Dominion Energy SC Donation Will Help Build a Home for the Calhoun Falls Farmers’ Market

Will Ferreira –

Melissa Billey –

January 15, 2020


CALHOUN FALLS — December 17, 2019, was a wonderful day for Calhoun Falls. The Calhoun Falls Farmers’ Market will soon have a permanent home after a major contribution from the Dominion Energy South Carolina.

Dominion Energy SC officials presented a $25,000 check to Calhoun Falls Mayor Chris Cowan in a ceremony last month. The donation will help the town reach its $75,000 goal for a new pavilion that will permanently house the market. The market currently resides on Cox Avenue in the town’s downtown.

“Thank you, this is very much appreciated,” Mayor Chris Cowan told the check’s presenter Scott Neely, Dominion Energy SC Manager, Economic Development & Local Government

The Freshwater Coast Center for Rural Development (FCCRD) partners with towns in the region to start local farmers’ markets. Calhoun Falls residents, who do not currently have a local grocery store, can buy fresh produce at the market during summer months.

“This is a huge benefit for the Calhoun Falls residents and the local farmers,” FCCRD Director Wilder Ferreira said. “A permanent structure is necessary for providing a shelter to the local farmers while selling their produce and giving better accommodation to patrons as they purchase locally-grown food.”

Ferreira is counting on donations to give the homeless farmers’ market a permanent residence. Dominion Energy’s donation will help this dream become a reality.

Freshwater Coast Community Foundation Chairman Brad Evans said, “this fits into the foundation with community development and economic development, and we appreciate everything Dominion Energy SC is doing.”

Dominion Energy merged with SCANA Corporation in January 2019. Through its Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, as well as EnergyShare and other programs, Dominion Energy contributed nearly $48 million in 2019 to community causes throughout its footprint and beyond.

Please, contact Dominion Energy for any related inquiry at For more information about the Calhoun Falls Farmers’ Market and the great foods that they are growing, please visit their Facebook page:

CUTLINE:  Scott Neely, Economic Development and Local Government Manager for Dominion Energy, presented a check to Stephen Pettigrew in the amount of $25,000 for the Calhoun Falls Farmers’ Market. Pictured left to right:  Faye Crocker, CEO HopeSouth Credit Union; Robert Hester, WCTEL Board Member; Stephen Pettigrew, Pettigrew Hardware & Supply; Scott Neely, Economic Development and Local Government Manager, Dominion Energy; Chris Cowan, Town of Calhoun Falls Mayor. December 17, 2019.


Mt. Carmel: Mt. Carmel Campground Visitation for Business

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

November 5, 2018

MT. CARMEL — The Mt. Carmel Campground Visit was held on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, from 4:00PM-6:00PM. The event began at McAllister’s Home Furnishings and More, and then traveled to the Mt. Carmel Campground. The event was led by Wilder Ferreira, Freshwater Coast Center for Rural Development.  Wes McAllister, McAllister’s Home Furnishings and More, and Scott Hyatt, US Army Corps of Engineers, also spoke during the event.

Mt. Carmel Campground is an awesome opportunity.  It sits on the J. Strom Thurmond Lake; and at 175 acres of land, this area is just waiting to have new life revitalized into it.  Mt. Carmel Campground was closed in 2013.  The Freshwater Coast Community Foundation (FCCF) and the US Army Corps of Engineers are looking for an entity to redevelop this area as a new Family Outdoor Center, an outdoor recreation area, or a resort style recreation area, but it must be relative to water-based recreation. The US Army Corps of Engineers will review proposals for the lease to see that they follow the master plan of outdoor recreation.  The Mt. Carmel Campground just needs a new vision, which could be yours, to get use.

