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Population Category: 1 - 1,000: Town of Wagener

Similar to many small municipalities, the local schools in Wagener play a huge part in the town's livelihood, and town officials feel a strong obligation to help the schools provide opportunities for the students. The Town of Wagener was asked to help financially support various school organizations and extra curricular activities. Rather than give an actual monetary donation, Wagener looked for a more prudent way to provide the funding.
 
Town officials looked at the list of things that needed to be done in the town. The Town had to either hire additional town employees or contract for outside help to accomplish the projects. Officials realized many of the projects could be done by the high school groups asking for help. Town officials approached the various group leaders with the proposal, and the groups agreed they would "earn" the financial support they requested. To date, the Town has paid the groups almost $2600.
 
The football team needed funds to pay for summer camp. To earn this money, the players cleaned the town parks by painting benches, edging sidewalks, planting flowers and cleaning the fountain in the center of town.

The basketball team needed to purchase new uniforms and agreed to cut the grass around town-owned industrial property. In addition, the coaches helped install insulation when the town hall was being renovated.
 
After the town sold the building that housed its museum, the baseball team helped move its contents into storage to earn the money it needed to supplement a trip to the playoffs.
 
The local high school chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) landscaped and planted flowers at a town park for funds to send its officers to a leadership conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
 
Having the students work on town projects has encouraged them to take an active interest in the betterment of the town. As a result, students began working to revive the "Wagons to Wagener" festival. They scheduled a high school rodeo, basketball tournament, beauty pageant, parade, town-wide yard sale and craft sale to help raise funds for the town as well as the local schools.
Contact: Steve Carver, 803.564.3412

 

Population Category: 1,001-5,000: City of Travelers Rest

After conducting a community needs assessment, the Travelers Rest Fire Department determined that the community needed a permanent "Child Passenger Safety Seat Fitting Station." The 11 full-time firefighters and 25 volunteer firefighters, who were already highly trained and educated in child safety, went on to earn the Child Safety Seat Technician Certification from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Child Passenger Safety Seat Fitting Station opened in August 2000.
 
The goal of the fitting station is to stimulate changes in attitude, behavior and the environment to promote safety. The station works to raise public awareness about child safety by providing training and awareness materials and using the media to promote the program. 
 
 
When a parent brings a child to the fitting station, the main objective is to ensure the child leaves the station safer than before he or she arrived. The car seat is inspected for correct installation, company recalls, defective parts and any other safety hazards. The firefighter identifies any parental concerns or issues and educates the parent about child safety seats through hands on instruction and providing educational materials.
 
If a low-income family cannot afford a safety seat, the fitting station will provide one to them at no charge. The seats are provided by Greenville Safe Kids.
 
The station is operated by on-duty firefighters and is a free service to the public. Donations from the public are not accepted. To ensure safety seat inspections do not interfere with the firefighters' other duties, all car safety seat inspections are by appointment only.
 
It is a proven fact that properly installed child safety seats save lives, and the Travelers Rest Fire Department has been instrumental in educating the community about that fact.
Contact: Chief Richard Johnson, 864.834.5536

 

Population Category: 5,001-10,000: City of Mullins

In 1999, the City of Mullins had 25 empty buildings in downtown, five of which were condemned. City officials looked for years at practical approaches to revitalize the downtown. The Anderson Center and Mullins Technology Center were the answers to bring life back to downtown Mullins.

Mullins hired a developer to raise $2.1 million, the cost of turning five condemned buildings into 22 loft-style apartments and four new storefronts.  

With Representative Jim Battle's assistance, Mullins received a HOME grant to help fund the project. The Anderson Center became a reality because of the positive collaboration among the City of Mullins, SC Department of Commerce, SC State Housing Finance & Development Authority, SC Department of Archives & History, Pee Dee Council of Governments, Anderson Brothers Bank, Mullins Activation Committee, Greater Mullins Chamber of Commerce and Landmark Asset Services. 

The Anderson Center opened in August 2003, and all 22 apartments were rented in three months. Three of the four retail spaces have been rented with long-term leases. Completion of the Anderson Center sparked a move for more business development in downtown Mullins. Three new antique stores located within one block of the Anderson Center. As of April 2004, only four buildings in downtown Mullins were empty and chamber membership had increased 40 percent.

In addition to the Anderson Center, the City worked to bring a satellite campus of a local technical college to the downtown area. With the closest technical college 40 miles away, the City met with Florence-Darlington Technical College and mapped out a plan for turning an old salvage shop into a computer technology center. The City received a low-interest loan and acquired additional funding from an Economic Development Administration grant to help turn the old empty dilapidated building into a new educational facility.

