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Get involved, award winners urge

Doug Echols was a teenager looking for leadership opportunities when he first became interested in local government.

"There is tremendous reward when young people choose engagement over sitting on the sidelines," said Echols, the mayor of Rock Hill since 1998 and a councilmember for two terms before becoming mayor.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols
Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols welcomed tourists from across the
world for the UCI BMX World Championships. Photo: Rock Hill.

"There are personal benefits and the contributions to society," added Echols. "It does not have to be an elected position, but we certainly need those who seek the common good involved in community life and those who realize the value they can add to building their community."

At the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting, Echols received the Allison Farlow award, the organization's highest honor awarded to municipal officials. Rep. Joe Daning, (R-Goose Creek), received the Municipal Association's Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals outside of municipal government who contribute to the advancement of municipal government in South Carolina.

"I am very honored to receive the Farlow Award and to have been supported through the years by so many citizens, professional staff and other elected officials," said Echols.

Like Echols, Daning also saw the value of local government early in his life. Daning was not quite 30 when he decided to help protect the public's safety.

"I got interested in the City of Goose Creek in 1970 when I became a member of the volunteer rescue squad," said Daning, who was elected to City Council in 1978. "The council at that time was not very open, and I thought it should be."

2017 HLAD panel discussion
Rep. Joe Daning (far right) participated in a 2017 HLAD panel discussion.

Daning was the lead sponsor of the Dilapidated Buildings Act in 2015 and 2016 and worked with a bipartisan group of House members in 2016 and 2017 to introduce annexation legislation that would help cities provide services more efficiently. Daning participates regularly in the Association's Regional Advocacy Meetings and has served on a Hometown Legislative Action Day panel. He also worked with the Municipal Association to support business licensing legislation that would streamline the process for implementing the tax.

"Since he was elected to the House, Representative Daning has always been a champion for our cities and towns as well as a proponent of good local government and local control," said Walterboro Mayor Bill Young and former president of the Association.

While mayor of Rock Hill, Echols was instrumental in the city's sports tourism industry boom with the addition of the world-renowned Giordana Velodrome and the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track.

Children have always been his priority, so Echols initiated Rock Hill's Commission for Children and Youth. He also created the city's long-range resident-based planning group and the Mayor's Task Force for Greenways, Trails and Sidewalks.

"While active in so many of the programs of the Association, Mayor Echols was especially passionate about the programs designed to bring awareness to the value of cities and the impact cities have on the state's economic health," said Young.