Life is Good in SUMTER 2023-2024

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• Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital

• Shaw Air Force Base

• Sumter School District

• Sumter Family YMCA

Business Person of the
District Teacher of the Year
Local and State Elected Officials
Learn about your local leaders GET OUTSIDE YOUR GUIDE TO RECREATION, DINING AND PUBLIC ART farmers markets, health care options, shooting ranges, vibrant art & entertainment and more

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 Maintenance Services provides equipment maintenance, facility maintenance, operations support, elevated cleaning, and small capital project improvements. Thompson’s Custom Fabrication provides sheet metal fabrication, structural steel fabrication, CNC plasma cutting, and on-site installation services.

Thompson Turner, general contractors, builds commercial, government and educational facilities. We offer single-source, deadlines and budget-oriented delivery, including Design/Build and Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR).

Thompson Government Services provides recovery solutions to State and Federal agencies including the repair, replacement, and reconstruction of residential areas impacted by natural disasters.

Thompson Hydro Consulting and Maintenance Services offers highly trained and qualified, industry-proven hydro specialists for consulting, upgrading, maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation services across the hydroelectric power industry.

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

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.


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.


Thompson started in Sumter as a family business and no matter how much we grow, we always want our employees to feel like family. Throughout all the Thompson companies, our core values are safety, quality and integrity, with safety always being our number one priority.

We take care of our people through forward-thinking safety programs, leadership development, exceptional benefits, training and career advancement. Thompson is a special place to work, and anyone who is a part of our team (our clients too) will experience the core values that make us who we are.

Interested in a career with Thompson? Visit to find out more.


Since 1986, Thompson Construction Group, Inc. has grown from a small, local company into one of the largest privately held companies based in South Carolina with a diversified services portfolio. After more than 36 years in business, we now serve customers in all regions of the United States. Our success has been and always will be based upon taking care of our employees and customers.

Capital Projects Maintenance Services Power Services Government Services Hydro Consulting & Maintenance Services
Construction Nova Molecular Technologies
800-849-8040 | 100 North Main Street,
Thompson Turner
Sumter, SC 29150
Thompson Industrial Services

Carolinas Centers for Sight is thrilled to be able to serve the community of Sumter, SC. Our outstanding doctors look forward to providing the best care for those who walk through our doors. Our team offers primary eye care, comprehensive eye examinations, contact lens fittings, and management of ocular diseases. We are proud to be the most TechnologicallyAdvanced Cataract and LASIK Eye Surgery Center in the Pee Dee Region. We are dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients, seeking to improve their overall quality of life. | (843) 664-9393
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8 0 W e s t W e s m a r k B l v d . S u m t e r , S
attend a festival We’ve got a festival for every season! visit a state park Hiking, camping, fishing, biking, Kayaking and more! outdoor markets Featuring local produce, arts & crafts and food vendors! museum crawl Discover Sumter’s vibrant history and more! sporting events Football, baseball, tennis and golf, to name a few! grab some grub Food from around the world, right in your backyard. explore the water Kayaking, boating, fishing & watersports await! enjoy our parks 24 commuinty parks offer lots of outdoor fun! take in the arts Sumter has several galleries to explore! Things to do in Sumter, SC! See more of what we love at shopping Local boutiques and national chains offer up plenty of retail opportunities!

Onbehalf 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 2023 edition of Life is Good in Sumter. Inside these pages, you'll see a snapshot of life in Sumter - how we live, work, learn, play and pray.

The Sumter of today is innovative. Sumter is bold. Sumter is a place of business and community.

From Shaw Air Force Base to local industries to our beautiful downtown, change is happening. It's happening not only through new buildings, businesses and incoming residents, but also through a sense of community, unity and belonging as we work on building something together. We're building a better Sumter with you in mind, and we need your input.

In 2023, I’d like to encourage you to seek that community, to seek belonging. Build large bridges of unity with others who also make up the fabric of our area. Learn from those who have a different perspective of the world. Listen thoroughly with the goal of an even better tomorrow.

As the area’s leader in media for more than 128 years, The Sumter Item is here to help build that community, hold the powerful accountable and promote economic development. 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 print+online or an all-online subscription at At the very least, please sign up for our free email newsletter at newsletter. We tell the stories of your community. We vow to listen and to be the microphone for your stories.

Inside these pages, you’ll see many of the people who and places and businesses that make our community great. We’re here for you, Sumter, and we hope you enjoy this magazine.

from Publisher, The Sumter Item @sumteritem @theitem @theitem @sumteritem
The Sumter Item Welcome


Dining in downtown Sumter 10

Art and music organizations 16

Free public art 20

Local farmers markets 24

Pet-friendly places 41

Shooting ranges 45

Elected officials 58

Local schools 61 Resources to stay informed 71


Meet Sumter Original Brewery’s head brewer 12


Sumter Opera House 15 Learn about the Sumter County Cultural Commission 18


Tandem Health 26 McLeod Health 27

Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital 28 Meet Sumter Family YMCA's CEO 30


Parks and recreation

Disc golf courses and tennis courts

Swan Lake Iris Gardens




38 Crosswell Park basketball courts

Travel down Sumter's newest greenspace

40 Golf courses



Shaw Air Force Base 44 Meet the 20th Fighter Wing’s commander 46 U.S. Army Central 49


eSTEAM and Sumter Economic Development


Top 10 industrial employers



52 Meet the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year

Meet the S.C. Speaker of the House, a Sumter representative 54


University of South Carolina Sumter

59 Central Carolina Technical College


62 Morris College

Meet Sumter School District’s Teacher of the Year


66 Meet Sumter School District’s superintendent

COMMUNITY SERVICE The Sumter Item readers give back to Sumter United Ministries 72 Nonprofits 74 Nova Molecular Technologies Since 1986, Thompson Construction Group, Inc. has privately held companies based in South Carolina with a diversified services portfolio. After more than 36 years in business, we now serve customers in all regions of the based upon taking care of our employees and customers. 2023: SPONSORED BY THE GREATER SUMTER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND THE SUMTER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD Business Person of the Year Local and State Elected Officials Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital Sumter Family YMCA Learn about your local leaders GET OUTSIDE YOUR GUIDE TO RECREATION, DINING AND PUBLIC ART MORE Access Specialists healthcare experts dedicated to supporting your healthcare everyone across the Sumter area cardiology, OB/GYN, surgery, orthopedics, surrounding campus houses many practices ExploreTuomey farmers markets, health care options, shooting ranges, vibrant art entertainment and more ON THE COVER Adults and children alike enjoy the newly opened Shot Pouch Greenway, which connects Dillon Park in the county to Swan Lake Iris Gardens
PUBLISHER Vince Johnson EDITOR Kayla Green COPY EDITING Rhonda Barrick Shelbie Goulding Melanie Smith EDITORIAL Joe DiPaolo Shelbie Goulding Kayla Green Alethia Hummel Alaysha Maple Ashley Miller Bruce Mills Christy Richardson Carrie Anna Strange Erika Williams PHOTOGRAPHY Cal Cary Micah Green Sumter Item archives LAYOUT Janel Strieter AD DESIGN Cary Howard Janel Strieter AD SALES Karen Cave Devin McDonald Mark Pekuri 36 W. Liberty St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-1258 32 E. Calhoun St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 775-1231 What's Inside ‘UNCOMMON PATRIOTISM’ PET-FRIENDLY PLACES SHOT POUCH GREENWAY GIVING BACK MEET THE 20TH FIGHTER WING’S COMMANDER WHERE FIDO IS ALLOWED TO JOIN IN ON THE FUN HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH LOCAL NONPROFITS THAT PROVIDE A RANGE OF SERVICES
in the city. The 3.1-mile path that winds along the waterway is open to pedestrians and bicyclists and was funded by a voter-approved 1-cent penny sales tax.
Photo by Cal Cary

Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce Welcome from

On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and nearly 1,000 member businesses, welcome to our home.

For more than 100 years, the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce has served as an anchor and champion for business and community advocacy. 2022 continued to bring our fair share of challenges as we guide our way through this ongoing pandemic. Through all the turmoil that faces our personal and professional lives, we still prove to ourselves and the region that we will always be Team Sumter.

In today's economic world, businesses have been tasked with thinking outside the box to find new ways to advance our business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships. We are fortunate to have a businessfriendly city and county government that understands our role in serving as the economic hub of our region.

The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce has made additional efforts to educate our community on the importance of doing business locally, even through e-commerce. While you are here, please be sure to visit our local restaurants and retail establishments.

Please know we appreciate you visiting our community and patronizing our local businesses. If at any point you consider relocating, consider US! Our community resources, quality of life, cost of living and our hospitality will make you want to join Team Sumter.

Chris Hardy, CCE, @SumterSCChamber @SumterSCChamber
IOM President & CEO

Source: City of Sumter Downtown Master Plan, July 2019. Future visualization included.

10 | 2023 LIFE IS GOOD IN SUMTER Downtown Dining 10.
19. 1 5 6. 4. 16. 15. 14. 13. 2. 3. 8. 9. 12. 11. 17. 17. 18. 20-23 7 Your Guide To
1. Baker’s Sweets Bistro & Bakery 119 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 2. Alderman’s Drug Co. and Medical Supplies 40 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 3. Sidebar 34 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 4. Jin Jin Chinese Restaurant 39 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 5. Hamptons 33 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 6. La Piazza 33 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 7. Rafters 33 N. Main St., floor 2, Sumter, SC 29150 8. Main Street Tavern 24 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 9. Hyatt Place Sumter/Downtown 18 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 10. Brubaker’s Café and Bakery 13 N. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 11. Subway 9 E. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150 12. Sumter Original Brewery 2 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 13. J. O’Grady’s 5 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 14. J. O’Grady’s After Hours 5 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 15. Cut Rate Drug Store & Coffee 32 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 16. Jeffrey Lampkin’s Country Boy Bistro 18 S. Main St., Sumter, SC 29150 17. Sub Station II 15 N. Harvin St., Sumter, SC 29150* 18. Chinese Cuisine & Thai Food 130 E. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150 19. Tony’s Pizza 1 E. Calhoun St., Sumter, SC 29150 20. McDonald’s 101 N. Lafayette Drive, Sumter, SC 29150* 21. Taco Bell 25 N. Lafayette Drive, Sumter, SC 29150* 22. Wendy’s 216 E. Hampton Ave., Sumter, SC 29150* 23. KFC 215 E. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150* DOWNTOWN SUMTER * Not visible on map Dining G uide

New brewer, same

New creations and revamped classics are brewing at Sumter Original Brewery.

The brewery's leaders recently brought on a South Carolina native looking to master the craft, and he's gotten straight to work.

Meet Jamie Turner, a Lamar native and the SOB's new head brewer, who made his way to Sumter from Florence’s Seminar Brewing, where he worked on an eight-barrel system for the last five years. The opportunity to work on a brewing system nearly twice that size, not too far from home and at a higher distribution level, was one he couldn’t let slip away.

“It was an opportunity for growth. It’s a new system and a new location, so it’s a lot of learning opportunity, and when presented to me, I want to take advantage of that,” Turner said.

“I’ve been (at Seminar) for five years, and this is my only other professional brewing experience.”

Turner started at the brewery on June 20, 2022, his 34th birthday. He joined the team to succeed former head brewer Troy Bervig, a Germantaught brewer from an institute in Chicago who developed the original recipes that were on tap since the brewery opened in March 2020. Now, it's Turner's turn.

just because it has his name in the title.

“He’s doing a good job. The beer is tasty,” Shuler said. “I see him brewing for a long time here.”

Shuler brought Turner on because he saw the potential for growth for the brewery and its distribution — there are business goals to tap into the Columbia and Charleston markets in addition to the three stories of taproom and social space and 12 taps offered at 2 S. Main St. in Sumter Wednesday-Sunday — and for Turner, who is self-taught with a willingness to learn and try new things.

“I felt like I was at a turning point of where I’ve come from,” Turner said. “I knew that it was just an opportunity to expand my knowledge of craft beer in a different location in a different customer base. Just to learn and grow from there.”

Not having an official education in the brewery industry, Turner received an associate degree in criminal justice from FlorenceDarlington Technical College while serving as a master-at-arms for the Navy and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Coker University. It wasn’t until after school he realized he has a passion for a different industry.

Turner tasted his first beer at age 22. His friend invited him out and handed him a Budweiser.

“I’ve known Jamie here for a little while. Another employee here has been good friends with Jamie,” said Gray Shuler, co-owner of Sumter Original Brewery. “I felt like this would be a good transition for him. It’s a little bit bigger system and just felt like it would be good. Plus, his personality matched up with ours.”

Dressed for our meeting in charcoal Carhartt overalls tucked over boots and a dark green T-shirt and sporting a khaki ball cap, Turner’s appearance reflected his personality — a small-town soul who enjoys a good beer with friends.

So far, Turner has enhanced a few recipes at Sumter Original Brewery while already creating new brews with his own mark. Shuler said his favorite enhanced original since Turner started is the Gray Haze, and not

“I thought I would hate it, and I didn’t. We spent the rest of the evening going back and forth,” he said, trying different domestic brews. “A few years later, I’d say 2014, I was gifted a home brewing kit by that friend.”

His love for the craft deepened after his first sip of a North Carolinabrewery’sfamouspaleale.

“That first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale I had changed the game,” Tuner said. “At that point, this was my thing.”

The self-taught brewer started reading books, watching tutorials, going to craft beer events and anything else he could do to take in as much knowledge as possible. It was in the midst of his learning that he began working at Seminar, starting as a bartender and eventually tapping into the brewhouse.



Turner began at Seminar after spending three months hiking and beer touring across New Zealand. In 2018, he won nine awards at the inaugural SC Brewers Guild Awards ceremony, including seven golds. He is now a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and has a specialized badge in traditional German-style and English-style beer.

At Sumter Original Brewery, the first recipe Turner learned and tweaked was Gray Haze, a hazy IPA. What followed was his first original, the Sparkleberry Wheat, which offers tastes of strawberry and rhubarb. Both were a starting point, but the biggest community response came from Oktoberfest, a recipe he perfected just in time for the annual event held downtown as a fundraiser for Sumter United Ministries on Oct. 1.

Impressed by the feedback, Turner said it was the first moment he felt his beer could stand out. But he’s not one for the limelight.

“People say they enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s not something I look forward to, but it’s always nice to hear when someone is satisfied.”

When breweries undergo a head brewer change, customers are advised to be open to new tastes. The beers are brewed with the same foundations but with different variations based on the brewer’s preference. Turner created three of his own in his first six months while tweaking most other brews on tap. It's a mix of keeping regulars coming back for their favorite names and tastes while offering new options and room for growth.

“The IPAs are a little different,” Turner said. “There’s a lot of things that can change between brewers and just different styles and personal tastes.”


Turner comes from a more “hop-forward” background; hops, in his opinion, were underutilized at SOB before he joined the team. He keeps in mind that hops aren’t always a highly favored taste; it tends to be more bitter and emphasizes the hops’ natural flavor.

“I have to watch myself because not everyone likes that sort of thing, but if I brew an IPA, I’m going to have all those flavors that I want and would hope that the patrons or drinkers will as well,” he said.

Although he’s doing what he loves for a living, Turner doesn’t consider the practice therapeutic or easy because he’s particular and innovative. There are moments once a brew or recipe is set, but he doesn’t prefer his creations to stay too consistent. He always wants the opportunity to improve.

“It hasn’t become manufacturing to me yet. Every time I do the same thing, I’m always tweaking it or asking, ‘How do I improve it?’” Turner said. “There’s always something that could change.”

It’s a rhythm, he said. His own at his pace.

Turner said he can also be self-critical, which is why patrons won’t see him drinking his own beer too often.

“I can’t drink my own product and enjoy it,” he said. “I have a hard time not drinking critically. I taste every problem or fault in that beer, and I can’t drink without that.”

He wouldn’t serve a beer if it wasn’t good, but it’s the perfectionist in him that always wants to improve. At times, he wishes he could go back to his first sip of a Budweiser.

“It’s been the most difficult part,” Turner said. “I will never enjoy beer as when I first started down this trail. When I had no idea. I was just there for a good time and the experience of trying something new… but the only way to get better is to find the faults.”

Turner has had big plans. His newest creation was a brown ale. He also made a flavorful holiday stout and has plans for a few familiar beers to make a comeback in the near future.

One date Turner is most excited about is the brewery’s third anniversary in March. He will be making a new brew he can’t wait to share.

“I’ve been here for the ride, and any opportunities to advance my knowledge and new experiences is a positive thing,” Turner said. “I’m still learning myself. I’ve grown miles from where I was.”

