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Kudos to longtime teacher on retirement

Allow me to crow a little bit with pride and admiration. 

My wife, Kristy Wood, known to hundreds of Beaufortonians (both children and adults) as “Miss Kristy,” will be retiring from the Honeytree Preschool on June 1 after her presence there for a little over 40 years. 

I’m proud of the love she has shared, as well as the ethics she has instilled, with the many children she has taught over the years. I admire her for both her patience and stamina over those years, not only with her charges, but with what she has also taught and shared with me over our 44 years together. 

I’m not sure how many people appreciate the amount of effort a good pre-kindergarten teacher must exert to help build the strong foundations of ethical citizenship and self esteem within the (proven) critical age of 4- and 5-year-old children. 

I think Miss Kristy has gone above and beyond those efforts and requirements. I see the results often, when we are out in public and youngsters, as both past and present students, run up to her requiring a hug and some conversation.

Kristy was part of the early core Honeytree staff, housed way back when in the Pigeon Point neighborhood, which included Miss Sue Ann, the two Miss Bettys, Miss Kathy, Miss Audrey and Miss Connie. Kris was also an early graduate of the (then) young Leadership Beaufort program. She helped Sue Ann establish the first Hobbit Hill over in Shell Point, not to mention the countless hours of continuing education and CPR classes, DHEC regulation compliances and the work required for hundreds of arts and crafts projects.

I’m so proud of her proven good works and citizenship both inside and outside the classroom and I’ve been privileged to ride on her coattails in a social regard. 

Although I will miss the many “Kids Say the Darn-est Things” stories, I look forward to our retired life together which may prove Kristy’s biggest challenge yet: patience with me, Mr. Kristy. 

Tim Wood 
Beaufort

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More than meets eye happening at Crystal Park

Over 16 years in the making, Crystal Lake Park has recently passed another milestone with the renovation of the existing building and landscaping of the entrance to the park. 

The building, which was the former headquarters of Butler Marine, will serve as the new home for the Open Land Trust and the Soil and Water Conservation District. It will also provide public restrooms for park visitors. 

The newly renovated building will serve as an example of what is possible in energy efficiency when considering new construction or renovation. 

For example, the building includes a solar array for generation of electricity, an advanced remote energy management system, a very high efficiency HVA unit, LED light fixtures and closed cell insulation in the walls and roof (in lieu of fiberglass). 

In addition to renovation of the building, a new viewing dock, to replace the one which was destroyed by fire, is scheduled for completion as part of the present phase of construction. 

Installation of a state of the art security system will accompany the dock construction. The finishing touches on a new parking lot and general landscaping are presently underway.  

The next and final phase is construction of a wooden walkway around the 6-acre lake and is in the design phase. 

Conceived in 2000, donated by a private citizen to the county for a park, and funded as part of the Rural and Critical Land program, Crystal Lake Park should be complete in January 2018.  

Peggy Allard
President, Friends of Crystal Lake

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Lack of representation is unfair to residents

I have attended several of the last few Sea Island Coalition meetings concerning the future of Lady’s Island. While I applaud their efforts, I wonder if it is an exercise in futility. 

Lady’s Island is about twice the size of Manhattan. Let’s think about that a minute. So, putting maps in front of individuals, giving them crayons and markers, and telling them to give locations and selections for multiple categories such as parks, police stations, mixed use, roadways, etc., is a bit daunting at best. It is like trying to eat an elephant all in one bite. Even though there are multiple meetings, the format is the same. 

I hear rumors that the city of Beaufort had a plan for a center city at the intersection of Sams Point and Sea Island Parkway, but it has never been presented. 

Beaufort city officials show up for the meetings, get face time, then step aside as the groups discuss each area and issue. If there really is a plan, why are they not facilitating each group and informing them? Are we just being appeased to think that we have input? 

Let’s face it, we have no voting rights to determine the city of Beaufort elected officials who are making these decisions. So far, it appears that we are an easy “stepchild”tax base. 

I agree with Bill Rauch (former mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008) when he says, “It is past time for the city to step up for Lady’s Island … it is time for the city to begin providing some leadership.”

