Year in Review: The Top 5 Community Stories of 2018

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2018 has brought much news, some long-awaited, to the Greenville community. From the birth of a baby orangutan to the resolution of a 28-year-old cold case, there has been no shortage of community news this year.

Provided by Prisma Health.

Bon Secours and Greenville Health System announce big changes 

2018 brought changes to Greenville’s largest hospital systems. In late 2017, Greenville Health System announced its merger with Midlands-based Palmetto Health and announced in 2018 it will take the name Prisma Health. Prisma Health will be the largest hospital system in South Carolina and among the top 50 in the United States. Bon Secours Health System announced a merger with Mercy Health and will be known as Bon Secours Mercy Health. The CEO of Mercy Health, John M. Starcher Jr., will serve as CEO of the new organization. Bon Secours President and CEO Rich Statuto will retire in 2019. The leadership at Bon Secours St. Francis, which operates the two hospitals in Greenville, will remain the same with Craig McCoy as CEO.

John Harkes, former Major League Soccer player, was named head coach of the Greenville Triumph. Photo by Ariel Gilreath/Greenville Journal.

Greenville to welcome Division III soccer team, Greenville Triumph 

In August, the name, mascot, and colors were unveiled for Greenville’s new Division III team created by the United Soccer League. The new soccer team was announced in early 2018, and the branding as the Greenville Triumph with colors of navy blue and Kelly green was announced in August. The team’s ownership group comprises Joe Erwin (through his company Erwin Creates); the managing partner of Erwin Creates, Shannon Wilbanks; and Erwin’s son and operating partner, Doug Erwin. Chris Lewis, previous president of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, will serve as president of the Greenville Triumph. The team’s permanent home has not been determined, but it will play its inaugural season at Legacy Early College on the city’s west side.

A female Sumatran orangutan was born Aug. 7 to parents Lana, a 33-year-old female, and Kumar, a 13-year-old male. She is the first orangutan to be born at the Greenville Zoo in 12 years, according to zoo director Jeff Bullock.

Greenville Zoo announces updates, new arrivals 

2018 has been a year of growth for the Greenville Zoo, in several ways. From the birth of an orangutan to the welcoming of a giant anteater to plans for new exhibits and continued growth in 2019, the zoo has been busy. In 2019, the zoo plans to build a new lion’s den and completely renovate the veterinary hospital. These projects are part of the first phase of the zoo’s $65 million master plan. The birth of Adira, the Sumatran orangutan, was especially exciting, as it was the first orangutan birth in 12 years for the zoo. Most recently, the zoo welcomed Anton, a 4-year-old giant anteater who will replace Mo, the previous male anteater, who was transferred in order to breed.

Cancer Survivors Park opens after a long journey 

After two decades of ups and downs, the Cancer Survivors Park finally opened in 2018. Conceived by Kimberly Wallner for her senior project at Christ Church Episcopal School, the park is meant to give hope to those who have been diagnosed with cancer, as well as bring together those who have conquered it. The 6.8-acre site between Falls Park and Cleveland Park will continue to grow and has plans to offer educational programming, as well.

Philip Hegedusich, brother of Genevieve Zitricki, talks about his sister’s murder at a news conference with Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller at City Hall.

Greenville Police Department uses genealogy service to solve 28-year-old cold case

The Greenville Police Department identified Robert Eugene Brashers as Genevieve Zitricki’s killer 28 years after her murder. The breakthrough came from nuances in DNA testing called “genetic genealogy,” which uses advanced DNA testing in combination with genetic analysis to establish relationships between relatives. Brashers was linked to several other homicides and crimes around the Southeast before taking his own life in 1999.

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