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Sanford says no to offshore drilling

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Photo above: Rep. Mark Sanford opposes offshore drilling at a rally at the Statehouse last week.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 13, Congressman Mark Sanford spoke at a rally opposing offshore drilling at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia. 

He released the following statement:

“Those local voices that joined me today understand the unique look and feel of South Carolina’s coastline. They know the importance of tourism as an economic driver for our state. And they join every single coastal municipality in South Carolina in coming out against drilling off our coast.

“It was these issues that Secretary Zinke said informed the administration’s decision to exempt Florida from any offshore drilling plans through 2024. To not give South Carolina the same consideration would be inconsistent at best – and politics as usual at worst. 

“Accordingly, a simple thank you to all of today’s participants who are uniting on this issue to send a compelling message to Washington. And a thank you to all the local leaders, businesses, and organizations who have dedicated their voices, time, and resources to this as well. If local input truly matters here, then it seems obvious that South Carolina’s exemption should be forthcoming.”

The same day, the Bureau of Ocean and Land Management (BOEM) was holding a public meeting in Columbia on the administration’s proposal to open nearly 90% of U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling activities, including off South Carolina’s coast. This meeting is part of a 60-day public comment period on the recently released draft five-year program (2019-2024) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The draft plan includes 47 potential lease sales – the largest number ever proposed.

The public has until March 9 to comment on the draft proposed program, which is the first of two opportunities for public comment on the plan. Visit www.boem.gov/National-Program-Comment to submit a comment.

Sanford’s Actions in Opposition to Offshore Drilling:

He introduced the Coastal Economies Protection Act to place a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic, a bill that is supported by a Coalition of over 60 groups.

Local positions open

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Apply for internships with Rep. Sanford’s office

Representative Mark Sanford’s office is now accepting internship applications for spring and summer 2018. The internship program offers undergraduate students practical experience in constituent service, public policy, and the legislative process.  

 Interns will have the opportunity to experience a wide-range of responsibilities, including everything from answering phones and giving Capitol building tours to helping conduct legislative research and preparing presentations. Interested students can apply online at sanfordforms.house.gov or can contact the internship coordinator, Lindsey Heiser, at lindsey.heiser@mail.house.gov or call (202) 225-3176. 

Bluffton searches for CEO of Don Ryan Center For Innovation

The Town of Bluffton is accepting applications for the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation (DRCI), the town’s non-profit economic development organization.  Following the resignation of the center’s former CEO, David Nelems, Town Manager Marc Orlando appointed Trent Williamson as interim CEO during this nationwide talent search. Williamson has served as the Vice President of Economic Development for the center for about a year.

Orlando said since opening the Center in 2012, its mission is to create a pro-business culture to attract knowledge-based businesses to the regional economy.

For more information about the position and how to apply, go to the Town’s website at https://www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/pdfs/employment-opportunities/ceo-drci.pdf.

Beaufort Digital Corridor names board of directors

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The Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC), a public-private partnership launched in 2016 to nurture Beaufort’s knowledge economy, is pleased to announce the formation of its foundational Board of Directors:

• Kevin Klingler, founder of SmartSound Software, film and TV composer, music producer

• Jess O’Brien, account director at ClickGiant, digital marketing professional

• Joe Floyd, founder and CEO of InsureSign, electronic signature software

• Matt D’Angelo, Software, Professional Services, and the originator of TECHconnect

• Stephen Murray, Kazoobie Kazoos, Beaufort City Council and Redevelopment Commission, Chairman of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corp, and the initiator of the BDC.

The Digital Corridor Foundation Board is comprised of entrepreneurs from Beaufort’s community. The board members will play an important role with the development of the BDC by providing first-hand insight into the tech and knowledge-based industry.

These members, who call Beaufort home, bring a diverse professional expertise to the BDC, as well as a personal commitment to strengthen Beaufort’s economy. “Beaufort is an incredible place to live and we want to help develop the tech economy for the next generation and encourage a more vibrant community,” said BDC board member, Kevin Klingler.