The City leases the 4,700 square foot building to Florence-Darlington Technical College for $1 a year. The facility has more than 50 computers and three classrooms where day and evening classes are offered. A unique feature is the Hard Drive Caf", a coffee shop offering high speed Internet access to the public. The response from Marion County residents has been so good that college officials have inquired about additional space to offer more courses.

More than $4 million has been invested in the downtown improvements. By assessing the city's strengths and weaknesses, identifying partners at all levels and generating local support, the City of Mullins has a downtown it can be proud of.
Contact: Howard Garland, 843.464.9583

 

Population Category: 10,001-20,000: City of Greer

When a BMW employee shared his idea about the community working together to build a playground, the idea was embraced by the company and shared with Greer community leaders. BMW contracted with an internationally renowned architectural firm that partners with communities to build unique and innovative playgrounds. The City of Greer donated the land for the playground and brought together volunteers to form the Playground Core Committee.
 
On Design Day, playground designers asked the children what they would like to see on the perfect playground. It was then that the Ice Cream Slide, Rocket Ship, Monkey Cave, Tree House, Octopus Slide and Noah's Ark were born.
 
For the next 12 months, volunteers organized committees to refine the designs, raise funds, locate donations of tools and procure materials. The committee also recruited volunteers, arranged child care and coordinated meals for thousands of volunteers. In addition, they added artistic touches and organized the community volunteer work force who would turn the blueprints into an exciting playground.
Children submitted names for the playground, and the winning name was chosen by hundreds of children who voted on the names using Popsicle sticks as ballots. The children chose to name the playground "Kids Planet."
 
Every person working to build Kids Planet was a volunteer. The local power company dug holes for the huge support poles, and the Greer High School football team lifted the heavy wood poles into the holes. Volunteers - young and old, men and women, skilled and unskilled - rose to achieve the common goal of building a unique playground by sanding, painting, hammering and spreading gravel and mulch. Almost every restaurant in town donated three meals a day for hundreds of volunteers. Over a period of nine days, 3,000 volunteers used $100,000 of supplies and built not only an amazing playground but a unique work of art.
 
To fund this project, the Playground Core Committee established a non profit status. Over $350,000 was raised from local businesses, corporations, individuals, special fund-raisers and children bringing in pennies. One fund-raiser enabled families to have their names embedded in pickets surrounding the playground. 
 
Approximately six months after Kids Planet was opened, a grandfather visited with his grandchildren and noticed a child in a wheelchair was limited in what he could do on the playground. The grandfather offered seed money to build a playground for special needs children. With that donation as well as a Community Development Block Grant from the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority, a small committee of volunteers started working to create an additional playground for children with physical impairments.
 
Once again, the children were asked what they would want on the perfect playground. This time children in wheelchairs were asked, as well as physical therapists and parents of special needs children. The children in wheelchairs wanted to bounce, swing and go through tunnels while in their wheelchairs.
 
The board engaged a company that specializes in custom designed recreational facilities that are 100 percent accessible and designed to be built by the community. The company created the blueprints, supplied manuals, oversaw the purchase of tools and supplies, and supervised the construction of Kids Planet Too. Six area construction companies donated crews to construct major elements, and 700 volunteers helped with the construction, food, childcare, mulch and sand. In just five days, the playground was ready for play. An additional $65,000 was raised primarily through corporate donations and grants to fund Kids Planet Too and a handicapped accessible restroom.
 
The Glider Swing and Ramp offer access for individuals in wheelchairs to swing; the sand area offers elevated levels of play where children in wheelchairs can pull under the table to play in the sand; a tunnel is large enough for a wheelchair to go through; there are slides with wheelchair access, horizontal swings and even a tire swing. Pavilion shelters with wheelchair access, picnic tables and connecting ramped sidewalks were also added to Kids Planet Too.
 
One person's idea led to a city working together with businesses and thousands of volunteers pooling resources, talents and money to enhance the life of the community for years to come.
Contact: Carole Rosiak, 864.848.5387
 

Economic Development: Town of Meggett

In the early 1900s, the Town of Meggett was a major lowcountry railroad hub, connecting the waterway freight system and truck farmers. The town also served as a major distribution point for the second largest oyster and fish cannery in the state. In the 1920s, the SC Produce Association built a large two-story brick building to house the Association and the Farmer's Exchange Bank. Along with the adjacent post office, railroad depot, packing shed and large merchants building, Meggett prospered for over 30 years. However, the advent of refrigerated trucks, the decline of the oyster industry and the consolidation of the railroad led to the decline of the town.
 
