle Thompson’s Quixote Hospitality, he moved around even in there. He’s taken a natural progression toward ownership. Waiting at Hamptons, then bartending. Then managing Sidebar, then Hamptons. Through getting to know the Thompsons and sharing his dream, the conversation to partner on it came up when Sidebar opened five years ago. But the time wasn’t right. “What’s time when you’ve already waited 12 years?” He’s patient but ready. Shuler’s phone rings during our interview. Sitting in Rafters, the bar above Hamptons, he may have let anyone else go to voicemail. He’s talking about the brewery, after all, and he’s

giddy thinking about it finally opening. Caller ID tells him it’s Greg Thompson calling, so he answers. “It went great,” he replies to the other end. “It was the easiest brew that we’ve done so far. And meaning easiest by everything ran smoothly. We didn’t have any issues with stuck mash or anything like that. When I left about 2, we were in the boil. We had done the first hop addition, and I hadn’t heard anything from Troy, so I’m assuming it made it to the fermenter OK. So, we’re on track with that one.” He continues his debrief, going over the pH tests, checking alcohol levels. Conversation finished, he hangs up. “Did you record that? That’s pretty much it. Anyway, where were we?”

The right ingredients The Thompsons wants to do it right, even if it takes more time. That’s why Bervig’s unwillingness to cut corners in the brewing process and Shuler’s willingness to wait to get Sidebar and a new Hamptons location with Rafters upstairs off the ground pair well with them. They want it to last so the next generation invests their time and money in Sumter. Their daughter, Lauren Daylami, Shuler’s other half of the brewery who runs marketing and events, moved home last year. This time, the timing was 15-barrel right. brewing system She moved home to help run Quixote Club, which used to be Sunset Country Club and is undergoing renovations. She said she was surprised once she learned the ropes in how full-service Quixote is. You rent La Piazza for an event, and you have one point of contact for everything from the venue, the food and the alcohol down to the linens and the servers. The brewery will be the same way. Come watch the game or play a game. Bring the dog to the rooftop. Bring a large party and order ahead to get Sidebar or Hamptons catered and delivered. All the pieces have to work together. The timing can’t be rushed. Bervig opens his brewer’s log to test the pH of what will soon be a red ale. He checks the pressure and checks that the yeast is doing what it’s supposed to. It is. Both the science and the dream have to be just right. No shortcuts. In the end, the equation should produce a community growing each time the elevator takes someone to the third floor overlooking downtown Sumter. By the 12 first-ever Sumter-based taps and the merchandise featuring that logo. Mr. Hops, a really good beer in hand.

3 stories

30,000 sq. ft. FACILITY



Sumter is served

Sumter Governs

Locally owned dining options dominated the restaurant headlines in 2019, bringing more unique options to Sumter BY SHELBIE GOULDING n Sumter, you can get a taste of different cuisines from the comfort of your hometown thanks to 2019’s brand new restaurants. From classic Southern fried chicken to the Bayou’s Cajun cooking and endless seafood platters, you can enjoy food from the entire Southeast region without heading to Columbia, the coast, out of state or even out of the country. A simple drive around town will offer open signs for places to eat, but if you’re finding yourself paralyzed by the choices or want to try a new eatery, here’s your guide to what started serving in Sumter in 2019.

US Wings & Deli

Susie’s Chicken & Fries

Sumter now has an authentic Jamaican restaurant in the city that offers a cultural blast for your taste buds. From curried shrimp and jerk chicken to brown stew fish and oxtail and goat, people can enjoy the food while having a healthy mindset. Owners Antwun and Sonia Wilson pride themselves on their fresh, real ingredients and heaping portions.


Bringing some joy and good eating to South Sumter, a mother, son and nephew collaborated to create a food truck and restaurant right in their neighborhood, providing real Southern soul food to a community that is lacking in fresh-cooked dining options. The food truck can be seen rolling all around Sumter. Follow their Facebook page to stay up to date on where they are daily. What: Fried chicken and other Southern fixings Where: Mobile with a home base at 303 Manning Ave. Fan favorite: Turkey wings with Susie’s Sauce Price: $

New Orleans Seafood Style Buffet Serving signature items like Cajun frog legs, shrimp, fried okra and gator bites, people can get a taste of the Bayou right here in Sumter. What: Cajun-styled seafood and buffet Where: 1029 Broad St. Fan favorite: Two crab cluster, shrimp and sausage steamed choice combo, served with corn, egg and potato Price: $$ 48 |

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The seventh location of US Wings & Deli brought more chicken wings with various flavors on tap in town. This food hub has sports fans’ favorite American foods. What: American wings and more Where: 1105 Broad St. Fan favorite: Wings or the Philly cheese steak sandwich Price: $$

Good Vibes Jamaican Restaurant

What: Jamaican cuisine Where: 667 W. Liberty St. Fan favorite: Curry shrimp and jerk chicken Price: $$

J. O’Grady’s After Hours Sing your heart out at downtown Sumter’s first-of-its-kind late night karaoke bar, where music lovers get their chance to shine in the spotlight. You can even see the town’s unofficial "Sumter Music Hall of Fame," as pictures of local singers and musicians cover the walls of the bar. What: Karaoke bar open late night Where: 7 S. Main St. Fan favorite: Kim’s Korean Punch shot (rum, grenadine, orange juice and pineapple juice) Price: $$

