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Indian Bluff repairs approved

Orangeburg County Council has approved spending $97,000 for repairs at the Indian Bluff Recreation Park in Vance.

During its meeting last week, council approved hiring Henley Construction out of Cheraw to repair two piers at the facility.

The damage was caused by Hurricane Matthew in October.

County Administrator Harold Young said about 75 to 80 percent of the money will be reimbursed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In other business:

• Council appointed Antonio Williams to the Orangeburg County Litter Control Department as a litter control officer.

“We need the citizens to know that you have to do your part and not put your trash on the side of the road because council has done a tremendous job of putting convenience sites within five miles of most individuals’ houses throughout the county,” Young said.

Councilman Johnny Ravenell suggested sending a stronger message through the judicial system.

“I know in the past, we have had the authorities to identify the problem and fine some individuals,” he said. “I think we need to send some more messages to put some more strain against the people who are doing this. Nine times out of ten, the people who are littering are the same ones who are doing it over and over again.”

• Council approved third reading of an ordinance rezoning five acres of property owned by Elizabeth Felder at the intersection of Binnicker Bridge Road and Bamberg Road from rural community to commercial general.

The property owner plans to place a boat dealership and sporting goods store on the land.

The parcel of land is located next to Wayne’s Auto.

• Council approved second reading of incentives for a company operating as Project Palmetto Plains. The company promises an investment of $85.5 million in mostly solar panels. No new jobs are promised.

• Council approved second reading of incentives for a company operating as Project Omega. The company promises an investment of $7 million and 28 new jobs.

• Council was presented the financial audit by Charlotte Allen, director of governmental audit with Webster Rogers, LLC.

“We do not expect any substantive changes as a result of any of these administrative items that need to take place,” Allen said.

• Clerk of Court Winnifa B. Clark, Coroner Samuetta Marshall and council members Ravenell, Harry Wimberly, Heyward Livingston and Janie Cooper-Smith took their oath of office.

• Johnnie Wright was re-elected council chair and Cooper-Smith was re-elected council vice chair.

Golden Chick preps for opening

A Texas-based chicken franchise is getting closer to opening its restaurant in the former Kentucky Fried Chicken at the corner of Chestnut Street and Columbia Road.

The restaurant’s tentative opening date is Jan. 16. According to its website, the restaurant will be open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The 55-seat restaurant will employ around 35. It will also have drive-through service.

KFC closed its Orangeburg restaurants with no announcement in October 2013, including the Columbia Road location.

Golden Chick provides fried and roasted chicken, as well as catfish, salads, vegetable sides, fountain drinks, tea and lemonade. For larger gatherings, the restaurant also has party-sized orders.

Franchisee Corey Wright is the first to have brought the restaurant into the Southeast.

In April 2013, he opened a location in Sumter and has remodeled two former KFC restaurants in Manning and Lake City. He also opened two restaurants in Greenville and one in Columbia.

Golden Chick also has a presence in Greenville and one in Greenwood, according to its website.

The restaurant has about 164 locations, with a significant majority located in Texas. It also has locations in Oklahoma, Georgia and Shanghai, China.

Golden Fried Chicken began in San Marcos, Texas, in the late 1960s. By 1982, the chain had grown to include 39 restaurants.

In March 1989, Golden Fried Chicken was purchased by an investment group. In the 1990s, the company expanded its menu and began calling its new restaurants Golden Chick.

Senators seek new incentives for region

Local senators are seeking new incentives to attract businesses and create jobs near the intersection of interstates 26 and 95.

Sens. John Matthews, D-Bowman, and Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, have prefiled a bill seeking to establish a “port enhance zone” at the intersection.

“What it’s intended to do is create jobs,” Hutto said.

The port enhancement zone would cover a 23-mile radius, giving businesses extra incentives to locate in that region.

The location’s close proximity to the port in Charleston, no more than 60 miles away, makes it the ideal place for a distribution hub for cargo shipped to and from the port, the senators say.

