Review Category : Beaufort News

Smoke detector saves family

Burton fire crews responded to a house fire in the 300 block of Pine Grove Rd. in Burton just before 1 a.m. Saturday the 21st of February, and arrived on scene to find the family safely outside their burning home. Burton FD_2nd house fire_pic2_022215

A smoke detector woke the sleeping family as smoke began filling their home and a growing fire raged in a nearby room. The family was able to escape and call 911. The fire exploded through the room’s window as Burton firefighters arrived on scene.

Firefighters were able to confine the fire to the room of origin and were assisted by the room’s door being closed and confining the fire until firefighters arrived, however the single wide mobile home suffered smoke and heat damage throughout. No injuries were reported.

The fire is believed to have been caused by an overloaded power strip. Firefighters are reminding residents to be aware of the maximum load of their power strips, and to ensure no more plugs are utilized than the power strip is designed for. Clean and inspect your power strips regularly.

Burton fire officials are also utilizing this fire as an example of the importance of working smoke detectors, having a family escape plan, and closing all home doors when you go to bed or leave the house. On Sunday night,  another Burton family made a narrow escape due to the fact that they didn’t have smoke detectors.

“In the first fire the smoke detector woke the family who was able to escape safely and call 911, that also allowed us to get there sooner and save the home,” stated Murray who was among the first to arrive at the fire. “Last night there were no smoke detectors and things ended much differently, and also was only seconds away from being very tragic.”

Burton fire officials are again stressing the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home that have battery backup. “Do it for your family,” stated Murray.

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Beaufort launches new online finance tool

The City of Beaufort this week launched a new financial data platform powered by OpenGov.com that provides residents and city leaders with unprecedented access to the city’s budget information. Beaufort is the first municipality in South Carolina to offer the OpenGov system to the public.

The powerful visualization software transforms volumes of raw data into charts and graphs, enabling better analysis and understanding of the city’s budget, said Finance Director Kathy Todd. The OpenGov platform displays three years of government spending and revenue detail in a user-friendly portal access at www.beaufortsc.opengov.com. Residents and staff can drill down into the current year budget and compare to previous years through interactive graphs that easily explain revenue and expenses by fund, department and type.

“To us, our budget isn’t terribly complicated, but if you aren’t familiar with our process it can be confusing. This new tool will help everyone better understand where the City of Beaufort spends its money, how recent years compare, and how department budgets change over time,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said.

“This is a powerful tool for us in the City of Beaufort Finance Department, but it’s also an amazing resource for our residents and anyone else interested in our finances,” Todd said. “I want people to go to the site and try it out. You can’t break it, and practicing will help you find what you are looking for or trying to understand.”

Beyond sharing information with the public, governments also use OpenGov internallyto create custom reports, manage operations to budget, and keep administrators and legislators informed.

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News Briefs

IRS issues alert on new phishing scam

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) urges South Carolinians to be aware and on guard against a new phishing scam attempting to fraudulently access personal information. The IRS has issued a warning to tax preparers and taxpayers to watch out for fake emails seeking updated personal or professional information that are actually phishing schemes. The phishing email asks tax professionals to update their IRS e-services portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). The links in the phishing email appear to be a scheme to gather your username and password information. For more information, contact the SCDOR Public Affairs Office at (803) 898-5773.

Beaufort library to reduce hours

The special local history collection and archives unit of the Beaufort County Library will implement a reduction in hours that the research room is open to the public. This reduction is due to a staffing shortage. The Beaufort District Collection’s Research Room will be open to the general public on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; however, the public must call ahead to make an appointment to receive Research Room services on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (appointment times available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Research Room Services will not be provided on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays without advance prior arrangement with BDC staff. The new hours will go into effect beginning Monday, March 9th and will continue until further notice.

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Isiah Smalls retires from City of Beaufort’s Public Works Department

When Isiah Smalls started working for the City of Beaufort in June 1985, compact discs were just being introduced in America, a gallon of gas cost about $1.09, and a movie  ticket to see the new flick “Back to the Future” cost $2.75. For 30 years, Smalls came to work every day to serve the people of Beaufort, working a variety of positions leading up to Director of Public Works. This Monday, Smalls retired from the City of

Isiah Smalls

Isiah Smalls

Beaufort.

“We have been truly fortunate to have Isiah Smalls work with and work for the City of Beaufort,” Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “This is his community, and I think he came to work not so much for the paycheck as for the chance to help make Beaufort a better place. As he retires, I can comfortably say our city is in much better shape due in large part to his dedication.”

With Smalls’ retirement, Assistant Public Works Director Lamar Taylor will serve as interim directorDavid Coleman, the city’s newly-hired Senior Project Manager, will work with Taylor to oversee the many ongoing and upcoming public works projects.