Restaurants coming in


Carolina Crab House on Wesmark Boulevard


such as fried items and fish baskets.

oon replacing the already-closed Fallas, a discount retail store, Carolina Crab House will offer seafood boil dishes, saving Sumter residents a trip to the east for a coastline classic. Carolina Crab House will become the eatery’s second location, the first being in North Charleston. This location is owner Louis Lui’s second restaurant in Sumter. He already operates Ginza Grill on North Guignard, a newer Japanese restaurant that serves sushi and hibachi stir fry. This Louisiana Cajun-style boiling seafood menu is presented so that customers pick their sauce to boil seafood in, which includes either garlic butter, lemon pepper, Cajun sauce or a Carolina hot sauce. The seafood choices include shrimp, clams, oysters, snow crab, king crab, blue crab, lobster, crawfish and mussels. Customers buy their meal by weight, similar to a seafood market. Not a fan of boiled seafood bags? No problem. There are other options on the menu,

Carolina Grove on Alice Drive


umter will be getting a contemporary taste of Southern fixings at Carolina Grove, a family friendly restaurant that was hiring and finishing up construction at the beginning of the year in front of the Sumter Batting

Cages. Featuring local Southern cuisines, the menu has something for everyone, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items. The staple items of the menu will include pimento cheese deviled eggs and boiled peanuts as appetizers; a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and shrimp and grits as entrees; and Coca-Cola chocolate cake for dessert. Being a casual-styled restaurant, the food and the atmosphere is planned to make every customer feel right at home in the South.

* Keep a look out for The Sumter Item and Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce to announce further openings.



Our STRENGTH is in our CITIZENS Last year, the City of Sumter was named a finalist for a prestigious civil engagement award. The application allowed leaders to put Sumter’s best aspects on display. BY KAYLA GREEN


t is described as the Nobel Prize, the Superbowl, the Oscars for civic engagement awards bestowed upon communities, and Sumter was one of 20 finalists for it. The National Civic League has been recognizing cities since 1949 with the All-America City Award, last year focusing on projects that demonstrated inclusive decision-making processes to "create healthier communities for all, particularly populations experiencing poorer health outcomes." Mayor Joe McElveen said at a Sumter City Council meeting where city officials surprised him and council members with the finalist standing that the city has tried 50 |

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Civic League is honored to recognize these communities and views their efforts as critical in addressing the challenge to communities issued by the 1968 Kerner Commission 'to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens - urban and rural, white, black, Spanish surname, American Indians, and every minority group,'" NCL President Doug Linkhart says on the organization's website. The NCL, originally the National Municipal League, was founded after a gathering of about 100 civic leaders in 1894 that included Teddy Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis and Frederick Law Olmstead in an effort to address "incompetence, inefficiency, patronage and corruption in local governments." More than 500 communities have been honored with the award, which is modeled after the tradition of naming All-American football players. It is open to any American commufor it at least twice before and had not nity from major cities to BY KAYLAcounties GREENand regions to tribes, neighborbeen selected. "This is a win for our city and sends a hoods, towns and villages. A community can win more than once, with places like message that what we've been working Phoenix, Arizona; Tupelo, Mississippi; for years as a community, and not just as Cleveland, Ohio; Roanoke City, Virginia; a city but a whole community, has been and San Antonio having won more than paying off," he said. five times. City of Sumter Communications and South Carolina's past recipients include Tourism Director Shelley Kile said NCL ofAiken (1997), Anderson County (2000), ficials have said 2019 was an "extremely Charleston (1978), Florence (1965), competitive year." Finalists ranged from Georgetown County (2005), Hartsville San Antonio, Texas, the seventh-largest (1996, 2016), Kershaw County (2018), city in the nation, to Gothenburg, NeMount Pleasant (2010, 2018), Orangebraska, a city of only 3,500. burg County (2005), Richland County "These finalist communities are build(2006) and Rock Hill (1969), according to ing local capacity to solve problems and an interactive NCL database. improve their quality of life. The National

In applying, communities reflected on their strengths, weaknesses and challenges and the progress they have made. Sumter highlighted several projects in its application that mainly focused on increasing per-capita income throughout the community, including efforts to enhance the talent pipeline, add STEM programs and increase scholarship opportunities. Other projects included land protection efforts to help secure the future of the community's largest employer, Shaw Air Force Base. "Our strategy is unity: government at all levels, public, private, charitable and philanthropic groups, all working together to be the best that we can be," McElveen

said. "Just being a finalist is an accomplishment. Regardless of the final selections, we will continue to work together to become better and better." The 20 finalist communities competed in June 2019 in Denver, Colorado. A team of Sumter residents, leaders, business representatives, government officials and local youth made the trip. "Our ultimate strength is in our citizens," McElveen said. "Their character and willingness to confront problems and the future with confidence, compassion and hard work makes Sumter a great place to live, work, pray and play.�

2019 ALL-AMERICA CITY AWARD FINALISTS Battle Creek, Michigan Clinton, North Carolina Cornelius, Oregon Doral, Florida Dubuque, Iowa Edinburg, Texas El Paso, Texas Gothenburg, Nebraska Hallandale Beach, Florida Lancaster, Texas Livingston County, New York Mission, Texas Ontario, California Pasco, Washington Rancho Cordova, California Rock Hill, South Carolina San Antonio, Texas Sumter, South Carolina West Hollywood, California Wichita, Kansas

First Citizens

Account openings and credit are subject to Bank approval. Member FDIC.