Financial Aid and Scholarships Available

Find Out More at USCSUMTER.EDU



One of Sumter’s oldest and most iconic buildings features acts of all backgrounds that any Sumterite, new or native, shouldn’t want to miss.

First destroyed in December 1892 by a fire, the Sumter Opera House’s present structure was built from 1893 to 1895. The venue was renovated into a movie theater, creating 300 jobs during the Great Depression. The first film shown on the big screen was “Earthworm Tractors” with tickets costing 35 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.

Listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1973, the Opera House underwent several changes over the years before its Art-Deco interior was covered in black cloth as its doors closed in 1982.

The City of Sumter bought and re-opened the venue in 1984 for office space and began its restoration. In 1987, the renovations were complete.

In the rear of the venue, City Hall and many local governmental department and offices, including Sumter City Council’s chambers, are housed.

Through its front, brass doors,

visitors take a brief but beautiful walk through the detailed foyer before entering its auditorium, which hosts local, regional and national talent on a regular basis.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on some of the venue’s plans, it has since rescheduled shows to ensure residents don’t miss out on good music and a good time.

For your fill of music, movies and more, the Sumter Opera House has a 2023 lineup of national acts that are part of its Main Stage Series. The Opera House also hosts new and current artists throughout the region for its Stage Door series and educational performances for K-12 students for its Matinee Series. The venue is available for rentals, including access to a massive movie screen.

The Opera House will announce more artists and events throughout the year. To stay up to date on all the entertainment to pass through its doors, follow the Opera House on social media or sign up for its weekly newsletter at


JAN. 28 - 7:30 P.M.

Making their first-ever appearance in Sumter, bluegrass country-rock band The Blue Dogs are bringing their feel-good original songs and upbeat atmosphere to town. The band prides itself on having “personas big as the room” and “a genius for arrangement,” making them “one of the most unique bands around.”


APRIL 1 - 7:30 P.M.

A string of magazine covers, world tours and several Grammys later, the 5th Dimension is recognized as one of the most prolific soul, R&B groups in musical history - and they’re coming to Sumter!

Original member Florence LaRue and company are set to deliver dynamic performances sure to send audience members to another dimension.


APRIL 21 - 7:30 P.M.

Donovan Tea, Bobby Poynton and Rob Gulack, each entertainers in their own right, will continue on The Letterman legacy by bringing their unique three-part harmony to Sumter with iconic songs like "Hurt so Bad," "When I Fall in Love" and "Goin Out of My Head.”



Art has the power to bind together the young and the old, the meek and the bold for an experience that can be both transformative and informative.

Different perspectives can derive from a single art form, opening up minds and hearts to issues that may, or may not, affect us and better us as people.


“Arts organizations play a vital role in our community by either supporting artistic experiences or providing artistic programming options for constituents of our community,” said Herbert Johnson, director of the Sumter Civic Chorale.

Lucky for Sumter, there are numerous organizations that allow its residents to experience the wonders of art.

Your Guide To

Sumter Civic Chorale

From Carnegie Hall to the Sumter Opera House, Sumter Civic Chorale uplift their voices, and audience members, wherever their music sheets take them. Founded in January 1986, the chorale was organized with the assistance from the Sumter County Cultural Commission and appeals to people of various ages, cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. Though levels of experience in music reading among the members range from novice to expert, their immense love for singing and music are on the same chord

Want to join?

No audition is required. Contact Sandi Edens at (803) 464-6589 for details. Rehearsals are 7-8:30 p.m. on Mondays in the Parks and Recreation Building, 155 Haynsworth St., starting Jan. 9, 2023.

Sumter ConcertCommunity Band

For 41 years, the Sumter Community Concert Band has provided free concerts to Sumterites with the purpose of allowing individual musical expression and growth among members, contributing to the community’s musical environment, providing opportunities of contact with qualified musicians and reaffirming the community concert band position in American music. Members come from near and far from Sumter, Shaw Air Force Base and beyond and are teachers, farmers, lawyers, college students, retirees and more.

Want to join?

No audition is required, but members must have played in a concert band in high school or college.

Contact Band President Barbara Rearden at (803) 840-4468 or Band Publicist Rick Mitchum at (803) 7759265. Rehearsals are on Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. at Patriot Hall.

Sumter County Gallery of Art 200 Hasel St. (803) 775-0543

-The community-based gallery brings artwork from artists, both near and far, to Sumter to promote culturally diverse, contemporary art that reflects the community and its experiences since 1969. Its three formal galleries are considered one of the best exhibition spaces in South Carolina.

Guide to the arts

Art classes of various styles are offered to creatives at the gallery as well as off-site when staff travel to provide creative opportunities to those who may have transportation or financial difficulties.

Anyone interested in getting involved can attend an exhibition, take an art class, volunteer in a class or at an opening reception or become a member.

more using talented actors of all ages and levels of acting experience. The benefits of live art are that it is both intimate – as actors often pour their heart, mind and soul into a character worthy of gaining the audience's admiration – and immediate - as lines delivered in the show can strike a chord and promote conversations on difficult topics in a safe space.

Attend a performance, audition for a show, work at the box office, design and construct sets and costumes, share makeup skills or attend a theater class for elementary and high school students - there are many ways to get involved at our little theater.

Sumter Opera House

21 N. Main St. (803) 436-2616

The Opera House, rich in history and unique in its design, offers a variety of performances for people from all walks of life. Its stage has served many artists, from national and international performers and bands to local, grassroots musicians looking to make their mark on Sumter.

Sumter County Museum

122 N. Washington St. (803) 775-0908

The museum sits on the outskirts of the Old Sumter District and features exhibits, living history events and special programs. Events such as book signings and author readings to cooking, sewing or woodworking classes and more are offered throughout the year.

Visitors can also venture over to the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center, 11 Church St., to explore Sumter’s connection to survivors and liberators of the Holocaust.

For a guided tour at the museum, call (803) 775-0908.

Sumter Little Theatre

14 Mood Ave. (803) 775-2150

This community theater puts on comedies, dramas, musicals and

There is a seat for everyone in its 550-seat auditorium and numerous series to indulge in: The Main Stage series which features national talents, its Matinee and Cinema series with oldie, but goodie films, and its less formal Stage Door series designed to introduce artists and audiences in an intimate setting. Looking for more creative outlets? There are plenty more art organizations throughout Sumter County, from dance performances by the various performing arts schools in town to concerts hosted by music organizations like the Woman’s Afternoon Music Club, Coffee House Music Revue, Morris College and more. For resources and useful websites to find out more about what’s happening in Sumter, check out the resource page list in this magazine and follow or subscribe to The Sumter Item.


Arts & Entertainment




A phrase simple in structure but significant in meaning.

The Sumter County Cultural Commission wears this motto with pride and spent this past year proving its importance to our colorful community.

Established by a city/county council ordinance in 1974, the commission, whose members are appointed by Sumter County Council, supports the community through creative, financial and educational means. Its 49 years in the community have allowed the organization to introduce a new perspective on the world around us through a creative and artistic lens.

The commission hosts several events throughout the year. Its signature events include Fall for the Arts, a weeklong celebration featuring visual arts,

music, theater and dance in October; Swan Con, a comic book festival hosted in partnership with USC Sumter; and a performing arts camp for kids ages 1018 called Xperience Sumter.

But the commission doesn’t stop there. To give the community, specifically its youth, a glimpse into cultures beyond their hometown scope, organizations and individuals throughout the country are invited to inform and perform at schools and venues around the county.

“Our purpose in the community is

“Arts and culture matter.”

that, especially in the past year of 2022,” she added.

Though the board is meant for nine people, recent vacancies did little to deter their determination. Its six current members include Moye, Elayne Brunson as vice chair, Nicole Bailey,

Herbert Johnson, Goliath Brunson and Chuck Wilson.

Moye, Elayne Brunson and Johnson, the longer-serving commissioners on the board, all said their exposure to art started at young age.

Johnson, coming from a musical family, said he grew up singing on their church choir since the age of 5. His passion impacted his education, as he majored in music and is now an arts administrator at Sumter High School as well as a choir director in various community groups.

Elayne Brunson said she got her start in the arts through the violin, and her interests expanded to pottery and other hands-on art forms over time, often fulfilled through art classes offered at the Sumter County Gallery of Art. She now shares that love for art with her children.

Moye’s love for the arts started through the experiences of her son, Darius. As he explores his artistic interests through the REACH program and the Governor’s School of Art and Humanities, she has learned to appreciate the essentialism of art as it provides a self-expression that words cannot.

“To see him so motivated and so encouraged and see that they invested in my son, it reminded me that I need to invest into our community,” Moye said. “Since that time, I have made it my priority to learn more about art. We want to get back to the grassroots of some of the things that were done in the past and in the near future, keep educating our children to let them know that arts and culture is very important.”

Though some of the commission’s signature events did not take place this year due to time constraints, Moye said a lot of big plans await in 2023.

A partnership is in the works with the Sumter County Library, Sumter Original Brewery and Beacon Movie Theater in preparation for Swan Con. The commission hopes to host Ukrainian dancers during the year to provide students the opportunity to learn about the culture beyond the wartime images they see on their TV screens.

“Our 50th anniversary is coming up in 2023, so I want to continue to make arts and culture accessible to Team Sumter. I want to continue to add an educational piece to each performing arts group, and I want to be able to grow each and every event,” Moye said. “I am absolutely looking forward to 50 years, and I know we can do 50 more because the commission we have and will have is always so passionate and so willing to

Are you an art-loving, social media-savvy, committed communicator? Then the Sumter County Cultural Commission wants you! For anyone interested in applying for a seat on the board, applications are available at Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St. Get involved

TAKE A WALK ON THE Art Side Art Side

Scattered throughout downtown Sumter are seven colorful 3-foot butterflies hanging overhead. The City of Sumter and Main Street Society teamed up to showcase local artists and bring positivity to the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has been revitalizing downtown for over 20 years, but the one thing missing was public art, said Leigh Newman, downtown development coordinator for the city.

The installation of the butterflies was in the works for two years, and the Main Street Society received a lot of entries but settled on seven for the first round, according to Jenna Brown, project chair. The city and the Main Street Society purchased the butterflies and gave people the opportunity to sponsor a butterfly, Newman said.

The city has plans to expand the fluttering artwork downtown with seven new butterflies scheduled to be completed and installed by Spring 2023.

For now, visitors downtown can gaze upon the seven currently installed.

Swallowtail, by Cleo Klopfleisch at 2 N. Main St., sponsored by Heidi Burkett.

Kaleidoscope, by Sumter children, at Cut Rate Drug Store, 32 S. Main St., sponsored by Main Street Society.

Unnamed, by Connie Brennan, at Old Sumter County Courthouse,141 N. Main St., sponsored Barbara and Harry Burchstead.

All These Little Creatures, by Matthew Morse, at the lighted walkway between Berenyi Inc. and The Sumter Item, sponsored by Matthew Morse and Jenna Binion.

Lucidity, by Nurai Tucker, at the Rotary Plaza, sponsored by Jere and Bobbi Pound.

Variegated Flutter, by Erin Duffie, at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St., sponsored by Hobby and Greg Williams.

Winged Revival, by Liz Duffy, at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St., sponsored by Heart of Sumter.

Guide To


by Nurai Tucker, at the Rotary Plaza sponsored by Jere and Bobbi Pound.


In 2021, The Historic Preservation Design Review Committee unanimously approved a request for large-scale murals throughout the Downtown Design District.

The committee started the Creative Canvas Project to support creativity, preserve landmarks and cultural history and uplift moods throughout Sumter. Karen Watson, project director, said the idea came from Melanie Colclough, former executive director of the Sumter County Cultural Center. The murals were Sumter’s “first dip” into public art and were met with some apprehension, Watson said. But, as the artwork went up, the reluctance diminished.

Artists selected for the mural installations were paid with a $50,000 grant from the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Connected Communities, applied for by Colclough, as well as private investments from the Bank of Clarendon and Main Street Society. There were several other sponsors, including the Sumter Community Foundation, which donated to the murals on Manning Avenue, and contributions from the Sumter County Museum, Sumter Economic Development, Sumter County Gallery of Art and Sumter County Cultural Commission.

Colclough, Watson, Newman and the Creative Canvas committee worked together to bring the project to life. In July 2022, the last mural was completed, totaling five.

• The Old Sumter Postcard, by Christopher Johnson, outside of the Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St., downtown

• Elements of Sumter, by Amiri Farris, on the F45/Berenyl Inc. building, 24 W. Liberty St., downtown

• Underneath Swan Lake, by McClellan Douglas, 9 N. Main St., downtown

• Across the Manning Avenue bridge, the outside of the South Sumter Resource Center, 337 Manning Ave., depicts a bright-colored scene of old Manning Avenue, featuring Dr. B.T. Williams' dentist office, Savage Glover Elementary School, beauty salons, burger joints, the old checkers club and more.

• A stroll down the block to 363 Manning Ave. shows the faces of historic Sumter natives Ernest A. Finney Jr., South Carolina's first Black Supreme Court chief justice, and Freddie Solomon, two-time Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, surrounded by bright yellow jessamine on a backdrop of gradient purples and blues.

Next steps

In September 2022, Sumter County Council approved a local match of a Municipal Association of South Carolina Hometown Economic Development Grant for the installation of 12 small bronze swans in downtown Sumter.

The city would have to match at least $2,250, equaling the minimum 15% local match required by MASC to support the $15,000 grant. According to Newman, the project was first discussed in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to it.

The deadline to apply for the grant was Sept. 30, 2022, and grants would have been issued in October 2022. Unfortunately, the project is on hold as the city did not get the Hometown Economic Development Grant. Newman said the city still plans to do the project, just at a later date - hopefully in 2024.

St. N. Main St.
Law Range
Canal St.
W. Calhoun St. N. Washington St.
N. Harvin
W. Hampton Ave.
W. Liberty St. N. Sumter St.

Your Guide To

In Sumter, we love to support our local businesses, and one of the best places to shop local is at a farmers market.

There are four markets open at various times in Sumter throughout the year, so you can explore them all to find your favorite produce farm, crafter or ready-to-eat food vendor.


200 Miller Road

Founded in 2017, the Sumter Farmers Market offers local farmers, artisans, bakers, food trucks and other vendors without a storefront a venue to sell their products directly to the consumer. Produce farmers grow at least 75-80% of what they sell, and livestock farmers humanely raise their animals on pasture with no antibiotics or added growth hormones. The market is governed by its own board and held weekly on Fridays from noon to 5 p.m. from April 1 through Nov. 18.

Follow them on Facebook for vendor updates at facebook. com/sumterfarmersmarket.


Along with Sumter Farmers Market, there are local farms open to the public that sell different produce and products.

About 40 miles outside of downtown Sumter sits a big, bright red barn nestled along a tree-lined, lush green pasture. Richard Harrington Farms, located at 380 Myrtle Beach Hwy., is a small rural farm, home to Willie the rooster, Badonkadonk the donkey, chickens and a herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. Every animal is cared for on the farm, and fresh eggs, bales of hay and goats are sold. Its hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

On the outskirts of Sumter, Dorr Farms offers produce fit for each season. In the spring, strawberries are ripe and bright, blueberries and blackberries shine in the summer, and pumpkins are perfect for picking in the fall. The farm hosts fun days that include picking what is in season, games, hay-less hayrides, a petting zoo and learning about honeybees. Dorr Farms is located at 5225 Dorr Acres Road, Gable, SC, and is open Monday-Friday.

Make your Christmas memories merrier with Coleman Family Farms. Starting in October, bring a piece of the farm home with one of their Leyland Cypress or Carolina Sapphire Christmas trees for $50 or a precut Fraser Fir Christmas tree for $60. Custom ornaments, fresh eggs, homemade cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookie dough can be pre-ordered through the farm’s Facebook page. If you can’t get enough of the baked goods, the rows of Christmas trees serving as a beautiful backdrop are sure to make holiday pictures festive and bright. Coleman Family Farms is open from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., located at 2165 Lloyd Drive.


2 S. Artillery Drive

Open on Fridays from noon to 5 p.m., this market offers fresh produce, locally raised meat products, crafts and gift items and ready-to-eat food. The best part? It’s inside a building on the American Legion and county fairgrounds, so they can stay open year-round.

Follow them on Facebook for vendor updates at facebook. com/Americanlegionfarmersmarket or learn more at


312 Manning Ave.

This market offers fresh produce and other craft and community items seasonally in an area of Sumter that does not have nearby access to fresh produce. There’s usually someone cooking hot meals at the market. SFMNP senior and WIC vouchers are accepted. The market is open June-October on Fridays between 2 and 6 p.m.


