Governor McMaster, others praise the Palmetto State, but say “we have work to do”
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
COLUMBIA, S.C.– Governor Henry McMaster, U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan, S.C.
Senator Thomas Alexander, and Dr. Tom Mullikin, founder of Global Eco Adventures
(GEA), celebrated with other VIPS – legislators, business and military leaders, and
university presidents – at GEA’s annual Eco Ball dinner and awards ceremony,
Thursday, April 20. The event with well-over 100 guests in attendance was held at
Junction800 (the former Jillian’s on Gervais) in Columbia’s Vista.
“We are blessed with the greatest place to live in the whole country,” said Gov.
McMaster, who served as the evening’s keynote speaker. “There is no place else like
South Carolina.” But, he added, “We have work to do” referring to the increasing need
to protect the Palmetto State’s natural wonders and fragile ecosystems for future
Dr. Mullikin, who also chairs the gubernatorially established S.C. Floodwater
Commission and was tapped by McMaster to lead it in 2018, made a point of
recognizing the recent hurricanes, tropical storms, and resultant flooding disasters
which have plagued the state since Hurricane Joaquin and the 1,000-year flood struck
in late 2015.
“Since assuming office in 2017, Governor McMaster has served as one the greatest
champions of our state’s environment,” said Mullikin in a post-dinner interview. “Despite
the many environmental disasters South Carolina has been beset with prior to and
during his administration so far, he has gotten out in front of everything and waged war
against natural threats to our state: First, creating the Floodwater Commission, which
has since become a national model, then maintaining our state’s strong economic
growth thoughout this period of environmental challenges to include national COVID
lockdowns, and at the same time presiding over the largest reduction of anthropogenic
[human environmental] interference in the country.”
Mullikin added: “We could not be in better hands.”
A number of awards were presented throughout the evening to include the GEA
Educator of the Year award which was presented to Dr. Michael Amiridis, the president
of the University of South Carolina.
First Lady Peggy McMaster, received GEA’s Environmental Champion award as did
Maj. Gen. Will Grimsley, former executive secretary of the S.C. Department of Veterans
Affairs; and Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and
Parrish praised McMaster, Mullikin, and others; saying of Mullikin, “He is the greatest
ambassador of the state that we have.”
Congressman Duncan received GEA’s Jim Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award.
Speaker Murrell Smith of the S.C. House of Representatives received GEA’s Legislator
of the Year award as did S.C. Representative Sylleste Davis.
And former U.S. Marine Recon Sgt. Rudy Reyes, a member of FORCE BLUE, a GEA
SCUBA diver, and star of the HBO miniseries “Generation Kill,” was presented GEA’s
IRONMAN award. A number of previous Ironman recipients were in attendance.
GEA also presented a 5,000 check for disaster relief to Chief Resilience Officer Ben
Duncan, S.C. Department of Resilience. “There will be more,” said Mullikin.
In closing, McMaster said that S.C. was “built on three pillars:” The strength of the
state’s higher education (S.C.’s colleges, universities, and the technical college system),
economic strength, and environmental strength.
– Pictured are Gov. Henry McMaster and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tom Mullikin, PhD.