Dear Island Neighbors,
Well, it’s our first column of 2018 and I hope you are having a healthy and happy new year… with our opening snow week as good training in resilience, flexibility and humor. Wasn’t it fun out here on the first snow day when we saw our Island decked out for 2018 Christmas Card photos, and the newly repaired mound at Stith Park being enjoyed as creatively and gloriously as ever! I think I saw cardboard, boogie boards, waterski tubes, an actual sled and the occasional back side employed as means of sliding down our snow-covered mound…and a day or two later, as means of sliding down our mud-covered mound. Mud-boarding anyone? This was also an opportunity to observe first-hand how our Town staff handles emergencies. As usual, the answer was: Excellently. Our staff coordinated with other Tri-County agencies; we participated in daily emergency management conference calls. Town Administrator Andy Benke sent out his reports from those calls once and sometimes twice a day to his Town email list, our Twitter feed (@ TownofSI) at bit.ly/2D0XOUy and our Facebook page at bit.ly/TOSI_ FB. Police and Fire staff put in long shifts to ensure their availability. Our often unsung Water and Sewer staff were also in place to deal with issues related to breaks in private water lines and our Town water mains. It’s easy to forget that many of our fine Town personnel live a-ways from the Island, and had to sacrifice time with their families to make sure they would be available to the Town. The snowstorm actually gave us the opportunity to deploy assets recently acquired for use in other types of emergencies. After the Irma flooding forced us to ask the Mt. Pleasant Department to send a high-water military vehicle so our officers could check on residents in areas flooded too high for our vehicles to navigate, Interim Police Chief Chris Griffin and Sgt. Tim Mast enrolled us with the US Defense Logistics Agency and acquired AT NO COST several pieces of used equipment that could prove invaluable in such emergencies. Among these were two “deuce-and-a-half” trucks able to navigate 5-foot waters with all-wheel drive. During our snow-and-ice event, longtime Police Department member Tom McClellan put these big, heavy trucks to an unexpected use as land-based ice-breakers, by driving them slowly but repeatedly over the snow and ice on the Causeway, Jasper Blvd. and other high-use roads to break up the ice faster to make them more passable.
HOW YA LIKE DEM ERSTERS?
As I note annually, that was how the very down-to-earth New Orleans Mayor Robert Maestri started a conversation with his guest President Franklin Roosevelt, when they tucked into some Oysters Rockefeller at New Orleans’ famed Antoine’s Restaurant in 1937. We won’t likely have any presidents in attendance, but you can get some great “ersters”, visit with friends and neighbors, and support our great Fire and Rescue Squad at our annual Oyster Roast, 5-8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3. The location as usual is the Big Tin/Fish Fry Shack (Station 15 at 1453 Hennessey St.). Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the Fire Station, Town Hall, the Harris Teeter at Sea Island Shopping Center and Simmons Seafood. It’s all-you-can-eat oysters (bring your own knife), with other food and beverages for purchase, music and entertainment for the kids. Proceeds support the valuable efforts of the Fire and Rescue Squad. Much of their equipment is bought with proceeds from this wonderful event. Hope to see you there.
AT THE RISK OF TEMPTING YOU TO THINK IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING…
Our third annual Farmers’ Market season will run on Thursdays from April 12 through June 28, from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m., at the usual spot: 1921 I’on Ave. in front of the Poe Library and Battery Gadsden. If you know of potential vendors who might add to the variety of our market, please direct them to bit.ly/2018-APP for an application. The Town is accepting vendor applications through Friday, Feb. 16.
BUT BEFORE WE FORGET 2017…
Let’s take a quick look back to review a number of Town accomplishments in 2017. Thanks to our great Town staff and Town Council, we have a number of achievements to brag about. To name just a few, in random order:
• Management of the Eclipse event, which drew hordes of visitors to the Charleston area and thousands to the island.
• Preparation for Hurricane Irma, protection during the storm, and assessment, outreach and cleanup afterwards. All of our Town departments worked very hard to protect our safety and property, communicate with our residents, and maintain the operation of Town facilities.
• Life-saving actions by Town first-responders: Firefighters Don Harbaugh and Adam Ivan observed their colleague Curt Gibbons suffer cardiac arrest right at the fire station. Because they responded instantly according to their training, saving his life, he’s now back on the job. Interim Police Chief Chris Griffin, while driving on I-526, observed a car strike the median and burst into flames, and then rushed to the burning car to extract the helpless driver and get him to safety.
• New playground equipment at Poe Park, thanks to the generosity of the Park Foundation
• Initiation of live traffic cameras on the Causeway/SC703. Get the SCDOT511 app and/or go to 511sc.org to check on conditions.
• Stith Park Improvements: We began the rehab of “The Mound” so the generations-long sliding tradition could resume. The maintenance schedule for the Park landscaping was accelerated. Thanks to Town Council Recreation Committee Chair Sarah Church for her leadership in this and related achievements.
• Initial award of a $1.46 million Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for stormwater mitigation in two flood-prone areas of the Island. The initial design work was funded, and the construction will be funded pending approval of the design. The project will provide relief in the Station 18 and Station 30 drainage basins. Both areas contain repetitive loss structures that experience damage during flood events.
• Dedication of our new Town Hall.
• New windows and some structural repairs to the Island Club building.
• Completion of preliminary engineering analyses for Wastewater Plant upgrades.
• Boardwalk extensions and construction at Stations 22 and 25. Please thank our Town staff from all departments when you see them. See you around the Island!
Pat O’Neil, Mayor
843 670 9266