In 2001, Meggett's Citizen Planning Committee studied the town's assets and made recommendations to return the town to its prosperity. With history as the driving force, the Committee developed a master plan to provide a wide array of social, economic and recreational opportunities for the citizens and surrounding areas. The project was named "Meggett 1925" to reflect the town's glory days.
 
The initial phase was to generate community support by constructing the Donor's Pavilion, a covered walkway connecting town hall and the adjacent Association building owned by the Town. The Donor's Pavilion allowed every citizen to become involved through volunteer work or financial support. The sale of brick pavers, T-shirts and Christmas ornaments helped raise funds for the project, reducing the Town's dependence on grants and other tax dollars.
 
With a SC Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant, in-kind services, volunteers and town funds, the Town is restoring the Association building, which will be leased to professional businesses to generate additional funds for the Town's project. Just across the street is the new community park featuring a pond, walking trail, shelters, benches and a playground. In addition, Meggett received a grant to install sidewalks, historical lighting and landscaping in the downtown area.
 
Future plans include reconstructing the railroad depot and packing shed, as well as the merchants building. Several interested parties are considering making the depot a restaurant, while the packing shed will be used for weekend farmers markets, art markets and antique shows. The merchants building will provide small retail spaces giving citizens and entrepreneurs quality facilities to start a business.
 
By bringing citizens and businesses together who have volunteered their time and donated talents and funds, the ambitious master plan to bring Meggett back to its once thriving existence is well on its way.
Contact: Tom Boozer, 843.889.3622
 
 

Public Safety: City of Aiken

When Captain LaLita Ashley of the Aiken Department of Public Safety told her husband about a nine-year old boy in trouble for throwing rocks at passing cars, an idea was born. The boy had managed to crack two car windows as they passed. Captain Ashley's husband said, "With an arm like that, that kid should be pitching for a baseball team."
 
Ashley mentioned the idea of teaching inner-city children to play baseball in an effort to keep them out of trouble to Captain Richard Abney during a staff meeting. A long time baseball player and coach, Abney went to work to make it happen. In the beginning, six public safety officers stepped up to the plate and volunteered their time. Soon everybody was pitching in to help the Neighborhood Diamonds.
 
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club offered bats and balls, gloves and a pitching machine through a grant from Major League Baseball. The City of Aiken's Parks and Recreation Department offered the use of their new fields behind Schofield Middle School. Schofield's After School Program helped, as well as the Neighborhood Division of the City Manager's Office.
 
Slowly, in groups of twos and threes, children wandered onto the fields from the neighborhood. Two dozen boys and girls from varied backgrounds - who didn't know how to hold a baseball bat - were soon standing up to the plate learning to swing and getting some much needed adult attention and instruction from Abney and his volunteers.
 
The next spring, Abney formed two teams to play in the city's Dixie Youth League - the Royals (ages 9-10) and the Diamondbacks (ages 11-12). Abney felt it was important these players have good uniforms. He wanted them to fit in and knew uniforms would boost their self-respect. The middle and high school students in the Junior Leadership Council of Aiken County raised over $1,000 to purchase uniforms for the team.
 
Armed with all the necessary equipment, uniforms and support, the Diamondbacks won its first official game 5-4. Each season teams continue to form, and each season the community support grows. The children know they won't be able to play ball if they get into trouble. According to Ashley, none of the children involved in Neighborhood Diamonds have committed a criminal offense since play began.
 
The police officers have developed close relationships with the children. They aren't seen as the enemy. They are coaches, and for some players, the only father figure they have.
 
By volunteering their time, the public safety officers of Aiken were able to reach these children and help keep them out of trouble by teaching them "America's favorite pastime."
Contact: Pete Frommer, 803.642.7620
 
 

Public Service: City of Sumter

The City of Sumter took an aggressive look at improving the social and economic conditions in its inner-city neighborhoods by addressing literacy, unemployment, crime and health education. Sumter applied for and received an Empowerment Zone grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
 
The development of three HOPE (Harvesting Opportunities to Promote Empowerment) Centers was the cornerstone of the grant application. The concept was developed after a series of public meetings were held in various neighborhoods throughout Sumter. Residents discussed their needs and ideas of how to improve the quality of life in their communities. After the Sumter Empowerment Zone was funded, community involvement continued. Regular meetings were held to discuss the progress and other key design elements of the HOPE Centers.
 
The City of Sumter brought together state and local agencies to discuss how their needs and services could be incorporated into each HOPE Center. By partnering with organizations such as the Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department, Wateree Aids Task Force, Sumter County Adult Education, South Carolina State University 1890 Cooperative Extension Program, Sumter County Active Life-Styles and Santee Lynches Council on Aging, the HOPE Centers have enabled the City to assist these organizations in providing existing services in a more efficient manner. The Centers offer a convenient location where citizens can obtain the services and programs offered throughout the community.
 
