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ABBEVILLE: Abbeville County Industry Education Week Community Tour

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

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.

ABBEVILLE: Abbeville County Industry Education Week

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

September 18, 2018

ABBEVILLE — A meeting was held at the WCTEL Corporate Office on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, to discuss the Abbeville County Industry Education Week. Wilder Ferreira, FCCF, led the meeting to gather information and set up the activities for this year’s event. Those in attendance were:  Melissa Billey, Dr. Charles Costner, Dr. Betty Jo Hall, Lori Lindler, Lee Logan, Renee Robinson, Jean Smith, Virginia Smith, Stephen Taylor, Jeff Wilson, and Wilder Ferreira.

Looking back at last year’s Industry Education Week, a discussion was held of what worked well and what could be improved upon.  Lori Lindler, Calhoun Falls Charter School, Vice Principal, commented that after they arrived back at their school last year, the ninth-grade students were so engaged that a conversation continued with questions and answers from what they had seen that day.  This shows that these students were not only interested in what they had seen, but it also captivated them enough that they wanted to continue the conversation. This is very positive for Abbeville County and these students.  They are not only able to see what careers are available here in Abbeville County, but also learn what it will take to make that transition from high school to the professional workforce here in their home area.  With the investment in their education by local businesses through scholarships and grants such as the Abbeville Promise, these students will have a significant advantage in this area for upcoming jobs.  These students, by receiving a tour of local businesses, get to see what products are made, what jobs are necessary at the businesses to make these finished products, and what they need to do as far as education to pursue these jobs.

The Abbeville County Industry Education Week will be held October 1-4, 2018. These students will tour WCTEL, Prysmian, SAGE, Flexible Technologies, and Stoll Industries.

 

Abbeville County Industry Education Week planning meeting held September 4, 2018.

Abbeville: Adam Gore, Ag/Horticulture Extension Agent

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

September 12, 2018

ABBEVILLE — Let me introduce Adam Gore, Agriculture/Horticulture Extension Agent for Abbeville County Cooperative Extension Office.  Adam comes to us from Loris, South Carolina.  He is a Clemson Graduate with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education (Clemson University, 2013) and a M.S. in Plant and Environmental Sciences (Clemson University, 2016).

Adam has a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to horticulture.  If you have questions about issues with plants such as discolored plants, dying plants, the “why, if, how to” about plants; he is here to help.  I guess you could say he is a plant doctor, and he is literally in Abbeville County’s backyard.

During my conversation with Adam about his new position at the Abbeville County Cooperative Extension Office, I learned something new just in general conversation about blackberries.  He said a recent question was brought to him in regard to blackberries.  The individual who contacted him had stated that the blackberries were plump, large and juicy, yet they were not sweet.  He explained to me that while the blackberries had the rain they needed during the growth time in order for them to be large and juicy; they did not have enough sun to produce the sugar in the fruit for them to be sweet.  Due to the lack of sun, the sweet flavor ended up being watered down.  To think, I gained that knowledge in a small conversation with Adam; imagine what he can do with the questions you have about your plants.

You can meet Adam and introduce yourself during the Touch a Tractor Event at the Abbeville County Agriculture Building on Saturday, September 22, 2018, from 10:00AM until 2:00PM.  He is available Monday through Friday from 8:30AM to 5:00PM at the Abbeville County Agriculture Building.  You can also reach him by phone at (864)446-2276 or email at awgore@clemson.edu.  Adam has also started a Facebook page to post information.  You can view the Abbeville Horticulture: Clemson Extension Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/abbevillehort/.

Adam Gore, Ag/Horticulture Extension Agent for Abbeville County Cooperative Extension Office, September 10, 2018.

 

ABBEVILLE: WCTEL

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

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 www.wctel.com 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.

Diamond Hill Aquaponics Project

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

May 9, 2018

ABBEVILLE — Mrs. Busby’s class at Diamond Hill Elementary School is getting a hands-on experience with an aquaponics project.  The aquaponics equipment was delivered to Mrs. Busby’s class in February 2018.  The lesson, grow plants in water, with nutrients coming from the fish living in the water, from which clean water is returned to the fish because the plants filtered it.  Sound like a cycle, well it is.  A wonderful cycle that these children are very excited about. 

