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September 29, 2011

A Day in the Life of a shrimp boat captain

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By Tess Malijenovsky

It’s 3:30 am, and the alarm clock is going off. He reaches over to it, eyes still closed and tired. It’s time to get back out there for another catch.
First he’s got to pick up his crew, and then they’ll all head over to Miss Kathy, the 33-year-old lady docked at St. Helena Seafood by the grassy shoals of the inlet.

Kerry Abraham aboard his boat, Miss Kathy. Photo by Tess Malijenovsky

You never know what the waters and the wind will bring. That’s just part of the salt life for a local shrimp boat captain like Kerry Abraham.
When I first set foot in the shrimp shop of St. Helena’s Seafood, the boys were shoveling ice and handling shrimp as thick as my thumb. Kerry Abraham wastes no time showing me the ropes, as though I’m the new shrimp boat rookie. He brings me straight into a large walk-in freezer, opens up a 50 pound bag of frozen shrimp and asks me, “How come they’re not frozen together?” as though he’s the reporter.

Stepping on board Miss Kathy, named after his wife, Kerry has me stick my finger in a tank of zero degree brine salt water. That’ll freeze the fresh shrimp in seven to eight minutes, and the salinity is what keeps the shrimp from freezing together.
Raised with three uncles who worked on shrimp boats, Kerry’s been in the shrimping business ever since he was a deck ant.
“First I was a nuisance,” he says, “then I learned.”
By 17-years-old Kerry had his first trawler, Miss Sherrie — the famous boat that would one day, six months after he sold it, be featured in “Forrest Gump.” In fact, he recalls watching the hurricane scene in “Forrest Gump” being filmed, describing how the film crew used water canons and pulled down on the outriggers on either side of the trawler to make it look like a worse storm.
In the case of most captains and crew, shrimping is a profession usually passed down for generations in the family. “It’s all about the head start,” says Kerry. “When I got my own boat, it was like I caught myself an education in shrimpin’.”
According to Kerry, the line ends with his generation. “Now there’s not any rookies in the business, top-of-the-line fishermen only. The fuel is killin’ us,” he claims. At 15 gallons to the mile on a 10-hour day, with the labor cost of a crew, the cost of a freezer and place to dock the boat, and the competitive prices of farm-raised shrimp, there’s no room for wasteful errors out at sea when it comes to turning a profit.
Kerry Abraham will be around because he owns his own freezer and dock and sells directly to his customers who appreciate seeing their shrimp come straight off the boat.
For customers like Sandi Carstetter of Columbia, “There ain’t nothing like this shrimp!” Sandi, along with her husband, Jeff, and children, make a trip once a year from Columbia to buy 100 pounds of Kerry Abraham’s shrimp.
However, while some agree that the taste of fresh caught shrimp can’t compete with the farm-raised shrimp that “tastes like cardboard,” as Kerry puts it, the supply of fresh shrimp simply can’t meet the demand of America’s appetite.
What consumers may not realize when they purchase imported farm-raised shrimp is that shrimp farms in foreign countries, such as those in Southeast Asia, host viruses and bacteria due to overcrowding and poor sanity conditions. Antibiotics, steroids and chemicals are then pumped in these shrimp pools to discourage disease.
As the former president of the South Carolina Shrimp Association and member of the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), Kerry not only informed me of this information, but also that only 2% of all seafood is checked by the FDA. And, according to the SSA, “the lenient U.S. imported food safety regime and the widespread use of banned substances to increase the production of foreign pond-raised shrimp combine to make the United States market a dumping ground for likely contaminated shrimp imports.”
For shrimp boat captains there are other problems and perils, but those regard the sea.
Kerry’s taken me throughout the trawler, and now we’re in the wheelhouse where he shows me our location on the navigational radar and informs me of his daily dangers. “You’ve got heavy equipment back there. You’ve got rope you can get tangled up in, have to watch where you’re driving — don’t drive up on the sandbar,” he warns.
The by-catch isn’t an issue with the turtle excluder that keeps out sea turtles and larger fish. The jelly balls, on the other hand, are the problem. The small jellyfish, common off the coast of South Carolina, fill up the nets, making it a pain in the rear to sort through for the shrimp.
Kerry entertains with his Navy tales about the frenzies of sharks that feed behind his boat, about the porpoise that follows close-by, and the pelicans and gulls that hover. “When you’ve been doing this all your life,” he says, “the ocean is like a road.”
He knows the dips and valleys of the ocean floor, and he certainly knows his shrimp. I realize that a keen fisherman is much like the scientist: he catches his shrimp because he observes them day after day and questions their behavior. He knows which way the shrimp move according to the wind and the cycle of the moon. He’s traveled as far south as the Mississippi because he knows shrimp will travel to warmer waters, and he knows not to bother going out when the water is rough because shrimp don’t like rough waters. He can even tell you how a shrimp’s taste will change depending on the time of the year and the temperature of the water.
“In the winter, when the water’s real cold, the brown shrimp get a sweet taste, like you poured sugar on them,” he says, spoken a true shrimp boat captain.

