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The word ‘death’ is harsh, final … and totally inaccurate

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health/Susan Stone by

By Susan Stone

Ever since I began writing this column, I have quoted my master teacher,  Rev. Marian Starnes, numerous times for her wisdom and humor.

On the Summer Solstice, she flew away HOME. Marian didn’t like to use the word “death.” She found it harsh and final and totally inaccurate. She had a lot of experience with what we call “death.”

In 1973, Marian died on the operating table during open heart surgery. The last thing she heard was; “We’re losing her!” She rose above the operating theater and observed the panic in the room as they readied the crash cart.

Completely at ease and uninterested in what the doctors were doing, she left. The feeling she described being out of the body was pure delight. She found herself in a green valley surrounded by mountains. It was familiar to her as the landscape she knew as a child growing up in Idaho.

In front of her appeared a bridge and on the other side of the bridge were her father and a little boy who had drowned when they were children, along with various animals she had loved through her life.

She was overjoyed to see them all, and when she attempted to cross the bridge, two men suddenly stood in her way. Neither of them spoke to her or even really looked at her.

Marian described both of them as looking like Jesus (she never understood why there were two). They were discussing whether they should send her back. They said that she was a powerful teacher and had already been doing good work, but they knew she would begin a ministry and would reach people around the world with her message of love.

Just as they turned to her to ask if she would go back, she whooooshed back into her body.

Marian always told this story with a huge smile on her face. She said that death is an illusion and that we never lose consciousness.

She said, “One minute I was Marian and the next minute, I was still Marian.”  She would draw an imaginary line on the floor and hop over it. “Don’t ever be afraid to drop your body and go HOME. You’ll be glad to be free of it … I promise.”

In her last hours she fell in to a deep coma, Hospice had been called in and they were keeping her comfortable. Just before she took her last breath, she opened her eyes and smiled wide saying; “I’m doing good, aren’t I?”

There was no fear, only joy.

As I recall, during a memorial for a dear friend of hers, she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Do not pity the dead, pity the living! This living thing is hard stuff! We’re here to help one another and to have as much fun as we can (she would always insert, legally). Don’t worry about tomorrow, because there are no tomorrows. In my 89 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a tomorrow! I’ve only seen todays! Lots and lots of todays! So make today a great day.

“Do what you can and then a little bit more. Eat cake. Don’t wait until someday to do what you love … love everything you do. If what you’re doing makes you miserable … stop it! It’s not worth it. Life is simple, people are complicated.”

Over the years, Marian and her messages have traveled around the world. I will be forever changed for having known her.

One last quote: “We are the immortals; we have always been and ever will be. You have always been you and you will always be. And when life gets tough … eat more cake!

Pen pals remind us of the art of letter writing

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

An e-mail popped up in my inbox early this summer and a friend wanted to know if I was interested in becoming her pen pal.

“Wow!” I told her. “I have not had a pen pal for years.”

My first real pen pal experience was back in the 1960s with a girl named Lesley Nash who lived on a farm in South Africa. We were connected through our local newspapers, which had set up a program to connect kids from all over the world as pen pals.

Lesley and I wrote for several years and then suddenly stopped. I am not sure what happened, but it’s too bad that we didn’t stay connected when you consider how much has happened over the past 50 years in both of our countries.

Nowadays, it seems like the art of letter writing has vanished as communications have improved. Between texting and e-mails, we are connected all the time.

Today’s electronic communications demand immediate response; then get lost in myriad other electronic messages. And how many introspective thoughts are really found in an e-mail?

Writing a letter, on the other hand, provides an entirely different form of conversation. There is more time for reflection when you have time to collect your thoughts.

Some of the most famous letter writers that I recall are Abigail and John Adams, who wrote over 1,000 letters to one another. What a rare insight to life in the last part of the 18th century and the birth of a new nation.

So I received my first letter and read it slowly. She wrote that the last time we had been together I had inspired her to write new stories and offered her some writing tips too. I was anxious to sit down and tell her how much getting the letter meant. Then I started describing all the things that I had been up to this summer.