Corner of Main and Liberty streets

Open May through September on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., this small market offers locally made produce and food.


Choose local, choose fresh.

South Carolina has nearly 25,000 farms that cover about 5 million acres. Thanks to our rich soil, warm weather and more than 360 growing days a year, there’s always something fresh. See what’s in season now, as well as where you can buy local all over the state, by going to



personal relationship with our patients that lasts from the cradle until the grave, and we are intentional in creating programs and areas of specialty that cover all their various health care needs. We believe that health care should include not only checkups, prescriptions and monitoring, but also education for our patients. We want to give power to our patients on how to maintain and grow in their own personal health and that of their children. This is exactly the reason why we offer specific programs like diabetes prevention and management, substance abuse counseling, a centering program for expectant mothers, infectious disease education and more. 2020 and the pandemic has certainly brought numerous challenges to health care, but it also created an opportunity for us to grow how we connect and adequately serve our most vulnerable members of the community. Telemedicine, on-site testing and vaccinations have become the norm and have allowed us to continue to meet our patients' needs while ensuring their safety. When the world shut down, it brought clarity to how important our existence is and continued operations are to our community here in Sumter, especially when it comes to being able to provide affordable and accessible treatment and services to all who are in need. It also helped to spotlight what areas of service we needed to expand to meet our patients’ biggest needs, and we were also able to focus on enhancing our safety procedures and protocols to ensure our staff members and patients remained protected and healthy.


Health has been in the business of hometown health care in the greater Sumter community for nearly 20 years. We pride ourselves on being local people helping local people and relish in the fact that we are able to provide quality, personalized health care services and patient-centered experiences to all.

It's an honor to be able to serve patients of all backgrounds and ages and provide comprehensive and affordable health care no matter the patient’s insurance status or ability to pay. Our top priority is meeting patients where they are and ensuring they receive comprehensive health care by our knowledgeable and experienced care team, not just one single provider. We serve nearly 18,000 patients yearly and have a staff that continues to grow exponentially yearly which currently stands at nearly 230 people consisting of both clinical and nonclinical members. Our main goal is to create a meaningful and

As we look to the future of Tandem, we are excited about the opportunity we have to continue to grow and serve even more of our community members. We look forward to continuing to be actively engaged within our community by supporting local events and creating new give-back opportunities and programs that benefit so many in need in our area. It is essential that we remain engaged and enthusiastic about what is to come because Sumter is growing and changing for the better, and we want to grow and change right alongside her. We want to always strive to be bigger, better and more to those who need and depend on us. The more programs, areas of service and staff that we add, the better we are going to be able to provide the needed knowledge and the high-quality, affordable health care and services. Both within and outside of our various locations, we intend to make our patients confident that we really are local people who love helping local people, and the more we learn and listen, the better we get at enhancing our patients’ experiences and the stronger our relationships to them grow. That’s why we love doing what we do every day. Our love and commitment to Sumter is strong and so is our love and commitment to our patients.

We at Tandem Health would love the opportunity to become your new medical home. We feel confident that you will love your experience and care at any of our six locations, and we offer a wide variety of services and programs to fit your health needs and desires, including pediatrics, OBGYN, family medicine, behavioral health, adult medicine, immunology, dental services, diabetes prevention and education, two on-site pharmacies and so much more.

Call us today to set up an appointment at (803) 774-4500 or check us out at




McLeod Health Clarendon’s expansion into Sumter is a commitment to the region

As the leader of health care in the community, McLeod Health Clarendon continues to fulfill its mission to improve the health and well-being of the residents in Clarendon and Sumter communities.

“As a testament of our commitment, we are continually developing plans to expand our services, medical staff and medical capabilities to meet the needs of our community and the patients we serve,” said Rachel Gainey, McLeod Health Clarendon CEO.

Our highly skilled physicians and medical staff provide a wide range of medical services designed to meet the unique needs of our patients. Services include an emergency department, intensive care unit, labor and delivery, medical surgical unit, surgical services, infusion services, sleep lab, radiology services, lab services, wound care center and a swing bed unit. Cardiac, speech, physical and occupational rehab services are located in our McLeod Health and Fitness Center Clarendon. Cardiology, general surgery, orthopedics and urology specialty services are also available. Our continuum of care for patients outside the hospital setting is provided by our home health, hospice, nurse-family partnership, sports medicine and occupational health services.

“Community hospitals play a vital role in the economic growth and development of that community,” 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 ensuring every patient receives the quality care they deserve faster.”

Dedicated to serving the needs of patients from the Midlands to the coast, McLeod Health expanded its footprint into the Sumter community in 2017. Shortly after the acquisition of McLeod Health Clarendon, Palmetto Adult

Medicine, located at 1295 Wilson Hall Road in Sumter, joined the McLeod Physician Associates network. These providers bring years of experience and compassionate care to the residents of Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Williamsburg counties.

Established in 2017, McLeod Medical Park Sumter, located at 540 Physicians Lane, encompasses McLeod Orthopedics Sumter, McLeod Cardiology Associates, McLeod Vascular Associates, McLeod Occupational Health, McLeod Urology Associates and McLeod Surgery Clarendon.

The most recent expansion was the announcement of McLeod Health's partnership in Sumter with Wesmark Ambulatory Surgery Center. The partnership will expand jointly offered multi-specialty ambulatory surgery services for the Sumter community at what will now be known as McLeod Surgery Center Wesmark, at 420 W. Wesmark Blvd., and will continue to provide access to multi-specialty surgery in ENT, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, orthopedics and urology.

“The continued expansion of McLeod Health in the Sumter area will have a great impact on the health of our region,” Gainey said. “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.”

“Every day, Sumter residents choose McLeod Health for their care, and it is our privilege to locate the specialty care services in this community,” said Donna Isgett, president and CEO of McLeod Health.

McLeod Health services offered in Sumter include cardiology, electrophysiology, home health, hospice, internal medicine, nurse-family partnership, occupational health, orthopedics, primary care, surgery, urology and vascular.

“We trust that patients will continue to look to McLeod Health as the choice for medical excellence,” Gainey said.

Health & Wellness

Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital

We all know that in any emergency, time is critical. The sooner we receive treatment the higher the probability of a successful outcome. At Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital, we understand that better than most. Established more than a century ago, Tuomey Hospital today is a 283-bed Joint Commission-accredited medical center dedicated to putting our community first. We offer state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment capabilities for cancer, heart care, maternity, wound care, orthopedics and general surgery.

Our hospital features an expanded state-of-the-artt Emergency Department, a 10-bed ICU, a retail pharmacy, an award-winning day surgery unit, 10 full operating rooms featuring two Intuitive Surgical DaVinci robots, a women and infants pavilion which includes a 36-bed Level II nursery, and is a satellite of the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, imaging and cancer treatment, an infusion center, an award-winning wound healing center, a heart failure clinic and cardiovascular intervention, speech, physical and occupational rehabilitative therapy services.

Transitional care is provided through our Home Health Services program, as well as Hospice and Palliative Care. For more information call (803) 773-4663.

Prisma Health and Tuomey Hospital

Tuomey Hospital is a part of Prisma Health, the largest not-for-profit health care company in South Carolina, and one that serves more than 1.2 million patients annually. Prisma Health employs 29,000 people who work to improve the health of our communities.

Our purpose is to: Inspire health. Serve with compassion. Be the difference.

That means providing the safest, most impactful care, considering a patient’s emotional health as well as physical health, and finding new ways to help our local communities get and stay healthy.

More than 1,200 people work on the Tuomey campus in Sumter. The dedication of these team members has helped Tuomey Hospital earn prestigious designations as a Baby Friendly Hospital and Breast Center of Excellence. Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital has also been recognized by the South Carolina Hospital Association and the Leapfrog Group for high quality/safety.

Being named a Pathway to Excellence hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center recognizes Tuomey as a place that encourages nurses to be their best, to seek continuous learning and higher certification, to provide strong leadership and help that engagement flow into other departments.

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital

Tuomey Hospital is also a satellite of Prisma Health’s Children’s Hospital in the Midlands, 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. Most importantly, we have experienced pediatricians on site 24/7 to care for our tiniest patients.

Prisma Health Medical Group

Hospitals cannot function without our physicians. Prisma Health currently employs over 2,000 physicians and practitioners across a broad spectrum of specialties. At Tuomey Hospital, we have almost 200 doctors on site or on call 24/7.

In particular, our hospitalist and intensivist programs are dramatically changing the way care is provided to our sickest patients, with measurable increases in patient quality of life and significant drops in patient mortality among our most critically ill population.

Prisma Health physician practices aligned with Tuomey include:

Prisma Health Pulmonology, Prisma Health Cardiology, Prisma Health OB/GYN, Prisma Health Surgery, Prisma Health Pain, Prisma Health Orthopedics, Prisma Health Family Medicine, Prisma Health Infectious Disease, Prisma Health Plastic Surgery, Prisma Health Gastroenterology

Other Tuomey Hospital facilities include:

The Wound Healing Center, specializing 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

Photo provided
Health & Wellness

as disease management, diabetes care, vascular studies, tissue culturing and biological skin substitute applications. For more information call 803-774-8715.

The Cancer Treatment Center was one of the first 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 uses stereotactic body radiation therapy for early-stage lung cancer to allow highly precise delivery of high radiation doses to a small target. For more information call 803774-8888.

The Women and Children’s Center includes the Birthplace and the Family Place, units dedicated to meeting the unique needs of our pediatric, gynecological and obstetric patients. Pediatric hospitalists are trained to provide inpatient care for children and are often able to keep smaller infants and those needing special care close to home and their families by treating them locally. 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.

Having an Infusion Center on site means patients can go 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.

Wesmark Boulevard facility includes:

Outpatient Imaging including bone density studies and 4D ultrasound for pregnant women, and outpatient mammography. For more information call 803-774-5250.

Outpatient Rehab Services including physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, and one of the most comprehensive sports medicine/orthopedics programs in the region. We provide pre-season screenings for athletes, injury clinics to assess injuries post-game and onsite sporting coverage. For more information call 803-774-5201.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Services are comprehensive programs for recently hospitalized cardiac patients, those at risk for heart disease, or anyone interested in safe, medically supervised exercise. For more information call 803-774-5262.

In summary, we are here for you - if and when you ever need us.

About Prisma Health

Prisma Health is a private nonprofit health company and the largest health care organization in South Carolina. The company has 29,500 team members, 18 acute and specialty hospitals, 2,947 beds, 300 outpatient sites, and more than 5,100 employed and independent clinicians across its clinically integrated inVio Health Network. Along with this innovative network, Prisma Health serves almost 1.5 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of South Carolina. Prisma Health’s goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals. Learn more at

Facility Locations

Outpatient/Retail Pharmacy *open to the public (803) 774-8772

Medical Office Building 1, Suite 220 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150

Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-1pm, Sun 1-5pm

Prisma Health CardiologySumter

Medical Office Building 2, Suite 205 100 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 434-3800

Prisma Health CardiologyHartsville 701 Medical Park Drive; # 301 Hartsville, SC (843) 383-5978

Prisma Health OB/GYN in Sumter

Medical Office Building 1 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 Suite 110: OB Office 803-774-9650 Suite 200: GYN Office (803) 774-8351

Prisma Health SurgerySumter Medical Office Building 1, Suite 300 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 775-1550

Prisma Health Plastic Surgery Medical Office Building 1, Suite 115 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-7546

Prisma Health Pain and Spine Medical Office Building 2, Suite 320 100 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-6824

Prisma Health Orthopedics Medical Office Building 2, Suite 200 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-7621

Prisma Health Family Medicine - Sumter Medical Office Building 1, Suite 400 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 934-0810

Prisma Health Family Medicine - Bishopville 116 Hospital Square, Bishopville, SC (803) 484-9424

Prisma Health Pulmonology - Sumter Prisma Health Infectious Disease - Sumter Prisma Health Gastroenterology - Sumter Prisma Health NeurologySumter Medical Office Building 1, Suite 315 115 N. Sumter St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-9787


'Natural progression' Health & Wellness

Sumter YMCA group trainer climbs to be new CEO

Missy Corrigan’s

first day at the Sumter YMCA was as a group exercise instructor. Last summer, she became the health and wellness center’s first new leader in 10 years.

October 2022 marked the 47-yearold's 14th year with the YMCA. In her career, she's climbed the ladder to group exercise director, director of healthy living, associate executive director, executive of community health and interim CEO at the Sumter YMCA.

"I just kind of went from part-time to a coordinator to full-time and then just kind of worked my way up to the executive team," Corrigan said. "I knew I wanted to be CEO one day, but I didn't know it would be happening this fast."

However, this wasn't something Corrigan ever asked for. It was just a natural happening.

"This isn't something that I was like, this is what I'm going to do. I think just my passion in developing my leadership competencies over the years just brought me to this position,” she said.

Even Mary Kolb, Sumter YMCA Board president, said it was a "natural progression" that fell into place. The executive committee of the board made the final say so in Corrigan's career change, but the board gave an idea as to who could fill the position based on

qualifications set by YMCA of the USA and Leighann Sibal, of Thriving Y.

"Those two entities really were the ones to do the interview and came up with the job description," Kolb said.

Kolb said Corrigan was the perfect fit as the next chief executive officer based on the qualifications. She has even watched her progress since day one at the Sumter YMCA.

"The first time I met Missy was 14 years ago, and she was a group fitness instructor. And she was amazing," Kolb said. "She's inspired a lot of us to get into shape and get fit."

Kolb described Corrigan as energetic, encouraging, smart, driven and a team player, all a balanced mix that makes up the perfect chief executive officer who is an encouraging and supportive "servant leader" to the community.

"I am honored to have this opportunity to serve as the Sumter YMCA CEO," Corrigan said. "I am excited to move forward and work with the Sumter Y team to advance the mission of the Y, achieve positive growth and be a vital partner for community change."

Corrigan's interest in the position was piqued when she realized what she could do for the community's health at a higher level.

"Community health is really where I shine. I love it. I'm very, very passionate about it," she said. "My focus was bringing evidence-based health initiatives to the community."

Corrigan has her master’s degree in community health education from Mississippi University of Women after receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Education from Samford University and a Master's in Education from the University of Alabama. She also has several professional development

"With my background with my education and everything, it just kind of was exactly what I was looking for, and it blossomed over the last five to

In her time at the Sumter YMCA, Corrigan has helped build partnerships in the community, only growing her vision every year for what a healthy Sumter could look like.

"I really want to have a strong team and build our capacity so that we can really address the needs of the community and flex with the everchanging needs. Just make sure that our systems and our practices are in place to make sure that we remain relevant and that we can sustain what we're doing for years to come," she said. "We are about to celebrate our 110th anniversary for the Sumter community, and I think the YMCA is a vital part of the community, a center part of the community, and our goal is to be the center of the community. Not just a community center."

A lot of the initiatives Corrigan has put in place and will expand on includes a fitness program, Y Fit, that she created and partnered with a successful clinical study; it has expanded from Sumter throughout the state and North Carolina. She helped bring the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation South Carolina championship to Sumter amid the pandemic. She has also expanded YMCA's programs to local community centers, schools and senior centers to reach those that can't reach the YMCA.

"Building those relationships, talking with the people, working together to address the most critical needs," Corrigan said. "Mental, physical, we want to be there through it all."

Her most recent obstacle she's aiming to overcome as the new CEO is one that's rocked YMCAs across the state and nation.

"I really have a big challenge of developing the healthy living department and bringing it back to where we had all of our community health programs," Corrigan said. "We had a big transition during the last two years of COVID. We weren't running any programs, and now we have a lot of new directors, so it'll be a lot of coaching and training and making those connections with the relationships that we already had with those organizations and the new directors."

From gymnast to trainer of bodybuilders, Corrigan is a chief executive officer with many talents and athletic capabilities. She also regularly writes health and wellness columns for The Sumter Item.

Outside of the YMCA, Corrigan is a military spouse and mother. She is the mother of two children - Emma, 14, and Noah, 12 - that she shares with her husband, Lt. Col. Ryan, an F-16 and 777 FedEx pilot currently active duty at McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

However, Corrigan said she's the same person in and outside of the job. Her passion for living a healthy lifestyle blends with the YMCA's

"I'm the same person whether I'm here or at home," she said. "My values are exactly the same, and that's why the YMCA seems like home to me. I don't have to change who I am."

Aquatics – Swim lessons for youth and adults; swim teams for ages 5-21; Lap swim and fitness swim.

Athletics Basketball: Leagues for youth (ages 5-15) OctoberFebruary and men (ages 25 and up) SeptemberOctober; personal training and clinics for youth (ages 7-16).

Flag football: Leagues for youth (ages 7-13) MarchApril.

