Wells Fargo Wealth Advisor Recognized

Staff Reports

Robert H. Sasser III, a senior financial advisor of Wells Fargo Advisors in Florence, has been recognized as a 2019 Best in State Wealth Advisor by Forbes.

“It’s an honor to be named to this ranking,” Sasser said. “Each day, I show up with one goal in mind—helping my clients succeed financially. It is quite an honor to be recognized for doing what I love to do.”

Sasser has 32 years of experience in the financial services industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Presbyterian College.

The Forbes Best in State Wealth Advisors ranking algorithm is based on industry experience, interviews, compliance records, assets under management, revenue and other criteria by SHOOK Research LLC, which does not receive compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. Investment performance is not a criterion.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Wilson Principal Tells Group: ‘We Try to Put Students First’

by Lauren Owens

The Fellows in Education program members toured Wilson High School on Tuesday and learned about its programs.

Principal Eric Robinson opened the March meeting with an informational session about Wilson’s IB program, sports medicine program and early college program.

The IB program at Wilson High School scored second in the state for IB test scores, and the students ranked well across the nation and world, Robinson said. Students in the early college program can graduate from high school with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

Robinson said the school focuses on programs that will provide children a better future, whether that is in a four-year university, a technical college or the workforce.

“My idea is just like the district’s: We try to put students first at all times, and we have to cater our curriculum to every student,” Robinson said. “We try to prepare them for life afterward.”

Bryant Moses, a fellow and a member of the Wilson High School Alumni Association, talked about the active role the association takes in the school through providing scholarships for students and donating money to the school.

Robinson said the association gives almost $25,000 to the school each year.

Annie Ham, a member of the 2018-19 fellows, is a parent of a Wilson High School student, as well as a Wilson High School alumna.

“It makes me feel really good about him (her son) being a student here,” Ham said. “I feel the principal seems to be doing a really great job.”

Ham said she was pleasantly surprised to see how nice the school is after almost 30 years since she was a student. She also said the student camaraderie is just how it was while she was in school.

“It’s also nice to hear how the students thought about the school,” Ham said. “It’s a lot of the way I felt about Wilson while I was here. There was always a lot of school pride and school spirit.”

The next Fellows in Education program will be at Dewey L. Carter Elementary School.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

ABB’s Altman Receives Award from Home Builders Association

Staff Reports

Randy Altman of Florence recently was presented the 2018 Associate Member of the Year award by the Home Builders Association of the Greater Pee Dee.

Altman is vice president-regional executive of Anderson Brothers Bank’s Florence offices.

Founded in 1933, family-owned Anderson Brothers Bank has 23 branches in 16 communities throughout the Pee Dee and Coastal regions of South Carolina. Its main office is in Mullins.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Florence City Councilman Completes Advanced Institute Program

by Matthew Christian

Florence City Councilman Glynn Willis recently received the highest educational certification from the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

Willis, a Democrat who represents the city at-large, graduated from the association’s Advanced Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government. He received his certification during the association’s Hometown Legislative Day. Willis was presented his certificate by Octavia Williams-Blake, a fellow Democratic at-large member of the Florence City Council.

Williams-Blake is president of the association’s board of directors.

Willis said he learned a lot through the courses and added that it was very valuable. He said he believes all municipal elected officials would benefit from the programs.

“The Advanced Institute gives mayors and councilmembers an opportunity to explore topics of interest to cities and towns in greater depth,” said Urica Floyd, staff associate for distance learning for the Municipal Association.

The Advanced Institute is offered for graduates of the association’s Elected Officials Institute of Government. It was established in 2014. To complete the Advanced Institute, elected officials must complete four of six courses in advanced advocacy and intergovernmental relations, advanced budgeting, advanced leadership, advanced economic development, utility policy and administration, and public safety policy and administration.

The Elected Officials Institute was established in 1986 with the first class graduating in 1988. The Elected Officials Institute includes 25 hours of instruction on topics including budgeting, forms of government, the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, economic development, and governance and policy.

Willis said he had completed the Elected Officials Institute before he was defeated in a re-election bid by current Florence City Councilman George Jebaily. He added that he had completed the Advanced Institute after he was re-elected to the council.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

MUSC Health Completes Purchase of Carolinas Hospital System Hospitals in Florence and Marion

by Ardie Arvidson

MUSC Health/Florence Medical Center is official.

The announcement on Friday in Florence was met with applause that echoed throughout the lobby of the hospital. Hospital officials, doctors and staff were joined by government officials and community leaders for the announcement.