Rauch had it correct when he said that property taxes, business license taxes and prepared food taxes should be figured out and then subtracted from that sum the city’s reimbursement to Lady’s Island/St. Helena Fire District. What is left is roughly what the city is putting into its pocket from Lady’s Island.

Now, add to the above what the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association said,  “Lady’s Island can anticipate continuing to be a blended community with most of the commercial portion in the city of Beaufort and most of the residential portion remaining in the unincorporated portion of Beaufort County.”

I expect that the unincorporated portion (residential) will continue to be lost in the shadow of Hilton Head and Bluffton. That said, it appears that the city of Beaufort will continue to “cherry pick” the better tax portions of Lady’s Island and leave the rest. 

Talking with one member of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, he expressed how frustrating it is to deal with calls and who has jurisdiction in this “checkerboard” annexation approach. I expect it is the same for all first responders. Do delays occur because of this mess? Who knows?

So, the city of Beaufort will take most of the commercial businesses, determine business license taxes, property taxes and prepared food taxes, all of which will be passed on to the consumers on Lady’s Island in one way or another. 

Businesses on Lady’s Island have no voting rights for the city officials who are making the decisions for them ( unless the owners live in the city of Beaufort), and, of course, neither do the unincorporated residents. 

The bottom line is pretty clear.  

We have “Annexation and Taxation without Representation” on Lady’s Island. I believe there was a tea party in Boston for the same reason.

Yes, Bill Rauch, “it is time for the city to step up for Lady’s Island,” or do we need a Lady’s Island Tea Party?

John Stevenson
Newpoint

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Lady’s Island column omitted information

Why did the Island News edition of March 16-23 cut short Bill Rauch’s article: “Time to get out front of the pathways?”  

Was it because of space constraints, or did the city of Beaufort edit and shorten his article?

Several important topics on costs were omitted which require our attention:

• The projected cost of building the pathways and bike ways due to the high cost of right-of-way acquisition (tell Walmart to give up their road frontage). Also the cost of a stoplight at the recycling center for safe vehicle access. Or the weight and size restrictions of vehicles on the new Harbor Island bridge.

• The ongoing cost of additional county sheriff patrols as the traffic continues to increase and pedestrian and bike usage increases.

• The additional cost and increased manpower of first responders for the distressed bike riders and pedestrians, as well as frantic Walmart shoppers.

 These and other additional costs will fall to the county, since the city of Beaufort can’t even provide enforcement of the Woods Memorial Bridge restriction of “NO vehicles three axles or more,” or the speed on Carteret Street or the drivers who don’t move to the right lane at Craven Street to go straight.

I guess the meters at the only “Pay to Read Library” in the county, and the parking meters along Carteret Street must be generating enough revenue that other enforcement is no longer needed.

I am sure Mr. Rauch would have also included discussion as to why, with a larger population than the city of Beaufort, Lady’s Island has no medical facilities, no public library, no public parks, no adequate public schools, no post office, etc.

He also would point out that Lady’s Island has inadequate and unreliable electrical power, no natural gas service, limited potable water supply, and yet someone on the other side of the river has approval authority of all new housing developments and permitting. (Think infrastructure first)!

Last but not least, with all the traffic studies, surveys, proposed fixes, new roads, etc., to ease traffic problems, no one will man up and face the $50 million elephant (problem): the two-lane approach to a two-lane swing bridge that is failing and should be replaced with a four-lane road to a four-lane draw bridge with hourly openings only.

Maybe in future issues you will publish Mr. Rauch’s priority list of projects, their projected cost as well as estimated completion time frames so that he and Mayor Keyserling can safely ride their bicycles to Walmart and home again with all their purchases without incident.

Walter Quackenbush
Lady’s Island

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Contact your reps about business license program

You may have heard that a bill has been introduced in the SC House of Representatives that will have dramatic impacts on the way that municipalities operate their business license program. 

A conservative estimate indicates the impact on the city of Beaufort’s budget would be a shortfall of $1 million. The bill gives special exemptions to large corporations, while leaving local businesses and property owners to make up revenue shortfalls. 