Soccer: Leagues for youth (ages 3-8) March-April. Gymnastics – Classes from preschool to adult; competitive team for girls; cheer and tumble clinics; birthday parties.

Summer camps – For ages 3-14. Camp Mac Boykin, specialty camps (aquatics, basketball, gymnastics and nutrition).

Fitness – Personal training; group exercise classes; nutrition consultations; Enhanced Fitness (program for individuals with arthritis); Exercise Is Medicine (bridge program from physical therapy); Women On Weights (program on proper mechanics for lifting).


YFIT: 8-week educational program looking at all aspects of lifestyle and how to overcome barriers and make changes to improve personal well-being. No fee with physician referral and complimentary membership.

StrongHeart: 12-week program for heart attack and stroke survivors or individuals at risk for both. Medical clearance from physician necessary to participate.

Diabetes Exercise Program: 12-week activity/ educational program. No fee with physician referral. Medical clearance from physician necessary.

Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program: 16week program that is a 1-on-1 with a Healthy Heart Ambassador to track and improve blood pressure. No fee with physician referral.

Youth – Birthday parties; afterschool programs; Kids Night Out event monthly.

Active Older-Adult Activities – Arts and crafts; monthly movies; holiday-themed activities; field trips.


Assistance is available for membership and programs. (Forms located on website or at front desk).

Compiled by Bruce Mills

Find your fit

Parks & Recreation

City parks

Benton Park

Birnie Park

Chamber Park

College Park

Crosswell Park

Dunway Park

Eastwood Park

Fulton Park

Grier Street Park

Herbert Circle

Jenkins Center

Lawton Park

Lindley Park

Logan Park

Memorial Park (pet-friendly*)

Moore Street Park

North HOPE Park

Optimist Park

Palmetto Park (pet-friendly*)

Parker Street Park

Riley Park

• South Sumter Park • Swan Lake Iris Gardens • V.I.M. Park

Spray Parks (open Friday of Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day) • Birnie HOPE Park (210 S. Purdy St.) • Crosswell Park (130 Yeadon St.) • North HOPE Park (904 N. Main St.)

Palmetto Park (400 Theatre Drive)

South Sumter Park (630 S. Sumter St.)

Find a free place to play, relax or exercise •
locations require pet to be on a leash, unless otherwise stated
Rolling Creek Park
• Cypress Park (pet-friendly*) • Dillon Park (pet-friendly,
dog park) •
Park County parks • Poinsett State Park (pet-friendly*) • Thomas
Memorial Park (pet-friendly*) •
(petfriendly*) •
Here is a list of public parks in Sumter County. For more information, including amenities, addresses and hours, go to
PATRIOT PARK 380 General Drive, Sumter, SC 29150 SWAN LAKE IRIS GARDENS 822 W. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150 Get Outside
with off-
option inside
Mill Creek Park (pet-friendly*)
Patriot Park (pet-friendly*)
Woods Bay State Park
Manchester State Forest
State parks

Disc golf courses in the Sumter area

Dillon Park

Established: 2015

Course: 20 holes

Availability: Year-round Course details: Mostly flat going in and out of the words. A mix of tightly wooded holes and open. Two creeks coming in to play on almost all the holes.

Tees: Concrete, grass, dirt, outdoor carpet

Targets: Veteran Property: Mixed use, public park Services: Dogs allowed, cartfriendly, restrooms available, drinking water available

Where: Clara Louise Kellogg Drive, Sumter

Cost to play: Free

Lindley “Hidden” Park

Established: 2020

Course: 9 holes

Availability: Year-round Course details: Open, some trees, flat. A short pitch and putt for novice players or for working on upshots. Distances range from 90 to 230 feet, with most around 150 feet. Neighborhood backyards surround the course with dogs in many.

Tees: Grass Targets: Mach New II Property: Mixed use, public park Services: Dogs allowed, cartfriendly Where: Lindley Avenue, Sumter (access across from Lesesne Court at intersection of Lesesne Drive or on Lindley Avenue between Lesesne Drive and Benton Drive. It looks like a driveway, but it’s not.)

Cost to play: Free

Shaw Air Force Base

Established: 2019

Course: 9 holes

Live Oak Park

Established: 2021

Course: 18 holes

Availability: Year-round Course details: Compact technical course with vines hanging as obstacles

Tees: Grass

Targets: Liberty Property: Mixed use, public park Services: Dogs allowed, cartfriendly

Where: Live Oak Park, Sumter (intersection of U.S. 15 and Clipper Road)

Cost to play: Free

Availability: Year-round, military/ DoD ID holders have all-day access. EAL individuals have weekend access. Non-DoD ID holders can ride with military/DoD ID anytime

Course details: Brand new Innova DisCatcher Pros, tee signs/next tee signs and pads. Red (short) pads for beginners, white/blue (long) league alternate pads to make 18 holes. Elevation change. Moderately wooded. Some water hazard.

Tees: Concrete Targets: DISCatcher Pro (original)

Property: Mixed use, military base, private land Services: Cart-friendly Where: Shaw Air Force Base

Cost to play: Free

Palmetto Tennis Center

The Palmetto Tennis Center is located inside Palmetto Park. It boasts state-of-the-art hard tennis courts and four new pickleball courts all lit for night play, and four on-site tennis pros offer private lessons and group clinics for beginner to advanced players from ages 3 and up. Other amenities include a tennis shop, two ball machines, stringing service, tournament-training building and restrooms. Admission for regular tennis or pickleball play is FREE of charge and first come, first served. Check in at the main officer prior to entering a court.

Contact for more information

Phone: (803) 774-3969 Email: Where: 400 Theatre Drive, Sumter, SC 29150 Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: 1-9 p.m.

* Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, events and during inclement weather.

Learn more at


'Hello, Sue!'

New book details

story of friendship of Ranger Ronnie and swan Sue at Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Swan Lake Iris Gardens

offers up many sites and stories for visitors, but this story about the park is about a special friendship. Or maybe it is more a story of hope.

It's the true story of the park's full-time ranger, Ronnie Grooms, and a swan named "Sue," and it has grown in popularity in the Sumter area since a book was published in November 2021on their unique friendship and their routine walks together through the gardens.

Now, some frequenters to Swan Lake know them by name. When they spot them together, you will hear a "Hello, Sue!" greeting.

As the story goes, know this: Swans mate for life, and Sue, a Whooper swan and long-time Swan Lake resident, lost her mate years ago.

Grooms began working at Sumter's well-known family friendly park in March 2017. Within just a few weeks, he met and befriended Sue.

"I was walking the lake one day after I started working here, and I noticed this swan over on the side in the bushes," Grooms said. "I came by and looked at her, and she looked at me. About the third day, I was walking, and she came out, and she was following me. I stopped; she stopped.

"Then, the next day, she started following me, and that is the way it's been ever since. For the people out here, it was entertaining for them to see a swan walking beside a ranger."

Observers can see them walking side by side on the sandy paths around Swan Lake, or at times Sue is paddling alongside Ranger Ronnie's path in the water.

Grooms is the only full-time ranger on the Swan Lake staff, and he initially thought it was the uniform he wears or his jangly keys kept near his belt that drew Sue to him.

(She also befriended the three part-time rangers, he said.)

Things stayed the same for about


two years, but in June 2019, Grooms left for about 1.5 years to do contracting work through an engineering firm, he added.

About one year into that time away from being a ranger, Grooms walked the Swan Lake path one day with his grandson.

As the book, "Ranger Ronnie and Sue," written and illustrated by Grooms' niece Laurice Prince, details, his grandson asked him that day if Sue would remember him?

Grooms said he was not sure, especially because he was not in his uniform. They went to the back side of the lake where Sue generally stayed in a quiet spot.

He called, "Hello, Sue!"

She came right up to them.

"I think it's the uniform," Grooms said. "But then, the main thing is when I was not in uniform she came to me. Staff here could not get over that, that she remembered me. I say now, 'I think it's my voice that she remembered.'"

One might ask just how Ranger Ronnie can identify Sue among all the swans at the lake.

That is a good question, Grooms said.

Swan Lake is home to all eight species of swans and more than 100 total. But there are only five Whoopers at the gardens, he said. Sue is also a little more petite in size than the others, he added. Also, there is at least one more identifiable physical trait that makes Sue unique, but for some general protection of privacy, we leave that one out.

In addition, another characteristic makes Sue stand out from the other swans.

"She comes to me," Grooms said. "The other Whoopers don't attempt to come to me."

In his years at the park, he has never seen another swan be friendly with people.

"Sue is my favorite," Grooms said. "She is unique and different."


As Grooms' contract work was winding down at the end of 2020, he said, his hope was - one day - to get back on as the full-time ranger at Swan Lake.

He said he dreamed one night back then that his former boss with the City of Sumter, Lynn Kennedy, called him and asked for him to come back on staff.

He called Kennedy about the dream, but knew someone was currently in the position.

Two weeks went by, and then Kennedy texted him that the ranger had retired. He started in January 2021.

A dream was fulfilled.

What about Sue's hope?

As the book details, Sue lost her swan mate. Then she met Grooms, a friendly park ranger with a "kind, soft voice," who she would walk and talk with daily "swan talk" and "human talk."

Later, she lost Grooms and was down on her hope again. But he eventually did return.

In the bigger picture with his job, Grooms said he loves meeting visitors to the lake from all over the world and just people in

general. He considers his job a gift from God.

He can rattle off visitors to the gardens from about a half-dozen countries and thinks he has probably met people from all 50 states.

Grooms said sometimes he is asked how he got the job at the picturesque park.

"I say to them, 'You really want to know?'"

"They say, 'Yeah, I want to know.'"

"I say, 'My Lord, Jesus Christ, gave me this job.'"

"'Well, how you figure that?' they ask."

"'Well, in God's word, it says, 'All good things come from above,' and this is a good thing. I love this job.

"So, the Lord put me here, and when I get the chance I talk with people about the Lord."

Grooms then added to just consider everything that is going on in the world right now.

"I love people, and as I am walking the park, I get to talk with people from all over the world that come here," he said. "I don't



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Cruise, run, stroll down Sumter’s 1st greenway

Shot Pouch Greenway is a 3.1mile biking and pedestrian trail between Swan Lake Iris Gardens to Dillon Park that has been in the works since late 2020 since the idea was sparked more than two decades ago.

Joe McElveen, who served the City of Sumter for 20 years as mayor from 2000-2020, advocated for the Shot Pouch Greenway since he began his tenure.

“It must have been at least 30 years ago, maybe longer ago. I was pretty active with the Chamber of Commerce at that time,” he said.

“We got a group of landscape architect students from Clemson that had spent several weeks, maybe longer, just looking around and seeing things we could do.

One of the things they mentioned was what they called a linear park connecting Dillon Park and Swan Lake along Shot Pouch.”

Sumter is becoming an outdoor recreational playground for bikers, runners and walkers alike with the completion of a paved trail connecting a city and county park.
Get Outside

Once McElveen began serving as mayor, he had the opportunity to visit other cities across the state and observe their success. McElveen attributed that to trails, parks and businesses surrounding a major pedestrian network down the center of a city, specifically near a water source.

“Shot Pouch was about the only water we have going through the city,” he said.

The want was there, but the funding wasn’t. It wasn’t until Sumter County’s second Penny for Progress initiative, a voter-approved capital sales tax referendum in 2014, that the project could see movement. Shot Pouch Greenway was one of 28 projects funded by the seven-year-long program that raised the sales tax by 1 cent to support community improvements and government building renovations.

The project cost $4 million to connect the parks with a paved walkway alongside Shot Pouch Branch, a small river running through the city.

Construction kicked off in December 2020.

“We’re super excited to finally get that fully open. The community has been using it,” Mayor David Merchant said. “It’s a way to travel across our town that we’ve never been able to.”

McElveen said the path will be a well-used, progressive addition to the community that will be around for years to come.

“I hope it’s just the first step as we do things,” he said.

The Shot Pouch Greenway is free to use. It primarily serves as Sumter’s first walking trail with hopes to branch into an even larger bike and pedestrian network.

According to Deron McCormick, city manager for the City of Sumter, this is only the beginning.

Sumter is currently working on a Master Walk and Bike Plan that will serve as a guide for expanding the current, limited bicycle and pedestrian network in Sumter. The plan includes making connections to schools, parks, shopping centers, employment areas, neighborhoods and more.

“You’re going to see more and more improvements,” McCormick said. “You’ll see improvements connecting other communities in the near future after the actual trailhead parks. Those will be the next things people see, and then we’ll work with existing communities and properties on ways to possibly connect them in the future. It should only get better and better, and it’s something the community is committed to.”

The City of Sumter is already working on trailhead improvements at Swan Lake and at the path’s midway point on Broad Street. Both sites include creating a trailhead with parking, playgrounds, bicycle pumps and gathering spaces for parties, events and food trucks.

“We’re committed to doing it. It’s just a matter of time, and hopefully sooner than later. We were fortunate to get some state grant money to do those trailheads,” McCormick said.

The city is working on public and private partnerships to help ensure the improvements happen as quickly as possible.

“We’re going to follow through with all of those ideas,” McCormick said. “More will be announced in the near future.”

Being born right here in 1932 means we’ve got 90 years of history and heritage in the Sumter & Clarendon communities. Our roots run deep here, and we are thankful for the opportunity to continue to provide the personalized service of a small bank with the power of a big bank.

Being born right here in 1932 means we’ve got 90 years of history and heritage in the Sumter & Clarendon communities. Our roots run deep here, and we are thankful for the opportunity to continue to provide the personalized service of a small bank with the power of a big bank.

“You’ll see improvements connecting other communities in the near future after the actual trailhead parks. "
We’re local. The way a bank should be.
We’re local. The way a bank should be.

If you live in or are in the area of Crosswell Park, there is a new free amenity available.

The City of Sumter completed an improvement project in 2022 to bring new basketball courts to the park. This park improvement project was a long time coming for the City of Sumter – since 201718. Mayor David Merchant credited Ward 4 Councilman Steve Corley for the project coming to fruition; he advocated for the installation since day one.

The park is located at 130 Yeadon St.

New courts bring outdoor play to Crosswell Park

As promised in February 2022, the City of Sumter installed three new state-of-the-art basketball courts at Crosswell Park for the public to enjoy.

The park at 130 Yeadon St. needed quality-of-life improvements for the nearby school, church and neighborhood. It was a long-anticipated project that was placed on the table in 2017-18 by the area’s councilman.

Steve Corley, who represents Crosswell in Ward 4, advocated for the installation. However, it didn’t see movement until 2020-21 when it was added to the city’s budget. From there, the city worked with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, drainage, landscaping and more.

Corley said the area needed recreational activities for youth and families in the area. The courts will now give kids a place to play after school, before school, during the day and on weekends.

The project picked up pace after Mayor David Merchant was elected in 2020. He is an advocate for supporting Sumter’s youth and said the project was the first of its scale in the city.

It took a few months to complete construction. Once completed, kids and adults alike could be seen playing games on all three courts throughout the summer. The official opening was held in November 2022.

The city hopes to install more courts like Crosswell’s.

Get Outside

Friendly Places in Sumter

Pets are family, and more people are choosing to include them in their travel plans. While health and safety regulations prevent your pet pals from enjoying some spaces, you will find that Sumter also contains many places where your furry (and not-so-furry) friends are more than welcome!

From parks and campgrounds to a cozy B&B, outdoor dining, a rooftop brewery and two dog parks, there are plenty of opportunities to get your pets in on that family selfie, night out, or evening under the stars.

Where you can bring the dogs out



Leashed pets are welcome at numerous chains, including Petco, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply, Harbor Freight and more. Call for individual store policies.

Dog-friendly parks

• Dillon Park (off-leash dog park)

• Sumter Dog Park (off leash)

• Gen. Thomas Sumter Memorial Park

• Memorial Park

• Woods Bay State Park

• Palmetto Park


• Sumter Original Brewery (rooftop)

• Sidebar (outdoor seating)

• Pelican’s Snowballs (outdoor seating)

• Sonic (Broad Street and McCrays Mill Road)

• Starbucks (outdoor seating)

• SPCA Bark Park (off leash, membership)

• Poinsett State Park

• Patriot Park

• Mill Creek Park

• Cypress Park and Trail

• Palmetto Trail

For more pet-friendly fun than you can wag your tail at, visit or call the Sumter Convention & Visitors Bureau at (803) 436-2640.

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Guide To

Hit the links

Numerous area courses offer wide variety for all players

Golfing is a pastime and sport well-loved in the South and across the country. With the area's climate that is pleasant much of the year, sunny skies and wide-open spaces, courses abound in the Sumter region. From public and semiprivate to private and exclusive, each course offers a different experience. Keep going back to your favorite one, or make your way through this entire list. Either way, fore!

