Chamber of Commerce presents annual community service awards

On Thursday night, the Hampton County Chamber of Commerce presented its 2017 awards to several deserving individuals who have served the Hampton County community well  over the past year or more. The following awards were presented during the awards banquet held at the SouthernCarolina Alliance headquarters on Lee Avenue, Hampton.

Person of the Year

Anna Sue Rivers

Anna Sue Rivers was elected to Hampton Town Council in a special election in 2002, replacing a councilman who resigned.  Her current term ends in 2020 and she is the first woman to be elected to serve on town council.  She and her later husband, Jake Rivers, both served on council, but not at the same time.  Because of her love of history and especially Hampton County, she supervises the Hampton Museum and Visitors’ Center.  If you  Google “Anna Sue Rivers” on the Hampton County Guardian web site, her name comes up in nearly every article on Hampton Town Council meetings.

When town council members interview candidates for job positions, Anna Sue always asks them, “Who are your parents and who are your grandparents?” and brings up something about them.

Anna Sue Rivers also worked to get the town’s name changed properly in 2004.  She did some research and found the name on record was “Town of Hampton Courthouse,” which is not a legal name. She pursued it and the South Carolina Secretary of State changed the name to “Town of Hampton.” 

Anna Sue loves Hampton County and its people and can tell story after story on many of them. She began her work career at Lightsey Brothers Railroad and continued at Production Credit, which was located in the old county courthouse annex Building and helped farmers get loans.

Rivers is a big fan of S.C. Representative Bill Bowers, and anyone who knows her also knows how much she loves flowers, especially roses.  When she was active in the Seed and Weed Garden club, she worked with others to keep the Five Points area beautiful. 

Anna Sue has given her time serving in many ways at Hampton United Methodist Church, where no one else has been there as long as her.  Her faith in God is the center of her life.

Anna Sue, with the help of Jake, raised three beautiful daughters: Susan (Tom); Jeanette (Mike); and Carolyn (Hank).  She has two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

 

Business of the Year

McDonald’s in Hampton

Tony Myers has worked for McDonald’s since 1972 when he was a 15-year-old high school student. After high school he went into McDonald’s Management Training program and was promoted to General Manager when he was 18 years old, from there he experienced all management and mid-management positions with McDonald’s.

In March 2015, he achieved a lifelong dream when he was given the opportunity to purchase the McDonald’s locations in Hampton and Yemassee.  His goal from the beginning was always to become a McDonald’s Owner Operator.  On the first anniversary of owning the Hampton McDonald’s, a major remodel project was completed. The McDonald’s in Hampton has 65 employees. 

Tony and Sheila Myers are very involved in the community and donate in many ways, whether it is a free meal to a struggling family or families that come into the area, as well as donating free food coupons to every school that needs a prize for an incentive.  He partnered with the Rotary Club in raising money for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Texas by donating all the food for their fundraiser.

Myers supports the Hampton County Literacy Council monetarily as well as giving free meal coupons as incentives to recognize the students in the program all year long. He also provides free scholarships to employees so they can get their GEDs at no cost, with the only requirement being 90 days of employment.

 

Community Service Award

LaClaire Laffitte

LaClaire Laffitte has been deeply involved in community service most of her life.  What began as a teaching career in English and reading eventually evolved into being a fulltime volunteer in other areas.

After her teaching career, she developed and directed a Victims’ Assistance Program, where she served as Victims’ Advocate in all five 14th Judicial Circuit counties. 

LaClaire served on the Hampton County Library Board for 37 years in all capacities: secretary, treasurer and president.  She inaugurated the library’s Annual Book Sale and served on the Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library Board for multiple years.

Always interested in history, about 10 years ago LaClaire became interested in the Hampton County Historical Society. She was elected president in 2011 and  was recently appointed director of the Hampton County Museum at the Old Jail.  It has been a labor of love, of fun, exasperation (at times) and creativity. One of the monumental honors that came to the museum was the donation from Johnny Causey of his lifelong collection of Native America artifacts.

LaClaire has given her time and talent to many community organizations in Hampton County, as well as All Saints Episcopal Church.  Her church and her faith in Jesus Christ are a vital part of who she is.

LaClaire married Charlie Laffitte the same day he graduated from the Citadel and they have three children: Charles, Gray (Ben) and Russell (Susie).  There are six grandchildren: Ashley, Cal, Claire, Lilly, Carter and Luke.

 

Education Award

Rose Choice

Rose Peterson Choice accepted a job as a social worker with the Hampton School District 2 Even Start Family Program in 1989.  At the conclusion of the Even Start Program, Rose became the social worker for District 2. As the years progressed, she was promoted to the position of Pupil Services Coordinator and currently serves as the Director of Student Services.

While serving in the capacity as District Social Worker, Rose inaugurated the District’s first Multi-tiered System of Support for children and families in the district.  The Interagency Intervention Team coordinates services for children and their families. She collaborates with the Department of Social Services, South Carolina Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Department of Juvenile Justice, Coastal Empire Mental Health Center, S.C. Continuum of Care, S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Hampton County Department of Disabilities and Special Needs and Wright Directions Family Services. 

Choice has served on many committees within the local community as well as statewide.  In her capacity as Director of Student Services, she coordinates the Safe Schools Team and the District’s Fresh for All Produce Distribution. She works closely with Hampton County Emergency Operations Center as well as the Fill the Stocking Campaign with Hampton County Department of Social Services.  Rose also serves as an Executive Board Member of the South Carolina Association of School Social Workers.

Rose presently serves as Chairperson for the Educational Advancement Foundation for her sorority, Xi Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Rose is a member of New Bethlehem Baptist Church, where she serves as the Sunday School Superintendent. She also serves on her church’s Ushers’ Ministry and is a member of the Educational Enrichment Ministry.

Rose is married to Earl Choice and they have three beautiful children and two grandchildren.

 

Hometown Hero

Town Watson

Tom Watson enjoys helping people. He currently serves as an active member of the Hampton County Fire Board, present Commander of the Hampton American Legion Post 108, and former Hampton County Rotarian with 17 years of service. He also served the Rotary District 777 as an Assistant District Governor from 2001 – 2003.  He continues to serve as an active Reserve Deputy with the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office and has done so for the past 17 years.

His love is emergency management. When a disaster strikes, Watson comes in and manages the ESF 13 and 16 Desk for Hampton County Emergency Management, where he handles traffic and evacuation and more as a volunteer. He worked numerous hours with the Sheriff’s Department and with Emergency Management over the past two hurricanes.  His knowledge and experience are a blessing to local officials and citizens, say those who work with him.

Watson served his country with more than 35 years of military service, seven years on active duty and the remainder of his time with the South Carolina Army National Guard.  He retired at the rank of Colonel.  We are so proud and appreciative for his service.

Tom has been a resident of Hampton County for 24 years. He has three children and three grandchildren.