After she received my letter she called to say that she loved it and was working on another one. Then she added, “Getting a letter in the mail is knowing that someone loves you.”

She was right, because I know how I felt when I opened my mailbox. Now I hope in the future when she is my age, that through my letters, she will have received a greater understanding of me, her grandmother.

State body camera fund comes up short

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

What would our late State Sen. Clementa Pinckney think?

Yes, the city of Beaufort and the town of Bluffton received this year all the body-worn camera money they requested. But the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office received about 15 percent of its request, and the sheriff’s experience is typical across the state.

To meet the $40 million needed for body cameras, the legislature has so far offered up $5.8 million, with a suggestion that they will add another $2.4 million next year.

What does Sen. Pinckney have to do with it?

In the wake of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer last year, Sen. Pinckney pushed the nation’s first statewide police body-worn camera law through the South Carolina state legislature. The new law provided that “all state and local law enforcement officers must be equipped with body-worn cameras.”

A remarkably clear video of the April 4, 2015, shooting happened to have been made by a bystander, and once that video surfaced there was little doubt that Scott had been shot multiple times in the back as he sought to flee from the officer who had stopped him for a broken tail-light. North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is currently awaiting trial in connection with the shooting.

The bystander’s video shocked Sen. Pinckney and the nation. At the senator’s urging, South Carolina enacted the Body-worn Camera Bill on June 10, 2015.

A week later, on June 17, Sen. Pinckney was assassinated as he presided over a Bible study class at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, where he was senior pastor.

In the days and weeks following the Mother Emanuel tragedy, South Carolina’s Body-worn Camera Bill emerged as a central tenet of Sen. Pinckney’s legislative legacy.

But now, a year later, passions have cooled and the program is faltering.  The recent shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge, La., Dallas and now San Diego suggest the program should not be scuttled.

The problem is a familiar one: the money. Body cameras cost $400 to $600 apiece, and there is substantial additional expense related to storing and managing the data they supply.

The new law provides that the South Carolina Public Safety Coordinating Council will provide “full funding,” and that local law enforcement agencies are not required to “implement the use of body-worn cameras” until full funding is provided.  But what happens when the state comes up short?

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, for example, applied for $473,000 to implement the program, and it has received word that it will receive $75,000 this year, or about 15 percent of its request. The situation in Jasper County is similar, where the sheriff’s office there received $22,178 of the $70,000-plus it requested.

The unfunded mandate pattern is familiar. The state passes a law and promises to pay the cost of its implementation, and it doesn’t appropriate sufficient monies to keep its promise.

Several years ago amidst a fury about drunken driving, the state passed a law requiring all South Carolina law enforcement agencies to use dashboard cameras.  In the first year the state went out and bought a bunch of cameras and sent them around. Then it folded the program but didn’t rescind the law, leaving the local law enforcement agencies to maintain the program at their own expense.

Some did. Some didn’t.

Considered an effective program that helped to establish fairly both guilt and innocence in the courtroom, the dashboard camera program was retained by Beaufort County, which funded it from the county treasury.

Twice shy, this time around local law enforcement officials are skeptical. “We’ve been down this road before,” Beaufort Sheriff  P.J. Tanner said last week. “If I had known they were going to do this, I’d have put $400,000 on the penny sales tax. We’re going to uphold the law, but it’s starting to look like it’s going to be Beaufort County’s taxpayers who are going to be paying for us to do so.”

Rep. Dennis Moss, R-Gaffney, agrees. He sits on the Public Safety Coordinating Council that determines how the money the legislature appropriates for body cameras will be spent. A few small local law enforcement agencies were the only ones to receive full funding, Moss explained last week. “And if the economy stays good,” he added, “we’ll put more money into that program next year.”

Would Sen. Pinckney be surprised how his program is turning out?

Probably not.

Would he be disappointed?

Yes.

