Review Category : Beaufort News

Student recognized for reporting fire

The Beaufort County School Board and the Burton Fire District recognized Tyrik Kelly at the school board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 23 for reporting a possible house fire while on his way to school on October 7 and enabling the Burton Fire District to catch a small but growing kitchen fire before any significant damage could occur, not only saving the home but keeping the responding firefighters safe.

The Burton Fire District presented Tyrik with a plaque and the fire department wives support team also gave him a gift card.

Pictured at right, from left: Superintendent Jeffrey Moss, Burton Engineer/Paramedic Daniel Byrne, Battery Creek High School student Tyrik Kelly, and School Board Chairman Bill Evans.

Pictured at right, from left: Superintendent Jeffrey Moss, Burton Engineer/Paramedic Daniel Byrne, Battery Creek High School student Tyrik Kelly, and School Board Chairman Bill Evans.

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Duke Street improvements begin

The second phase of improvements to downtown Beaufort’s Duke Street began this week as part of the city’s continuing efforts to improve and beautify the historic Northwest Quadrant.

The work includes the removal of existing road pavement, sidewalks, utilities and drainage, then constructing a new paved road with sidewalks, drainage, landscaping, tree planting, underground utilities, brick-paver parking and new streetlights.

During the work, there may be some disruptions to vehicle and pedestrian traffic along Duke Street, said project manager Lamar Taylor of Beaufort’s public works department. The Duke Street streetscape improvements will start at Harrington Street, proceeding east toward Charles Street.

Starting this week, there should be minimal disruptions to include:

• Crews will begin creating a construction material and equipment storage yard between Church and Newcastle streets

• Workers will use special saws to begin cutting up the existing pavement

• Traffic control signage will be installed to warn pedestrians of construction activity

• Surveys will start for storm drainage improvements

• Sidewalks will be torn up and removed between Harrington and Church streets.

“Step by step, we are making some major investments and improvements to key areas such as the Northwest Quadrant,” said Jon Verity, chairman of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for those residents, but also to make the city as a whole more appealing for both residents and businesses.”

This is the second phase of streetscape improvements along Duke Street in the Northwest Quadrant, which in 2010 was named one of the nation’s 51 “Best Old House Neighborhoods” by This Old House magazine.

The area, once a thriving black middle-class neighborhood just blocks off the Beaufort River, fell into disrepair in the 1970s. It became one of Beaufort’s blighted and neglected areas until renovations started in earnest in the mid-1990s. Starting in 2009, City leaders joined hands with involved area homeowners to remove huge amounts of accumulated debris as well as help them remove overgrowth and clean up the blight.

Since then, there’s been a fairly steady improvement to sections of the Northwest Quadrant, notably along Bladen Street and Duke Street. From 1995 to present, the City of Beaufort has invested more than $5 million to improve the Northwest Quadrant.

“This is Phase Two of the Duke Street improvements, and we’ll certainly do our best to keep the disruptions and delays to a minimum,” Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said.

Earlier this week, Dadson and Bill Harvey, the city’s attorney, signed off on an executed contract between the city and JoCo Construction, LLC, a Beaufort-based company.

The project contract calls for completion of work within 150 days. Area residents with questions or concerns should contact Lamar Taylor at LTaylor@cityofbeaufort.org or 525-7054.

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News Briefs

Burton Wells Rec Center adjusts hours

Beginning this week, the Burton Wells Recreation Center will be changing the hours it is open to the public. The facility will now be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The recreation center is closed on Sundays.

On Tuesday, November 4, the Burton Wells and Buckwalter Recreation Centers will be closed to the public for recreational activities since both locations will be used as polling locations in the general election.

Seabrook man sentenced for trafficking cocaine

A 37-year-old Seabrook man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday, October 23, for trafficking cocaine.

At the conclusion of a two-day trial, jurors convicted Dwayne Chisolm of trafficking between 100 and 200 grams of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute crack-cocaine, possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

In 2010, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office developed information that Chisolm was dealing drugs. Officers conducted controlled buys and obtained a search warrant for his Garrett Small Road home. A search of the home in May 2010 yielded significant quantities of cocaine as well as a gun.

