Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Population 1-1,000: Town of Edisto Beach


The Town of Edisto Beach has a small population of permanent residents but accommodates up to 15,000 visitors daily during the summer months. Thanks to Edisto’s compact area, residents and visitors alike enjoy the scenery and ambiance of the town on foot or by bicycle.

Since the safety of all who enjoy Edisto is of utmost importance to town officials and local residents, the community came together to address sidewalk issues.

Using a combination of funding sources and a multi-phase approach over the course of 15 years, the Town of Edisto Beach repaired and drastically improved its sidewalks to make them safe, attractive and ADA compliant. Officials funded the project in five phases using a combination of accommodations tax revenue, “C” funds, and federal and state transportation grants.

Throughout the project, local officials involved community members and other entities, including  the South Carolina Department of Transportation; the electric, cable and phone companies; and the garbage collection contractor. Sidewalk replacement was combined with planned resurfacing projects and drainage improvements, saving the town money and inconvenience.

In addition, SCDOT expanded the town’s main thoroughfare, Palmetto Boulevard, from two lanes to four lanes. Bike lanes were added throughout the town and along Highway 174, the only access road to the island.

Tourists and residents of Edisto Beach are safer, due in part to the new sidewalks. Some things are worth the wait.

Contact Deborah Hargis at dhargis@townofedistobeach.com or 843.869.2505 x 213.

Population 1,001-5,000: City of Isle of Palms

 

During the summer, tourists flock to Isle of Palms to enjoy the surf and sandy beaches. There is no shortage of activities for residents and visitors to enjoy. However, during the off-season, city officials are always on the lookout for fun, family-focused activities to engage residents and visitors.

The Isle of Palms has long been a popular spot for residents and visitors to walk their dogs, especially after the city established special off-leash hours during the off-season for furry beach-goers. The city-run dog park has also been wildly popular.

Doggy Day at the Rec came about as a new way for the city to give canine residents and their owners even more chances to interact. Doggy Day brings together the city's animal control staff with the community and their precious pups.

Island dogs and out-of-town pups are invited to compete in creative categories like "Most Ear'Resistable," "Best Smile" and "Best Costume." Audience members answer dog-related trivia questions for prizes and interact with community animal organizations.

While highly entertaining, the event is inexpensive for the city and relatively simple to plan with the help of sponsors and the public. The minimal budget covers goodie bags for participants, promotional materials for the event, and a photo booth for owners and pets.

Most importantly, Doggy Day provides pet owners with the opportunity to register their dogs with the city and to vaccinate their dogs against rabies. Animal welfare groups are also on hand to promote rescue and adoption.

Not surprisingly, combining city services with the chance to watch Isle of Palms' cutest strut their stuff has made Doggy Days one of the city's most popular events of the year. In the future, city officials plan to include participation from military dogs, search and rescue dogs, K-9 units and service dogs.

Contact Desireé Fragoso at desireef@iop.net or 843.886.6428.


Population 5,001-10,000: City of Fountain Inn


A decade ago, a committee of community members and city staff put together a progressive master plan called Fountain Inn Forward. One of the plan's major goals was to improve Fountain Inn's central business district, especially a dangerous and deteriorating Main Street.

The four-lane highway that runs through downtown was efficient at moving traffic but not much else. Downtown was missing critical safety signals and way-finding signage, and the sidewalks were cracked and narrow. The thoroughfare lacked proper drainage and greenery, and new businesses were in desperate need of additional parking.

Funding this ambitious project was the biggest hurdle that officials faced. They knew the massive project would require both city dollars and funding from other sources. After several attempts, officials secured a matching grant from the South Carolina Department of Transportation. A variety of government agencies and local utility providers provided the rest of the funding. Throughout the project, city officials sought the public's input and regularly consulted business owners along Main Street.

When the project was completed, Fountain Inn's central business district was transformed. Sidewalks and sewers were repaired, signage and safety signals were installed, and shrubbery was planted. Occupancy in downtown buildings has almost doubled. Instead vehicles of being funneled rapidly through downtown, visitors are being lured to stop and explore Main Street. These days in Fountain Inn, tourists and residents alike enjoy a stroll down a bustling and beautiful Main Street.

Contact Eddie Case at eddie.case@fountaininn.org or 864.862.4421.