A week before his tragic death last year, Sen. Clementa Pinckney's police Body-worn Camera Bill was signed into law. But without the state funding to back it up, the implementation of this new unfunded mandate will be uneven and a burden to some law enforcement agencies.
A week before his tragic death last year, Sen. Clementa Pinckney’s police Body-worn Camera Bill was signed into law. But without the state funding to back it up, the implementation of this new unfunded mandate will be uneven and a burden to some law enforcement agencies.

Cleaning a messy car in 90-degree weather

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

A good friend of mine and I decided to have lunch together recently and I offered to pick her up.

About half an hour before I was going to leave the house my spouse asked, “Do you want to take my car?”

“Why in the world would I need to take your car?” I replied.

He looked out the window, pointed to my car and said, “Have you looked at your car lately?”

Oh man, he was right. It was a mess.

I grabbed the little vacuum cleaner, a garbage bag, some paper towels and Fantastic and headed out to the car. As I started to work I discovered an old ballpoint pen caught between the seats and had to actually break it apart to remove it.  Of course there was a stream of black ink that had leaked down under the seat in this 90-degree plus heat.

I also retrieved a half tube of lipstick I had dropped one hot day. Other women might appreciate that discovery. I can recall the moment.  I went to apply lipstick that had been sitting in my purse on a hot day. I adjusted the rearview mirror, opened up the lipstick and half the tube dropped right in my lap and rolled down onto the floor mat.

Then there was the melted package of M&Ms, which I realized had reformed into a glob of colored chocolate. Not pretty.

So in the need for expediency I took out the floor mats and the seat covers and threw them into the trunk of the car to be dealt with at a later date. Then I vacuumed the carpet and wiped down the inside of the doors.

The car looked so much better, but I still needed to do something about covering those leather seats again. One thing I have learned here in Beaufort is that one does not climb into a car with leather seats while wearing a skirt or shorts. Nothing will get you back out of the car faster.

I returned to the house with all my cleaning supplies and found two cute beach towels to cover the seats and drove to pick up my friend.

As she climbed into my car she said, “Wow, when did you get a new car?”

I just smiled as we drove off.

The instant coffee moment: Now what?

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

How many of you can recall that long-standing instant coffee commercial that has aired for years on television?

You know, the one that depicts a young man returning home from college for Christmas break. He’s in the kitchen making coffee when his little sister comes downstairs and greets him just as the water is boiling. Really, how special is this guy to his parents if he has to actually boil water to make instant coffee?

Come on mom and dad, no coffeemaker?

Recently, I was reminded of that commercial when my old faithful coffeesmaker broke. I woke up, hit the button and … nothing. There was no bubbling sound as the water heated up; no dripping sound as the hot water seeped onto the freshly ground coffee; no aromas drifting throughout the kitchen with virtually no effort on my part.

So out of desperation, I opened the cabinet and found an old jar of instant coffee which I had bought last summer for making iced coffee.

Then I realized that rather than just pushing the start button on my coffeemaker, there was more to do. I had to pull out the tea kettle, boil the water and then put in the coffee.

Oh, the inhumanity of it all!

Truthfully, as I sat there sipping the coffee, it was not as bad as I had expected. It actually reminded me of years ago when I used instant coffee all the time.

But then came my Mr. Coffeemaker, then the Keurig-one cup maker and then the Krups bean grinder/coffeemaker.  The coffee really has gotten better and better through the years.

And as I was sitting drinking the instant coffee that morning, I started to think about that college kid and his parents. Maybe mom and dad were not so dumb after all.

Here is the follow-up commercial scene that I imagine now: The college student walks into his college dorm and goes immediately to his coffeemaker and says to his college roommate, “Can you believe it? Mom and dad actually gave me instant coffee to drink over the Christmas break.”

Meanwhile at home, mom and dad have already taken out their DeLonghi Magnifica Espresso Maker and are enjoying their cappuccinos as dad says, “Too bad he couldn’t stay longer” as they sit there chuckling.

Genetic testing shows loggerhead families stick together

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

The sea turtle nesting season is fully upon us now and hundreds of our friends and neighbors are up each morning before dawn going down to the beaches checking on known turtle nests and looking for new ones that might have been created the previous night.

