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City hires Main Street SC program manager

Posted: February 16, 2017 6:06 p.m.
Updated: February 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Marine Corps League Toys for Tots Coordinator Wayne Farmer (front, second from left) presented plaques of appreciation to the city of Camden and the heads of the public works department during Tuesday’s Camden City Council meeting for their assistance with the 2016 Toys for Tots campaign. Showing off the awards on the front row are (from left) Public Works Director Tom Couch, Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford and Public Works Deputy Director Ray Peterson. Behind them are (from left) Camden City Council members Jeffrey Graham, Deborah Davis, Stephen Smoak and Joanna Craig.

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At the very end of Tuesday night’s Camden City Council meeting, City Manager Mel Pearson introduced Katharine Spadacenta to council members and the public. Pearson announced the city recently hired Spadacenta, who moved to Camden with her family from Connecticut in August, as its first Main Street SC program manager in about 25 years.

Pearson said the city began interviewing applicants in late fall after being approved for the program. He said the city narrowed the applicants down to eight and then two finalists.

“She was, without a doubt, the top choice for us,” Pearson said of Spadacenta, “and we’re looking forward to the success of this program,”

Pearson also said that of the 17 existing Main Street programs in South Carolina, Camden’s is one of only two new ones for 2017. The other is the town of Clinton, he said.

According to a press release issued by the city after Tuesday night’s meeting, Spadacenta will be responsible for coordinating all of the promotional and collaborative efforts between the city, businesses, property owners and other stakeholders to revitalize, market and promote downtown Camden.

“Katharine will be managing that program. She has a strong background in communications and marketing, as well as knowledge of small business operations and community organizations,” Pearson said Tuesday night.

Spadacenta is a former newspaper and radio journalist, most recently worked as a communications officer for The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven in Connecticut. Her work included community awareness and engagement of both the foundation itself and the organizations it supports in a 20-town service area.

“Katharine, we’re very excited about your efforts in managing the program,” Pearson told Spadacenta on Tuesday.

“We are very happy to be a part of the Main Street South Carolina program. Katherine’s work will align with the city’s overall economic development strategy to bring more businesses and jobs to Camden,” Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford said in the press release.

In the press release, Spadacenta said she is excited about the opportunity to help strengthen Camden’s downtown district.

“I look forward to working with everyone to create a positive impact on the city’s economy and to promote Camden as a place where people and businesses want to be,” she said.

Spadacenta’s office will be in the Price House where Economic Development/Tourism Director Suzi Sales works.

Main Street SC is a service of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and accredited by the National Main Street Center, which is, in turn, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. According to the city’s press release, it empowers residents with the knowledge, skills, tools and organizational structure necessary to revitalize their downtowns, neighborhood commercial district and cities/town into “vibrant centers of commerce and community.”

Also Tuesday, council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the creation of a master transportation plan for a “corridor” consisting of Black River Road, from Steeplechase Industrial Park to U.S. 521; U.S. 521, from Ehrenclou Drive to I-20 Exit 98; and Century Boulevard, from U.S. 521 to the Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC)/Kershaw County Economic Development campus.

Ahead of the vote, Councilman Jeffrey Graham mentioned business community concerns expressed at a meeting about a year ago regarding how the S.C. Department of Transportation would handle the Century Boulevard/U.S. 521 interchange.

“One challenge that I heard out of that meeting and subsequent meetings … is that this was one part of a big problem,” Graham said. “This allows us to look at the whole corridor, which I think is smart for a lot of reasons. We’re about to add 1,000 students to Central Carolina and about another 1,000 students to ATEC, which I think is an awesome opportunity for our community. The city, county and CCTC are all in this together. This master plan will encompass all of our concerns not only from the city’s standpoint and the property owners’ standpoint, but the college’s standpoint as well. We’ve got challenges … but I think this study will allow us to know what’s really going on from Exit 98 to Black River Road.”

Councilman Stephen Smoak agreed with Graham, adding that the plan is also necessary because of homes rapidly being built on Black River Road. Smoak’s only question was whether the plan’s conclusions might affect the city’s plan to add LED lighting at Exit 98.

Pearson said it would not and added that the Kershaw County School District’s referenda-approved construction projects -- including ATEC’s (Applied Technology Education Campus) move to the CCTC Exit 98 campus -- “broadens the scope” of what needs to happen in the corridor the master transportation plan will study.

“This resolution will authorize city staff to work in conjunction with other agencies, primarily the county,” he said. “We will include as much of a planning impact as we can with things that we know will happen. The school’s the obvious, ATEC’S the obvious. The problem at the intersection with Century Boulevard’s is an obvious critical safety issue. But there’s a lot of other development -- there’s a hotel going in that we know about. There’s commercial properties on Black River Road that are going to develop sooner or later. There’s 100 acres-plus of land that can be developed residential and commercial that’s been cleared.”

The county passed a similar resolution Tuesday evening and Pearson said he and Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter will now work together to find an engineering firm to lead the project.

“Mr. Carpenter and I met last week and we decided to leave the scope broad with less detail than we will have to formulate in the near future,” he said.

In other business:

• Wayne Farmer, of the Marine Corps League, Kershaw County Leathernecks Detachment No. 1146 presented plaques of appreciation to the city and, specifically Public Works Director Tom Couch and Deputy Director Ray Peterson, for their contributions to the Marine Corps’ 2016 Toys for Tots campaign. One of those contributions was the use of a house the city purchased on Lyttleton Street just south of city hall. Farmer said Couch, Peterson and the city’s efforts, along with other contributions, allowed the corp to take care of 716 children for Christmas.

• Council passed a proclamation naming this week as EQUUS Film Festival Week. Drakeford had Bruce Anderson and Julianne Neal of Nature’s view Inc., heads of The Marley Project, which brought the festival back to Camden, come before council as she read the proclamation. Neal said they could not thank the city enough for its efforts, including Sales’ contributions. “We hope that we represent Camden well,” Neal said. “All over the EQUUS tour, they’re asking ‘How in the world have you done what you’ve done in Camden?’ And we’ve said it’s because of the support of city council, county council, the tourism partnership and all the fantastic sponsors that are here.”

• Council also unanimously passed a resolution allowing the consumption of beer and wine at EQUUS Film Festival events.

• Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the lease purchase of three police vehicles, one fire department vehicle and one street department truck.

•Council also unanimously approved the 2017 Accommodations Tax Committee membership roster and a façade grant for Cantey Investment Properties at 2406 Broad St.

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