The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department and HOPE Center Community Volunteers provide homework assistance and teach valuable life skills in the after-school program. Recreational activities such as arts and crafts, gardening, double dutch and basketball leagues and are offered after students complete an hour of homework.
 
Sumter Adult Education provides a literacy program and courses for citizens to obtain their High School Diploma or GED Certification. Tuomey Regional Medical Center's Health and Wellness Department, Tri County Healthcare and Wateree AIDS Taskforce provide free counseling, nutritional courses and health screenings to address the growing number of health concerns in the urban area. South Carolina State University 1890 Cooperative Extension Program offers a Business and Entrepreneurship Program providing hands-on experience in small business concepts to improve economic and business development in the community.
 
To provide adequate space, each facility contains classrooms, meeting space, a computer lab, administrative offices, kitchen area, stage with a lectern and a multi-purpose gymnasium. The City provides the utilities and employs two staff persons to manage the facility's daily operation as well as two maintenance personnel. The City pays for the salaries out of the Empowerment Zone grant but is budgeting to fund the salaries in the FY 2006 general fund. Each facility utilizes a number of volunteers to provide the wide range of services.
 
By collaborating with various community agencies, the City of Sumter has begun laying the foundation that will support improving the quality of life for the more disadvantaged areas of the city.
Contact: Susan Wild, 803.436.2586
 

Other Entries

 
City of Anderson
To address the problem of blighted neighborhoods, the City of Anderson took an approach that combined enforcement with incentives. Stringent nuisance abatement regulations expanded the definition of a "nuisance" to include grass or undergrowth more than 18-inches tall, growth that can harbor vermin, old appliances, rubbish, abandoned vehicles, etc. Also, the new regulations reduced the notification and compliance period from 120 days to 14.
 
Council adopted the International Property Maintenance Code, which provides for housing codes standards and systematic code enforcement that goes beyond the Nuisance Abatement Code. Next, Council adopted regulations governing "ugly" trash. Rental property with frequent tenant relocation often results in "ugly" trash being left on the street. Landlords notify the City 48 hours prior to removing the "ugly" trash from a residence, and the City provides a trash container or trailer for the unwanted materials left behind by renters.
 
The final piece was the Junk Car Incentive Program. Once a vehicle has been identified as abandoned, inoperable or unlicensed, an owner can participate in the Program by showing proof of ownership. The City pays the owner $25, takes the car using the City wrecker to a salvage vendor and receives about $70, netting the City $45. Through February 2004, 40 percent of Anderson's abandoned vehicles had been removed or brought into compliance.
Contact: Linda McConnell, 864.231.2200

City of Clemson

Downtown parking is scarce, especially in college towns. The City of Clemson viewed building a parking deck an essential infrastructure project to ensure private investment continued in the downtown area. The project also sent a strong message that the community cared about its downtown, and business investors can feel comfortable in making a long-term investment in the downtown area.
 
The parking deck also provides "special event parking" for the Downtown Trick or Treat, Christmas Parade, Picnic in the Park, athletic events and other events that encourage increased customers for downtown retail and restaurant establishments. Hourly parking fees and monthly reserved parking fees fund the deck's operational costs. The deck's electronic parking meters take more than the usual silver coins; they take "Shop Clemson" tokens. The tokens are available to area merchants at a discounted rate to encourage their customers to use the parking deck.
 
The City is already seeing the benefits of the parking deck. Recently, a private investor submitted plans to construct a five-story mixed use building adjacent to the parking deck. This 50,000 square foot private investment marks the largest single investment in downtown Clemson's history.
Contact: Chip Boyles, 864.653.2081
 
City of Conway
Like many communities during the mid-1980s, downtown Conway began to decline. In response to this trend, Conway developed a plan to combat the decline of its downtown. A major part of this plan was creating the River Walk and Riverfront Park to enhance the natural beauty of historic Conway. The River Walk and Riverfront Park showcase the beautiful hardwood trees by the peaceful Waccamaw River while providing a serene public space. Floating docks provide access to the river. The park became a reality as a result of community partnerships and dedicated employees, businesses and citizens. The City saved thousands of dollars by capitalizing on existing employees, who helped plant shrubbery, install electrical wiring and apply asphalt. Attracting tourists and positive economic development to downtown, the River Walk and Riverfront Park area is now the center of activity for the Waccamaw Riverfront District.
Contact: Joni Jordan, 843.248.1760
 