“You join the MUSC family today,” said Dr. Patrick J. Cawley, MUSC Health chief executive officer and vice president for Health Affairs. “It is a great time for MUSC Health.”

The Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority (MUSC Health) completed the purchase of four South Carolina hospitals from subsidiaries of Community Health Systems Inc. on Friday, including Carolinas Hospital System hospitals in Florence and Marion.

Cawley said a lot of planning has gone into this venture. He said it has been an “all-out sprint since Thanksgiving” to make it happen, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Dr. Eddie Floyd, chairman of the Carolinas Hospital System’s board, thanked MUSC Health for having the “foresight to purchase Carolinas.”

“I know we did the right thing, and God Bless MUSC,” he said.

After the announcement, Jean Leatherman, a member of the Carolinas board, said MUSC brings credibility and academic excellence to the hospital. She said this decision to become part of MUSC Health will take the hospital into the future.

The hospital now has access to telehealth urgent care, which was announced on Friday, and this is a beneficial alliance for the community, Leatherman said.

The purchase of four South Carolina hospitals, including the two Pee Dee facilities – now Florence Medical Center and Marion Medical Center – represents the first time MUSC Health has acquired other hospitals.

“We felt if we were going to deliver on our mission, we had to get outside of Charleston,” Cawley said.

He said the medical schools’s mission is “to improve the lives of South Carolinians through patient care, education and research.”

The Medical University of South Carolina and Florence Medical Center will be “changing what’s possible together” as they join together.

Cawley said one way MUSC Health is doing that is through its telehealth network. It has more than 80 telehealth programs up and running in the state.

Cawley said patients today are demanding high-quality care, high liability and lower cost. He said people can now stay at home and get the quality of care they demand. They can access telehealth health care from phones and computers and at home.

He announced that MUSC Health will be bringing its telehealth virtual urgent care to MUSC Health/Florence Medical Center.

Cawley said one way MUSC Health is doing that is through its telehealth network. It has more than 80 telehealth programs up and running in the state.

Cawley said patients today are demanding high-quality care, high liability and lower cost. He said people can now stay at home and get the quality of care they demand. They can access telehealth health care from phones and computers and at home.

He announced that MUSC Health will be bringing its telehealth virtual urgent care to MUSC Health/Florence Medical Center.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Jazz on Dargan Receives Florence Chamber’s Quarterly Award for Contribution to Downtown

by Ardie Arvidson

A jazz-themed tapas and spirits bar Jazz on Dargan is filling a need in Florence, and to validate its contribution to the downtown, the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce recognized Jazz on Dargan as its Quarter 1 Business of the Quarter on Feb. 11 during a meeting of the Florence City Council.

Thomas Mitchel, owner, and Deidrich Thomas, operations manager, were given a framed proclamation signed by the mayor and all members of the council. The proclamation also grants the honorees a trial chamber membership.

Business of the Quarter is a partnership of the city of Florence and the Greater Florence Chamber to recognize local businesses for contributions to community development, growth and civic engagement.

“The Chamber looks forward to Jazz on Dargan’s continued efforts to help make Florence an even better place to eat, live and do business,” said Les Echols, director of community and minority enterprise for the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

In response to the announcement, Thomas said, “We wanted to give Florence County something that has been lacking, a jazz experience.”

He considers the impact the business has made with revitalization of the downtown as one reason it received the honor.

“We are in tune with what they have envisioned for Florence,” he said.

“I am very proud and excited to receive this award and for us to be considered after being here for only two quarter is something,” he said.

Mitchell said they have tried to be active in the community. He is a full-time employee with 35 years at Duke Energy and he owns two eating establishments in Florence. In addition to Jazz on Dargan, he owns City Grill.

Thomas said they wanted to acquaint this area with many different types of jazz in a “warm and inviting place with good customer service and good food.

This award is validation that they are doing something right, he said.

He said the award will make them more proactive in trying to give Florence more of what it deserves and is lacking – a little piece of the Bayou.”

There is definitely a New Orleans vibe, but the atmosphere was created solely for Florence.

“We have such a diverse customer base,” Thomas said, “young and old.”

Most Friday and Saturday nights, they provide live entertainment, often coming from the street to entice people in.

“It means a lot to us that we are providing something that the city wants, and we want to do,” Mitchell said. “It does mean a lot to us.”

Mitchell said there had been a jazz venue in Florence previously, but it didn’t serve food and it closed. He said he had always thought it a good concept.