I toured the Mt. Carmel Campground during the visit and let me just say as an outdoors person and photographer, it is beautiful.  I could have spent hours there just photographing the landscape and enjoying nature.  I could easily picture family reunion picnics, weddings, fishing with the kids, or just sitting out under the stars relaxing in the evening at the Mt. Carmel Campground.  It is truly a remarkable area with a gorgeous lake.  Walking the property was even more relaxing.  This is an awesome opportunity that could become a wonderful endeavor for the right person or people.

You can contact the US Army Corps of Engineers for more information about this opportunity.  The contact information is, Scott Hyatt, Operations Project Manager, (864)333-1100, or you can email him at  You can also visit the US Army Corps of Engineers on the web at

Mt. Carmel Campground, picnic area overlooking J. Strom Thurmond Lake, October 10, 2018.

ABBEVILLE: Abbeville County Industry Education Week Community Tour

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

October 24, 2018

ABBEVILLE — The kickoff to Abbeville County Industry Education Week began on Monday, October 1, 2018, with the Community Tour of WCTEL, Prysmian, and Stoll Industries.  The community was invited to participate in a free tour of these three local industries. Everyone met at the Greater Abbeville Chamber of Commerce to take a bus to each of the sites.  The bus was furnished by Stoll Industries.

The tour began at WCTEL.  The tour included a brief introduction to the WCTEL Company and its many offerings to the community and businesses which included background information about the internet provider and employment there.  WCTEL is not just a place that you go to work for; it is a place that you begin your career at and retire from.

From there, the tour moved on to Prysmian.  This tour included some background information about what Prysmian does and the different types of jobs there.  A tour of the plant floor and the extrusion tower followed.  The tower gave an amazing view at 330 feet tall looking out over Abbeville County.  It is wonderful to know that one of the largest facilities inside of the Prysmian Group is located right here in Abbeville, South Carolina.

Stoll Industries was the last stop.  During the Stoll Industries tour, we visited the showroom, the design area, and the plant floor to see first-hand how their custom products are made.  It was amazing to see the talent that is involved in creating each piece that leaves Stoll Industries.

The community tour finished with a Chick-fil-a lunch sponsored by Stoll Industries at their facility.  All of this was made possible by WCTEL, Prysmian, Stoll Industries, SAGE Automotive, and the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation (FCCF).  We look forward to seeing you on the tour next year.

The Abbeville County Industry Education Week was held October 1-4, 2018.  Abbeville County students were able to tour WCTEL, Prysmian, SAGE, Thermaflex, and Stoll Industries.

A finisher applying coating to one of the many products designed and made at Stoll Industries. Abbeville County Industry Education Week Kickoff Community Tour, October 1, 2018.


Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

August 21, 2018

ABBEVILLE — West Carolina Tel (WCTEL) is not only a full-service state-of-the-art telecommunications provider; they are a moving-forward-to-the-future community sponsor that partners with other entities to better the area that we call home.  WCTEL is helping to build a stronger future in Abbeville County, McCormick County, and the Starr-Iva area of Anderson County, also known as the freshwater coast region.

 WCTEL does more than just telecommunications, it supports the freshwater coast community’s future.  While WCTEL provides infrastructure to the Abbeville area and surrounding areas, it also assists with the community growth by supporting projects such as the Abbeville Promise to help provide a good solid future to Abbeville residents and help retain the workforce in the area.  The Abbeville Promise will help fund graduating high school students who want to go to college, but do not necessarily have the means to go, by awarding them with a scholarship to Piedmont Technical College.  The Abbeville Promise will be very helpful in Abbeville County to make sure our businesses have a continual pool of well trained, well-educated young people to ensure a strong future.  WCTEL also hires interns from colleges to work through the summer so that they have work experience when they graduate out of college.  This makes these students even more marketable and workforce ready after graduation.  WCTEL is also part of the Apprenticeship Carolina SC Technical College System Program which is also a part of the National Apprenticeship System.  This apprenticeship program helps by combining supervised on-the-job training with job-related education in the classroom.  Again, helping to get the soon-to-be-graduates ready to “hit the ground running” after graduation.  Also, this benefits the student by earning a paycheck during the apprenticeship.  One more benefit, the student is then trained for a job at the facility if there is an opening. 

