Darlington Chamber honors local citizens
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
The Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards banquet on February 1 at the Darlington Country Club and recognized the efforts of local citizens to improve the quality of life in our community.
Connell Delaine of the Darlington County Board of Education was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Chamber Board of Directors chair John Griggs.
Griggs spoke of Delaine’s sterling reputation, his longtime advocacy for a number of education and youth mentorship activities, his 25 years of service in the U.S. Army, and his work to establish Society Hill Veteran’s Memorial Park, Rosenwald Professor’s Park, and the Society Hill Library. Griggs also noted that Delaine isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and is often found working outdoors to care for his property as well as other spaces around Society Hill.
Delaine encouraged everyone to do their part to improve the lives of youth, especially those who are disadvantaged.
“Take care of the people that’s on the bottom, because they’re going to prop you up and get you to the top,” said Delaine.
He also spoke of his love for his hometown and advised the audience to be proactive and work to improve their communities rather than wait for others to take the lead.
“Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, if you don’t like the way it looks and you have an opportunity to change it or fix it, you should do that,” said Delaine.
The Citizen of the Year Award was shared by two lifelong public servants: Darlington County Sheriff Tony Chavis, and City of Darlington Fire Chief Pat Cavanaugh.
Chamber president Harriet Hobbs hailed Cavanaugh’s tireless work as an EMT, firefighter, and active member of his community through church, school, and city activities. She spoke of his famous good nature, noting that Cavanaugh has never met a stranger, always greets people with a warm smile, and stands ready to pitch in and help whenever called upon.
Cavanaugh, a Pennsylvania native, said he has grown to love Darlington as his home, and has learned from his time here that service is the best way to pay that affection forward.
“If you love the town, go work for it and make it better,” Cavanaugh said. “I love this place, and I’ll do whatever it takes. If I can help you, know that I’m here to help.”
Hobbs noted that Chavis is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and served in the first Gulf War. He also worked as a Chesterfield County deputy, and served 28 years with the SC Highway Patrol before retiring in 2016 and being elected
Sheriff of Darlington County. She praised Chavis’ work to secure updated safety equipment – including new Kevlar vests – for his officers, his efforts to rename the Darlington County Detention Center in honor of longtime Sheriff W. Glenn Campbell, and his establishment of a “culture of caring” within the department through various volunteer programs.
Chavis talked about the various locations he has worked during his time in law enforcement, and said that once the Highway Patrol posted him in Darlington County, he felt that he had found a home where he wanted to serve out the rest of his career.
“I fell in love with Darlington County and the people here. To me, it’s all about you,” said Chavis.
The members of the Darlington Garden Club were presented with the Community Pride Award for their tireless efforts to beautify the parks, streets, and other public spaces of Darlington.
Chamber board member and club member Ronda Brown presented the award, and noted that since their inception in 1949, the club has taken on many improvement projects, including a new city entrance sign on the Lama
r Highway, installing planters on the Public Square, and holding Clean Up Days where club members and volunteers work to beautify local parks and public spaces. Club president Lou Kirchen accepted the award on behalf of the club.
Kirchen told guests that it is up to individual citizens to take action if they want to see change in their city, and she praised the efforts of community-minded volunteers who generously give of their time (with the club and with city boards and commissions) to make their hometown a more beautiful and more livable place.