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Resurgence on Main Street

Bethune’s Vision 2016 receives $10K grant

Posted: May 30, 2016 5:47 p.m.
Updated: May 31, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Jim Tatum/C-I

Vision 2016 Chair Betty Tidwell accepts a check for $10,000 from Merrill Brown of Sandhills Telephone Cooperative. Behind them is the Big J’s Barbershop building, recently repainted by the committee.

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The town of Bethune is seeing a resurgence downtown these days, thanks to the efforts of a group of concerned citizens.

The town’s Vision 2016 Committee, which formed in 2015 for the purpose of refurbishing and revitalizing downtown Bethune and to promote pride and unity among the citizens. The idea: to invest time, effort and money into beautifying some of the business district buildings which have fallen into some disrepair.

Now, barely a year after the idea’s birth, those efforts are really paying off, says Vision 2016 Committee Chairwoman Betty Tidwell. Not only has the committee raised funds and community awareness, it has successfully completed facelifts -- pressure washing, minor repairs and repainting -- of six buildings downtown.

Vision 2016 Treasurer Sandra Horton said the committee has spent around $7,000 so far on sprucing up these downtown buildings. If all goes well, the committee will complete a dozen more during the upcoming year.

The committee, a non-profit 501(c)(3) affiliated with the United Way of Kershaw County, relies on donations and has been successful with fund raising efforts and diligent with the resources it has, Horton said.

Most recently, Vision 2016 received a $10,000 financial booster shot from Sandhill Telephone Cooperative. Wednesday, the committee met with Sandhill officials to receive the check and thank the cooperative for its support.

“We are impressed with what they’ve done, and we’re just glad to be able to help in any way we can,” Merrill Brown of Sandhill Telephone Cooperative said.

“We are so grateful for Sandhill’s generous grant,” Tidwell said. “We plan to use the money for more beautification projects downtown.”

Specifically, the money will go toward new landscaping and street repairs, she said.

The money, of course, is needed and the committee is very pleased to have it, Tidwell said. Just as important, though, are the intangibles the grant represents. It’s a significant vote of continuing confidence and commitment, a validation of what this group of people who love their town have long believed: Bethune was and is a great place to live, work, play, raise a family and enjoy a good quality of life.

As an affiliate of the United Way of Kershaw County, one of the committee goals is to help UWKC earn an All-American County rating, Tidwell said.

“Not only will that be a wonderful thing for the county, but it will hopefully help make us competitive for more grants,” she said. 

The beautification efforts are yielding more long-term results as well; new businesses are opening, including a new restaurant which opened its doors earlier this month.

“They are doing great -- people are there all day long,” Tidwell said. “We are seeing more visitors coming in to enjoy Bethune and hopefully, more people are discovering what a gem Bethune is and more businesses will want to relocate here.”

Bethune Mayor Charles McCoy, who also serves on the committee, said the partnership between the town and Vision 2016 has been very productive and positive.

“We work very well together,” McCoy said.

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