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. SENATOR Lindsey Graham (R)

U.S. SENATOR Tim Scott (R)

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319 Cannon HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-5501 454 S. Anderson Road, Suite 302 B Rock Hill, SC 29730 (803) 327-1114 Cherokee Admin. Building 110 Railroad Ave. Gaffney, SC 29340 (not a mailing address) Thursdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 200 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 290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5972 508 Hampton St., Suite 202 Columbia, SC 29201 (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 104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-6121 or Toll-free: (855) 425-6324 1901 Main St., Suite 1425 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 771-6112 Upstate: (864) 233-5366 Lowcountry: (843) 727-4525

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STATE SENATORS To email a member of the state Senate: 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: 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

Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) District 67 Sumter 525 Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 734-3144 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

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

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

SUMTER COUNTY COUNCIL County Council meets each second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers which is temporarily on the third floor of the Sumter County Courthouse, Room 308, 141 N. Main St.

Gene Baten (D) District 7 P.O. Box 3193 Sumter, SC 29151 (803) 773-0815 Chris Sumpter (D) District 1 1200 Broad St. PMB 180 Sumter, SC 29154 (803) 305-9375

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. (803) 436-2578

Artie Baker (R) District 2 3680 Bakersfield Lane Dalzell, SC 29040 (803) 469-3638

Joseph McElveen Mayor (803) 436-2580

Jimmy Byrd Jr. (R) Vice Chairman District 3 P.O. Box 1913 Sumter, SC 29151 (803) 468-1719

Thomas Lowery Mayor Pro Tem Ward 1 (803) 773-9298

Charles Edens (R) District 4 3250 Home Place Road Sumter, SC 29150 Home: (80) 775-0044 Mobile: (803) 236-5759

Ione Dwyer Ward 2 (803) 481-4284



Elected Officials Calvin Hastie Sr. Ward 3 (803) 774-7776

Steve Corley Ward 4 (803) 305-1566 (803) 468-5875

Johnny Hilton Area 4 2691 Wedgefield Road Sumter, SC 29154 (803) 468-4054

Colin Davis Ward 5

Rev. Daryl McGhaney Clerk Area 5 9770 Lynches River Road Lynchburg, SC 29080 Home: (803) 437-2797 Cell: (803) 436-2343 or

David Merchant Ward 6

Rev. Ralph Canty Sr. Chairman Area 6 312 S. Main St. Sumter, SC 29150 Home: (803) 775-2263 Office: (803) 773-3323

SUMTER SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES The Board of Trustees, a non-partisan 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. Brian Alston Area 1 3385 N. Kings Hwy 261 Rembert, SC 29128 Cell: (803) 572-1938 or Sherril P. Ray Area 2 528 Mimosa Sumter, SC 29150 Cell: (803) 491-7628

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Matthew ‘Mac’ McLeod Area 3 2985 Bruce Circle Sumter, SC 29154 Cell: (803) 938-2701

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Barbara R. Jackson Area 7 1510 Reedroman Road Sumter, SC 29153 (803) 316-5879

Frank Baker Vice chairman Member At-Large Seat 8 8670 Black River Road Rembert, SC 29128 Cell: (803) 968-5901 or Shawn T. Ragin Member At-Large Seat 9 3835 Quiet Court Sumter, SC 29150 Cell: (803) 464-6859



Tanya Peckham said being a teacher is being a part of something that is powerful. The profession has made a deep impact on her life, and the 2019-2020 Sumter School District Teacher of the Year is making an impact on the profession. The first-grade teacher at Wilder Elementary School has worked in education for 19 years, and for 17 of those years, she's been a classroom teacher. A military spouse, she has taught at five schools in her career, and at four of them, Peckham has been named teacher of the year. This year’s honor, however, is the first time she's been named a district teacher of the year. Peckham said her favorite part of teaching is seeing students' growth - in all aspects of their lives. "I love seeing who they are when they begin the school year and the myriad of changes they go through and how much they grow,� she said. “It's not just how much they grow academically, but also socially and emotionally and how they have changed through the year. It's such a process, and to be a part of that is pretty powerful." This school year is her fifth at Wilder and in the district. "I hope to shine a little spotlight on Wilder Elementary," Peckham said. "We're doing some amazing things there, and I am so proud to work there and with my fellow teachers every day."