“We certainly wish Mr. Smalls all the best in retirement,” Beaufort Interim City Manager Bill Prokop said. “While I have only known him a short time since my arrival in Beaufort, it’s clear he has a deep understanding of what makes Beaufort special.”

Smalls joined the City in June 1985 as the Superintendent of Sanitation and Streets. Nine years later he became Acting Public Works Director and in October 1994 was named Operations Officer for Beaufort’s public works. In 1995 Smalls was promoted to Director of Public Works.

His duties have included maintaining and improving streets and drainage, sanitation, recycling, traffic control and the city’s extensive network of parks and playgrounds.

“When you enjoy the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park and notice how clean it is, or when your kids or grandkids enjoy playing at Pigeon Point Park, I’d like people to think of our Public Works Department and Isiah’s 30 years of work that helped make all that possible,” Keyserling said.

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City of Beaufort refreshes website with new look

As part of Beaufort’s continuing effort to share information, the city’s website sports a new look, new navigation and more content than ever, Interim City Manager Bill Prokop said.

The website, www.cityofbeaufort.org, is the centerpiece of the city’s digital communications efforts and is supplemented by Facebook (City Beaufort SC), with added information soon to be shared via Twitter and Instagram.

“Our new website makes it easier to find information about the City of Beaufort, and we’ll use the website as the primary tool in our communications toolbox,” Prokop said.

“For instance, we did a customer service survey last fall and we heard that it was difficult to find agendas for the different boards and commissions, because they were posted to the website based on which department assisted that particular group. Now, all the agendas are grouped into one section, then by organization and year. All of this is available on the homepage under ‘Agendas.’

“We’ll continue to add new content and make adjustments, and we welcome public input,” Prokop said. “As we prepare for construction of the new Ribaut Road fire station and the start of construction for the Boundary Street Redevelopment Corridor, we’ll be sharing a lot of updated information through our website  and Facebook.”

The website’s new look is cleaner, with a blue background to represent both Beaufort’s blue skies and the pristine waterways. The homepage includes current weather conditions in Beaufort, rotating images that include City Hall and the waterfront, and direct links to the City’s Facebook page.

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News Briefs

Mink Point Road lane closures and delays

Lane closures on Mink Point Road in Beaufort County, between the Parris Island Gateway and Beaufort Island Road, were scheduled to begin on February 16, 2015. Preferred Materials will be conducting paving operations and travelers can expect delays when traveling in these areas. Please be advised to use caution and possibly plan an alternate route.

February closings for PALS facilities

All three PALS indoor pools will close at 4:30 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015, while Aquatics staff receive in-service training. The indoor pools will return to normal operating hours Saturday, February 28, 2015. “We value our customers and our commitment to provide outstanding and efficient services. This commitment often requires training for our staff. We appreciate greatly the public’s understanding,” said Parks and Leisure Services Director Scott Marshall. For more information about Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services visit www.bcpals.com.

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Beaufort Memorial Hospital lifts visitation restrictions

Flu cases are trending down as hospital focuses on respiratory etiquette

Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) has announced it has lifted visitation restrictions put into place during the height of flu season.

With the number of flu cases steadily trending down, infection prevention and respiratory etiquette have become the focus of staff and visitors, according to Infection Prevention Coordinator Vicki Allen, RN.

“The flu is still in the community but we have seen a steady decrease in the number of cases in Beaufort County and at BMH,” she said. “At this time we have lifted restrictions for visitors and are encouraging everyone to observe respiratory etiquette, including covering your cough, wearing a mask if you have a cold, frequently washing your hands with soap and water and/or frequently using hand sanitizer.”

Hygiene stations placed at key access points throughout the hospital will remain in place throughout the flu season, and the focus on respiratory etiquette will be ongoing, Allen said.

For additional information about the hospital’s visitation policies please visit www.beaufortmemorial.org and click on Patients & Visitors then Visitor Resources.

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Living in flip flops on Fripp Island, SC

By Karen Natoli

One early morning many years ago, Debbie Slayzk and her friend Julie, came up to me on the beach at Fripp Island, while I was looking for sea turtle tracks. Since I was involved in the program, and Debbie had an interest in the sea turtles, we engaged in conversation. Debbie and her daughter Sarah, have always loved the nature aspect that Fripp has to offer, and they hoped they would someday own a beach home, and also knew

Karen Natoli

Karen Natoli

it would have to be on Fripp Island. Everything is timing, and the time was now right for Debbie, a single mom, to move from Charlotte, NC, and come to her pursue her dream. She accepted a position in Beaufort SC, as part of the health care program of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Now it was it time to complete the mission, for a working family, to own a beach house.

Debbie rented a home on Fripp for a time, where Sarah spent her summers, while on college break. Then when the time was right for Debbie to consider purchasing a home, the next step was to call her old Fripp Island, turtle friend, and realtor, at Fripp Island Real Estate, Karen Natoli. I showed Debbie and Sarah many properties on Fripp over the weeks and months to follow, this is a big decision, so it is a process, and one I am very familiar with. While they wanted a house on the beach, it just wasn’t in there budget.

Fripp Island has many facets, such as the salt marsh, which produces numerous amounts of food for all of it’s inhabitants, including Egrets, Herons, Clapper Rails, song birds, Wood Storks, Osprey, Eagles and more and of course for all of us Shrimp loving folks, we know that this is, as one of my friends once said, it is “A wondrous place” and Debbie and Sarah knew that too.

Back in late winter/early spring of 2014, HGTV contacted Wayne Zerler at Fripp Island Real Estate. When we grasped the reality of what Zerler was saying, we at Fripp Island Real Estate, were psyched. When they came to film in June last year, our 4 day journey began, with getting to the task of filming the story that finds Debbie and Sarah a beach house on Fripp Island, that fits their budget. No secrets revealed here, stay tuned for more, as you see the whole story unfold!

Debbie and I will see the show for the first time, by ourselves, so that we can laugh and have fun with it. Sarah is away at school, so hopefully she will have time to watch the show in NC. We plan to have her on the phone during the show, so that we can all be together and share the experience that was probably the GREATEST experience to date, certainly of my lifetime, next to marrying my husband. On behalf of Debbie, Sarah and myself, to all the folks at HGTV, thanks for coming to Fripp, for being such a delight to work with, for keeping us fueled with food and drinks, and encouragement. I know Fripp Island Real Estate is as thrilled as is Fripp Island Resort is to have had the good fortune of HGTV coming to our special place, we call home. To everyone on Fripp Island, we thank you! To the crew we worked with, the camera people, sound folks, and organizers of our time, a BIG thank you! Lastly to our super producer, “JC”, who always made us look good, and kept us focused, I will always remember, as the next scene was ready to be recorded, his magic words, in Brooklynese,  “IN 3, 2, 1 Shoot”!

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News Brief

Mobile app possibly coming to Beaufort Co.

Beaufort County launched a mobile applications (app) survey today, as part of its efforts to enhance accessibility, responsiveness, and efficiency in its programs and services. A mobile app can simplify the Beaufort County experience for the public and better connect them to essential information and services from anywhere, anytime on their mobile device. The survey will be available until Sunday, March 8, 2015, from the slider at the County’s website homepage: www.bcgov.net/app-survey .

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Beaufort City Council settles lawsuit

After five days of testimony, thousands of documents and two failed attempts at mediation, the City of Beaufort agreed to settle a six-year-old lawsuit with Brantley Construction Company related to renovations made a decade ago to the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.At its Tuesday night meeting, the Beaufort City Council voted to settle the lawsuit by payment of $200,000. This case involved seven contested change order claims totaling $1.1 million arising from the Waterfront Park renovations in 2005-2006.

“All along, the City wanted to resolve these change orders and close out this project completely,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “We made offers earlier that were in good faith and in keeping with what we thought was fair for the work done. We are pleased with this settlement.”

In 2009, shortly before this lawsuit was filed, the City offered to Brantley to resolve the various issues by paying the company $278,568. They rejected that offer and the lawsuit followed. After multiple depositions, the parties engaged in two mediations, in 2012 and most recently in December 2014, both of which were unsuccessful, said Bill Harvey, the city attorney.

The lawsuit against the city was in its fifth day Tuesday when both sides agreed to the settlement before Judge Marvin Dukes. “This is a complex case, involving thousands of documents, civil and geotechnical engineers, and construction decisions involving issues of subsurface soil, groundwater and tidal influence. This is a very good settlement for the City,” Harvey said.

Although the change order requests amounted to $1.1 million, the City recognized that it has received the benefit of materials alone which exceed the settlement amount of $200,000. The settlement will be paid from the City of Beaufort’s current resources and committed fund balance, City Manager Scott Dadson said.

The construction change orders contested in the lawsuit were:

(1) Extra stone and related expenses for bedding the storm drain pipe arising out of the subsurface soil conditions;

(2) Repair of multiple large gaps in the sea wall discovered by the diving subcontractor in relation to the installation of the 48-inch storm water outfall at the west end of the seawall;

(3) Conflicts between the architect and engineering drawings in connection with the location of certain storm drain pipes;

(4) Unknown utility conflicts in the area behind the Common Ground coffee shop that were discovered upon excavation of the soil;

(5) Replacement of multiple large trees that died unexpectedly during construction, and which were replaced by the Contractor — the claim being that the issues with the drain pipe installation made the preservation of these trees impossible;

(6) Ambiguity on the bottom grade elevation of the sitting wall surrounding the pavilion as shown on the architect’s plans, which required the wall to have to be rebuilt;

(7) Ambiguity on the ramp dimensions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramp next to the Yacht Club, which required the ramp to be rebuilt.

Additionally, Brantley Construction Company was claiming attorneys’ fees and other legal expenses.

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