We urge you to contact the sponsors of this bill and your local representatives, and express your opposition to this proposal.

For a fact sheet prepared by the Municipal Association of SC, visit bit.ly/2lkdwyL.

We urge you to contact the city’s state Rep. Shannon Erickson and express your concern about this bill and the impact it would have on your local government and small businesses. 

Erickson can be reached atshannonerickson@schouse.gov or 803-734-3261. 

We also suggest you share your thoughts with the city’s state Sen. Tom Davis at TomDavis@scsenate.gov or 803-212-6350. 

Please contact Kathy Todd, finance director, or me, with questions or for more information. 

I can be reached at landerson@cityofbeaufort.org. Todd can be reached at ktodd@cityofbeaufort.org.

Thank you for your support.

Libby Anderson
Planning Director
City of Beaufort

Lady’s Island growth needs long-term plans 

I attended the Lady’s Island Corridor Study meeting at Lady’s Island Middle School. I must say that I was a little more than surprised. 

First, the meeting was opened by the mayor of Beaufort. There was no statement by any official of Lady’s Island or Beaufort County. Are they just following and not leading? Do they not care? Is it a pre-gone conclusion that the prime areas of Lady’s Island have already been given the OK to annex by the city?   

Second, three different traffic proposals were made and each of them was based on a residential increase of only 1 percent per year between now and 2038. This was confirmed by the study presenter. 

Really??? Do we think that Walmart would spend millions on a new store for only a 1-percent population increase per year? If we do, then I feel sorry for the local businesses, because it means that most of Walmart’s business is going to be taken from them. 

While I believe that the proposals will provide some relief, it will be only short-term. The corridor study appears to be a shallow attempt to do something with minimal pain instead of providing a real comprehensive plan to get ahead of the situation and a real solution for the future growth of Lady’s Island. 

Let’s bite the bullet now rather than try and play catch-up over and over again.

John Stevenson
Newpoint, Lady’s Island

Robotics team needs financial support

On behalf of the Lady’s Island Middle School Robotics Team, I am writing this letter to request for your support. 

One of our teams has been selected to compete in the prestigious US Open Robotics Championship in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in April 2017. Teams from all across the world are selected to participate in this unique event. 

The competition spans all ages with numerous competitions, allowing for our students to participate in a global educational experience.

Our robotics team, affectionately called “The Janitors,” has made great strides over the past few years working together to help build a quality robotics program at LIMS and the Lady’s Island Community. 

The program is important to us as a school, and is not only a curricular activity for our students but also an extra-curricular activity. 

Our robotics teams participate in numerous competitions throughout the year and consistently are recognized for their talents and dedication to the program. 

We are asking our local businesses to support our endeavors as we continue our efforts for a high quality, global technology program that strives to prepare our students for the future. 

Money raised through your sponsorship will go directly towards the cost of travel, meals and lodging for our students. With a $200 donation by March 15, we will include your business on our T-shirts. We welcome any donation.

Please consider making a contribution today. Checks may be made out to Lady’s Island Middle School and sent to Greg Hall, Lady’s Island Middle School, 30 Cougar Drive, Beaufort, SC 29907. 

Gregory Hall
Principal
Lady’s Island Middle School

Senator’s comments on ACA are misleading

The only reason Sen. Tim Scott can headline his misleading column (The Island News, Feb. 9) with “We are building a better healthcare system” is because citizens and medical care providers work hard at it, and because the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) beat him to it. 

The successes of the ACA are widely documented with testimonials about finally getting care despite pre-existing conditions, and in the numbers. The uninsured rate is down from 41 million people in 2013 to 28.5 million people in 2015. So there’s still work to do. 

Instead, in his editorial the senator continues on with complaints meant to mislead rather than heal. 

“President Obama’s mantra that if you liked your doctor you would keep them,” claims the senator. 

The ACA does not determine your network of providers, that is a business agreement between insurance companies and hospitals and doctors. 

Insurance companies, however, have been narrowing the networks as a way to save themselves money and water down the benefits we pay for out of our pockets and with our taxes. 

Insurance companies are furthermore often incapable of telling patients what is in and out of network, which leads to balance billing, cutting people off from specialists and delaying and interfering with medical decisions. These failures are also a major cause of bankruptcies. 

Scott complains about the costs of reform and healthcare in general. Yes, it’s really expensive, and yes, it would be more expensive now without the stewardship of proper reform, and yes, I agree, there’s room for improvement in the ACA. 

So let’s be positive about it instead of divisive, and forward-thinking instead of hissy-fitting. 

Healthcare is a best use of our tax dollars. South Carolina has awful, and awfully expensive, rates of diabetes, infant and maternal mortality and more. Then there’s security issues like Zika, ebola and mental illness and guns. Walls are nothing to bullets and germs. 

A sincerely managed healthcare system means a lot: that all children are healthy enough learn to the best of their abilities, and it means well-paying jobs, innovation and technology and hope. 

If healthcare was not tied to employment — because it doesn’t have to be — workers would have the freedom to choose jobs suited to their skills and ambitions, and employers would not be responsible for the profit margins of insurance companies. 

“In the Palmetto State,” Scott claims, “insurance companies have fled the marketplace exchange, and many of our constituents are left with only one option for healthcare.” 

This is true because Gov. Haley refused to expand Medicaid and grandfathered in the state health plan, essentially preventing taxpayers from shopping for their own insurance. 

She also spread the same “alternative facts” as Scott is now. 

Follow the money to BlueCross BlueShield. More significantly, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida turned off the Risk Corridor program of the ACA, which forced numerous insurance companies to close in South Carolina and nationally. Now, those insurance companies are successfully suing the federal government because a little man who wanted to be president needed to score some political points. In South Carolina, patients were cut off from their specialists mid treatment; the Post & Courier covered their stories well. 

Insurance companies and politicians are not patient-centered. Consumers are still getting ripped off. 

Keep in mind that the ACA is not for everyone. No one has to shop at marketplace.gov; it’s simply a resource for people who need or choose to. 

The “repeal and replace” plans are big, expensive, deliberate steps backwards, steps taken to personally profit certain politicians and the many middlemen known as insurance companies. 

As our new president tweets: Sad. 

Lisa Rentz
Beaufort

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Thanks to all who supported monument

That a group of local citizens supported by our representatives in Washington managed to get President Obama, in his final days in office, to designate four sites in Beaufort County as part of a national monument to Reconstruction is simply amazing.  

It brings to mind the following final portion of Edgar Albert Guest poem “It Couldn’t Be Done”

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

There are thousands to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

That “couldn’t be done” and you’ll do it.

To each individual who led the campaign, signed a petition or contacted an elected representative to allow it to happen, thank you. 

Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association

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County lags on reporting financial information

The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 30) reports “Earnings reports this week from more than 100 of Americas biggest companies —.”

This is just about a month after their fiscal year closed.

I checked the Beaufort County website the morning of Jan. 30. Still no annual financial report. The county fiscal year ended June 30. Seven months later and still no report.

Corporations get their reports out in around 30 days, while Beaufort County has had about 210 days without getting any report to the taxpaying public.

Who is managing county finance reporting?  Why does the Beaufort County Council ignore such problems? Its job is to set policy and then monitor compliance with policies.

Jim Bequette
St. Helena Island

TCL looks back on progress in 2016

The Technical College of the Lowcountry plays a critical role in the economic infrastructure of our region. Our mission of education and workforce development helps to sustain and drive our local economy.

It is my responsibility to ensure that the college not only keeps pace with current workforce demand but also anticipates the future workforce needs of our business and industry.

To that end, the college accomplished a lot in 2016. We launched the Automotive Technology program and significantly expanded our Aviation Maintenance and Structural Mechanics programs. These are important achievements, but we need to do more. I have four priorities for the college:

1. A Lowcountry Culinary Institute to train a much-needed culinary workforce.

2. A Regional Workforce Training Center to train local residents for jobs in the fast-emerging diversified manufacturing industry.

3. The expansion of our Health Science Programs to meet the exploding workforce needs of the healthcare industry.

4. TCL College Online to make it easier for working students and our military to earn a degree or career certification.

I believe in the human and economic potential of the Lowcountry. Community-based education and workforce training not only expands economic opportunity for our residents, but will do more to strengthen the local economy than anything else a state or local government can do.

