SCCOGS 2022 Impact Report

Upper Savannah Council of Governments is proud to be a part of the SC Council of Governments (SCCOGS). Our network of 10 Councils of Governments is pleased to provide the collective impact of our work in the 2022 impact report.

We are working to positively influence quality of life and economic development in South Carolina.

Download: SCCOGS Impact Report 2022


News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG December 2022 County-Specific Activities Report

The USCOG provides a wide scope of services and performs many functions. We have developed this new activities report as a way to highlight this information and to regularly communicate our general activities in your county with you. Download the December 2022 report here.


McCormick Celebrates Groundbreaking for Veteran’s Memorial Park Near Town Hall

The Town of McCormick broke ground on the McCormick Veterans Memorial Park last week, celebrating the focal point of its latest community development project.

McCormick town and county officials were joined at the ceremony by state legislators, local veterans and veteran supporters at the stage behind the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK).

“This day has been a long time coming,” McCormick Mayor Roy Smith said. “There have been a lot of people who have worked tirelessly to make this day possible.”

The $900,500 project to build the plaza, streetscape and expand parking behind Town Hall will be funded through a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant and a local match provided by the Town of McCormick.

The Town of McCormick Streetscape Phase II project is scheduled to begin construction Jan. 16, 2023. Upper Savannah’s community development staff prepared and submitted the grant application and attended the ceremony.

The Town is funding the military seals, flag poles and other specific veterans related items. CDBG funding is essentially paying for a retaining wall, drainage, and concrete streetscape type work within the veteran’s memorial area.

CDBG funding also includes work on Augusta Street in front of Town Hall to include a speed table (large speed bump) as well as a parking area behind Town Hall that will run along the side of the fire department.

Sidewalks will be redone in the project area. Some spaces will be redone directly on Augusta Street, but the majority will be removed for pedestrian safety. The project will incorporate ADA accessibility and parking.

The Town of McCormick Streetscape CDBG project Phase I was completed in 2020, including upgrading curb and guttering, sidewalks and crosswalks to meet ADA requirements, and landscaping.

“When we started this (Phase II) project, we knew it was going to need community support to get it done,” Smith said. “The McCormick veteran’s park will be a tribute to all veterans — past, present, future — who serve or will serve in the U.S. armed forces, and their families.”

“I really believe every community ought to have a veteran’s park,” Senator Shane Massey said. “It’s a place that a community can have pride in.”

“We all cherish and love this nation. We are standing on hallowed ground,” Senator Billy Garrett said.

“Men and women have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” McCormick County Council Chairman Charles Jennings said. “On this day, we want to recognize their dedication and show our appreciation by honoring them with this veteran’s park.”

Rett Harbison, landscape architect with Johnson, Laschober & Associates, pointed out a creative feature that will be included in the park. “Different military branches will be listed in morse code in brick pavers (with pamphlets at town hall to help teach the code system). It’s always a great honor to recognize our veterans.”

David McGhee of SITEC Construction Company and a Navy veteran, said, “please be patient with us. We are going to make it ugly. Just like baking a cake in the kitchen, it gets ugly before it gets pretty. My job is to make it ugly, make it pretty, and then put the icing on the cake. We are excited to be a part of the project.”

McCormick Town Councilman Arthur Banks, who was part of the veteran’s memorial park committee, added, “I was so happy when Mayor Smith called me and asked me to be a part of this committee for I have longed for something to honor our veterans here in McCormick.”

From left, McCormick Mayor Roy Smith chats with USCOG Community Development Director Keith Smith and
Community Development Project Manager Brittany Hallman.
Bottom photo, from left, landscape architects Alexandra Reynolds and Rett Harbeson, SITEC Owner David McGhee, Mayor Smith, Keith Smith,
Brittany Hallman, and USCOG Administrative and Project Specialist Shannon Hill.
News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

City of Abbeville Receives CDBG Funding for Chestnut Street Park Improvements

The City of Abbeville has received $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to make improvements to the Chestnut Street Park.

The S.C. Department of Commerce announced the grant award in mid-December. USCOG Community Development staff prepared and submitted the grant application on behalf of the City of Abbeville in the September 2022 CDBG fall infrastructure round.

The park is located at 400 Chestnut Street and is owned by the City. It’s the location of the former Abbeville High School which was demolished a few years ago.

The proposed park improvements involve purchasing fixed playground equipment, picnic tables, mulch and an open-air pavilion. Additional work will include site preparation, designated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking, and concrete work.

The project is estimated to cost $275,000, including a $25,000 match from the City.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG November 2022 County-Specific Activities Report

The USCOG provides a wide scope of services and performs many functions. We have developed this new activities report as a way to highlight this information and to regularly communicate our general activities in your county with you. Download the November 2022 report here.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG releases new County-Specific Activities Report

The USCOG provides a wide scope of services and performs many functions. We have developed this new activities report as a way to highlight this information and to regularly communicate our general activities in your county with you. Download the October 2022 report here.

