Much like 2020, this year has had its share of challenges. Our Town continued to deal with the ramifications of COVID and we have adjusted our standard practices to better protect the public and our people. For the majority of the year we did not rent our community room and restricted access to our building for only municipal business. This has been a significant change in the way we do business. We have missed sharing the space with our local businesses and community groups but have done what we could to protect the public.
During this time, our Town continued to function and even grow. New local businesses replaced the major departure of Ellett Brothers from several years ago. New businesses that have opened include: Studio 221, The Houston House, Modern Companion, Bart’s Crazy Good Coffee Roasting, Chapin Thrift Store, Chapin Chophouse, 3 Birds Boutique, Southern Gentleman’s Barbering Co, Spiritual Soul Reiki, Heart of Chapin Yoga, 1-800 Water Damage of Lexington , Hyde, Tripp’s Fine Cleaners, Carolina Diagnostic Solutions, Cornerstone Insurance Consulting, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, S&S Destination, Goodwill, Bullsnake Inc., AutoWorks Car Care, LLC, and R. Bettis Construction. Several businesses relocated including in Town including the expansion of Brook Health Care, Palmetto Fine Arts, Doza Rizen and Edward Jones Investments- Harry Cromer. If you haven’t had a chance to try out these new businesses, we encourage you to give them a try. I have often said without our local businesses there wouldn’t be a Chapin. Showing appreciation by visiting their establishments is a great way to keep our community vibrant and thriving. In addition to businesses, our community celebrated the opening on Piney Woods Elementary School off of Amicks Ferry Road.
In January, Council approved a contract with Benchmark to rewrite our ten year comprehensive plan with assistance from Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board, members of Council and staff. This document will be used to shape policy and guide decisions through 2030. Council also approved lease extension for the American Legion’s use of the old fire station on Lexington Ave. until at least 2025. In the meantime, the American Legion is working on plans to build the new Legion Hall on five acres located on Amicks Ferry Road. The property was annexed into Town in the past year through a petition by the Legion and we are grateful they elected to stay in the Town limits.
The Town has accomplished many items in 2021, in February the Town of Chapin received a Certificate of Excellence in financial reporting for the 3rd consecutive year thanks to efforts by our Financial Director, Laura Culler. A couple months later, Council gave first reading to a new utility ordinance that allowed the Town to provide service to environmentally stressed communities where sewer connection is available. This will be used to better protect our community's natural resources and the health of our citizens. A priority for my administation was to provide walkability, the Town was able to construct a new sidewalk extension from Town Hall to the Library and the Sheriff’s substation.
Even though Town Hall remained closed for the majority of the year there were several memorable events that we were able to host with additional spacing requirements and procedures. The American Legion sponsored an excellent Memorial Day service at Town hall with guests including Representative Chip Huggins, Senator Ronnie Cromer and highlighted with a presentation by Colonel Aspland of Fort Gordon. In the months of May through October, the Town hosted the monthly Chapin Downtown Farmers Market with help from our Director of Economic Development, Nicholle Burroughs. In September, the Labor Day Festival and parade was renewed after a year hiatus. It was highly successful- the Car Show had a record registration with 167 cars. Many folks were ready to get out and party! Thanks again to Nicholle Burroughs for her able direction, along with several volunteers.
In October, Chapin received its first installment of the Federal ARP fund allocation of $406,000. I was very pleased to distribute premium pay to all eligible Town employees for their efforts during the COVID pandemic from this allocation. In addition, the Town received a long awaited payment in past due license fees owed by Ellett Brothers from the New Jersey Bankruptcy Court. Even though the COVID pandemic and closure of some major businesses in Town have made a significant impact on our organization, wise spending, fiscal responsibility and changes in our organization will result in positive cash flow as I leave this administration.
In 2021, the Town experienced several organizational changes. Most recently our very able Police Chief Seth Zeigler decided to retire. The former Police Captain Thomas Griffin has been promoted to Chief of Police and the Captain position was recently filled by Ryan Galinski. Brianna Eargle was hired as Clerk of Court to replace Inga Welchel who resigned earlier this year. In the Utility Department we have made several new hires including Karalyn Miskie as the Deputy Utility Director, Blake Turney, Caleb Remion and Mary Ann Haltiwanger.
As I reflect over the past year I am proud of what the organization has accomplished and our ability to adapt to these every changing conditions. COVID has impacted our community and it was a pleasure to lead our organization throughout the past four years. Finally, I welcome the new Mayor Al Koon, and council members Leland Teal and Gregg White, all for a four year term. Best wishes for them as they guide Chapin into the near future and beyond.
All my best,
Mayor David Knight