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Latest News in Andrews, SC

Former SC railroad and timber hub envisions tourism boost through new state park

ANDREWS — This westernmost Georgetown County town wants to be more than just a simple dot on a South Carolina map.A vision to reinvigorate Andrews could bring in more restaurants, fill vacant storefronts, introduce additional greenspace and offer new educational opportunities for local students with the help of a tool that nearby cities and beach communities have at their disposal — tourism.The estimated economic impact of tourism in South Carolina ...

ANDREWS — This westernmost Georgetown County town wants to be more than just a simple dot on a South Carolina map.

A vision to reinvigorate Andrews could bring in more restaurants, fill vacant storefronts, introduce additional greenspace and offer new educational opportunities for local students with the help of a tool that nearby cities and beach communities have at their disposal — tourism.

The estimated economic impact of tourism in South Carolina was $29 billion in 2022, according to figures from the state Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. Across Georgetown County, tourist spending tops more than $380 million annually and supports more than 3,300 local jobs, according to state statistics.

Andrews leaders say a new state park along the Black River could help serve as an economic catalyst for the town of 2,575 residents. Still, they acknowledge there have been some bumps on the road to success.

“Our vision is still on course, but we also were plagued with what I call another pandemic,” Mayor Frank McClary said.

Challenges

During a roughly 12-month period last year, the town’s main sewer line was inadvertently severed while installing an AT&T cellphone tower and its aging water system failed.

McClary said the sewer line, operating on a temporary bypass, cost roughly $65,000 to fix. He said they secured a state grant to pay for it.

Around the same time, the town’s current water system, which was installed around 1984, also failed due to not being upgraded over the 39 years in service. McClary said they have around $7.2 million from the S.C. Infrastructure Investment Program and other grants to help with repairs and future upgrades.

“We don’t want to repeat this, obviously, but we were able to sustain all of these things and continue to meet our financial obligations and not go through our budget as we took advantage of some grants,” McClary said. “It doesn’t come by chance. It’s a lot of hard work with a very small staff and people keeping their nose to the ground so we will not have an adverse effect on this vision plan.”

Andrews operates on a $3 million budget. By comparison, Georgetown has a $44.5 million budget.

“You cannot qualify or get these types of things (grants) if you are in financial ruin,” McClary said. “We need to make sure that our citizens and all of our potential investors and developers understand that. We are in a position to continue to grow.”

The infrastructure challenges were just another blow to Andrews, which had to deal with the loss of T-shirt giant Oneita Knitting Mills in 1996. The plant at one time employed 1,000 people.

But the future is looking bright for the former mill site, which is just a few blocks from downtown.

“Oneita was a lifeline in Andrews for a very long time,” McClary said. “When that industry left in the late 1990s, it left a huge void. (But) there are two businesses there right now and two more coming in. Right now, we have Miatex Corp., one of the largest fabric-producing companies in the country, and Shed Cor, which is a storage shed manufacturer. We are very proud of where we are right now.”

A plan for success

Straddling the Williamsburg-Georgetown county line, Andrews was founded in 1909 and thrived in the early 20th century from the railroad and lumber business, but the two industries that shaped the town left.

The recent announcement of a $6.4 million public-private partnership that will preserve more than 1,800 acres in the Andrews area, along with the Black River Cypress Preserve that protects almost six miles of the surrounding Black River, could potentially provide an economic and tourism boost to a town whose claim to fame is being the birthplace of singer Chubby Checker and comedian Chris Rock.

“It is a little piece of heaven,” said town administrator Mauretta Wilson of the cypress preserve. “You talk about the Lowcountry being God’s country, well you can actually see it when you step out onto that property. It’s amazing to have something like that in Georgetown County.”

Georgetown Times

Rebecca Cantley, who works at the longtime town pharmacy Reynolds Drug Store, said Andrews needs to be revitalized and she hopes the new state park will help.

“Who doesn’t want something preserved and beautiful? I think it will be great for this small town,” Cantley said. “I’m just praying that we can get this town up and going and hope that this will drive some of that (tourism) to it.”

McClary said they are already seeing the effects of what the future state park could mean for tourism in Andrews as outside businesses are starting to fill some of the vacant buildings in town.