Administrators Hear from Consultant About Funding Opportunities in South Carolina

The last time USCOG hosted a public administrators meeting, Greenwood County Emergency Management Coordinator George McKinney was warning about a Coronavirus that was just beginning to spread into the United States. That was March 4, 2020.

At the time McKinney was speaking, there were 60 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the United States, and nine known deaths. Almost all the deaths were of elderly people with underlying health conditions.

There were no known cases in South Carolina at that time, McKinney said.

“It’s a brand-new virus that we haven’t seen before. There are still a lot of unknowns,” McKinney said during the meeting.

Approximately two weeks later, the virus had exploded across the country and shutdowns began.

Fast forward about two-and-a-half years later, Upper Savannah was hosting its first public administrators lunch meeting since McKinney’s appearance as the COG is re-establishing regular meetings where administrators discuss current topics over lunch.

Approximately 20 people attended last week as Mike McCauley told them about how his consulting group can assist with the abundant funding opportunities made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act.

McCauley of the Watershed Consulting Group said, “the work that we are doing has the potential to impact each of your communities.”

McCauley said the consulting group offers technical assistance and help with identifying funding sources made possible by the $1.3 trillion Act signed into law in 2021.

“We have no agenda other than seeing these federal dollars come to South Carolina and get put to use,” McCauley said. “Our task in this project is to work with folks like you, your agencies, cities, towns and counties, to make sure you are aware of all the opportunities under these laws.”

He added, “If you have a project that you have been looking to get funding for, or an idea, or you are trying to build a team of partners to develop an application for one of these programs, we want to help with that.

“We can help do the research on the front end and find you a pile of money that might be able to fund a project that you have in mind.”

He said the consulting group is fully funded, therefore there are no expenses to pursue the grant opportunities beyond match requirements.

McCauley also discussed electric vehicles, indicating federal funding is available to provide charging stations along South Carolina interstates. He said grant funding is also available for community charging stations in South Carolina.

McCauley also discussed the Clean School Bus Program, which is part of the IIJA and replaces aging buses. He said the S.C. Department of Education has applied for 367 new electric buses for 45 school districts across the state. There are eligibility requirements for these competitive grants. Each of the counties in the Upper Savannah Region have school districts among the 45.

Discussion followed for several minutes after McCauley’s presentation, mostly centering on electric vehicles.

McCauley can be reached at

After the discussion, Upper Savannah Government Services Director Rick Green reminded the administrators that stormwater management grants are due to the S.C. Office of Resiliency at the end of October 2022. The grants do not require a local match.

S.C. Association of Counties Director of Governmental Affairs Kent Lesesne briefed the group about recent happenings in the S.C. Legislature.

He said while the Legislature restored the Local Government Fund which is based on county population, some rural counties lost population in the last 10 years and saw a reduction in funding. Therefore, the Rural County Stabilization Fund was established to make up some of the difference of what was lost. The funding has increased from approximately $10 million to $12 million in that Fund in 2022-23.

Lesesne also discussed legislation that disallows taxes that are disguised as user fees after three members of the General Assembly sued Greenville County over the user fees passed in 2017. The user fees were struck down by the S.C. Supreme Court.

Lesesne also discussed recent legislation to include mental injuries under South Carolina Worker’s Compensation as well as the Tax Reduction Act that was passed this summer.


News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Upper Savannah Workforce Development Division Soliciting Requests for Proposals

The Upper Savannah Workforce Development Board is soliciting proposals for a program operator for an 18-month agreement which can total up to $2,041,000. It is to provide career and training services for Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda Counties. The solicitation and required forms are on under the Documents/Other Documents tab.

Upper Savannah Region Eighth Graders Learn About a Variety of Rewarding Careers

Eighth graders from across the Upper Savannah Region got a glimpse of what is possible for their futures at the Lakelands Career Showcase at Piedmont Technical College.

Approximately 1,600 eighth graders from Brewer, Saluda, JET, Meriweather, Edgewood, Calhoun Falls, Wright, Dixie, Northside, Ware Shoals and Westview middle schools, as well as Greenwood Christian and Cambridge Academy attended the event in Greenwood on Sept. 15.

The event was organized by Western Piedmont Education Consortium Regional Career Specialist Laura Padgett, in partnership with Piedmont Tech, SC Works/Upper Savannah COG, Lakelands Home Builders Association and Vision Greenwood.

USCOG Deputy Workforce Development Director Erin Nodine assisted with the Showcase.

“Laura (Padgett) was very well-organized and we had regular meetings with all partners to keep in touch about how planning was going. This really was a team effort to make an event of this size happen,” Nodine said.

Nodine said the eighth grade is an opportune to begin reaching out to the future workforce.

“Going into the ninth grade, students have to work on what is called an IGP (Individual Graduation Plan),” she said. “During their eighth-grade year, the students take assessments and are exposed to things that could help them determine their track for high school and beyond.

“This event was an awesome opportunity for students to put their hands on something and really understand the career choices available. The assessments the students take during their eighth-grade year show them what career cluster they might best ‘match’ for out of the many options.”