Jess O’Brien added, “The BDC is an opportunity for growth in an unsaturated market, building the bridge between companies that can provide tech jobs and the existing yet increasing talent pool.”

For more information, visit beaufortdigital.com.

Public safety briefs for February 15th-21st

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Fire districts extinguish brush fire

Burton FD_Brush Fire Trask_020718a

The Burton Fire District and the Sheldon Fire District extinguished a half-acre brush fire on Trask Parkway on February 7.

Just after 11:30 a.m., the Burton Fire District responded to a reported brush fire by Garrett Smalls Road. Firefighters arrived and located a small moving brush fire on the side of Trask Parkway. Due to the lack of hydrants in the area, the Burton Fire District requested assistance from the Sheldon Fire District, which dispatched a water tanker. 

It took firefighters approximately an hour and a half to extinguish the fire. No structures were damaged, though traffic on Trask Parkway slowed while firefighters worked to put out the flames. The Burton Fire District has responded to 10 brush-grass fires so far in 2018.

One injured in two car wreck

The Burton Fire District responded to a motor vehicle accident on Trask Parkway just before 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, in front of 2842 Trask Parkway by Poppy Hill Circle. Firefighters arrived to a two vehicle accident between a passenger vehicle and a pickup truck. The male driver of the passenger vehicle, who was wearing a seat belt, sustained what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the pickup was not injured. An east bound lane and a west bound lane of Trask Parkway were blocked while emergency crews assisted the injured driver.

Two vehicle accident snarls traffic in Port Royal

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Firefighters with the City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle accident at the intersection of Ribaut Road and Lady’s Island Drive at 3:11 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5. 

Upon arrival firefighters found two trucks had collided. A work configured truck and a 1500 series Chevrolet collided in the intersection. Traffic was blocked in multiple directions for about 30-40 minutes. 

There were two occupants in the standard pickup truck and one occupant in the work truck. The pickup suffered significant damage from rear of the vehicle causing the passenger of the vehicle to be trapped in the passenger seat. The driver of the pickup was able to self-extricate from the vehicle. 

Firefighters used the jaws of life to open the passenger’s door off the damage vehicle. Both occupants were evaluated on scene by Beaufort County EMS. Two patients were transported by Beaufort County EMS with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. 

The City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal FD, the Port Royal Police Department, and Beaufort County EMS were all on scene. 

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News briefs for February 8th-14th

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Business for Breakfast #MeToo in the Workplace

The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the SC LowCountry SCORE Chapter, announces #Me Too In The Workplace: How Small Businesses Can Avoid Costly Sexual Harassment Problems, another in the Chamber’s Second Wednesday programs for small businesses. The one hour program will provide attendees with an improved working knowledge of how to avoid sexual harassment problems in this era of heightened awareness about the extent of these problems in the workplace. Speaker Ben Glass is a shareholder with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, & Stewart, PC, one of the largest labor and employment firms in the world.  

The event will be held Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. 701 Craven Street. Free for Chamber members Non-members $15. For more information, contact Ginger Olszewski at ginger@beaufortsc.org.

County offers free electronics recycling

The Beaufort County Public Works Department Solid Waste and Recycling Office will host two free electronics recycling events for county residents. The next events will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following locations on Saturday, February 17:

• Beaufort County Public Works, 9 Benton Field Road, Bluffton 

• Beaufort County Public Works, 140 Shanklin Road, Beaufort 

Any personal computers, laptops, CRT monitors, LCD monitors, CRT televisions, non-CRT televisions, printers, hard drives and miscellaneous electronics (microwaves, cell phones, radios, fax machines, and typewriters) will be accepted. If you have questions concerning this or other recycling events, please call the Solid Waste and Recycling Office for more information at 843-255-2736 or visit their website at www.bcgov.net/recycle.