Chisolm had two previous convictions for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and had recently been released from prison at the time of the investigation.

“Mr. Chisolm is a dangerous man who went right back to a life of crime after being released from prison,” said assistant solicitor Mary Concannon, who prosecuted the case. “I asked the jury to shut down his illegal business and they did.”

Judge Carmen Mullen handed down the sentence. By law, Chisolm must serve at least 85 percent of it before being eligible for any sort of early release mechanism.

Rescued Marsh Pony undergoes surgery

One of the Marsh Ponies, Patrick, relocated from Horse Island by Beaufort County Animal Services had surgery.

Dr. Emily Mitchum performed cryptorchidectomy surgery on his rear legs due to a “locking stifle.” The horse was unable to flex his hind legs, which caused them to stick out and drag behind the horse in an abnormal manner.

After the operation, Patrick will be adopted by his foster mom, Bobbie Thomas, and her granddaughter Rentz Thomas.

Patrick was born on Horse Island 10 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Animal Services relocates wild horses

Three wild horses living on St. Helena Island have been relocated as a result of a fourth horse being hit and killed by a vehicle last weekend.

Marsh ponies

Marsh ponies

More than a dozen of these wild horses live on Horse Island on St. Helena Island. Nearby property owners say the animals have been there for years living off the land. Over last weekend one was hit and killed at Seaside Road and Horse Island Road. Due to the safety concerns of these animals being so close to a high traffic area, Beaufort County Animal Services went to Horse Island last Tuesday to try and relocate the horses.

A local veterinarian said taking the horses to a new location would be the safest alternative for both the animals and motorists. He said the horses have developed a habit of traveling to the road and that habit would not be broken unless the horses were moved.

The two horses pictured at right were taken to Camelot Farms on St. Helena Island where they will remain until adopted.

These horses are known as Marsh Ponies. Experts say the horses are direct decedents of the Marsh Tacky but over the years have bred with Shetland Ponies creating the name Marsh Ponies.

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News Briefs

State accommodations tax applications available 

The Beaufort County Accommodations Tax Board is now accepting applications from tourism-related organizations wanting to receive grants from the two percent state accommodations tax fund.

State law allows for a 2% tax levy on the rental of all transient accommodations to help provide financial support to fund tourism-related projects and events. As a result, individuals staying overnight in hotels, motels, inns, and vacation rentals pay 2% above the cost of their lodging.

An application can also be found on the Accommodations Tax Board website at http://www.bcgov.net/departments/Administrative/beaufort-county-council/boards-and-commissions/council-appointed/board-list/accommodations-tax/index.php.

Applications are due Friday, November 21, 2014 before 5 p.m. and must be emailed to atax@bcgov.net.

For questions or more information, email Joy Nelson at jnelson@bcgov.net or call 843-255-2250.

Beaufort County keeps high bond ratings

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Moody’s Investors Services affirmed high ratings for Beaufort County’s general obligation bonds. Standard & Poor’s awarded Beaufort County an AA+ long-term rating while Moody’s Investors gave Beaufort County a rating of Aa1. Both the Aa1 and AA+ are next to the highest (AAA) credit rating that can be received from the rating agencies. The high credit rating allows the county to obtain more favorable interest rates on borrowing thereby saving the county substantial amounts of money over the course of the life of the bond.

Moody’s Investors Services rating gives the county a stable outlook. Its report stated, “the Aa1 rating reflects the county’s healthy reserve levels, a tourism-based economy that has driven rapid tax base expansion, a wealthy demographic profile and a manageable debt burden.”

“Despite a tough financial year in 2014, these credit ratings show how Beaufort County is fiscally responsible and despite challenges, we continue to make financial decisions that benefit the residents of Beaufort County,” said Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic.

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Meetings to inform about upcoming Boundary Street construction project

Boundary Street property owners, public invited to Beaufort briefings on upcoming road project

With road construction expected to start soon, Beaufort city leaders will hold open meetings later this month to share information and expectations with the affected property owners and public.

