Sumter County Council seeking board, commission members

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Fresh blood. New energy. A new perspective. Community involvement.

Those are the common refrains when it comes to getting people to volunteer their service on appointed boards and commissions.

Sumter County Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. said he and his fellow council members want the best for Sumter County and part of that is getting new people to spend part of their time helping move the community forward.

“The more of a diverse population of people that will serve on the boards and commissions that better represent the Sumter community, we’ll have more ideas available,” he said.  “I just think it’s the best thing to do.”

McCain said council doesn’t want to see the “same old, same old.”

“We want more and better ideas. It seems that we’ve always had the same people willing to volunteer and serve and we get stagnant with ideas and we don’t really move forward,” he said.

As a patron and participant of the arts, Dr. Todd Warrick has seen his involvement with the Sumter County Cultural Commission strengthen over the last three years, and he now serves as the commission chairman.

“It was kind of a combination of being interested in the arts as a discipline, if you will, and having connections with people and I felt confident I could work with those people and would enjoy my time knowing their heart is in the right place,” he said.

Warrick has appeared onstage in several acclaimed productions put on by The Sumter Little Theatre. With his involvement with the commission and the theatre’s board, he’s seen real results.

“What I have been consistently surprised by is how so much gets done by so few people, almost like it’s a miracle how many things get accomplished,” he said. “The flip side is it’s amazing how much impact you can have on things that happen if you volunteer a little bit of your time and a little bit of your energy.”

What organizations need most is energy and fresh ideas, he said.

“People are surprisingly welcome and accepting of new ideas and new blood and new energy,” he said.

Bill Lynam III serves as chairman of the Sumter County Airport Commission, which is a natural fit for someone who pretty much grew up at our local airport.

His late father, Billy Lynam, was in charge of the Sumter County Airport after World War II up until his retirement around 1980.

“I’ve just always been there,” he said, with about two decades of service on the commission. “I’m not an active pilot but I like aviation and I like working with the airport and helping with what I can to further it because it’s a vital part of the community.”

Over the years he’s watched the number of hobby pilots become eclipsed by the corporate sector using the airport as its place in growing industry both regionally and statewide. This, in turn, has furthered the role of Sumter County Airport, he said. And it’s been gratifying to watch the airport grow in stature as a new hangar houses high-end jets.

In addition to the new hangar, the airport’s recent upgrades include a rejuvenated runway, taxiway and tarmac. A new lighting project is nearing completion as well and Lynam estimates that nearly all the airport’s fuel is sold to the corporate aviation sector.

“It really has stepped up in the last 10 years,” he said, especially as hangar space around the state is “a very big premium.”

“It’s just the satisfaction of doing something for the community,” he said. “It’s just one of those things you like doing.”

Cheryl Baker serves on the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee, and from her perspective, anything folks do to improve the community creates long-term dividends for everyone.

“I want Sumter to succeed because I love it,” she said. “When the businesses do well, we got more visitors and it’s all our responsibility – we all have to do our part. I’ve always worked with people who support our community.”

When she and her husband Mike moved to Sumter in 1995, they didn’t know anyone, so they “just jumped in” with the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and Sumter Rotary Club to meet folks.

“Fortunately I met some great people who taught me to give back,” she said.

Sumter County Council Vice-Chairman Jimmy Byrd said council members need citizens who are well-rounded and whose background could prove beneficial to the particular mission of a board.

“All of these boards are important and each serves a unique purpose,” he said.  “We’re trying to find people who are willing to serve part of their time each month because these boards and commissions are meaningful to the community and to Sumter County.”

Current openings include: Accommodations Tax Advisory Board, Crystal Lakes Golf Course Advisory Board, Cultural Commission, Historical Commission, Tax Board of Appeals, Library Board and Planning Commission.

For those interested, please fill out the PDF form and return it Clerk to Council Mary Blanding.


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