Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Santee-Lynches RCOG Attends Annual SCARC Conference

Board members attended the annual South Carolina Association of Regional Councils (SCARC) Conference in Myrtle Beach last week. This year's theme was "Celebrating the Past - Welcoming the Future" where presenters focused on 50 years of history for the ten Council of Governments (COG) within the state. Staff presented their COGs history on display during the conference for attendees to view.

Staff joined board members for their annual dinner at Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse. Dr. Mikota presented awards to board member legislators Senator Kevin Johnson, Rep. Laurie Funderburk, Rep. Grady Brown, and Rep. David Weeks for their support to the Council of Governments. Rep. Grady Brown was recognized for his many years of service in the House of Representatives and to the COG. Board member perfect attendance awards were also presented to Senator Kevin Johnson and Sammie Tucker.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Santee-Lynches COG Hosts Annual Summit and Banquet

On November 7th, 2016, the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments hosted the Annual Summit and Awards Banquet for our Board members and regional partners.

As a federally designated Economic Development District, Santee-Lynches must review the strengths and weaknesses of our region, identify opportunities to advance economic vitality and promote new strategies for economic development through public and private partnerships. At the Summit, we worked with the participants on three exercises designed to help with that review process. The first was a group exercise to identify the identity of the region 20 years ago, today, and 20 years from now. Next, the participants broke into groups of about 8 to conduct an economic development focused SWOT exercise in which they were asked to articulate the region's positive and negative features to a prospective industry. Finally, each participant was asked to take some time to individually write down as many economic development related activities to pursue as they could think of on sticky notes. Once that was done, the groups then used an Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize the activities in four categories based on urgency and importance. The exercise resulted in a set of "pursue now" items, "plan for later" items, "partner" items, and "park it" items.

During the banquet portion of the event, Dr. Michael Mikota, Executive Director, presented several awards. Rep. Grady Brown was recognized for his dedicated service and leadership on the COG Board as he retires from the South Carolina House of Representatives, Sharon Durden was presented an award for 20 years of service as an employee of the COG, and COG staff along with the Santee-Lynches Workforce Development Board, Central Carolina Technical College, Sumter Economic Development, Kershaw County, South Carolina Department of Commerce and Santee-Lynches Regional Education Center were recognized for receiving three National Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Veterans Day in Santee-Lynches

The COG had a wonderful time at the 2016 Veterans Day celebration in Sumter. HHS and workforce staff provided information about our services, and COG Board members participated in the parade and ceremony. We are proud to be able to provide our veterans with assistance and enjoyed spending time with those who made so many sacrifices for our country.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kershaw Job Fair Benefits Area

The 2016 Kershaw Job Fair hosted by Santee-Lynches Regional COG and SC Works provided 46 vendors seeking potential employees. Out of the 187 attendees, 42 individuals were hired at the job fair and 90 others were identified as good prospects. A combined 272 applications/resumes were received by the various vendors participating. The goal of matching employees for suitable positions within various agencies was a success.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

COG Staff Community Outreach

Santee-Lynches RCOG staff collected and delivered canned goods to Clarendon County United Ministries as part of our quarterly community outreach. The goods will help families who are in need or have been displaced by Hurricane Matthew. Thank you to COG board members Dwight Stewart and Mayor Julia Nelson for their assistance in delivering these items. COG staff will be completing outreach projects quarterly for other communities in our region.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Shelf Stable Meals for Clarendon County

HHS staff coordinates with Clarendon County Emergency Management to obtain emergency meals for Seniors after Hurricane Matthew. On October 13, 2016 over 4,500 shelf stable meals were delivered to Manning Senior Center and will be provided to seniors throughout Clarendon County.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

American Red Cross Disaster Relief for the Summerton Community

In the days following Hurricane Matthew, many residents in Clarendon County were left without power. Santee-Lynches Health and Human Services staff assisted the American Red Cross with providing 125 hot meals to the Town of Summerton residents. Thanks to American Red Cross and our community partners for all they do to make our region a better place!

Santee-Lynches Incumbent Worker Training Assistance

The Santee-Lynches Workforce Development Area is excited to announce that funding is now available to help private sector employers train workers to keep businesses and workers competitive. For more information, see the information below or contact Esmonde Levy, Workforce Manager for Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments at elevy@slcog.org.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Stronger Economies Together

The Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments is excited to be an active partner in the "Stronger Economies Together(SET)" program. SET is a regional economic development planning effort supported by USDA Rural Development, the Clemson Agribusiness Extension Program and South Carolina State University. In the coming weeks, two civic forums are scheduled to provide community members with a chance to engage in discussions and deliberations about the assets of local communities and the issues that are limiting their ability and that of the region to realize their full potential. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. To find out more, check out the press release below, visit the SET website, or contact Kyle Kelly at kkelly@slcog.org.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Green Infrastructure Stakeholder Session

The Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments has received a Green Infrastructure Grant to help communities in the Santee-Lynches region better assess, manage, protect, or restore their natural assets to create healthy ecosystems, communities, and economies. On September 14th, 2016, the Economic and Community Sustainability Department hosted a meeting to engage stakeholders and identify a plan for the process. Attendees collaborated and brainstormed different strategies and techniques to maintain and enhance the natural assets of the region. By bringing together individuals from different disciplines, participants were able to come up with a diverse array of ideas that could be used and implemented by cities, conservation organizations, local partners and individuals. These ideas are providing the basis for the objectives to be outlined in the final Green Infrastructure plan.

To learn more about Green Infrastructure or participate in future planning efforts, contact Kyle Kelly at 803-774-1377.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Staff Spotlight

Your name: Lewan Brunson

Tell us a little bit about your personal life. I am the middle child of two sisters. I was born and raised in Sumter, SC. In 2008 I decided to attend Winthrop University where I received my bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2012. During my time there at Winthrop University I joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and was a campus leader in various roles. I interned for a few campaigns and then decided that I wanted to work in non-profit instead. Shortly after figuring out that working with non-profits was my calling I decided to move back to Sumter, SC where I was lucky enough to intern and then be hired on with Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments.

When did you start working at the COG? July 16th 2014

What is your current position? Assessor for the Health and Human Services Department

Sum up your job in one sentence. I screen our senior citizen population for available services.

What is the project, program, activity, event that you are most proud of? The project I am most proud of is start up weekend. Just like we were able to help others due that weekend with their business idea, we were able to take an idea and make it real. I watched as our team helped put on a successful event despite the ups and downs. I think that’s what the experience even better because we weren’t sure if it was going to work out for us, but we kept persevering and I will always remember that.

What COG related project, program, activity, event are you most looking forward to? Expanding the assessment process and using the data that we collect with our assessment to team up with other departments at the COG. We have the ability to collect vital information that can predict where services are needed and if they are not current when they will be needed.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Neighborhood Initiative Program

The Santee-Lynches Council of Governments has partnered with the City of Sumter, the City of Camden and Kershaw County on the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP).The goal of NIP is to stabilize property values through the removal of blighted properties in strategically targeted areas, in an effort to prevent future foreclosures for existing property owners. NIP assists communities by stemming the decline of home values and acting as a catalyst to initiate redevelopment and revitalization in areas suffering from blight and decline. Demolition of blighted properties will have a positive effect on preserving existing neighborhoods. The photos below show just a few of the many properties that have been demolished as a result of this program. To find out more about NIP or to help identify potential properties for demolition, contact Stacy Newman at 803-774-1987.

Kershaw County Job Fair Press Release

Friday, September 9, 2016

Staff Spotlight

Your name: Kyle Kelly

Tell us a little bit about your personal life. I’m a 2006 Clemson University graduate, and I enjoy traveling around the state and southeast visiting friends and family, particularly at Clemson sporting events. In my spare time I like to read, hike, kayak, and lounge in my hammock.

When did you start working at the COG? February 2014

What is your current position? Economic and Community Sustainability (ECS) Director

Sum up your job in one sentence. I oversee the department that provides regional planning assistance and implementation of project-based solutions to regional and local challenges.

Have you held any other positions within the COG? No

What is the project, program, activity, event that you are most proud of? To date, the project I’m most proud of is VisionKershaw 2030. From July 2015 to March 2016, my team and I conducted a large amount of outreach to county residents, and developed a comprehensive vision for the entire county based on citizen input and stakeholder feedback. The final product represents something that leaders across the county can use as they plan their budgets, future initiatives, and serve the residents of the community.

What COG related project, program, activity, event are you most looking forward to? Right now, I’m looking forward to completing a regional “Green Infrastructure” Plan for Santee-Lynches. We’ve received funding from the South Carolina Forestry Commission to develop a series of asset maps and come up with policy recommendations for our local governments to consider. As a nation, and as a region, we’ve spent much time and energy on our built environment (i.e. roads and buildings), but while we recognize the importance of water quality and the environment, there hasn’t been significant effort to connect that to economic development and quantify what the unbuilt environment can mean to us in recruiting people and jobs to the area.

Kershaw County Job Fair

SC Works, the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments and our community partners would like to invite you to join us for the Kershaw County Job Fair on October 12th, 2016. Veterans will be admitted at 9:00am and the fair will open to the public at 9:30am. Be sure to bring your resume and dress to impress! For more information, contact Steve Berger at 803-774-1306.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Housing Rehabilitation Call for Applications

Sumter County Regional HOME Consortium
Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Call for Applications

Assistance is available to eligible homeowners in Clarendon, Kershaw, and Lee Counties to cover the cost of repairs and improvements necessary to bring homes to applicable standards for decent, safe and sanitary housing as required by applicable codes. This program is not intended for minor repairs, remodeling, additions, or cosmetic improvements. Eligible applicants must have incomes equal to or less than 80% of the median income level for the county in which they live.
Assistance will be available to eligible homeowners subject to availability of funds. It is expected that there will be more applicants than funding available for this program. Preliminary applications will be reviewed and prioritized according to income level, extent of need, and other factors as determined by the Sumter County Regional HOME Consortium Board of Directors. Those who are not selected in the current application cycle will need to re-apply in future application rounds.
The application period will begin August 3, 2016 and remain open until September 2, 2016. Please contact Ms. Sharon Durden at (803) 774-1988 to provide preliminary household information and begin the application process. Additional information about the application requirements and the program will be provided to households selected for assistance.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services Program

The Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services program is designed to allow veterans who are potential candidates for nursing home placement to receive that level of care in their homes. The program provides veterans with a budget and allows them to choose their own care providers in place of receiving care services from the VA health care system. The following testimony is from one of the families directly served by the Veterans Directed program at the Santee-Lynhces Regional Council of Governments. For more information about this program or to see if you may qualify, contact Gladene Heyward-Reid at 803-774-1989.

This self-directed veteran's program has made it possible for us to take care of Doug at home. We have been able to hire caregivers that come on a regular basis and we have more hours for them to care for him. He gets the attention he needs, and I get some free time, which helps me, and most of all, gives us and our family peace of mind. This program is greatly appreciated because it allows us to keep our house in good condition. Things we can no longer do ourselves, we can hire help to maintain. We would like all veterans to have the opportunity to experience this self-directed program and be able to take care of their vet at home as long as possible. Thank you Lt. Gov. McMaster and the Veteran's Administration for working together to make this program possible.

-Doug and Kitty Heim

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

City of Bishopville Receives CDBG Grant

With the assistance of Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, the City of Bishopville has been awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the South Carolina Department of Commerce for improvements to the sewer trunk line that connects the City's wastewater treatment plant with sewer lines city-wide. The grant will support construction of Phase I of the overall improvement project, which is anticipated to be a three-phase project.

"We are thrilled to have been able to assist the City of Bishopville in obtaining this grant through the CDBG Program," said Dr. Michael Mikota, Executive Director of Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments. "The award will allow the City to address a major issue with its wastewater system, which will benefit all residents of the City through reduced infill and infiltration of stormwater into the system and reduced chances for sewer overflows that might result from the deteriorating line".

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WIOA - Equipping Workers with Skills Matching the Needs of Employers

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. As an example of how this program works, consider this: The trucking industry is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Nearly 70% of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. Without the industry and our truck drivers, the economy would come to a standstill. To move 9.2 billion tons of freight annually requires nearly 3 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and over 3 million truck drivers. However, the for-hire trucking industry is facing a current shortage of roughly 25,000 drivers! Enter Mr. Keywane China and Mr. Deondre Clark. Thanks to the WIOA program, these gentlemen recently completed commercial drivers training with Xtra Mile Trucking in Bishopville, SC and have obtained their CDL credentials. Mr. China has accepted employment with Comcar Trucking as a Dedicated Truck Driver and Mr. Clark was hired by McElroy Trucking as an over the road CDL Truck Driver.

