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Chief Justice Jean Toal in the McNair Conversations on the American South

Join the USC College of Arts and Sciences as we host the honorable Chief Justice Jean H. Toal on Tuesday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m. for an insightful conversation as part of the McNair Conversations on the American South.

Chief Justice Jean H. Toal has been a trailblazer in her career, being the first female Justice for the South Carolina Supreme Court, later ascending to Chief Justice in 2013. She also served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for thirteen years.

The conversation will be hosted by Mark Smith, Director of the Institute for Southern Studies and Carolina Distinguished Professor of History. The conversation will be held in the Karen J. Williams Courtroom in the Joseph F. Rice School of Law, and it will be live-recorded and aired on the Take on the South podcast.

There is still time to register! This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is suggested.

Metered parking spots are available in the Pendleton Street Garage (levels 1a, 1b, 2a). Garages/parking spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Meters are free after 6 p.m.

“The Struggle for Civil Rights in the South: A Generational Experience”

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina is pleased to welcome Bakari Sellers as the featured speaker for the 2024 Townsend Lecture Series. The conversation, “The Struggle for Civil Rights in the South: A Generational Experience,” will be hosted by Mark Smith, Director of the Institute for Southern Studies and Carolina Distinguished Professor of History. The conversation will be held in the Karen J. Williams Courtroom in the Joseph F. Rice School of Law, and it will be live-recorded and aired on the Take on the South podcast.

This event is Tuesday, March 19, 2024, and is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is suggested; check-in will open at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m.

Wallick Investments now offers holistic financial planning

Nick Shiver, Director of Wealth Planning for Wallick Investments, LLC

South Carolina-based RIA firm Wallick Investments, LLC is proud to announce the addition of a new financial planning service line to complement its long-standing investment advisory and portfolio management services. This new service line, called Fidelis Wealth Planning, continues the same strategic moral approach Wallick Investments has taken since its inception.

At the strategic level, the Fidelis Wealth Planning process will reflect and uphold the professional guidelines of the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) Board of Standards by imitating its thorough process of addressing the comprehensive financial status of each client. At the moral level, the process will construct values-based plans and affirm a virtue-first approach to financial living.

Through Fidelis Wealth Planning, an individual’s finances will be viewed with a holistic lens, as a resource, a means to an end and tool for good. Clients will be assisted and accompanied towards good stewardship. Plans will be built around the core values held by each client to assist with the fulfillment of their unique calling. Ongoing advice and education will be given to encourage virtuous financial habits and decisions. Active relationships with clients will be established and maintained with the intention of providing ongoing support and assistance through the different stages of life.

The concrete financial components of Fidelis Wealth Planning are organized into four initiatives: Organize, Optimize, Grow, and Protect. Within these four initiatives, the following areas will be assessed and addressed for the betterment of each client’s present and future financial needs: objectives, budgets, cash flows, balance sheets, taxes, debts, investments, retirement plans, education, giving, risk analyses, insurances, and estate plans. All documents can be stored and progress tracked with our customized Fidelis Wealth Planning software.

The Fidelis Wealth Planning service line will be led by Nick Shiver, Director of Wealth Planning at Wallick Investments. For more information, please call 803.699.8828, e-mail, or visit

Dominion Energy Celebrates Black History Month with an Employee Volunteer Spotlight

There he supports nest box maintenance and litter sweep, all while advocating to increase the involvement of Black volunteers.

CAYCE, S.C. – Ozon Wilson won’t think twice about taking that extra step to make a difference.

The Lexington, South Carolina, native said he has always had a passion for being in the outdoors and giving back to the community.

“Growing up, I was always encouraged to get involved and try things, and I’m a firm believer in we get what we give,” said Wilson, a gas journeyman with Dominion Energy. “When our natural resources are damaged, it’s going to affect us all. There’s a lot of help needed to keep our wildlife safe.”

When he’s not working to provide natural gas services across the Midlands, he spends countless hours volunteering with the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and other local organizations.

“He is the perfect example of a passionate volunteer,” said Jay Keck, industry habitat manager with SCWF. “You can see he cares about making a difference with his continuous contributions he’s made with us.”