The most common species of sea turtle, the loggerheads, have been endangered since the 1970s, so the stakes are high and every nest counts.

Although they are more widespread now, turtle watch projects have been going on since the 1980s on Hilton Head, Pritchard’s, Hunting, Capers, Fripp and Edisto islands, to name a few.

But there is a new excitement recently among the volunteers since a pair of University of Georgia researchers discovered they can track via their captured DNA turtle families. Now, instead of just trying to protect sea turtle nests from perils and predators (like high tides, dogs and raccoons), the volunteers are asked also to select one egg from each nest and send it – accompanied by a map that shows the location of the nest from which that egg was removed – to a UGA lab where analysts extract from the inner membrane of each shell a sample of the mother’s DNA.

The research,  now in its eighth year, is beginning to show surprising results.

It shows, for example, that many mature female sea turtles return to familiar beaches to lay their eggs. Because the genetic testing can also link mothers to daughters, the study is also showing that in some cases daughters nest faithfully on the same beaches their mothers prefer while other daughters hit the road looking for a better life elsewhere.

Egocentrics that we are, we cannot of course resist comparing the turtles’ behaviors to our own. Some mothers’ daughters stay close; others roam a little and then come home to have their babies; and then there are those who never come home. Some of us go to the same beach community all our lives. Others wouldn’t go back to that place on a bet.

Do any of us really know why?

As one might imagine, life moves at a slower pace in the turtlesphere, and the DNA testing confirms this. It takes for example, about 30 years for a female loggerhead to reach reproductive maturity. Then, for the next 70 years, the typical mother will nest every three or four years.

In a year when a mother is nesting she will lay four to seven nests which may be right next to one another on one beach, or on several nearby beaches.

Once in the nest it takes about eight weeks for the turtle eggs to hatch, after which time the defenseless little hatchlings make their perilous way down the beach, out into the Gulf Stream and east to the Sargasso Sea where tagging studies have shown the youngsters grow safely to maturity under the cover of the seaweed there.

What seems so unemotional as DNA testing has actually brought with it for the turtle-watch volunteers a personal and loving result. Now, after they have become familiar with the study’s results for their specific area, volunteers can begin to get to know the turtles whose nests they are watching.

Samantha Campbell is the DNR Marine Turtle Permit-holder for Land’s End and Coffin Point on St. Helena Island. Last week there were seven nests on the Land’s End beach and 15 at Coffin Point. Campbell and her volunteers know their beat. They patrol it every morning.

Because of the DNA test results, the Land’s End volunteers now know that one of the nesters there is a loggerhead they call “Agatha.”

Early in the study, tests in 2011 and 2013 showed that Agatha had returned to Land’s End those summers to nest. She was a regular, they knew, because she had laid six and four nests there respectively those two summers.

But when 2015 went by with no sign of Agatha, the Land’s End volunteers were despondent.

“We thought maybe she had died,” volunteer Nina deCordova says. “So when we got the test results back in June of this year that she had nested here again we turned handsprings.”

With a hand up from the turtle exclusion devices shrimpers now use, and while still endangered, the loggerheads seem to be making it.

The DNR’s website, for example, indicates volunteers on Hilton Head Island have identified 363 nests this year, more than double Hilton Head’s annual average of 150 … and the ladies are still coming ashore.

Permit-holder Samantha Campbell, shown here holding a typical mothball-sized loggerhead turtle egg, says, “I started because I wanted to help save an endangered species. But now it’s more than that. I’m pulling data. And you don’t know what that data is going to tell you.” Photo by Nina deCordova.
Permit-holder Samantha Campbell, shown here holding a typical mothball-sized loggerhead turtle egg, says, “I started because I wanted to help save an endangered species. But now it’s more than that. I’m pulling data. And you don’t know what that data is going to tell you.” Photo by Nina deCordova.

Dog day is time to celebrate our furry friends

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

There was an advertisement on social media recently about National Dog Day. Evidently, it’s observed on Aug. 26. (This is not to be confused with National Hot Dog Day which is July 23).