These careers include Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, Architecture and Construction, Arts, A/V Technology & Communications, Business Management & Administration, Education & Training, Finance, Government & Public Administration, Health Science, Hospitality & Tourism, Human Services, Information Technology, Law; Public Safety, Corrections & Security; Manufacturing, Marketing; Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics; and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.

Several employers convened in the parking lot of the O’Dell Center for Manufacturing Excellence. The Be Pro Be Proud trailer displayed virtual versions of jobs such as operating a forklift, driving a truck and welding. Also included in the parking lot were an ambulance, utility trucks, concrete mixer truck, and hundreds of tools.
Local industries, businesses and agencies including Impresa Building Systems, Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), EA Sween Company, Greenwood CPW, Greenwood Mills, Eaton, Generac, Lonza, Self Regional Healthcare, Monti Incorporated, BMW, Velux, and SC Department of Transportation set up tables inside the Medford Center.

“Of course the students are excited to be out and about, but I really think what is different about this event is it lets them be interactive and that is always exciting to see,” Nodine said.

Director of Communications at GGC Lori Bassett was pleased with the interaction she had with the students.

“There was a lot of energy in that room,” Bassett said. “It was wonderful to share our work and connect with students who are interested in the health sciences.”
She said the eighth-graders were attentive.

“Students were interested in what we do at GGC and especially how to use the lab equipment that we brought to display. The ones who stopped by our booth were respectful, attentive and interested in what we do.

“We were very encouraged that many of the students remembered us coming to their classrooms last year. They recognized the lab equipment and even our instructors. Reaching them early definitely makes a lasting impact.”

Bassett said the event was beneficial to GGC.

“These events help us to showcase the Greenwood Genetic Center and share what we do and why we do it. One of our long-term goals is to inspire students to consider the various career opportunities in genetics and maybe, one day, come and work with us. It also allows us to connect with teachers and let them know what educational offerings we have available to them and their students.”

Greenwood Mills Human Resources Director Emily Dickson was pleased with the interaction at her table.

“I enjoy showing our current students and future employees about manufacturing, our company history and what future opportunities they have right here in Greenwood,” Dickson said.

“We were impressed with the students’ interest in what our company produces and how clothing is made,” she added. “Greenwood Mills has the opportunity to inform and teach our young students who will be in the workforce one day, what skills and education they need to be able to work for a company such as ours. We can show them the benefits of working for us and encourage them to reach out when they are ready to enter the workforce.”

EA Sween Talent Acquisition Manager James Brewer was also pleased with the interaction with students.

“As a new company in the area, it was great to share who we are and why we are coming to Greenwood area, but also talk to the students about future opportunities that they will have as they move into the workforce,” Brewer said. “It’s always fun interacting with the students to let them know the opportunities they will have for careers in their future.”
Nodine said everyone likely benefitted from the Showcase.

“I think it is wonderful for companies to see the future of the workforce,” she said. “It also is a great opportunity for students to put a product or service with a name and understand there are so many opportunities out there.

“Piedmont Tech is a wonderful partner and this was a great opportunity for them to showcase their academic programs that are available to students and help students understand there are so many paths in education,” Nodine added.


USCOG Helps Ridge Spring Receive Grant for Playground Equipment, Bicycle Rack

Upper Savannah COG helped the Town of Ridge Spring acquire a HEAL mini grant to upgrade equipment at the community playground and add a bicycle rack at the Farmer’s Market.

The HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) grant totals $4,900. Government Services Director Rick Green prepared and submitted the grant application.

The funding is provided by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation and Wholespire, an advocate for healthier communities. The grant was officially awarded last week.

The new playground equipment will encourage musical play and sensory interaction at the playground outside the Civic Center. Included are a musical fence, Glockenspiel musical play event and rockin’ drum as well as Poly Pony and Benny Bulldozer fun bouncers.

“It is much needed to upgrade the playground equipment at the Civic Center,” Ridge Spring Town Clerk Summer Brown said. “We are excited to receive this grant.”

“This new equipment allows for visitors to come and enjoy various areas of our community,” Ridge Spring Mayor Qwen Etheredge said. “We are now allowed to upgrade equipment to ensure safety as well as provide kids a way to explore new ways to interact.”

The musical equipment will provide extra fun.

“Our kids of this age deal more with sound, lights, anything that will draw their sensors,” the mayor added. “This helps us to keep up with our current kids and prepare for the future.”

The bicycle rack will provide space for five bikes at the Farmer’s Market.

The Town is encouraging residents to walk and ride bikes more as a general rule, but they would especially like to encourage bike riding to the Market. Ridge Spring is surrounded by large commercial farms and many smaller farms. There is a wide variety of fresh, locally grown produce in-season available for local residents.

The Town has had several public hearings related to streetscape projects and potential improvements related to walkability around the Town. Residents were interested in being able to walk and bike to places more safely.

“As a growing population, we are looking at ways that we can bring visitors and potential residents to our community,” Etheredge said. “This also allows for our growing biking population to feel welcome and enjoy our shops.”

Improving and expanding playground equipment has been a need in Town for some time and has been discussed in Town Council meetings and in Recreation Committee meetings.