On April 23 2018, as Jenny Mountford, Abbeville County 4-H Agent, and myself entered Mrs. Busby’s class, the first thing I noticed was the teaching style Mrs. Busby has…traditional and hands-on.  In the back corner of the room, sits the aquaponics unit, a system that is doing so much more than just sustaining fish and growing lettuce.  This aquaponics system is teaching these children about plant and animal life, life cycles, sustainability, environmental changes affecting plants and animals, biology, and so much more.  As I listened in during her lesson, I was amazed at the amount of information these students have not only learned, but retained.  They answered every question that Mrs. Busby and Jenny Mountford asked.  They talked about xylem, transpiration, carnivorous plants, evaporation, nitrogen levels; and the conversation continued about how the fish were helping the plants, and the plants were helping the fish.  Did you know fish can drown?  Mrs. Busby’s class does.  They even know how to keep it from happening by making sure there is enough oxygen in the water and how to provide it.  Currently, the class is growing lettuce; however, they are not limited to this plant only.  The class is getting ready to change out the lettuce to a different plant.  In an aquaponics farm, you get to harvest both the plants and the fish for consumption.  These children may or may not realize it right now, but they are not only learning science, they are learning agriculture also.  The students were able to taste the “fruits of their labor” or should I say vegetables.  They said the lettuce tasted good.  One student comically piped up that he prefers ranch on his lettuce; I believe I would tend to agree with that student.  However, in all seriousness, an entire salad could be grown from aquaponics and the fish harvested for the main course.

A joint effort between Clemson University, Freshwater Coast Community Foundation, and the Abbeville County 4-H has brought this opportunity to Mrs. Busby’s class.  The aquaponics equipment was provided by the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation.  Clemson University has provided the support for the project.  The Abbeville County 4-H program reached out to Diamond Hill Elementary to connect with Emily Busby as a teacher.  This partnership has allowed for the traditional classroom education to meet with the 4-H hands-on education to give new opportunities to our Abbeville County youth.  Dr. Lance Beecher, Aquaponics, Aquaculture and Fisheries Specialist, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service, has been instrumental in helping to get the unit set up and providing help as needed for Mrs. Busby’s class.  While there are many high schools around the state that have aquaponics systems, very few middle schools or elementary schools, if any, have that system.  This is a very unique opportunity for this 6th grade class.  Dr. Beecher is more than happy to assist any school out there to get a program together and offer advice on system design.  Another aquaponics unit is being utilized by an organization in Abbeville County, the Due West Robotics First Lego League Team, Narwhal of Ideas.  This unit is housed at Erskine College and is maintained by the robotics team.  The team is still excited over the lettuce they grew.  These are projects that Mrs. Busby’s class and the Narwhal of Ideas robotics team will never forget.  These hands-on learning experiences are totally educational, totally interesting, and totally fun; and that is what makes for a great education and learning experience.

 

Mrs. Busby’s 6th grade class adding plants to the aquaponics system, May 4, 2018.

United Abbeville Group Meeting

Melissa Billey, Project Manager – melissa.a.billey@gmail.com

March 19, 2018

ABBEVILLE — A meeting of the United Abbeville Group was held on March 13, 2018, at 6:00PM at The Renaissance Retirement Center, 5 Frank Pressly Drive, Due West, SC 29639.  Paul Bell, The Renaissance Retirement Center, opened the meeting with a warm welcome.  Dinner was provided by The Renaissance Retirement Center.

 Lee Logan began the meeting with updates on the Capital Projects Sales Tax.  The “Penny Tax” would be utilized to benefit Abbeville County in funding projects to improve the communities in this county.  “We are dedicated to fund projects to create jobs and opportunities,” Lee explained.  This is an, “all or nothing, pay as you go, no bond,” investment in Abbeville County.  Brad Evans, Freshwater Coast Community Foundation, gave an update on the Freshwater Coast Center for Rural Development (FCCRD) and its partners.  He spoke about the work on the Abbeville Promise that will be beneficial to the students of Abbeville County that are graduating high school.  The Abbeville Promise will allow these students to attend Piedmont Technical College (PTC) with no cost to them for tuition.  Brad Evans also spoke about the advances that FCCRD, along with its partners, has made in Abbeville County, McCormick County, and southern Anderson County.  Many opportunities have been created and many more are in the works for these counties.  A collaboration between FCCRD, SCBDC, local consultants, and Piedmont Technical College has opened the door for workshops that benefit small business owners.  These workshops offer professional development and business training in marketing, finance, start-up, human resources, bookkeeping, computer software, sales, investment, and social media.  More than 100 businesses have participated in these workshops with an estimated 500 attendees of business owners and employees.  There have also been many grants awarded to fund revitalization in the communities.  In education and entrepreneurship, a Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program was created through a Business Plan Competition held at the high schools.  There was also a Workforce Development Program created through the Abbeville County Education Week.  The next person to speak was Dr. Betty Jo Hall.  She gave a school update for Abbeville County.  The meeting was finished out with Stephen Taylor giving the Strategic Plan update and both, Stephen Taylor and David Garner updating everyone on the litter campaign.  The meeting was closed by Bryan McClain, Chairman.

Brad Evans, FCCF, speaking during the United Abbeville Group Meeting at The Renaissance Retirement Center on March 13, 2018.

Let’s Talk About It: Business is Booming

From your hardware to your bank account, the Freshwater Coast’s local businesses have you covered for life – literally. Harris Funeral Homes, the First Bank of Abbeville, Stoll Fireplace, and Pettigrew Hardware are just some of the businesses in our community that serve every need, from a warm cozy fireplace to the death of a loved one.

Stephen Pettigrew at home behind at the counter at Pettigrew Hardware in Calhoun Falls.

Stephen Pettigrew at home behind at the counter at Pettigrew Hardware in Calhoun Falls.

Stephen Pettigrew is the owner of Pettigrew Hardware and Supply in Calhoun Falls, South Carolina. Pettigrew Hardware celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and Stephen could not be more proud. Stephen is a native of Calhoun Falls and now lives in Clemson, South Carolina. Although Stephen travels 50 miles to work every day, the distance does not stop him from knowing just about every face that passes through Calhoun Falls. A face seldom passes through the town without a quick “hello, good to see you again” from Stephen. His parents began Pettigrew Hardware and passed it on down to Stephen who now works with his own son. Stephen says that the best part about working in this store is that “It’s not routine,” and that he has the best customers. As far as the progress of the store, “We’ve kind of evolved as situations have changed,” Stephen stated. He said that one of his favorite aspects of running the shop is that it is a family association. “You know everybody and feel comfortable around them,” Pettigrew said regarding his community and customers. Such loyalty is appreciated in the small-town business world, especially at The First Bank of Abbeville, a place of warm people, trusted service, and guaranteed satisfaction.

Abbeville First Bank sits right outside of the famous square in Abbeville, South Carolina.

Abbeville First Bank sits right outside of the famous square in Abbeville, South Carolina.

The bank is fully community-based in every aspect, even the name of the bank, which the community voted upon. “We are 100% invested in Abbeville,” Andy Timmerman mentioned, “We give back to the community when we can.” Personal service is a strong point at Abbeville First Bank. Every call is answered by a real person on the other end of the phone, ready to meet the needs of customers, people who the workers usually know personally! “Everyone seems to know everybody,” said Andy when asked what his favorite part about working in the Abbeville community is. Just as the bank knows everyone, everyone knows Brad Evans, owner of Harris Funeral Homes. Andy Timmerman, the current president, moved to Abbeville from Columbia with his family when he decided to make the transition to a small-town bank.

Harris Funeral Home is established in a building that was originally built in 1904.

Harris Funeral Home is established in a building that was originally built in 1904.

Evans was born and raised in Abbeville, where he spent his high school summers washing cars at the Harris Funeral Home. Since then, Brad has come a long way in the funeral home business. But as he says, “I wouldn’t change a thing about how I’ve gotten to be where I am today.” Brad’s faith and lifestyle color his position at the funeral home. The very components of running the business depend on Christianity, integrity, and hard work. “We’re all about service,” Evans says, “We want to raise the bar in funeral home service.” Brad believes in hard work, persistence, and prayer as areas that must be covered in order for Harris Funeral Home to run successfully. This company is all about the people they serve. “I believe being involved with the community is vital,” Evans mused.

