Search Results for: recreation commission

No new money for Richland County Recreation Commission


Just like Representative Finlay and I did by sustaining Veto 31 of an “Indoor Aquatic and Community Center” relating to Richland County and recreation, I am wanting to be sure no new funding is available or projects approved by the Recreation Commission until there is resolution from the ongoing local, state and federal investigations and lawsuits.

(Veto message)

Below is an email I sent our delegation today relating to the Park and Recreation Development Fund . The last thing that needs to happen is these tax dollars (your tax dollars) be spent without knowing more about what’s going on with the Commission.

(Email to Richland County Delegation)

2017 PARD

Related posts:

Richland County – sands through the hourglass

Delegation takes action with Recreation Commission

Meet your Richland County Recreation Commissioner

Delegation takes action with Recreation Commission


From The State

COLUMBIA, SC – State lawmakers from Richland County called Tuesday for the suspension of the county Recreation Commission’s executive director until law enforcement investigations into his office are complete.

James Brown III would be suspended with pay if the Richland County Recreation Commission, which has authority to hire and fire its director, follows the legislators’ recommendation.

The Recreation Commission’s board is appointed by Richland legislators. However, the legislators’ recommendation is advisory only.

Legislators voted 9-5 to recommend Brown’s suspension against the backdrop of ongoing investigations into allegations of public corruption at the Recreation Commission, and civil lawsuits accusing Brown of sexual harassment and other improper behavior. Richland County Council also has frozen the majority of the Recreation Commission’s 2016-17 funding until an audit shows how the agency spends its money.

To read more, click here.

Other articles of interest

SLED is 3rd agency asked to investigate Recreation Commission (April 2016)

Meet Your Recreation Commissioner (October 2008)

Meet Your Richland County Recreation Commissioner

I hate to follow up a post about Young Life with this type of post but folks, I’m for transparency and I wanted y’all to know what’s going on in government.

This time locally – with Richland County.

Many would never know that our community, once again, has NO representation on the Richland County Recreation Commission if I didn’t tell you. But I’m telling you and I’m telling you how it happened.

For years before I was elected, we had no representation but I was fortunate after y’all sent me here to work with the delegation (10 Democrats, 5 Republicans) and get an Irmo citizen elected a few years back. I thank my Richland House and Senate members for understanding our area had long been underepresented on the commission and they supported my nomination.

Unforunately, our commisioner’s stint was a short one as he was unceremoniously removed by the ranking Senator on our delegation because our commissioner supposedly “wasn’t voting correctly” (what I was told). You may recall (or may not) how this Recreation Commission is the pet-project for this ranking Senator and how that Senator is very much involved in what goes on.

My philosophy has been that we should empower the individuals we appoint instead of micro-managing them. If you’re SO interested in the day-to-day operations and votes, then you should run for the position yourself but don’t be a puppet-master. [Read more…]

Richland County Recreation News

You may recall the past mess that was the Richland County Recreation Commission .

Once the delegation was able to make changes, we finally had someone from our area serve – and serve well, she has. Cynthia Shepard served for the past two years and recently stepped down to focus on other things in life. I’m hopeful the 14 Democrats and my fellow Republican on the delegation will support replacing Cynthia with another qualified individual from our area – so that we are not forgotten about while other parts of the county are seeing vast improvements and we are left with two antiquated parks.

Bill Malinowski is our county councilman and works directly with the county budget. I’m trying to help use some state funds that are set aside for each county to use in their parks. The county commissions must request the funds and our commission hasnot since 2017.

Today, I have again asked the county to support Friarsgate Park and Ballentine Park in our community. Because the majority of the delgation refuses to meet more than once a year, it will probably be January before I can hopefully give a positive update on my email to the County Recreation Commission Assistant and my colleagues on the legislative delegation.

As I learn more, I’ll obviously update!


To: Cornelia Watts;Jimmy Bales;Wendy Brawley;Beth Bernstein;Ivory Thigpen;Kirkman Finlay;Christopher R. “Chris” Hart;Todd Rutherford;Seth Rose;Leon Howard;Kambrell Garvin;Annie McDaniel;John Scott;Dick Harpootlian;Darrell Jackson;Mia McLeod;Thomas McElveen;
CC: Kim Janha

Ms. Watts, please share this email with the Chairman and Board. I do not have their emails.

