When Columbia hosts the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Regionals next March, that could bring 20,000-25,000 visitors to town and generate a potential $9 million economic impact. Scott Powers, executive director of Experience Columbia SC Sports, is working alongside the University of South Carolina to make that experience welcoming, user-friendly and enjoyable for players, coaches, media and fans. Powers (shown at left with Rotarian Alex Serkes) was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 19 guest speaker. He said the event – to be held March 22-24, 2019 at Colonial Life Arena – is the first time Columbia has been an NCAA Regionals host since 1970. The eight college teams slated to compete in first and second round games won’t be announced until March 17. How well the tournament draws will be influenced by which teams will be playing, where they’ll be traveling from, each team’s fan base and their fans’ willingness to travel. Powers is encouraging the Midlands to get involved by offering community events, fun things to do while in town and food/drink specials. “All eyes will be on Columbia to determine whether we will be selected to host again,” he said. Powers has been Experience Columbia SC Sports director since 2004. He’s a USC graduate, a Leadership Columbia gradate and a founding member of the South Carolina Sports Alliance.
Two more Capital Rotarians have been recognized for donations to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. Shown in the photo from left are Blake DuBose, immediate past president and Foundation giving chair; E.J. Newby and Stephen West, both Paul Harris Fellow plus-one givers (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with an additional gift in the same amount); and Philip Flynn, club president. Newby joined Capital Rotary in 2017, while West has been a member since 2005.
The Alzheimer’s Association-South Carolina Chapter’s vision for the future is a world without the dreaded disease of dementia. Taylor Wilson (shown with Rotarian Tony Thompson), chapter director of communications and advocacy, was Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on Sept. 12. She detailed the statewide group’s work to educate, support and advance critical research for treating, preventing and, ultimately, curing Alzheimer’s. The chapter also promotes the needs and rights of patients and caregivers. Wilson said 89,000 South Carolinians have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; there are 309,000 caregivers in the state. South Carolina’s death rate from Alzheimer’s is the nation’s highest and went up by 180% in the past year. Wilson lauded Rotary for its support of CART – the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust – a project started in 1996 to provide funds for cutting edge research to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Wilson joined the Alzheimer’s Association staff three years ago and has spent the last 10 years working with non-profits around the Midlands area. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
Capital Rotary Club visited the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (photo one) on Aug. 29 for a slide show and briefing by Deputy Amanda Jordan (photo two) on the agency’s mission, values, organization and programs. With its population of more than 400,000 spread over 756 square miles, the county presents a policing challenge for the sheriff’s force of 700 uniformed officers and 140 support personnel. Jordan said Sheriff Leon Lott stresses core values of service, integrity, accountability and professionalism for all employees and works to develop a sense of family throughout the organization’s various divisions and offices. She encouraged Rotarians to spread the word about the Citizens Police Academy – a 14-week program of classes designed to give participants an overview of the Sheriff’s Department structure, services and personnel. Jordan (shown with Rotarian Rowland Alston in photo three) is a University of South Carolina gradate who’s been a deputy for 15 years and now is a sergeant in the Office of Public Information and Media Relations. Capital Rotary’s Aug. 29 briefing was part of the club’s Fifth Wednesday program substituting local field trips in place of a regular meeting.
South Carolina’s 20 electric cooperatives have a big stake in financial fallout from the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant abandoned a year ago by Santee Cooper and SC Electric & Gas. That’s according to Lou Green, communications executive vice president for the Electric Cooperatives of SC. Green (left in photo with Rotarian Tony Thompson) was Capital Rotary’s Aug. 22 guest speaker. He said co-ops are focused on financial impacts that resolution of the $9 billion failure might have on their 1.5 million customers. They are especially concerned about Santee Cooper’s fate since co-ops are the state-owned utility’s biggest customer base. Twenty-three lawsuits plus various legislative actions complicate the issue, but Green noted that a special committee is meeting now to study the idea of selling Santee Cooper to pay off its nuclear debt. “The state needs to come up with a process and bring options to the legislature,” Green said. “They’re the only ones who can make a decision about Santee Cooper.” Green joined the state co-ops organization in 1992 after working in radio and television. He is a University of Georgia graduate with a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina.
Capital Rotarian Darren Foy welcomes recent Ben Lippen School graduate Claire Davis as a guest at the club’s Aug. 15 meeting. Davis, who will attend North Carolina State University to major in mechanical engineering, is one of two scholarship winners named by the club after applicant interviews in April of this year. In high school she was a National Honor Society member, earned a National Merit Commendation and was a U.S. Presidential Scholars candidate. Capital Rotary has been supporting higher-education opportunities for local high school students for more than 20 years. The club’s scholarships are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activities and economic need.
Columbia College is reawakening the “pioneer spirit” from its founding 164 years ago and is focused anew on meeting community and educational needs, according to president Carol Moore. Dr. Moore (at left in photo with Rotarian Felicia Maloney) was Capital Rotary’s Aug. 15 guest speaker. She said the private liberal arts women’s college is expanding programs to include partnerships with Midlands Technical College, Benedict College, Northeastern University, non-profit organizations and business and industry. Evening and online offerings will grow in the areas of entrepreneurship and workforce development. “Columbia College has always been about experiential learning – applying learning out in the community,” Dr. Moore said. The school also supports the City of Columbia’s revitalization goals for North Main Street. With more than 40 years of education experience at six institutions of higher education, Dr. Moore holds BA and MA degrees in biology from Montclair State University and a doctorate in marine biology from Northeastern University. She came to Columbia College in September 2017 and was named president in January 2018.
Pawmetto Lifeline’s work on behalf of animal rescue and welfare in the Midlands paid dividends for more than 45,000 companion pets in the Midlands last year, according Jack Sloan, director of development for the non-profit and Capital Rotary’s Aug. 8th guest speaker. Sloan (at right in photo with club president Philip Flynn) said the ultimate goal is to have a no-kill community here, so that no healthy, adoptable dog or cat is euthanized in a municipal shelter or dies because it is homeless. Pawmetto Lifeline’s 80 employees and 200 volunteers treat pet overpopulation with adoption, medical care, rescue and education programs. Sloan said there’s special emphasis on spay/neuter services as the most cost-effective and humane way to reduce the number of unwanted pets. Sloan, a graduate of The Citadel with an MBA from the University of Tennessee, joined Pawmetto Lifeline after a long career at national and state chambers of commerce. He’s also been a board member for several clubs and organizations including Columbia Rotary.
Isaac Burt, a member of the sales team at Columbia’s Godwin Motors, has joined Capital Rotary. Burt (center in photo with club president Philip Flynn at right and sponsor Matthew Pollard) is a native of Portsmouth, NH. He was a high school swimming, football and track and field athlete and a college swimmer and wrestler. Burt majored in political science with a religion minor at Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC, where he also served as junior class president, student body president the following year and as a resident advisor for two years. He was a Founders Scholarship recipient at the college.
South Carolina treasurer Curtis Loftis briefed Capital Rotary members on his role as the state’s “private banker” when he served as the club’s guest speaker Aug. 1. Loftis said his office manages, invests and maintains custody of tens of billions of dollars in public funds. As “the taxpayer’s friend,” Loftis said he is committed to transparency and accountability in improving cash flow and eliminating fraud, waste and abuse. He touted the success of the Unclaimed Property Program that has returned more than $137 million in unclaimed funds to state residents. Loftis also praised growth in South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan, where he has overseen an increase in the number of enrollees to 145,000 accounts and total assets of $3.34 billion. A 1981 University of South Carolina graduate, Loftis is a member of Cayce-West Columbia Rotary and serves on a number of state and national boards and commissions.