Arts Center Lineup

What an amazing lineup of family-friendly shows for the first season at our new Arts Center! The Milltown Players will entertain, inspire, and enrich our community by providing quality and affordable live theater beginning this summer.

Children of Eden, July 22-Aug. 7

Honk!, Oct. 7-23

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!, Dec. 2-18

James and the Giant Peach, Feb. 24-March 12, 2023

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, May 5 – 21, 2023

The Miracle Worker, July 14-30, 2023

SC Women Lead

I had a great time today at the SCWomenLead event, where I served on a panel of elected women (that’s me in the red). I also had the honor of sharing lunch with our Lt. Governor Pamela Evette , who is about as down-to-earth and authentic as you can get. We talked about everything from our shared Polish immigrant history to the value of a community college education to reasons we’re proud of SC to the importance of women in positions of leadership. Then, she spoke to the group about serving as a woman in government. One of the things she said that truly stood out to me was this: “No matter where we sit in positions of leadership, small girls are always watching us, watching us to see what we can do, what we should do, what we can be.” Representation matters. There were no small girls there today, but there were several young women, including two from Simpsonville who raised their hands and waved when I said I was from Simpsonville City Council. And I hope the message they, and all the other women there, took from today was simple: yes, you can. As I said in my comments, you can be the person who complains, or you can be the person who steps up to be the change and make a difference.

Meeting Recap 2.8.22

That’s a wrap! Some meeting highlights:

➡️ Ms. Tench got teary-eyed talking to us about the SAFI gift to the city. As she said, “we’ve come so far”,” and it’s exciting! Come out next Tuesday at 6:45 for the dedication of the new sculpture that The Simpsonville Arts Foundation, Inc. has permanently (as long as there is an Arts Center) loaned to the city. Then, we’ll have the reveal for the first shows by Mill Town Players and tour the Arts Center!

➡️ We had the GCRA presentation tonight, too. I am particularly happy to hear about plans for an aggressive marketing campaign about Home Repair funds. These are funds that can be used to rehab existing homes in low-to-moderate income areas. This is as important, in my opinion, as exploring new affordable housing options (like the Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County Woodside development). And I know folks in Ward 3 who have asked “what about these homes that already exist?” Helping people to “age in place” and keep their homes is important.

➡️ We are in great financial shape according to our auditors. We have a healthy fund balance and we’re prepared for a rainy day (but hoping we don’t have one!).

➡️ Finally, we approved the recommendations of our A-tax committee by a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Lou Hutchings recusing himself and Councilmember Rupe voting no. As I said in the meeting, our A-tax committee is made up of experts from the hospitality and lodging industries. They thoroughly vetted the applications according to state law and debated the allotments. Having reviewed their recommendations and the state law that dictates how funds can be spent, I am confident their recommendations are appropriate. A-tax funds are some of the most closely regulated by the state.

Hometown Legislative Action Day: First Responders Advocacy

“Pity the firemen as they go past, for every ride may be their last.” My grandfather, Fire Chief in our town, taught us that little rhyme as children to impress upon us the seriousness of the work our firefighters do. It stuck with me; and since my childhood, I have said it every time a fire truck passes me. It’s followed by the sign of the cross and a quick prayer to bring them all back safely. It’s not just the firefighters who run towards, rather than away from, danger. It’s all of our first responders. As a Councilmember, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories that never make it to the media. Firefighters who save a life by deploying naloxone. Police officers who stop a suicide or respond first on scene to a dead child. I’ve put on the firefighters’ gear to feel the physical weight they bear. I’ve had the opportunity to stand in the shoes of our officers by participating in simulated training. While not the same as doing it day in and day out for real, I got a small taste of what it’s like to have to make a decision that could save a life or end a life. It’s hard, and the work our first responders do takes a toll…not just physically (although it is physical work) but mentally and emotionally. Since I’ve been on Council, we’ve done a lot to support our first responders, including a phased compensation plan to better compensate them not just upon entry but for time and service. But there is still work to do, and we cannot do it alone or in isolation. This morning, we received an update from Rep. Chandra Dillard, Rep. Tommy Pope, and Senator Shane Massey on legislative efforts to support law enforcement. As we talk with our Greenville County delegation today and over the coming weeks, we are asking our legislators to help us help our first responders across SC in the following ways:

  1. Support money to be included in the state budget to fund the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs for first responders.
  2. Support reform measures to aspects of law enforcement training and duties.
  3. Support money to be included in the state budget to fund the Firefighter Healthcare Benefit Plan.
    As Councilmembers, not all of our work always takes place at home. Our relationships with state officials are important because we can advocate for Simpsonville at the state level. That’s what we’re doing in Columbia today for Hometown Legislative Action Day.

Working together for Alder Park

We’re better together! And everyone has been working together to increase community pride and engagement at Alder Park. We heard you when you said you had safety concerns about the park. We listened when you said you wanted it to be a place you could enjoy with your family. We ask for your feedback at public meetings, and you shared it. We used that feedback to advocate for changes. And together, residents, SPD, Public Works, all of us, have worked to make the park that place where families of all kinds can enjoy the amenities of the park. And as many of us have discussed, the more we use our park, the better! The walking trail, which I’ve already seen so many people enjoying, is just the latest update at Alder Park. Please join us at Saturday at 3 to check it out and celebrate these changes we’ve made together.

