35th Annual Chamber Banquet

 In these days of conflict between our nation’s politicians, in dispute over how to handle critical financial matters of the nation, South Carolina’s new United States Senator told a Laurens County audience last night that he remains optimistic, even if he doesn’t agree with the current national direction. Senator Tim Scott addressed a sold-out crowd at the 35th annual Membership Banquet of the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce.

 “and I tell you as I look around the world, I’m incredibly optimistic about where we’re going as a country. Now, we’re not on the right path today, from my perspective. But we’re going to end up in the right direction. We do not have a Republican Problem, or a Democrat Problem. We have an American Problem with math.”

  Senator Scott recalled memories of his time at PC, 1983 and 1984, when he played football for Coach Callie Gault. Twenty years after being a student at PC, Tim Scott returned to Presbyterian College last night. Now a United States Senator from South Carolina, the North Charleston native told a sold-out audience at PC’s Mabry Center some of his recollections of playing football for Coach Callie Gault in 1983 and 1984. He joked that was “twenty pounds ago.” Tim Scott recounted that he gave his life to Christ during a Fellowship of Christian Athletics event at PC.

  Scott joined others last night with praises for the way Ali Rogers represented Laurens County and South Carolina in the Miss America Pageant last weekend. He also had praises for Representative Jeff Duncan, noting the Republican Congressman from Laurens County is the best we have on energy-related topics, and that he has a plan for energy development for South Carolina.

 “Our state is at the epicenter of an energy economy that will blow this world away. And we just have to hold on and consistently allow the best and the brightest minds here in South Carolina to show up and show us what they can do.”

  During the awards presentations last night, the Duke Energy Award for Public Service was presented to George “Sammy” Wham of Clinton last night. The Mountville native was honored for his years of service on the Laurens County Airport Commission. His work on behalf of structural improvements at the county airport was praised, noting the airport commission’s ability to receive several million dollars in state and federal aid for development of the facility. That included a $2 million grant for the recent renovation which included a new concrete runway which was extended so that it can now accommodate corporate jets of therefore be a better asset in attracting economic development to the county.


   The top three tenth grade students under consideration for the Cecil Davenport Citizenship Award last night were Clinton High School’s Abigail Blake Harwell, Laurens Academy’s Sarah Elizabeth Roberts and Ashley Elizabeth Brown of Laurens District 55 High School. The Winner of the Citizenship award was Abigail Blake Harwell of Clinton High, daughter of Dana and the Reverend Blake Harwell of Clinton.

   Miss SC Ali Rogers encouraged the candidates. She won the Davenport Award in 2008.Ali told the gathering she was happy to be back in South Carolina. As she told us during a reception prior to the banquet “I couldn’t be happier to be in the position I’m in. The only thing better than winning Miss America is becoming 1st Runner Up and getting to come home to South Carolina. So I honestly genuinely couldn’t be happier.”

   In other awards last night, the Wendy’s High School Heisman award was presented to Margaret McCravey O’Sheilds of Clinton High and to Amber Renee’ Aylesworth and Roderick Xavier Talley of Laurens District 55 High School.  

  The Chamber recognized the teachers of the year, Robert Sheffield of District 55 and District 56 Teacher of the Year Joanne Hoppenhauer.

   The Robert M. Vance Small Business of the Year award, selected from the four quarterly winners in 2012, was Eastglen Farm of Laurens. Marilyn Easter accepted the award for the family diary operation.

  The Chamber Ambassador of the Year was Lynn Craig of Alliance Staffing.

   The John P. Faris Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Angie Sipes of the Laurens Commission of Public Works. Angie was also honored by the Commissioners at their meeting this past Monday for having recently completed her Bachelor of Science Degree.

   The Leadership Laurens County Russ Emerson Award last night was presented to Dr. Cynthia Pitts of Clinton, who is Director of the Upper Savannah Education Consortium.


 The 2012 Chairman for the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Seth Reynolds, officially handed the gavel to 2013 Chairman Harry Agnew at last night’s Membership Banquet.

   Harry Agnew stressed the need to continue work on beautification and diversification for continued improvements in Laurens County.

 “Well we’re going to continue with our beautification projects. And like I was saying about diversity, I think that’s important that we move forward with that in all areas. Beautification has so many different aspects. As I said up here, picking up litter is just one of them. We need to education our children.

…and of course, like I said, that Tech School tuition is big. It’s going to chance the face of Laurens County, economically. Free tech school tuition for all graduation Seniors? I mean, the potential is amazing!” 

   Agnew was referring to a plan now being developed to hopefully be able to guarantee Laurens County graduating High School Seniors that their tuition will be paid for them for a two-year technical. A group working on that matter is being spearheaded by Greg Alexander of the Chamber and Jon Coleman of the Laurens County Development Corporation.

   Chamber President and CEO Greg Alexander told WLBG he was pleased with the participation at the 35th Annual Membership Banquet.

 “had an outstanding program tonight, Emil with the likes of Laurens County’s very own Miss Ali Rogers. And also Senator Tim Scott….Fantastic, we’re just excited to bring these folks together and have another successful business meeting.”