Chapin Bilo to become Lowe’s Foods


Alex Lee Inc. announced Tuesday that the company will be purchasing 20 BI-LO stores in South Carolina and Georgia from Southeastern Grocers Inc.

Five locations across the state will become Lowes Foods, including two Midlands stores. The BI-LO in Chapin at 1419 Chapin Rd., and in Columbia at 120 Forum Dr. will be converted to Lowes. The grocery stores will remain open as BI-LO until the transaction is complete, which is expected to take place over a staggered period from September to November, pending customary closing requirements.

Lowes Foods will do a complete conversion of the stores by next summer to introduce the full Lowes shopping experience, including its specialty shopping areas called Lowes Foods Originals.

When the stores initially rebrand this fall, shoppers will begin to see the products from several Lowes Foods Originals including packaged Smokehouse ribs and BBQ, SausageWorks sausages as well as Chicken Kitchen products including fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, chicken wings and in-store made chicken salad and chicken pot pies. The expanded wine department will feature Sunmill Direct, an assortment of wine sourced directly from vineyards around the world. The bakery areas will also carry Lowes Foods’ popular L’Oven fresh cookies.

The store delis will feature Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, and the beef selection will include Certified Angus Beef®. In addition, the stores will have an expanded produce section to include more organic and specialty products and a larger floral department featuring orchids, bouquets, and balloons.

The other 15 stores acquired by Alex Lee Inc. will be converted to KJ’s Market IGA, including one BI-LO in the Midlands located at 249 West Columbia Ave., Batesburg.

“We are excited to add these new locations to our retail store portfolio,” said Brian George, President & CEO, Alex Lee, Inc. “We have an opportunity to accelerate our growth in these markets while continuing to provide shoppers with a unique grocery shopping experience in their local communities.”

According to officials from Alex Lee, there will be more than 2,000 employees hired to continue serving the communities where the 20 stores are located. Prior to the completion of the transaction, representatives plan to meet with current BI-LO employees in those stores to discuss employment opportunities.

Alex Lee is a family-owned and operated company based in Hickory, NC.

Irmo Drive-In Movie #3: September 26th at 8pm

Save the date September 26, 2020 at 8:00pm. Gates open at 4:00pm in a new location Steve Padgett Honda on Western lane IRMO. This movie is being totally sponsored by the IRMO Events Committee. It is a FREE event but tickets are required due to the limited capacity of the parking lot. Go to the Greater IRMO Chamber of Commerce web sites for tickets.

Since we have canceled the 2020 Okra Strut festival the Town urges you to take advantage of this COVID friendly event.

DHEC provides new guidelines for Nursing Home Visitations

DHEC Provides New Guidelines for Limited Outdoor Visitation at Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is providing new guidelines for limited outdoor visitation at nursing homes and community residential care facilities, commonly referred to as assisted living facilities.

“We understand how difficult it has been during these past few months for friends and families to be distanced from their loved ones who reside in nursing homes and similar facilities, but we believe the visitation restrictions put in place have helped save lives and have helped protect the health and wellbeing of the dedicated workers who care for these residents,” said Marshall Taylor, Acting Director of DHEC.

A facility’s ability to allow visitation depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to the following:

• Existing cases of the virus within the facility
• Facility’s staffing capabilities and PPE availability
• Facility’s ability to comply with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) testing requirements.

Each nursing home and assisted living facility will need a reasonable amount of time in order to meet the criteria outlined in these guidelines, meaning outdoor visitation will not be immediately available. South Carolinians are encouraged to coordinate directly with facilities to determine when visitation may be permitted and to coordinate visits when possible.

DHEC also recommends that these guidelines be used by intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“Our first priority when developing these guidelines was to protect both the physical and mental health of our loved ones who call nursing homes and assisted living facilities their home,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director. “As we are all too aware, these vulnerable individuals are among those at highest risk for developing life-threatening and life-taking complications from COVID-19.”

These limited outdoor visitation criteria and guidelines are based on the most recent CMS guidance for reopening nursing homes, CDC guidance for COVID-19 in nursing homes, and DHEC’s long-term care facility testing guidance, as well as visitation plans from other states. The guidelines are available in full on DHEC’s website, on the “Nursing Homes” resource webpage accessible toward the bottom of the main COVID-19 landing page.

For those facilities that are able to meet the criteria outlined in the guidelines, they may allow for physically distanced outdoor visitation for a limited period of time.

As of today, there are 90 nursing homes in the state that meet the criteria of not having cases among residents or staff within the prior 14 days, and there are 31 nursing homes that have only had one case in the last 14 days and would hopefully soon meet this criteria as well.

Since visitation restrictions have been implemented to protect long-term care facility residents, 129 South Carolina nursing homes have taken advantage of the CMS COVID-19 Communicative Technology grant and received funding to connect residents with their family members using tablets, smart phones, and other devices. This grant support provided a way for nursing home residents to see, hear and talk with their loved ones remotely.

“With these new guidelines, the Governor, DHEC, and the facilities that care for our loved ones are so happy to bring those critical connections from cyberspace to an outdoor space, and we look forward to many socially distanced but happy reunions,” Duwve said.

