More than 600 maritime community leaders assembled Friday, Jan. 30, at the Charleston Area Convention Center to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the Maritime Association of South Carolina, at which time its new board of directors was introduced and several distinguished supporters were honored.
Honorees included State Ports Authority (SPA) Chairman Bill Stern, who received the association’s Gadsden Award; Congressman Tom Rice, recognized as Legislator of the Year; maritime industry leader Rob New, who accepted the Beacon Award; and Carnival Cruise Lines, for their commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Bill Stern received the Gadsden Award because of his exemplary leadership and sustained support of the maritime industry. Credited with leading the SPA Board through both tumultuous and prosperous times, Stern has never wavered in his belief that South Carolina is home to a world-class port that is the engine that runs the state’s economy. Under his leadership, volumes at the Port of Charleston are now back to pre-recession levels and Charleston Harbor is set to become the deepest in the Southeast – a vital and necessary project that positions the state economy and the maritime community well for the future.Honorees included State Ports Authority (SPA) Chairman Bill Stern, who received the association’s Gadsden Award; Congressman Tom Rice, recognized as Legislator of the Year; maritime industry leader Rob New, who accepted the Beacon Award; and Carnival Cruise Lines, for their commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Introduced as a key component in the effort to have the needs of the ports of Charleston and Georgetown included in last year’s Water Resources Development Act, Congressman Tom Rice was recognized as Legislator of the Year. Wrenzie Rice accepted the award on behalf of her husband, who was called away on congressional duties. Through a statement provided by his office, Congressman Rice stated, “I am honored to receive this award from the Maritime Association of South Carolina. The maritime industry is vital to our country’s economy and it is critical that Congress and the states are committed to maintaining our nation’s waterways. Being from a coastal district with a low-tonnage port in need of attention, I understand the impact the maritime industry has on my community’s job market and local economy, which is why I am committed to advocating for water resources legislation, water infrastructure funding and the shipbuilding industry.”

Maritime industry veteran Rob New was given the Beacon Award for his long and distinguished career on the waterfront. New has been an outspoken community leader for 30 years. His knowledge of, and passion for, the waterfront is unparalleled. He is widely viewed as the go-to source for maritime-related issues and continues to be a key player in a growing and prosperous maritime community.

Joanie Field accepted the Environmental Stewardship Award on behalf of Carnival Cruise Lines. This award is presented only to companies that demonstrate a true commitment to sustainability by going above and beyond what is required of them. Carnival’s local efforts with regard to air quality, wastewater policy and landfill reduction were identified as determining factors in their being selected for this award. These initiatives include plans to install “scrubbers” on the Charleston-based Fantasy and other ships that will reduce particulate matter and sulfur dioxide by more than 85 percent and a commitment to utilize the cleanest fuel commercially available until the “scrubbers” are installed. Additionally, Carnival has committed to not discharging waste within 12 miles of Charleston Harbor, a 300 percent improvement over the minimum federal standard, and donates hundreds of items from the Fantasy – normally destined for the landfill – to local charities and churches. Through their actions, Carnival consistently demonstrates that sustainability is not a cost of doing business, but a way of doing business.

Pam Zaresk, president of the Maritime Association of South Carolina, lauded the recipients, saying, “I cannot think of more deserving awardees. Without Bill Stern’s commitment and leadership, and Congressman Rice’s unifying efforts, harbor deepening would be ‘stuck in the mud,’ so to speak. Rob New’s decades of service and contributions to both the maritime sector and community at large cannot be overstated. And Carnival’s continuing commitment to sustainable practices and robust environmental policies while ensuring a safe, efficient and effective operation is truly noteworthy.”

Also during the meeting portion of the event, 2014 Chairman D. Loy Stewart Jr. of Detyens Shipyards passed the gavel to incoming Chairman Hal Burton of Premier Logistics Solutions. Burton introduced his 2015 executive committee, which includes Vice Chairman Pat Barber, (Superior Transportation); Treasurer Jon Archer (Moran Charleston) and Secretary Jessica Sage (Charleston’s Rigging and Marine Hardware).

New directors to the board include: Richard Butts (Charleston Port Services – Georgetown), Kirk Darby (Huguenot Fuels), David Hearne (First Citizens Bank), David Northrup (Evergreen Shipping), John Perez (Terminal Shipping) and Miles Stalvey (HUB International).

They join current board members: John Alvanos (ILA, Local 1771), Leonard Bailey (ILA, 1422-A), David Barber (Biehl & Co.), Bill Bean (Ports America), Liz Deaton (Argents Express), Sam Hines (K&L Gates), Barbara Locklear (J.F. Moran), Jeff McWhorter (Palmetto Railways), Jim Newsome (South Carolina State Ports Authority), Chris Parvin (Mediterranean Shipping Co.) and Mel Pinks (Odfjell Bulk Terminals), Bratton Riley (Maybank Industries), Kenneth Riley (ILA, 1422), Max Sanders (APM Terminals), Whit Smith (Charleston Branch Pilots Association), Andy Thomas (First Tennessee Bank), Coleman Thompson (Hunter Transportation), Jeff Winkler (The InterTech Group) and Steve Young (Dockside Logistics).

The Maritime Association of South Carolina is a nonprofit trade association whose mission is to promote, protect and advance the interests of the state’s ports and associated businesses throughout the state.