= $29,302 | = $38,603 NEW MANUFACTURERS

8 Companies = $638 M in Investment INDUSTRY EXPANSIONS

21 Expansions = $312 M in Investment TOTAL JOBS CREATED

More than 4,200 New Jobs WORKFORCE INITIATIVES

5 Programs = Over 13,000 Participants UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

= 12.2% | = 2.5%

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT New Speculative Building | 4 Certified Industrial Sites I-95 Megasite | 4 Pad Ready Sites

10 E. Liberty St. Sumter, SC 29150 | 803.418.0700 |



Administration building and Sumter County Courthouse Status: Underway

GOVERNS A community effort

The Sumter County Administration Building is receiving a complete makeover that includes an expansion. The exterior of the courthouse is completed with newly installed windows along with painting and waterproofing. The front granite steps were replaced, and the small courtroom has been renovated. A new elevator and new bathrooms were put in, which are both ADA-compliant. The architect is currently working on plans to renovate the main courtroom.

Cost: Sumter County Administration Building - $2.8 million | Sumter County Courthouse - $3 million



ince 2008, Sumter voters have committed to help improve Sumter one penny at a time. From new complexes to building renovations and parks to intersections, Sumter County’s Penny for Progress initiative is underway with many projects completed and to get started in 2020. The Penny for Progress initiative is a referendum that Sumter voters approved first in 2008 and again in 2014 to fund capital projects throughout the county by raising the sales tax in the county by 1 cent and funneling those pennies to the initiative. According to Sumter County government data, the first referendum funded 16 projects and ushered in a $75 million boost to the regional economy. The 2014 referendum, which is what is now ongoing, has a total of 28 associated projects and costs $75.6 million. Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said 2019 was a busy and successful year for several Penny for Progress projects, and he looks forward to continuing that trend in 2020. “These projects will have positive impacts for years to come and will greatly benefit our residents in many ways. We’re upgrading our infrastructure, investing in recreation and parks, and it’s all done to improve the quality of life for everyone who lives here,” Mixon said. 56 |

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Downtown intersections and infrastructure Status: Planning With intersection improvements, Sumter County is currently waiting on comments from SCDOT as it is making revisions. Sumter County is hoping to start this in spring 2020. This project is looking to improve pedestrian crosswalks, utilities, streets and sidewalks, lighting and landscaping in the historical central business district.

Cost: $3 million

Community sidewalks Status: Underway This project will provide safe walking connections in the community. West Bay Road and Highland Avenue are completed. North Columbia Drive in Pinewood is ongoing. West Oakland, Lynam Road and Crestwood Drive are next and should have a six-month construction time frame. In the design phase now are North Lafayette Drive, North Guignard Drive and Lewis Road.

Cost: $2.3 million

Downtown building renovations Status: Underway The Liberty Center Office's preliminary plans are complete as renovations continue. Renovations include, at a minimum, repairs or replacements of roofs, front facade, location signage, interior public bathrooms and interior floor and walls.

Cost: $1.5 million

Shot Pouch Greenway Status: Permitting Environmental permits were conditionally approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and final actions should be completed in a few months. The encroachment permit application for major road crossings was submitted to state Department of Transportation at the end of November 2019. Right-of-way acquisition is ongoing, and this project should go out for bid in early 2020 with a 12- to 18-month construction phase. This project will provide a pedestrian greenway connecting the city and county from Dillon Park to Swan Lake, crossing over several major corridors.

Cost: $4 million

Animal Control Building Status: Underway Saving Sumter Strays, a nonprofit, has been raising money to help with the new facility. Thanks to the donations, which were just shy of $1 million, the sitework will kickstart and see major construction early spring. Completed updates to the current facility include new exterior siding and new flooring and paint in the office space.

Cost: $300,000 For more information on the projects, visit www.

R E C E N T LY C O M P L E T E D P R O J E C T S • Dillon Park and recreation department • Public Safety Complex • Central Carolina Technical College's 400 Building

• Mill Creek renovations • Palmetto Park renovations



A plan forward


The city hired consultants to help develop a first-ever Downtown Sumter Master Plan, and after public and governmental input, the blueprint includes everything from green space to remodeled streets and casual dining. And a lot of new residential options.


umterites got the chance to see what their city may look like downtown in 20 years, and they seem ready for the change. Atlanta-based consulting firm TSW recently presented its Downtown Sumter Master Plan before a crowd of about 50 last year who came to an open house at City Centre to either see how their ideas were incorporated into the concept plan or to learn about it for the first time. "Every town is unique because if you're in Greenville, you're looking at it differently like you're in Greenville. What makes each place successful? (Sumter) has already got this incredibly great downtown, and you do have young people moving back. So, capitalize on that," said Thomas Walsh, a consultant with TSW, which specializes in revitalizing and bringing energy and economic growth and people to small city centers. The master plan is a first of its kind for the downtown Sumter area - within Washington Street, Calhoun Street, North Magnolia Street, South Harvin Street and West Oakland Avenue - a conceptual and potentially literal blueprint for land use and land and streetscaping. "I can't make this strong enough of a point. This can be done here, and this is the place to do it," Walsh said. 58 |

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Goals The goal of the plan, according to city staff and residents' voiced wishes, is to bring more residents downtown, to make a more cohesive transportation network and to create a usable and accessible park space, all of which will create an environment for a thriving commercial core, bring the arts and community-serving agencies downtown and "ensure equitable opportunity and a community that is welcoming to all."