We congratulate Kewayne and Deondre on their achievement and wish them all the best in the future. If you or someone you know would benefit from skills training through the WIOA program, please visit your local SC Works Center in Sumter at 31 E. Calhoun Street, in Camden at 1111 Broad Street or via the internet at www.scworks.org or www.santeelynchescog.org/workforce-development/

Monday, June 27, 2016

STEM Camps - Inventing the Future

About a dozen students from Sumter County recently completed a week-long STEM camp for girls learning about robots and electricity, "sparking" their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. The camp was held at the Sumter Career and Technology Center and included team building and hands-on STEM activities. "The goal is to inspire young ladies to pursue STEM careers, a field which women traditionally did not pursue in the past," camp leader and mechatronics instructor Wendy Jacobs told parents on presentation day. Honda employees from the plant in Timmonsville assisted with the camp.

Students from Doby’s Mill Elementary in Kershaw County participated in a two-day STEM camp learning to engineer their own bubble wands. Instructor Amanda Raper led the students through observing standard bubbles from pre-made wands, sketching and building their own designs with pipe cleaners and straws, and testing and refining their creations. This activity teaches them the basics of engineering design -- ask, imagine, plan, create, improve – along with principles of science, all while making STEM fun.

If you would like additional information regarding STEM camps in the Santee-Lynches Region, please contact Brenda Golden, Regional Workforce Adviser at 803-651-1893.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Work Based Rental Assistance Program

The Sumter County Regional HOME Consortium has developed, in partnership with Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments and SC Works, a workforce development-focused Rental Assistance Program. For more information, see the program brochure below or contact Ms. Stacy Newman at Phone: 803-774-1987 or Email: snewman@slcog.org.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Opening of Lee County Farmers Market

The opening of the Lee County Farmers Market last Friday June 17, 2016 was a blessing for the citizens of Lee County especially the Seniors. The opening of the Market will allow our seniors to receive vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in Lee County. The Farmers Market is located at 220 E. Church Street Bishopville, SC 29010 and will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 8:30 am - 2:00 pm. I know everyone will join us in thanking the Department of Social Services and the State Office for including Lee County in their expansion.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Celebrating Fathers in the Park

Brenda Cooper, Customer Services Representative for SC Works, attended Fathers in the Park, a local event to inform fathers about available services. Brenda shared information about SC Works and the role they play in work readiness and employability enhancements. Thank you to Brenda and everyone who helped make Fathers in the Park a great success! For more information about SC Works or Workforce Development at the COG, contact Brenda Cooper at 803-774-1314.

Annual Nutrition Training

The Health and Human Services Department along with Senior Catering held Annual Nutrition Training on June 10, 2016. The training was a success!!! We look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Housing and Job Fair

In observance of home ownership month, join us at the South Sumter Resource Center, 337 Manning Ave on Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 10AM - 2PM.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Staff Spotlight

Your name: Michael Allen Heishman

Tell us a little bit about your personal life. Married for the first (and only) time to my lovely wife Beth in June 2012, moved to Sumter that same month from Richmond, VA.

Favorite Book: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Favorite Album: (tie) Amused to Death by Roger Waters and The Division Bell by Pink Floyd

Favorite Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Football Team: Pro, Washington Redskins, College, West Virginia Mountaineers

When did you start working at the COG? November 2015

What is your current position? Operations Manager – SC Works

Sum up your job in one sentence. Provide innovative concepts and a vision for meeting the needs of the region's workforce population.

Have you held any other positions within the COG? No

What is the project, program, activity or event that you are proudest of? The Lee County Job Fair, March 2016

What COG related project, program, activity, or event are you most looking forward to? The Sumter County Job Fair, May 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fair Housing Month

April is Fair Housing Month! Each year, HUD proclaims April as Fair Housing Month to commemorate the anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 which guarantees “the right of every person to live where they choose, regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability.” The theme for HUD’s Fair Housing Month commemoration this year is “Shared Opportunity in Every Community.”

In celebration of Fair Housing Month 2016, local elementary school students from Manning, South Carolina created some fantastic artwork.
Fair Housing Month 2016
Fair Housing Month 2016
Fair Housing Month 2016
Fair Housing Month 2016
Fair Housing Month 2016
Visit www.hud.gov/fairhousing to learn more