Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

City’s Wildlife Center is now open

Walterboro’s new Wildlife Center is now open to the public, making it the center to the city’s Wildlife Sanctuary and a hopeful tourist attraction.
The center had its grand opening on Saturday. Amid crowds of residents and city and county dignitaries and elected leaders, city officials cut the ribbon to the new center.
The center sits at the corner of Hampton Street and Jefferies Boulevard, across from the Colleton County Courthouse in a former empty commercial building.
It boasts several education rooms, retail space and has live and static (not-living) animal exhibits. The center is meant to serve as headquarters to the nearby Wildlife Sanctuary, a more than 800-acre swamp in the city of Walterboro. The swamp is filled with boardwalks, walking trails and educational signs about native plants and wildlife.
The new center also boasts an outdoor amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events.
In his remarks to the public on Saturday, Walterboro Mayor Bill Young called the grand opening a “long-awaited day,” and said the facility is a “transformation.”
“What an amazing transformation from the vacant building we had before, to what we have today,” he said. “It gives me great pleasure, along with city council, to officially open the Walterboro Wildlife Center and Amphitheatre.
“We know that this facility will serve our citizens and visitors for years to come and that it now fits into this downtown setting that people will see when they drive into Walterboro on Hampton Street.”
After the ribbon-cutting, members of the public were given tours of the inside of the building. During the ceremony, members of Walterboro City Council were present, along with members of Colleton County Council and Walterboro Manager Jeff Molinari and Walterboro’s Assistant Manager, Hank Amundson.
Amundson served as the project chairman for the construction and planning of the entire center. “He (Amundson) and Jeff put in countless hours working with the architects and contractors,” Young said during his speech on Saturday.
Additionally, Walterboro’s Tourism Director, Christian Spires, and the director of the city’s Parks Department, Ryan McCleod, also worked on the project, said Young.
The idea of constructing a sanctuary out of the then existing swamp began about 18 years ago, under the direction of the city’s then Manager Tuck McConnell. The city built trails, observation stations, and boardwalks in the swamp, using it as a draw for tourists coming into Walterboro from Interstate 95.
From there, Walterboro leaders then began to focus on constructing what is now the Wildlife Center.
According to Young, the project received “renewed interest” in 2012. Walterboro City Council later agreed in 2013 to purchase the then empty Glovers Motors commercial building where the center is now housed.
In 2016, an architectural firm was hired, and construction began in June of 2018. The design of the center was formed from input by the city’s FROG Committee (Friends of the Great Swamp Sanctuary).
“Locating the Wildlife Center in Downtown Walterboro had several plusses,” said Young, in his statements on Saturday. “It made use of a vacant building that needed a lot of work and was located at the end of the main thoroughfare coming into Walterboro. It gave us a location that allowed for an amphitheater and event space in the middle of town. It was close to the Washington Street entrance to the Wildlife Sanctuary. And, it would help draw visitors and potential customers into our business areas and our downtown.”
Young said he is “very proud” of the work done by the city in constructing the center. He said city leaders would continue to “improve the appearance of our city,” with ongoing plans to beautify the exit interchanges into Walterboro from I-95.
The center will be open to the public during day hours. For more information on the center, visit the city’s Web site at www.walterborosc.org.

Heather Walters (1678 Posts)