Goodbye 2020 – Welcome 2021
Since we were unable to hold our 2020 conference due to COVID-19, I am using this venue to express my thoughts on the State of the South Carolina Outdoor Press Association (SCOPe). Despite dealing with the strangest year in memory, and despite dealing with my personal medical issues during my term as President, I can tell you that
the SCOPE ship is in excellent shape and very seaworthy.
Following the highly successful 2019 Conference at Santee Cooper, we were rolling strong into the first part of 2020. Tricia Perea had settled in as Executive Director and was updating SCOPE procedures and re-establishing our business approach, including setting up a new bank account. Meantime, a newly-organized leadership team was moving forward with plans for the 2020 Conference in Aiken. The 2020 SCOPE Leadership Team included Chairman of the Board Terry Madewell, President Pat Robertson, President-elect Jim Mize, Vice President-elect Pete Rogers, and P.J. Perea, who serves as local conference coordinator.
The team had met several times with Aiken Thoroughbred Country. local government officials, organizations and businesses on organizing and providing support for the 2020 Conference. Things were falling nicely into place. with a loaded agenda for the planned October Conference.
Then the Coronavirus hit.
2021 Conference in Aiken
Once we recognized COVID-19 was much more dangerous than first believed we began discussing delaying the 2020 meeting. Research showed that every organization, business and family was canceling and postponing planned events including Georgia Outdoor Writers (GOWA). So, SCOPE, in coordination with Aiken Tourism officials,
canceled the conference planned for October 2020. We tentatively planned to hold the 2021 Conference in Aiken if the virus was being managed by that time of year. That is still the plan and we are moving forward in anticipation of holding our conference in Aiken in October 2021. Stay tuned for details.
Lake Murray in 2022
While our primary focus is now on Aiken for our 2021 Conference, we are already in negotiations with Capital City Lake Murray Country for the 2022 Conference. Some of you will remember we held what turned out to be a mini-conference at Lake Murray in the spring a few years ago Although not many members attended, it was an outstanding conference because Miriam Atria and Lake Murray Tourism pulled out all the stops to assure it would be a success. The meals provided by several outstanding local caterers were scrumptious and the fishing on Lake Murray provided plenty of opportunities for stories and quality photos. We can expect more of the same and an expanded agenda for the 2022 conference.
Officers elected and new board
Although we were unable to meet in person for a conference in 2020 the business of SCOPE continued. Chairman Madewell conducted an email Membership meeting and effected the annual SCOPE change in leadership by electing officers. Madewell moved off the board and I succeeded him as Board Chairman. Jim Mize moved up as President
and Pete Rogers moved in as Vice President. New Board members added were Phillip Hunt and Sarah Nell Blackwell.
The 2020 Board Members
Pat Robertson – Chairman of the Board
Jim Mize – President
Pete Rogers – President Elect (1st vice President)
Vacant – 2nd Vice President
Vacant – Member at Large (2nd Vice President and Board Member at Large have not been filled the last couple of
years, but we will make an effort to include those two seats in the 2021 election of officers.)
Current Members and Year they rotate off:
2021 – PJ Perea; Brian Carroll
2022 – Larry Chesney; Larry Ross; John Gribb
2023 – Phillip Hunt; Sarah Nell Blackwell
This new board and especially President Jim Mize and President-Elect Pete Rogers who will take the reins in 2021-2022 will need the support and participation from every member to continue the success of SCOPe.
SCOPE Auction Successful
While we could not hold our annual auction during the conference, we held one on-line and raised $1,835 and a big Thanks are owed to Jim Mize and Pete Rogers for organizing the auction. Thanks, too, for members who donated or found donors for special items such as trips and guns to be donated. And certainly, to Tricia Perea for
setting the auction up online and conducting it – and to the members who bid on the auction to help support SCOPE financially.
A personal message
I was chairman of the organizing committee and served as President of SCOPE during its first year of existence in 1988. I served again in 2007 and agreed to a third term as President in 2020 as part of the rebuilding program begun in 2018-2019 under the leadership of Terry Madewell. Two events occurred that altered my time available at the helm in this most recent term – the COVID Crisis and my own personal health crisis. COVID kept us from meeting as
an organization and glaucoma sidelined me for more than half of 2020 and continues to diminish my capacity to function at a high level.
I had glaucoma surgery in my left eye at the Duke Eye Center in Durham in early June and blood filled my eye, leaving me basically blind for about two months. My left eye is my only working eye as I lost my right eye in a fishing accident during the 1998 SEOPA
Conference in Cherokee, N.C. During June and July, I had three more eye surgeries at Duke and was being led around by the hand until early August when the blood began to dissipate and some of my vision returned.
I was functionally blind for the next couple of months, unable to see enough even to read emails, but gradually my vision has improved and I am now able to read the computer screen and do some writing with the aid of a magnifying glass.
I recently had surgery to lift my droopy eyelid and that has opened things up considerably. I can see more, but not in good focus. That apparently is due to a swelling of the macula (part of the optic nerve). I am being treated for that, but it apparently is going to be a long process. After the COVID nightmare of 2020 and my personal battle this year to retain my eyesight, I am looking forward to 2021. Hopefully, the vaccine will eventually bring COVID under control and I will be able to see well enough again to read a newspaper
and write articles, two things I had done daily for the past 60 years until 2020. I have been unable to do either since June 8.
Some say 2020 should be added to the lexicon of cuss words. I propose that 2021 be a year of praises.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in 2021,
SCOPE Chairman of the Board