Review Category : Beaufort News

Beaufort names finalists for City Manager

After a two-month long search, Beaufort City Council has narrowed the list of finalists for City Manager and will invite three candidates to participate in another round of interviews followed by a public “meet and greet.”

The finalists are David McCuen, City Manager of Abbeville, SC; Bill Prokop, Interim City Manager of Beaufort, SC; and Dianna Turner, Administrator in Travelers Rest, SC.

Final interviews are scheduled for March 31 from 1-5 p.m., with a public reception to meet the candidates  will be immediately following at City Hall.

“We were very pleased that more than 80 competent candidates applied for the job and  we are grateful that the Municipal Association of South Carolina helped vet them with a team of former South Carolina city managers,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling reported. “That speaks to the desirability of working in Beaufort, and these three finalists bring a lot to the table.”

The City Manager leads the administration of the City of Beaufort and is responsible for all departments, including finance, planning, police and courts, fire, human resources and public works. The City’s 2015 fiscal year budget is approximately $17.5 million.

In addition to daily responsibilities, the new city manager will be expected to take the lead on the $30 million Boundary Street redevelopment project, building a new fire station on Ribaut Road, and finding ways to continue a high level of public services in the face of budget challenges.

Meet the finalists:

David McCuen has served as Abbeville, SC City Manager since 2013, and prior to that was Assistant City Manager from 2010-2013. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Presbyterian College and a Master’s degree in public  administration from Clemson. He also worked as a firefighter and EMT in Greer, SC.

Bill Prokop came to Beaufort as the Director of Human Resources in March 2014, then was tapped to serve as Interim City Manager in January. Prokop came to Beaufort from Keene, New Hampshire, where he worked as the Assistant City Manager and HR director from 2008-2014. From 2002-2008, he served as Town Administrator in Antrim, NH, and previously worked in the private sector. Prokop holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Bryant University and also studied labor relations at the University of Bridgeport and international finance at the London School of Business.

Dianna Turner, of Traveler’s Rest near Greenville, SC has served as that town’s City Administrator since 2005. Prior to that she was the city administrator in Landrum, SC, and previously served as project manager for the Appalachian Council of Governments in Greenville from 1992-2002. Turner has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Winthrop University and a Master’s in public administration from Clemson.

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Powdered alcohol + schools = big problems

The South Carolina Senate recently passed a ban on powdered alcohol, agreeing that the substance is just too dangerous even after the federal government approved selling it.  A brand of powdered alcohol called Palcohol was approved for sale by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last week.  On its website, Palcohol said it hopes to start selling its product in the summer. About half the states in the U.S. are currently considering similar bans.NEWS - POWERED ALCOHOL

The bill faces one more procedural vote before it is sent to the House.

Opponents of the bill said it made no sense for South Carolina to sell alcohol in liquid form, but not in powdered form.

Bill sponsor Larry Martin said the powdered alcohol is more dangerous because it has no taste or odor, can be put in anything from other drinks to food and would be easier to hide than a bottle or flask of booze. He warned people could even snort it if they wanted to.

If the ban had failed, powered alcohol would be “the hottest stuff on high school campuses,” said Martin, R-Pickens. “I predict it would be the hottest stuff on a middle school campus.”

Senators seemed to be swayed by Martin’s argument that if powdered alcohol doesn’t cause problems in states where it was legal, then lawmakers can always change
their minds.

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Volunteers clean up Port Royal

On March 8th, The Outside Foundation hosted a Clean Up of the Broad Creek. Seventy-four volunteers participated in the event and collected over 400 pounds of trash, 98 percent of which was recycled. Most volunteers went out in kayaks, others chose to pick up trash by land or by power boat.

The event was made possible by a grant from Beaufort County Public Works’ “Keep America Beautiful” initiative. Atlantic Community Bank sponsored the event by providing clean up supplies and door prizes for volunteers. Publix Grocery Store provided snacks for volunteers. Local watersports company Outside Hilton Head provided free kayak rentals for volunteers.

