North Charleston mayors Summey, Bourne honored for service

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey speaks Wednesday at a ceremony that honored Summey and Mayor John Bourne for their contributions to the city.

North Charleston Mayors John Bourne and Keith Summey are credited with shepherding the young city through difficult days and remarkable growth.

On Wednesday, City Council honored Bourne and Summey with busts marking their combined 40 years in office. A wall behind the busts bears a new name for the grounds and facilities of the North Charleston Coliseum, Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center — the Bourne-Summey City Center Complex. The other side of the wall recognizes every council member who has served the city since its inception.

“Today we dedicate this complex to two great mayors,” City Attorney Brady Hair said at a ceremony with about 100 people in attendance.

The busts and “Wall of Service” are under the grand live oaks across from the coliseum entrance near the corner of Firestone Road and PTL Tony Way Blvd.

“This is quite an honor,” Summey said.

“It’s not something either John or I thought up. This is something that the City Council did,” he said.

Bourne said,“I appreciate the people of North Charleston for allowing me to serve.”

Both mayors have a great love for the city and a willingness to fight for North Charleston when necessary, Hair said.

“These two men were able to stay the course through tough times,” he said.

Bourne was the first North Charleston mayor and his name is synonymous with the city. He led the fight for incorporation in 1972. After being elected, he managed to build a city, helping to lay sidewalks in the old business district, cleaning up Reynolds Avenue’s seedy reputation, trying to bring new businesses into the city at Centre Pointe and annexing land — large chunks at a time or parcel by parcel. He served for nearly 20 years, guiding the city through recovery after the devastation of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Summey, who recently marked 20 years in office, kept the city on a positive course when the closing of the Navy base in the mid-1990s sent economic shock waves through the area.

The Boeing plant, a coliseum and convention center, big hotels and a riverfront park are among the positives in the city under Summey. North Charleston is No. 1 in the state in retail sales.

From its humble beginnings, North Charleston has grown to cover 75 square miles. It has 1,100 employees who work in a 150,000-square-foot City Hall. The city has $450 million in assets, Hair said.