I had never heard of National Dog Day before, but having two spaniels in the house, I was interested in learning more about it.

It turns out that the reason for having a National Dog Day is to celebrate the important roles dogs play in American life. Not only are they great companions, they also serve as drug-sniffers, therapy dogs and military service dogs. It really is amazing to think about all the things dogs do for us.

There is another very important reason to recognize dogs on this day. It’s a time to remember all the dogs that are available to be rescued and encourage adoption of those dogs.

I have two dogs: Bailey is our 13-year old cocker spaniel and Brandy is our clumber spaniel. We actually don’t know how old Brandy is because she was a rescue. She came to us six years ago, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

I saw her picture on the local dog rescue webpage and my spouse went over to check her out. He called to say he liked her and we adopted her that day. We brought her home and she has been part of our family ever since.

Most people that have a rescue dog will tell you that they are the best dogs they ever had in their homes. I think the reason is because rescues are so grateful to be adopted.

I know that Brandy has been one of the best dogs I have ever brought home.  She is lovable and obedient and moved into our lives easily, although our older spoiled cocker spaniel would not share his toys initially. But it didn’t take long before even he accepted her in the family.

Although both are dogs are considered “senior dogs” now and sometimes it feels like having a couple of toddlers running around with toys lying all over the house, we are still very happy to have our two pups.

And we will celebrate National Dog Day and be thankful that we were able to rescue such a wonderful dog.

Manage finances as retirement looms

in Business/Contributors/Wells Fargo by

As your target retirement date gets closer, what was once an abstract concept may now feel more like a reality. This life event can provoke different feelings for different people. While some might feel excited about the possibilities the non-working years might bring, others may be anxious and fearful.

Regardless of your emotions, now is the time to stay focused on maximizing your retirement savings while also looking ahead to develop a retirement income plan that supports your vision of retirement. The following are some tips you may find helpful.

“Catch up”

If you are age 50 or older, one way to help maximize your retirement savings is to take advantage of “catch up” contributions. The “catch up” contribution provision allows you to make additional contributions to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you’re unable to do this, try to contribute at least as much as the employer’s match – otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.

Open an IRA

If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan or you’re self-employed, consider opening an IRA. Even if you already participate in a 401(k) or other plan at work, an IRA can help supplement those savings and help you gain access to a potentially wider range of investment options. Keep in mind you are still eligible to contribute to an IRA whether you contribute to an employer-sponsored plan or not. You can also make catch up contributions to an IRA if you are age 50 or older.

Convert to a Roth IRA

An often overlooked retirement planning strategy is the Roth IRA conversion. A Roth IRA conversion occurs when you take savings in a Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRA, or employer-sponsored retirement plan, and move the assets into a Roth IRA.

You will owe federal and possibly state income tax on the before-tax amounts in your employer plan or IRA converted to a Roth  in that tax year, but not the 10 percent IRS early distribution penalty. Once you settle that bill, though, you’ll be able to withdraw all the money in your Roth IRA during retirement without owing any tax or penalty, provided: (1) the Roth IRA has been open for at least five years and you are age 59½ or older; or (2) the distribution is a result of your death, disability or using the first-time homebuyer exception.

The benefits of tax-free distributions in retirement may justify the conversion costs and allow for flexibility to manage taxable income in retirement. Converting to a Roth IRA is not appropriate for everyone. Some factors to consider include your tax bracket now and expected tax bracket in retirement, availability of funds to pay taxes due on the conversion and your time horizon.  Talk to your financial advisor and tax advisor to discuss your specific situation before you convert.

Develop a retirement income plan

Now may also be a good time to develop a retirement income plan. A retirement income plan helps make the transition from accumulating assets in your portfolio to determining how you will use all of your various sources of income to cover your living expenses when you’re no longer working.