Ozon Wilson won’t think twice about taking that extra step to make a difference.

There he supports nest box maintenance and litter sweep, all while advocating to increase the involvement of Black volunteers.

“As a person of color, I started to look around and saw there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me,” Wilson said. “It made me think of what I could do to get more people of color involved in wildlife volunteering, and how I could create a bridge between the two.”
Wilson began sharing his passion for nature with his church community and other people around him.

“In the past, we haven’t had a big minority presence in our volunteer groups,” Keck said.

Wilson believes Dominion Energy’s commitment to diverse representation in its workforce is important to the communities the company serves.

“Having a shining example like Ozon who wants to share his interest in nature to other Black people in the community is so important because spreading awareness is what really brings people in.”

Wilson’s drive to make a difference in the community has also been noticed during his 25 years of helping to keep the gas flowing safely and reliably for Dominion Energy customers.

“He takes initiative in his work, and it shows,” said Stephen Baxley, supervisor of gas operations at Dominion Energy South Carolina. “In his time with the company, he’s built trust with customers, and he’s always willing to help. We routinely call on him to share his experience and knowledge with those in our gas apprenticeship program.”

Wilson believes Dominion Energy’s commitment to diverse representation in its workforce is important to the communities the company serves.

“It’s the extra step that makes an impact,” he said. “Having that representation in more experienced roles across the company shows our actions align with our core values.”

Dominion Energy is committed to cultivating a work environment where all employees can demonstrate their different talents and perspectives and are empowered to realize their true potential. For more information about Dominion Energy’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion or its employee resource groups, visit

About Dominion Energy
About 7 million customers in 15 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to providing reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy every day and to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. Please visit to learn more.

Knight Foundation supports three local nonprofits with $200,000

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Midlands philanthropic partner since 1993, awarded $202,565 to three local nonprofit organizations. The Knight Foundation is committed to ensuring Columbia has a vibrant, equitable and inclusive public life in the downtown and riverfront areas. The chosen projects will use economic and arts initiatives to revitalize the community.

The selected Richland County nonprofits are:

• Made With Cola Love aims to repurpose vacant commercial real estate buildings for small business popups in downtown Columbia. Participating small businesses will receive tailored support through peer mentorship and business skills workshops.
• Riverbanks Foundation’s Women and Minority Business Development Accelerator Program through the Columbia Chamber of Commerce advances economic inclusion and accelerates minority, women and veteran-owned businesses in Columbia. Its project will increase awareness of its 12-month program and begin three-year data tracking for businesses post-graduation.
• Columbia Museum of Art will revitalize its Boyd Plaza by incorporating programming and art installations to create a more vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. This urban center will allow people to gather and connect in new and exciting ways, making downtown a more attractive place to live and work.

“The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with deep local roots in Columbia,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are thankful for Knight’s investment and support of our community.”

Through the Knight Foundation, brothers John S. and James L. continue investing in the 26 cities where they once published newspapers. They established a donor advised fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation in 1993, and since then, the fund has invested over $3.9 million in the Columbia community.

“We hope to continue prioritizing people and reaching the heart of Columbia with new and innovative projects,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation’s senior director.

For more information on the Knight Foundation, visit

About Central Carolina Community Foundation
Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ leader in collaborative philanthropy, is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands of South Carolina by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. Major initiatives include the online giving challenge Midlands Gives, Connected Communities grants, the One SC Fund and annual scholarships. For more information about the Foundation, visit or call (803) 254-5601.

About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a foundation of social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in the community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of cities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers.

Thomas Tafel of Lexington Medical Center selected as 2024 Judith M. Davis Volunteer of the Year

Columbia, S.C. – United Way of the Midlands will recognize Thomas Tafel of Lexington Medical Center, as the recipient of the 2024 Judith M. Davis Volunteer of the Year Award during the Humanitarian of the Year Ceremony on February 22, 2024.

“United Way of the Midlands is honored to present this award, a testament to Judy Davis’s unwavering dedication to bettering our community, to Thomas Tafel,” said Sara Fawcett, President and CEO of United Way of the Midlands. “This award celebrates individuals who embody Judy’s spirit, and Thomas does just that. We are excited to recognize his achievements and commitment to the Midlands.”

In the past, Tafel has served as board chairman of the United Way of the Midlands Young Leaders Society and is currently the chair of the Education Council and a member of the Board of Directors. In 2023, he also spearheaded a hospital-wide book drive at Lexington Medical Center, benefiting the Midlands Reading Consortium.

“I am deeply grateful to receive the Judith Davis Award. My passion for giving back to my community has led me to a close relationship with United Way of the Midlands, and I am truly humbled to receive this award,” said Tafel.

Tafel has greatly served the Midlands area for years, both through United Way and beyond. His philanthropic efforts focus on education and medicine, which led him to serve on the Board of Directors for the Free Medical Clinic and as the chairman of the Community Advisory Board for LMC’s Graduate Medical Education Program. He is also a founding member of UPLIFT Lexington County, which received a $1 million grant to combat behavioral health problems.

The award recipient is selected based on a demonstrated commitment to community service and a desire for professional development. The recipient must be an active donor in United Way of the Midlands’ Young Leaders Society, complete a minimum of 50 hours of community service in the past year, have at least one year of nonprofit volunteer board or committee service, and must be currently employed with a for-profit organization. The recipient will receive tuition and travel expenses to attend a Harvard University Leadership Development course in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To learn more about the United Way of the Midlands, visit

About United Way of the Midlands
United Way of the Midlands is the most collaborative, efficient and accountable model for investing in the improvement of the Midlands community. With 70 Community Impact Partners, United Way works to identify and respond to the critical human service needs of Calhoun, Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland counties. Funds are raised through workplace campaigns, grant writing and individual donations and are directed to creating generational change by breaking cycles of crisis and empowering people to build their own paths to success. For more information, please visit

RMF Engineering Announces New Shareholder In Charleston

Greg Hudson_Headshot

RMF Engineering has added Charleston-based Project Manager, Greg Hudson, PE, CHC, HFDP, as a shareholder in the company. Since joining RMF in 2010, Hudson has emerged as a key member of the Charleston, South Carolina Buildings team. Hudson’s technical experience in mechanical engineering is matched by a collaborative, agile spirit that enables him to work skillfully across a wide variety of project types. This dexterity has helped to strengthen RMF’s long-standing relationships with leading higher education and healthcare clients in the region, focusing much of his work on tailoring data-backed building solutions to drive greater campus performance.

Hudson has opened opportunities to explore new technologies for building modeling and automation and is active in RMF’s healthcare practice. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University and a Master of Business Administration from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

Hudson joins Conrad Hertz, PE, Division Manager, Boston, and Baltimore-based Project Manager, Dustin Barrall, PE, as RMF Engineering’s 2024 shareholder additions.

Manufacturing Madness is Back

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA) has launched the 3rd annual Manufacturing Madness contest. Presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Manufacturing Madness is a bracket-style competition that engages the public to select the “Coolest Thing Made in South Carolina.”

Since its inception, more than 321,000 votes have been cast and more than 250 different SC-made products have competed for the coveted title of “The Coolest Thing Made in SC.” The F-16 Fighting Falcon made by Lockheed Martin in Greenville won the contest in 2023, and Steel made by Nucor Steel Berkeley in Huger won the inaugural contest in 2022.

Nominations can be submitted at until February 22nd. Any product manufactured in South Carolina can be nominated. There will be several rounds of voting to narrow down products until one is chosen as the winner.

2024 Contest Timeline:
February 12 – February 22: Nominations period
February 26 – February 29: Popular vote
March 4 – 7: First round of bracket voting for Top 16
March 11 – 14: Second round of bracket voting for Top 8
March 18 – 21: Final round of bracket voting
March 28: Winner announced at the Statehouse

“Manufacturing Madness is a celebration of our innovative and diverse manufacturing industry, as well as the thousands of skilled men and women who produce world-class products every day in the Palmetto State,” said Sara Hazzard, President and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. “We are excited to once again spotlight the many amazing products made in South Carolina and tell the story of how manufacturing creates strong communities and economic prosperity across our great state.”