Recommendations While TSW drew out detailed maps and plans down to the street and block for what should go where, the overall summary of what they recommended is to infill mixeduse development with a focus on adding residential units downtown. Major highlights include creating a 2-acre civic green crossing North Harvin Street and connecting the courthouse and judicial center to include an amphitheater and splash pad; landscaping and streetscaping, especially on Washington and Harvin; and providing better connectivity between the historic district and downtown. Heading up Harvin Street, townhomes and single-family homes are designed to be on Calhoun Avenue, with two-story office space just south of the library. The consultants are recommending about 400 new residential units be built in and around the downtown area, probably the concept that would create the biggest change in both concept and visuals. According to the 529 responses the group received in a public survey, 78 percent visit downtown at least once a month, with 32 percent visiting once a week. They come mainly for restaurants, then special events, then errands. Imagine if they could live right there and walk to what they wanted, the consultants are trying to get at. So far, people have voiced they want more casual dining, festivals and events, multi-generational programming, trees and landscaping, public art, places for children to play, shows, active recreation, apartments above retail and townhomes. The two main age groups the plan targets are retiring boomers who want to be close to good medical care and millennials. Overall changes include adding a mix of residential units - small cottages, townhouses, single-family houses and multi-family units - the civic green, more office and retail space using current and new buildings and making the streetscapes walkable with improved intersection safety. The drawing shows Main and Liberty streets as the key retail streets with commercial sections on the ends boxed in by walkable street sections of West Calhoun Avenue and Harvin, West Bartlette and Washington streets. A cultural and art studio center is suggested at Oakland Avenue and Washington, with office and medical units being proposed at West Calhoun and new housing essentially all over but mainly to the south of Liberty. Multi-family units proposed include student housing to be built behind Central Carolina Technical College's downtown campus. Some streets are suggested to be taken from four lanes to three to add space for bicycles, walking or parking. Reynard Whittleton spent time at the open house after the presentation Monday examining the maps and concept plans. He opened 3T's Unlimited at 11 S. Main St. downtown in 2005 and said

Sumter Future




business has picked up in recent years. "It looks good," he said about the ideas presented in the plan. "Hopefully it keeps getting better [downtown]."

Sumter Plays It may take a while

Walsh said total implementation could take 20 years and that it will likely require policies and programs to be updated, changed or created to allow for its completion. "It's hard to think back to what [downtown] was like 20 years ago, but it wasn't good," Mayor Joe McElveen said the next day when the consultants presented the plan to Sumter County Council during the June 4 meeting. It won't happen overnight, McElveen said, but the Central Business District has come such a long way already in the last 20 years - and that was without a focused long-range plan that specifically looked at the core of the city. The plan includes recommendations for the city to consider taking over S.C. Department of Transportation-controlled streets to implement streetscape goals. Immediate shortterm steps could be to test some of the recommendations by re-striping streets and using colorful crosswalks to inch toward remodeling streets and sidewalks. With a good new foundation of commercial businesses BY DENNIS BRUNSON offering dining and shopping options, along with the new Hyatt Place, the next major movement needs to be residential, the firm is saying. More retail will follow residential, and the city must get people to move within walking distance of downtown. Jay Davis, president and broker-in-charge at Coldwell Banker Commercial Cornerstone, agrees. "I think the streetscapes and changing Washington Street to connect the historic district to downtown is great," he said. "I

think there was reluctance at first [to all the change downtown], but I think now everyone believes." George McGregor, Sumter City-County Planning director, said the emphasis on the need for housing surprised him. "We know we need housing, but it had always been second-story housing. But it's clear citizens want a diverse amount of new-style units down here as well as a broader approach to open space. A real community green space that's a gathering space," he said. He said the planning department and council hope to use the master plan to guide their zoning and encourage developers to come in. "This is a great project for the community and of course for planners, as well, because it lets us look at really the centerpiece of the community," he said. "A healthy downtown defines really the rest of the health of the community. So, if there are things we can do by paying more attention to it and building on our successes - obviously, we've been successful; we have new restaurants, the new hotel - but we want to build on that."

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A NATURAL CONNECTION From protecting historical archaeological sites to hosting Arbor Day at schools to rehabilitating an endangered species, biologists at Shaw’s 20th Civil Engineering Squadron work daily to build a bridge between Air Force technology and the nature it needs.