It’s critical to start the retirement income planning process before you retire. If your planning process determines there’s a gap between your desired expense projections and your required income, you still have time to make some adjustments. These can include retiring at a later date, working part-time in retirement, increasing your current savings, or reducing expense projections. You may want to begin the process with the following:

Analyze your essential and discretionary expenses and create a realistic budget. This process will help you identify all of your sources of income, including Social Security, retirement savings, pensions, investments, etc. A financial advisor can help you determine when and how to take withdrawals and build an investment strategy that generates income in retirement while still giving your investments the opportunity to grow.

Consider Social Security. For married couples or divorced individuals, there are numerous options regarding when and how you elect to take your Social Security. Your choices can have a significant impact on the total benefits you receive over time. Your financial advisor can help you analyze the Social Security benefit options available to you and help you evaluate which one best fits your personal circumstances.

Think about longevity. Americans are living longer and more active lives, which can translate into two or three decades of living in retirement. This affects not only how much you will need to save but also how much you’ll need to budget for healthcare expenses.

You are eligible for Medicare when you turn age 65. If you retire before age 65 and don’t have healthcare through your former employer, you will have to purchase your own coverage. And, while Medicare will help cover hospitalization costs and doctor visits, you’ll probably want to secure supplemental coverage. Additionally, you should consider long-term care insurance – the younger you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the less expensive it is.

Nearing retirement can bring excitement – and also anxiety. But some careful planning now can help ease any anxieties you might experience down the road.

You might want to enlist the help of a financial advisor to review your investments, help you develop a retirement income plan, navigate the complexities of evaluating your Social Security benefit options and plan for healthcare expenses.

Now is the time to evaluate where you stand financially and determine what steps you need to take to help ensure you’re able to live out your unique vision for retirement.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor. This article was written by/for Wells Fargo advisors and provided courtesy of Katie Cuppia Phifer, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and financial advisor in Beaufort at 843-982-1506.

Protect your eyes from sun damage

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

The days are longer, the sun is hotter, the beach beckons and out comes the sunscreen.

But summer revelers looking forward to sizzling hot fun in the sun shouldn’t overlook their eyes when it comes to protecting themselves from damaging ultraviolet rays.

In support of UV Safety Month in July, Sea Island Ophthalmology joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in sharing information on how to keep eyes safe from sun damage.

Excess sun exposure can put people at risk of serious short-term and long-term eye problems. If eyes are exposed to strong sunlight for too long without protection, UV rays can burn the cornea and cause temporary blindness in a matter of hours. Long-term sun exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, cancer and growths on or near the eye.

Here are five things people can do to cut their risk of eye damage from the sun:

• Wear the right sunglasses: Look for those labeled “UV400” or “100 percent UV protection” when buying sunglasses. Less costly sunglasses with this label can be just as effective as the expensive kind. Darkness or color doesn’t indicate strength of UV protection. UV rays can go through clouds, so wear sunglasses even on overcast days. And while contact lenses and lens implants may offer some benefit, they cannot protect the entire eye area from burning rays.

• Don’t stare at the sun: Sun worshippers take note: directly gazing at the sun can burn holes in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells in the back of the eye needed for central vision. This condition is called solar retinopathy. While rare, the damage is irreversible.

• Check your medication labels: One in three adults uses medication that could make the eyes more vulnerable to UV ray damage, according to a sun safety survey by the academy. These include certain antibiotics, birth control and estrogen pills, and psoriasis treatments containing psoralen. Check the labels on your prescriptions to see if they cause photosensitivity. If so, make sure to protect your skin and eyes or avoid sun exposure when possible.

• Put a lid on it: In addition to shades, consider wearing a hat with a broad brim. They have been shown to significantly cut exposure to harmful rays. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

• Don’t drive without UV eye protection: Don’t assume that car windows are protecting you from UV light. A recent study found that side windows blocked only 71 percent of rays, compared to 96 percent in the windshield.  Only 14 percent of side windows provided a high enough level of protection, the researchers found. So when you buckle up, make sure you are wearing glasses or sunglasses with the right UV protection.

At the end of the day, you want to retain fond memories and experiences during summer celebration, not skin cancer and blinding eye disease.

For more information, visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com.

