The People of Georgetown
I put out a notice in I’m So Georgetown and Georgetown: Shop Local, Eat Local, Drink Local. It said that I was looking for a couple of newlyweds for a Valentine’s article and found Alexis and Dalton McConnell. They’ve been married for about six to seven months now and this will be their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.
I met with them at El Cerro Mexican Restaurant on Church Street. We were originally going to meet at The Ball N Que, but they were so packed, we opted for Mexican.
Alexis is nineteen and Dalton is twenty. I thought that interesting they being so young and already married. “How long did you two date before getting married?” I asked.
“Five years,” Alexis answered.
“When did you get married?” Alexis started to answer, but knowing the men in the marriage rarely can remember their own birthdays much less their wedding date, I smiled in my deceit and said, “Let Dalton answer.”
“Well, we started dating June 20th and then we got married on June 29th,” he answered. He didn’t miss a beat, either. “We were trying to set the date to as close to when we started dating as possible.”
Our order had come (and quickly, too, as it does at El Cerro) so while we were digging in, I asked of Dalton, “How did you propose? I mean, you dated for five years. How does one do that?”
I had shared with them that when I first got married, I wasn’t sure I could love my husband for five years much less date him for that long. Of course, that was so long ago and now, I can’t imagine not being with him.
“So how did he propose to you, Alexis?”
She was sort of shy about it so Dalton spoke up and answered. “We had just moved into our first house together and I went into the bedroom: I already had the ring so I knew I was going to do it. I turned off the light and called her in there. She came in and when she flipped on the lights, I was there with the ring in my hand.”
“I said yes,” Alexis added.
“Did you answer right away?”
“Yes, I knew I wanted to marry him,” she answered.
“So, who knew first?” I asked of them. “Who knew they wanted to get married.”
“I guess I did,” Dalton answered.
“We’ve known each other a long time… almost our whole lives,” Alexis explained. “We met each other when we were in elementary school: at McDonald Elementary.”
“Then you grew up and started dating?”
Alexis nodded. “Yes, we started dating when we were 13 and 14 years old. Not like real dating, on our own kind of thing. I was almost 16 when we went on our first real date, by ourselves.”
We talked a little about who their family is. You know Georgetown. Usually the first question asked is, “Who’s your Daddy?”
When Alexis told me Trey Pope was her daddy, I got suspicious. Then she told me her grandparents (GRANDPARENTS!) are Donna and Lonnie Pope. Holy mother of grandmas and grandpas! Donna and I took our GED’s together, we were pregnant at the same time; she with Tiffany, me with Amber, and Donna taught me that you can order pizza anyway you like it (Thanks Donna, I’m 150 lbs heavier now).
Getting back to the interview, I turned to Dalton. “Well, when did you know she was the one?”
“When we were in 5th grade,” he chuckled. “I think I knew then. I started talking to her and we got along fine.”
Talk about stamina – this guy is full of it. He stuck by his heart and waited all of those years for his soulmate. Now, he has her and she has him. These two are already ahead of the game, too.
Unlike so many of these young couples today, they know to keep their private business off social media and they keep friends at arm’s length. They love their friends, but they don’t let them into their business. They both shared with me that their families are very supportive of their relationship, they all get along, and they all keep their opinions to themselves. Families do matter in the success or failure of some relationships.
When asked what they thought made a marriage lasting, they replied:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dalton and Alexis. You are a rare couple and that alone makes me feel you’ll have a long lasting relationship and will grow old together.
I had received some phone calls and text messages from concerned parents and students over the “Coach Coleman” situation at the high school. Apparently, the school is looking for (another) head coach which was expressed to me to be an unnecessary thing so, I called the principal, Craig Stone and set up a meeting.
What was supposed to be a 15-30 minute interview turned into over two hours. He’s very approachable and personable and you cannot help but be drawn to his warm character. We spent that time talking about the football coaches, how this was going to play out, and how it would affect the players who currently play under Coach Coleman. The rest of the time, we just visited. As I said: approachable and personable.
“Tell me about the coach position?” I started. “Why are you looking for a new coach if everyone is happy with the current one?”
“Well, let me explain how this came about…” Principal Stone began explaining the situation: “Principal Evans, who was here before me, needed a coach and it was agreed when Coleman took the position that it was temporary. The position would be open and of course, he could apply for the permanent position at the end of the season.
