by Ardie Arvidson
The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Leadership Florence 2018-19 class, one of the largest ever with 37 participants, wrapped up its training on Tuesday with Local Government and Law Enforcement Day. The group will graduate in May.
Class members started their day with city and county government and the Florence Police Department before having lunch at the sheriff’s office.
Leadership Florence is a nine-month program designed to cultivate leadership for the Florence area. The class has met every second Tuesday since August.
Participants have attended various events during the program that will enhance their involvement in the local community and develop valuable leadership skills.
Les Echols, the chamber’s director of community and minority enterprise, was responsible for managing the leadership program.
“I am not from Florence,” said Ania Giannace-Dixon, a member of the class representing the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority. “It has been very beneficial to hear what is going on in the community and to learn about its nonprofits. It was a great networking opportunity. I will miss it.”
On Tuesday, Sheriff Kenney Boone spoke to Leadership Florence. He said the annual visit to the sheriff’s office gives the department the opportunity to showcase what it can do and the different divisions within the department.
He praised his team and said he will continue to fight for salary increases for his deputies.
“They put their lives on the line every day,” he said.
He said someone has to stand up against evil.
“I have a great staff that represents me daily,” he said.
The Leadership Florence class learned about drug interdiction from Lt. Curt Summerford and Sgt. Austin Spell, forensics from Lt. Kathleen Streett, and human trafficking from Glenda Skipper, founder of One Child at a Time.
They group watched several videos and saw demonstrations before a question-and-answer session.
Others on the program were the sheriff’s office’s K-9 unit, a SWAT demonstration and aviation with Capt. Scott Brown; tour of dispatch with Dusty Owens; and Capt. Joe Nell, highway patrol.
Before lunch the class visited the County Complex and heard from Mayor Stephen Wukela, City Manager Drew Griffin; Florence County Council Chairman Waymon Mumford; and Florence County Finance Director Kevin Yokim.
Their scheduled included a visit with Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler, Lt. George Mack, patrol operations; Captain David McClure, support services; Commander Anson Shells, community services; accreditation manager Angela Watson; Lt. Joe Nida, narcotics unit and K-9 demonstration; Hank Clover, chief of training, fire department.
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