Hutto said for incoming businesses, the cost of land in the area is much less expensive than in Dorchester or Berkeley counties.

“It’s designed to attract jobs to that area,” Matthews said.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said the commission is in full support of the bill.

“I-95 has been a consistent poverty area for our state,” Robinson said. “Currently there is no investment in these areas.”

Incentives associated with the port enhancement zone will make it more attractive to businesses, he said. It will allow for easier infrastructure assistance, job tax credits and job development credits.

The bill was first brought before the state legislature late last session. It did not make it through the legislative process before time ran out.

Hutto and Matthews are confident the bill will go through completely this time around.

“It’s the same bill. We just didn’t get it passed all the way through,” Hutto said.

Matthews said they are introducing the bill early this session to give it the time it needs.

Among other things, the bill would:

• Allow taxpayers that qualify for the job tax credit to be allowed an additional $1,000 credit for each new full-time job created in a PEZ.

• Allow a taxpayer that creates at least 50 full-time new jobs in a PEZ to petition for a moratorium on state corporate income taxes or insurance premium taxes for ten years. If the number of full-time jobs falls below 50, the moratorium would end.

• Allow a tax credit for companies engaged in manufacturing, warehousing or distribution that use the port.

The bill would increase the maximum amount of tax credits allowed from $8 million to $9 million for each year for all taxpayers that export or import through the port and meet certain criteria.

• Allow an investment tax credit to double for a manufacturing company in the port enhancement zone.

• Lower the investment threshold from $35 million to $20 million in the port enhancement zone over a five-year period for a company to qualify for a sales and use tax exemption on material handling systems and material handling equipment used in the operation of a distribution facility.

• Extend the exemption in sales and use tax related to construction materials for a company that invests at least $40 million in real and personal property in the PEZ over an 18-month period.

Charlie Way named T&D Person of the Year

By any measure, Charles S. Way Jr. is a success. He’s a man with many facets — as well known for his contributions in the areas of art, civic affairs and philanthropy as he is in business and finance.

Way has received a double honor from the Orangeburg community. He is The Times and Democrat’s 2016 Person of the Year and has been inducted into the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.

“The Times and Democrat is proud to name Charlie Way as the newspaper’s 2016 Person of the Year,” T&D Publisher Cathy Hughes said.

“The year 2016 stands out among this Orangeburg native’s body of work over a lifetime of achievements as a successful businessman, family man and community servant that would certainly qualify him for this award,” Hughes said. “But the outstanding contribution he has made to the Orangeburg community as a whole and to South Carolina State University in particular over the past 12 months is remarkable.”

In May 2015, the university was struggling under a huge burden of debt and had been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges because of governance and financial issues. At one point, members of the legislature threatened to close the school, but instead decided to remove the trustees and appoint a new interim board.

Way was named one of seven new trustees in May 2015. At the first board meeting, he was elected chairman.

More than a year later, Way says “getting this ox out the ditch” has been one of his greatest challenges. Most people didn’t realize how bad the situation was at the university, he said.

“It was not a very pretty sight. They were on probation with SACS. They didn’t have any real budgets to speak of. There was no accountability.”

And there were so many years of mismanagement that parts of the university need to be rebuilt, Way said.

“There’s millions of dollars worth of deferred maintenance,” he said. “Now, we have to do so much to bring our campus — not even up to standard — but to average.”

However, Way was determined to put through positive changes at the institution.

“S.C. State will probably be my last hurrah because of my age,” he said. “I just want to do as much for S.C. State as humanly possible before I go on.”

While much still needs to be done, much has already been accomplished, Way said.

At a recent board meeting, President James Clark reported that the university is operating within a balanced budget and vendor debt has been paid down significantly. On June 30, 2015, the institution had $6.7 million past due for 120 days or more. As of this November, the aging debt was down to $282,864.

The state forgave a $12 million loan and set up a repayment schedule on a separate, $6 million loan. In addition, $35 million owed on the Hugine Suites has been refinanced for a savings of more than $500,000 annually, or a total of $11 million over the lifetime of the loan that runs until 2035.