he number 20 is significant at Shaw Air Force Base for reasons that span the 20th Fighter Wing and its various squadrons, but a five-person civilian team notched another significant 20 for the base last Arbor Day. Ronnie June usually splits his days between his supervisory role as chief of natural and cultural resources for Shaw and going out into Poinsett State Park to help his team monitor and protect the wildlife affected and surrounded by the base’s practice bombing range. That team is part of the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron. Having started as a biologist and worked his way through the ranks over 18 years, one of his biologists would normally handle the Arbor Day celebration at Shaw Heights Elementary School. Being shorthanded in December, June took it on. (This is a dangling modifier I’m not sure how you’d like to fix. The first part should modify the second, but they don’t match. It goes from June to one of the biologists. Maybe the best way is to move everything before the comma about June to the previous paragraph. So “Ronnie June, having started as a biologist …. ,” Then the second sentence in the next paragraph would just be “One of his biologists … “That way all the info you have is still there.) 2019 marked the 20th consecutive year Shaw received a Tree City USA status, a designation bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation that promotes urban forestry management. More than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA since 1976, including 39 in South Carolina that represent 22.91% of the population. In December – South Carolina is the only state to celebrate Arbor Day in the 12th month of the year based on tree planting seasons – June and representatives from the South Carolina Forestry Commission watched students put on a program at Shaw Heights demonstrating what they learned about environ-

mental stewardship. After the program, which featured student-made art, posters and hats, Robin Mills, 20th Mission Support Group installation support deputy director, who serves as the liaison between Shaw and Sumter School District’s school board, helped students plant a magnolia tree in front of the school. Spring-green leaves and thin brown stalks sprouting from mulch mirrored the fatigues airmen wear that are designed to blend in with the most foundational aspect of the base. Nature. Any military base is surrounded by, enveloped in and reliant on technology. June would rather be in nature. To the Sumter native who grew up both loving “anything outdoors” and watching F-16s jet around overhead, being able to protect and promote Shaw’s natural resources while supporting the Air Force is his best-case scenario. The 20th Fighter Wing is home to the U.S. Air Force’s largest F-16 combat fleet. They need somewhere to practice. Poinsett State Park’s Electronic Combat Range offers just that. Where June and his team come in is in the management of that target zone and the larger buffer areas surrounding it. There are 12,500 acres under the auspice of Shaw Air Force Base, and they are responsible for protecting it. The team consists of June, a forester and three biologists. One biologist’s charge is to take care of the red-cockaded woodpecker, the only endangered species in the forest as listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem, there used to be an estimated 1-1.6 million clusters, the family unit in which the birds live. Commercial timber harvesting and urbanization, contributing to the decline in pine forests, deteriorated the birds’ homes. (Decreased maybe? Sounds like they’re not deteriorating so much as their homes are just gone.) “They’re mostly found in government landholdings because private landholders cut their timber for money. On a 50-60year cycle, they’re going to clear cut it and replant it because there’s money in timber, and they’re not just going to let the trees sit out there for a cavity in them,” June said. Out in the forest at Poinsett, the woodpeckers stay below the canopy, don’t migrate, feed and nest in the trees while aircraft stay above the trees. That’s what June calls a win-win. Another win: In 2001, there were five family clusters of the woodpeckers in the forest, equaling about 25 birds. Now, there are 125 birds making up 30 active clusters. “We plan five years, 20 years out,” June said. “We have to plant trees now for woodpeckers 100 years from now.” The three biologists at Shaw wear a lot of hats. One leads a turkey and deer hunting program that is open to the public. They also monitor all the animals and plants in the forest and T HE I TE M.C O M/L I FE I SGO O D |


on base. They run wetland protection oversee a prescribed burn plan. (and oversee? Or was part of the sentence cut out?) They monitor according to an integrated natural resources plan, combining all the different aspects of an ecosystem. It’s a lot of moving parts. The woodpeckers live in pine trees and “don’t really care for hardwood.” Squirrels like hardwood. They don’t care for pine trees. “There’s plenty of room out there for everything, so we just have to make sure everything has its place,” June said. On top of natural conservation and protection efforts, the five-person team also is charged with preserving the cultural resources on Shaw property. There are 34 cultural sites on base – a hangar and the Rosemary Fire Tower Complex on base – and 32 archeological sites in the forest from Native American habitation that are registered as historical places and must be protected. The connection between technology and wildlife can often seem fraught, but it’s second nature to June and his team. Shaw Heights has a tree theme across its campus, and June said he was impressed by the presentation they gave for Arbor Day. Getting kids to enjoy nature and appreciate the importance of trees is a goal of the Tree City USA status and of his section at Shaw in general. The hardest part, he said, is getting kids to break away from their devices. He should know. He has two teenage boys. “The connection to nature is just a human element,” he said. “If you get out there, you’ll learn to enjoy it. It’s just natural. But you got to get out there. Sometimes, it takes a little push or an event like Arbor Day to get kids connected.”


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Red-Cockaded Woodpecker • Territorial, non-migratory birds live in a socially more complex system than most birds. • A cluster consists of a breeding pair and up to four offspring. • Siblings help incubate eggs and raise nestlings. • RCW is the only woodpecker to excavate cavities in living pine trees. • It can take one to six years to make a cavity. • Hurricane Hugo was especially detrimental to RCWs’ habitat because their cavities weaken the center of a large, mature pine tree, causing the storm’s high winds to snap the trees in half.