MARION, S.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, 7th Congressional District, paid a visit to constituents in Marion Monday afternoon for his “Coffee with Your Congressman” meetings in Marion and Johnsonville.

Nearly 100 people gathered at the Marion Opera House for the hour-long session that included a federal update from Rice.

“People we got so many things going for us,” Rice said. “We have a market that is unbelievable and we still have good infrastructure. We’ve got the rule of law. We’ve got so many things going for us.”

Rice touched on several topics ranging from immigration reform to I-73 and the Charleston port project.

“Funding is harder,” he said about the I-73 project. Rice said his hope to have the interstate built in the next 10 years but up to $2 billion in funding is needed for construction from the North Carolina state-line.

Rice said the district has things going for them such as tourism and agriculture. “We got a lot of base industry going for us and we’re growing.

Economic Development representative Rodney Berry said the meeting is part of full day visit to Marion and Dillon Counties, where Rice held a roundtable forum with several mayors within the district.

“When in the district he does make several trips like these to help everyone stay updated,” he said. Rice recently made stops in Cheraw, Darlington and Marlboro County.

Marion Bobby L. Davis presented Rice with the Key to the City and city umbrella during the visit. “This was a great day in Marion for the citizens to come out and listen to our congressman give us an update on the federal level,” he said. “We just love the fact that he came to stop by.”

Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 2:49 pm

Making a swing through his district, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, 7th Congressional District, paid his first visit to Johnsonville. Rice had been in Dillon and Marion meeting with community leaders earlier in the day before his 3 p.m. stopover in the Shady Rest Restaurant for "Coffee with Your Congressman."

Rice and his team try to get out into the district about once a quarter, he said. Rice serves on the transportation, small business and budget committees and discussed illegal immigration, the dredging of the Georgetown Port and more with the folks who attended.

Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 1:54 pm

Dianne Owens

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- U. S. Rep. Tom Rice Jr. stopped by the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce Monday morning to visit with constituents from the Seventh Congressional District. He was there to hear what voters in his district had to say and to listen to their concerns about government.

Nearly 20 people showed up to ask questions during his second “Coffee with your Congressman” of the day. His first was in Bennettsville.

During the hour-long meeting, the crowd touched on questions ranging from issues like fair trade, jobs, balancing the budget, taxes, falling gas prices and the keystone pipeline. One young girl in attendance even asked Rice what it is like to be in government in Washington.

Rice said his major focus is on “American competition and jobs, jobs, jobs”, specifically making our country more competitive in order to create and keep jobs here at home.

He said the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world and is competing with other countries around the world with far lower tax rates than our own.

“We are forcing our technology overseas,” Rice said. “We are forcing our jobs overseas.”

Many companies are relocating overseas, Rice said, making it no longer about patriotism but about surviving.

However, he said the economy is “getting better despite the federal government.”

One audience member voiced his opinion that Congress needs to focus on moving forward and balancing the budget.

Rice agreed that they do need to move forward.

Rice, a member of the House Budget Committee, called President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal an offer. He said that members of the House of Representatives will send their budget proposal to the Senate which will make a “counter offer” to the president’s budget.

Rice said he believes there can be a compromise but neither the President nor Congress will get everything they want in a budget.

As a key part of his outreach and community service, Rice will continue his “Coffee with your Congressman” event next Monday in Marion from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Marion Opera House and from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Shady Rest Family Restaurant in Johnsonville. Constituents will have the opportunity to meet for one-on-one discussions about federal issues and upcoming legislation. All events are free and open to the public.

Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015 8:56 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eight Members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation sent an open letter to the 64 colleges and universities in the state, asking them to stand up for the First Amendment religious freedoms of students and student groups on campus.

The letter specifically mentioned recent action by the California State University system which discriminated against Christian students by banning the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group from that system’s 18 campuses. The letter urges college presidents to allow religious organizations to remain as fully recognized campus organizations and to make that freedom clear within university administrative policy.

“I believe that Americans must stand up for the freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights,” said Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), who organized the letter. “Every student deserves to be able to worship and pursue God freely, as he or she chooses, without administrative interference in the name of political correctness. I’m proud to stand with my fellow South Carolinians today for the First Amendment Freedoms of religion and association for every college student in our state.”

“As Americans we pride ourselves on the freedoms we are afforded by our nation’s Constitution,” said Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07). “We are guaranteed freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Sadly, each of these are notably absent in countries around the world, which is why we must remain vigilant in our fight to protect our freedoms. I will always support religious freedom in everyday life—the workplace, classroom, and the public square.”

“The First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution ensures the right to freedom of religion and assembly, and our universities have a duty to uphold students’ rights” added Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02). “Protecting Americans’ rights throughout our nation is essential, and it is my hope that opportunities for the exchange of ideas, opinions, and values remain flourishing and widespread at institutions of higher learning.”

Other signers included Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with Congressmen Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy, and Mick Mulvaney.

Dr. Tony Beam, Vice President for Student Services and Christian Worldview at North Greenville University was quick to respond.

“Freedom of religion and freedom of association are cherished by all Americans,” Dr. Beam noted. “As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am thankful that I live in state where our elected leaders understand these freedoms and are aware of the growing attacks against them in many academic environments. My sincere thanks goes out to all the leaders who signed this letter but especially to Rep. Jeff Duncan for his tireless, consistent leadership in championing religious freedom for all South Carolinians.”