City of Darlington
The City completed an ambitious three-year project that transformed one of Darlington's most historic houses, the Julias A. Dargan House, into the City's administrative offices. The restoration project was a true community-wide effort. The City received donations from many area businesses, sororities, civic organizations and schools. The donations ranged from building materials and artwork to floral arrangements and volunteering of time. The project was particularly significant because the City has a Certified Local Government (CLG) designation from the National Park Service, requiring the City to have a historic preservation zoning ordinance protecting historic properties, a local architectural design and review board and an inventory of historic properties. The transformation of the Dargan House allowed members of the community to realize the City truly practices what it preaches.
Contact: Michelle Law, 843.398.4000 ext. 108
 
Town of Eastover
First impressions can be critical to the vitality of a town. Taking that lesson to heart, Eastover installed almost 40 pedestrian-scale light poles in its downtown district. These lights create a safe environment for leisurely walks to local businesses. Overhead wood utility poles have been replaced with new underground wiring. Also, outdated utility meters have been relocated or replaced. As part of its streetscape efforts, the Town installed two brick welcome signs to greet residents and visitors. The streetscape project has placed such a new face, image and level of enthusiasm within the town that outsiders are starting to take notice. As proof, several large retail businesses have located in the town.
Contact: Mayor Christopher Campbell, 803.353.2281
 
City of Florence
Elementary-age children are one of the most at-risk age groups for death and injury due to fire and other emergencies. To bring fire and life safety messages to this age group, Florence officials decided to use clowns, puppets, music and magic. In April 2003, The Firehouse Gang was born. Fire department volunteers, dressed as clowns, have performed at area elementary schools and made appearances at several community functions including the annual Christmas tree lighting, the Fire Department's smoke detector giveaways and a local hospital's annual Safe Kids Day Program. The clowns have also participated in Carnival Day at Camp Can Do, an annual event for burned children sponsored by the Medical University of South Carolina's Children's Burn Unit and the SC Firefighters Association. Children who see the lively show are active participants, often asking the clowns questions after the show. With the help of The Firehouse Gang, Florence hopes to decrease its number of emergencies through solid awareness of fire and life safety.
Contact: Tom Shearin, 843.665.3113
 
City of Georgetown
Disasters come in many sizes and from many sources - wind, water, fire and ice. Those with insurance coverage or who have the financial means to borrow money can recover fairly quickly. However, those with no insurance or those who don't qualify for loans are left empty handed. A tornado in October 2002 touched down in the poorest area of Georgetown destroying 28 buildings, doing major damage to 36 more and causing minor damage on another 89. FEMA, the usual safety net, did not regard the damage as a disaster because of its low financial impact. Under the City's leadership, local churches, government agencies, businesses and non-profits formed G-CARE - Georgetown Communities Active in Relief Efforts. G-CARE's objective was to restore to wholeness those whose housing needs were not being met by traditional relief agencies. Of the 153 properties damaged by the 2002 tornados, only 10 needed to use the G-CARE safety net.
 
Georgetown took advantage of this "limited" disaster to develop the capability to meet the future needs of community members unable to receive help from traditional disaster relief agencies.
Contact: Elizabeth Krauss, 843.545.4005.
 
City of Greenville
Since 1970, Greenville's population has steadily declined from 61,000 to 56,000. At the same time, however, the county's population grew from 280,000 to 341,000. Greenville developed a plan to reverse this trend and attract new residents to the city. The initiative used data gathered by the City's GIS Department and public opinion collected during a series of neighborhood meetings. GIs data helped establish a baseline for the number of housing units and households within the city, while the citizen opinion provided officials with a clearer understanding of what factors influence the residents' choice of neighborhoods. The City undertook a host of initiatives to meet its goals, ranging from developing neighborhood associations and green spaces to creating a master plan for neighborhoods and working with developers to create housing options such as zero-lot lines, mid-rise condominiums and resident units in mixed-use development.
 
Greenville is already seeing positive results from its efforts. The housing market has grown - almost 800 new housing units have been added to the market over the last three years. The quality of life for residents remains a strong selling point to potential buyers. Citizen surveys indicate increased satisfaction with city services while the use of city parks and recreational facilities are at an all time high.
Contact: Candace Sommer, 864.467.4470
 
Town of Hilton Head Island
While creating a disaster recovery plan is standard for local governments, the way Hilton Head Island accomplished its plan was unique. In October 2001, Hilton Head Island completed a Comprehensive Hazard Vulnerability Assessment of all possible hazards that could affect the Island. The mayor appointed ten citizens to serve on a task force. They used the Assessment to develop a new comprehensive disaster recovery plan for the Town. These citizens represented a wide variety of expertise. Lawyers, accountants, architects, planners, construction contractors, retirees, business owners, landscape contractors, restaurant owners, Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce staff, planned unit development staff, county and state emergency staff, town staff, town council and the mayor were all involved. The task force identified 22 recovery functions necessary to expedite a speedy recovery by the Town, its citizens and businesses. Each function is a key element in the reconstruction/recovery process and is assigned to members of the Disaster Recovery Center.
 
