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Phillips: Thank you, Kershaw County

Posted: September 22, 2015 3:57 p.m.
Updated: September 23, 2015 1:00 a.m.

I mentioned this in my column two weeks ago, but I now want to go into more detail on what’s happening in my professional life. As we announced a few weeks back, the Chronicle-Independent is shifting from three days a week to two. As part of these changes I am being promoted to the position of editor for The Country Chronicle in Blythewood.

The good news is, I will continue to do a large part of my work here in the same office in Camden, so I don’t have to relocate my home or my office. I’ll be making frequent trips to Blythewood, though.

There are so many people I work with here in Camden and Kershaw County I will miss. I am almost hesitant to start naming them, for fear of leaving someone out, but there are many I have to thank.

I keep a “contact list” saved on my computer with the names and phone numbers of the people I often need to talk to about stories. Basically, the names are in the order that I met these people and added them to the list. The name at the top of my list is Lugoff Fire-Rescue Chief Dennis Ray. He was the first person I needed to call when I first came to work here and he has continued to always be a great news source and friend. Everyone could learn from his example as a public servant and as an exceptional human being.

I have to say the same about Camden Fire Chief John Bowers. It’s a smart public official who wants a good relationship with the local media and Chief Bowers is a good example of that.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews and Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd are also near the top of the list. As the reporter who has covered police news, those two gentlemen and their staffs have been so valuable to me. I’ve worked several other places and I can honestly say I have never known law enforcement departments that were more open and accessible to the press. They have made it a real pleasure and I can only hope the Richland County Sheriff’s Department will treat me the same way.

In covering Kershaw County Council, I have also found the councilmen to be a pleasure to write about. That also goes for former council members Stephen Smoak and Gene Wise. One of my first articles here was Smoak’s announcement last year deciding not to run for the office again. My appreciation for the county government also extends to Administrator Vic Carpenter, Assistant Administrator Allen Trapp and Clerk to Council Merri Seigler, who have all helped make my job easier. How could I not like that?

Other county department heads have my thanks and admiration. Emergency Services Director Gene Faulkenberry wears many hats these days, so we’re in touch often. Kershaw County Detention Center Administrator Peggy Spivey has always been a tremendous help when I have needed to check on the status of an inmate or get a mug shot. In that area, Brett Perry of the 5th District Solicitor’s Office has been helpful in keeping me informed of upcoming court appearances.

Bethune Town Council, along with Town Clerk Gayle Rogerson and Police Chief Joey Cobb have done wonders in their town during the past 18 months and I am sure they will continue to do so. My timing was good with them, as my first visit to Bethune was when new Mayor Charles McCoy and Councilmen John Fulmer and Don Witham were being sworn into office. 

The leadership and crew at the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter, which is in the process of moving to the new Meyer-Thiel Pet Adoption Center, have become my friends. We share a love for animals and their dedication to the pets they serve can’t be argued. They give it their all.

I have also been involved with the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce. Executive Director Liz Horton is a delight to work with, along with all of her staff members. Like I said when thanking the police, I have worked in some towns where the chamber of commerce was weak and may as well have not even existed. That’s not how it is here.

There are bound to be others I should thank and am failing to, but if you are one of those, don’t be hurt. You are just as important to me and will be missed every bit as much as the ones I’ve mentioned by name. I truly love Camden and Kershaw County and the best part of this new challenge for me is that I can still live in the country near Cassatt and come to this Camden office every day. Life is good.


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