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Chamber and Archives to share office space – As published in the Lee County Observer » Lee County Chamber of Commerce

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Dec 23

Chamber and Archives to share office space – As published in the Lee County Observer

By Gee Atkinson – Editor Lee County Observer, Bishopville, SC 

                   The Lee County Chamber of Commerce will soon be sharing office space with the Woodward Library of Archives, thanks to a partnership between the two agencies.

                Lee County Auditor Cecil Stevens and Ronnie Williams met at the old library last week to discuss the work that has to be done before the two entities can move into the building.

                Stevens, who says he is the county’s unofficial historian and keeper of the archives, said it makes sense to share the building with the chamber.  “There’s plenty of room in the old library and they will have someone here during regular business hours so if someone wants to use the archives, they can just give me a call at the courthouse,” Stevens said.

                Williams, a former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said the partnership is a “win-win” for both agencies. “The Chamber owns the old Andrews Theater building on Main Street and they eventually hope to renovate it to use for office space,” he said. “But right now, that’s just too big and expensive a project to tackle. This is a perfect location for the Chamber of Commerce. There’s plenty of parking and it’s a visible building from both Church and Main streets.”

                Stevens said an indoor wall will be constructed to separate the chamber’s offices and the archives. The men are working on a budget and planning what other work needs to be done on the building before the chamber moves in.

                For now, Chamber officials are using rooms in the county’s Economic Development building on Main Street. Chamber President Thaddeus Dickey said the county is allowing them to use the building as their headquarters for the next three months.

                “We also have bought a new computer and have an updated website and Facebook page,” Dickey said. “We have money in the bank and we’ll be setting up regular hours her.”

                The chamber also has a new director, Jina Williams, who is volunteering her services until the Chamber is able to pay her a salary.

                “We want to show businesses in town what the chamber can do for them,” Dickey said. “Opening an office and being able to have a director there to answer questions is a step in the right direction.”

                Dickey hopes the chamber can move its offices to the old library around the first of March.

                Stevens said the grand opening of the Lee County Woodward Library of Archives will be held July 1, 2014.

                “My goal is to make this an eye-catching place that is not just another government building,” Stevens said. “I’ve been collecting records and photos of the county’s history for the past six years. It’s time to find them a permanent home.”

                Stevens said his side of the building will be “part archives and part museum. I have a lot of old photos and other items that should be displayed, including a time capsule that was put together in 2002.”

                Williams said the building lends itself to a Chamber of Commerce office as well. “We have plenty of space for an office and conference room,” he said. “There are bathrooms and a kitchen, too.”

                Williams said the building, which was dedicated in 1954 by the Woodward family to be used as a library for the county, will be outfitted with a new security system as well.

                “This will just be a good situation for everyone,” Williams said. “It gives the Chamber permanent office space and the public access to the county’s archives.”


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