He said now they “bridge the gap” left by the closing of the other jazz-themed business.

Jazz on Dargan opened on July 31, 2018.

The menu features Southern comfort foods such as fried green tomatoes, fried okra, collard greens and black-eyed peas. It also offers Lowcounty and Creole delicacies.

Jazz on Dargan is open Friday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until. For more information or reservations, call 843-407-6311.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Young Professionals Florence First Social of 2019

The Young Professionals of Florence had their first social of 2019 at the Hyatt Place Hotel downtown Florence on Thursday, February 28th. Approximately 70 area individuals attended the networking event and they expect to have a growing base of members in the months ahead. The next gathering is scheduled for March 21st at King Jefe from 5:30 PM until 7:30 PM. If you are interested in joining the next social or need information on becoming a member, just call the Greater Florence Chamber at (843) 665-0515.

FMU Charts Path of Continued Growth

Francis Marion University is set to embark on a campaign of construction that will produce needed capacity for new and growing programs, and will revitalize other facilities so that they can better serve students in the decades ahead.

Dr. Fred Carter, FMU’s president, mapped out the coming wave for FMU’s Board of Trustees at their regular quarterly meeting Thursday on the FMU campus. Carter said it is one of the “most exciting times in the history of the university.”

“Interestingly, as FMU heads towards its 50th anniversary, the University is set to engage in a significant program of facility growth and enhancement,” said Carter. “The projects that are about to begin will create an environment that will nurture and support the overall growth of the University for years to come.”

Two new buildings and a large renovation project highlight the planned work program.

FMU expects to begin work next year on an $8 million renovation project at the old post office and federal building in downtown Florence. The 38,000-square foot building, next door to FMU’s Carter Center for Health Sciences, will host classroom, lab and office space for FMU’s growing array of health science programs. FMU received the old post office as a gift a year ago.

A brand new project on the horizon is the construction of a freshwater ecology lab and a small conference center on a 146-acre tract just north of campus near the intersection of I-95 and S.C. 327.

The land was recently gifted to FMU by the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation. It features a stunning, freshwater lake — hence, the ecology lab which will support a variety of science programs at FMU. University officials are currently studying new graduate-level programs in the ecology field.

Later this year, FMU expects to begin construction of a $3.4 million Honors Center on the main FMU campus. The 15,000-square foot building will serve as the home to FMU’s fast-growing honors program, to the McNair Center for Research and Service and to the office of International Programs.

Carter also detailed two important renovation projects. This summer, FMU will completely renovate the Village Apartments, its oldest residential housing units. It’s also planning a major makeover of athletic support facilities at the Smith University Center and the fieldhouse at Griffin Athletic Park. The renovation work will add or enhance office space and locker room facilities. It will also significant new capacities in the area of athletic training and student-athlete health.

The projects total more than $20 million. Carter told the trustees that all the money for the projects has already been raised from private sources, or from state dollars, and that none would be dependent upon student tuition.

FMU Dedicates New Park to Farrah Turner’s Memory

by Lauren Owens

Francis Marion University dedicated a new park on campus Thursday afternoon to alumna Farrah Turner, an investigator with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office who died after she was shot Oct. 3.

The park, which includes a fountain and flowers, is in the center of the Forest Villa residential apartments on campus.

Francis Marion President Fred Carter spoke to a room filled with people during the ceremony, including members of Turner’s family, Francis Marion faculty and staff and members of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

Carter said Turner, who was a 2005 graduate of Francis Marion, pursued many activities while at Francis Marion. He said she was a compassionate and professional investigator.

“Farrah was an extraordinary police officer,” Carter said. “She was a fine investigator, but more than all of that she was exactly the type of person that was doing the work she was doing.”

Carter said the park is an idyllic place for countless generations to reflect on what the true meaning of public service is.

Farrah’s aunt Linda Godwin-Weaver said the Francis Marion is their family school.

“When she was here she loved Francis Marion,” Weaver said. “She often told us about the wonderful, caring instructors and how they provided such care for the students.”

Weaver said Turner inspired many of her relatives to come to Francis Marion.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Florence County Sheriff’s Office Business After Hours

by Ardie Arvidson

The Florence County Sheriff’s Office held a Business After Hours on Thursday night at the Hilton Garden Inn, assisted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Guests enjoyed food and fellowship and learned about the annual Camp Pee Dee Pride, which is held at Francis Marion University during the summer and run by the sheriff’s office. Camp dates are June 17-28 and July 15-26.

To see the full article and gallery on SC Now, click here.