Vaden buys old O.C. Welch building

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By Tess Malijenovsky

After several years of vacancy, the O.C. Welch building was finally purchased last Friday, Sept. 23, by Vaden of Beaufort, the Buick, GMC and Chevrolet dealership currently located at 2811 Boundary St. Since Vaden came to Beaufort three years ago, its sales have grown tremendously. Now they plan to tear down the O.C. Welch building to bring a new “state-of-the-art” facility that will showcase Vaden’s growth and reputable customer service. “In my opinion,” said Executive Manager Shane Gault, “the community needs to be wowed by what Buick, GMC and Chevrolet is all about.”
“I think too many businesses come into the community and reap the rewards, but they don’t give back. And one of the things we want the community to know is that we understand that, and we plan on always being involved with the community. That’s part of our DNA,” boasts Gault.
One of the ways Vaden gives back to the community is with its Extra Mile Reward of $500 to teams, groups, individuals or organizations that go the “extra mile” in the community or field. Some of these groups in the past have been Habitat for Humanity, Lt. Dan Independence Fund, Help Beaufort, YMCA, Pillows for Patriots, Second Helpings, CAPA, CODA, FRIENDS of Caroline Hospice, Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, Little Red Dog Foundation, Beaufort Police Movie Club, Family Promise of Beaufort County and the Boys & Girls Club of Beaufort. Vaden has also been a sponsor of military appreciation at Laurel Bay for the past three years and provided 80 vehicles to the Blue Angels Air Show last spring.
Needless to say, this dealership has its customers in mind, and its new dealership building will be modeled to better serve its customers. Future Vaden of Beaufort will have one centralized design featuring a new service department, a lounge area with Wi-Fi for customer interaction and an inside delivery area to provide customers with a comfortable, controlled environment no matter the heat or rain. Construction is pending on the design approval by General Motors and the city of Beaufort.

Beaufort’s ‘quiet’ charity rings up big sales

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By Lanier Laney
In the tradition of the libraries they work for, Beaufort’s Friends of the Library’s Annual Fall Book Sale is one of the “quietest” charity fundraising events in Beaufort’s Social Calendar. But quiet work brings in big returns as more than $25,000 of much-needed funds is raised each year, with all of those funds used directly for summer reading programs, and even things like a $20,000 gift to the Lobeco branch for furniture and shelving.

Helen Koutroulakis, left, searches through books with her mother Margaret Koutroulakis. The two are visiting family on Lady's Island and took the opportunity to visit the book sale. Photo by Bob Sofaly

Geni Flowers, assistant director of libraries at USCB and book sale chairman, deserves a big thank you from users of the three northern Beaufort County library branches — downtown Beaufort, Lobeco and St. Helena — for all the money she and her hard working group of volunteers have quietly raised over the years.  Geni credits Fred Wilson and Dave Peterson along with a cadre of wonderful volunteers for their diligent year-round work taking in donated books and getting the books organized and ready for the yearly fall sale that always occurs the last weekend in September. A smaller spring sale will be held at the library in April.
It only costs $10 a year ($15 for a family) to become a member of Friends of the Library and this allows you to participate in the special Members Preview day on Friday before the annual book sale, giving you first pick at the books.  Ask at the circulation desk of the library for a membership form or contact Elena Mosakowski at Bernie Kole is current board president of FOL.
Beaufort’s Boy Scout Troop #1 also deserves a big thanks for doing such a good job protecting the books at night from rain storms during the three-day event  at the Waterfront Park Pavilion.
This event survives and succeeds on your donated books. Donations can be dropped off at the main downtown branch and they will give you a signed sheet at the circulation desk that you can use as part of your donations on your taxes.  The library does not determine the value of your donated books, you do.   Please remember the library before the end of the tax year this year.  Money raised helps so many, both the upcoming generations and everyone else who uses and benefits from programs at the libraries. The Beaufort branch of the library is located at 311 Scott St., downtown, between Craven and Port Republic streets. Please call (843) 255-6456 for hours as they have been shortened due to budget cuts.