Part of Harris Funeral Home’s objectives in serving the Abbeville community is ensuring that they are doing everything they can to help make Abbeville the best place to live and the most comforting place to celebrate the life of loved one. As Brad said, “Abbeville is a great place.” The location is great for Harris Funeral Home and the community is even better. Another company that greatly contributes to the community is Stoll Fireplace Inc. in Abbeville, South Carolina.

People work hard at Stoll Fireplace, whether they are cutting metal or exacting measurements.

People work hard at Stoll Fireplace, whether they are cutting metal or exacting measurements.

This company is run by Gary Yoder, grandson of the founder of Stoll Fireplace. William Stoll began the company in 1969 after he created his own fireplace to put into his new home once he and his family moved to Abbeville from Virginia Beach, Virginia. After creating his first masterpiece, folks began requesting he make theirs, too, and Stoll Fireplace Inc. was born! This business benefits the community through many ways, one of which is by providing jobs for around sixty people in Abbeville County. Gary is proud of his employees, and he understands that Abbeville provides a “good work force.” The community and the atmosphere of Abbeville make Stoll Fireplace a great place to work, and also provides Gary and his team with everything they need. Whether it’s technology, improvements, or other things, Abbeville stays up to date, an essential aspect of any successful business. Gary loves running the business because he loves the creativity put into designing and making the fireplaces. “We stress customization,” said Gary. When asked to what he owes his success and the success of the company, Gary says “To God, first of all.” The company runs on honesty, the golden rule, friendship, and quality. As Mr. William Stoll once said, “Honesty is not a question, and to correct mistakes is an opportunity to show integrity.” They have over 1,000 dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Each dealer goes through training, Part of the reason Stoll Fireplace maintains so many friendships is that they have prayer time every morning at 8:30. This office-wide prayer time often involves praying for prayer requests from dealers all over the United States. This is something that is unique to Stoll Fireplace. Faith-based and faith driven, God provides the success for Stoll Fireplace Inc.

For the people in the Freshwater Coast, community is everything. Small businesses generally thrive because of the surrounding community, but in Abbeville County’s case, the community thrives because of the local businesses.

Growers Alliance Meeting

Sally Caldwell, Communications Coordinator

July 29, 2015

ABBEVILLE — On Thursday, the Freshwater Coast Community Food Alliance (FCCFA) held a meeting featuring guest speaker Mike McGirr, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Feed & Seed in Clemson, South Carolina.

The purpose of this meeting was to brainstorm ideas about how to enhance growers’ businesses and increase agriculture in the Freshwater Coast.

Mike McGirr spoke about the progress that he has made with Feed & Seed and with the food hub in Clemson. “We want our farmers to be profitable so that our farms remain in place,” McGirr noted regarding the future of agribusiness in the area. A high potential of productivity exists in the area, and the multiple acres of open pasture encourage advancement.

Mike McGirr leads discussion on agricultural enhancement of the Upstate with Lee Logan, Matt Wiggins, Stephanie Turner, Penny Parisi, Frank Love, Tim Hall, and others during the Growers Alliance Meeting.

Mike McGirr leads discussion on agricultural enhancement of the Upstate with Lee Logan, Matt Wiggins, Stephanie Turner, Penny Parisi, Frank Love, Tim Hall, and others during the Growers Alliance Meeting.

Organizations such as Ten at the Top and the Regulatory Services division at Clemson support agricultural growth and may be used for the benefit of the quality of life in Abbeville and McCormick counties and the Starr-Iva area of Anderson.

The meeting discussed options that would enhance the area, such as group GAP certification, the need for auditors, a food hub, a new farmer’s market system, a food truck, and a community event dedicated to locally made food and products.

The meeting concluded with forming new committees dedicated to making progress happen and following up on new ideas. The meeting determined that Growers Night will be on August 27th at 6:00 p.m.

Exciting things are happening in the community of business owners and farmers, and the FCCF looks forward to sharing these progressive steps with the entire Freshwater Coast community.