Way noted that solving S.C. State’s woes is beneficial to the Orangeburg community. The loss of jobs alone would be very harmful to the city if the university should close, he said.

“As The T&D has written many times, the success of S.C. State is important to the success of Orangeburg County, and the current board and new president have been and continue to be instrumental in bringing about that success,” Hughes said. “But no one person has done more than Charlie Way as chairman of the board. In his own words at the recent Hall of Fame dinner where he was honored, it is Way’s hope that his leadership not only enables S.C. State to ‘survive but to thrive.’”

The S.C. State board and administration are continuing to work on the school’s major problems, especially updating its information technology, Way said.

“We’re still in the 17th century. There’s been no funding or money spent by previous administrations to speak of,” he said. “Without a good IT system today, you’re just about dead in the water.”

But in spite of problems, Way said, “We’re getting the ox out of the ditch. It’s been a big job, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Sometimes it’s very, very rewarding, but sometimes you see the mess, and that’s disheartening.”

He says he’s enjoyed the different paths on which his life has led him. He believes in working hard and having fun with his work, he said.

Way is known across the state for his success in building up his family-owned business, The Beach Company. Under his leadership, it became the area’s largest development company with holdings across the Southeast such as apartment complexes, shopping centers, land holdings, resort properties and office complexes, including the Majestic Square on King Street in Charleston.

In 1988, Way led the group that purchased the Kiawah Island development from the Kuwaiti royal family for $105 million and transformed it into one of the most desirable resorts in the state.

But Way’s successes stretch far beyond finance and business to civic, art and philanthropic contributions. He’s served on numerous boards, including the Spoleto Festival USA Board of Directors from 1984 until 1990. He was Spoleto board chairman from 1985 until 1990, and today is still a member of the board and the executive committee.

In 1998, he took on the responsibility of building relationships between the state and foreign powers when Gov. Jim Hodges appointed him S.C. Secretary of Commerce.

Way has received recognition and awards from numerous organizations for his service. He was awarded South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, twice, by Gov. Carroll Campbell in 1994 and by Gov. Jim Hodges in 2002.

Way says his philosophy of life, his desire to serve, is based on his own success and a quote by Sir Winston Churchill.

“The Lord has looked out for me pretty well,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate in my business endeavors. My favorite saying — and I quote it from Winston Churchill — ‘You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.’”

Acting as Secretary of Commerce was a fantastic experience, Way said. For four years, he traveled around the world, trying to build relationships and bring businesses into the state. He was able to open an office for the state in Hong Kong, but it was closed after he left office, he said.

Way said he has always had an interest in education. At one point, he said South Carolina’s education system was sadly lacking. It hasn’t improved a lot today, he notes. And, a good education is sorely needed if individuals and the state are to succeed, Way said.

He takes pride in the fact that he was personally involved and financially supported the I-95 Corridor of Shame documentary. The documentary focused on the failure of poor, rural public school districts located along the interstate to get the funds they needed to thrive.

Way attributes his successes to hard work and surrounding himself with people who are “a lot smarter than me.”

Also, “I could not do what I do without the full support of my wife, Mary Ellen, and all my family,” he said.

Way says he’s also been very lucky.

“But you get lucky with hard work, and I’ve worked very hard,” he said.

He’s also a good salesman. Way said you’ve got to be able to sell your product, whether it’s real estate, education or S.C. State University.

Way has had many successes, but one is greater than all the others, he says.

“The proudest thing for me is my family,” he said. He and his wife have five children, 15 grandchildren and three — soon to be four — great-grandchildren, Way said.

Three of his children live at Seaside, the family farm in Mt. Pleasant. “My family is very, very close,” Way said.

Way was born in Orangeburg on Dec. 18, 1937 to the late Charles S. Way Sr. and the late Sally Wise Way. He left Orangeburg when he was a junior in high school to attend military school in Georgia and never returned to live here. However, he still has happy memories of his childhood.