Noel Garrett describes the vision and drive behind Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe

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By Lanier Laney
Like everyone else in town, here at The Island News we have been fascinated by what’s happening at the Old City Hall building at 302 Carteret St. (across from Wren and City Loft Hotel). It will be the new Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe and is scheduled to open this November, selling everything from baked goods to fresh produce to wine and prepared foods. It’s an extension of the very successful Lowcountry Produce in Lobeco and will feature their full line of products.  I interviewed Noel Garrett, son of the founders, about the history of Lowcountry Produce and their plans for the new venture. Here’s what he had to say:

Campbell Thorp, Dwight Garrett, & Noel Garrett

“My brother Dwight and my  parents, Martha and Dwight Garrett, bought eight to 10 recipes from Steve Dowdney in Charleston in the late 90’s that became the Lowcountry Produce line. Since then, my brother Dwight has developed an additional 30 plus products. Steve still works closely with us and is a great friend.
My parents came to Beaufort during the early days of Bray’s Island. I believe it was 1987. My father sold most of the original lots. My parents opened the store in the mid 1990’s. My brother Dwight moved here from Greenville, N.C., and became involved soon after.
About 10 years ago, Dwight began producing products for a few local companies and products for them to sell at the farmstand in Lobeco. The products were exceptional. All of us saw the potential for a specialty food line based in the Lowcountry. Campbell Thorp and I got involved with the marketing and sales end of the business about eight years ago.
My brother Dwight has the difficult job. He is responsible for manufacturing all of our products. I am in charge of the ‘look and feel‘ of the products and the retail stores. Also to make sure that we stay true to what we originally set out to do. Campbell has put the financial structure in place and at this point is overseeing the national sales.
An early boost for us was with New York-based Dean & Deluca, a national chain of gourmet food stores. They saw us at the New York Gift Show. They pulled in our line to all of their stores giving us a national presence. Since then, we have really worked all of the shows. We have a permanent showroom in Atlanta at AmericasMart. We exhibit at the Fancy Food Show as well.
We feel that the food of the Lowcountry is on the cusp of becoming the next big thing in the culinary world — similar to what Louisiana experienced a decade ago when everyone went crazy over Cajun food. The Lowcountry has such a rich culinary history — African, English, French Huguenot all combine to create a unique cuisine. We are not just fried chicken and grits any longer. Just look at the restaurant Husk in Charleston. They are James Beard winners as well as being named ‘Best New Restaurant in America’ by Bon Appétit for 2011.
We are extremely fortunate in the Lowcountry to have a long growing season. It allows all of us to truly embrace the buy local movement that is so strong now. As manufacturers of a specialty food line, this is a dream. We get the best local grown produce gathered at the height of the season to make our products. We sell our products anywhere from a roadside produce market to Dean & Deluca to the New York Botanical Garden. Our products are now offered in around 2,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada. We have strived to stay away from conventional grocery stores and to focus on the smaller independent gift and gourmet stores. Recently, 16 of our products have been introduced at all of The Fresh Market’s across the country. All of our products can be seen and purchased on our website,
We had a wonderful surprise last year when our Sweet Potato Butter was chosen as one of ‘Oprah’s Favorites’ at Christmas. It really was amazing. Oh, the power of Oprah! We are still feeling the effects of being included on her list. Country Living Magazine named us one of the ‘Best American Pickle Brands’ last year as well. All of this press led to several segments on ‘Good Morning America’ and the ‘Today’ show.
Last year, Beaufortonians John and Erica Dickerson suggested opening a second location somewhere downtown in Beaufort.  They felt that we would do well. This was at the time the city was conducting the charettes regarding the 100 year master plan. Neighborhood groups involved said that there was a need for some type of grocery/market in the city core. We toured the old City Hall and immediately knew this was the place for us to expand. We then began meeting with the Redevelopment Commission and the Office of Civic Investment. The process took three to four months.
As we are working to build a national brand, we feel that expansion on a retail level here at home makes a lot of sense. We are fortunate to own a business that people have really embraced. Much of this is due to the years of hard work my parents put in to the business. Beaufort is the heart of the Lowcountry and we wanted a presence here in addition to our farmstand in Lobeco. We want this new market to be a celebration of everything ‘Lowcountry’ — from the food, to the people, to the lifestyle and its culinary history.
As far as hiring staff for the new retail location,  we will begin the interview process in early October. Interested applicants can email us at
We really want it to be a true neighborhood market and have something for everyone. We will offer local produce during the growing season, as well as dairy, meat, seafood and cheese.  We are developing relationships with local and regional purveyors of interesting artisan food products, like Sweet Vivi’s wonderful sweet treats and others.  Of course, we will have plenty of our locally famous Tomato Pies, just made Key Lime Pies and fresh baked breads. Just pop-in and pick up your dinner for the evening! We will also offer a selection of beer and wine.
Aside from offering general grocery items, we will also offer some products that have yet to make their way to Beaufort. We are in a unique position because we go to all of the food shows.  We are constantly seeing what’s new and wonderful.”