“Even though this is a relatively short stretch of roadway that we are improving, it’s a key gateway to Beaufort and is an important commercial corridor,” said Jon Verity, chairman of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission.

“We want to share what we know about the project and keep our communication open with property owners and people who will be traveling the road on a regular basis during construction,” he said.

The hour-long session will cover the same content at each meeting, but for the convenience of business owners and the public the meetings will be held on different days and different times:

• Monday, Oct. 27, noon in City Council Chambers

• Tuesday, Oct. 28, 8 a.m. in City Council Chambers

• Wednesday, Oct. 29, 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers

• Thursday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

“We certainly hope anyone with an interest can make it to one of these meetings,” Verity said. “We spread them out across the week and at different times because we know not everyone can make an early morning meeting or an evening meeting.”

While the sessions primarily are designed to inform property owners along the 1.5-mile section to be improved, the public is welcome to attend. The City Council Chambers are located in City Hall at 1911 Boundary Street.

The $30 million Boundary Street construction project is expected to go out for bids in November and Rob McFee, director of engineering and infrastructure for Beaufort County, said the county hopes to award contracts by early December. Dirt could start moving early next year, he said.

The meetings will include an overview of the Boundary Street Redevelopment District, the goals of the construction and how the City plans to keep the community informed during construction. Verity and McFee will lead the discussions.

Building a better Beaufort is the goal of a $30 million investment in Boundary Street to create a safer and more scenic entry to the city, provide better commercial and retail locations, and improve traffic conditions.

The project includes:

• Realigning the intersection of SC 170 and Boundary Street

• Retrofitting, re-investing and redeveloping neglected areas of the corridor

• Creating commercial/retail nodes

• Providing alternate ways for people to reach commercial/retail including bike and walking paths.

The entire project, approximately 1.5 miles including side road improvements, is expected to be substantially complete by November 2016.

The Boundary Street Redevelopment Corridor project budget is funded through three sources: A Federal Highway Administration grant of $12.635 million, the Beaufort County one cent sales tax for road improvements of $7.819 million and the City of Beaufort’s TIF II estimated contribution of about $6.443 million.

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Political Notes

• County Council Write-In Candidate To Hold Meet & Greet: Beaufort County Council Write-In Candidate Brian MacDermant will hold a meet and greet on Sunday, October 26 at Beaulieu House, 1103 Paris Avenue, Port Royal at 5:30 pm. MacDermant is a write-in candidate for County Council District 4 which covers Beaufort and Port Royal. For more information please call 843-271-8838 or brianforcouncil@hotmail.com.

• Democrats to host barbecue meet and greet: The Beaufort County Democratic Party will host a barbeque and meet & greet this Sunday, October 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Sun City Pavilion. Special guests include State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic nominee for Governor and Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Sheheen, a lifelong South Carolinian, has been a member of the SC Senate since 2004, and was a member of the SC House of Representatives from 2000 to 2004. He will face Gov. Nikki Haley in the November election. Harrison is an Orangeburg native and former aide to Rep. James E. Clyburn. While working for Clyburn, he was the first African American to serve as Floor Director for a leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and the first to serve as Executive Director of the House Democratic Caucus. He is also the first black chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Passes will be provided for non-Sun City residents. Ask for the special event pass for the Democratic Bar-B-Que to gain access to Sun City. Price for the barbecue is $25 per person, payable at the door by cash, check, or credit card.  Reservations are required by calling the Hilton Head Democratic Campaign Office at 843-342-4888, the Beaufort Democratic Campaign Office at 843-522-2014, or Paul Russo, president of the Sun City Democratic Club at 843-705-2674.