Get Outside


Beech Creek Golf Club

Access: Semiprivate

Beech Creek Golf Club is nestled in the historic “High Hills of the Santee” and opened for play in 1989. The golf course is located on one of the most scenic pieces of property in Sumter County with elevation changes that allow for views that can go for miles. Beech Creek is an 18-hole course that’s fun to play.

1800 Sam Gillespie Blvd., Sumter (803) 499-4653

Carolina Lakes Golf Course

Access: Special-access – Shaw AFB

Carolina Lakes Golf Course offers 18 lush, emerald Bermuda greens and fairways tucked in a gently rolling landscape. A fully stocked pro-shop, driving range and restaurant are also at the course. The restaurant overlooks the scenic 18th hole and has a panoramic view of the course from nearly every seat.

400 Stuart St., Shaw Air Force Base (803) 895-1399

Crystal Lakes Golf Course

Access: Public

Crystal Lakes is an 18-hole, 6,264-yard course (blue tees) that welcomes all levels of players.

A driving range, putting green and practice area for pitching complement a clubhouse and snack bar for a fun and affordable outing. Seniors, children and serious golfers alike enjoy walking or riding in carts at this Sumter County course that has a new entrance and parking lot.

1305 Clara Louise Kellogg Drive, Sumter (803) 775-1902

The Links at Lakewood

Access: Semiprivate

The Links at Lakewood has been under new management and ownership since May 2016. The Links’ goals are to provide a good, quality golf course to play, but at the same time keep it affordable. These goals have led The Links to be voted best golf course in Sumter County four consecutive years in The Sumter Item’s Best of Sumter readers choice contest.

3600 Green View Parkway, Sumter (803) 481-5700

Quixote Club

Access: Private Quixote Club is a world-class golf course with a skillfully crafted clubhouse and first-class staff. Quixote invites generous, philanthropic-minded individuals from across the country to participate in a club that prides itself in leaving a legacy behind for future generations to enjoy. Based on the East Lake Foundation model in Atlanta, Quixote’s philanthropic mission is to support ongoing high-quality, free public education in the form of Liberty STEAM Charter School, Sumter’s first public charter school.

1005 Golfcrest Road, Sumter (803) 775-5541


The Players Course at Wyboo

Access: Semiprivate

Nestled along the shores of Lake Marion, The Players Course has been voted the best golf course in Clarendon County four consecutive years in The Sumter Item’s Best of Clarendon readers choice contest. The Players Course is carved from wooded terrain and features large, undulating greens. The contrasting styles of the front and back nines make for a great round.

1560 Players Course Drive, Manning (803) 478-2500

Shannon Greens Golf Club

Access: Semiprivate

Shannon Greens is one of the oldest golf courses in Clarendon County. The layout is made up of 18-hole championship tees. The course has five par 3s and five par 5s, making it a par 72 layout. There are tall pines, ponds, creeks and dog legs that give the course great character. The signature hole is No. 7, the island green. The pro shop is full of golf inventory, and there is a full-service bar and lounge area.

1435 Davenport Drive, Manning (803) 435-8752

Wyboo Golf Club

Access: Semiprivate

Wyboo Golf Club is regarded by many as the best publicaccess golf course in the region because of its premier condition and layout. During the summer of 2021, Wyboo did a total renovation of the greens with Tifeagle Bermuda grass. Amenities include a driving range, practice putting green, fully stocked pro shop, snack bar and bar in a newly renovated clubhouse area.

2565 Players Course Drive, Manning (803) 478-7899






Outdoor and indoor opportunities available in area for firearms enthusiasts


Wateree Rifle and Pistol Range

Access: Public

About: Operated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Wateree Rifle and Pistol Range just two miles across the Sumter County line and over the Wateree River Bridge is a manned range with an officer on duty at all times. It consists of 14 rifle stations with targets up to 100 yards and 12 pistol stations up to 25 yards away. It is part of a larger facility that includes a shotgun sports facility next door.

Location:14069 Garners Ferry Road (U.S. 378) Eastover, SC 29044

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Web: wateree.html

Phone: (803) 240-7368

Hermitage Farm Shooting Sports

Access: Public

About: Nestled just south of Camden and near the Interstate 20 interchange in Kershaw County, Hermitage Farm Shooting Sports is a sporting clays course on a 1,500-acre tract. Similar to skeet shooting, the sport of shooting “clay pigeons” first developed in England and was introduced in the U.S. in 1980.

Location: 2362 Tickle Hill Road, Camden, SC 29020

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5:30 p.m. Web: Phone: (803) 432-0210

Ricochet Range

Access: Private (membership packages available)

About: Ricochet opened in 2020 and features a 10-lane training bay range, a state-of-the-art target retrieval system, a “smokeless range” simulator, classrooms and a retail area. Several classes are also offered.

Location: 1410 U.S. 15 South

Hours: Winter: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Rest of year: WednesdayMonday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Web: Phone: (803) 938-5713

Your Guide To

Bridging the ga p :

New Shaw Air Force Base commander gets familiar with base, Sumter community after returning 20 years later

In May 2022, Sumter welcomed a new 20th Fighter Wing commander who wasn't exactly new to the community.

Twenty years ago, Col. Kristoffer R. Smith was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base as a lieutenant learning the ropes of being an F-16 pilot. Today, he leads the entire wing, open-minded to the possibilities and opportunities ahead for both the Sumter and Shaw community.

To do that, he must be a part of the communities.

"Every week we do what we call 'Working with Weasels,' and the chief and I try and go out and see what our airmen do around the base in different avenues," Smith said. "It's great for us to get out and see what our airmen are doing, what their struggles are and be able to connect with them one on one from the highest level to the lowest level."

Soon after his arrival back to Sumter, Smith took part in an immersion with the 20th Operations Support Squadron at the Air Traffic Control Tower. He and 20th Fighter Wing Command Chief Liz Fetherston met with the squadron's assistant chief controller, Derek Pace, to learn about the squadron's daily operations and the airmen who run Shaw's mission.

The commander's first stop was inside the squadron's training room, where he learned how air traffic controllers new to base are first assigned to the simulator.

Pace explained how the simulator works, which mirrors the base's runway at a 180-degree angle. Smith's stare stayed focused and deep in thought as he listened to Pace's explanation of the training room's purpose.

Both he and Fetherston asked questions to better understand the squadron's responsibilities and duties that make up Team Shaw. Smith speaks with different airmen in the unit, getting to know them, their time of service and roles in the Air Force.

"It's been a great way to be immersed in those things," Smith said. "This is the opportunity to really get to know what their challenges are, who they are, what their family is, where their kids go to school, where they're from, what their hopes and dreams are for the future in the Air Force, and that's the part that's really cool to me. That opportunity to really connect with those people is really helpful."

Smith's eyes drifted from the simulator to a painted table of the base's air field covered by prop planes and emergency and maintenance vehicles.

"This is where we do most of our training. This is where you really learn," Air Traffic Controller Christopher Pustelnikas said. "It's more so like you can visually see everything, but at the same time, you're really building a picture in your head."

Pustelnikas asked Smith if he'd like to go over a scenario, and Smith responded without hesitation. As a fighter pilot, the air traffic process is familiar to him. Call signs were exchanged to tower (Smith) from the prop pilots (Pustelnikas) asking for direction and landing or takeoff instructions. The scenario flew with easeSmith was a natural.

"As low tech as it is to this, it's usually more useful because you can just move the plane if he's in the wrong spot," Pace said.

The commanders made their way up to the cab, the top floor of the Air Traffic Control Tower, and Smith felt a sense of déjà vu. Once inside the cab, a sense of familiarity came over him - new pilots work in air traffic control as flight supervisors. That was him right before he left Shaw the first time in 2005.

"I sat in the same control tower from

the same seat that those guys are working at now, so seeing it from that viewpoint wasn't new. I would go up there weekly when I was back here in 2002-05 to help with the supervisor's flying duties," Smith said. "It's neat to come into full circle now and see other people doing those things that I was doing in the same seats."

Returning to Shaw as a family

When first stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, the Las Vegas, Nevada, native was a young lieutenant and newly married man. Smith and his wife, Gayle Smith, a Virginia native, arrived in 2002 both as commissioned airmen.

Gayle enlisted in the Air Force to follow her dad's footsteps after he served in the U.S. Navy. She went through the Air Force Academy, and that's how she met her husband.

"We were in the same squadron, got to know each other a little better and decided to try things out and get married," she said.

Both had a couple assignments before

"To see it 20 years later, it's pretty amazing to be able to eat down in the historic area of the city and the parks and the restaurants," Gayle said. "It's just been amazing to see it grow, and the folks when I was here in 2004, they were still here and have since retired or became civilians working at the base."


Shaw Air Force Base, but they were first based as a married couple from 2002-05 in Sumter, Smith said. However, Gayle decided it was time to retire her uniform after five years of service and focus on starting a family.

"When we first were here, it was just the two of us and a dog, and we were pretty much on base doing all things military," Gayle said. "Now, 20 years later, we have three kids, are able to experience the nightlife and go downtown, which we hardly ever did when we were back here 20 years ago."

The Smiths both agreed it's been an "eye opener" seeing the growth of Sumter and the base compared to what they were like in the early 2000s.

"To see it 20 years later, it's pretty amazing to be able to eat down in the historic area of the city and the parks and the restaurants," Gayle said. "It's just been amazing to see it grow, and the folks when I was here in 2004, they were still here and have since retired or became civilians working at the base."

Smith remembered that one of the base's lifetime honorary commanders was Rick Hines, and he was impressed to see his son, Donny Hines, owner of Hines Furniture, continue to support the military community in the same capacity his father did two decades ago.

"The 'Uncommon Patriotism' slogan, it's not like a fake bumper sticker," Smith said. "They're supportive. They want us to show up to different events, bring our airmen out, expose them to all the people at Shaw, so the community around here is fantastic."

Smith was shocked most by downtown's change. Before, it was not an area many ventured to for a family night out or dining destination. Now, the developments have benefited the airmen and their quality of life while on an assignment.

He was also impressed by the base's expanded operations in military partners - Army Central, Air Forces Central, coalition partners and more.

"The base population has grown significantly," he said. "There's a lot going on here at Shaw as far as number of people and the types of diversity in missions."

Returning to Sumter, Smith said they want to continue to work with the local community and the school district to support Shaw families.

"The schools is always a big one," he said. "(It's) always a challenging environment anywhere you go, so we try to be active and stay engaged with the schools here in Sumter to see how we can better communicate with them."

Other projects they hope to focus on are enhancing the Team Shaw aspect with the new partners and supporting all Shaw members the best they can through new resiliency programs, Smith said. They also hope to improve relationships and build bridges with the military and Sumter communities.

The Smiths have made 11 moves in the commander's last 22 years of service in the Air Force, and they can't wait to make Sumter their home once again.

With their three children in Sumter schools and playing soccer this upcoming season, the family will be out in the Sumter community, ready to meet anyone they cross paths with.

"We want to get out, talk to people, figure out who they are, what is going on, what their kids do," Smith said. "It's really kind of being curious about where you are, and I think that is part of the military service culture because we're moving so much, you leave friends behind, you go to a new place, you know a couple people. How do you get out in the community and bridge those gaps? This community is great for that."

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U.S ARMY CENTRAL maintains lineage from World War I to Sumter

Shaw Air Force Base is home to a handful of numbered Air Force units, but another branch also calls it home.

U.S. Army Central’s lineage goes back to the Third U.S. Army, established on Nov. 7, 1918, during World War I. Under Gen. George S. Patton, they helped change the tide of World War II toward the Allies by rolling back the Nazis from France all the way to Austria. It has since been tested on the battlefield in Operation Desert Storm and in operations on Afghanistan and Iraq. Third Army was redesignated as U.S. Army Central Command in June 2006.

It relocated its main command post to Shaw Air Force base in Sumter on July 15, 2011.

USARCENT provides continuing support to the Joint Force, sets and maintains the theater and leads Building Partner Capacity missions sets to secure U.S. and allied interests in the USCENTOM area of responsibility. On order, USARCENT

can transition to a Coalition Forces Land Component Command to enter conflict.

USARCENT exercises administrative control of all U.S. Army forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, which includes supplying, equipping, training, servicing, administrating and maintaining forces.

USCENTCOM's area of responsibility consists of 21 countries spanning over 4 million square miles, containing three internationally strategic chokepoints in the most volatile and contested territory in the world.

USARCENT is led by Lt. Gen. “Lucky 6” Patrick D. Frank. His command staff includes Deputy Commanding Gen. Maj. Gen. Wendul “Glenn” Hagler II, Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Matthew L. Eichburg and CSM Jacinto Garza.

For more information on USARCENT, go to

Source: U.S. Army Central


Primary Care

Eagerton Family Practice

Robert S. Eagerton, MD | Carmen Roberts, DO

Amber P. Newman, NP

200 East Hospital Street, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-0439


Primary Care Clarendon

Lisa E. Heichberger, MD | Laine Way, MD

Susan Caulkins, FNP |Susanne Johnson, FNP

50 East Hospital Street, Suite 3 Manning, SC 29102 (803) 435-8828

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 | James R. McMahon, FNP

Emily J. Miller, PA-C

1295 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 905-6800

McLeod Primary Care Turbeville

Michael O. Ouzts, DO | Abbie Kirby, PA-C

Amanda McConnell, PA-C

944 Smith Street, Turbeville, SC 29162 (843) 659-2114

McLeod Family Medicine Kingstree

Andrew Gulledge, FNP | Raina McKenzie, PA-C

1200 N. Longstreet Kingstree, SC 29556 (843) 355-5459


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

Here for Life

Obstetrics and Gynecology

McLeod Women’s Care Clarendon

Monica Ploetzke, MD | Thomas C. Key, MD

Katee L. Wyant, MD | Tom Chappell, CNM

Allison Saran, CNM, WHNP

Rebecca Cartledge, APRN, CNM

Shaquinda Dowdle, DNP, APRN, CNM

22 Bozard Street, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-0797


McLeod Orthopaedics Associates

Rodney K. Alan, MD | Chaz McDonald, NP

Scarlett Manchin, NP

540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (843) 777-7900

50 East Hospital Street, Suite 6 Manning, SC 29102 (803) 433-3065


McLeod Surgery Clarendon

Devonne D. Barrineau, MD

15 East Hospital Street, Suite 4, Manning, SC 29102 (803) 435-2822

540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 340-5110


McLeod Urology Associates Sumter

Michelle B. Miller, NP

540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 340-5100


McLeod Vascular Associates

540 Physicians Lane, Sumter, SC 29150 (843) 777-7043



Business & Industry

Still Boosting

and going beyond

From the inception of eSTEAM in October 2018, the festival has proven to be significant and quite the gem to Sumter. Not only does eSTEAM convene thousands of people with downtown, but it also demonstrates the pinnacle of community collaboration. Hosted by TheLINK Economic Development Alliance, the award-winning eSTEAM Sumter Festival – celebrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math – brings together organizations, businesses and schools to:

• Endorse STEAM-related careers and advancements in Sumter and surrounding counties.

• Showcase STEAM exhibits and areas of interest for K-12 and secondary education.

• Raise awareness and educate students, families and professionals about STEAM career opportunities in this region.

• Cultivate learning through hands-on experiences that promote today’s modern manufacturing, technology and science while incorporating the arts.

Created to highlight and celebrate National Manufacturing Day, the eSTEAM Festival is held the first Saturday of October and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the state. Many people are not aware that the festival was modeled after the Manufacturers and Technology Expo, another initiative hosted by TheLINK in the spring to showcase to eighth-grade students available career paths as they prepare to transition to high school. As the regional economic developer, TheLINK, indicative by its name, connects educators and employers to build a talent pipeline in response to current and future manufacturing labor needs. Other programs include Emerging Leaders, a community leadership program for high school


juniors; Fit for Life, supporting soft skills for athletes; and, most recently, Graduate to Greatness, a program linking upcoming high school graduates with current job and educational opportunities.

eSTEAM Sumter is by far the largest initiative with the greatest outreach of partners and participants. Event sponsorship is huge for eSTEAM as it alludes to students and especially to their parents that business and industry and the community as a whole support this event and that there is a focus on manufacturing and technology as a viable career path. And that’s our ultimate goal: for people to see manufacturing for what it truly is — the wave of the present and the future.

The rocket mascot was an intentional selection to personify the community’s explosive growth and forward momentum. We invite you to support and attend eSTEAM Sumter, as we are still boosting and going beyond!