 Recently, WCTEL was awarded the Smart Rural Community Award by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association.  Thirteen companies in rural areas of the United States and Canada earned this designation in 2017.  That is quite an honor for WCTEL, but even better, it shows the extraordinary efforts of WCTEL to advance the community with broadband solutions to provide their customers with state-of-the-art technology so that our area continues to move forward into the future.

 Currently, WCTEL offers high speed Internet, voice, HD TV, security, wireless services, hosted business solutions, and home automation to Abbeville County, McCormick County, Starr-Iva area of Anderson County and the surrounding areas.  They have built a solid infrastructure with fiber that supports businesses and residents in the area.  This not only benefits the current businesses that are here now, but it also shows to potential businesses coming to this area that fast, reliable Internet and advanced business solutions along with network support are available to their businesses in this region.  Infrastructure is one of the top items that companies look into for potential areas to grow their businesses.  With WCTEL, they can see that this is a viable area where they can move into and expand.

 WCTEL is doing a great job at connecting the dots to continue with a viable future in technology, personnel, and community support.  They are doing a great job at keeping that circle going:  the more trained workforce we have, the more jobs we have, and the more people stay in our communities to start the circle again.

Please visit WCTEL on their website at for more information and to learn about everything they are doing for the future.

WCTEL (L-R): Virginia Smith, Marketing Representative; Lance Tade, CFO; Shannon Sears, Director of Commercial Operations; Chuck Nash, Director of Business Solutions; and Jeff Wilson, CEO. August 22, 2018.

McCormick: Teresa Kemp: Full of Life, Full of Knowledge and Information

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

August 6, 2018

MCCORMICK — Today I met the most amazing woman.  She is so full of life, but more importantly, she is full of knowledge and information.  Teresa Kemp, the owner of SC Wild’s Heritage Center of Plantation Quilts Adventure Museum, gave me a tour of her museum in McCormick, South Carolina.  If you are ever in McCormick, South Carolina, you must stop for a tour; actually, you should make this a destination to visit.

The museum is housed in the Historic McCormick Train Depot at 201 South Main Street, McCormick, South Carolina 29835.  The tour begins with an explanation of the area’s heritage.  It concludes with information on the area’s gems and mining tradition.  I will not spoil the tour by giving you the detailed information, just know that when you leave there, you really want to take the tour again because it is so historically rich.  Another benefit to Ms. Kemp’s tour of the museum is that it is hands-on.  Not only do you get to see the textiles and different pieces that have a home there, but you are allowed to feel the items.  This gives you the visual of the many elements that make up the museum, but by being hands-on, you get to engrave that into your memory.  This is a win-win for all school aged children.  Ms. Kemp gives tours to adults and families, and she is also very happy to have classrooms come through her museum to learn and become engaged in history.

The museum offers self-guided tours and guided tours.  There is free parking onsite, and the facility is handicapped accessible.  You can visit her website at

Teresa Kemp, SC Wild’s Heritage Center of Plantation Quilts Adventure Museum, giving a tour on July 19, 2018.

Calhoun Falls: Our Children, Our Future

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

July 16, 2018

CALHOUN FALLS — A meeting was held today, July 12, 2018, by Wilder Ferreira in Calhoun Falls to brainstorm with residents regarding the youth of Calhoun Falls. The question on the table, “What is the most important item that we can help these children with?” Officer Kesler responded first with education. Physical activity and healthy snacks were another response that was received from the Calhoun Falls residents. Afterschool activities such as homework tutoring, Beta Clubs, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) organizations, youth sports, healthy snacks; these all became the topics of the discussion.