“In our old CVS location, we are anticipating a fitness center,” McClary said. “Another chain store that will be named later is in the works. We talk a lot about Little Caesars that’s coming to the corner in a spot that used to be the old cleaners. Everybody is excited about that and it is going to give us another restaurant in town.”

The Little Caesars franchise is slated to open next spring at the intersection of East Main Street and Morgan Avenue. Anytime Fitness will be moving into the Food Lion shopping center, McClary confirmed.

Super Chic, a popular store in Andrews, could also benefit from the state park by transforming itself to serve residents and tourists.

“We would love to see this turn into an outfitter location where you can get your delicious food, but also be able to buy a kayak or canoe, get your bait, things of that nature as you move down the connector,” McClary said.

Green space and education

A vision plan for the town presented this year at Black River Cypress Preserve laid out future goals for Andrews and its relationship with nature: A makeover of downtown alleyways and expansion of green space and nature park on the site of the former water treatment plant.

Officials hope to ultimately connect downtown to the state park with the Andrews Black River Greenway. The greenway will have a spur trail named the Rosemary Path that will create a loop throughout the town, with an entrance to a proposed career center.

The planned environmentally-focused career center would possibly sit on a portion of the former Oneita site.

News

“The Black River Environmental Career Center is a conversation that was born out of a need for career technical services,” said Wilson, the town administrator. “Right now, all of the students in Andrews have to go to Georgetown County for those needs.

“We would love to see this program come to fruition, not just for the agritourism portion of it to teach children to respect the land, but also all of the cosmetology, welding, auto mechanic needs that are taught in those environments.”

Looking toward the future

Some local business owners hope the future state park could help transform downtown into a version of Georgetown’s Front Street.

Lorin Hayes and her mother Melissa Butler have owned and operated Mel’s Market on West Main Street for nearly three years. They already have customers who visited the Black River Cypress Preserve and joined them for lunch after a tour, hike or bike ride.

“That has brought us business, but it’s just not about my business,” Hayes said. “I would love for Andrews to eventually look a little more like how Georgetown looks downtown. There’s almost a business in every storefront on Front Street. I would love to see Andrews eventually look like that.”

McClary said he has always believed that Georgetown County has the opportunity to be one of the best counties in the state, and he plans for the town to be a gateway into the county.

“We want to make Andrews a place of destiny as opposed to just a bypass,” McClary said.

Georgetown Times

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Andrews mayor says he wasn’t notified EMS services would be relocated

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - In a town of over 2,500 people, the only available EMS ambulance and staff has been moved outside of the town limits of Andrews.With the former location being relocated in December, Andrews Mayor Frank McClary says Georgetown County never notified him or the town about the EMS location moving.“We still haven’t received an official notification,” McClary says. “To this day, we don’t know what is going to happen with this building. We have not received information from any offi...

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - In a town of over 2,500 people, the only available EMS ambulance and staff has been moved outside of the town limits of Andrews.

With the former location being relocated in December, Andrews Mayor Frank McClary says Georgetown County never notified him or the town about the EMS location moving.

“We still haven’t received an official notification,” McClary says. “To this day, we don’t know what is going to happen with this building. We have not received information from any official anyone in any position of authority.”

The closest EMS location is now outside of town limits at 15 Big Dam Swamp Dr., taking 11 minutes to drive from the former location at 505 W. Alder St.

The town of Andrews has seven railroad crossings that can delay response times for the four schools, a dialysis center, senior center, businesses and homes located in the area.

Over 300 community members have signed a petition for the EMS location to be moved back into the town limits, saying the risks and ramifications of moving the facility are at the expense of lives.

“Their voice is needed to speak about how much we need EMS here,” Andrews Community Member Jennifer Hunt says. “We really need our citizens of Andrews to speak out about it because this could be life or death for people who if they have a medical event; they’re going to be waiting a longer amount of time for an ambulance to physically get to them.”

Other than the relocated EMS location, the next closest location is 15 miles away, concerning the community if an ambulance takes additional time in traffic, or if two emergencies occur during the same time frame.

“I am worried about our little town not having the ambulance anymore. I’m really worried,” Hunt adds.

The petition also includes the dangers to the EMS services moving for the industries in the area, children participating in recreational and school athletic activities, and the aging population located in the area.

Mayor McClary says he is very frustrated regarding the communication between Georgetown County to Andrews. He also adds that he has reached out to the county on multiple occasions asking for answers and more information regarding the EMS relocation.

