New board ready to put Whitmire on the map

By Elyssa Parnell

February 5, 2014

WHITMIRE — Whitmire’s newly elected Economic Development Board has big plans for 2014, according to Maria Mcmurtury, executive director of the board.

The Economic Development Board meets twice a month, Mcmurtury said, with the exception of extra meetings held for specific planning purposes.

“The mayor asked for a group to work well together, ” Mcmurtury said. “We’re going towards tourism, because we didn’t have much in Whitmire in that area.”

Not many know that Whitmire is home to a nine-hole golf course, as well as the Sumter National Forest, which Mcmurtury said have been starting points to build on the assets of what Whitmire already has to offer the community and visitors. A secondary focus of the board is beautification of the town.

“No one wants to bring a business into a community that is not up to par,” Mcmurtury said.

As far as beautification, Mcmurtury said the board has already spoken with Whitmire Town Council about an area in the town located near the Lil’ Cricket gas station that residents have described as an “eyesore.” Council was asked in the December meeting to mark off the property lines for the board so that it can work to beautify the area within the property lines.

The board’s plan is to plant a tree, put up a nice fence, as well as put flower beds in the area so that it is a prettier location for the community and visitors passing through the town.

Beautifying the town has the board hoping that business will prosper in town. Mcmurtury said she already knows of residents interested in possibly opening a bakery, furniture store, and an arts and crafts store.

“We need to locate available buildings in the area, and bring them up to standards,” Mcmurtury said.

Events have been scheduled for just about every month of 2014 in Whitmire so that there is something to do in Whitmire each month. An upcoming event Mcmurtury said the group is excited for is “WWW Day,” which stands for Whitmire Wellness Walk Day in honor of National Walking Day.

The event, scheduled for April 5, is a registered 5K walk and health fair, along with a “mini” walk for children. Health screenings will be available along with nutritional information for healthy eating habits. A blood mobile will be set up for blood donations. The day will begin at memorial Park on Gilliam Street at 10 a.m. and last until 7 p.m.

Two other larger events scheduled for the year is the Highway 72 Huntin’ “Junktion” and the Honoring Our American Classics Veterans parade. The Junktion is a yard sale that will start at the I-26 exit at Clinton and continue about 50 miles to I-77 in Richburg. The towns of Whitmire, Carlisle, Leeds and Chester have partnered together for the yard sale. A map will be available closer to the date for $3 with participating sellers’ locations.

On July 19, Whitmire’s Main Street will host an antique car and motorcycle show with a salute to veterans, including a parade, vendor booths, music, and food to include a hot dog eating contest and pie baking contest.

Because the board is elected and not hired, members are constantly looking for fundraising opportunities. No money from the town is collected for the operating budget. Mcmurtury said they will soon have the help of CJ Lake, who is a marketing major at the University of South Carolina. Lake will be assisting the group in their marketing efforts. Her mother is a resident of Whitmire.

Whitmire Mayor Billy Hollingsworth said the board has been aggressive and has done a super job thus far in promoting and bringing more tourism opportunities to the Whitmire area.

“When I appointed the board, I didn’t know how it would work out, but they have impressed me with how they’ve taken the bull by the horns, so to speak,” Hollingsworth said. “They’re doing great things for our town and putting us on the map.”