Chairwoman Cotten and others,

First, thank you for your tireless service to the county and the commission. I cannot tell you how glad I am we no longer hear of the former turmoil and activities that occurred prior to your service.

As you know, a board member from my community recently resigned. We greatly miss Cynthia and I hope the delegation will meet soon and appoint a replacement. I will push for a replacement from our area as we have multiple county run parks that are very outdated compared to the others in Richland.

I’m sending this email to you and the delegation for 3 reasons:

1) Let’s appoint a replacement commissioner in the next 60 days – per notice by law, etc. I can certainly find very qualified individuals from the Irmo/Chapin area.
2) Can you and the Board contact the Irmo Little League (run from Friarsgate Park) and ask what safety and other improvements they NEED for that park?
3) Can you and the Board contact the Ballentine Civic Association (who, along with others, use Ballentine park) and ask what safety or other improvements they NEED for the park?

Today I received a packet from Alseha Cushman with SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism showing the Richland County PARD account balance is $513,308.08. I also see there have been no requests for 2018 or 2019 or for the upcoming 2020 budget year.

I’m certain our parks – especially the two mentioned above (Friarsgate and Ballentine) could use improvements that these funds were created for.

I’m also certain any matching funds could be raised by the groups that use the facilities.

Please call me if you have any questions or if you need contact information for Irmo Little League or the Ballentine Civic Association. It’s my hope the delegation will discuss and support requests this year to help our county parks – and keep county funds servicing county parks.

I hope you’ll visit my website often to stay informed about what’s going on in the State House and in our community!

Nathan Ballentine

House of Representatives, District 71

Richland-Lexington Counties

320A Blatt Building

Columbia, SC 29221

WANTED: Board of Voter Registration and Elections


From the Post and Courier

Gov. McMaster removes elections board in SC’s capital county that missed 1,040 votes
By Andy Shain

Ballentine said he is not surprised McMaster decided to fire all board members

“This all shows the importance of who we place on these boards and commissions,” Ballentine said. “We have not filled these posts with the most qualified people.”

Until a debacle involving the delegation-appointed county Recreation Commission in 2016, the legislative delegation voted on an entire slate of board nominees that came from a special application review committee and could not make changes, Ballentine said.

The 17-member delegation also met just once a year, unlike the Lexington County lawmakers who gather about six times a year, said Ballentine, whose district includes both counties.

“There is no oversight (in Richland),” he said. “We had no idea what these people were doing after they were appointed.”

PREVIOUSLY ON NATHAN’S NEWS: Election Mess , Recreation Mess

Another fantastic Community Cookout!

It’s been a privilege for more than a decade to bring our community together and give a everyone a chance to meet and speak with their elected officials in a casual setting – FREE right here in Chapin! From Governors, Lt. Governors, Treasurers and SC Senators and Representatives , to our officials in Congress – US Senators and Representatives, to Mayors and Town Council Memberss, Sheriffs, School Board, County Council Members, Coroners, and many, many more. Staying in touch helps us do better jobs for you!

Even with a forecast of showers, the weather held off and the crowd turned out. Like previous cookouts, this year was the first one for several in attendance. Many who just moved to the area or who had never been involved before. That’s what makes these events special.

One surprise was when Nan Barwick (90 years old in October) came up to me and asked “Do you remember knocking on my door 12 years ago?” Actually, I did; but I couldn’t remember her name. I replied “Yes, ma’am. Your dogs are Bertha and Putter!” She smiled and was surprised I remembered her dogs (they’ve crossed the rainbow bridge since). That was a special moment for me. Seeing her for the first time in a while and remembering the early days and those early supporters and memories who gave me a chance!

On top of getting to see many old friends and meet new ones, I was glad to see Governor McMaster present the Order of the Silver Crescent to former constituent Todd Latiff! Many might not be aware but because I was able to get Todd on the Richland Recreation Commission years ago, he was able to help bring about the changes that lead to a completely new board and helped us restore trust in that office. Todd was one who worked to help me clean up Columbia (well, Richland County in this instance).

Last Wednesday wouldn’t have been the success it was if not for our community taking time out of our busy schedules to come together. Also, thanks to the many sponsors, hosts and supporters for helping with the event and my re-election campaign.