Orangeburg was a wonderful town to grow up in, he said. “I could literally ride my bicycle from my house on North Broughton Street to the Ellis Avenue School.”

His family owned several motels, a Gulf station, a liquor store and his mom ran a soda shop across the street from the old hospital, Way said. One of the pleasures of his childhood was going swimming in the Edisto River, he said.

Way graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. In 1962, he earned an LLB from the USC Law School.

He married Mary Ellen Long of Charleston and went to work for The Beach Company, which had been founded by her father in 1945. In 1975, he took over as president of the company and became chairman of the board in 1998.

Way served on the Charleston Regional Development Alliance Board from 1993-98 and as chairman from 1995 to 1998.

He was named chairman of the Palmetto Business Forum in 1997 and in 1998, he was elected to the board of directors and executive committee of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. The PBF was one of the first organizations to support removal of the Confederate flag from the S.C. State House.

That same year, Way was named the first chairman of the S.C. State Retirement Systems Investment Panel by Gov. David Beasley and was appointed chairman of the USC Bicentennial Committee. He led it in a successful campaign to raise $500 million for USC.

Way is also noted for his work with the South Carolina Aquarium, where he’s served on its board of trustees and executive board.

In addition, he’s served as a member of the executive committee and board of trustees of the Darla Moore School of Business and is a member of the Brookgreen Garden executive committee. He’s also served as president of the Brookgreen Gardens Huntington Society.

In 1990, Way was presented the individual Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award by the S.C. Arts Commission in honor of this contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

In 2005, he was inducted into the S.C. Business Hall of Fame.

He received the Mary Ramsey Civic Award in 2013 for demonstrating Ramsay’s spirit of generosity and commitment to developing and enriching the Charleston community.

When asked how he finds time to do all the things he does, Way said, “I get up early. I like being busy and I am busy.”

But he takes time to relax, he says. “I do a lot of reading. I like to travel and go bird hunting.”

In the long term, Way says he’d like to be remembered “as being a good person, an honest person and a generous person.”

Sunday alcohol sales underway

Some local restaurants are welcoming Sunday alcohol sales in Orangeburg County, saying it’s what customers wanted.

During Applebee’s first weekend of Sunday sales, “We did almost $1,000 more,” Associate Manager Jessica Ryant said.

Ryant said the revenue came solely from bar sales. She’s confident future Sundays will bring in even more as more people learn they can buy alcohol on Sundays.

“I think it’s going to keep a lot of people in town,” Ryant said.

Orangeburg County voters approved a referendum in November allowing Sunday alcohol sales in the county. About 63 percent of voters approved the change. Sales started earlier this month.

Restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations and grocery stores countywide now have the ability to sell beer and wine on Sundays. Restaurants, bars and hotels can also seek additional permits to sell liquor by the drink.

The sale of hard liquor on Sunday via “red dot” stores remains illegal. Hard liquor is regulated under a separate state law and is not affected by the referendum.

Tony DeAloia, manager of Ruby Tuesday, has been pushing for Sunday sales in the county for several years now.

When the vote passed in the county, DeAloia said, “I was ecstatic.”

He’s grateful Orangeburg County Council members placed the decision in the hands of the citizens and offered them a vote. Ruby Tuesday begins its Sunday sales this weekend.

“It’ll definitely increase our business on Sundays,” DeAloia said. He added, “I won’t have people walking out.”

Businesses can seek the seven-day off-premise beer and wine permit, which allows establishments to sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day.

Also available is the seven-day, on-premise beer and wine permit, which allows establishments to sell beer and wine on Sunday from midnight to 2 a.m., and then from 10 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. for on-premise consumption.

The Local Option Permit, which allows the sale of liquor on Sundays, includes a prerequisite requiring establishments to have a current valid business liquor by the drink or non-profit liquor by the drink license in good standing.

A 52-week permit costs a non-refundable $3,050. A weekly permit is available for $200, which is refunded if the application is denied.

To find out more about the different types of licenses available, visit dor.sc.gov/tax/abl.