In my column last week, I presented to you four watershed events in the history of Dillon County in the chronological order that they transpired.
In this week’s column, I will conclude with (in my opinion) the final four watershed events that have transpired that have also helped to shape our destiny and caused us to “Come Alive on 95” as our motto asserts.
However, before I do, I want to posthumously cite and commend one of The Dillon Herald’s most talented and effective editors who served the newspaper and the community of Dillon (city and county).
For several years, it was Mr. Paul Jones who gave me the opportunity to write articles in The Herald over 37 years ago. I will never forget him telling me, “Pastor Goings, anytime you submit an article, I am going to publish it.” Those words became both inspiration and encouragement to me.
The Arrival of New Corporate Citizens
No city, county, or country can truly prosper and grow without an initiation or influx of businesses that will give gainful employment to its citizens. True, we had a few industries in our locale that employed quite a few of our citizens, but not nearly enough. With the arrival of Dixiana Mills, Craftex, Copperstan, and of course, Wix Corporation, the tide began to shift for the citizens of Dillon County as far as them having more employment opportunities with decent wages and benefits. Due to these factors, this was a watershed moment in Dillon County.
The Establishment of Predominately Black and Minority Districts
Due to the fact that having someone in government, whether federal, state, or local, who will represent your concerns and interests is extremely important.
Until they mapped out two more districts that would join South Dillon (primarily Newtown), African Americans were grossly underrepresented on the County Council.
The creation of these District Three and District Six almost assured that there would most likely be three Black people on the County Council if the citizens of that district got out and voted. However, this does not mean that an African American will always be the best person to represent the district with the most minority citizens. Often it is not the race or color of the candidate, but his or her willingness to represent the needs and concerns of the citizens of that district and community. Nevertheless, the establishment of these districts must be regarded as a watershed moment in the history of Dillon County that gave our county government an opportunity to reflect all of its citizens, and who would govern the county.
The Arrival of Harbor Freight Tools, Perdue Farms, Wyman-Gordon,
and Inland Port
Again, the arrival of new industries brought new and better employment opportunities to our locale. As stated earlier, because jobs and income are so vital to the growth, sustainment, and general well-being of a city, county and community, the arrival of Perdue Farms, Harbor Freight Tools, Wyman-Gordon, and the Inland Port certifies as a definite watershed moment in the history of Dillon County.
With the loss of Dixiana Mills, Copperstan, and Wix Corporation, these industries more than replaced what we lost and provided thousands of the citizens of our city, county, and region with some good paying jobs with benefits. They also brought much needed taxes to help fuel the running of our public schools, county and city governments, and other civic endeavors.
These well-established institutions not only did all of the previous positive and productive things that we have cited, but they also helped to put our locale on the map for other industries who are looking for ideal locations to plant one of their establishments.
The Election of the First Black Sheriff and
The final watershed event that took place in our county that was truly historical was the election of Douglas Pernell to the position of Sheriff of Dillon County. After quite a few failed attempts to win this very important position that seemed to always elude him, Douglas “Humbunny” Pernell made history and became not only our first sheriff, but our first African American to be elected to a county-wide position.
Few would have imagined back in the days of Jim Crow and segregation that Dillon County’s highest law enforcement officer would one day be a man who was born and reared in Newtown, one of the most poverty-stricken, crime-infested, and stagnant communities in the county.
Douglas’ election to the position of Sheriff of Dillon County was not only a watershed event, but it was also a testament to how far we have come as a county and people that consist of multiple ethnic groups that are now citizens of the same county.
We are now a microcosm of America, a miniature melting pot that has brought about a paradigm shift by electing a Black man to be the sheriff and given him the very challenging responsibility of curtailing crime, violence, and murder in our county.
If ever there was a sheriff of Dillon County who needed our prayers and help, it is our current sheriff, Douglas Pernell. For not only did he make history as the first African-American sheriff of Dillon County, he inherited an escalating spree of crime, violence, and killings that is nearing epidemic proportions.