As always, if I can ever be of service, please let me know ! I love speaking to your church groups, civic groups, and all the youth groups – Scouts, Backyard Bible Club, etc. Elected officials that stay in touch year round (not just at election time) are able to better serve our communities!

$350,000 for Richland County parks goes to….

…City of Columbia, Parks and Rec Department
Colony/North Pointe Recreation Project Phase 1 – $88,914.74
Colony/North Pointe Recreation Project Phase 2 – $ 274,376.15

Yes, you read that correctly. Richland County money that our county parks could use for safety and other improvements went to the City of Columbia – for a new park. For perspective the City already has 60 city parks and green spaces; 600 acres of city-maintained park land; 55 tennis courts; 16 city pools, spray pads and ponds; and 9 city-maintained fountains.

I discovered this after I stopped in my State House Office the first day back from a family vacation. (Yes, I kept in touch while away, returning constituents calls, working with colleagues, making a request of our Speaker and calling in from Montana to Keven Cohen’s show when the bombshell of VC Summer news broke. More on that tomorrow.)

When reviewing the paperwork from the “FY 2017-2018 PARD (Parks and Recreation Development Fund) Recurring Funds Allocation booklet” that SC PRT mails to House/Senate at the end of July, I came across the lines items mentioned above “Columbia, City of Parks and Rec. Dept”. I’ve discussed PARD funds before on this website. Bottom line, PARD funds are allocated each year to COUNTY DELEGATIONS to be used for parks and recreation.

Much has been written about the mess with the Richland County Recreation Commission for many years on my website ) and I was pleased to see a group of my colleagues finally come together and support the push for much needed change at the Commission. In addition, I was pleased to see them agree for my push a new way for the delegation appointed members (the old way is what helped empower the former Director and led to the many problems that have been finally reported).

We have finally restored some confidence and trust in that department by replacing the former commissioners with individuals chosen from more than 60 applicants – all given a chance to speak before the delegation.

Earlier this summer, after the delegation secretary forwarded an email PARD request to the entire delegation for the Bookert Heights Community (which I shared with a colleague I would support), I replied to the entire delegation:

“How have we decided to handle PARD going forward? There is (sic) LOTS available to impact our communities and I want us to all be able to help our areas. I remember Chairman Neal had us “divide the money evenly”. Recently, it seems we have individual requests coming in. I’m supportive one way or another; but want to be sure the delegation is aware of the enormous amount available and that we work together for each other. Thoughts?”

Our delegation chairman responded: “We have usually wanted to make sure each member has an opportunity to make this important resource available to their constituents where appropriate. We have not done it always the same way. I will reach it (sic) to staff today and reply to the group with an update on the fund.”

There was no update until today when I opened the report. Worse, the update showed me that not only did the request everyone received not get approved, 2 OTHER requests were approved that the entire delegation DID NOT RECEIVE.

I called PRT and learned that 52% of the weighted average of the delegation had signed a letter of support. While a majority is required, what should be EXPECTED is that the delegation discuss these matters together – in meetings – not continue to have individual House members and Senators work to garner support from just enough colleagues to get 50.01% and not let the entire delegation know of their request.

That is what happened with these requests. Under secrecy, a money grab was made. As if that was not enough, the money – GIVEN TO COUNTY DELEGATIONS – was handed over to the City of Columbia.

Shouldn’t the City pay for their own parks?

Shouldn’t these delegation decisions involving hundreds of thousands of dollar be vetted in public at delegation meetings?

Out here in our area, the answer to both those questions is Yes. Where you live, I’m pretty sure that answer is Yes, too.

Maybe the approved project for the City is worthy and would have been supported anyway. Maybe. But our delegation cannot continue to spend money in this manner. YOUR MONEY. County tax dollars going to City project…and not even debated our discussed by the entire delegation.

I’ll continue my push to make these reforms to the way Richland County delegation operates. We need more meetings. We need more discussion. We do not need rogue officials supporting City projects with money that our county parks can use.


Community Update


We are approaching the final weeks of this year’s shortened-session . (Shortened after the Senate finally agreed with the House’s push for almost ten years!)