These children need a good education in order to further their future to have good jobs, receive trade skills training, go on to higher education, and be able to give back to their community. Education is so important for each and every student. Another item that was discussed was healthy lifestyles. By becoming active in sports in afterschool programs, it gives these children a chance to utilize the energy that has been stored up all day during school. They then have a place to further personal fitness and lifetime fitness, something that everyone can benefit from now and in the future. These physical activities not only benefit these students during their adolescent years but benefit them into adulthood because they have started a healthy habit that they will continue. As the discussion continued, healthy snacks during the afterschool programs was brought up. Again, this is something that will not only benefit these children now, but it teaches them what they should eat to help their bodies be healthy.

It was evident during the meeting about how much these residents care and want to give these children, their children and grandchildren, a good educational and healthy start in life. They realize the importance of helping the children in Calhoun Falls in attaining a good education and healthy lifestyle.

Meeting in Calhoun Falls on July 12, 2018 regarding opportunities for youth in the Calhoun Falls area.

McCormick: McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK)

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

June 25, 2018

MCCORMICK — The McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK) has so much to offer to everyone young and old alike.  From programs and camps to exhibitions and classes, this is the place for art.  The MACK’s mission:  provide art, culture, and education to the region.  And yes, the MACK does just that.  I was given a tour recently of the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah and was given a wonderful history and insight to not only what they do, but also where they are housed. 

The building that houses the MACK was the Hotel Keturah built by 1900.  The first Hotel Keturah burned, and a second Hotel Keturah was constructed in 1910.  Mr. W. J. Conner built and managed this hotel that accommodated travelers and train passengers.  He named both of the hotels after his wife, Keturah, who also helped to manage them.  The downstairs of the building showcases art in a gallery and accommodates a gift shop and some offices.  The upstairs of the once hotel utilizes the guest rooms for artists to work in and give lessons.  Another space housed upstairs is for the young art students to come and enjoy the art programs and art camps.  The amount of creativity that comes from these young artists as they learn and create here at the MACK is absolutely wonderful.  It opens doors to so much more from these students learning to express themselves in art.  The MACK even displays the art that is created by these young students during an exhibition twice a year.  During the other times of year, you will find different exhibits from other artists.  The MACK also works with the local school district to bring art into the classrooms.  This joint effort helps keep art alive.

The MACK is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and support.  The MACK is a wonderful community asset and a great organization to donate to.  They have many levels of support for donations.  Your support will help the MACK achieve their vision to be the catalyst of cultural development for McCormick County.  Please contact the MACK or visit their website for more information on donor levels and how your support will continue to assist a great community organization.

The MACK is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00AM until 4:00PM and closed on Sunday.  For more information, feel free to visit their website at  They also have a Facebook page that you can visit in addition to their website at


McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK), May 22, 2018.

McCormick: Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

June 5, 2018

MCCORMICK — The Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery is not only home to antiques and works of art, the building that everything is housed in is a historical antique and a work of art in itself.  The Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery is located at 118 South Main Street, McCormick, South Carolina 29835.  The owner, Shaaron Kohl, gave me a tour and the history of the building when I visited her shop recently.  The antiques and art that are for sale are amazing; and the building is amazing too.  The shop used to be the local five-and-dime store back in the day.  It was rebuilt in 1910 after a fire, and Shaaron Kohl is only the fourth owner of this building.  It still has the original freight elevator in the back of the building that uses the old counterweight system to haul loads to the second floor.  The freight elevator is a great piece of history in a great gift shop. 

The Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery has 25-30 vendors that offer a wide assortment of items located on the first floor.  With everything to choose from, you are sure to find that unique gift or item.  On the second floor of the Red Rooster, Shaaron has the Art Gallery.  It is truly an amazing area.  The second floor of the building has its own character that lends to the local and regional art that is being shown and sold there.  She has some wonderful pieces of art which are all housed in a very unique space.  Shaaron has art that is as equally one of a kind as the area that it is being shown and sold in.  You can find everything from paintings, to three dimensional paper art, painted pottery, and sculptures.  Even though they are downstairs, she has some beautiful locally hand woven baskets that are a work of art in themselves.

The Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00AM until 5:00PM and closed on Sunday.  For updates and additional information, feel free to visit their Facebook page at 


Inside the Red Rooster Emporium and Art Gallery, May 22, 2018.

McCormick: Earth Connection Outfitters

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

May 29, 2018

MCCORMICK — If you are looking for kayaks or stand-up paddle boards (SUP) to purchase or rent, then Earth Connection Outfitters (ECO) may just be the place you are looking for.  Tucked away in McCormick, South Carolina is a family owned business, Earth Connection Outfitters.  The business is located at 4335 Hwy 378 West, McCormick, SC.  The business is housed in the Deason family homeplace that was built in 1913.  Earth Connection Outfitters has a wonderful variety of Jackson kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to accommodate the outdoorsman. 

 Stand-up paddle boarding is an awesome activity and workout; and with the popularity of stand-up paddle boarding gaining ground, this is an excellent place to visit for purchase or rental.  In addition to the stand-up paddle boards and kayaks, recently, Earth Connection Outfitters has started to stock camping supplies, metal detectors, Telic shoes, and Hercules sunglasses.  Delivery is available for the kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.  Although the store is generally open during business hours, it is best to call first to make sure the items are available and someone will be there to accommodate your interests.

Earth Connection Outfitters, housed in the Deason Family Homeplace, built in 1913, April 30, 2018.

McCormick County Senior Center and McCormick Area Transit

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

May 15, 2018

MCCORMICK — McCormick County Senior Center is very busy agency made up of the McCormick County Senior Center, the McCormick Area Transit (MAT), and the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex. 

McCormick County Senior Center is a private non-profit agency that began by providing care to the McCormick County seniors.  The agency receives contributions and donations, as well as grants, contracts, and local support from McCormick County government and the Town of McCormick.  The McCormick County Senior Center decided they needed a sustainable plan for income to help with all of the programs and projects that they provide to the McCormick County seniors.  The decision was made to convert the Talmadge Sewing Plant into the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex.  This has not only opened doors for the McCormick County Senior Center to have a sustainable avenue of funding; it has opened doors to broaden their mission to encompass all of the McCormick County residents. 

Each branch that makes up the McCormick County Senior Center is providing each individual in McCormick County accessibility to benefits and options that they may not have had without it.  The Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex is able to provide routes for a healthier community.  Through the McCormick County Senior Center, the seniors in McCormick County along with McCormick County residents, have the availability to:  utilize transportation through the MAT service which includes public transportation, Medicaid transportation, and senior transportation; retired volunteer program; Meals on Wheels; Congregate Meals; Frozen Meals on Wheels for those who live in the more rural areas of McCormick County; bridge/activity room; bingo/craft room; pinochle/reading area; 24 hour access to the physical fitness exercise room; ½ mile outdoors walking track; I Care Counseling; and building and room rentals.  Upon DHEC approval, a brand new indoor heated saltwater therapy pool and a whirlpool will become available to the members of the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex.  All of these programs and services combined are helping to make McCormick County healthier.  A new addition also housed in the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex is the TFC Café.  It has an extensive menu to which items are being added weekly.  I got to sample the chocolate ice cream which is awesome; it reminded me of the fudgsicles I used to get as a kid.  Inside of the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex is a full service physician’s office also.  Although it is independently run by Carolina Health Centers, Inc., aka McCormick Family Practice, it definitely adds to the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex.  McCormick Family Practice provides low cost or no cost health care to the general public of all ages.

There are a lot of benefits coming from these facilities for McCormick County; benefits for not only the seniors in McCormick County but for the residents also.  For information about the McCormick County Senior Center, the McCormick Area Transit, the Talmadge Fitness and Wellness Complex, or the TFC Café, please visit their Facebook page at:

McCormick County Senior Center, April 24, 2018.