Economic restoration and development was a key element of the plan. Small businesses are the mainstay of the town's economic base. Statistics show 70 percent of small businesses do not return to operation after a major disaster. The comprehensive plan outlines policies and procedures to expedite the rebuilding process for homeowners and businesses. Hilton Head Island's plan has served as a guideline for other communities. After Hurricane Isabel, Town officials met with seven municipalities on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As many did not have a formal disaster recovery plan, Hilton Head Island's plan assisted in expediting the towns' recovery process.
Contact: John Harter, 843.682.5156

Town of Irmo
Faced with continued growth that contributed to conflicts between commercial and residential interests, Irmo committed to preserving the town's heritage and beauty through various tree planting and beautification programs. Council made a firm commitment in 2000 to revitalize the "Gateways" and the downtown area. With help from volunteer and civic organizations and a mix of federal, state and local dollars, Irmo raised over $1.3 million for its projects. Council continues to add "teeth" to zoning and land development ordinances to ensure designated significant trees are protected. Police officers, code enforcement and town officials are vigilant in their efforts to protect the town's green spaces. These projects have greatly enhanced Irmo's image and enriched the lives of its citizens by defining the community as a healthy place to live and work.
Contact: Bob Brown, 803.781.7050
 
City of Isle of Palms
For years, the City of Isle of Palms wrestled with what to do with the area known as "Front Beach." The enormously popular destination was wide, unsightly, difficult to maintain and impossible for pedestrians to safely navigate. Over the years, private redevelopment in the area exacerbated the problem by decreasing the number of on-street parking spaces. The local business community became concerned because of decreased access to the beach and stores.
 
In 2002, the City tasked an engineering company with creating a more visually-pleasing, pedestrian-friendly area while not compromising SC Department of Transportation's line of sight requirements. The City wanted to slow vehicular traffic and improve pedestrian access to the beach and stores without the loss of "on street" parking spaces. Additional project requirements included installing a solar-powered, multi-space parking system and a lighting system, which would provide adequate safety lighting but not create ambient light adversely impacting turtle nesting. The solution involved removing a portion of the area from the state system. While this gave the City the responsibility for future maintenance, the positive result allowed the City to move forward with a more creative layout and the proposed road reconfiguration captured approximately one-third of an acre of undeveloped property for the City's future use. The City met with and shared the plan with every area business and all community groups that might be affected. At each of these meetings, new ideas and recommendations were made which resulted in a positive "give and take" and tweaking of the project. The final addition to the project is a piece of public art being created by a local artist.
 
The Front Beach Enhancement Ocean Boulevard Beautification Project is a $1.3 million project funded predominately with local accommodations tax revenues. In addition, the City raised nearly $100,000 by selling bricks, benches and palm trees for the project area.
Contact: Linda Tucker, 843.886.6428

City of Lake City
Lake City, like many other places, is plagued with problems identified and misidentified as racial problems. Determined to use a systematic approach, the City formed the Lake City Community Human Relations Council, comprised of all races, genders and educational, economic and social levels. The Council's objectives were to develop and stimulate programs, events and seminars recognizing the cultural diversity of Lake City while simultaneously promoting the quality of life and unity among all the citizens of Lake City and the surrounding communities.
 
A noteworthy project was the "It's All About People; Can We Talk" seminars to stimulate "talking" between the various groups - age, gender, race, economic and social groups. The seminars did not try to solve specific issues; instead, they taught participants strategies and tactics that could be used to address any issue. Several steering committee members have been trained to facilitate group discussions. These group discussions focused on ways to solve and understand racial and diversity problems by using role-playing and removing the "attack the person - not the problem approach."
 
