I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving week. I am thankful for my God, my family and my friends. I am thankful for the people I work with, both in my business and at Town Hall. I am thankful for my clients. I am thankful for our Chapin citizens and businesses. And I am thankful for the many volunteers who work so hard to make a difference in our community.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community as your mayor. As I have said on many occasions, I sincerely have the best interest of our community at heart as I conduct the town’s business. I am not a career politician nor did I ever aspire to become one. In 2013, I recognized a need for a new vision for our town and after much prayer and deliberation, I decided to run for mayor of Chapin and subsequently won the election. I have encountered many obstacles over the past three years, from personal attacks on my integrity and lawsuits filed against me by fellow council members, but through it all I have tried to remain above the fray and keep my focus on what’s best for our growing town.
I know that some in our community do not like the growth and change we are experiencing. They would prefer things would stay the same. Chapin would be the sleepy little town it was for many generations, where a select number of families owned the local businesses, ran the government, served on the police force or fire department and taught in our schools. Those days are long gone. Our excellent schools have brought thousands of new families to our community over the years. Our proximity to Lake Murray has attracted retirees and others who no longer want to live in the hustle and bustle of bigger cities like Columbia, Atlanta or Charlotte. And the VC Summer plant has drawn hundreds of people to Chapin; some of whom will move on once the construction is completed and others who are locating their families here as they become the next generation of nuclear plant operators.
I have always maintained that managing growth is the key to sustainability, and during the past three years we have made substantial updates to our zoning ordinances to address and implement reduction in density, targeted zoning restrictions in land development, sign regulations and enforcement, architectural standards conducive to our town, landscaping/beautification and other aspects of planning to address this ongoing influx of new businesses and residents to our community. We overhauled our business license ordinance which hadn’t been updated since 2006. We have not proposed a property tax increase for our residents, even though it’s the third lowest in Lexington County. Our efforts to increase franchise fees and implement a hospitality tax have been defeated by council, while these were both viable options for investing in our community and letting people outside our town borders contribute to the costs of running our town.
“There are other ways for us to get the money” as we have been told by citizens, business owners and even our council members. So in that spirit of collaboration I have asked Mike Clonts to head up an ad hoc committee to study various funding alternatives and come to council with recommendations at our February council meeting. I hope all those individuals with a passion for this will step up and be involved in the process to identify ways we can enhance our community with more sidewalks, green spaces, and community amenities that our citizens expressed support of in our community survey.
Town Hall will be closed this Thursday and Friday in observance of Thanksgiving holiday. I hope our employees will have a nice break to enjoy time with their loved ones as many of you in the community will be doing.
I want to extend my congratulations to the Chapin Chamber’s recent award recipients: Steve Wall of the Tipsy Toad Tavern (Small Business of the Year), Ellett Bothers (Large Business), Jamie Antley of Bailey’s Sweet Shoppe (Young Business Person), Sheila Veach of Small Packages Catering (Chapin Chamber Advocate), Chapin High School Student Government (Stanley E. Shealy Community Service Award), and Gerald Meetze of Capital Kitchen and Baths (Annie Epting Volunteer of the Year).
We look forward to the Chapin Arbor Day Foundation’s tree dedication ceremony next Friday, Dec. 2 at 11 am at the new Chapin Technology Park. This will be a great time to commemorate our final sequoia trees planting and honor our friends Johnny and Pat Jeffcoat.
Finally, I invite you to join us for our annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, December 4, beginning at 4 pm at Town Hall. We will have children from Chapin Methodist Church singing for us again this year as well as cookies and hot chocolate. We have invited Santa Claus to join us and hope many of you will come out for this special holiday event. Please consider bringing a canned good for We Care as we continue to collect for them this holiday season. Thank you in advance for your generosity!