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A club

for the transient The Shaw Spouses Club makes Sumter feel like home to military families BY SHELBIE GOULDING


ilitary families are always on the move. Sometimes, it can be lonesome and difficult being in a new, unfamiliar place, especially when your husband or wife is deployed. The Shaw Spouses Club does its best to fix that. The nonprofit is dedicated to promoting a supportive atmosphere between military families and the community through social activities, scholarships and charitable giving in Sumter. It is open to spouses of active-duty military members, Reserve or National Guard members, retired military members and Civil Service employees. “It’s a social club for our members,” said Kristen Thoennes, president of Shaw Spouses Club. “Because of military families moving all the time, it’s hard to meet people. We try to give everybody an outlet for that and help make relationships happen.” The club has about 60 members who attend monthly meetings and social activities that are geared toward their

interests. Thoennes said she’s been able to visit local restaurants, attend community events, tour surrounding cities and more thanks to the club’s social outings. The Shaw Spouses Club also focuses on bettering the community through volunteer and charity work, which consists of raising money for local and nationwide charities. A main focus of the club is fundraising for its scholarship program, which comes from donations and the club’s annual scholarship auction event. In 2019, with more than 100 items auctioned and more than 100 individuals in attendance, the scholarship auction fundraised $17,000. This is the Shaw Spouses club largest amount raised yet, and its excited to give it to individuals looking to further their education in 2020. The scholarship fund is split into three categories: high school seniors, college-aged military dependents and military spouses. In 2020, the Shaw Spouses Club will be adding a fourth category for the scholarship fund: an essay contest for those looking to earn their master’s degree. To become a member or learn more about the club and its scholarship application, visit the Shaw Spouses Club at



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t comes regularly, a changeof-command ceremony. U.S. Army Central’s most recent passing of colors went off without a hitch. In the change of command outside Patton Hall, Lt. Gen. Terry Ferrell is now commanding general of USARCENT, located on Shaw Air Force Base, while outgoing commanding general Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett moves on to lead U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Ferrell comes to Shaw and USARCENT after being the longest-serving chief of staff at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. That position entailed managing the operation and putting forth policies of Central Command or USCENTCOM. All five components of the military – Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard – answer to Central Command. Now, Ferrell, at U.S. Army Central, commands more than 20,000 active-duty soldiers, Army Reserve soldiers and Army National Guard soldiers that oversee 20 countries in the Middle East. A three-star general, Ferrell is a native of Logan, West Virginia, and was commissioned in 1984 as an armor officer after graduating from Marshall University. Highlights of his military career include commanding a squadron that deployed in support of Operation Joint Forge and Operation Iraqi Freedom. "I am truly honored and humbled to be here … and joining the U.S. Army Central Third Army team," Ferrell said. "Without you, U.S. Central wouldn't be able to do its job."






n an effort to upgrade facilities for local residents as well as open the door to bringing in more tourism dollars, an expansion project for Dillon Park has been completed, and an expansion of Palmetto Tennis Center has been approved. The expansion at Dillon Park now gives it three football fields available for use, not only for Sumter County Recreation and Parks to use in its youth football leagues, but also in allowing it to play host to tournaments on the weekends. The tournaments bring in teams from out of town along with friends and family to bring more money into the local economy. With the three new fields are a concession stand with a pavilion area, a press box and a storage building. There is also new parking along with new lights, scoreboards and stands installed. The project also allowed for new playground equipment and a repaved exercise track at Dillon Park. The Penny for Progress project was completed in September 2019 at a cost of $2.75 million. “The main goal with this was to give our kids somewhere nice to play,” said Phil Parnell, director of the Sumter County Recreation and Parks. “Having these fields will give us a chance to bring in some tournaments. We’re hoping we can bring in (the state recreation and parks) all-star tournament this year. You can’t do that in one weekend, so that’s four weekends in November where you have someone coming in. That will help bring a lot of extra revenue to the local economy.” Heading over to Alice Drive, Palmetto Park offers baseball fields, play areas and a state-of-the-art tennis complex that is set for expansion. The complex already brings in the annual Palmetto Pro Open, a women’s $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event that has hosted winners who have gone on to win Grand Slam titles. The first phase of the expansion project was approved by Sumter City Council in September 2019. The project will include on-site improvements such as a new plaza and entrance way as well as a new pro shop. Phase one of the project, which will cost just under $3 million, will also go toward realignment of Theater Drive, fountain construction, youth court construction and tennis backboard and wall construction.




Ja Morant’s meteoric rise puts Sumter back on the map The year that was 2019 was a pretty special one for Ja Morant – to say the absolute very least.

t n a r o M a J T

he former Crestwood High School basketball standout went from being barely recruited to play in college to an All-American and then to being the second overall pick in the NBA draft and one of the favorites for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. And, oh yeah, that took place all in the space of two years. That wild ride started here in Sumter. Morant was not ranked by any of the recruiting services coming out of Crestwood despite a spectacular high school career. Morant was a 3A All-State selection as both a junior and a senior and was a three-time All-Region MVP. While former AAU teammate and fellow South Carolina 66 |

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high school basketball superstar Zion Williamson was getting ready to go to Duke, Morant took a different route in going to mid-major program Murray State. Morant used the fact that he was overlooked by so many schools to drive him when he got to Murray State. "It is true; I wasn't ranked coming out of high school," Morant said. "I was really overlooked, and now it's just a chip that I play with on my shoulder." The Crestwood alumnus had a solid freshman year at Murray State in 2017-18, but he took his game to another level his sophomore season. Morant was exceptional all year for the Racers, eventually leading Murray State to the NCAA