Population 10,001-20,000: Town of Bluffton

 

The old house in the Town of Bluffton could have been demolished. But town officials recognized that it wasn't just any neglected site. The Garvin-Garvey House, built in approximately 1870,  is a rare surviving example of a home built and inhabited by a freedman's family immediately after the Civil War — and the only one on the May River.

Like most historic structure rehabilitation projects, the Garvin-Garvey House project promised to be challenging. So the town hired an historic preservation consultant to assess the structure and plan the project. 

In 2008, the town took steps to stabilize the collapsing structure, which was overgrown with vegetation. In 2014, the town re-stabilized the house after weather and termites led to the natural deterioration of the initial measure. During this time, a new foundation and flooring deck were installed. A reconstructed lean-to addition was built using the same framing techniques found throughout the original structure. 

The project seamlessly wove together historic and new materials of the same dimension, exposure and thickness. The original interior wall boards, floor boards, roof rafters, shake shingles, trim and door were retained with all of the original finishes.

The town funded the project through grants, private donations and other public funds, and the town's accommodations tax revenue.

Open to the public since 2017, the fully rehabilitated site offers insights into American history while bringing to life the Garvin-Garvey family experiences and Gullah-Geechee culture. The Bluffton Historical Preservation Society provides guided tours. The town, which is developing an informational exhibit and interpretation design for the site, plans to have additional tours and host cultural events at the site to celebrate African American history and the Gullah-Geechee culture.

In preserving the Garvin-Garvey House, the town also created a model for future redevelopment projects on public land. The project show how to create a community unifier, an historic asset and a tourism destination from a single preservation project. At the same time, the project pulled together historical preservation organizations, state agencies, private citizens and cultural groups for support, funding and celebration. 

Contact Debbie Szpanka at dszpanka@townofbluffton.com or 843.706.4534.

Communications: Town of Mount Pleasant


Mount Pleasant is one of the fastest growing cities in America. Town leaders understand that decisions made today will significantly impact residents into the future. They found ways to engage residents more to hear their diverse perspectives.

To develop their government outreach initiatives, town officials not only studied best practices from around the country but also asked the public, both in person and online, how they would like to participate in town affairs. To be successful, officials knew they had to "get town hall out of town hall," meet residents where they already were and include them in informal interactions.

Local officials created the Government Outreach Office dedicated to civic engagement and developed four innovative, but low cost, programs that can be replicated in all cities regardless of their size.

Coffee with the Mayor takes places at a local business where residents can come and discuss current events and concerns. Residents feel heard and, as an added benefit, the event supports a local business with the purchase of coffee and breakfast for attendees. Similarly, the town administrator holds mobile office hours at different locations in the community.

The town also schedules community roundtable meetings with community organizations, civic groups and neighborhood associations. These meetings give time for these groups to meet with their elected officials and senior city staff members to discuss community priorities, preferences and opinions. The small-group format allows for more in-depth discussion in an informal setting.

The fourth program is the town administrator's monthly E-brief. The electronic newsletter is filled with important information about local issues and city services.

In Mount Pleasant, officials have implemented targeted efforts to transform their relationship with the public from merely customer service into collaborative partnerships.

Contact Lauren Sims at lsims@tompsc.com or 843.884.8517.


Economic Development: City of Sumter

 

Around 2007, City of Sumter officials were struggling to find new or alternative funding sources to attract new businesses and industry to the area.

Joining an effort initiated by the local chamber of commerce, city and county officials agreed to collectively encourage the community to invest in itself by passing a county-wide penny capital projects sales tax. The stakeholders, with input from the community, created a list of 16 capital projects that the new sales tax would fund, primarily infrastructure and asset improvements, such as recreation, public safety, utilities and education. Then, city, county and chamber officials worked together to show residents the potential return on investment. Voters agreed to add the new tax in 2008.

The $75 million generated by the penny tax over a seven-year period has transformed the community.

Today, the Patriot Park Athletic Complex hosts large tournaments drawing visitors from all over the southeast, with a $10 million impact on the local economy. Penny tax investments upgraded utilities, rehabilitated downtown retail facilities and provided safer intersection crossings in downtown Sumter. This investment resulted in upper story housing, additional retail shops and a new hotel.