The Committee sponsored the Lake City Community Unity Worship Service, attended by almost 100 people; Minister's Diversity Breakfast, allowing local ministers to bring about unity among all the churches, and a student program at the Lake City High School addressing the issues of prejudices.
Contact: Kenneth Feagins, 843.374.5421

City of Lancaster
The City of Lancaster employees are dedicated public servants, but they go above and far beyond what their job descriptions dictate. Community service is a way of life for these employees. Each year, the fire department builds a Habitat for Humanity house. Not only is it a needed community service, it provides valuable training for the fire personnel in building construction. This year, the firefighters teamed with YouthBuild to help mentor the students in building construction techniques. YouthBuild is a program to give high school dropouts a second chance. Police officers take on several projects under the umbrella of their Community Policing initiative. Activities range from neighborhood cleanups to organizing a summer camp for neighborhood children to serving as mentors in local elementary schools. Instead of exchanging gifts during the holiday season, employees collect food for a local organization that serves as a clearinghouse for donated goods and services. Extra money collected for the annual employee holiday lunch is used to send food to a local homeless shelter.
 
In addition, City employees are extremely active in the Adopt-A-Highway program. Last year, the employees were chosen as Lancaster County's Adopt-A-Highway Group of the Year, the SC Department of Transportation District 4 Group of the Year and a finalist for the State Group of the Year award.
Contact: Steve Willis, 803.286.8414

Town of Lexington
The Keeping Every Youth Safe (KEYS) initiative is an innovative approach to providing after-school programming to at-risk youth in Lexington. For approximately 150 latchkey children, KEYS provides academic tutoring, life-skills classes, recreational activities, role modeling, nutritional counseling and other programming.
 
By having positive activities for at-risk youth during the critical time period of 2:30 - 7:00 p.m., when most juvenile crime occurs, the program reduces opportunities for them to be involved in activities such as vandalism, substance abuse and loitering. Partners in the KEYS program include human service agencies, educators, the faith community, business and industry, grant funding resources, community service providers and law enforcement.
Contact: L.C. Greene, 803.951.4633

City of Loris
Enhancing economic development, yet preserving the small town atmosphere was the City of Loris' main objective when it undertook a five-phase revitalization program to improve the core of the Central Business District and the peripheral commercial areas. The City has already completed Phases I and II and are expected to complete Phase III by July 2004. The final two phases are ongoing with completion dates planned in the upcoming years.
 
The City has worked with a combination of business leaders, citizens and public officials to improve traffic control and parking facilities in commercial areas, rubberize the railroad tracks in the Central Business District and beautify the urban core with engraved bricks, light poles, benches and planters. Several other initiatives have dealt with economic development. This committee hopes to preserve Main Street character by initiating a Main Street USA program, instituting architectural review standards and adopting an aggressive program to put utilities underground. Loris is already seeing positive results with better access and increased traffic to the downtown area, annexation of more than 25 land parcels, several new commercial ventures and new home construction within the city limits.
 
This multifaceted program has renewed interest in the downtown area, and Loris is well on its way to being transformed into one of the finest towns in coastal South Carolina.
Contact: David Stoudenmire, Jr., 843.756.4004

Town of McCormick
Concerned with the quality and capacity of the Town's electric, water and sewer systems, the Town Council and the McCormick Commission of Public Works began setting goals for future upgrades. To upgrade the sewer system alone was estimated to cost $8 million. The cost to upgrade the electric system was projected at $1.8 million, and upgrading the water system would cost $2.9 million. With good planning, creative funding and strong local government relationships, the Town managed to make $11 million of infrastructure improvements to its town with $8.5 million in grants, $841,500 in loan proceeds and $1.8 million from capital reserves. The town now has ample electric, water and sewer capacities, operational efficiency and cost saving operations. The town has enhanced its future and ensured its economic security.
Contact: Bernie Welborn, 864.993.4335

Town of Mount Pleasant
Faced with a phenomenal residential growth rate of nine percent, the once sleepy coastal village of Mount Pleasant implemented smart growth measures with the Building Permit Allocation Program (BPAP) - the first of its kind in South Carolina. The BPAP limits the number of new residential building permits issued each year. This pro-rate program enables the Town to maintain growth rates averaging three percent through June 2007. Poised to become the fourth largest SC municipality by the next census, Mount Pleasant's BPAP is an effort to control growth, keep taxes low, protect the town's quality of life and provide for the health and safety of residents and motorists during hurricane evacuations and other times of tremendous demand on the area streets and transportation systems. Commercial development does not directly add residents to the Town; therefore, they are not limited by this system. The BPAP is consistent with the town's Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan, Capital Improvement Plan and Strategic Funding Plan.
Contact: Martine Wolfe, 843.884.8577
 
City of Orangeburg
Historically, Orangeburg provided public safety services through two separate departments - fire and police. In 1987, Council decided to combine the two departments into one public safety department. There were many detractors of the plan that predicted fire service would diminish and police professionalism would suffer. After six years of operating a semi-combined department, the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety became fully integrated in 1994 with all of its sworn members trained in and performing both law enforcement and suppression duties.
 
