I am often critical of our local and national government agencies for how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy turn and how long it often takes for positive action to occur. But I also believe in quickly giving praise when praise is due.
Here is a great example of a super quick “government” response that had an immediate and drastic impact on the safety of children and parents riding bikes and walking to and from Sullivan’s Island Elementary School.
The issue was—I stress “was”— that an overgrowth of bushes made it very hard for drivers leaving the school’s car pool line to see kids on bikes at the most dangerous corner in the commute to and from school. At this particular corner cars are turning into the oncoming flow of kids on bikes yet the drivers could not see the kids because the bushes and trees made it a nearly blind corner. It was only a matter of time before someone would be hit by an oncoming car.
When my wife Kristin and I recently ran into councilman Pat O’Neil, he asked her how she liked the new school. After some raving about how much we and our children loved the school, I remembered the dangerous corner situation and mentioned it to him. A few hours later I received a CC email that Pat had sent town administrator, Andy Benke, asking that action be taken about my concerns. I sent Andy a followup email to clarify the location. He replied that some child safety assessments for ingress and egress around the school had recently been completed.
In his reply Andy copied several officials, one of which was Chief Anthony Stith of the SI Fire and Maintenance Departments. Chief simply replied, “will check on this first thing in the morning.”
That next morning I was out on a run, and as I turned the corner onto I’on Avenue I could see in the distance that Chief and his crew were “on it.” As I got closer, I saw Chief, two trucks, a tractor, and a small army of maintenance and fire department personnel hard at work “whacking and hacking” to make the dangerous corner safer for our children. The improvement, from the standpoint of visibility and safety, is dramatic.
Now instead of a driver not being able to see a child until their front bumper is 10 feet away, they can see the children stopped at the corner from over 100 feet away and before they accelerate to pull out of the school property.
Kristin and I really appreciate the action taken by everyone involved and especially of “Chief” for quickly recognizing a dangerous situation and taking immediate and extreme action to make it safer.
Over the years I have often thought about writing a letter in praise of Chief Stith, but good intentions never turned into the written word until now. Having grown up on Sullivan’s Island and known Chief for over 30 years, I really appreciate everything he has done for our island community.
Many people know how great of a leader he is, but I also know that many people won’t know just how good he is for our island until he retires. I sure hope that is a long way away and that he stays on as a volunteer fireman! Again, hail to the Chief!