I have been trying for months to get a sit down with Ron Charlton. Short of having to nail his shoes down, I was finally able to sit down and talk to the big man at Southern Coastal Cable. Even at 72 years young, Ron is still so busy. As long as his feet hit the floor every morning, I don’t think he will ever slow down.
“I had a mild heart attack when I was 39,” he confessed of his younger years. With a chuckle he told of his experience. “It was all stress related, though. My dad had a 300-acre farm that I would help out on. I had just finished up work there and was walking home which was about two miles away. I remember carrying some tools with me. They were pretty heavy, but I was used to it so it wasn’t like I was struggling.
“Anyway, I got home and I felt like someone was standing on my chest. Bonnie, my wife, called the emergency people to come to the house, explaining that I was having severe chest pains. I almost didn’t make it to the hospital.
“The first thing that happened was, they put the O2 mask on me, and as it cupped my face, I felt like I was suffocating. It turned out, the EMS guy, who was new to the job, had forgotten to turn on the O2. At some point, I had passed out and came to when they were flying over the railroad tracks. I felt the bump-bump on the tracks and it jarred me to. We finally get to the hospital and they wheeled me up to the door only to find it was still locked. They forgot to unlock it. Outside of that one occurrence in my life, though, I’m pretty healthy.”
After twenty plus years as a County Councilman, Ron feels at this point in his life he needs to change hats. He is currently a candidate for the Mayor of Georgetown. He’s running on the Republican ticket against Brenden Barber (Dem).
He maintains a pretty full schedule working full time in his cable company as well as serving on different boards and committees like Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Keep Georgetown Beautiful (which he jokingly dubs as the KGB). He’s looking forward to the change from councilman to mayor should he win.
“Can you tell me some of the things that Keep Georgetown Beautiful does?” I asked, as I’m very interested in Georgetown and the beautification of our town, namely, the West End Re-development Project.
“Well, we are responsible for keeping the litter down. We talk to the children at school about litter and how it trashes the city-Stash your trash, don’t throw it down is a little motto we use. We’re also responsible for planting trees, landscaping around city hall and such. The object is to make Georgetown beautiful so that when people see the town they’ll visit more often and even shop here.”
Even though it is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s decision about what work will be done, the Keep Georgetown Beautiful Committee often works with the DOT and encourages them to get many things happening around town in order to beautify things. A good example of that is building the sidewalks on Merriman Road.
We talked about the Harborwalk Festival. I expressed to Ron that I’d been told the shopkeepers along Front Street didn’t like it because it took from their businesses. Like me, Ron feels it was very beneficial for the town. It was a way to bring outsiders in to see the area. Additionally, it encouraged them to come back for business purposes.
Some of the restaurants even put booths out front and served from the crubside on the day of the Harborwalk. It really boosted Georgetown and helped to make our town thrive. Although, I felt the festival needed to be better organized, I was still sorry to see it go.
“Even if you didn’t want to have it on Front Street, we could still do a yearly festival down at the Marina in Maryville,” Ron suggested. “It’s equipped with parking spaces, bathrooms, and has plenty of space for the booths for the festival.”
Speaking of Maryville, Ron had some pretty awesome ideas about the little town on the outskirts of Georgetown. He mentioned an ambulance service to go with the fire department on South Island Road since we have three nursing homes on that side of town. Even outside of the nursing homes, we need EMS for other emergency needs of the town folk.
I really liked his idea for a business center in Maryville, one with a bank, which is sorely needed on that side of town. As Ron pointed out, it doesn’t have to be a big branch, but a sub-bank. That would be so perfect. We also talked about putting another pharmacy and post office back into Maryville.
His idea of a learning center to help the elderly and indigent children learn the use of computers. Technology has become so advanced that Ron feels some people need to be educated on the use of the internet so they can view family photos, do banking, pay bills and so much more.
“Kids need a basic knowledge of the internet nowadays in order to get jobs,” Ron added. “Today, most job applications are done online.”
We also bantered back and forth about needing a park. I pointed out that we already have one in Maryville and it’s pretty nice sized.
“How are the kids going to get to it?” Ron asked with a glint in his eye. “There’s a huge ditch they’d have to cross over. It’s pretty deep, too, and dangerous. They’d have to walk all the way around just to get to the playground. Children need something, or a better way, to get to the playground area. It also needs to be properly developed (with ball fields included) so families can feel comfortable bringing their children there to play.”
We talked about sports and how we need more sports in the lives of our children. Like everyone else I’ve spoken with on the subject of sports, Ron is in agreement that playing on a team helps children learn pride, sportsmanship, responsibility, common respect, and courtesy.
“We need more of that around here for our children,” Ron concluded.
I thought to myself that all of this was great, but it cost money. As if reading my mind, Ron explained, “I’m well connected with different people who could be involved and help with funding. People like Lindsey Graham and Ronnie Saab (our US senator and state senator). At one time, I even worked as a campaign manager for President George Bush. I know how to get funding.”
What was supposed to be a brief interview turned into an hour and a half long visit. We talked about many things...so many things. My husband was with me and he and Ron have known each other well over twenty years and hadn’t seen each other for quite a few of those latter years. Needless to say, they visited with each other as well. It’s a guy thing.
I’m glad I had the chance to sit down with Ron and very thankful for his time with this interview. In closing, I’d like to say good luck with the election, Ron!