Since the integration, Orangeburg has lowered its ISO rating from a Class 6 to a Class 4. The City has broken ground on a new $4 million state-of-the-art headquarters to consolidate the police and fire stations. In 2003, the Department was recognized as one of only 22 law enforcement agencies and the third public safety agency in South Carolina to be fully accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).
 
The Department has initiated several innovative partnerships to increase citizen safety. It organizes and sponsors an annual "SAFE" Kid Day and provides continuous fire prevention education in partnership with the regional medical center. The City started an anti-gang initiative and obtained grant funding to employ a forensic chemist in the Lexington County crime lab to expedite narcotics evidence analysis for all law enforcement agencies in Orangeburg County. The Department's commitment to cooperative crime prevention efforts are reflected in its leadership role in a number of ongoing programs. Programs include a countywide billboard campaign focused on reducing violent crime, development of a local crime prevention and awareness television program, and creation of a "Business Watch" program for local merchants.
Contact: John Yow, 803.533.6000
 
Town of Patrick
Communication in small towns, which do not have a newspaper, is not easy. The Town of Patrick wanted a practical and attractive way to advertise various town meetings and events, as well as a way to boost community pride. The solution to this need was the Town of Patrick Calendar. The wall calendar, now given as the traditional Christmas gift from the Town to its residents, has photos of local sites and people and includes important meeting dates. This very popular calendar is an inexpensive way both to advertise the town's beauty and to encourage community participation in important meetings and events.
Contact: Mayor Wendell Perdue, 843.498.6994
 
City of Pickens
In early 2003, the City of Pickens began a yearlong volunteer effort to build a 2.5-mile nature/walking trail through its 100-acre recreation area. The Town Creek Trail Project was the result of collaboration between the City and the Pickens County United Way. With seed money provided by the South Carolina Department of Education's Learn and Service Grant, a rough plan of action was mapped out for the trail. After 16 workdays and more than 1500 volunteer hours, community volunteers completed 2.5 miles of trail with seven bridges and numerous steps and benches. Additionally, $2500 in native trees, flowers and shrubs were planted along the trail through a Kodak Grant.
Contact: Chris Eldridge, 864.878.6421
 
City of Simpsonville
Simpsonville City Council felt the community needed a gathering place that would also commemorate the men and women who served in the armed forces. Veterans Corner became a reality through the efforts of the City of Simpsonville with minimal expenditures of City funds and no corporate funding.
 
A council-appointed committee spearheaded the Veterans Memorial project, which features a monument dedicated to veterans. Fundraising efforts included seeking individual donations and selling engraved bricks for the monument's base. The bricks are engraved with veterans' names. The City's Public Works Department contributed labor and equipment to prepare the site and install the monument. Clemson University students designed a wooden model of the monument, which was then used to cut the actual monument out of Georgia marble. The monument sits on a prominent corner in the downtown and is the focal point for the city's Veteran's Day and Memorial Day observances. The monument is surrounded with flagpoles displaying a flag from every branch of the military, the State, the United States and POW/MIA flags. The Upstate South Carolina Association of Lawn and Landscapers landscaped the area surrounding the monument. Veterans Corner, with its marble sculpture of a waving American flag, is a source of pride and remembrance for the citizens of Simpsonville.
Contact: Russell Hawes, 864.967.9525

Town of Trenton
In 2003, Trenton tackled three projects that made considerable improvements to the town's quality of life without spending any Town funds. Using a Community Development Block Grant matched by funds from the local sewer authority, 15 houses received public sewer services. Department of Transportation "C" funds were used to install new sidewalks at numerous locations throughout Trenton and to pave a dirt road that has served a State Housing apartment complex and numerous other residents since 1950.
Contact: Bernie Welborn, 803-275-2538

City of York
In the fall of 2003, York City Council adopted a five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The broad scope of the projects funded, the innovative revenue sources, and the open, public process resulted in a comprehensive plan for the City. The Plan includes police department renovations, city hall expansion and improvements, renovations to the city gymnasium including a new roof, new sports floor, a master plan for the downtown area, a new public works building and enhancements to the gateways into the city. The projects totaling almost $4 million will be funded via General Obligation debt, a Hospitality Tax, the County and an increase in revenues from a franchise fee.
 
The creative process associated with creating the Plan was a major factor in its success. York conducted a needs assessment, studied the City's Comprehensive Plan and reviewed a previously adopted Redevelopment Plan. Officials also opened up the process by advertising the plan and discussing it in open, public meetings. The openness and availability of the "work in progress" resulted in community-wide support for the Plan.
Contact: Trey Eubanks, 803.684.2341