“It was an agreement made between he and Evans and I just honored it. Since I inherited the position and was not from Georgetown, I helped to form a committee made up of people in the community: coaches, business owners, and parents who can go through the applications and choose a coach for the upcoming year. Coach Coleman is just one of over 40 applicants and 13 left to interview before any kind of decision is made.”
“So, he agreed to go through this process when he accepted the position?”
Principal Stone nodded. “Yes, he did. He knew from the beginning and agreed that he would have to apply just like everyone else.”
“So in the end, you’ll decide which applicant to hire and it could very well be anyone?”
“No, not right away,” he answered. “It’s up to the committee to choose three people and then Dr. Dozier, the superintendent of the schools, will choose from that list.”
Glancing down at my notes, I asked, “What kind of things are you looking for here in a coach?”
He thought for a minute and then answered, “I think all of us on the committee are basically looking for the same thing. We want someone with consistency, longetivity… the players need someone who is going to be here for them. Do you know, they have had a different coach every year for the last five years? One coach stayed eleven days and then went back to his old school to coach. These players need continuity and I think that is something we all want for them: the committee, the parents, and the players all want someone who cares.”
“Okay, I get it,” I replied. “I understand what you’re saying, but players like Tarquez Myers, Jakai Frasier, Landon Hayes, and Jaden Kinard have all said you already have someone that can give you all those things, plus, they’ve all voiced they want Coach Coleman to continue to coach the team.”
“I know they do, but it’s not up to me right now. It has to go through the committee,” he answered. “I have been in athletics my whole life. I’ve taught most sports that are in high schools; football, baseball, basketball… I love sports, I’m a sportsman, and believe me when I say, my concern is what is best for the children. However, because of their (Evans and Coleman) agreement, the members of the committee, like me, are going to honor Principal Evan’s word about officially hiring a new coach.”
Quite coincidentally, I have been trying to get an audience with Dr. Dozier as he’s soon to retire. He’s been with the school system for many years and it will be sad to see him leave us.
I do hope they work out this situation and even more so, having talked to the parents and students, I hope Coach Coleman is a viable contender. I believe Jakai Frasier said it best to me, “We really want someone like Coach Coleman to stay. Some of us really need a male role model in our lives and we’ve found a positive one in him.”
In the end, I really want to thank Principal Craig Stone for taking so much time with me. I truly enjoyed our time together and hope to see you around town. Good luck with the coach situation.
I had so much fun! I’m glad I called him. One afternoon, I was headed for Front Street and called Tupelo “Pelo” Humes and asked if he wanted to meet me for lunch.
“Sure! Where at?” he asked just as happy as I was to get together.
“The River Room,” I answered and hung up.
As he came in and sat down across from me, I reminded him to tell his wife, Tonya, that we had lunch as friends… “Fer-ends!” He laughed and assured me it was all good.
“I just don’t want her beating me up during my next doctor’s appointment. I’m afraid she’d get the best of me,” I explained. “The most I could do to defend myself would be to swipe at her from the floor with my feet.”
Pelo used to work at the Steel Mill. As a City Councilman, he voted to bring Liberty Steel in and then later lost his position there. It was only a small hi-cup in his plan as City Council anyway. He truly just wants to do what’s best for Georgetown.
We talked about mutual friends and acquaintances (all good, and some with humorous anecdotes). He and Tonya’s two children still live here in Georgetown, and we talked about them a little, as well. He’s a proud papa. Believe it or not, Pelo is 44 years old, but he looks like he’s 24. When I think about it, his wife doesn’t look old enough to have been married to him for almost 20 years, either.
During the course of our conversation, I did say to him, “Would you be interested in running for mayor?”
Without hesitation, he answered, “No! I’m happy being City Council. This is where I want to be, for now.”
I’m guessing he seen the mayor’s job and he doesn’t want it.
We talked about the Christmas lights. For anyone who does not remember, Pelo got out there and helped put them up, stringing many of the lights himself, as well as, and worked with city officials to make it happen, including, but not limited to Alan Loveless.
There was a city council meeting that night which I wanted to attend, but my husband wasn’t home and I do not drive at night. We did talk about asking Sheldon Butts to pick me up and take me as he only lives a few blocks away, however, I wasn’t sure if Sheldon was available and I didn’t stop to ask him.
During our conversation, we talked about how he strongly is against the termination of Tim Chatman, the Utility Works city official who was terminated because his employees stole the beer from the Wooden Boat Show.
"Seriously! How can he be blamed for what someone else did?”
And, not to be left out… the whole mess with building City Hall. “I cannot believe that anyone would agree to pay $5.2 million to an out of state company when we have plenty of hard working, excellent, and reputable companies right here in Georgetown that are just as capable, and have built things for this town already. Its just amazing!”
