SLED Chief speaks about resources at LSCOG Annual Meeting

[AIKEN, SC] South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel was the featured speaker at Lower Savannah Council of Governments’ (LSCOG) 2018 Annual Banquet.

The Annual Banquet was held Thursday, December 13, 2018 at Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, SC. LSCOG’s Executive Director William Molnar presented the “Year in Review” to showcase accomplishments from the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which can be viewed in the 2018 Annual Report on our website

“The Lower Savannah COG had a strong year serving the citizens and local governments within the region,” said Molnar. “We are especially pleased to have received two national NADO awards. The Jump Start program provides summer jobs for rising high school seniors. Within the program, students learn “soft-skills” like showing up on time, dressing appropriately for work, money management, and get a glimpse into jobs they may want and those that they may not want in their future. The Dementia Dialogue® program trained service providers and family members on how to better care for individuals living with dementia. We will be offering both award-winning programs in 2019.”

The featured speaker, SLED Chief Mark Keel, is a Barnwell county native. He is also the son of former Board of Directors member Jack Keel, who served on the LSCOG Board from 1971 to 1982, and was chairman for fiscal year 1976. Chief Keel spoke to event attendees about the nationwide problem with recruiting law enforcement officers, school safety and the importance of school resource officers, and the ongoing opioid epidemic. He also shared available resources for municipalities dealing with these issues.

Board of Directors Chairman Larry Haynes recognized several board members and LSCOG staff for their years of service. Board members recognized were Roger Hill and David Kenner for 15 years and James Haigler for 25 years; staff recognized were Mary Beth Fields for 15 years, Mary Ann Keisler for 20 years, Frances Owens for 25 years and Nora Sanders for 30 years.

Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) is a regional quasi-governmental organization serving Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties.



LSCOG receives innovation awards

[AIKEN, SC] Lower Savannah Council of Governments received two 2018 Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  The programs awarded were Dementia Dialogues® and the Summer Youth Jumpstart Program.

LSCOG’s Aging, Disability and Transportation Resource Center hosted two Dementia Dialogues® classes to provide caregivers with practical caregiving skills training. One of LSCOG’s Ombudsman Specialist became a certified trainer of the Dementia Dialogues® program, which was created in 2002 by the Office of the Study of Aging within the University Of South Carolina Arnold School Of Public Health. The classes used Dementia Dialogues® standardized materials, including handouts, PowerPoints, scenario discussions and specially-designed role play activity to provide free comprehensive training in the Lower Savannah region.

The Summer Youth Jumpstart Program provides summer employment for rising seniors in the Lower Savannah region. The program began in 2015 and has been expanded to all K-12 school districts in the region. Students enrolled in the program attend two soft-skills training sessions. After the sessions, they are placed on a job site for 240 hours at $9.25 an hour. The students then continue as participants of the WIOA Youth program which ends with placement in full-time employment or enrollment into a post-secondary educational environment.

NADO is a national association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery and comprehensive strategies. The association’s Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities. NADO presented the awards at their Annual Training Conference October 13-16, 2018.

For more information about these award-winning projects, contact Susan Garen, Regional Ombudsman or André Anderson, Workforce Development Administrator at 803-649-7981.

Lower Savannah Council of Governments is a regional quasi-governmental organization serving Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties.




New runs for BFE

The Best Friend Express (BFE) is adding two new runs to the existing RED Route beginning September 4, 2018, and will celebrate by offering free fares to all passengers on all of the BFE routes Sept 4th thru Sept. 14th (Mon-Fri).

The Best Friend Express (BFE) is a public transportation system serving much of Aiken County. The BFE offers 3 routes including the BLUE Route operating in the North Augusta area; the GREEN Route operating in Aiken and traveling out to Graniteville and Langley; and the RED Route which travels from the Northside of Aiken down through the Whiskey Rd corridor. Adding 12:30 & 4:30 pm runs will offer a total of 5 opportunities for passengers to ride the RED Route. Both the BLUE and the GREEN Routes already offer 5 runs each Mon-Fri.

“It is wonderful to now offer parity between all the Routes. We think this will allow more riders not only a chance to shop, but also offer retail and hospitality employees more flexibility with their work schedule,” says Rhonda Mitchell, Transit Manager with the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG), the federal grantee for the transit system.

Fares are $2.00 per trip, with free transfers among the routes for a single trip. Fares are less for students, seniors, or persons with disabilities. Call LSCOG transportation 803-508-7033 for questions or to be mailed a schedule. Further transit details available at