Dear Island Neighbors,
I hope you are having a healthy and enjoyable summer despite the traffic and crowds that come with our popularity. Here are some reminders about upcoming events and opportunities, and some facts you might not have known about our very dedicated public safety staff and volunteers and the equipment that helps them accomplish their goals.
Don’t forget that this Saturday, June 23, 5-8 p.m., we’ll have our 69th annual Fish Fry sponsored by and for our great Fire and Rescue Squad. Great eats and family fun to support our wonderful volunteers. Takeout is available. See bit.ly/2018SIFishFry . Please read below to learn how this and related events provide important support to the Town’s safety efforts.
LAST FARMER’S MARKET OF THE SEASON
Yes, it’s already almost over. The last 2018 market will be Thursday, June 28, 2:30-6 p.m., next to the Poe Library/Battery Gadsden. Don’t miss this last chance to get some great stuff and chat with some great neighbors.
ISLAND INDEPENDENCE DAY TRADITIONS
On Wednesday, July 4, be sure to join in our traditional Island celebrations of Independence Day. In the morning, at 9 a.m. (line-up at 8:30 a.m.) we will hold our annual Golf Cart and Bicycle Parade, with awards for decorations of each of those types of vehicles. Be creative! See bit.ly/SIPARADE. In the evening beginning at 4:30 p.m., there will be the usual party in Stith Park, featuring music by Permanent Vacation and ending at dusk with a fireworks show. See bit.ly/SI4th. It seems like the fireworks get better every year, so don’t miss the show. Stay tuned to the Town’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, our emails, and website for details. Full event information at bit.ly/SISPECIALEVENTS .
PLAY A ROLE IN TOWN MATTERS
It’s the time of year when some of the terms on our Town Boards and Commissions expire and create opportunities for citizens who wish to give back to the community by lending their wisdom and talents to our Boards and Commissions.
This year we are looking for volunteers for our:
1) Board of Zoning Appeals,
2) Design Review Board,
3) Tree Commission and
4) Municipal Election Commission.
Each of these bodies, composed of resident volunteers, performs important services in the governance of the Town. Most significantly, these boards evaluate and render decisions on individual property owners’ land development requests, and, serve as advisors to Town Council on historic preservation, tree preservation and other planning and zoning related matters. You can get more information and applications at bit.ly/SIBoards . Service on any of these bodies is not only a valuable contribution to your Town, but also a way for you to learn a bit more about how Town government works and to get a taste of involvement in it. Give it a shot.
What are all those boats and things behind the Fire Station, and how much did they cost us?
Those are questions I get from time to time, and the answer to the latter one might surprise you. As mentioned above, our Island Fish Fry is a very longstanding tradition, as is the annual Oyster Roast. Both events are sponsored by our Fire and Rescue Squad to support their efforts. For six decades, the Town has been able to supplement the paid fire department with a capable force of volunteer fire and rescue personnel. Our fire department was started in 1948, when the Army moved out. (Chief Anthony Stith’s father was the first chief, and Town Administrator Andy Benke’s father was a later chief!) In the early years of the Township of Sullivan’s Island the Fire Department was staffed with only one firefighter on duty daily. The volunteers are able to assist our regular paid firefighters during structure fires, accidents, natural disasters and search and rescue operations. They raise funds through the fish fry, oyster roast, boat landing dues and grant applications submitted by the staff and volunteers.
WHERE DO THOSE FUNDS GO?
To purchase nearly all the vehicles, watercraft and other equipment behind the Fire Station. Hardly any of it has been purchased with taxpayer funds. Why do we have all that gear? It is necessary equipment to keep the town and beach safe for its residents and visitors. When someone is in distress in the water off the beach, seconds really are a life-or-death matter, and jet skis are usually the quickest way to get a rescuer out there. We have inshore boats and the offshore-ready all-weather catamaran for boaters in emergency situations farther offshore. Our folks are closer to the jetties than anyone else, so they are in the best position to get there or beyond when needed. That catamaran was purchased with funds from a Homeland Security grant. The boathouse was also paid for and actually built by the squad. The Squad’s fundraising efforts also support other valuable Town resources, including the boat landing and dock, and beach-compatible wheelchairs. That latter item is available to any resident or visitor who needs it; to request one call Town Hall at 843.883.3198 in advance to assure availability. We have received some very heart-warming thanks from folks who have used these chairs, or their family members, pointing out how much joy they brought to someone who otherwise would never have been able to get to the beach. Our Police Department also makes important contributions to our readiness without relying on Town taxes.
Most recently, through the government 10-33 Military Surplus program, the department has acquired four high water vehicles (2 troop transports commonly called “deuce and a half” and two HUMVs), two portable generators for emergency lighting or external power sources, and other valuable police equipment at no cost to the taxpayers. (Previously we have needed to rely on neighboring communities for high-water vehicles to assist residents, as recently as Irma last fall.) Additionally, the department regularly applies for grants to supplement replacement of bulletproof vests. So when you see any of that safety equipment around, you can feel good that its purpose is important and the price was right. See you around the island!
Pat O’Neil, Mayor