Depending on the day of the week, we will be offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Market and Cafe will open around 8:00 am and close around 8:00 pm (times may change). We will be open 7 days a week.

The first question or concern everyone has is about parking. We have 17 spaces of free parking at the back of the building as well as curbside loading. We will also be a real neighborhood market, so we will have bike racks and are exploring the idea of grocery delivery.

The restoration of this amazing building has been an unbelievable process. Chuck Ferguson with Meridian Construction is our contractor and their work has been impeccable. During construction, we have discovered so much about the building – from hidden rooms to an ornate floor that was original to the 1917 lobby. We feel so fortunate to bring this building ‘back to life’. As silly as it sounds, the building is becoming a dear old friend. We strongly feel that Beaufort will be proud of what we have done.

Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe will be located at 302 Carteret Street. Parking entrance at the back of building on Port Republic Street.  Their phone number: 843-322-1900    Products and their descriptions are online at:

The newspaper myth

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By William E.N. Hawkins
National newspaper week, October 2-8, is a time to celebrate the unique role newspapers play in our society and dispel the myth that they are going away.
It may be difficult for some to see through the fog of recession and digital disruption, but if you look closely you’ll see that newspapers remain quite healthy.
Despite the doomsayers, newspapers are actually growing readership as we find new ways to reach consumers.
While overall revenues are down, so are expenses and most newspapers remain profitable.  In fact, there are more newspapers in the S.C. Press Association, 115, than there were 10 years ago.
Some of us have had to trim our staffs to adjust to advertising declines tied to the collapse of the housing market and outrageously high unemployment.
But those hard choices have not changed our commitment to the kind of local reporting that keeps people connected to their communities.
The reality is that on any given day, most of what people in South Carolina know about their community — whether from a newspaper, website, mobile app, local television or radio — likely emanated from a newspaper story.
The other reality, much to the chagrin of some politicians and media critics, is that most of the real watchdog reporting today is still being done by newspapers. For sure, there is no shortage of bloggers, tweeters, commentators and bloviators. But the real authoritative reporting, the most credible reporting, comes out of newspapers.
There are countless examples across our state from papers of all sizes that continue to take seriously our First Amendment role to shed light on government. Newspapers are still doing the probing stories and pursuing legal remedies to make sure that the public’s business is done in the open.
A Post and Courier series on school bus safety forced the state to start replacing the oldest and most dangerous school bus fleet in the nation. Other reporting in Charleston found high school students reading at a third grade level, and prompted the school district to shift its focus to literacy.
Beyond just reporting, The Item in Sumter filed suit to force the release of an autopsy report in a controversial police shooting. The Index-Journal in Greenwood went to court to force the Department of Public Safety to release video of a city council member’s DUI arrest, an issue with statewide implications.
Good newspaper reporting remains a staple at newspapers of all sizes. A small paper in Blythewood, appropriately named The Voice, reported on the passage of a bond issue by town council that would have meant a property tax increase to build a $12 million park.  After their story, a citizens’ petition for a referendum or repeal forced council to rescind the part of the bond issue bringing a tax increase.
And the weekly Free Times in Columbia broke the story of improper campaign spending by the Lieutenant Governor. The transgression, involving more than 100 violations of campaign finance law, is now before a state grand jury.
That kind of watchdog reporting does not always make newspapers popular, especially with politicians. But complementing the day to day reporting of life in our communities, it assures a role for newspapers long after the next digital wave washes ashore.
The digital era has brought with it new opportunities as well as the obvious challenges. When we combine our print, Web and mobile platforms, newspapers are reaching more readers than ever.
Through it all, print remains far and away the preferred choice for both readers and advertisers.
And why not?
Newspapers are an incredible value. They are easy to navigate, totally portable and delivered to your door seven days a week for less than the price of a bottled water.
That’s part of our resiliency. Newspapers retain value, and not just for their news content.
Newspapers are still the trusted source for local commerce in most communities. So much so, that on Wednesdays and Sundays in many markets, people are buying up every copy they can find for the coupons.
It has reached a point where some have even resorted to stealing papers.
Not even the dumbest crook will steal something that’s not valuable.

