This edition of the City Manager’s Blog features a recap and commendations from the USTA State Tennis Championship hosted in Aiken, updates on the Eustis Park Playground improvements, and a whole host of holiday events and meetings to mark on your calendars.

USTA State Tennis Championship
The South Carolina USTA State Single League Championships were held November 11-13 at the Weeks Tennis Center.  The weekend started with a fun player’s reception on the evening of November 10th.  The tournament was played at 3 area Tennis Centers with over 400 participants.  USCA and North Augusta courts were also used to support the singles divisions for 18 & Over and 40 & Over Championships.  Our own local 3.5 Ladies 40 & Over team was in the finals of the tournament and made us all proud with their stellar play.

2017 Citizens Park Tournament Schedule
The 2017 Citizens Park Tournament Schedule closed out a great year with Play Top Gun Sports Tournament of Champions.  The tournament was held at all three complexes at Citizens Park on November 10 & 11, 2017.  Aiken hosted 26 softball teams and 33 baseball teams.  Twenty-one baseball teams travelled two to four hours, while 12 teams were from the local area of Aiken, Augusta, Lexington, Irmo, and Columbia.

Eustis Park Playground
The installation of a new ADA accessible playground at Eustis Park has been completed.  The play structure has an Astroturf surface and is completely fenced.  The new system is designed for children, ages 2-12, and includes several slides and swings.  The walking track at Eustis Park will also be renovated in the coming months.

Insurance
Even in a year where the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund will be levying a 5% rate increase, the City of Aiken anticipates a premium reduction of over $14,000 in calendar year 2018.  The improvement is primarily attributed to improvements in auto liability claims, allowing our rates to improve by 25% on this line of coverage.

Workers’ Compensation
We anticipate a $97,174 premium for workers’ compensation coverage for CY 2018, a small reduction from CY 2017.  We will receive a return of surplus payment from the South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust of $122,000 in June of 2018, which more than offsets the 2018 premium.  Such payments are one of the many reasons the City is a member of such an insurance pool as opposed to a for-profit insurance company.

Commendations
Tennis Program Supervisor Mark Calvert received an email from Ms. Karen Fennell.  She stated she is a member of the Odell-Weeks Tennis Center and had the privilege of participating in the State Singles Tournament hosted by the City.  She was incredibly proud of the entire staff associated with the event.  She stated Mark Calvert was in charge of organizing this event and he did a fabulous job.  The volunteers who manned the tables were polite, efficient, and maintained a sense of humor throughout the very long days.  The scheduling ran flawlessly as Mark directed staff to clear and sweep courts for the next match; a well-oiled machine.  Her biggest applause goes to the grounds crew.  She happened to get to her assigned court as the staff was finishing sweeping the courts and cleaning the lines.  It was among the last matches of a very long day for them.  The gentlemen looked over, grinned, said hello, and then apologized for the court not being ready yet.  As they left, both men approached both Ms. Fennell and her opponent and wished the players a great match.  Wow, professionalism at its best.

Tennis Program Supervisor Mark Calvert received an email from SC State Singles Coordinator Sam Hicks thanking him and his staff for a wonderful job.  He stated there is no traffic jam in the extra mile, and he and his staff definitely went the extra mile for them.  All their needs were accommodated.  The players’ party was simply marvelous.  He heard nothing but good feedback from the players and his staff.  He said Mark made him “shine like a diamond.”

Public Services Manager Tim Coakley received a message from Charlotte Wiedenman on behalf of The Garden Club of South Carolina, who called to express her excitement and appreciation for the fine job that our grounds crews did in the first parkway along Richland Avenue, near Vaucluse Road.  She commented that her ‘heart just sang’ when she saw the very beautiful circular arrangement of crape myrtles, which is now visible from the trees.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, November 28 at 6:00PM: The Board of Zoning Appeals will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.

Friday, December 1 at 6:00PM: Join us as we kick off the holiday season with our annual Tree Lighting event on downtown Newberry Street.  There will be music, refreshments, other entertainment, plus a countdown to the lighting of the tree.  There will also be a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus and the S’Mores cookers will be there for families to purchase kits and make their own s’mores.  Admission is free.

Friday & Saturday, December 1 & 2 from 9AM to 5PM: The 46th annual Christmas Craft Show will be held at the Weeks Activities Center.  This annual event features handmade crafts from over 100 talented artisans from all over the Southeast.  There are sure to be crafts for every style, budget, and taste.  The craft show is a great place to shop for holiday gifts and decor.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, December 5, at 6:30PM: The Design Review Board will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.

Friday, December 8 at 12:30PM: The Employee Awards Luncheon will be held at the H.O. Weeks Center, 1700 Whiskey Road.  City Offices will close at 12:00PM.

Monday, December 11 at 7:00PM: The next regularly-scheduled City Council meeting will be held in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.