More than 75 manufacturing and industrial facilities call Sumter County home. Here are the top 10 industrial employers in Sumter. 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 Continental Pilgrim's Pride BD Life Sciences Thompson Eaton Sylvamo Caterpillar Hydraulics SKF EMS Chemie American Materials Company 1-800-922-0424 710 South Guignard Sumter, SC 29150 Nu-Idea is centrally located in Sumter, SC, and all administration, warehousing, etc. is located there Your call will be answered by our staff and your needs met promptly. Nu-Idea routinely manages projects of all size and scope for its customers


Shuffles, kicks and other nifty moves covered the dance floor at La Piazza, in celebration of business professionals making a difference in Sumter for another year.

The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce's Annual Gala honored the 2022 professionals who continue to better Sumter's education, younger spectrum, nonprofit work, military and the top honor, Business Person of the Year.

"(It) is what I believe to be only the second most prestigious award in our community, only behind the Key to the City," said Chris Hardy, president and CEO of the chamber. "This award has been going on for several years now."

There was no professional more deserving of the Philip L. Edwards Business Person of the Year than Talmadge Tobias, former city manager and current broker manager at RE/ MAX Summit on Broad Street.

There are several criteria a nominee must meet to qualify for the prestigious award: they must have a successful track record of business over a period of years, must demonstrate the

integrity of a businessperson that is synonymous with the bearer of the award's name by giving back to the community and show dedication to the success of their employees personally and professionally. Tobias did exactly that in his decades of service to Sumter.

He has not only served in many capacities in Sumter through the American Heart Association, Sumter schools, Sumter Rotary Club, the American Red Cross, Sumter Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, the Sumter Touchdown Club, economic development, business partnerships, the military community and as past chamber chair, but he has also served through local and state government capacities for 39 years, a majority of which was served as Sumter's city manager.

"I cannot think of someone more deserving of this award," said Chip Chase, who spoke for FTC, the sponsor of this year's award. "He has earned the respect of those in our industry. His business ethics, sense of responsibility, service to our community and political awareness put him in a position of

Business & Industry

leadership where he is recognized as a person to seek advice from."

With just under two decades of experience as a broker manager in Sumter, he has kept his employees at the forefront of his business, maintaining an open-door policy to his 30-plus employees at RE/MAX Summit in Sumter. That is what being a businessperson is all about.

"I certainly appreciate this. We live in a community that I love dearly," Tobias said. "Sumter is a wonderful community, and I love it dearly."

He was born and raised in the community and came back to help Sumter's financial standing after leaving for 12 years. That return wasn't a difficult decision for Tobias because he knew he and his family needed Sumter as badly as Sumter needed his expertise in the business realm. However, he knows it's his team throughout the years who really made a difference in the community.

"No one is successful without the staff and the dedicated employees that you have, and we have a bunch of them," Tobias said.

Former city manager, business professional wins Sumter Chamber's Business Person of the Year award at annual gala

With Rep. Murrell Smith's election to S.C. Speaker of the House, Sumter is represented at the chamber's highest level.

Murrell Smith

reflects on 22-year tenure serving Sumter, leadership growth amid transition to House speaker

On Thursday, April 28, 2022, House representatives on the Ways and Means Committee began to file into their Blatt Building meeting room at 9 a.m. sharp. Several bills were scheduled for approval, but the chairman of the committee was nowhere to be found.

Almost every staff and committee member joked around as they waited, knowing Murrell Smith was one to arrive fashionably late. The 53-year-old's staff even predicted that he'd slip in through the staircase adjacent to his office rather than up the elevators just five minutes past.

meeting," Smith said, asking the members to give him a break. "Oh, I'm getting corrected by staff over here as usual. We may meet next week."

What was new to the meeting was a matter that Smith's colleagues dreaded, a message from Smith himself. He delivered his resignation letter from the chairman position in preparation for transition to House speaker.

"It's been an honor to serve with you," he echoed down the two rows. "It's been a blessing and an honor to serve on this committee."

If you're not moving up, you're moving out. At the end of the day, to make a difference, you need to come over here and you need time to build respect amongst your peers and to build trust with them. That's what moves you forward.

"I'm never here on time," Smith said with a smirk as he stepped out of his office.

In a matter of seconds, he pulled his jacket over his shoulders and adjusted his ensemble. He made his way onto the committee floor at 9:07 a.m.

"Are we ready to roll?" he asked, sitting at the head of the table with committee members split down two rows to his left and right.

They jumped right into the meeting without hesitation. They knew this was a big and busy day for him.

Humor filled the room between agenda items; this was nothing new to the committee. At one point, Smith was even called out for a small mistake.

"This is my last committee

On May 12, at 5 p.m., the Sumter Republican retired the chair to Rep. J. Gary Simrill, R-York County. He no longer sits in his office facing the University of South Carolina or sits in on the Ways and Means Committee as he has for more than 10 years, since 2018 as its chairman. He instead made the move to the opposite corner of the building's fifth floor, getting a surreal view of the state's capital from the House speaker's office.

Although the view is great, as well as holding the highest seat in the House, Smith said it wasn't easy leaving the chairman position or a seat on the Ways and Means Committee behind.

"Obviously moving on, I love this job. This has been a great job for me. It's been very rewarding. It exposed me to a lot of what state government


is about," Smith said about the Ways and Means Committee title while signing passed bills at his desk. "It's a transition. I feel like here I get to do things that benefit the entire state appropriations and making decisions of economic development and things of that effect, but now I'm kind of in charge of the House."

"Smith said he still gets to make policy, but his role has changed to a less involved one within the House. He said the Ways and Means chair position is "the greatest job in state government," but he knows the House speaker position will be just as beneficial.

pretty good for Sumter. He will stay engaged and active. It's just wonderful for our home community in a position like that."

However, McElveen knows Smith was the best fit for the top seat in the House.

"He is a master politician," McElveen said. "The position he's got now, you're talking about managing 124 members of the House. That's a lot. That's a lot to hold together. But I think he's got the skill to do it."

Sumter still has one representative who remains on the Ways and Means Committee, which McElveen said is a bonus for Sumter County. David Weeks, D-Sumter, remains on the committee and was also proud to see his friend climb the ranks; both Smith and Weeks were elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and have served the same tenure.

"Murrell has evolved, and when I say evolved, he is good in every leadership quality that he has and has slowly emerged and blossomed," Weeks said. "If there ever was a good time to have this position, this is the perfect time for it. He has slowly worked his way through the position. He has had several positions of leadership, and all of those things were gearing him up and getting him ready for the ultimate. This is the ultimate."

Smith is the first Sumter representative to take the position since the 1980s. The last House speaker from Sumter was Ramon Schwartz Jr., a Democrat who represented Sumter from 1969-1987 and served as speaker from 1980 to his retirement.

Smith always knew the political realm was his calling. He was a government major in college and had a heart for his community.

However, members of the Sumter County Legislative Delegation agreed that seeing him leave Ways and Means wasn't easy.

"I told him, selfishly, for Sumter, I liked him in his old position," Sen. Thomas McElveen said. "The Ways and Means chair has a pretty broad influence over the budget, and the last two budget cycles were

"It's one of the highest levels, highest offices of state government. It's obviously a proud moment for me and for my family and more importantly for my community. I think that speaker runs the House and controls the committees, the committee process and bills, but again, the unique part of this, to me, is giving Sumter a seat at the table," Smith said. "When I first got over here, Sumter was an afterthought.

""He is a master politician. The position he's got now, you're talking about managing 124 members of the House. That's a lot. That's a lot to hold together. But I think he's got the skill to do it."
-Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter

Nobody really had the ability to bring anything to Sumter, and now we've been at the forefront of major initiatives in the state."

In the past few years, Sumter has seen progress in economic development. A few he noted were the development of a new behavioral health center, a nursing home and a couple veteranfocused facilities.

Smith helped push those benefits in Sumter, which he said would be hard to believe to his 31-year-old self on day one in the legislature.

"I came over here, literally had not been to the Statehouse since my fifth-grade class trip. I didn't even know where it was to be honest," he laughed. "I never thought I'd be over here more than six or eight years, and I always said, 'Oh, I'm only going to be over there for a little while. I'll go back and practice law.'”

It took the convincing and wise words from a friend and Sumter businessman to keep him fighting for Sumter's place on the map and supporting the little man in statewide communities.

"If you're not moving up, you're moving out," Smith said. "At the end of the day, to make a difference, you need to come over here and you need time to build respect amongst your peers and to build trust with them. That's what moves you forward."

Smith dedicated his political career to his main support system - his wife, Macaulay, and two children, Bee and Murrelland Team Sumter, the people who got him to where he is today.

"I've had one heck of a ride. I wouldn't trade any one minute of it," Smith said. "It's so ingrained in me."


Elected officials


• Patricia Jefferson, director

• 141 N. Main St. Sumter, SC 29150

• (803) 436-2310

• Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.


Lindsey Graham (R)

290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5972

508 Hampton St., Suite 202 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 933-0112 public/

Tim Scott (R) 104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-6121

1901 Main St., Suite 1425 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 771-6112

Ralph Norman (R) 569 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-5501 454 S. Anderson Road, Suite 302 B Rock Hill, SC 29730 (803) 327-1114

James E. “Jim” Clyburn (D)

200 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-3315 1225 Lady St., Suite 200 Columbia, SC 29201 (803) 799-1100


To email a member of the state Senate:

Thomas McElveen, (D-Sumter) District 35 Sumter 508 Gressette Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6132 Sumter Office: (803) 775-1263 Columbia Office: (803) 212-6132 Home: (803) 778-0597

Kevin Johnson, (D-Manning) District 36 Clarendon, Darlington, Florence, Sumter 606 Gressette Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Business: (803) 212-6024 Home: (803) 435-8117


To email a member of the state House of Representatives:

Will Wheeler III, (D-Bishopville) District 50

Kershaw, Lee, Sumter 422B Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Bishopville Office: (803) 4845454

Columbia Office: (803) 2126958 Home: (803) 428-3161

David Weeks, (D-Sumter) District 51 Sumter 308D Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201

Sumter Office: (803) 775-5856

Columbia Office: (803) 7343102

Home: (803) 775-4228

Fawn Pedalino (D-Manning)

District 64

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

Murrell Smith, (R-Sumter) District 67 Sumter 525B Blatt Bldg. Columbia, SC 29201 Sumter Office: (803) 778-2471 Columbia Office: (803) 734-3144 Home: (803) 469-4416

SUMTER COUNTY COUNCIL Council meets at 6 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday at 13 E. Canal St.

Carlton Washington (D) District 1 13 E. Canal St. Sumter, SC 29150 Home: (803) 436-2102 cwashington@sumtercountysc. org

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

Jimmy Byrd Jr. (R) Vice Chairman District 3 P.O. Box 1913 Sumter, SC 29151 Mobile: (803) 468-1719 Fax: (803) 436-2108

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

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

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

Eugene "Gene" Baten (D) District 7 P.O. Box 3193 Sumter, SC 29151 Home: (803) 773-0815

SUMTER CITY COUNCIL Council meets on the first Tuesday at 1 p.m. and the third Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St., 4th floor. Trustees are nonpartisan

David Merchant Mayor

26 Paisley Park Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 773-1086

Anthony Gibson Ward 1

James Blassingame Ward 2 3060 Foxcroft Circle, Sumter 29154 (803) 840-1029

Calvin Hastie Sr. Ward 3 810 S. Main St. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 774-7776

Steve Corley Ward 4 115 Radcliff Drive Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 305-1566

Colin Davis Ward 5

720 Oak Brook Blvd. Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 494-3337

Gifford Shaw Ward 6 28 Paisley Park Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 773-5918


Attend virtually by searching “Sumter School District Board Meetings” on YouTube, or watch on Facebook @SumterSCSchools. Trustees are non-partisan.

Daniel Palumbo Area 1

Brittany English Area 2

Ralph Canty Sr. Area 3

Tarah Cousar Johnson Area 4

Shawn Ragin Area 5

Matthew "Mac" McLeod Area 6

To find contact information for school board members, go to

Your Guide To



Ranked as one of the top community colleges in South Carolina*, the University of South Carolina Sumter has a faculty and staff dedicated to student success. Students come to USC Sumter for many reasons, whether it be to complete some of their general education requirements, earn an associate degree or work toward one of 19 bachelor’s degree programs offered online through Palmetto College. These degrees can lead to some of today’s most in-demand career opportunities in public health, early and elementary education, computer science and more.

In 2021, USC Sumter began offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in partnership with USC Aiken. Graduates of this program are prepared for a career in a variety of settings. The nursing curriculum at USC Sumter offers not only the basics in nursing procedures, but also hands-on, practical clinical experiences. A BSN program graduate will also earn the necessary background for post-graduate nursing education. The nursing program is approved by the South Carolina State Board

of Nursing and is fully accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

USC Sumter offers many of the same experiences that students have at a large university. In fact, USC Sumter’s athletics program fields a total of nine sports, including baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer and volleyball. The school also boasts the first collegiate Esports team in South Carolina.

No matter your path, USC Sumter has flexible and convenient options to help you reach your goals.

Campus offices are open Monday through Friday to help you navigate the admissions and registration process. Financial aid and scholarships are available. Visit and apply today.

*Ranked #2 by for 2022.

60 | 2023 LIFE IS GOOD IN SUMTER Jobs for the future Pocotaligo Spec Building 1 Nova Molecular


Sumter School District 1345 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter, SC (803) 469-6900

Elementary Schools

Alice Drive Elementary School 251 Alice Drive, Sumter (803) 775-0857

Cherryvale Elementary School 1420 Furman Drive, Sumter (803) 494-8200

Crosswell Drive Elementary School 301 Crosswell Drive, Sumter (803) 775-0679

High Hills Elementary School 4971 Frierson Road, Shaw AFB (803) 499-3327

Kingsbury Elementary School 825 Kingsbury Drive, Sumter (803) 775-6244

Lemira Elementary School 952 Fulton St., Sumter (803) 775-0658

Manchester Elementary School 200 Clark St., Pinewood (803) 452-5454

Millwood Elementary School 24 Pinewood Road, Sumter (803) 775-0648

Oakland Primary School 5415 Oakland Drive, Sumter (803) 499-3366

Pocalla Springs Elementary School 2060 Bethel Church Road, Sumter (803) 481-5800

Rafting Creek Elementary School 4100 Hwy. 261 North, Rembert (803) 432-2994

R.E. Davis College Preparatory Academy 345 Eastern School Road, Sumter (803) 495-3247

Shaw Heights Elementary School 5121 Frierson Road, Shaw AFB (803) 666-2335

Wilder Elementary School 975 S. Main St., Sumter (803) 773-5723

Willow Drive Elementary School 26 Willow Drive, Sumter (803) 773-5796

Middle Schools

Alice Drive Middle School 40 Miller Road, Sumter (803) 775-0821

Bates Middle School 715 Estate St., Sumter (803) 775-0711

Chestnut Oaks Middle School 1200 Oswego Road, Sumter (803) 775-7272

Ebenezer Middle School 3440 Ebenezer Road, Sumter (803) 469-8571

Furman Middle School 3400 Bethel Church Road, Sumter (803) 481-8519

Hillcrest Middle School 4355 Peach Orchard Road, Dalzell (803) 499-3341

R.E. Davis College Preparatory Academy 345 Eastern School Road, Sumter (803) 495-3247

High Schools

Crestwood High School 2000 Oswego Road, Sumter (803) 469-6200

Lakewood High School 350 Old Manning Road, Sumter (803) 506-2700 or 803-506-2704

Sumter High School 2580 McCrays Mill Road, Sumter (803) 481-4480

Sumter Career and Technology Center 2612 McCrays Mill Road, Sumter (803) 481-8575

Alternative School

Sumter Academy for Support and Intervention 475 Crosswell Drive, Sumter (803) 774-5900

Adult Education

Sumter County Adult Education 905 N. Main St., Sumter (803) 778-6432

Charter School

Liberty STEAM Charter School Administrative Office 117 N. Main St, Sumter, SC 29150 (803) 720-5652


Ragin Preparatory Christian Academy 68 Market St., Sumter (803) 774-5549 or (803) 469-6058

Sumter Christian School 420 S. Pike West, Sumter (803) 773-1902

Thomas Sumter Academy 5265 Camden Hwy., Rembert (803) 499-3378

Wedgefield University for Kids 6220 Wedgefield Road, Sumter (803) 494-3887

Westside Christian Academy 554 Pinewood Road, Sumter (803) 774-4406

Wilson Hall 520 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter (803) 469-3475


Central Carolina Technical College 506 N. Guignard Drive, Sumter (803) 778-1961

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 398 Shaw Drive #112, Shaw AFB (803) 666-7401

Morris College 100 W. College St., Sumter (803) 934-3200

Saint Leo University 2751 S. Wise Drive, Sumter (803) 469-0026

Troy University 465 Rast St., Sumter Sumter campus (803) 773-0025; Shaw campus (803) 666-3313

University of South Carolina Sumter 200 Miller Road, Sumter (803) 775-8727

Webster University 398 Shaw Drive, Shaw AFB (803) 666-2254


Central Carolina sees 20% enrollment jump

Increase due to various factors, including no-cost tuition, new branding, more flexibility


2018: 3,550

2019: 3,361

2020: 2,885

2021: 2,640

2022: 3,205* (projection, as of Sept. 9)

* Reflects 21% increase from Fall 2021. Entire state technical college system up about 10% from last fall.