Hawkins is president of the S.C. Press Association and editor and publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston.

Department of Disabilities and Special Needs anticipates move

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By Pamela Brownstein

In 2005, when the Beaufort County Department of Disabilities and Special Needs first realized it was outgrowing its current facilities, many staff members looked forward to the day they could have a building that would best serve their special needs residents.
Now, after six years, under the leadership of Beaufort County and state officials and many other dedicated people, this dream is becoming a reality. The much-needed new facility that will accommodate those with developmental disabilities will open in November.
The department’s Executive Director Mitzi Wagner said the 26,000-square-foot building, located at 100 Clearwater Way, allows the 114 adult residents enrolled in the county’s day program to be under one roof, instead of being split up due to space limitations as they are today.
Perhaps the highlight of the new center is the courtyard, known as The ABLE Garden, sponsored by the ABLE Foundation. The garden will feature fountains, bird feeders, benches, but more importantly will provide a safe and peaceful space for the adults with disabilities to enjoy.
Wagner described the purpose of the garden is to “stimulate the senses naturally.”
The courtyard relies entirely by the support of the community, and the ABLE Foundation is still looking for donations from the public to give the garden the tranquil atmosphere that was originally imagined by the landscape architect.
Wagner said the facility will also have a pottery shed as well as a greenhouse, where residents can sell the flowers and vegetables that they grow.
The public is invited to the dedication of the new building and an open house on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about how to donate to the garden or for more about the programs offered, call 255-6290 or email

Weekend Crime Report

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THE THREE PHASES OF A B&E: On Friday, September 23, officers responded to a fight at a motel room around 11:30 p.m. A witness reported seeing a woman chase a man with a crutch who was chasing another man whilst trying to hit him with his crutch. What could this be, the witness must’ve wondered. A kinky escapade? Some sort of new adult game? No, this friends, was a well-planned breaking and entering that only looked like a queer ambush. Phase 1: When breaking and entering, chose your company wisely. B&E criminals always want an accomplice. This particular man’s choice, however, was unconventional yet clever. Since he was breaking and entering a motel, he chose an insider accomplice — the front desk clerk. The clerk, a friend, gave the man the room key he needed. Phase 2: Go disguised as a cripple. No one ever suspects the cripple. Phase 3: Catch your wife with another man in a motel room and chase him down with the crutch. Your disguise conveniently becomes your weapon. Even though the man was charged for his B&E, and the desk clerk for accessory before the fact, I’d have to say, well played sir.
FAR OUT: Two unidentified walking objects, no subjects. Two unidentified walking subjects were going door-to-door selling magazines subscriptions. They claimed the magazines would be sent to wounded warriors. Aw, how sweet right? After a client of these alleged “unidentified subjects” cut a check for the cause, he later went online and discovered that it was all a scam. Typical — illegal aliens. They knew exactly how to tug at the poor human’s heartstrings, and there goes his money off to space.
VANDALISM OF THE PSYCHE: On Friday, an unknown subject cut a small boat loose from a dock. The boat was later retrieved and tied back up by a citizen. That poor small-boat-owning family — that criminal should be ashamed. He should have just taken it! Not because that family would be happier without their small boat, but because now every time they want to take it out they will ask themselves, Why? Why would someone cut the rope and not even take it?
MEN WHO THINK WITH THEIR GUTS: Late on Saturday night at Panini’s, a man was arrested for assaulting another man. The suspect, under cuffs, was charged with resisting arrest after he kicked an officer in the stomach. Hopefully he can stomach the law.