Proceeds from the capital projects sales tax also went to other projects to support economic growth, such as water and wastewater expansions, industrial park infrastructure and road improvements. The community is reaping the benefits of the investment it made in itself, including landing one of the state's largest economic development projects, Continental Tire.

While the initial 2008 penny sales tax passed by a very slim margin, voters renewed the tax in 2014 with 60 percent voting to continue the progress. The tax revenues will fund 28 additional improvement projects. Thanks to a strong plan and strong community support, the City of Sumter remains poised for growth.

Contact Shelley Kile at skile@sumter-sc.com or 803.774.1661.


Public Safety: City of Anderson

 

City of Anderson officials were disheartened and concerned by the national climate of mistrust and anger toward police. Aware that their city was not immune to these tensions, officials took a proactive step of creating the Law Enforcement and Community Relations Task Force to encourage a positive relationship between Anderson residents and their police department.  

The task force began with a partnership among the Anderson Police Department, African American Ministerial Council and the City of Anderson administration. The group launched open-forum meetings to encourage frank, and sometimes uncomfortable, discussions with the goal of building trusting relationships.

With its core mission of public outreach, task force members engaged 4,000 individuals at 63 events in 2015. They visited organizations as varied as schools, churches, nonprofits and social service providers, hosting events as diverse as ice cream socials to educational discussions. Each interaction gave the task force members an opportunity to listen and learn from residents, address questions and concerns, and build trust.

This extensive community outreach is making a difference. Among African-American leaders in Anderson, stated confidence in the police has increased substantially in one year. Total crime in Anderson has also decreased significantly, dropping approximately 16 percent in the same time frame.

The task force has no plans of slowing down. Plans to publish a community resource guide and create innovative educational campaigns are already in the works. These efforts will continue to make Anderson safe and foster positive relationships between police officers and the community they serve.

Contact Beth Batson at bbatson@cityofandersonsc.com or 864.934.3054.


Public Service: City of Florence


For decades, 20 blighted acres of property stood at the northern entrance to historic downtown Florence. Worse yet, the land contained an active junkyard with pervasive soil contamination. The land was not only unattractive to visitors but it also caused problems for residents. Many of the economically disadvantaged minority residents who lived adjacent to the property experienced higher than average rates of chronic illness.

Hoping to spur downtown revitalization and unite the community, officials initiated an ambitious 6-year project to remove the blight and build a public health asset.

After relocating the junkyard, the city completed an environmental site assessment followed by a voluntary Brownsfields Cleanup Contract. The $14.5 million clean-up project was funded with dollars from the EPA Brownsfields Grant, Brownsfields Cleanup Revolving loan fund, a local non-profit foundation and the city budget. The city successfully removed 27,000 tons of contaminated soil, 1,500 tons of debris and several underground storage tanks. The area was then backfilled with clean soil.

The next step for officials was determining what to build on the previously unused land. With the goals of improving public health and the quality of life for all residents, officials offered the land to HopeHealth, a federally qualified health center in Florence planning an expansion. HopeHealth recently completed construction of a 50,000-square-foot health center on the property that will serve predominantly low-income, uninsured patients.

The combination of public clean-up and private investment on the site has been a boon for the entire downtown area. Development in the area surrounding the former junkyard has increased dramatically, with more than $100 million of investment pouring into redevelopment.

Land that once was a blight on the community is now a unifying public asset that furthers the city's goals of advancing community health and wellness while fostering sustainable development.

Contact Andrew H. Griffin at dgriffin@cityofflorence.com or 843.665.3113.

Public Works: City of Seneca​


Constructed in the late 60s on scenic Lake Keowee, the Seneca water treatment plant supplies water to more than half of Oconee County. In the time since its construction, a residential area was developed next to the plant. Throughout the years, the unattractive facility developed operational and safety issues. A major concern for both city officials and nearby residents was the hazardous chlorine gas used during the disinfection process.

City officials formed a partnership with the neighboring homeowners' association to address residents' safety and aesthetic concerns. At the same time, they began brainstorming ways to improve the plant's operations while providing an aesthetically appealing venue for community functions.

With input from city leaders and neighborhood representatives, the project's engineers and architects developed logistical and design strategies for a new treatment plant on the existing site. Funding for the facility came from the State Revolving Fund.

