Every day, conversations and decisions are shaping the Greenville we will become in five, 10, and even 50 years. We all understand that having a vision is not enough to shape our future. It takes planning, dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. Most importantly, it takes people who care about where we are going and how we arrive there. Our people are the most essential keys to our future.
Last week my fellow commissioners and I, along with the staff at Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict, honored the service of M. Graham Proffitt, III.
Early in his career, Graham knew that a vital part of building a flourishing community meant protecting water quality and building responsible infrastructure to ensure environmental health and value for our neighbors.
When the Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict was created by state legislature in 1969 to operate and maintain sanitary sewer facilities, Graham was appointed as one of the organization’s first commissioners. As a homebuilder and community developer, Graham recognized the essential need to support our expanding communities with sanitary sewer service. He was instrumental in the formation of the Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict, now known as MetroConnects, to aid in the orderly growth of Greenville County where other providers did not exist. Graham has served as a district commissioner continuously since the organization’s inception, being recommended by County Councils and appointed by governors. He served as the chairman of the Commission for much of his tenure.
One of approximately 500 special purpose districts (SPDs) in South Carolina, Metro took on the changing landscape of industrial mills to develop solutions to aging sanitary sewer infrastructure where planning and rehabilitation were much needed. Graham, who has helped MetroConnects navigate its growth from the first employee to its current 36-member team and now over 600 miles of main line sewer, enthusiastically backed initiatives to keep district sanitary sewer systems, and the technology needed to maintain them, up to date.
Special purpose districts are essential to providing a variety of services to the citizens of South Carolina. Effective local government SPDs allow communities to exercise the highest form of democracy by giving local citizens the ability to control local services. As a special purpose district, MetroConnects invests in Greenville’s growth by using local resources to construct, operate, maintain, and rehabilitate sanitary sewer lines.
In communities like Piedmont, Slater and Renfrew, Metro procured responsibility and performed extensive reconstruction and rehabilitation for sanitary sewer systems that were in excess of 100 years old, making a positive environmental impact for generations to come. Through the decades, MetroConnects has utilized available funds to construct sanitary sewer systems in its district communities with failing septic systems, ensuring homeowners continued property value growth. Graham has also governed Metro through a very aggressive, targeted rehabilitation program, expending over $27 million in the upgrade of existing sanitary sewer systems within our district.
As Graham led the way in developing new neighborhoods on Greenville’s eastside, his vision allowed MetroConnects to operate and maintain sanitary sewer systems that would see us through the ever-increasing growth and expansions that came with our national recognition as an automotive hub. Together, Graham and Metro have not only ensured the preservation of crucial water resources, but also bolstered property values that have resulted in a positive environmental impact that has touched the lives of many families and businesses throughout Greenville County.
Through his dedicated leadership, MetroConnects has continued to provide sanitary sewer service to communities across Greenville County, leading the way to expand sanitary sewer service during years of record growth. As many people who serve on boards and commissions in Greenville know, Graham has served under every County Council that has ever lead Greenville County.
Now, after 48 years of service to the Commission he helped to create, Graham is retiring from the Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict Commission. It has been an honor to serve beside him. As he leaves behind a legacy of a half-century of service to the communities we share, he is an inspiration to each of us to follow his lead. We must endeavor to carry Greenville into the future with a spirit of service and a commitment to investing in our neighborhoods, businesses and communities.
Jim Freeland is chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Sewer Subdistrict. He is founder of Freeland & Associates, a land surveying and civil engineering firm.