Among the volunteers were 9 Marines, several members of the Whole Foods Market, Atlantic Community Bank and Outside Hilton Head teams, as well as volunteers from local non-profit Watercookies. The trash pulled out of the Broad Creek included a downed telephone pole, abandoned dingy, a pogo stick, assorted plastic tubing, part of a wheelbarrow and lots of fishing line.

The clean-up was the first of 2 planned for 2015 by The Outside Foundation. In 2014 the events collected over 500 pounds of trash and engaged over 200 volunteers.

“Thanks to all who volunteered at the Broad Creek clean-up. Each person has contributed to improving the health of our Creek. We look forward to hauling more trash out of the Creek this Fall “ said Jean Fruh, The Outside Foundation Executive Director.

The Outside Foundation is a local non-profit with a mission to get kids outside and to protect and preserve our local environment. The Foundation is dedicated to creating awareness, expanding knowledge, and developing a responsible understanding of nature and the environment. Ongoing projects of the Foundation include trash clean-ups by kayak, donation programs and the Kids in Kayaks program, which aims to get every 7th grader in Beaufort County out kayaking.

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Beaufort County leases historic courthouse

Beaufort County Council voted unanimously to lease its historic federal courthouse building to the Santa Elena Foundation, whose mission is the discovery, preservation, and promotion of Santa Elena, the 16th century settlement established on present-day Parris Island.Located on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort, the historic building will serve as the setting for a unique cultural interpretive center destined to become an important attraction for local, national, and international visitors. In addition, the building will include a planned archeological laboratory and serve as the first headquarters for the foundation.

“The strategic purpose of the Santa Elena Foundation is to accurately position Santa Elena in the historical record by promoting the role of the early Port Royal Sound colonial communities in the settling of America,” said Dr. Andy Beall, Santa Elena Foundation Executive Director. “We are most grateful to Beaufort County Council for allowing us the use of this historical building and providing the foundation with an excellent location to share with the public this important story.”Foundation and County leaders hope that some of the interest, energy, and capital directed to the early settlements of Jamestown, Virginia and Saint Augustine, Florida will now be shared with Beaufort County.

“We are very pleased to lease the federal courthouse to the Santa Elena Foundation,” said Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville. “The proposed cultural interpretive center will serve as a major attraction for Beaufort County and as an introduction to this very important, little known American story.”

The foundation plans to move into the building July 1, 2015. An initial opening of the cultural interpretative center is planned for early 2016, followed by a grand opening later that year, 450 years after the founding of Santa Elena.  For more information about the Santa Elena Foundation, visit

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Burton firefighters offer safety tips

With the recent rash of serious fires in Beaufort County resulting in one critical injury and several close calls, the Burton Fire District would like to offer some simple safety tips to keep your home and family safe.

“People today are worried about natural disasters and terrorism, but give no thought to the one tragedy that can strike their family tonight, and they have full control of, and that is fire,” states Burton Firefighter Dan Byrne. Byrne stresses the one common denominator to the recent fires is smoke detectors. “Homes that had them had much better results than those that did not,” stated Byrne.

Burton firefighters offer these tips:

• A watched pot never burns. Never leave cooking unattended. A spark reaches explosive temperatures in less than 5 minutes; about the same time it takes for you to leave the stove to use the bathroom or check the mail.

• Have smoke detectors with a battery inside and outside all bedrooms and all living levels of your home in the vicinity of the stairway.

• Mount an ABC fire extinguisher by an exit were it can be quickly seen, accessed, and used. Do not hide them in closets and under sinks where they cannot be grabbed.

• Do not overload outlets and power strips. Ensure your power strips are UL or FM approved, are not overloaded, inspected for damage, and cleaned regularly.

• Extension cords are not permanent wiring and should be unplugged when you’re done.

• If it has heat, then 3 feet: Anything that generates heat, from stoves to heaters, should be 3 feet from combustibles such as drapes, bed linens, and furniture.

• If you live in a two story home ensure bedrooms on the upper floors have home rescue ladders. These can be purchased at most department stores.

• Close doors at night and when leaving for the day. Doors will protect young lungs, allow time for escape, and confine fires until the fire department can arrive and limit damage.

“Above all, take a second to do a safety check of your home before you go to bed or leave for the day.  Check for these and other hazards and please utilize your fire department before you have an emergency. It is our job to protect you and we can best do that by preventing the emergency in the first place,” states Byrne.

The Burton Fire District is available to its residents to install smoke detectors, perform safety inspections, discuss any hazard prevention, or any safety issue that concerns you. Please call 843-521-5550 for any questions.

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F-35B squadron commander to be LIPBA speaker

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph “Ty” Bachmann, Commanding Officer of VMFAT-501 which is located at MCAS Beaufort and assigned the mission of conducting training in the F-35B, will be the guest speaker at the Tuesday, March 10 meeting of the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association.

The meeting will be held at 8 AM in the Beaufort Realtor’s Association Headquarters located in the Palmetto Business Park on Lady’s Island Drive (behind BB&T Bank). The meeting is open to the public.

Lt. Colonel Bachmann is a graduate of United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY where he was an academic All-American and football Team Captain while earning a degree in Systems Engineering.

Following his being commissioned as a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant in June of 1996, he began flight training and upon receiving his Naval Aviator Wings began training in the AV-8B Harrier at Cherry Point North Carolina. His career has included participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom, serving as a Forward Air Controller with an infantry battalion, service with a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force to Joint Task Force Haiti and deployment with VMA-542 to Al Asad, Iraq. He is a graduate of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) and US Naval Test Pilot School.

Following graduation from Test Pilot School he was assigned to the fixed-wing experimental test squadron, VX-23. There he conducted flight tests in all models of the F/A-18. As a member of the Joint Strike Fighter Development he was the first Marine to fly the F-35. In 2010 he was assigned to the 33d Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB and tasked with accepting and delivering the F-35A/F-35B aircraft for the USAF/USMC. He was then assigned as the Maintenance Officer at VMFAT-501 while instructing in the F-35B. In July 2012 he was selected for Command of VMFAT-501.

Lt. Colonel Bachmann has been requested to include in his discussion with LIBPA members the following topics: Which present Marine Corps aircraft will the F-35B eventually replace? When is the F-35B training program anticipated to be capable of operating at full capacity? What is the difference in the perceived sound of the F-18 and the F-35B? What steps can this community  take to ensure F-35B students and their families are supported and made to feel welcome? What training programs will be used for the F-35B pilots at MCAS Beaufort?

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News Briefs

Veterans Affairs Office expands operations

To better serve area veterans, the Beaufort County Veterans Affairs (VA) Office has expanded its days of operation from one day to two days a week at its Hilton Head Island office location, 539 William Hilton Parkway.  Staff will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment. Additionally, the VA Office will open a satellite office next month in Sun City at Pinckney Hall, 114 Sun City Lane, Bluffton.  Beginning March 11, 2015, staff will be available every second and fourth Wednesday by appointment. Along with the Hilton Head Island and Sun City locations, the Beaufort County VA Office operates from the County’s Human Services Building, 1905 Duke Street, Suite 205, Beaufort, where staff are available Monday through Friday. For more information about assistance offered by the Beaufort County VA Office, please call 843-255-6880.

Beaufort day dock earns federal grant

A federal grant received this month is the final funding needed to move forward with plans for a day dock boating facility at Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.This is the third award to Beaufort through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Boating Infrastructure Grant program. The day dock is a focal point within the vision of the 2012 Civic Master Plan. The City of Beaufort, through a series of other grant and local funding sources, set aside in prior years $300,000 toward the $500,000 budgeted project, said Kathy Todd, finance director for the City. In addition, the City has welcomed two public partners: Main Street Beaufort and Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. These partners pledged a combined $22,368 toward actively marketing the day dock to transient boaters on a local, regional and national scale. Tentative specifications call for a 200-foot long by 10-foot wide heavy-duty floating dock in an orientation parallel with the existing seawall and approximately 500 feet from the edge of the navigation channel. Gangways that meet federal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act will connect the floating dock to the existing seawall.

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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 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 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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