While the facility was designed to complement the natural beauty of the lake, it was also constructed to accommodate state-of-the-art water treatment procedures. Addressing a major concern, Seneca no longer uses chlorine gas at the upgraded plant. Instead, the utility uses an on-site generated sodium hydrochloride process. 

The upgrade also enhanced the plant's spill containment capabilities and site security. The plant now has upgraded fencing, automated entrances and security cameras. 

The new public meeting space at the operations center takes full advantage of its scenic location. The space offers breathtaking views of the adjoining lake and turned the plant into a flagship city facility. Seneca officials have applied for LEED certification. They have also applied for Envision certification. If successful, the Seneca plant would be the first facility in South Carolina to achieve the designation from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

With the completion of the treatment plant's upgrade and the addition of public meeting space, Seneca officials have increased the visibility of an often overlooked, but essential, city service.

Contact Robert W. Faires, III at rfaires@seneca.sc.us or 864.710.4649.

Other entries


Town of Batesburg-Leesville
Town leaders in Batesburg-Leesville knew their antiquated communication resources could be costing them economic development projects and potential new residents. The town’s website and community access channel had not been updated in decades, and its social media presence was nonexistent. Also, technology and Wi-Fi speed at town hall were lacking.

Town officials made it a priority to invest in their communication efforts. They initiated conversations with community members, service providers and neighboring municipalities.

Batesburg-Leesville now boasts a clean, modern website to assist residents and attract visitors. The town became active on social media platforms, and its public access channel received an up-to-date look. A public relations firm was hired to assist with internal and external communications, and town hall received a technological makeover.

The ambitious communications overhaul will be a great resource for residents, visitors and town hall staff for years to come.

Contact Ted Luckadoo at tluckadoo@batesburg-leesville.org or 803.532.4601.

City of Camden
Visitors traveling from the interstate into downtown Camden were greeted by Camden City Arena, an aging recreational complex badly in need of repairs. Vines grew over chipped paint, and an unpaved parking lot lacked designated spaces. The interior of the arena wasn’t much better. Kitchens were inadequate, stagnant air lingered in need of an HVAC system, and the architectural style was outdated.

Hoping to restore the arena to its original purpose and create a more attractive entryway into downtown, officials set aside money in the annual budget for a massive overhaul of the building. Before hiring a design firm, city leaders met with a diverse group of community members, civic organizations and business owners to amass a comprehensive list of recommendations for the new facility.

The long-term planning and meticulous design process paid off. The Camden City Arena is now an attractive and functional space for community members to enjoy. The versatile space can transform from hosting job fairs to staging basketball tournaments. The building’s architectural style was also changed to complement other downtown buildings. Local officials are pleased with a durable investment that meets the needs and matches the aesthetics of the community.

Contact Caitlin Corbett at ccorbett@camdensc.org or 803.432.2421.

City of Clinton
For many years, the City of Clinton hosted two well-received events to celebrate Fire Prevention Week and Public Power Week. The trouble was that the events were held simultaneously. Realizing they were hosting competing events, city staff decided to combine their efforts. The result was FirePower.

FirePower was a natural fit because fire prevention and electrical safety go hand-in-hand. By combining budgets, staff was able to secure large-order discounts on handouts, promotional materials and giveaways.

The combined events are a hit with the community. In addition to offering important fire and electrical safety and prevention educational materials, fire and electric utility personnel and their vehicles are on hand for demonstrations as well as meet and greets. Food, drinks, bounce houses and fire dogs provide fun for the whole family.

Now residents in Clinton don’t have to decide which event to attend and which one to miss; they can enjoy a larger, more dynamic FirePower!

Contact Mary-Wallace Riley at mriley@cityofclintonsc.com or 864.200.4503.

City of Columbia
The City of Columbia’s Police Department understands that without the public’s trust, effective policing is impossible. Leaders of the department have found the best way to promote this trust is to actively and positively engage with the community. Beyond the Badge—a program that requires newly sworn officers to spend a week immersed in their community—encourages just that kind of engagement.

Beyond the Badge came about after months of research and meetings with sponsors and partners of the program. For no additional funding beyond the officers’ salary, new graduates from the Criminal Justice Academy spend the first week on the job working in local social service and community organizations learning how to serve the people they will also protect.