Compiled by Tess Malijenovsky. Crime Blotter items are chosen from the files of the Beaufort Police Department. Please contact the police with any insider information on these cases.

News Briefs

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Early morning stabbing at Waffle House
Sunday, September 25, around 2:35 a.m., police officers responded to a call regarding a fight in the parking lot of the Waffle House at 2344 Boundary St. When police arrived, they found a 31-year-old man injured with a stab wound to the abdominal area. The victim was rushed to the hospital by EMS. Soon after the cops broadcasted a description of the suspect and vehicle described by witnesses, Robert Bradham of Lady’s Island, 26, was arrested. He was charged with assault and first degree battery.

Griffin assumes managerial duties at BJWSA
After a month of transition, Ken Griffin has officially assumed General Manager responsibilities at Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (BJWSA). The change occurred at the September meeting of BJWSA’s Board of Directors. Griffin began his tenure at BJWSA on August 29, but has shared managerial responsibilities with outgoing manager Dean Moss during a transitional period. Griffin comes to BJWSA from Hillsborough County, Fla., and has spent many years in the water and sewer industry.

A more environmentally, culturally and fiscally sustainable hometown

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By Mayor Billy Keyserling

Once the city made changes to provide a higher level of services at less cost, we began investing time and money in ensuring a more environmentally, culturally and fiscally sustainable Beaufort which we mandated through our comprehensive plan.
A first step was to reorganize the Redevelopment Commission by replacing all but one Beaufort City Council member with citizens who have strong backgrounds in redevelopment. The second step was to given them the tools and staff needed to plan for the future and even more importantly implement plans.
The Office of Civic Investment, under the Redevelopment Commission with a close eye on it by City Council, was created to conduct a block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood analysis of Beaufort today with conceptual plans for what it can be tomorrow through engaging and guiding private investment in the city.
They first divided the city into five sectors. Sector One is the greater downtown, spanning from Ribaut Road on the west to the Point neighborhood to the east and from Pigeon Point to north to the water from Waterfront Park to the south. In recent months, the draft of this plan was created and we are already seeing the private sector address opportunities which were identified in Sector One. If you are interested in previewing some of their work, go to, click on Redevelopment Commission, then click on Office of Civic Investment.
Sector Two, which spans from City Hall to the North along and west of Ribaut Road to Port Royal at the South, is currently being worked on.
Over the past few weeks, Office of Civic Investment staff has interviewed citizens, held focus groups (Riverview Charter School, Mossy Oaks Elementary School) met with property owners in the Depot area and with larger institutions including the Technical College of the Lowcountry and Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Starting this week, they will take all they learned from these citizen-driven meetings and begin putting ideas to paper. The process is called a charrette which will take place at City Hall.
Please take a few minutes to seize on the opportunity to participate in this long-range planning process.
The net result of the Redevelopment Commission’s action plan will only be as good as the citizen input.
This is your hometown. Please work with us to make it more environmentally, culturally and fiscally sustainable so that we can leave the best possible Beaufort to those who follow us.

House fire displaces family

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Just after midnight on Monday, Sept. 26, morning, the Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District was dispatched to the report of a structure fire in the Seaside Road area of Sea Island Parkway. Once there, first in units were met by the owners who reported having just returned home after being gone all afternoon and finding a smoldering pile of ruins where just earlier in the day their home had stood.
Firefighters spent the better part of the next four hours tending to the family and picking through the rubble looking for anything that could be salvaged but little was found.
The family of three spent the rest of the night with family nearby and fire personnel coordinated with the Palmetto Chapter of the Red Cross to further assist the family in the days to come. The fire completely destroyed the home without notice until their arrival and while the human occupants were spared injury, the family lost a pet in the fire.
Almost immediately upon arrival, fire personnel requested the Northern Beaufort County Fire Scene Investigation Team in an effort to determine the cause of the fire. In the time frame that the family was gone, there were a few thunderstorm cells that had moved through the area and the team is leaning toward a lightning strike as a potential cause, but no official determination can be made as of yet.
For more information, please contact Lee Levesque, PAO for the Lady’s Island St. Helena Fire District at 843-252-3431.

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