South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance
The South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance is the only statewide organization dedicated exclusively to the interests of manufacturers. Its mission is to strengthen and advance South Carolina manufacturing by advocating for our members, fostering a world-class workforce, and bringing together manufacturers to connect, share, and solve industry challenges. The SCMA membership is comprised of more than 200 manufacturing companies that represent more than 100,000 associates in South Carolina.

SCVCS Student Chosen for Prestigious Aim High Flight Academy

Columbia, S.C. – Jack Stapleton, an 11th grade student at the South Carolina Virtual Charter School (SCVCS), has been selected as one of 170 students nationwide to participate in the prestigious Aim High Flight Academy (AHFA). The program, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, aims to inspire and develop the next generation of aviation leaders.

Stapleton, hailing from Leesville, South Carolina, secured a coveted slot and a full AHFA scholarship among a field of nearly 1,600 applicants. The introductory flight program enables students to earn up to 15 flight hours and understand the pathways to becoming an Air Force officer and aviator.

“This achievement is a testament to Jack’s dedication, skills, and passion for aviation,” said Dr. Hunter Jolley, High School Administrator at SCVCS. “Jack’s selection highlights his exceptional qualities and commitment to pursuing excellence in the field of aviation.”

The scholarship covers all expenses, including travel, three weeks of room and board at the selected university, merchandise and flight suit, as well as full payment for the use of the airplane and training.

“I am thrilled and honored to be chosen for the Aim High Flight Academy,” Stapleton said. “This opportunity not only fulfills my passion for aviation but also underscores the value of online schooling in enabling dynamic students like me to excel.”

AHFA provides a unique and immersive experience, offering hands-on training and mentorship from experienced and FAA-certified aviation professionals. To learn more about the program, visit

About South Carolina Virtual Charter School

South Carolina Virtual Charter School is a tuition-free public virtual charter school that utilizes a research-based, world-class curriculum to provide an individualized, rigorous, standards-based virtual education to students in the State of South Carolina. SCVCS provides a virtual education opportunity for students in grades K through 12 in each county and district throughout South Carolina. All courses are thoroughly vetted to ensure they meet the requirements of the South Carolina State Standards. Follow SCVCS on Facebook and learn more at

High Rise Beverage Company halts distribution in South Carolina

The cannabis seltzer is taking the high road in light of the latest DHEC Statement

CHARLESTON, S.C. (February 7, 2024) – High Rise, a leading name in the hemp beverage industry, announces a temporary pause in its distribution operations within the state of South Carolina, effective from Monday, February 5th.

This decision stems from the recent confusion surrounding labeling requirements imposed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and High Rise’s unwavering commitment to consumer safety and product transparency.

As a brand intimately intertwined with the South Carolina community, High Rise cherishes its connection with local residents and has consistently prioritized well-being and transparency with its consumers. High Rise is diligently working to address the intricacies of DHEC’s new requirements. The company’s commitment to regulatory compliance and consumer safety is unwavering.

In the midst of this challenge, High Rise is thrilled to unveil the “Blackout Edition,” a new line of beverages without hemp or THC in them that embody the brand’s innovative spirit. This collection will present four beloved flavors, each infused with adaptogens, continuing High Rise’s mission of promoting health and wellness. Furthermore, High Rise pledges to donate $0.10 from every can sold from the “Blackout Edition” towards advocacy for hemp laws and educational initiatives in the field.

The “Blackout Edition” not only embodies High Rise’s commitment to innovation and community involvement but also signifies the brand’s determination to make a positive impact on the hemp industry.

This THC-Free lineup is set to launch in early March. “South Carolina is more than just our marketplace; it is our home, our community. Halting distribution was a challenging decision, but it reinforces our commitment to act responsibly for our community. The ‘Blackout Edition’ stands as a symbol of our dedication to innovation, community support, and the evolution of the hemp industry,” added Matt Skinner.

The company eagerly anticipates resuming distribution once there is a complete accord with the new regulatory requisites.

Stay tuned for updates on the release of the new “Blackout Edition” THC-Free product line and High Rise’s continued journey in South Carolina. For more information follow along on High Rise’s website or social media channels – @highrisebev