Second Overall Pick

in the


tournament. Morant did better than getting the Racers to the tournament, as he powered the team to a first-round upset over fifth-seeded Marquette with a 17-point, 11-rebound, 16-assist triple-double. He was just the eighth player in tournament history to record a triple double. Murray State’s run ended in the second round – despite a 28-point performance by Morant against Florida State – but the Sumter County star was just getting started. Before leaving school, Morant would earn a slew of individual honors, including the Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the top point guard in the country, as well as being a unanimous first team All-American. Morant’s spectacular sophomore season launched him from unknown commodity to eventually being the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, getting selected behind the other South Carolina star – Williamson. Williamson has spent his rookie season sidelined due to injury after being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans, which opened the door for Morant to take over as the league’s top rookie. The Grizzlies went all in on Morant from the beginning, trading away star point guard Mike Conley to make room for the rookie from Sumter in the starting lineup. He hasn’t disappointed. Morant has averaged 17.6 points per game in the NBA while dishing out 6.6 assists per contest. He has electrified the league with his speed and ability to drive to the basket. Morant’s dunking ability has taken him to another level, dropping the hammer over centers and even jumping entirely over Kevin Love before narrowly missing a dunk. That dunking prowess has already earned Morant an iinvitation to the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. "It feels good to be able to accomplish my dream," Morant said of reaching the NBA. "How I got here, it's crazy. It probably gives a lot people more confidence, and I'm just very

excited." For all of Morant’s success on the court, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. On Dec. 18, 2019, Morant gave back to his community with what was dubbed the ‘Ja Morant Holiday Slam Dunk’, where he gifted backpacks full of items for local students. While his busy NBA schedule kept Morant from attending the event, his dad, Tee, and uncle, Phil, handed out the gifts from the Grizzlies star. He’s also taken time to give back to his new community in Memphis by taking kids shopping at Academy Sports. "I just love kids," Morant said. "I once was a kid that looked up to certain NBA players. I didn't have the opportunity to do this. Since Day 1, Memphis took me in and showed me good and took me in as family." Morant has already made a big splash in the NBA, but he’s still getting started. The former Crestwood star still has plenty of his rookie year left, but he’s one of the top contenders to win Rookie of the Year. After that, who knows what the Sumter basketball star can do.




USC Sumter athletic director continues school growth by fielding new sports BY J. SCOTT SEWELL

drienne Cataldo became the athletic director at USC A Sumter in the fall of 2016 and since her hiring has nearly doubled the amount of sports offered by the department.

After rolling out men’s soccer and women’s golf over the past couple of years, the Fire Ants announced the addition of men’s golf for spring 2020, and women’s soccer for fall 2020. The school is also actively working on starting a women’s volleyball program that could begin as soon as fall 2020. That’s exciting news for a region like Sumter which has a rich history of volleyball success and a vibrant volleyball community. “We’re here to serve the community,” Cataldo said. “Many of the sports that we’ve started have been community-based. The opinion from those in the community; what they want to see and what they’re willing to support has been the driving force behind most of our athletic programs.” The men’s golf program is already off to a strong start. Cataldo brought in Paul Harrington to lead the program back in September, and he’s already built a roster of seven that are ready to compete in the spring. The team will practice at Beech Creek Golf Club along with the women’s team, and compete at various courses around the Southeast. “Paul hit the ground running,” Cataldo said. “The community around men’s golf has been tremendous, and the student interest has been incredible. Men’s golf was definitely a good decision.” Women’s soccer is making a reappearance after the school was forced to drop the program, along with men’s and women’s basketball in 2012. The school is in the midst of a search to find the right coach to build the program from scratch over the coming months. If women’s volleyball is ultimately approved, it will increase USC Sumter’s offerings up to nine sports. An impressive feat considering where they were just a few years ago. “It’s been incredible,” Cataldo said. “It’s an opportunity to serve more students and to provide an opportunity to more

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student-athletes to live out their dreams and work towards their education while playing a sport that they love. If we’re fortunate enough to be able to offer them a scholarship and help them pay for their education that’s even better. It’s been absolutely For more information about fantastic to see how adding USC Sumter's athletics these sports have influenced contact Adrienne Cataldo and affected a great number at (803) 938-3908. of student-athletes. I take a lot of pride in it. I’m very proud of what our athletic department has accomplished, and I couldn’t do it without my coaches. They are the most important. They do all of the hard work.” If volleyball is a success, it’s easy to envision the school attempting to add additional indoor sports such as men’s and women’s basketball, which you’ll find in most athletic departments around the country. Before they can do that, however, they’ll likely need the community’s support in upgrading their indoor facilities to accommodate the additional teams. “I know that basketball is very popular,” Cataldo said. “That would be something that we would look to add in the future. We are working towards the possibility of having a larger athletic facility, and that would bring in many more possibilities for indoor sports. We’re starting slowly with hopefully women’s volleyball being the first indoor sport. We’d need to work a little more to bring in more indoor sports, but we’re definitely not counting them out for the future.”

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