Alder Park Walking Trail Celebration

Sent some notes to some of our Westwood neighbors to let them know about our upcoming celebration of the new walking trail at Alder Park. It’s Saturday, Jan. 8th at 3 PM. We’re going to walk together (it’s about 1/3 mile loop), and we’ll have some post-walk refreshments. If you haven’t been out to Alder Park lately, come check out the new walking trail, as well as all of the other improvements made over the last year. Happy new year.

Here’s to 2022!

What a year for Simpsonville, y’all! In reflecting on all of the great things that have happened in our city this year, I realize just how much we’ve accomplished–so much it’s nearly impossible to summarize it all in a Facebook post (so I’m not going to try today). And we have so many more great things planned for 2022: Milltown Players is coming to the Arts Center; we’ll finish the Woodside Park neighborhood; we’ll see real progress on that downtown Master Plan we’ve been working on (including much-needed traffic improvements downtown!)…and SO much more!

Y’all, it’s a great time to call this city #SimplyHome, and I am looking forward to yet another great year for Simpsonville and to continue working with my fellow City Councilmembers and staff to provide first-rate services to our citizens; stay fiscally responsible (with a keen awareness of how decisions impact taxpayers); promote economic opportunity; support neighborhood vitality; and commit to the community and cultural programs and services that help our city thrive and improve your quality of life. Here’s to 2022!

Habitat Women Build 2021

What a great morning with some great women. Thanks to these ladies who joined my #WomenBuild team as we worked to put some finishing touches on the inside of Lorraine’s home (Lorraine is in the blue sweatshirt). The Women Build house is the third home in the new Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County Woodside Park neighborhood. We’ll dedicate the first completed home on December 19. Eventually there will be 13 homes. 13 families like Lorraine’s. I’m proud of the work we did on Council to bring this project to fruition. And I’m proud of the work we did today! This kind of work creates stronger, more stable families and communities. And when our families thrive, our city thrives.

Women Build Team: Lisa Everidge, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Simpsonville; Janice Curtis, former mayor and small business owner; Rhonda Mauldin, Manager for the West Georgia Rd. Food Lion; Monica Culbreath, Housing Specialist for GCRA; Dana Garrett, US Army Veteran, mother, Simpsonville resident. We’re better together! 💪

Neely Ferry Development Update

More good coverage from Post and Courier Greenville: I think Conor Hughes must not sleep!

From the article:

➡️ “Councilwoman Jenn Hulehan, who represents the ward where the new development would be built, said she agreed a 55-plus community would be a good fit for the property. “While we’re looking at 42 units, we’re only looking at potentially generating the [peak time] traffic of something like 14 regular, single-family home units,” she said.”

➡️ “The request considered Dec. 14 was for innovative development zoning, which would give the city much more control and oversight throughout the process. Zenith also tweaked its plans in light of concerns members of council voiced in September, adding features such as rear entry garages on every unit. The approval also came with the condition that sidewalks inside the development be extended about 500 feet north along Neely Ferry to connect with the crosswalk in front of Plain Elementary.”

📝 Some notes from me:

🚶‍♀️That sidewalk to the cross walk is important. It will help connect that neighborhood not just to the cross walk/school but to Westwood, to Food Lion (and everything in the shopping center), CVS, and even all the way to downtown (I have a senior neighbor who actually walks downtown every day).

🏡 As a Council, we have a responsibility to ensure housing that meets population trends in our city. Boomers are aging. And as they are, they are seeking homes that support their active lifestyles and require less maintenance. In this community, they have access to amenities to support that lifestyle and maintenance is provided via an HOA. We must create a Simpsonville that people can call “simply home” at every phase of life.

🚗 During peak hours, yes, traffic to and from the school is difficult. You have a lot of people trying to get to one place and a lot of people trying to leave one place all at the same time. However, during non-peak times, Neely Ferry can handle the additional 14 homes’ worth of traffic. National traffic studies on senior housing back that up: they generate on average about 1/4 of the traffic of a traditional single-family home. My own experience, which I shared with my colleagues last night, also backs that up. I’ve sat out there with the crossing guard and observed school time traffic. I also walk that way with Oakley every day. Just yesterday, around 3:30, we walked that road from Plain to Capewood, and in about ten minutes, 16 cars passed us. Eight going towards Capewood and eight towards West Georgia. That’s comparable to other non-peak times we’ve walked it and counted.

❓At the end of the day, the Anders family is selling that property; something will go there. The question for Council is what can go there that will be an asset to the city and not create an additional burden on our city resources. I think this plan is the answer. The developer worked hard to address the concerns we originally shared. A public meeting was held at First Baptist Simpsonville for people to share their thoughts on the project. Owners of neighboring properties were notified and asked to share their thoughts. The Innovative Development zoning allows the city to have much more control over what goes there. This project is the result, and it’s a good one.

🤝 It’s also another good example of what happens when we all (Council, Planning Commissioners, property owners, developers, citizens) work together as a team with the city’s best interests at heart. Municipal government is a team sport. We’re better together.

📝 For more notes on green space and amenities like pocket parts, the rubberized walking trail, home elevations and access points, see the list in my previous post: