Honda of Timmonsville launches mass production line of side-by-side

By: Tonya Brown

Honda of South Carolina in Timmonsville announced Wednesday the start of a mass production of the all new Talon sport side-by-side.

A news release says the Talon highlights the skill and dedication of the engineers at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Ohio, who developed the Honda Talon and the experienced workforce who build it at Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing.

“The Talon is a truly stand out side-by-side vehicle and I’m proud that associates at Honda of South Carolina are part of its development as well as its future,” said Chuck Boderman, vice president of Powersports division of American Honda. “The sport side-by-side market is showing significant growth and it’s exciting to have the new Honda Talon for our dealers and our customers.”

Honda of South Carolina has been based in Timmonsville for the past 20 years.

The plant opened in Timmonsville on July 1, 1998, and began production of the four-wheeled Honda FourTrax ATV model line.

In 2000, operations expanded to add engine production to the plant.

The plant’s production line has the capacity to manufacture a quarter-of-a-million vehicles and 310,000 engines per year, according to the company.

Honda operates nine manufacturing facilities in the US.

The company is one of the largest employers in Florence County with 960 workers.

Honda of South Carolina expanded in 2014 with production of the Honda Pioneer at the plant. That $27 million expansion created 65 new jobs, according to Honda officials.

In 2018, Honda of South Carolina completes a $45 million expansion project that added 250 new jobs and a 115,000 square-feet of space.

Honda employs 1,000 associates at its Timmonsville plant.

The 947,000 square-foot facility represents a $400 million in investment to Florence County.

The team is real plant currently has the annual capacity to manufacture 100,000 Honda ATVs and 100,000 side-by-sides for North American and global markets.

Ground broken for community centers at two Florence parks

By: Matthew Christian

FLORENCE, S.C. – Betty Gregg had a simple message for those looking to cause trouble in the soon-to-be revamped Dr. Iola Jones Park: Stay out of the park.

Gregg spoke at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon to break ground on the construction of community center at the park. She has campaigned for several years to get the center.

“We are going to take care of this park,” Gregg said. “A lot of people probably think that we are not, but we [are] going to take care of this park.”

She said she and others are going to make sure the park is well taken care of, scoffing at the notion that there will be “all kinds of stuff happening in this park.”

“It’s not going to happen,” she said. “This park is not going down.”

She added that those attempting to do something illegal in the park would receive a visit from the Florence Police Department. She said the city has given too much money for the park to not be taken care of.

“If you don’t want to be a part of this community center, don’t come on the park,” Gregg said. “That’s all I got to say.”

Gregg also said the community center was needed because sometimes residents in north Florence don’t have the ability to travel between their homes and other parks with community centers, such as Northwest Park.

A member of the youth community, Taon Murray, also spoke at the ceremony along with Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore, Roger Malfatti of the city’s parks commission and Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela.

The groundbreaking at Dr. Iola Jones Park was the second of two groundbreakings Tuesday afternoon in Florence. The city also broke ground on a community center to be constructed at Maple Park near downtown.

Bonnette said she hoped the park would restore the vitality of the Maple Park neighborhood in a way similar to the revitalization of the city’s downtown.

Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin, Wukela and Malfatti also spoke at that groundbreaking.

The community centers are expected to be similar in size to the existing community centers at Levy and Northwest Parks.

The Dr. Iola Jones Park and Maple Park community centers will each consist of approximately 4,480 square feet and include a large youth activity space, youth lounge, computer room, office space, restrooms and storage space. Each center will also include a senior adult activity area as well as a small kitchen. Construction is anticipated to begin in February, and it will take approximately eight months to complete.

The Jones Community Center also wil include an 800-square-foot area connected by a covered walkway to the Community Center that will be used as a boxing space for an established youth and young adult boxing program. Other improvements at Dr. Iola Jones Park include construction of additional parking at the new center; rerouting a portion of the existing asphalt trail and resurfacing the entire trail; and repairing, sealing and striping the existing parking and basketball courts.

The city is using funds from an October 2017 bond issue to construct the new centers. The bond issuance raised $15 million for recreation and athletic capital improvements. Approximately $2.5 million of the money will be used to construct the centers.

Francis Marion University to host 21st Annual MLK Celebration

By: Andrew Boardwine

FLORENCE, S.C. — Francis Marion University’s annual remembrance Martin Luther King celebration will be Jan. 17 in Chapman Auditorium on the FMU campus. The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsor of the event.

The event, which brings together both the region and the FMU family to celebrate King his legacy in the field of civil and human rights, will begin at 6:15 p.m. with a candlelight march. The march begins on the front lawn of the Wallace House and processes to the McNair Science Building and the Chapman Auditorium.

The 21st Annual MLK Jr. Celebration Program will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Chapman Auditorium, with performances by Young, Gifted and Blessed Gospel Choir and others. South Carolina Rep. Carl Anderson of Georgetown will provide the event’s keynote address.

Dr. Daphne Carter-McCants, FMU’s assistant president for student affairs and one of the event’s organizers, says the importance of the event cannot be overstated as it provides a valuable forum for the campus and surrounding community as a whole to learn of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

McCants says the event is a great way to educate FMU’s students and the community as a whole on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Florence One Schools superintendent says contractor to be picked soon for McClenaghan renovations

By: Joshua Lloyd

FLORENCE, S.C. – Superintendent Richard O’Malley told the Florence One Schools board Thursday that a contractor is expected to be selected by the end of the month to renovate the McClenaghan building.

At Thursday’s meeting, the school district welcomed two new school board members and three returning school board members, as well as elected a chairman, vice chairwoman and secretary.

The district will renovate the McClenaghan building and move the Poynor Adult Education to McClenaghan. Then, the district plans to move forward with the creation of a magnet high school in the Poynor building.

Currently, the district has sent a request for proposals and received responses to the request for hiring a contractor for the renovations, which will be selected by the end of the month, O’Malley said.

The district has also written to the mayor and the Florence City Council to receive the $12 million from the agreement with the city that was made in 2016 to move forward with the renovations.

Chairman Barry Townsend said for the money to be transferred from the city to Florence One Schools, there had to have been expenditures made on the project. He also said the district requested the money be transferred by the end of January.

The McClenaghan building was formerly a school in Florence, but has been empty.

“It’s a beautiful building with a ton of history, and we’ve got a lot of city leaders who did go to school there and would love to see it as a part of the downtown revitalization,” Townsend said. “The great thing about it is with Poynor right here beside us and McClenaghan just a block away, you combine that with the Florence Little Theatre and the library, it’s really going to help further the renovations up Dargan Street.”

Several board members expressed their excitement about the McClenaghan building finally being renovated.

“I am glad to see you do it,” said school board member Trisha Caulder. “I think we need to do it.”

During the board of trustees meeting, Artie Buxton and Davy Gregg took oath on the school board for the first time. E.J. McIver, Trisha Caulder and Bryan Chapman took their oath for another term on the school board.

The board also re-elected Townsend as chairman of the board. Caulder is vice chairwoman and Porter Stewart is secretary of the board.

Sweet Frog cuts ribbon for second Florence store

By: Matthew Christian

FLORENCE, S.C. – A Sweet Frog hopped into the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Sweet Frog manager Raketta Johnson cut the ribbon to mark the occasion just after noon at the Sweet Frog at 2417-C David McLeod Blvd.

She said the business joined the chamber as a way of getting more business and publicity. Johnson added that the ownership group also owns the 960 Pamplico Highway Sweet Frog, which she also manages.

Johnson has served as a manager of the Florence Sweet Frogs for about a month and a half.

She said she previously served as a manager of the Hartsville Sweet Frog. She said that she had been working for Sweet Frog for three years and that she enjoyed watching children come in and pick out their favorite combination of favor and add-ons.

“I have a good staff,” Johnson added.

Sweet Frog is a frozen yogurt franchise. The first location was opened in Richmond, Va., in 2009 by a Korean immigrant who founded the company based upon Christian principles. It has been reported by other media outlets that the Frog part of the name is an abbreviation for “fully relying on God.” There are now over 300 Sweet Frog locations.

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce has around 600 business members. Its mission is to “Promote and enhance a favorable business climate and improve the quality of life to make Florence the best community in which to live and operate a business.”

The David McLeod Sweet Frog is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily. The Pamplico Highway Sweet Frog is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

For more information about Sweet Frog, visit

For more information about the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, visit or call 843-665-0515.