Coffee with Colleagues hosted by CAPA

A free networking opportunity for chamber members, February’s Coffee with Colleagues willl be hosted by CAPA Beaufort. Be sure to bring your business cards on Friday, Feb. 16, from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. CAPA is located at 714 14th Street in Port Royal.

Parris Island to graduate 429 new Marines 

Lima Company 3rd Recruit training battalion has 429 new Marines scheduled to graduate Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

New briefs for February 1st-7th

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BMH, MUSC to open micro hospital

Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) have announced plans to open a micro hospital that will expand services to the greater Bluffton community. The two organizations will form a joint venture to open the facility adjacent to Beaufort Memorial’s planned 60,000-70,000-square-foot medical campus in Okatie Crossing.

The micro hospital will have an estimated 15 to 25 beds to serve both adult and pediatric patients. The BMH Board of Trustees voted to approve the joint venture in December during its regular meeting.  Micro hospitals are acute care hospitals that focus on treating low-acuity patients with a higher level of service, providing ambulatory and emergency services while leaving more complex surgeries and service lines for their associated full-service hospitals. They have fewer beds, usually around eight to 12, and are located near residential areas to provide quick, convenient access to the communities they serve. 

Smoke detector alerts family to fire

The Burton Fire District responded to a house fire on Parker Drive on Friday, Jan. 26 which resulted in minor damages thanks to a smoke detector.

Just before 4 p.m., Burton and MCAS Beaufort firefighters responded to a reported house fire on Park Drive in Burton. Firefighters arrived on scene and reported smoke coming from a single wide mobile home. The fire was quickly extinguished with minor damages, and the family was able to remain in the home. Firefighters assisted with removing smoke and installed three new smoke detectors. The fire was caused by unattended cooking on the stove, and cooking fires are the leading cause of local fires. 

Burton firefighters arrived quickly and extinguished the fire, limiting damages to the stove and cabinets. Burton fire officials again stress a common theme also present in this fire; fires in homes with smoke detectors result in less damages, injuries, and deaths.

Sen. Scott accepting internship applications

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is accepting congressional internship applications for available positions in his Washington DC, North Charleston, Columbia and Greenville offices for the summer. 

The internship program offers undergraduate and graduate students practical experience in constituent services, the legislative process, government policy, and press. All internships are unpaid, but students will learn invaluable work experience and skills throughout their internship that will help them gain a better understanding of how their government functions.
Internship hours are flexible to accommodate students’ course schedules, but can generally run 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interested students should contact the internship coordinator at internships@scott.senate.gov or 202-224-6121.

A total of 580 new Marines to graduate

Golf Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, will graduate with 448 new Marines. November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, will graduate with 132 new Marines.

A Beaufort tragedy remembered 16 years later

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By Sally Mahan

Left: Lance Cpl. Dana Tate. Right: Cpl. Dyke “A.J.” Coursen.
Left: Lance Cpl. Dana Tate. Right: Cpl. Dyke “A.J.” Coursen.

Sixteen years ago this month, two Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call in Burton. It was the last call the two would answer.

Lance Cpl. Dana Tate, 44, and Cpl. Dyke “A.J.” Coursen, 35, were shot to death by Tyree Roberts, on Jan. 8, 2002.

Coursen had been with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department for one year. He left behind his wife, D.J., son, and stepdaughter.

Tate was a U.S. Navy veteran and had been with the department for over four years. He also left behind a family, including his wife, Marie.

Meanwhile, the defendant, who now goes by the name Abdiyyah ben Alkebulanyahh, continues to sit on death row at Kirkland Correctional Institute in Columbia, having recently filed another appeal, according to the SC Attorney General’s Office.

On the fateful day, a 911 came in at about 4 p.m. saying a woman and her child were being held against their will by the woman’s boyfriend. 