Politics often meet Beaufort County traffic jams

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
rauch

By Bill Rauch

Government isn’t bad at making plans, but its plans rarely get implemented without a firm push from the outside. These pushes come most often from constituent groups, but reasonable requests from campaign donors and threats from lawyers sometimes work too.

Occasionally an elected official advances a pet project, but that’s rare. Mostly government runs by crisis management.

Another rarity is the roadway improvement project that isn’t opposed by one or more neighborhood groups.

We all drive cars. We all hate to wait. In places that are growing – like Beaufort County – the number of cars on the roads grows by two-plus for every residential building unit that is permitted.

Thus local motorists are a growing constituent group. And when they get fed up they easily outmuscle all but the most effective of opponents.

What follows here are three Beaufort County roadway improvement projects that are currently in limbo awaiting a strong enough road rage-inspired push from local motorists, from us. They are the Windmill Harbor crash zone entrance to U.S. 278 on Hilton Head Island, the wacky Buckwalter Parkway detour of the Bluffton Parkway in Bluffton and the embattled Third Crossing in northern Beaufort County.

Let’s start with Bluffton. Beaufort County’s engineers say the $45 million flyover that will facilitate off-island Hilton Head traffic getting onto the Bluffton Parkway will soon be open. This improvement will lift traffic from U.S. 278 and send it down the Bluffton Parkway.

But a couple of miles down the Bluffton Parkway the four-lane road stops dead at Hampton Hall’s doorstep and goes onto what feels like a detour before the Parkway resumes a mile or so later. A problem now, the Hampton Hall bottleneck will increase with the opening of the flyover.

Insiders say the town of Bluffton could have easily avoided this snafu had it been willing to impose its solution via a development agreement provision for Hampton Hall.

Hampton Hall wanted the Bluffton Parkway to stop at the development’s doorstep, and incredibly the town’s negotiators went along with his plan.

Fixing that “detour” faces opposition from Hampton Hall developer John Reed, Beaufort County Council member Cynthia Bensch and some residents of Rose Hill.

The project was on the previous penny sales tax that passed, but when needed matching money from impact fees came up short it was scuttled. The project is currently parked and out of gas.

The Third Crossing between Port Royal Island and Lady’s Island was on the last penny sales tax referendum too with a $5 million price tag. The money was supposed to buy a plan, and the beginnings of permitting and land acquisition. But after the half-million dollar plan showed that the bridge should be from Brickyard to Perryclear, the uproar from those who now live in peaceful seclusion along the proposed new corridor was loud enough – and the voices of Beaufort and Port Royal’s leaderships were faint enough – that the county stalled the project and spent the rest of the money elsewhere.

Now, however, rush hour traffic frustrations on the Woods and McTeer bridges will be increased by the coming Lady’s Island Walmart, as they are every day by the steady stream of building permits being issued for Lady’s, St. Helena and Coosaw Island projects.

Moreover, the construction on Boundary Street has caused the traffic counts on the Parris Island Gateway corridor to increase, giving Port Royal a glimpse of the future.

“When the Woods Bridge is down,” Town Manager Vann Willis said last week, “it’s chaos over here.”

With traffic increasing, and no other alternatives, the question is: When will the Third Crossing plans come off the shelf?

The U.S. 278 at Windmill Harbor intersection – long a hazard – is the subject of a $7 million allocation on the November capital improvements penny sales tax measure.

But without an aggressive campaign behind it the measure will probably fail, and there is no sign now that any campaign will be run.

The Windmill Harbor intersection is another vestige from the days, as Council Chairman Paul Sommerville said last week, “when the developers ran the county.”

The intersection’s improvement has been hindered by opposition from, incredibly, Sea Pines, which has opposed it because it means another stoplight to hold them up drivers’ way to I-95.

All three of these projects have gotten in one form or fashion “the push,” but not as yet one strong and sustained enough to cause concrete to be poured.

Top photo: The westbound Bluffton Parkway as it dead ends into Hampton Hall is shown here. The cars shown here exiting to the right are following the “detour.” Photo by Bill Rauch.

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