TRIBUTE: ‘When he talked, people listened’: County government leaders praise senator’s impact | Local

Development of the Lake Marion Regional water system was one project in which Matthews was instrumental, Wright said.

Founded in 1994, the Lake Marion Regional water Agency serves Dorchester, Calhoun, Berkeley and Orangeburg counties and the Town of Santee. The LMRWA, working in partnership with Santee Cooper and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has constructed more than 45 miles of water-transmission lines to provide clean drinking water, enhanced fire protection and economic growth.

“We can start there with the water system in Lake Marion right after I got on council in 1995. When we first started out in Holly Hill, it started out to be a county initiative. We found out that in order to get federal money, you have to show a regional approach to how you do that,” Wright said.

“We met with Sen. Matthews, talked with him, and then 6th District Congressman Jim Clyburn got on board. He explained how it works up there in D.C. and what we needed to do. Then we started looking at the regional area of it, and we got the other counties involved,” the chairman said.

He said one of the biggest supports that the senator provided was in securing funds to move the LMRWA concept forward. When the agency first started, it needed match money in order to get a lot of federal grant funding.

“So we got that tobacco settlement. The state helped the county get millions of dollars from that settlement. He was an instrumental part of that because he was our senator at that time. We got that, and we used that money toward kick starting the Lake Marion Regional Water (system) by using it for match money,” he said.