The first week of April is “cross over week” which means that if a bill is going to have any chance at becoming law before we adjourn until 2018, the bill has to at least pass one chamber before Thursday afternoon. If legislation does not pass at least one chamber, the other body will not be able to take up that bill without an overwhelming vote to do so.

Good news is that many bills have already passed one body (either the House or Senate). A major bill that have received attention (again) this year is “the roads bill” . Once again, the House passed a comprehensive plan to improve our state’s infrastructure needs. Last year the plan was filibustered in the Senate. This year, a Senate filibuster hasn’t started (yet) and the bill is not on priority status on the Senate calendar. It’s my hope (and many in the state) that the Senate will act this year. If they do not like the House’s plan, amend it. To simply not put forth a plan is not in the best interest of our state. Obviously, I support tax cuts as well; however, we could not get enough votes in the House and had to compromise to keep legislation and debate moving. If the Senate can insert tax cuts, I would obviously support that. If you live outside the area, please let your Senator know your concerns. Unfortunately, our community does not have representation at this time in the Senate.


Another major bill up for debate during the important “cross over week” is “the bond bill” . For almost 20 years, the state has not borrowed money for capital needs for our universities/colleges and state buildings. Earlier this month, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a $500 million borrowing plan and now the full House is set to vote and send to the Senate for their consideration.

If you have not shared your view on whether now is an appropriate time for the state to borrower money, please comment below, email me, or call my office!

Should the bill pass the House, the big question is will the Senate add to the plan and what specific projects will be included? The House trimmed requests down from $2 billion and it’s my hope that the Senate will not add anything that would be considered a “local project” or “pork” to the bill.


RICHLAND COUNTY RECREATION COMMISSION: After months/years of mismanagement, a fix is in sight. Last month I was able to convince my delegation members to appoint Cynthia Wass Shepard from our community to serve as a commissioner. Cynthia will help restore public trust and confidence as a new board seeks to replace the former director.

IRMO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: This month’s monthly luncheon will be held Wednesday, April 12th from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. For more details, visit the Chamber’s Event website.

CHAPIN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:: The 23rd Annual Chapin Chamber Golf Tournament/Charlie Dorton Memorial Golf Tournament is Thursday, April 6th at the Timberlake Golf Course. Morning Shotgun 8:00 a.m. (Registration begins at 7:00 a.m.) Limited to 18 teams or 72 golfers. Afternoon Shotgun 1:30 p.m. (Registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) **A RAIN DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR APRIL 20TH, 2017. ** For more information visit the Chamber’s Events website.

BALLENTINE-DUTCH FORK CIVIC ASSOCIATION: Monthly Meeting is Monday, April 3rd at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park. There will be updates on the new “Welcome to Ballentine, Gateway to Lake Murray” sign which will soon be back up at the new Ballentine Library! For information on the association, please visit their website.


DUTCH FORK MIDDLE SCHOOL – PALMETTO’S FINEST! Two weeks ago, Dutch Fork Middle School was selected as a 2017 Palmetto’s Finest School. The announcement aired live on SC ETV March 21. The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards each year to schools which offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto’s Finest Award is celebrating its 39th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators. This announcement comes just a few months after Principal Dr. Gerald Gary was recognized as 2017 South Carolina Middle Level Principal of the Year!

CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL – DR. AKIL ROSS: Also two weeks ago, Chapin High’s prinicpal was recognized by T The State as a Top 20 Under 40 professional helping to build the Midlands! This recognition comes just months after Dr. Ross was named 2017 South Carolina Secondary Principal of the Year. (Yes, that’s right. District Five has TWO PRINCIPALS OF THE YEAR FOR THE STATE!). As if those recognitions weren’t enough, Dr. Ross also was the keynote speaker last week at the Chapin Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

After years of distinguish service in public education, Dr. Greg Owings will be retiring. Dr. Owings has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the SC Association of School Administrators and will be greatly missed in District Five.


Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Nathan Ballentine
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

Richland County – sands through the hourglass


As I kid, I “grew up” watching Days of our Lives with my Mom.

This was back during the days of those rather large VHS recorders and my Mom would “set the timer” every day to record her show and watch after she had finished her day teaching at Greenville Tec (25+ years) and making dinner for our family. When I went off to college years later, I happened to catch an episode or two and it seemed the “characters were still the same”.