Source: Central Carolina Technical College

Central Carolina Technical College President Kevin Pollock says "it's an exciting time for the college." Who would not be excited with a more-than-20% enrollment increase last fall?

As of Sept. 9, 2022, CCTC had 3,205 students this semester. No-cost tuition has been a big factor in the jump of more than 550 students compared to one year earlier, but other keys include the school's new evening college program and increased marketing efforts, he said.

Central Carolina first did no-cost tuition in January 2022 for all programs of study and saw an enrollment spike that

semester for the first time in years, Pollock explained. Summer enrollment was also up from one year before when some programs featured zero-cost tuition.

No-cost tuition was back for all programs in the fall, and student headcount was up about 21.4% from Fall 2021, according to early projections.

The zero-cost tuition initiative is a result of new state COVID-19 education relief money paired with other college funding so that every current and potential student would qualify.

Most colleges in the state offered nocost tuition for the fall term, and statewide enrollment is up about 10% compared to last year at this time, according to data.

Another factor helping all the schools is a "recovery from COVID" to some extent, with more people being out and about and coming back to school now, Pollock added.

He also attributed local college increases to a new, internal marketing program that included radio spots, a TV commercial, billboards, new branding and increased outreach to local businesses and school districts.

The result is basically all academic programs have increased enrollment, including the college's technical programs of study.

For example, Pollock said, the welding and mechatronics programs are full now and have waiting lists.

"Those students from the technical programs are coming through getting job offers right away," Pollock said. "To see those starting to fill back up again will be a big thing for the community because those students who graduate stay here locally and work in the local businesses and we are filling those needs from those



Allied health programs, such as nursing and surgical technology, are at maximum enrollment, he added.

Pollock said everyone at the college, including faculty and student services, played a part in the increased messaging and that it was "a great team effort."

Another factor in the growth is CCTC's new evening college program that kicked off in Fall 2022.

About 100 students participated in the night program that started with a series of courses. The goal is to augment the program and grow it, moving forward, he said, giving the example of possibly offering 4 p.m. courses where businesspeople can swap their lunch hour and still be home for dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Training for the future

Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) is a public institution of higher education primarily serving Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties by providing innovative programs designed to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for all residents. CCTC offers associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in the areas of business, public service, industrial and engineering technology, health sciences and the arts and sciences through traditional and distance learning instructional methods. In addition to excellence in teaching, the college provides credit and continuing education programs and student support services to prepare students to enter the workforce, earn college credit before high school graduation, transfer to senior colleges and universities and achieve their professional and personal goals.

The college offers more than 50 academic programs, multiple transfer programs and a full array of student support services. Central Carolina was named the “Best College/University” and “Best Place to Work” for The Sumter Item’s Best of Sumter 2021 readers’ choice competition. As the regional resource for training and education, the college is committed to abundant learning through excellence, integrity and innovation.

"So, we are looking at those kinds of options," Pollock said. "We are really trying to look at what are the needs and what are the wants of our population and deliver those courses when people really want them. Not everybody can take classes between 8 a.m. and 3 or 4 p.m. during the day. With a low unemployment rate, we need to be flexible." Join today and take advantage of all the financial benefits available for our friends and neighbors here in the Midlands. 800-763-8600 Contact us |

Mortgages | Auto Loans | Credit Cards | Personal Loans Financial Counseling | Online Banking | Mobile App

Mortgages | Auto Loans | Credit Cards | Personal Loans Financial Counseling | Online Banking | Mobile App

Mortgages | Auto Loans | Credit Cards | Personal Loans Financial Counseling | Online Banking | Mobile App

Join today and take advantage of all the financial benefits available for our friends and neighbors here in the Midlands.

Contact us |

Contact us |

Contact us |


Mortgages | Auto Loans | Credit Cards | Personal Loans Financial Counseling | Online Banking | Mobile App Join today and take advantage of all the financial benefits available for our friends and neighbors here in the Midlands. 800-763-8600

Join today and take advantage of all the financial benefits available for our friends and neighbors here in the Midlands. 800-763-8600



Morris College


Morris College has high hopes for its students. To ensure they reach their full potential, it is giving them ample space and opportunities.

The college unveiled its new building in Fall 2022, Innovation Technology Laboratory, housed in its science building.

At the start of the event, President Leroy Staggers announced that the college would be introducing three new majors in the coming months - one of which will be an Esports and Video Game Design major by Fall 2023. As job markets continue to change and expand, the college wants to ensure current and future students have ample opportunities to explore them, he said.

Lewis Graham, academic dean for the college, hopes the Esports program has a positive impact on the college, the community and the country and announced the college has also developed a micro-credential certification to assist students and the community in the gaming industry.

"These steps are direct responses to the job market demands," he said. "The ultimate goal is to improve the academic offering of Morris College, to provide opportunities for our students and improve recruitment for the college."

According to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, Morris' enrollment was 979 students in 2011. In fall 2021, it was 402 students, and it was 403 students in fall 2022, according to the college.

To better understand what awaits students in the Esports work force, the college invited a renowned expert in the field, Gerard Williams, also known as New York HOT97's "HipHopGamer."

Tuning in via Zoom with his energetic nature, he shared that he was taught to play video games by his grandmother at 4 years old and has built a multi-

million-dollar career around their once shared activity through the years. He broke down his Esports into two categories: talent and business.

On the talent side, Williams is a gaming content creator who streams live across various platforms and features celebrities like Tyler Perry, Kevin Hart and Angela Basset, to name a few on his show. He also produces music for games like NBA 2K and Watchdogs as well as features as characters in the games. On the business side, Williams partnered with businesses like Logitech G and Advanced Micro Devices, which is the chip manufacturer of CPUs and GPUs that power gaming consoles and PC gaming systems. He is also the first gaming journalist to bring video gaming journalism to the radio through Amra & Elma, can be heard across 3,500 radio stations and features as the weekly host of the show "Get Money Gamers," which combines gaming and finances on the New York Stock Exchange, he said.

"Morris College is lit, and I want to bring as much as I can here to make it authentic, valuable and lucrative permanently," Williams said.

Williams explained for nongamers that the future is centered on technology and multi-faceted, and in order to get students engaged, you have to "meet them where they're at." Lawyers, film makers, technicians, engineers and more are still needed to be able to develop video games effectively. He encouraged everyone to "not be intimated by seeing a controller," as "there is so much more that can be done in this field."

To the gamers in the room, Williams made one thing clear: Though it may be fun, it is still considered work. But the beauty of turning a hobby into a career is that students are able to become certified in an Esports area and begin

"These steps are direct responses to the job market demands. The ultimate goal is to improve the academic offering of Morris College, to provide opportunities for our students and improve recruitment for the college."
-Lewis Graham, academic dean at Morris College

working with Blaze Fire Games through its partnership with the college.

"If you apply yourself to the gaming industry just for playing games but you don't put the work in or try to understand what's needed in the world of Esports competitively, then it's not going to work for you," he said. "Know what you want and apply yourself in that actual position so you can turn it into a career for yourself from a gaming standpoint, because it's definitely there."

Staggers also said the college has the opportunity to integrate its cybersecurity major with Esports. Radman Ali, the director of cybersecurity academic programs at the college, said the integration of Esports with its cybersecurity program takes it one step further into a world that challenges the extent of its imagination.

Kriss Weissmann, director and head coach of Esports at USC Sumter, welcomed the college into the realm of Esports. As USC's Esports director, he has met students who would have never gone to college had it not been for the Esports program. He explained that students can play at a club level, which brings students of all levels of gaming experience together to play, or at the competitive level with other student teams across the world to win rings, trophies and scholarships. Regardless of their level of gaming expertise and what they would like to do in the Esports field, Weissman assured that everyone can find their place.

Morris College partnered with various organizations to bring its laboratory to life. Angela McDuffie, CEO of Midlands Father Coalition, and Keith Ivey, director of programs at the coalition, worked closely with Staggers and the college to assist students in treading a path toward financial stability through early exposure to a career field they can flourish in. Alongside the coalition, Blaze Fire Games was also an instrumental partner. Sumter native Isaiah Reese, CEO and co-founder of Blaze Fire Games, spoke highly of the college's efforts - highlighting at length Staggers' leadership to bring the vision for the Esports program to life - to create a brighter future for its students. He also brought along a special guest to show the college the impact this industry can have on young minds - his 12-year-old son Michael, founder of Blaze Fire Games.

Reese echoed Williams on the importance of meeting students where they are as he pointed out his son opted for his Blaze Fire Games hoodie and Crocs rather than a suit. The college is pouring into its students, and by exclusively offering credentialing in cybersecurity, Esports and video games, it is doing wonders at recruiting, reclaiming and retaining its students, he said.

With so much excitement surrounding the new lab, once the symbolic blue and gold ribbon was cut, students and

community members rushed inside to get a look at its creation.

Rows upon rows of brightly lit computer screens lined the floor. In the center of the room, where many of the younger attendees gathered, was a platform a few feet off the ground and mounted TV screens used to display the students competing in a friendly competition with each other. They cheered for one another, unbothered that they were playing against each other. Those not in the competition recorded the entire scene for social media, boasting about the fun they would all have being able to play together.

Though the space will be used to help usher in the new Esports major at some point, the students are allowed to use the lab in their free time as a hangout spot.

Drake Deal, project manager for Pinnacle Network Solutions, of Florence, explained the lab design and setup is entirely unique as the business only sets up for Esports arenas, not club stations - but for Morris College, they made an exception and were thankful to be included.

Two students, who originally enrolled at the college for cybersecurity, were excited to be able to explore another facet of the college before they enter into the work force.

"I chose cybersecurity knowing that eventually I would go back to the Esports gaming field because this is really what I want to excel in for my career," said Javier King, a senior cybersecurity major at the college. "I'm very blessed to be a part of this opportunity before I graduate because this is really what I wanted to do when I was a freshman."

King dreams of starting a career in Esports as a gaming tester or developer and working his way up to being a gaming expert and one day an executive in a gaming company.

Rebekah Grissett, a junior cybersecurity major at the college, said though she is not much of a gamer, she has a lot of interest in the marketing side of the gaming industry. To know that the college is willing to go the extra mile to allow her to explore those interests is unbelievable, and she hopes her peers take advantage of that.

"I've seen the upside and the downsides; the program is constantly changing. In college, take as many chances as they give you because not at every school are they willing to hand out scholarships left and right, to give out internship opportunities. There are places where people are not learning this stuff," she said. "For a college that you go to to be so willing to pour into you, when they offer you stuff, you take it even if you're not interested in it. These are opportunities that they're handing to us for free; all you have to do is do your part."





Denise Robinson

As education has continuously evolved, a library is no longer considered a library but instead a "media center," and who better to talk about the transformation than Sumter School District's Teacher of Year Denise Robinson?

Robinson, who was awarded the district's highest teaching honor just before the 2022-2023 school year, is in her 10th year now as Willow Drive Elementary School's media specialist and

Sumter School District's

Points of Pride

• Accredited by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission

• Purple Star School District

• Over 80 National Board Certified teachers

• Palmetto Gold and Silver Award recipients

• Drop-out rate below the state average

• International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme at Sumter High School

• COGNIA Accredited STEM schools - Alice Drive Middle School, Bates Middle, Alice Drive Elementary, Sumter Career and Technology Center

• 10 STEM Cohort Schools

• 14 AVID Schools

• Four Leader in Me SchoolsCherryvale Elementary, Rafting Creek Elementary, High Hills Elementary and Shaw Heights Elementary

• Three Arts in Basic Curriculum Schools - Cherryvale Elementary, Kingsbury Elementary and Crestwood High

• Lakewood High School, Grammy Signature School

• Crosswell Drive Elementary, Model School Designation

• National and state recognition for academic, fine arts and athletic programs

• South Carolina Department of Education approved eLearning district

• One-to-Global Technology Initiative

• Over $500,000 worth of classroom library books donated to schools through Sumter Education Foundation

• Ben Carson Reading Rooms at R.E. Davis College Preparatory Academy, Shaw Heights Elementary and Manchester Elementary

• State Teacher of the Year Finalists

• Partners in Education initiative for mentors and community partners

• Principal for the Day

• Universal free breakfast and lunch

• Full-day Prekindergarten program

• Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) program

• Air Force Junior ROTC at all high schools

• Extensive offerings for

"There is a time when kids are expected to sit down and listen and do some paper-and-pencil activities, but there is also a lot of times when they are up and working together in groups or working with a partner."

took a moment from her busy slate to discuss the ins and outs of the job.

Traditional books are still prevalent in a media center, but add to that Chromebooks, science-based activities, QR codes and other technology to help students learn in today's world.

She is actually the school's Chromebook manager and resident tech expert. Robinson is passing along some of those duties this school year, she said, because her position entails working with all 500-plus students in the K-5 school.

"We also do a whole lot more STEM activities now," Robinson said. "It used to be more that it was 'Sit and Get,' and now that is not as much. There is a time when kids are expected to sit down and listen and do some paper-and-pencil activities, but there is also a lot of times when they are up and working together in groups or working with a partner. Or even sometimes, it's an independent assignment that they may be working on, but it's just for them to be hands-on and learning through that."

Given all the focus in schools on science, technology, engineering and math and more attention these days to adapting to particular students' learning modalities or modes, "the library is not necessarily a quiet place anymore," she added.

Robinson is in her 23rd year in public education, all in Sumter County, and calls it a passion to always get better.

Her background allows her to be a "Swiss Army knife" of sorts for Willow Drive.

She spent 10 years as a second-grade teacher, three years at third grade and one more year as a math coach, before becoming a media specialist 10 years ago. That allows her to be familiar with various standards required from the state Department of Education and a lot of her time is spent reinforcing the classroom subject areas, Robinson added.

"The experience helped me be very comfortable with all of the grade standards because I don't just do reading in here," she said. "It's working and teaching across the curriculum. We do a lot of hands-on science and STEAM activities where the kids are learning different standards from the classroom. So, it was a great benefit to be a classroom teacher and then come into this part of it."

extracurricular, athletic and fine arts programs

• Special programs: Mild Intellectual Disabilities, Moderate Intellectual Disabilities, Specific Learning Disability, Emotional and Behavioral Disorder, Blind/ Low Vision, Orthopedically Disabled, Deaf/ Hard of Hearing, Communication Disorder

• Career Technical Education (CTE) in the middle and high schools, in addition to programs offered at the Sumter Career and Technology Center

• Environmental centers located at all three high schools

• Talented and Gifted program

• Advanced Placement courses

• Dual Credit courses with USC Sumter and Central Carolina Technical College

• Early College program through USC Sumter

• Adult Education program

• Comprehensive guidance

• School psychologists and social workers

• Alternative programs for at-risk youth

• Service learning


WilliamWright Jr.


Family, character and leadership are all important concepts for new Sumter School District Superintendent William Wright Jr.

He worked eight years in manufacturing – six in management –before going into public education. Given his work schedule, he had served initially as a substitute teacher on his days off from the plant just to earn some extra income with a wife and two young children.

Sometime later - in 1998 - a friend who served as human resources director of Nash County Public Schools told him to apply for a business vocational teaching position.

Wright initially laughed at the idea, but – with the encouragement of his wife – he took the interview.

The principal at the time, Clint Johnson, told him that he would love to hire him and thought down the road Wright would make an “amazing school administrator.”

So, he initially took a $13,000 pay cut as a business education classroom teacher, Wright said, but the rest is history.

He credits team and leadership concepts that he learned in manufacturing as being important in his career development.

Here are “7 things” Wright chose to represent himself and tell his story.


Wright considers family “a blessing and a responsibility,” he said. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons, Tré and Deonté.

Both sons have done well academically and are “men of character” and gainfully employed,

“I am very proud of that fact and talk about it often,” he said. “Quite honestly, being two African American males growing up in the Southeastern United States, that is a pretty good thing for them to be as successful as they are. My youngest son just bought a house, for instance. I didn’t have to give him one dime down on his down payment. He did every bit of it himself. So, I am proud of those kinds of things.