“There’re options locally. I just don’t think they’ve thought this through, and it’s not okay,” McClary says. “It really concerns me, and it angers me that no one to this day has said a word.”

McClary will be at the upcoming Georgetown County Council meeting next Tuesday. He encourages concerned community members to attend. The meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. at 129 Screven St.

The following is a statement from Georgetown County regarding the EMS building relocation:

We are aware this is a matter of concern for residents in the Andrews community and are presenting several options for addressing it, as directed by County Council. We can talk more about those options after Council has had a chance to review them. The decision to close this station was not taken lightly nor made without careful evaluation. It should be noted that there is still a station operating within this service area and the distance/service is comparable to what is provided in other incorporated parts of the county, including the City of Georgetown.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

This Is Carolina: Andrews woman brings luxury living to old RVs

ANDREWS, S.C. (WMBF) - Right on the Georgetown County line lives someone who turns drab into fab. Alchemy RV Renovations owner Tessa Terry transforms RVs, campers and fifth wheels into charming, luxury digs.“I wanted to create a space that was high-end, and when you walk through the door, I wanted it to feel like a home,” said Terry.The 29-year-old mother of two dove head first and launched her business in 2021. She bought a c...

ANDREWS, S.C. (WMBF) - Right on the Georgetown County line lives someone who turns drab into fab. Alchemy RV Renovations owner Tessa Terry transforms RVs, campers and fifth wheels into charming, luxury digs.

“I wanted to create a space that was high-end, and when you walk through the door, I wanted it to feel like a home,” said Terry.

The 29-year-old mother of two dove head first and launched her business in 2021. She bought a camper and learned how to renovate the small space, everything from the design to plumbing, electrical and flooring.

“I always lived by the idea that mistakes are kind of the price of admission to a good job,” she said.

The one-woman show mixes research with her renovation experience by ripping a page from her home renovations after she and her husband bought their house in 2017.

“We gutted it from top to bottom and completely renovated it,” said Terry.

Just like her Victorian modern-inspired home, Terry carefully creates and decorates each RV with intention.

“I’ll find things months before I even get the RV, and I’ll love it, and then I’ll work it into the design later on,” she said.

She caught the designer bug as a little girl and then worked for her parents’ company making elegant Victorian lamps that you’ve probably seen before.

“In the Disney’s new Haunted Mansion movie, all the lampshades that you see are the ones that I’ve made,” said Terry.

Terry gave us a tour of the RV and fifth wheel she’s remodeling and showed us the upscale and personal touches. She also demonstrated how she turns old countertops into faux marble ones to mimic swanky Charleston hotels. From gold ornate fixtures and upscale lighting to a walk-in closet, Terry said you’re not just getting a glamorous home on wheels.

“That’s the one thing I do different from most RV renovators, is absolutely everything comes with the sale. All the décor pieces, all the bedding,” said Terry.

The RV renovator said the best part about fixing up fixer-uppers is watching a customer step into one for the very first time.

“Oh, it’s awesome. I love seeing people’s reactions because it’s not what you’d expect in a space like that,” she said.

Terry hopes to impress even more people with her eye for design in the future.

“I feel like I’m just getting started, so I’m really excited to get next-level renovations happening,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve even considered it a career. I think I just thought that’s what I love. That’s what I want to do.”

Terry revamped five RVs since 2021, which she said each took about two to four months to renovate.

If you have good news to share, email goodnews@wmbfnews.com or message Loren on Facebook.

Copyright 2023 WMBF. All rights reserved.

‘This is a serious matter’: Andrews old gym left partially demolished

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - A former Andrews recreation center has been left partially demolished for over a month after Georgetown County did not obtain an asbestos survey or demolition permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.Andrews Mayor Frank McClary had not been told when the demolition was happening, but says he first learned about it when a young man who was working on the building supposedly struck a gas line.“There was no communication,” McClary says. “We realize now t...

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - A former Andrews recreation center has been left partially demolished for over a month after Georgetown County did not obtain an asbestos survey or demolition permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Andrews Mayor Frank McClary had not been told when the demolition was happening, but says he first learned about it when a young man who was working on the building supposedly struck a gas line.

“There was no communication,” McClary says. “We realize now that there was not an environmental study.”