These service opportunities benefit the officers who take away a better understanding of the community’s diverse population. Local organizations appreciate the extra assistance. The city benefits as well, enjoying a more productive and cooperative relationship between residents and their police officers.

Contact Chris Segars at cmsegars@columbiasc.net or 803.545.4143.

City of Denmark
The intersection of two major federal highways in downtown Denmark was hazardous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Drivers of large trucks encountered maneuverability issues and damaged nearby trees, buildings and light poles when trying to make the tight turns. For pedestrians, crosswalks were barely visible, and roots pushed through the sidewalks. After two years of planning and hosting public meetings, Denmark officials moved forward to create a safer, more attractive intersection.

Using federal money administered by the South Carolina Department of Transportation and working with the Lower Savannah Council of Governments, the city converted the four-lane highways into two-lane corridors with wide turn lanes. Upgraded sidewalks accommodated downtown’s large trees, and new lighting, trash cans, bike racks and benches made the intersection more pedestrian-friendly.

The project satisfied a component of Denmark’s revitalization and master plans, plus it encourages more pedestrian traffic downtown. The redesigned interchange also reduced congestion and damage to nearby structures. Pleased with the new streetscape, city officials are pursuing additional funds to improve more downtown intersections.

Contact Heyward Robinson at heywardrobinson@bellsouth.net or 803.793.3734.

City of Easley
More than a century ago, the railroad between the cities of Easley and Pickens was nicknamed the Doodle because the trains ran backward and forward, reminding residents of a doodlebug. Earlier this decade, the rail line was abandoned after bringing a century of commerce to the area. Officials in Easley were not happy to see the tracks sitting unused While at the same time, they were dissatisfied with the recreational offerings in town.

Easley officials decided to participate in the national Rails to Trails program to transform the rail bed into a multi-use trail for community members. In the spirit of the railway’s shared history, officials forged a partnership with the City of Pickens to make the trail a reality. Each city contributed half of the funds to convert the old rail bed into a tree-lined, all-purpose trail.

The completed trail is popular with residents in both cities, and coincides with the City of Easley’s strategic plan to provide more recreational opportunities and a higher quality of life for the community.

Contact Lindsay Cunningham at lcunningham@cityofeasley.com or 864.380.9923.

Town of Elgin
For many years, the Elgin Police Department operated out of a leased building separate from town hall. This forced the chief and officers to make frequent commutes between the two facilities to accomplish their work or appear in municipal court. Plus, residents and business owners looking for officers or assistance were confused about where to find them.

When the county built a new facility for the rural fire department previously housed at town hall, space became available to relocate the police department. Before the move could occur, the space that once housed fire trucks and equipment needed renovating.

Not wanting to incur debt, town officials opted to pay for the project using cash on hand. When feasible, the contractor hired local subcontractors and bought the materials from local businesses in an effort to stimulate the local economy.

By remodeling a portion of town hall, all of Elgin’s offices and departments are now housed under one roof. The project also included new council chambers, conference rooms and courtroom. A large lobby in the center of town hall now welcomes residents and visitors.

Contact Melissa S. Emmons at melissa.emmons@townofelginsc.com or 803.438.2362.

City of Gaffney
The City of Gaffney is the county seat of Cherokee County and holds the distinction of being the only county in America with three national parks, all of which commemorate the American Revolution. When the 2011 federal government shutdown closed the parks temporarily, the city hosted a celebration of the Battle of Kings Mountain. Although the parks soon reopened, a partnership between the National Park Service and city officials established Gaffney as a historic tourism destination.

City officials set aside funds from hospitality tax revenues to enhance the city’s historic tourism efforts. They created new events to celebrate the county’s unique history. One of the new events, Education Day, allows every fourth grader in the county to visit local historic sites. In the visitors’ center, city officials installed a vinyl floor map to help tourists find important Revolutionary War sites, and staff often dresses in period costumes to speak to students and groups.

These efforts have educated thousands of residents and visitors, and solidified Gaffney’s flourishing historic tourism economy.

Contact LeighAnn K. Snuggs at lsnuggs@getintogaffney.com or 864.487.6244.