Pelo shared with me about the city wanting to use the old unemployment building for a group home for kids. I think that is a fabulous idea, There were also other things going on that, not only did I want to be there for, but I wanted to write about for GAB. Again though, I was not able to make it.
Something else Pelo shared with me – he doesn’t go out to eat much since he no longer works at Liberty Steel. What! I plan to remedy that. I enjoy his company and I enjoyed our luncheon together. I look forward to more of these types of meeting.
Love you Pelo. Let’s have lunch again soon. Castaways is remodeling, but will open for business in February … Let’s plan to be there.
My husband and I had lunch at Castaways on Front Street; Regan Lambert came in to join us. I had interviewed him a few years ago so this time it was like a couple of friends getting together. I was interested to hear how things had changed for him. Were they better, worse, or the same?
Regan Lambert is a very popular local DJ who on Friday nights DJ’s at Castaways. Thursdays he hosts the shag dance, also at Castaways. That sounds like fun and I was quite interested to hear a little more about that so, I’m going to pop in sometime around 7-10 one Thursday and check it out for myself.
"So how are things going now compared to before?” I asked after we had ordered.
I have to say that I always thought it was just a local bar, but I was wrong. My husband and I love to come in and have lunch. I’m sure it’s hopping on weekend nights, but during the day, it has a nice atmosphere and the food is fantastic.
“They’re a lot better,” he admitted. I could tell he was a lot more comfortable and at ease this time. “I stay busy.”
“How are you staying busy?” I asked, “Besides DJ’ing here at Castaways what else do you do?”
“Well, I DJ here every Friday night and shag Thursday nights,” he confirmed, “And then I also do private events on Saturday… actually, any day that you need me. Saturday is the more popular day for events. Right now, I’m booked up until October of 2020.”
I was sure I knew, but just to be sure, I asked, “What kind of events?”
“You know, weddings, graduation parties – whatever you need,” he explained. “I really enjoy it because it gives me a chance to get out and meet some pretty cool people.”
I remembered from my past interview with him that Regan was a distributor for Blue Mania® energy drink. “How is that going?”
"That is going pretty well, actually,” he said of his distribution business. “We were bought out by Budweiser with Better Brands in Myrtle Beach and it sells in different stores and places. We added the ‘Mania’ part of the name when Budweiser got us.”
Regan is a true Georgetonian having been born and raised here and never left. He pays homage to his hometown with his own Facebook page named Georgetown Shop Local, Eat Local, Drink Local. The page strictly caters to the Georgetown people and businesses. I think I was the fifth person to join when he opened the page about three years ago. Within weeks he had hundreds of members and now, he’s has over 1,000 people on the page.
At 42 years old, he’s still unmarried, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He believes that one day God will send him the right woman. Until then, he just keeps searching.
We talked about different things such as the Harborwalk Festival. It was a yearly event that has since passed. He shared with me that a few people have talked about reviving it and returning the festival to the historic district. That would be nice to see.
Chris, the bartender and manager, stopped by our table to check on us. While talking with us, she mentioned the boat parade. It seems Castaways will play host to Georgetown’s Christmas Beat Parade which will take place on the river behind Front Street. Regan Lambert is going to be the Grand Marshall for that event. I’m so excited about that.
“It’s on December 7th. Isn’t that the same day of the Christmas parade?” I asked as I wrote quickly.
Regan nodded. “Yes, it is. It’s going to be an all-day event on Front Street that day.”
The last thing that we talked about was the Christmas lights or lack thereof. GAB News had posted an article about the town not being able to afford them this year. Andrews, which is also part of Georgetown County, had decided the residents would decorate the streets themselves. We decided to do the same.
“I think it’s sad,” Regan said of the missing decorations. “The historic district has always been lit up. It doesn’t matter about the rest of the town as much as it does that particular section. That’s the place tourists come to see the most.”
“Why don’t we do something like ‘Adopt-A-Lamp,’ I suggested, “People can buy their own lights and hang them up for the city.”
“I like that idea and when I get home, I’m going to start working on it,” he promised.
He kept his word and now the Adopt-A-Lamp plan is in full swing. We both laughed about how it would probably blow up Facebook once we posted about it and, indeed, it certainly did.
As we parted ways, I wished him well with his business and personal endeavors. I’m sure wherever Regan goes he will be lighting up the place with wonderful music and fun activities.