According to various court records, Roberts lived in a trailer at 21 Riley Road owned by Brenda Smith. Another woman, Kimberly Blake, with whom Roberts had an infant daughter, was also staying there. Blake wanted the police to help her leave because Roberts had hit her.  

When the deputies arrived, Roberts hid in a bedroom closet with his semi-automatic rifle. Blake left the room and the trailer’s owner, Smith, gave the deputies permission to search the bedroom.  

Then there was a hail of gunshots.

Blake ran outside and down the road, and Roberts was not far behind. Holding his gun, he told Blake, “I just killed those two white bitches and I’m going to say it was self-defense.”  

When backup officers responded to the scene, they found Coursen and Tate dead. Coursen had suffered six gunshot wounds; Tate had seven. However, Tate was able to wound Roberts before he died.

A short time later, Roberts was found hiding in the mud under a bridge with a shoulder and hip wound. At the time, he had a black fanny pack which held a cell phone, a knife and ammunition for an M-14 assault rifle. They then found a rifle magazine and an SKS assault rifle in the area in which Roberts had ran. 

Roberts was charged with capital murder. 

At his 2003 trial, he represented himself, but two lawyers were there to assist him.  

Tyree Roberts
Tyree Roberts

While the jury was deliberating, Roberts told the judge that if the jury returned a guilty verdict, he would not participate at the sentencing. He also said he would be unruly and would have to be restrained. 

After 13 days of testimony, the jury took one hour to convict Roberts of two counts of murder.  

The judge decided that the best way to proceed during sentencing was with Roberts in the courtroom.  

Roberts told the judge that the lawyers were not representing him in any way, but ultimately decided they could remain as stand-by counsel to object to the introduction of improper evidence. 

At the sentencing, as soon as the first witness was sworn in, Roberts stood up and began to chant, “Blessed be Yahweh, El Shaddai, Jehova, God Almighty, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob and Jesus.”  

He was told by the court to be seated, and when he continued chanting, he was removed. He was then brought back into the courtroom and once again began chanting when a witness began to testify.  

The jury was removed, and Roberts was placed in a conference room at the back of the courtroom that had a glass partition to allow him to hear and see the proceedings. He was initially restrained, but the restraints were removed before the jury was returned to the courtroom. 

Throughout sentencing, the judge offered to allow Roberts to come back into the courtroom if he could do so without being disruptive; however, Roberts said he would rather remain in the back room. He only returned to make a closing statement to the jury. According to various media reports, before the sentencing he said, “I regret and have a lot of sorrow for what has taken place in my home. There is nothing I can do to bring back their lives.”

Addressing the families, Roberts said, “I did not hate your husbands. I did not hate authority. I hate the situation that led them to my home. It was bogus. It was false and I’m sorry to the wives and to the children. Especially to the children.”

The families said at the time that Roberts did not seem remorseful despite the apology.

The jury was then charged with recommending a sentence. After 45 minutes of deliberations, the eight women and four men recommended death.

Roberts, who had a record of two armed robberies and other crimes before the murders, has based his appeals on several issues, including one appeal in 2006 that argued that the court erred in refusing Roberts’ request to be completely absent from sentencing. The appeals court turned down that argument.

Roberts, who is now 55, recently filed an appeal stating that he had “ineffective counsel,” according Robert Kittle, spokesperson for the SC Attorney General’s Office. 

“It’s just part of going through the appeals process,” said Kittle.

That appeal is pending.

During his time on death row, Roberts has lost various privileges for prison violations. In 2009 and in 2010 he “threatened to inflict harm on an employee,” according to the SC Department of Corrections. 

Meanwhile, the families live with the knowledge that their loved ones were killed for doing their duty.

At the sentencing phase of the trial, Tate’s wife, Marie, testified that on that day her husband “hugged me, kissed me and said, ‘See ya later.’ My husband told me his No. 1 job was to get back home to me.”

Burton battles three house fires in one weekend

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Photo above: Burton Fire Department was unable to save this home on Kato Lane from a house fire.

