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Columbia Business Monthly

Fmr. Richland Rep. posthumously honored by conservation, political, business communities

Sep 25, 2017 02:00PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Former State Representative Joe Neal of Richland County was recently posthumously presented with the House Conservation Leadership Award at the Ninth Annual Green Tie Luncheon.

The luncheon, held at the Grand Hall of Historic 701 Whaley in Columbia and hosted by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC), honored public servants and conservation leaders for their dedication to creating a safe, clean, and healthy South Carolina.

The late Representative Neal, who passed away earlier this year, earned the award for a prestigious career of public service to ensure the rights of citizens to clean air, clean water, and a protected landscape. Neal’s sister, Wilma Neal Garren, accepted the award on his behalf.

“Joseph was not a one dimensional statesman. He had one goal and that was human rights; to alleviate the suffering of people who had no voice and no power,” Garren said. “Those were his people. I thank the conservation community for this honor and for making my brother a part of this event.”

Neal was a constant voice for clean water and environmental justice, committing an immense amount of time and energy to improving the lives and well-being of all South Carolinians.

“Representative Neal’s leadership was critical to protecting clean air, land, and water for all South Carolinians,” said Cody Smith, CVSC Board Chair. “We’re so proud of the work he accomplished and wish he could be here with us today to accept this award.”

Nearly every year since 1999, Neal promoted legislation to amend the State Constitution to codify the fundamental right of all South Carolinians to a clean and healthy environment. His legislative accomplishments also included serving as a champion of the Conservation Bank and helping lead a gallant effort to slow the progress of the Polluter Amnesty Bill, which would have stripped away the ability of citizens to legally defend themselves from pollution in their own backyards.

Neal served South Carolina House District 70 in Richland and Sumter counties from 1992 until his death in February 2017.

This year’s other honorees included Dr. Dave Hargett of Greenville, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, Representative Gary Clary (R-Pickens), and Senator Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter).