State of the Town Remarks by Mayor Barry Walker

On Thursday, December 2, 2021, Town of Irmo Mayor Barry A. Walker Sr. gave the State of Irmo Address to the Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce and local residents. See transcript below:

Happy holidays, IRMO!
What a wonderful night in the world’s best town – IRMO, SOUTH CAROLINA!
Admittedly…I am a bit biased about Irmo.

But I’ve been around long enough to know a great town when I see it.
And you know what I see when I look at Irmo?

I see transformation.

Now I know that might sound a bit trite to some…maybe a little cliché…
But you’re here tonight because it’s true.
This town is in the midst of a major transformation fueled by the love and respect we have for one another.

Last year about this time, I gave my inaugural State of the Town address…
And then…just like now…the place was packed with townsfolk eager to celebrate Irmo.
I said then that our very best resource — our best asset — is the unbreakable bond we share as a community.
And that bond would be the foundation we would confidently build on this year.

And so here we are.

The IRMO Chamber of Commerce’s Tuesday morning “Coffee Talk” is literally the talk of our town – and the envy of other communities.
We love to network and strive to help one another here.
Together, we are transforming our Main Street – Lake Murray Boulevard.
Wherever you look up and down our main thoroughfares…
You see the old making way for the new…as people invest in Irmo…building and developing exciting new businesses…
All of them wanting to be part of the Irmo culture that deeply respects our law enforcement and emergency workers…

We covet beautiful open spaces where our families gather for events throughout the year – none of them bigger than our annual Irmo Okra Strut Festival.
We’re transforming unused spaces…making great progress in converting 10 acres of old tennis courts into our Irmo Dog Park…Community Garden…and Friarsgate Skatepark.

These public-private partnerships are making all the difference in our Community.

Take the skatepark, for example.
It’s coming to fruition because one Irmo mom…Marie Smith…didn’t want to drive her kids across town to skate.
She wants her children playing here in Irmo, engaged with their friends and community.
So, she took her idea and ran with it – building consensus and raising funds for the project.

And it was the collective vision of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority for an Irmo Community Garden.
Just like Marie, they’ve been rallying the community and seeking sponsorships.

The Community Survey showed that 90% of Irmo families own a dog so our new dog park will truly serve the vast majority of our families – again, right here in town.

We’re almost doubling the size of our Community Park – adding nine plus acres of new park space.

We’re swiftly becoming a “Southern Destination” town – and when these projects are completed – we’ll play host to large regional events and concerts.
All of this means new and exciting jobs and opportunities right here.

With all these new eyes on us…it was important to me and town council to fortify our town management team.

We’re thrilled to welcome Mr. Courtney Dennis as our new Town Administrator…

We have a new Assistant Administrator…Mr. Rodney Tucker…

We have a new Communications Director…Mrs. Mia Wilkins.

I also want to recognize and congratulate our new police chief, Mr. Bobby Dale.

These dynamic new town employees will help us tell our powerful story of transformation – at exactly the right time with so many eager to learn more about us.

All of us are incredibly proud of Irmo’s first responders, IRMO police and firefighters.

Their competency is matched by their compassion…and we are richly blessed by their service, lets recognize and congratulate them

Our Town Council is also transforming.

After 18 years of devoted service…my friend and Mayor Pro Tem – Kathy Condom – has retired. Kathy will be sorely missed.

Last month, we welcomed newly elected Councilwoman, Dr. Barb Waldman. She brings invaluable education insight to our council.

And Councilmember Bill Danielson was reelected – after fighting – and beating – cancer!

They’re joined by Councilman Erik Sickinger…Councilman Kelly Busch…and ME – all of us dedicated to continuing this transformation while maintaining that close…hometown feel…that makes Irmo a very special place to live.
I am confident THIS is the team that will get the job done.

I know I speak for many when I say life hasn’t been easy the last year.
Too many of us have been confronted with life-threatening illnesses or the death of loved ones.
It’s caused me to think a lot about The Dash – that time between when we’re born and when we pass – as captured in the thoughtful poem by Linda Ellis.
Let me paraphrase it for you:

A man looking at tombstone’s in a cemetery, he observes the dates.

“He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears…

But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years…

For it matters not how much we own…the cars…the house…the cash.

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”

And so, it is for our town.
Our businesses are thriving…our amenities are good and growing.
Critical services are solid and dependable.
Development is flourishing in our dash.

But what matters more is the devotion…the duty…the delight…we hold for one another in our dash.
These attributes bring us together – and sets us apart from other communities.
It paves the way for our transformation – while keeping us connected to what matters – giving us both roots and wings.

So, thanks to all of you for what you’re doing to transform and grow Irmo.

I am deeply privileged to be your Mayor – and honored to report to you that this is the State of our Town.

First Lady Susan Walker joins me in wishing you a blessed…peaceful and healthy…Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And May God continue to bless Irmo.

Thank you!