I made an appointment to go in to the Sheriff’s Office and visit with Carter Weaver. I had seen him a couple days earlier at Olive’s Tavern. Although, we didn’t speak, I had been trying to get up with him. He had been recommended as a subject for the Meet Georgetown segment long before making sheriff. I just never got around to it until now.
My daughter is very fond of him, respectfully, having known him personally and as a fellow law student, as well as, someone in law enforcement that she can turn to if needed. Following law school himself, Carter is waiting to take his bar exam. I’m excited for him as it is another notch in his impressive resume’.
At 54 years old, he’s achieved quite a list of accomplishments. I believe his favorite accomplishments are his two grown children. Both are successful in their own right. He’s worked with SLED, the sheriff’s department as the assistant sheriff, and now currently, he’s the sheriff.
“What made you decide to go into law enforcement?” I asked.
“Well, my grandfather is Woodrow Carter,” he began. “When I was twelve years old, I was at his house, over there on Prince Street. It was nighttime when this lady, carrying a baby, came to the house. She was crying and telling my grandfather about her husband. He’d taken last week’s pay and gambled it away, then he took this week’s pay and he’s gambling with it now. The baby was hungry and she had no money to feed the child so my grandfather said he’d be right back and left.
“He came back about fifteen minutes later with the husband, with the pay for this week, and the pay for last week. To my knowledge, the man didn’t gamble anymore after that. That’s when I knew: I wanted to do what my grandfather did and help people. I wanted to be like him. He cared. He truly cared and I really respected that.”
“So the woman and the baby situation carried a lot of weight then?”
“It’s wasn’t just that,” he confessed. “I used to sometimes eavesdrop on his calls. Back then, you didn’t have social media, or cell phones, you had a lot of one-on-one. I remember his deputies calling to give him report or dropping by at the house to tell him what’s going on. Sheriffs back in the day were personable and very hands-on as my grandfather was with the lady and the crying baby. I liked that. I think all of it influenced me.”
My husband was with me and remembers the “Woodrow Carter,” era as he’s also from Georgetown. Indeed, he also remembers Michael Carter, of course, Carter Weaver’s uncle. The way Sheriff Weaver and my husband connected, you’d think he was the one interviewing Carter and not me. I have written on my notepad “next time leave husband in car.”
Carter shared with me that he started working SLED in 1986. He left there in 2001 to work as Assistant Sheriff to (the late) Lane Cribb. Since his passing, Carter’s taken Lane’s position being promoted to his grandfather (and uncle’s) old post as the Sheriff.
“The transition from Assistant Sheriff to Sheriff was quite a change,” Carter shared. “You’d think it wouldn’t be that much of a change having been involved in the day-to-day operations of the job, but it was quite a change, at first. I know I have some mighty big shoes to fill, too, between my own family and Lane Cribb.”
He talked about how Lane had beat out his Uncle Michael for the position as sheriff and people thought he was crazy to come work for Lane side-by-side.
“But Lane cared and he didn’t care who got the credit for a job well done, either, just as long it was done and everything was okay. Like Woodrow, he had a compassionate heart for his deputies and the people he was sworn to protect.”
We went on to talk about the upcoming election, his rival, who by the way, he doesn’t view as an opponent, but as someone he respects, as well. Carter insists, that in spite of what some may or may not think, they get along just fine.
“We just recently had an event where we both got up and talked and addressed the room,” he said of their recent encounter.
“A meet and greet?” I asked. “Or was it a debate?”
Carter laughed a little and said, “A little of both actually. I spoke on some issues that needed to be addressed such as some kind of incentive for people to want to join the sheriff department, like merit raises. They need something more routine in terms of pay. It’s not my call to make, though, it’s on council’s part, but I’d like to see it happen and I am backing it.”
We talked about Wendy (Ard) Powers. Both of us agreed that she is one of the toughest, yet sweetest, people you will ever meet. She’s a good deputy and a good person (Go Wendy!). Personally, Wendy was always one of my favorite people when she and I worked together.
As we wrapped up the interview, our new sheriff looked at my notepad and said, “That’s it? That’s all the notes you’re going to take?”
Funny! I thought he said he’d read some of my articles and knew the skinny. I can make an ant proud as I use my pen to write his anthill into the Swiss Alps.
Seriously, though, I have to admit, writing about Georgetown, the many places, and the abundance of fine people, has truly become one of my more favorite things to write about. I thank Sheriff Weaver for the esteem privilege to sit down, talk to him, and include him into my collage of people in Meet Georgetown.