The Catch-Up: Gilbert runoff results, governor visits Cayce-West Columbia Chamber

Posted 11/29/23

The last of Gilbert’s two-at large Town Council seats has been filled. 

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The Catch-Up: Gilbert runoff results, governor visits Cayce-West Columbia Chamber


The last of Gilbert’s two-at large Town Council seats has been filled. 

While Fred Taylor, the lone person to file for the seats in the Nov. 7 election, secured a seat as a result, two write-in candidates, Donnie Cason and Bryan Smith, competed in the Nov. 21 runoff to decide the final seat.

Cason, a former Gilbert mayor who was unseated by current Mayor John Reeder in 2021, won the position with 37 votes (60.66%). Smith received 24 votes (39.34%).

The runoff election was made necessary due to the Town of Gilbert changing from a plurality vote to majority vote earlier this year, the county Commission of Registration and Elections told the Chronicle after the Nov. 7 election tallies were finalized.

Governor visits Cayce-West Columbia Chamber

On Nov. 28, Gov. Henry McMaster spoke at the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Business Breakfast Meeting.

The Republican McMaster was introduced by Sen. Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington), who spoke on the governor's role in supporting public education, law enforcement, economic and worldwide development alongside working for the people of the state.

During his speech, McMaster spoke on the state's history with pride, leaning on South Carolina’s beauty and how it was claimed “the most beautiful, grandest possession of the king of the British Empire in the New World.”

“We have treasures in our state that must be preserved. Our cultural and natural heritage is precious,” he said.

The governor espoused the state's economic success, saying the state is booming. 

“Last year, we had a record $10.27 billion of capital investment. That's just what came through the State Department of Commerce. Also, little businesses, small businesses growing all over the place,” McMaster said.

“That is a record,” he added, touching on how the state is set to reach roughly eight billion this year.

McMaster claimed that the state's commerce and economic development is what provides its people with good work, giving them money which in turn buys clothes for their children and puts braces on their teeth. 

He further talked about how the state is keeping tuition down in colleges and that the state's technical colleges are the best in the entire world. He pointed to the state recently providing about $100 million for scholarships for training in high demand-jobs.

“We've been through it all, we've seen it all and we know where we’re going,” McMaster said. “If we can be strong in our economic growth, if we can be strong in our education system then we can be strong and protected and nourished in our natural environment.”

Send letters to Santa

West Columbia residents can once again send their letters to Santa.

Through Dec. 24, children can take their letters to Santa’s Mailbox, located inside Carraway Park at 212 Hudson St., to have them sent to “the North Pole.”

Children are able to bring their own letter from home or use a provided postcard from “Santa’s Post Office.” While the mailbox will be accepting letters through Dec. 24, residents are encouraged to have them in by Dec. 15 to ensure that Santa has time to write a response before Christmas Day.

According to a release, letters should include the child’s name, age and address.

Any letters that have been mailed by Nov. 30 have the chance to be hand-selected by Santa to be read by Mrs. Claus at West Columbia’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 2 at City Hall.

The Christmas tree lighting event will recognize winners in an elementary essay winners from the “What Christmas Means to Me” contest, and the winner of a student artwork contest is featured on the cover of the event program.

‘Pack the Pontoon’ is back, accepting donations for kids

The Lexington Police Department’s annual Pack the Pontoon toy collection for Toys for Tots has officially begun, accepting donations through the end of December.

According to a release, residents will have a chance to donate toys at events planned at Learning Express (Dec. 4), Target at Lexington Pavilion (Dec. 7), Tractor Supply (Dec. 6), the Walmart at 5556 Sunset Blvd. (Nov. 29 and Dec. 5), Clutch Coffee (Dec. 12), and at the Snowball Festival events at the Icehouse Amphitheater (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) and during the Town of Lexington Christmas Parade (Dec. 3).

At the Snowball Festival events, donations can be given at the police department's tent, and during the parade on Dec. 3 residents are encouraged to bring toys that will be loaded onto the boat as it rolls down Main Street.

On Dec. 12, officers will be at Clutch Coffee (308 Columbia Ave.) from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., with all profits raised that day going toward purchasing toys for Pack the Pontoon.

District 5 receives recognition for Adult Education Program

Lexington-Richland School District 5’s Adult Education Program earned the 2022-2023 English as a Second Language (ESL) award from the state Office of Adult Education.

"This award is evidence of our teachers' commitment to providing rigorous and relevant instruction, while building compassionate and meaningful relationships with our adult learners,” Paula Wright, the district’s adult education director, is quoted in a release. “I am incredibly proud of our Adult Education Family!"

According to a release, the award is presented to the top five ESL programs in the state based on their aggregate average for academic growth. The release adds that upon entering the program, all students are given a pre-test to determine their academic level, and after 60 hours of instruction are then post-tested to measure their growth.

The district's adult education program allows students the opportunity to earn a high school credential, in addition to providing ESL classes, career preparation, workshops, paraprofessional certification and more.

“I am so very thrilled with the recent acknowledgement and award bestowed upon School District Five's Adult and Community Education Program,” the district’s chief of student services and planning, Michael Harris, is quoted. “The staff are unsung heroes and heroines who are difference makers in the lives of young and seasoned adults in our community.”


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