Local & State News

Columbia Housing Authority to Host 29th Annual Wall of Fame Ceremony

Columbia, S.C. – Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) will host the 29th Annual Wall of Fame Ceremony Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Drew Wellness Center gym, 2101 Walker Solomon Way. Deputy Chief Melron Kelly, Dr. Diann Jenkins-Johnson and Lt. Vandell McCary will be recognized for their dedicated community service and added to an impressive list of individuals who at one time received housing assistance from CHA. The program also includes a keynote address by SC Senator Marlon Kimpson.

Deputy Chief Melron Kelly is honored for his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about issues related to public safety in our community. Deputy Chief Kelly was a resident of Latimer Manor from 1978 to 1980. He is a graduate of Columbia High School; South Carolina State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice; and a graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. He has also attended Executive Police Leadership and DEA Drug Commanders Programs. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Justice Administration. In May 2014, Kelly was appointed as Deputy Chief. Under his command, are the Operations and Administrative Bureaus, which include the Patrol/Regional Divisions and Criminal Investigations. He also oversees the Public Information/Media Relations Department. Kelly is often commended for his honorableness and his dedication to serving the community; evidenced by a number of acknowledgements. He was presented the Henry M. Jackson Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement; the SC Black Pages 40 under 40; the SC Probation Association Distinguished Service in Law Enforcement and the Palmetto Military Employers Award, and numerous awards, recognitions and Letters of Commendation. He is a member of various community and social organizations, including the NAACP, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Eau Claire Promise Zone Harmony, Inc. and others.

Dr. Diann Jenkins-Johnson is honored in recognition of her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness of housing services and supports, programs for seniors and health and wellness education programs across the southeast. Dr. Jenkins-Johnson was a resident of Latimer Manor from 1972 to 1974 and Hendley Homes from 1974 to 1977. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of South Carolina; a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education from Converse College; and a Doctoral degree in Theology from North Carolina College of Theology. She has authored a book titled, “And the Poet Awakens”, and has written op-eds and articles for many local and national journals. Dr. Jenkins-Johnson’s community involvement began at an early age as she observed the disparities in her community and sought to improve conditions. As a community advocate, she has devoted her life to strengthening the community. Community programs and supportive services under her leadership have helped over 30,000 affordable housing residents. Her life skills programs have graduated over 500 participants, many of who are still experiencing successful careers and homeownership. Her longtime service to and love for her community has truly made a difference in addressing unemployment, housing, health and wellness and our most precious gifts: children and senior citizens.

Lt. Vandell L. McCary is honored for his outstanding role as a Leader, Mentor, Advocate and Motivator. Lt. McCary was a resident of Gonzales Gardens from 1970 to 1975. He received his early childhood education from the Richland County Public Schools, graduating from A.C. Flora High School. McCary began his public service in law enforcement in 1986, with the City of Columbia Police Department as a Police Cadet. He graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in 1988 becoming a Certified Police Officer of the State of South Carolina. He is currently Lieutenant/Executive Officer second in charge of the Columbia Police Department Metro Region Patrol Division. During his service as a Columbia Police Officer, McCary has been credited with co-founding the Harmony Youth Program, which mentors and assist youth in the midlands. He directs/ coaches/ mentors youth with the Columbia Panthers/Jaguars Youth Pop Warner Football/Cheerleading Program. He organized the Columbia Police Department’s first Police Activities League (PAL) Youth Crime Prevention Program, which was a safe haven for hundreds of youth over the years and the first Columbia Police Department and Edgewood Foundation Youth Summer Camp partnership. Lt. McCary’s awards and recognitions are innumerable. From receiving Letters of Commendation and other recognitions, McCary has remained committed to making our communities a better place to live.

“We are so proud of the individuals selected for induction at this year’s ceremony” said CHA Executive Director Gilbert Walker. “They have both set high personal standards throughout their lives and continue to be amazing citizens within their communities.”

CHA manages over 2,000 conventional public housing units and administers more than 3,100 rental assistance contracts throughout Richland County. CHA is the third oldest housing authority in the nation and has continuously been recognized by HUD for its successful housing and education programs.

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