“My wife and I have been married 33 years. It is an amazing marriage, and quite honestly, we had some folks who said we would not last six months. So, look at us now.”


In March 2020, Wright was diagnosed with a sarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in tissues like bone or muscle. A 10-centimeter growth in his right inner thigh was removed through an excision that June, he said, at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North

While scanning for the sarcoma, doctors learned he had a 2-centimeter mass on his right

“On Oct. 13, 2020, I had the two centimeter mass removed from my right kidney, and the rest of it remains intact,” he said. “Shortly after that with the scans and checks, I got to ring the bell about Nov. 1, 2020. So, two years later, I

continue to be cancer-free and very thankful.”

Cancer made Wright look at himself differently, he said. Before his diagnosis, Wright said, he “had life planned out: I was going to work another three or four years, retire and do what I wanted to do.

“Honestly, being diagnosed with cancer,” he said, “it really made me understand that tomorrow wasn’t promised. And I am trying to rush life away and plan it out. I wasn’t really flexible with that. I have always been a flexible person with others, but not so much with myself.

“What it taught me is to cherish each day and understand that each day you are given is a gift and you need to maximize and make the most out of it. So, now when I am talking about retirement or future plans, I am not definitive with those. I am more of, ‘I just want to enjoy life and maximize the opportunities.’

“And it probably led me to even coming to a place like Sumter. I probably would not have taken the chance on coming here and leading a larger district, had it not been for that challenge because it would have been easier to just ride it out where I was.”

He added that “positivity” and “keeping his faith strong” were important elements in his fight.

Wright said he was never a tattoo person, but he has a tattoo on his right arm that is a result of his cancer survival.

“It is a Polynesian design and so some of the images in that ribbon are symbols of strength and being a warrior,” he said. “So, it’s a very intentional design in my fight to remain cancer free.”


At the start of his career, Wright was also a radio broadcaster.

Fast forward to about two years ago, and he was seeking an outlet for his passion to help aspiring leaders – both in education and other fields – prepare for challenges they will encounter, Wright said.

His wife gave him the idea of doing a podcast.

“She linked it to my former radio background, and said, ‘William, I think you would be really good at it. Why don’t you look into it?’”

He did, and his inaugural podcast of The Wright Experience was in February 2021 with the intention of doing it once or twice per month on Facebook Live.

“Once I started, it gained steam pretty fast,” Wright said. “So now, I am doing it every week – on Thursday evenings.”

He broadcasts it on both Facebook Live and YouTube.

“It’s going better than I expected at this stage,” Wright said. “We have primarily focused so far on educational leaders, but I do have a few podcasts with health care leaders and university presidents. And my goal is to expand it; so down the road, I would look to want to have legislators occasionally and business owners. Some of the manufacturing leaders who I have made contact with here in the area, I want to try to get them on. I am not limiting it to just educational leaders, although we want to continue to spotlight those as well, so people can know what is going on in districts.”



Wright is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the largest predominantly African American intercollegiate fraternity and one of the 10 largest fraternities in the nation. He said he was encouraged to join by Bishop William Barber II, who is now a civil rights activist and pastor of a church in North Carolina. A fraternity brother, Kenneth Pittman, who had about a 40-year career in manufacturing management, is Wright’s biggest confidant and mentor.

“Kenny and I play golf together all the time when I can,” Wright said. “He’s kind of like my sounding board as well as mentor.”


Music ministry is a big part of Wright’s life. He has been playing for churches since he was 9 years old and for a total of 37 years. He took 10 years off from it after high school. For about 30 years, he played every Sunday for churches, Wright said. After becoming a district superintendent last decade and given the demands of the job, he decided to back away some, but he still serves one Sunday per month at Union Hill Baptist Church in the other Nashville – small-town Nashville, North Carolina, in the eastern part of the state.

“There is one choir that I have kept, and I have been playing for that church for 26 years straight,” Wright said. “It’s Union Hill Baptist Church Gospel Choir, and that choir sings on fourth Sundays each month. I play keyboarded instruments for the choir, and my wife is the choir director and teaches vocals.”


Wright is classified, if you will, as “the family griller” on both his mother’s side and father’s side of the family.

He learned at a family reunion about 25 years ago from a second cousin, who was a chef in the Washington, D.C., area.

“He said at the time, ‘Do you want to learn how to cook on the grill?’

“Now, what he was really doing was soliciting a helper because he had all this food to cook. But I learned kind of how to season food and so forth. Since then, I do charcoal grilling, gas grilling, smoking. I have cooked barbecue pigs, smoked turkeys - a little bit of everything. And it’s kind of expected now that when we have family gatherings, I do pretty much all the meats.

“My youngest son is probably going to be his generation’s cook. He’s into it, too, and and does a lot of grilling.”


A big sports fan, Wright has been a big follower of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals since he was 6 or 7 years old. Why the Bengals?

“It’s really this simple,” he said. “It started as a result of a McDonalds contest back in the day where you could win a Big Mac if you guessed the question right. It was a Cincinnati Bengals question about quarterback Ken Anderson, I guessed it right, and so I have been a Cincinnati Bengals fan ever since. There is nothing other than that.”

In November, Wright went to his first Bengals home game with one of his sons.

He had seen them play a couple times before in Baltimore and Charlotte.

“They played the Carolina Panthers, and we won,” he said. “So,

4 5 5 7
The Wright family: From left, Tre; his fiance, Lindsey; Mary; William; and Deonte.


The world may be at our fingertips, but the internet can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Whether you’re new to the Sumter area or wanting to refresh your memory of what’s available all around us, here’s a short list of some helpful websites to help you stay in the know.

Websites to know

The Sumter Item:

The Sumter Item Digital Archives:

Top 10 Things to Discover in Sumter: community/top10

Sumter School District:

City of Sumter:

Sumter County:

Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce: www.sumterchamber. com/

Sumter Economic Development:

Shaw Air Force Base:

Sumter Police Department: dex.php

Sumter County Sheriff’s Office:

Gov. Henry McMaster’s Office:

Find a COVID-19 vaccine location:

Find a COVID-19 testing site near you: covid-19-testing-locations

Social media sites to follow

The Sumter Item’s Facebook: @theitem

The Sumter Item’s Instagram: @sumteritem

The Sumter Item’s Tik Tok: @sumteritem

The Sumter Item Sports’ Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @theitemsports

The Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Sumter Facebook group: groups/585976795338109/

Sumter School District’s Facebook: @SumterSCSchools

Sumter Police Department’s Facebook: @sumterscpolice

Sumter County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook: @SumterCountySheriff

Sign up for The Sumter Item’s free daily email newsletter to receive headlines and story bites, advertising promotions and other community information:

R esou R ce list

City of Sumter’s Facebook: @SumterSC

Sumter County’s Facebook: @SumterCountySC

Your Guide To


When you care about the place in which you live, you want to give back.

The Sumter Item has been in the community since 1894. Its owners wanted to do more than deliver the news, which is a critical community service itself. In 1969, the late Hubert D. Osteen Jr. and his wife, Jackie, started the Fireside Fund, an annual wintertime fundraiser that helps provide heat to those in need.

Each year between November and Memorial Day, the newspaper asks readers to donate money in support of the campaign. Every penny is donated to Sumter United Ministries, which uses the money to help its clients with heating final-notice bills, propane access, housing updates and other efforts to help provide safe, cost-effective home heating.

SUM is an emergency and liferebuilding nonprofit based in faith. While they provide services such as clothing and food donations, educational

outreach, a free medical clinic and other basic and quality-of-life necessities, access to heat during the winter months is a consistent and critical need.

Kevin Howell, director of the Crisis Relief Ministry at SUM, said the agency has started seeing clients request help with heating earlier in the last couple years with the COVID-19 pandemic and now inflation crunching budgets. They begin communicating with clients about the Fireside Fund and their ability to help based on the amount of donations that come in starting Nov. 1.

"Inflation has brought more seniors to our ministry than usual," Howell said. "Many returnees but also a number of first-time seniors asking for help. Fuel prices (kerosene, propane, natural gas) are among the most prone to inflation."

Each Wednesday during the campaign, The Sumter Item updates donation totals and tells the story of a client who has benefitted from the generous


The Item's leadership team picks a person each year who has recently passed away to which the year's campaign will be dedicated. The person honored is someone who made a positive impact in the community, whether through service or philanthropy or business leadership.

The fundraiser has donated nearly $1.8 million to efforts to help heat people’s homes since 1969.

To add impact throughout the year, The Item started Summer of Caring in warmer months. This campaign also fundraises for SUM, but the money can be used for any of its ministries, from paying final notices on electric bills or offering emergency beds to giving medical evaluations or distributing food and clothing.

This fundraiser has donated more than $41,200 since 2014.


Anyone in need of assistance with heating or heating utility costs can call Sumter United Ministries at (803) 775-0757.

Community Service
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The nonprofits in Sumter County are run by a wide range of Sumterites coming together to serve the community, from trash pickup and food and clothing distribution to groups helping people recover from disasters.

Many of these nonprofits have been running for decades but are always looking for volunteers and donations.

“Most of these nonprofits in Sumter don’t care about the money. We just need the manpower to be able to help others in our community,” said Jeff Wright, founder of the By Name Project.


In the 1990s, concerned citizens and the Sumter Ministerial Association determined that churches were not equipped to deal with the number of requests for crisis assistance in the community.

In January 1994, Sumter United Ministries opened its doors to help relieve some of these requests by providing the platform for Sumter churches to meet the needs of the elderly, working poor, disabled and homeless.

“People are helped, lives are changed, and relationships form,” said Mark Champagne, executive director.

The organization has since grown to be able to help with crisis relief, home repair, a homeless shelter, a cold weather shelter, education assistance and medical


Its mission is to emphasize independence, education, employment and a relationship with God.

“By helping families in crisis, we yield a positive return on investment for the whole community,” its website says.

Sumter United Ministries is governed by a 13-member board of directors and staffed primarily by volunteers.

“My favorite part about working here at SUM is that I love uniting people together as God leads and watch great things happen,” Champagne said.

• For anyone interested in joining, Sumter United Ministries is at 36 S. Artillery Drive, or call (803) 775-0757.


What originally started as Sumter County Council on Aging is now a

Community Service

program that helps advocate for Sumterites ages 60 and up.

Sumter Senior services was organized in 1968 as a private nonprofit and was designed as the focal point for aging services in the county for programs, services information and advocacy for older adults.

“We are not a nursing facility. Our clients are 100% independent, but we are here to assist residents over 60,” said Gail Wilson, director for Sumter Senior Services.

It is part of a statewide network of service providers for seniors. They work under the direction of the Bureau of Long-Term Care and Senior Services, a division of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Its members strive to provide opportunities for physical, mental

and emotional wellness that supports independence and enriches the quality of life for older adults.

Wilson said they receive funding from state grants and help from the local United Way and Sumter County Council.

Members of the organization believe they have an obligation to assist older residents who spent their working years building up the Sumter community and to provide access to programs and services that assist seniors in living in a home setting for as long as possible.

Sumter Senior Services provides core services like home-delivered meals, senior centers, transportation, nutrition, health/wellness programs, volunteer opportunities and referral services.

Wilson said they are always welcoming new volunteers and wants more people to know that they are there to assist.

“Our seniors love the interaction they

get with staff. They just love to get out of the house,” Wilson said.

• Anyone interested in getting involved can visit The organization is at 119 S. Sumter St. Anyone is welcome to volunteer, but there is an interview process they must go through.


Originally founded in the early 1940s, United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties only served Sumter until 1978. Clarendon County was added in the ‘70s and Lee County followed in 1987. Today, the organization funds over 30 community partner agencies.

The nonprofit brings organizations and individuals together to address


the health, education and financial stability needs of each community. The locally governed organization is made up of an independent volunteer board of directors of nine members of the community. Each volunteer lives in Sumter, Clarendon or Lee counties, and they serve as United Way’s primary decisionmakers.

All money donated, unless specified, goes to helping the basic needs for food, shelter and utility assistance as well as assistance to victims of home fires, sexual assault or domestic abuse and education for children.

• There are three opportunities for residents to get involved through United Way: Derby Day, United Way Diamonds and Reading Success AmeriCorps. More information on each of these events can be found on at


When founder Jeff Wright felt it was his calling from God to begin a street ministry, he created The By Name Project in 2016. The goal was simple: find people who others ignored and befriend them.

“If they looked hungry, offer them a meal. If they seemed lost or lonely, lend them an ear,” the group’s website says.

Weeks after starting the program, Wright found others who felt the same purpose, and the project grew to four committed members and many volunteers.

Wright said what makes the nonprofit unique is they take the time to get to know the person in need, their story and check on them to continue support.

“Hence the name, ‘By Name Project’, we get to know these people on a personal level, and it lets them know that there are people who want to support them,” said Adam Anderson, executive director.

They hold a bi-monthly park event, where on the first and third Saturday of each month, the group meets at 305 Dingle St. Park and gives out meals to the community.

The project opens its trailer for people who need clothing, shoes, hygiene items, books and other things the community might request.

Both Wright and Anderson said word of mouth is how their nonprofit and others get their names and missions out there.

“We also have people who want to help but are nervous or introverted. We have other things they can do to help us out and the community, like sorting through donations,” Wright said. They are always looking for volunteers to help at events and behind the scenes.

• To donate or volunteer for the By Name Project, visit their Facebook page or website

With more than 20 years of project history, Sumter Green exists to keep the Sumter community beautiful.

Some of the projects Sumter Green has worked on include the development and maintenance of the Shaw overpass plantings, various landscaping efforts and seven welcome entryways.

“You don’t want to come see a pile of litter, awful-looking things, so that is our main focus is beautification in Sumter,” said Lynn Kennedy, former director of Sumter Green.

Under the guidance of the board of directors and volunteers, they are always ready to take on more projects and receive suggestions from Sumterites.

Kennedy retired in December 2022 and hopes the person who takes her place will help bring in these new ideas and to continue what she did for nearly 14 years.

Sumter Green receives many volunteers from First Citizens Bank and Federal Credit Union, but Kennedy said they are always looking for new people to join.

Not only are they always looking for people to help, but donations are always a bonus for the nonprofit.

Kennedy said most Sumterites don’t realize that at each entryway to the citgy, they have a light and water bill they pay to keep the landscaping fresh. They also pay for labor with planting flowers and other expenses.

• People can get involved with Sumter Green during three huge events they have: Earth Day, Fall Feast and Untapped. Attending the community events helps send proceeds to the nonprofit, but the best way to apply for these events or to volunteer is on their website,

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Articles inside

Meet the S.C. Speaker of the House, a Sumter representative article cover image

Meet the S.C. Speaker of the House, a Sumter representative

pages 54-57
Meet Sumter School District’s superintendent article cover image

Meet Sumter School District’s superintendent

pages 68-70
Pet-friendly places ........................................................................ 41 Shooting ranges ............................................................................ 45 Elected officials article cover image

Pet-friendly places ........................................................................ 41 Shooting ranges ............................................................................ 45 Elected officials

pages 58-60
eSTEAM and Sumter Economic Development ............................. 51 Top 10 industrial employers ......................................................... 52 Meet the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year article cover image

eSTEAM and Sumter Economic Development ............................. 51 Top 10 industrial employers ......................................................... 52 Meet the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year

page 53
Travel down Sumter's newest greenspace .................................... 38 Crosswell Park basketball courts article cover image

Travel down Sumter's newest greenspace .................................... 38 Crosswell Park basketball courts

pages 40-41
Disc golf courses and tennis courts ................................................. 33 Swan Lake Iris Gardens article cover image

Disc golf courses and tennis courts ................................................. 33 Swan Lake Iris Gardens

pages 35-39
Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital .................................................... 28 Meet Sumter Family YMCA's CEO article cover image

Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital .................................................... 28 Meet Sumter Family YMCA's CEO

pages 30-31
Sumter Opera House .................................................................... 15 Learn about the Sumter County Cultural Commission article cover image

Sumter Opera House .................................................................... 15 Learn about the Sumter County Cultural Commission

pages 18-23
Tandem Health article cover image

Tandem Health

page 26
Golf courses article cover image

Golf courses

pages 42-43
Parks and recreation article cover image

Parks and recreation

pages 32-34
Dining in downtown Sumter ........................................................ 10 Art and music organizations ......................................................... 16 Free public art .............................................................................. 20 Local farmers markets article cover image

Dining in downtown Sumter ........................................................ 10 Art and music organizations ......................................................... 16 Free public art .............................................................................. 20 Local farmers markets

pages 24-25
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