• Shrimp Soup Celebration to benefit Laura Von Harten: Shrimp Soup Celebration with music by Bull Grapes will be held Monday, October 27, 5 to 9 p.m. at Old Bull Tavern, 205 West Street, Beaufort. Free admission; shrimp soup and drinks available for a charge. Soup made with local shrimp, music by the Bull Grapes, creative drinks and the unique gastro-pub atmosphere at the Old Bull Tavern — what a great way to spend a Monday evening! This special event is being held to benefit Laura Von Harten’s re-election campaign for County Council District 4. Admission is free; soup and libations will be for sale. Old Bull Tavern has a tradition of being unofficially open on Mondays for “Stone Soup Night” — a time when locals can get together, relax and enjoy whatever delicious soup that Chef John Marshall has been inspired to concoct for the evening. Stone Soup Night on Oct. 27 will feature soup made with local shrimp contributed by Sea Eagle Market. The event starts at 5 p.m. — and the soup often sells out quickly. So arrive early if you want to be sure to get some! The Bull Grapes, an eclectic and energetic band that play a wide range of foot-stomping songs, will perform from 7-8:30 p.m. Door prizes will be given away throughout the evening. For more information, contact Tracy Von Harten, Campaign Manager, at laura4council@gmail.com.

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Local teen wins national poster contest

Beaufort Housing Authority resident, Ericka Alston, 17, was named one of 13 national winners of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s (NAHRO) annual “What Home Means to Me” poster contest.

Ericka Alston

Ericka Alston

Ericka and her fellow 12 national winners represent youth from across the country in grades kindergarten through 12 who currently live in affordable rental housing administered by a NAHRO member housing authority or community development agency.

“This year, more than 250 entries were submitted to NAHRO,” said Preston Prince, CME, president of the association. “The annual poster contest is an opportunity for youth to voice what having a safe, clean and supportive living environment means to them.”

Ericka’s artwork will be featured nationally in the association’s annual “What Home Means to Me” calendar and publications. She will also receive a $100 U.S. Savings Bonds.

A senior at Battery Creek High School, Ericka is a standout player for the Battery Creek Dolphins Varsity girls basketball team. She plans to attend the University of South Carolina upon graduation.

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Fire department checks gas leak at TCL

Beaufort firefighters cleaned up a battery leak that sent two Technical College of the Lowcountry employees to the emergency room for observation last Monday morning.

One or more batteries in the welding shop at TCL apparently released potentially dangerous hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in a closet containing a bank of batteries used for the wind turbine, according to Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron.

TCL gas release 10-13-14“Dispatch received a call at 7:01 a.m. of an odor coming from a building at TCL that could be a possible gas leak. Their security could smell the gases from outside the building,” Negron said.

Squad 1 from the Beaufort Fire Department responded within minutes and, after meeting with TCL security and maintenance workers, found no evidence of explosive gases. “However, our air monitoring equipment did detect hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in a closet of the welding shop,” Negron said. “Our firefighters isolated the batteries and removed them. We ventilated the affected building until all readings were back to normal. Once the ventilation was complete and the hazard removed, the building was released to be re-occupied.”

Negron said ER doctors kept the two TCL employees under observation for a few hours but they were released.

He applauded the quick reaction of TCL employees in alerting the fire department of the possible gas leak. “Early detection and calling the fire department helped keep this a minor incident,” Negron said. “These are potentially dangerous gases in high levels. We encourage people to always err on the side of caution and call us if they think there’s a gas leak or other potential danger.”

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Library recognized for architecture

Two years after being built, the St. Helena Branch Library is again being recognized for its architecture and design.

Last week, the St. Helena Branch Library was featured as a 2014 Building of the Week in the American-Architects online newsletter. Since the beginning of the year, American-Architects has taken a state-by-state look for the feature. This week, American-Architects chose the St. Helena Branch Library as the building to highlight in South Carolina.

American-Architects describes the design of incorporating attributes of the Gullah-Geechee Sea Island culture and its modern look and feel as the reasoning for the library being chosen as this week’s winner.

To see the other buildings in the U.S. chosen for this recognition, go to http://www.american-architects.com/en/pages/50×50.

In 2013, the St. Helena Branch Library won two awards during the American Institute of Architects South Carolina Conference for Best Architecture Honor Award and Committee on the Environment Honor Award.

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