I share this because it seems like I’m watching the same thing here in Richland County. Again.

First the Election Fiasco and then the Recreation Mess.

While I’ve been one of the first elected officials to call for drastic measures in both instances , it takes awhile for resolution to occur. While the Elections Director was not fired – she was at least finally replaced. While the Recreation Director has not been fired – he has at least been relived of his duties – until further notice.

In both instances, it took time. More time than I – or you – believed necessary. But that’s politics and that’s what happens when you have a larger block of votes against you.

My constituents recall years ago when a Senator unceremoniously removed my appointment to the Recreation Commission. I knew then that some members of the Legislative Delegation were too much “involved” in the operations of the Commission. I was told our commissioner was removed because he “wasn’t voting correctly” (verbatim from the Senator).

I agree with an editorial I read today . Some of us have been asking questions; what have the others been doing? Helping or hindering?

Here’s a question I have for the legal minds out there: Can a commissioner be removed (like my appointment was years ago) simply by having enough votes to remove him/her? If so, then I will ask my colleagues to remove the current commissioners – much like we did the Elections Commission (except for one holdover).

If we don’t remove the Commissioners (along with the Director), it means this soap opera will continue just as Days of Our Lives has for years. Same characters and basically the same story line. One of these isn’t good for ratings; the other isn’t good for our employees, our children and our taxpayers.



We’ve finished our first month of work (mostly in committees) and will soon see significant legislation debated on the House floor. Be sure you stay informed by visiting the site every Friday for THE WEEKLY REWIND which I’ll continue to share with you. This information is published by the Office of Research of the House of Representatives, so there’s no “spin” or “slant” from either party.

As I shared earlier, this year I was assigned to the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee where I’ll serve on three subcommittees: Business & Commerce; Banking & Consumer Affairs; and Real Estate. I enjoyed serving as Regulations Subcommittee Chairman the past two years on the House Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee; but this move allows me to continue to focus on creating a more friendly business climate for our state to attract and grow more jobs as we work to put more people to work in SC.

In my JANUARY UPDATE , I shared some of the major debates coming our way. As always, I invite your input and advice to better help me serve you and our citizens!


One of the biggest responsibilities we have is passing a state budget every year. The majority of the work is done through the House Ways and Means Committee and I wanted to share their schedule with you along with other important timeframes (all subject to change) as we prepare to prioritize funding for the upcoming fiscal year:

January 8 – 10: First week of session & Budget Subcommittees Meetings
January 15 – 17: Budget Subcommittees Meetings
January 22 – 24: Budget Subcommittees Meetings
January 29 – 31: Budget Subcommittees Meetings
February 5 – 7: Budget Subcommittee Meetings
February 26 – 28: FY 13/14 Appropriation Bill Printed
March 5 – 7: Printed Appropriation Bill placed on House Member’s desk

Important Dates:
February 5, 2013: Deadline for Proviso Submittals
February 6, 2013: Provisos sent for drafting
February 15, 2013: Final BEA estimate due


DADDY/DAUGHTER DATE NIGHT : February 7th at 6:00pm at Crooked Creek Park. Tickets are $45 for a couple, and $20 for each additional daughter (or a grandfather) — tickets must be purchased in advance and you can do it over the phone with a credit card by calling the Crooked Creek Park front desk at 345-6181, or you can stop by and purchase the tickets in person. Please contact Jennifer Riddle ( if you have any additional questions.

BATTLE ON THE DAM : A walking event encouraging children and families to adopt active lifestyles. We’ll walk across the dam on Saturday, March 2nd at 9 a.m., from the Irmo side to the Lexington side, and then enjoy the Battle on the Dam Health Fair at the park on the Lexington side of the Dam. School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties, The District 5 Foundation for Educational Excellence, The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission and The Community Roundtable have come together to support this walking event to encourage active lifestyles for our students and communities. To register, click here .

RED, WHITE AND BLUES : There will be red & white wine tasting, appetizers and blues music all evening long on March 9th from 6pm-9pm and will be held at the Irmo Town Park. Bring your friends and enjoy a fun night out! It will be a great event! Tickets go on sale soon! They are $25 in advance and $35 at the door [Read more…]