City of Greenville
Greenville is thriving. Economic development shows no signs of slowing in the central business district. During the work week, the city’s population nearly doubles. Additionally, approximately 6 million tourists visit the Upstate hot spot annually. Faced with an impending parking shortage in the downtown, city officials committed to an ambitious plan to build three parking garages and a surface lot in a tight time frame.

City officials also worked closely with downtown developers to ensure that projects and parking would complement one another both in terms of purpose and design. Staff worked with construction professionals throughout the building phase of the parking projects to monitor progress and timelines. Despite an unusually rainy season, all projects were completed on time, increasing city-owned parking by more than 23 percent.

Instead of waiting for a crisis, Greenville officials acted proactively to ensure the central business district remained accessible and accommodating to growth.

Contact Brittany Moore at bmoore@greenvillesc.gov or 864.467.4449.

City of Greer
Concerned with startling statewide domestic violence statistics, low conviction rates and high recidivism rates, Greer officials decided to take a proactive step. They established a specialized domestic violence court. The monthly court session handles bench trials and pretrial conferences for cases that will be heard by a jury. 

Held on a day separate from other summary court cases, the domestic violence court gives cases focused attention. The court is able to schedule and adjudicate the cases in a shorter time period, allowing for quicker resolution within the family and faster access to services such as counseling.

Partnerships were key to establishing the court. By working with a neighboring municipality to ensure a full caseload, Greer officials successfully recruited a prosecutor from the state attorney general’s office to try the cases. 

On court day, counselors are available for both the victim and defendant, and victim’s advocates attend from both the police department and the attorney general’s office. Representatives from local domestic violence shelters also attend.

While the new court necessitated a change in process, it did not require extra funding. Court personnel are already in place, and the prosecutor and domestic violence specialists volunteer their time.

Though the program is new, officials are optimistic the specialized court will break the cycle of violence by reducing the number of repeat offenders and providing counseling for all involved.

Contact Steve Owens at sowens@cityofgreer.org or 864.416.0121.

City of Hartsville
South Hartsville had seen better days. The predominantly African-American, low-income neighborhood was in disrepair. Many of the approximately 1,100 aging homes sat empty, lots were overgrown, and litter and other debris were a persistent issue.

When city planning staff turned their attention to revitalizing the neighborhood, they knew they could not do it alone. They successfully applied to the SC Chapter of the American Planning Association for the assistance of a Community Planning Assistance Team to help develop a plan to bring South Hartsville back to life. The CPAT team visited the neighborhood multiple times, touring the area and speaking with community stakeholders.

With a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy in place, city officials got to work putting it into action. They created an oversight committee and reinstated a dormant neighborhood association, which then partnered with Habitat for Humanity to work with homeowners on renovation plans. City officials also established a residential demolition program to tear down blighted properties.

While still a work in progress, South Hartsville is already safer and more attractive. Officials are also encouraged by a recent Community Development Block Grant to further rehabilitate the neighborhood.

Contact Brenda Kelley at brenda.kelley@hartsvillesc.gov or 843.383.3009.

Town of Kiawah Island
The beach community of Kiawah Island touts endless recreational activities; however, residents had to drive 45 minutes to Charleston, the largest nearby city, to enjoy art, music and other cultural events. Many of the town’s retired residents felt the drive was inconvenient, and even dangerous, to make at night. Recognizing the shortage of cultural opportunities close to home, town officials partnered with Charleston arts organizations to bring these events directly to the island.

The newly formed Kiawah Island Arts and Cultural Events Council, made up of residents and chaired by a town councilmember, began by first enticing College of Charleston performance groups to bring their talents to island residents. This effort gradually expanded to include local artists as well as national talent. Almost all events are free and open to the general public.

Last year, approximately 17,000 people enjoyed cultural events on Kiawah Island that incorporated everything from dance recitals to film screenings to symphony performances. The town provides a small budget from its general fund and inexpensively promotes events through its social media outlets. Now Kiawah Island offers not only beautiful beaches and endless outdoor activities, but it also has top-notch cultural opportunities.

Contact Mary Q. Johnson at qjtiger@msn.com or 843.693.5707.

