Through the years, we’ve worked with exceptional individuals who understand local challenges facing their communities, and have the passion and the vision to create opportunities where people can make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, play and pray. We’re recognizing these individuals, who have been nominated by their peers and colleagues, to showcase their commitment to making the healthy choice, the easy choice.
Pacolet Mayor Michael Meissner has made it his mission to increase access to healthy choices in his community. He discovered at a young age that eating healthy and being physically active really does work, and he’s made it a “huge” part of his life.
According to Meissner, he was the fat kid until the summer of his eighth-grade year. “I decided that summer to stop eating chocolate, candy bars and drinking soda. I also walked everywhere I went and sometimes just went on a walk. I lost the weight over the summer and that changed my life forever. Ever since then I do what I can to help others make that change.”
When Meissner was elected Mayor of Pacolet in 2009, he made health and wellness a priority. “As mayor, I want to ensure that everyone has access to healthy foods and places to be active, and also help people understand why having a healthy lifestyle is important.”
Located in the corner of Spartanburg County near the Pacolet River Heritage Preserve, the community has access to greenways and trails. During his first year in office, he was successful in getting the Pacolet River Heritage Preserve annexed into the town to expand Pacolet’s trail network.
“I’m hoping to have about 5 miles that go along the river. One day, I would even love to see a trail run all the way from Pacolet to Spartanburg,” said Meissner.
In addition to the annexation, Meisnner started Walk with the Mayor to get residents on the trails. It’s also a strategy to improve communication between him and his constituents. He wants to work with local landowners to expand trails from town hall to the Preserve, and to expand trails within the Preserve. He’s even working with Town Council on programs that will encourage town employees to make healthier choices.
“I would also like to improve access to healthy foods in Pacolet by starting a farmers’ market one day. There are a lot of people in the area who have produce, and what better place to sell it than at a farmers’ market? After all, exercise and eating healthy go hand in hand.
“All of these projects have the potential to make a big difference here in Pacolet. It’s not just about helping our residents be healthier; it’s about bringing in other people and showing them the great community we have here.”
In addition to his role as Mayor, Meissner is a teacher, business owner, and a Captain in the 122nd Engineer Battalion out of Edgefield.