By providing access to education and skilled trades training, TCL turns potential into reality for individuals, families and communities.

TCL is the community’s choice for career-oriented education and university transfer programs. We value access and inclusion and are committed to the success of our students and the communities we serve.

Technical College of the Lowcountry, our name says it all.

Dr. Richard J. Gough
TCL President

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Many unanswered questions on referendum

I have reviewed a copy of the referendum ballot that the Beaufort County School District wants the citizens to approve in November. This would enable collection of a 1 percent sales tax for a period of 10 years. Its purpose is to provide approximately $313 million for the district to spend on new buildings, modifications, major repairs, gifts and … ?.

They have provided a list of items without estimated costs identified to them. Prior cost sheets that were circulated indicate spending “needs” of $217 million. This would leave a major slush fund of just under $100 million dollars.

After the nepotism rule changes, admission of ethics failures by the superintendent, and failure of  any punitive action by the school board,  who in his or her right mind could vote to provide a million-dollar slush fund for this board and superintendent?

The board had discussed publicly many times about reducing the debt millage rate if this referendum is passed. There are no specifics in this referendum language except a meaningless broad statement concerning debt millage.

This document the board wants approved by voters is without equal in its lack of legal specifics. It does not even appear to have been prepared by a qualified attorney, but by someone who wanted details kept from the voters.

Jim Bequette
Retired CPA and major corporation financial executive
St. Helena Island (Dataw)

Send your letters to the editor to theislandnews@gmail.com.

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Thank you Representative Mark Sanford

It caught my eye last week that Rep. Mark Sanford scored the highest in the delegation based on his votes related to reigning in government and spur economic growth from the Club for Growth…what also caught my eye is the fact that his opponent got an F from that same organization in the state house. It’s one thing to say you’re going to vote with the taxpayer in mind; it is quite another when a politician actually does so. And for that, I’d just like to say thank you, thank you for doing what you said you would do when we elected you…

Joseph S. Iaco
Okatie, SC

Huge thanks from AMIkids

Under blue skies with comfortable temperatures, several hundred people joined AMIkids Beaufort at Brays Island on May 7 for our Silver Anniversary Croquet Picnic. It was our pleasure to welcome as Grand Marshal State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, who has helped our program immensely over the past two years.

Thanks to generous donations throughout the weekend, we raised more than $110,000 to directly benefit the at-risk young men we serve at our AMIkids Beaufort program. The money will be used for our welding program, which helps our young men earn certificates to help them find jobs.

We offer a special thank you to Brays Island, which for 25 years has generously shared part of their golf course and driving range for our croquet. We appreciate all our supporters – without you our croquet fundraiser never would have made it 25 years!

Jimmy Boozer
Chairman, AMIkids Beaufort Board of Trustees

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A huge thank you to the Bluffton community

The Bluffton Area Community Association and The Bluffton High Bobcat Baseball Team would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for ALL the LOVE and SUPPORT we received from those who gave their time, talent and monetary donations that made this 5th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt the best one ever.

It was held in the Bluffton High School baseball stadium and the rain held off and provided us gorgeous weather so the children could hunt all those plastic and hard boiled eggs. We would especially like to thank the Carolina Ballers AAU team for spreading out over 5000 eggs onto the baseball field and around the fence. In addition, we thank Mr. Bold Frazier for being our cook for the day and Mr. Jack Frost who provided free flavored Ice for the event.

There were loads of fun activities for the kids to win prizes: Tug –A-War, Hula Hoop Contest, Face Painting, and Sack Race, Egg Race and free food and drinks. Our grand finale was a visit from Mr. Peter Cotton Tail who took the time to take photos with the children.

We are truly thankful and grateful to the businesses, churches and individuals who supported this event. Without your contributions we would not be able to offer this event for our youth in the community so until next year we say “Thank you for a caring and sharing heart!”

Sharon Brown, Event Coordinator
Lenora Grayson, Board Member
Bryant Kitty, Bobcat Head Baseball Coach

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