Town of Lexington
When Lexington officials adopted the town’s vision plan in 2012, they made sure that a major component of that plan focused on beautification efforts. They recognized the need to maintain and enhance the town’s aesthetic appeal in the midst of an incredible population boom.

The major goals of the beautification efforts included a facelift for the “front porches” of the community—the thoroughfares through which residents and visitors enter the town. The first goal involved revamping the commercial district’s Interstate 20 interchange. The plan also called for a large park at the center of downtown to host events and activities. Miscellaneous corridor improvements and new green space rounded out the plan.

These goals became a reality using various town, county and state funding sources and partnering with the Lexington Beautification Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by young professionals in town.

The public provided its input when the vision plan was written and participated in the beautification efforts through fundraising events. The completed projects increased civic pride and set the stage for the town’s continued growth.

Contact Jennifer Dowden at jdowden@lexsc.com or 803.356.8238.

City of Loris
When Loris residents began voicing the need for safe, centrally-located community spaces, city officials focused their attention on the underutilized Watson Park. With goals of encouraging community events and discouraging crime, they set to work finding funding to revitalize the park.

The City of Loris struck a deal with Horry County. The city agreed to pay for the materials, and the county agreed to provide the skilled labor. This arrangement made the park possible without a tax hike or an extra burden to the community. Officials also secured a grant to help pay for the project.

This partnership along with input from the public resulted in a refurbished park with a concession stand, bathrooms, and storage areas for gatherings or sporting events.
These upgrades are only the beginning. Recognizing that recreational opportunities play an important role in the social and physical health of the community, Loris officials plan to further improve the park with upgraded lighting, additional playground equipment and expanded parking lots.

Contact Henry Nichols at mayornichols@sccoast.net or 843.756.4004.

City of Mullins
Similar to other communities, Mullins was impacted by the recent economic downturn. The decline meant less money available for upgrading and maintaining community recreation facilities. Parks in town were run-down and no longer met residents’ needs. Hoping to reverse this trend and increase civic pride, officials buckled down to find a way to fund the expansion and renovation of two town parks.

Officials opted to use accumulated hospitality tax revenue to kick-start the projects with the remainder of the funding coming from city issued debt. With financing in place, city staff met with residents to determine what they would like to see added to existing parks.

These efforts came to fruition when the city renovated Dogwood Park and Gapway Park. There are new tournament-ready basketball courts at Dogwood Park, a small park in a historically African-American neighborhood. Gapway Park, the larger recreational facility, now boasts three new soccer fields, playgrounds and basketball courts.

Mullins residents are enjoying their safe and modern parks, thanks to the determination and creativity of city officials.

Contact David E. Hudspeth at dhudspeth@mullinssc.us or 843.464.9583.

Town of Patrick
In the early part of the decade, town officials lamented the poor attendance at monthly council meetings. Seeking a way to keep community members apprised of what was happening in town, officials included production of a local calendar in the budget.

After printing and distributing the calendar, officials knew they had achieved their goal when they noticed an uptick in the number of residents participating in local government events. They established a beautification commission, planning commission, volunteer fire department, rescue squad and a variety of town events to take advantage of residents’ growing community involvement. 

The calendar features photos taken at community events throughout the year. With each new calendar, residents look forward to finding friends, neighbors and even themselves in the pictures. The Town of Patrick’s investment in this critical communication tool makes a big difference for the small town in the Pee Dee.

Contact Rosa Lee Privette at mayor.privette@townofpatrick.com or 843.498.6994.

Town of Ridgeland
The Town of Ridgeland has experienced tremendous growth in land area and population, but municipal facilities had not kept up with development. Despite an increase in service area, Ridgeland police offices were still crammed into town hall, making it hard to serve the public and impossible to expand personnel. Officials saw a chance to remedy the situation when a local SCE&G building became vacant.

After negotiating with the town, SCE&G donated the property and the 5,000-square-foot building to the town. Town officials paid for building renovations through the U.S. Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture program, which allows a local government to use money it seizes in drugs busts for community development projects. The money allowed the town to renovate the former SCE&G building into police offices.

By forming partnerships with other private and public entities, as well as securing grant funding, officials were able to provide upgraded facilities and improve law enforcement services at no extra cost to residents.

Contact Penny Daley at pdaleyridgeland@gmail.com or 843.726.7500.