For more information, visit

Wessinger Road update

Here is the update I received today from SCDOT.

Nathan – Wessinger Road is under contract to be reclaimed and resurfaced from the Richland County line to St. Thomas Church Road, a length of 2.57 miles. The work is to construct a 12” deep cement-modified base and place a temporary surface treatment on each section until the entire length has been reconstructed and the base has sufficiently cured, and then resurface with 2 inches of hot mix asphalt. The contractor had reconstructed the first ½ mile of base, and had to pull off because of some unexpected subgrade issues, primarily on the widened shoulders. It is not unusual for the surface treated reconstructed base to be somewhat rough until the final surface is placed, but in this case, this ½ mile section is more uneven than usual, primarily because of the subgrade issues encountered. The asphalt subcontractor plans to mobilize later this week to mill off the surface of this ½ mile section and place the final surface course. The prime contractor plans to remobilize after Labor Day to resume constructing of the cement-modified base on the remaining 2 miles of Wessinger Road. Please let me know if there are any questions or if additional information is needed.

Robert C. Dickinson, P. E.
District 1 Engineering Administrator

Back to School – can we agree on one thing?

Whether you want 5 day face-to-face, hybrid, or virtual models this school year, can we all agree we need to pray for the teachers, students, faculty and families?

I hope you’ll join others tomorrow morning at your “zoned” high school!

No Parking Signs – Johnson Marina Road

Heading out one day this week, 6 noticeable signs caught my attention along Johnson Marina Road. First thing I thought of was “man, that’s overkill”. I then started thinking….why NOW are there signs up. In the past we’ve seen various vendors in this spot, selling many different items. I don’t recall anyone complaining. There are several spots out in Chapin area where vendors park and make a living. Whether it’s food, art, fireworks, souvenirs….we’ve had them for as long as I can remember. In any event, I decided to see what sparked the signs and got this below from DOT.


Nathan – we had received complaints starting back in July about the unsafe conditions created from ingress and egress to the vendors using that location and SCDOT put in a Work Request to place no parking signs. We placed 6 signs yesterday based on the complaints received over a month ago. It had been reported that people were creating unsafe conditions doing various things, like pulling off JM Road at that location as though they were stopping to see the vendors, and then driving through and exiting onto 76, basically cutting the right turn line. And some were exiting to actually purchase something and then exiting directly onto 76, or cutting across JM to make a left turn onto 76, and other various unsafe maneuvers.

Robert C. Dickinson, P. E.
District 1 Engineering Administrator

Ballentine appointed to CARES Act Ad Hoc Committee

From House Speaker, Jay Lucas: “Thank you for agreeing to serve on the CARES Act Ad Hoc Committee. As we prepare to return to session in September, now is the time to review the allocation and expenditures of the state’s CARES Act funds. As you know, the money must be spent by the end of 2020 and has to be utilized according to the United States Treasury guidelines to avoid repayment to the federal government. Your work on this important issue will assist the committee and the House in determining how to allocate Phase II of the Cares Act funds”

15th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast

Once again, Representative Huggins and I are pleased to host the event we decided years ago would serve as the “unofficial kickoff to the Okra Strut”.

We hope our sponsors and community will again fill the halls of another local church (socially distanced, of course) as we start our morning off with prayer, song, and powerful message.

If you’ve never been before, we hope you’ll RSVP this year.

2019 St Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Brittany Maier & Tammy Maier-Scher
2018 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Jose Alvarez, retired Atlanta Braves Pitcher, FCA
2017 River Springs Church – speaker Dr. Wendell Estep, retired First Baptist Church of Columbia
2016 Union United Methodist Church – speaker Marcus Lattimore
2015 St. Paul AME Church – speaker in memory of Senator Clementa Pinckney
2014 Gateway Baptist Church – speaker Chris Joye
2013 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Shelley Bryson King, Miss South Carolina 2006
2012 Riverland Hills Baptist – Jim “Soni” Sonefeld – member Hootie and the Blowfish
2011 Seven Oaks Presbyterian – Steve Arnold, operator Chick-fil-A Ballentine
2010 First Baptist of Irmo -speaker Adrian Despres, chaplain USC football team
2009 St. Mary’s Episcopal – speaker Eddie Walker, then principal of Irmo High School
2008 Gateway Baptist – speaker Jeff Davis, former Clemson football player
2007 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker A.V Strong, director A Better Way, Project Gang Out
2006 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Bob McAlister, McAlister Communications

For more about past breakfasts, along with video from a few, click here

DETOUR NOTICE: Rauch Metz Railroad Repair Friday

A few weeks ago, CSX let me know they planned to review their rail lines in our area in September.

Because of some persistent constituents (NextDoor app), CSX moved up their date on at least one crossing: Rauch Metz! Great job! Looks like we’ll need to take Bickley Road until they finish the work. Looks like only one day needed!

Sales Tax Free Weekend: August 7th-9th

During the annual Sales Tax Holiday, a variety of purchases are exempt from the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes. Tax-free items range from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. As long as an item is eligible, it is tax-free whether purchased in-store or online.

Fore more information and to see an “easy to read” list of eligible products, visit the SC Dept of Revenue website here.