BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County supervisor summarized the state of his county with a single word during his first State of the County Address Monday.
That word, Bill Peagler said, is growth.
"What a difference one year can make," Peagler said at the start of his address.
"One year ago, I took office as Berkeley County Supervisor, promising the great people of our county that we would restructure government, we would streamline and eliminate duplicate agencies and processes," he said. "I promised that we would run the county as a business and put a significant focus on attracting new businesses to the county. I promised we would improve public safety and decrease response times by emergency personnel. I promised we would speed up the planning and permitting process. I promised we would make the government more open, transparent and inviting to our residents, and I promised we would advance efforts to improve education in the county. Many people said these promises were unrealistic. One year later, I can proudly say that each and every goal set forth has been accomplished."
Peagler highlighted Volvo Cars' selection of Berkeley County as home to its first North American manufacturing facility as well as the addition of deputies and EMS technicians for the first time in seven years.
He said Berkeley is South Carolina's fastest-growing county and the nation's 40th fastest-growing.
"From industrial growth to residential growth, Berkeley County is a place that businesses and families truly desire to be," Peagler said.
He said the leading credit rating companies, Standard and Poor's and Moody's increased the county's bond rating because of improvements county leaders have made.
"The increase in both the number of jobs and the population means we need to work hard to improve the county's infrastructure: new and improved roads and new and improved water and sewer capabilities," he said. "Our efforts to improve the county infrastructure are already underway."
Peagler said the new Sheep Island Interchange on I-26 is the first of several major projects the county hopes to complete by 2018. He said Berkeley County leaders also hope to receive funding to widen I-26 from Sheep Island to Four Holes Swamp, to create a new interchange leading into the Volvo Manufacturing Facility and to widen major county roadways.
"We are also working on major intersection improvement projects and major resurfacing projects across the entire county," he said.
Peagler said the county plans to widen Clements Ferry Road and Henry Brown Boulevard in two phases each and U.S. 176. Intersection improvements are planned at Daniel Island Drive at Seven Farms Drive, Murray Drive at Yeamans Hall Road, Foster Creek at Tanner Ford Boulevard, and Sangaree Parkway at Royle Road. Old Highway 52, S.C. 45 and S.C. 402 will be resurfaced as well, he said.
He said engineering will begin this year in a dirt-to-paving project thanks to a 2014 penny tax referendum.
"We believe that all of these infrastructure improvement projects will not only make our citizens' lives easier, but also make Berkeley County an even more attractive place for businesses to locate, to grow and create other jobs," Peagler said.
He said the county is determined to renovate Cypress Gardens, the county's number one tourist destination, which was severely damaged by flooding in October.
"I promise to all of you that we will make Cypress Gardens an even better place than it was before," he said.
Peagler released the address, which he titled, "Promises Made, Promises Kept," via video through the county's social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.