The Department of Health and Environmental Services released the following statement on Thursday following a Live 5 email requesting if they had any knowledge of an inspection at the site:

This demolition was started around March 9, 2023, but without an asbestos survey or demolition permit. We are currently waiting for their cleanup/disposal plan before demolition can continue. Having a detailed work plan is a required -- and important -- part of the abatement permitting process because it’s critical to ensure asbestos can be safely and efficiently removed with minimal risk of anyone’s exposure to it.

Due to the unknown nature of possible contaminants from the site, the community and Andrews officials are concerned of potential health risks.

“We don’t know the effect within the community that is having. We have children over there on the playground equipment, you have a walking trail,” Georgetown County Councilman District 3, Everett Carolina, says. “These are things that for health and safety should be a major concern of county council for the constituents and not only Andrews, but for the whole county.”

The former Andrews High School Gym demolition was under Georgetown County Parks and Recreation jurisdiction, beginning on March 7.

Emails between the parks and recreation department, a project contractor and the Department of Health and Environmental Services on March 9 were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“It was our understanding that due diligence on this project had been done previously when the other buildings on that campus had been demolished,” Georgetown County Parks and Recreation Manager Christopher Loren Wallace said in an email. “Based on our conversation, we now understand that other requirements are necessary.”

Wallace continues to write that a project designer must be hired by the county “to develop a plan abatement and demolishment.

Information obtained in the emails says a project proposal will be presented at the next council meeting on April 25.

“At a minimum, put up a better fence that’s going to really keep the kids out,” McClary says. “Have someone come out here and do an air quality test to see that anything that’s missing to give us some confidence that you really care about what’s going on and you intend to fix it as soon as possible.”

Georgetown County issued the following statement Thursday night:

Staff thought they were cleared to demolish the building. They acted in good faith. When the county found out it was not cleared, we contacted DHEC immediately and started taking steps to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We realize this is a serious issue and a major concern for residents of the Town. Council is supposed to be presented with a quote for the demolition this Tuesday. Once approved, we should be able to move forward with all haste.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Partially demolished gym in Andrews contaminated with asbestos, officials say

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - Health officials say a partially demolished building in Andrews is now considered to be contaminated with asbestos after county officials did not obtain a permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.Crews started the demolition process of the former Andrews High School Gym on March 7, however construction was halted pending an asbestos assessment by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.DHEC determined the 15,000-square-foot building is contami...

ANDREWS, S.C. (WCSC) - Health officials say a partially demolished building in Andrews is now considered to be contaminated with asbestos after county officials did not obtain a permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Crews started the demolition process of the former Andrews High School Gym on March 7, however construction was halted pending an asbestos assessment by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

DHEC determined the 15,000-square-foot building is contaminated with asbestos, and it will require removal through Abatement by Demolition using wet methods with onsite air monitoring, according to DHEC.

Last week, Live 5 reported the county did not obtain an asbestos survey or demolition permit from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“The county shouldn’t start something and stop,” nearby homeowner Daniel Green says. “Take it away and take it to the landfill.”

The following information is from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday regarding an update:

The entire structure is being considered contaminated with regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM). We’ve been told the County Council is expected to meet this week to approve the work plan for safe and proper cleanup and disposal of the RACM. Once they approve their work plan, they can submit the necessary applications to us so that we can approve and issue an asbestos abatement permit.

The issue is set to be discussed as an emergency procurement at the Georgetown County Council meeting on Tuesday, saying in the agenda that the structure was partially demolished before activities ceased pending a review of a current asbestos assessment for the structure.

“The mistake is this trying to find out about the asbestos while they [the county] went ahead and tear it down,” Ivory Davenport, who lives a block away from the building, says.

Also stated in the agenda, the project will cost $340,500 for the demolition, project management and abatement specification plan, which will be done by S&ME, Inc. Funding for the project will come American Rescue Plan funds.

The former Andrews High School gym is located next to homes and a recreation park, concerning nearby community members of the possible health and safety risks.

“We have children and people around here, they are sick,” Green says. “It seems like they just don’t care.”

“It’s only a block away from us, and with this March wind blowing and April rain coming, everybody’s concerned,” Davenport adds. “I have a neighbor right across the street from me that has trouble with his lungs. It’s going to affect us.”

Officials with Georgetown County were not available for an interview at the time of this story.

If approved, funding for the project will come American Rescue Plan funds.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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