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.

Mt. Carmel: McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

August 15, 2018

MT. CARMEL — Where can you go to find beautiful furniture and home furnishings?  McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More in Mt. Carmel, South Carolina.  Where can you go to learn about the history of the Mt. Carmel area?  McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More in Mt. Carmel, South Carolina.  Whether you are looking for a new living room suit, a new dining room table, or some decorations to finish off a room; McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More has it.

Recently, I was lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with Wes McAllister and speak to him about his family’s business and the area that they call home.  Amazingly, McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More has been passed down through four generation of the McAllister Family.  That is a huge accomplishment for a business to be around 130 years.  That is a good indicator that what they are doing at their business is working.

The buildings on the property site have a wonderful history in themselves.  The main building for McAllister’s Furnishings & More was originally the Pharmacy in Mt. Carmel.  Right next to the Pharmacy was the building where you could rent mules; this became the livery stables at a later date.  Located across the street is the building that housed the bank for the town.  At the rear of the property is where the railroad brought in the goods by train to the town.  Amazing piece of history for this town.  The buildings still have their charm; and as you walk through them shopping and admiring the furniture, you can envision the history inside each building.

McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More is open Monday through Friday, 10:00AM-5:00PM, closed Wednesdays and Sundays, and open Saturday from 10:00AM-1:00PM.  You may contact McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More to set up an appointment that would be more convenient for you by calling or emailing.  Please visit their website at for more information.

Wes McAllister and Lucky at McAllister’s Home Furnishings & More, July 30, 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.

Due West: The Produce Patch

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

April 17, 2018

DUE WEST — A charming produce market and store is nestled inside of Due West, SC.  The Produce Patch, 203 N. Main Street, Due West, SC, 29639, holds some of the most delicious, local produce found in the area.  The Produce Patch is owned by Cindy Adams.  Visiting the store is like visiting old friends.  Larry Posey, Store Manager, is there to greet you when you arrive.  The store is open daily, Monday through Friday from 9:00AM until 6:00PM, Saturday from 9:00AM until 2:00PM, and closed on Sundays.

This wonderful store is home to South Carolina grown produce along with specialty items from the Amish Country.  Cindy Adams travels South Carolina to find new items to be carried in her store.  The vast variety of items is amazing, along with the flavor and taste of these items.  And yes, I did sample a few items as “research,” and they were incredible.  You can find everything from fresh produce, to flavorful granola, tasty fruit juices, and so much more. 

The store began when Cindy realized that the area did not have a “local” grocery store, and she wanted to fill that gap.  The Produce Patch has grown into so much more though.  Instead of just being a store, she is carrying specialty items such as Certified SC Grown items, organic items, and teas that are grown right here in beautiful South Carolina.


The Produce Patch with its many varieties of items, April 17, 2018.

FCCRD Advisory Board Meeting

Melissa Billey, Project Manager –

April 18, 2018

ABBEVILLE — A meeting of the FCCRD Advisory Board was held on April 18, 2018, at 8:30AM, at WCTEL conference room.  Lee Logan, the Chairman of the FCCRD Advisory Board, opened the meeting with a warm welcome and prayer.  Breakfast was provided by WCTEL.

 Wilder Ferreira began the meeting with the introduction of the new employee, Melissa Billey.  She will be assisting Wilder as the FCCRD Project Manager as the FCCRD continues to grow.  Wilder gave a presentation on the many projects that have been completed, projects that are on-going, and future projects that are in the works.  FCCRD has made such a difference in assisting the rural areas of Abbeville County, McCormick County, and the Starr-Iva Community.  The development and continued support in agri-business, education, entrepreneurship, and the arts has been seen and felt in each community in these counties.  The passion for partnerships and alliances working together can be felt from each individual in attendance that represented these areas.  Wilder Ferreira’s expertise has been utilized by the FCCRD to help revitalize and grow programs to assist the communities.

 Lee Logan followed Wilder with information on the Abbeville Promise.  The Abbeville Promise Kick-off Event is scheduled for April 19, 2018.  Lee also updated the group on how well the projects are coming together and impacting the areas.  Some projects that are making an impact are:

  • The Aquaponics Project at Diamond Hill Elementary where 6th grade students in Ms. Busby’s class are learning about plants grown in water.
  • The Starr-Iva Alliance that is focusing on workshops, public relations, and consulting to promote small businesses in the Starr and Iva areas.
  • The Abbeville County Youth Leadership Program that will focus on high school seniors to promote soft skills and leadership.
  • The McCormick County Workforce Development Program that will focus on high school juniors to obtain an IT Professional Certification upon graduation for job placement.

 The meeting was closed by Lee Logan.

Wilder Ferreira, FCCRD, speaking during the FCCRD Advisory Board Meeting at WCTEL on April 18, 2018.