By the second day of 2018, when Wayne George began his service as the sixth executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, he had already begun the process of meeting stakeholders in every corner of the state.
Municipal Association Executive Director Wayne George visited the
Town of Nichols soon after Hurricane Florence.
In meetings both planned and unplanned, he met with Municipal Association board members, elected officials and city staff. As the year comes to a close, he expects to hit triple digits: at least 100 meetings on the road.
The purpose of the visits, George said, was "to meet, greet and listen," to gain knowledge, ideas and suggestions.
Growth of medium-sized cities outside of more urban areas stuck out to him in places like Mauldin and Clemson. In the smaller towns, he said he saw firsthand the conflict of aging infrastructure and funding limitations.
The road trips, George said, "gave me a good insight on what the needs are in the cities and towns of South Carolina."
The feedback he received soon led to a new Municipal Association offering. Recent elections meant a record number of new elected officials, so the Association hosted an orientation session for them in Columbia in May. It brought 43 new officials from 31 municipalities and is now planned as an annual event.
As part of the Municipal Association's emergency committee, he also made his way to areas hit by the storms of 2018. He visited the Town of Nichols soon after Hurricane Florence, a time when the flooded Town Hall could be reached only by large National Guard vehicles.
The disasters and successes in cities and towns this year made for an up-and-down year, but George said that through all of it, he gained a deeper understanding of the value that the Municipal Association's programs and affiliates bring to cities and towns, and the ongoing need of making local government officials and staff aware of all the resources available to them.