News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Funding Available for Environmental Assessments of Brownfields Sites for Possible Redevelopment

Money is available to fund environmental assessments of brownfields sites across South Carolina, enabling for the possible redevelopment of properties that might have contaminants such as asbestos, lead-based paint, oil or other chemicals.

The Catawba Regional Council of Governments (CRCOG) has received a $1 million sub grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for the implementation of the S.C. Brownfields Environmental Site Testing (BEST) Program.

CRCOG has allocated funding to the 10 Councils of Government regions in the state, with the Upper Savannah Region of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Saluda counties receiving a total of $73,446 to use for projects over a two-year period ending September 2024.

A brownfields site is a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination.

“The goal of the grant program is we are going to do assessment work on these brownfields properties that are hindered by asbestos, lead-based paint or anything that has some kind of contaminating presence that is hindering the redevelopment and reuse of those properties,” Tyler Lewis of Catawba COG told a group of administrators who attended a lunch meeting at Upper Savannah COG on Feb. 23.

The site of environmental testing must be owned by a city, town or county, or be supported by a municipality for possible redevelopment. A private entity may apply for funding if supported by their municipality or county.

“We will require a letter of support from the administrator or council chair to say, ‘we are on board with this project. We believe it will better our community.’ We don’t want to fund anything that you guys (administrators) may not want to happen,” Lewis said.

Examples of sites that might be redeveloped after environmental testing for contaminants include old gas stations, automobile repair shops, car dealerships, textile mills, etc.

The BEST Program includes Phase I environmental site assessment (average $3,000 – $3,600), phase II environmental site assessment (average $18,000 – $36,000) and analysis of brownfields cleanup alternatives (average $5,500 – $7,500).

Each COG shall determine which projects receive funding in their respective regions based on the following criteria; 1, potential economic redevelopment opportunities (tax revenues/job creation/capital investment potential after cleanup); 2, potential to identify and eliminate environmental hazards (reduction of potential imminent public health risk); 3, potential to redevelop a property for public benefit/use (i.e. park/recreation space); 4, potential to eliminate slum and blight in a community; and 5, potential benefit to low-moderate income and/or rural communities.

Site assessments are capped at $50,000 and a locality cannot have more than five assessments funded by the BEST program. Also, a single locality cannot utilize more than 50 percent of the region’s allocation.

For more information about the program, contact USCOG Government Services Director Rick Green at (864) 941-8072 or at

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG January 2023 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 January 2023 report here.

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.