Former Lexington County Councilman Bill Banning has passed away.
"We were just informed of the passing of former County Councilmember Bill Banning," Joe Mergo, III, County of Lexington, Administrator, wrote in an email that was sent out just before 12:30 p.m. Friday.
"Bill served the County, its residents and visitors faithfully for many years on council, Mergo wrote. "Everyone at the County of Lexington is deeply saddened by this news. Please keep Bill’s wife Wanda and the rest of his family in your thoughts and prayers."
Lexington County Councilman Todd Cullum, of Cayce, served three terms with Banning on county council.
"I'm very sorry to hear of Bill's passing," said Cullum. "I'm sad for Wanda and Benjie and Angie," Banning's wife and two children.
Cullum said Banning, as a councilman understood that it was sometimes necessary to make the welfare of the entire county a priority.
Banning was in Charleston at the Medical University of South Carolina for a heart procedure when he died.
Cullum said Banning worked to help bring the SCANA headquarters to Cayce, and to secure large employers Amazon and Nephron (in the Saxa Gotha Industrial Park) for Lexington County.
"He was a friend and a colleague," said Cullum. "He will be missed."
UPDATE: Just before 3:30 p.m. Friday, Lexington County issued a release regarding Banning's passing. It reads:
The County of Lexington is deeply saddened to report that former County Councilman and Chairman Bill Banning passed away Friday morning.
Banning was elected to represent the residents of District 8, encompassing the West Columbia area, for 16 years. He was first elected in 1995, serving two terms, and was then re-elected in 2007 for an additional two terms. During his tenure, Banning served as the chairman of council in 1996, 1997, 2002, 2012 and 2013. He also served as vice chairman of council in 2010 and 2011.
“All of us at the County of Lexington are holding Bill’s family in our hearts right now,” County Council Chairman Scott Whetstone said. “Bill did many great things to improve his district as well as help make decisions that positioned our County for future growth and progress. He will be sorely missed.”
Among a myriad of accolades, Banning served as the chairman of the County’s Economic Development Committee for eight years. During this time, he worked diligently to bring industry and jobs to Lexington County. He was a major catalyst to the success of securing the County’s economic future with the arrival of Amazon and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, as well as the major expansion of Michelin North America.
Banning was also instrumental in the expansion of the Batesburg-Leesville and Saxe Gotha industrial parks and the foundational development of the Chapin Business & Technology Park at Brighton.
Banning saw the development of the County grow rapidly. He witnessed the completion of the Corley Mill and Cedar Grove fire stations, the County’s Emergency Operation Center and the establishment of the Health and Wellness Program for County employees.
Banning was an active member of the South Carolina Association of Counties, serving on its board of directors and numerous steering committees, and also represented Lexington County as a committee member of the Central Midlands Council of Governments and EngenuitySC Executive Committee.
The County of Lexington holds the Banning family in our hearts and prays that they may find solace in their time of mourning.