The Burton Fire District responded to its second house fire in less than 12 hours on Saturday, Jan. 6, which again displaced a family.

Just past 8 a.m. on Jan. 6, Burton and MCAS Beaufort Fire Department responded to a report of a house fire on Kato Lane in Burton. Firefighters arrived on scene and reported smoke and flames coming from a double wide mobile home.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames in less than 20 minutes but were hampered on scene due to icy condition and water supply in the area. No injuries were reported. Burton FAST Team responded and assisted firefighters with hot drinks and food. 

The Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department also assisted at the fire. 

Four adults and two children lived at the home and were displaced due to the heavy fire damages. There were no smoke detectors in the home. The resident was alerted to the fire when he saw flames burning up a curtain and was able to get everyone out safely. 

Red Cross was called to assist the family. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

This was the second destructive house fire in 12 hours for Burton firefighters. Just past 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5, Burton and Beaufort/Port Royal firefighters extinguished a house fire on Winsor Road in Shell Point. Two adults were displaced in that fire as well. 

“Unfortunately the common theme here is no working smoke detectors,” stated Burton Fire Lieutenant Daniel Byrne.  “Luckily everyone was awake when the fire broke out, were able to escape, and we avoided a real tragedy.”

The Burton Fire District and the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department responded to a third house fire that weekend; however, due to the quick actions of the homeowner and an available fire extinguisher, this time there was no family displacement.

Just before 11 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7, Burton and Beaufort/Port Royal firefighters responded to a reported house fire on Mink Point Blvd. Firefighters arrived on scene and reported no visible smoke or flames from the exterior of the home, but when they entered the home, they found the home filled with a smoky haze. 

Firefighters located the source of the haze in a rear bedroom where minor scorching of the wall and a burned lampshade were found. The resident stated she found the lampshade burning and put the fire out using a home fire extinguisher.

Burton fire officials stress the importance of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in every home, and offer free education and training on both. Residents wishing to schedule a presentation for their group, fire extinguisher training, smoke detectors, or a home fire safety survey, may do so by emailing safetyed@burtonfd.org.

Public safety briefs for January 18th-24th

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Burton Fire responds to multiple vehicle accidents

The Burton Fire District responded to its 9th motor vehicle accident since Jan. 4 on Monday, Jan. 8; fortunately, the driver escaped uninjured. 

Burton firefighters responded to a reported motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Goethe Hill Road and Castle Rock Road just after 9 .a.m. on Monday. Firefighters arrived on scene to find a single vehicle accident involving a Ford Explorer which had rolled onto its side. 

The male driver was able to get out of the vehicle on his own and was uninjured. Traffic on Goethe Hill Road was delayed for approximately 30 minutes while emergency crews assisted the driver and removed roadway hazards.

Sheriff’s Office investigates woman’s shooting death

The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding 38-year-old Karwanna Albany’s shooting death that occurred Saturday, Jan. 7, night at 4-B Albany Drive in Dale. 

A forensic autopsy on Albany was performed January 8 at the Medical University of South Carolina. Forensic pathologists reported to the Coroner’s Office that Albany died as a result of gunshot wounds and confirmed that her manner of death was homicide. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sergeant Andrew Rice at 843-255-3429 or CrimeStoppers 1-888-CrimeSC if wishing to remain anonymous and for possible reward. 

CERT classes to be offered in February

Beaufort County residents interested in learning more about self-sufficiency during a disaster are invited to participate in the Community Response Team Program. The CERT program provides training for individuals to increase self-sufficiency in a disaster. CERT classes are free of charge. The next series will start February 6. Classes will be held at the Technical College of the Lowcountry campus in Bluffton at 100 Community College Drive in room 125.

The course is taught in four class sessions 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and one Saturday exercise class 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to register, send an email to cert@bcgov.net or contact Major David Zeoli, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, at 843-812-8035.

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