By Betsy Finklea
The many positive aspects of Dillon County were showcased at the first annual “Celebrating Dillon County” Economic Development and Achievement Summit held at the South of the Border Convention Center on Friday, January 11th.
Approximately 370 people attended the privately-funded event including municipal, county, state, regional, and national officials.
The South of the Border Convention Center provided the perfect setting for the event. The spacious venue was decorated in black and white with white tablecloths and black napkins on the tables.
The evening began with a social and hors d’oeuvres. Guests socialized and enjoyed the music provided by New Creation.
The program took place at the stage. Dillon County Administrator Tony Clyburn was the host for the evening assisted by Mikeya Murphy, a Miss South Carolina finalist.
Clyburn said the purpose for the event was “to recognize opportunity and achievement in Dillon County.”
Dr. Orlando McAuley, Jr., of Saint Matthew AME Church, gave the invocation.
After the invocation, everyone enjoyed a delicious buffet style dinner.
The program began with comments from representatives of the municipalities. Lake View Mayor Matthew Elvington, Latta Mayor Pro-Team Brian Mason, and Dillon Mayor Todd Davis all brought greetings from their respective municipalities.
Mason briefly spoke about the work to improve the infrastructure, working towards getting a county water and sewer authority, and downtown revitalization.
Davis spoke about assisting the county administrator and working with him to make him successful. He also spoke about the City of Dillon which he said was a great place to live. He talked about the focus on revitalizing Main Street and working to improve the city parks. Davis, who is not seeking re-election, thanked everyone for their confidence in him the past 16 years and said he would continue to be involved after he left office.
Judge James E. Lockemy, Chief Justice of the S.C. Court of Appeals, gave a rousing account of the history of Dillon County. He said he has never felt as positive about Dillon County’s future.
Several students were presented awards for their outstanding achievement. Among those recognized were Curry Stephens and Ryan Stephens of Dillon Christian School, Kaleigh Caulder and Matthew Mason of Latta High School, Haley Miller and Jordan King of Lake View High School, and La-Taurean Brigman and Cole Carroll of Dillon High School. A Community Service award was presented to Tremone Hester. The Dillon County Long Term Recovery Group was recognized as an Outstanding Non-Profit Group.
After the awards, Rep. Jackie Hayes offered remarks. He said that at no time in the history of this county have we had this kind of opportunity.
He said we must work together. He said all of the parts were in place to do tremendous things in Dillon County.
Senator Kent Williams also spoke about the tremendous opportunity and potential in Dillon County.
He said we haven’t even scratched the surface. He spoke about the importance of I-95, Harbor Freight Tools, and the DIllon Inland Port. He said we cannot let this opportunity pass us by.
Rep. Bill Clyburn, father of Tony Clyburn, said what happens in Dillon will have an impact all over the state.
U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn, Tony Clyburn’s cousin whom he calls uncle, was the next to speak. He is the Majority Whip for the 116th Congress. He spoke about his focus on rural development and the rural energy savings program. He said we must all come together.
Jacorie McCall, who helped organize the event, also offered brief comments.
New County Administrator Tony Clyburn was the last to speak. He outlined his vision for Dillon County. He said he chose Dillon County. Among the topics he covered were workforce development, community development, developing meaningful relationships with other counties in the area and more. He said he made the right choice in coming to Dillon County.
Rev. Rodney McCorkle ended the event with a benediction.
Afterwards, several continued to mingle and enjoy each other’s company.
By Betsy Finklea