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Letter From The Mayor Of Sullivan’s Island: October 2017

I hope you are enjoying the early stages of what is my favorite time of year on the island: Fall. Nothing like those cool breezes and that great, clear fall light on the Spartina grass as it goes golden. And college football…depending on who your team is. But before we get too captivated by all that, here are a few items.


It’s hard to believe, but in the month since my last column, we have gone through: 1) the annually busy Labor Day 3-day weekend; 2) the once in a lifetime Total Solar Eclipse event creating a 3-day weekend surge of visitors; and 3) the preparation for, duration of, and aftermath of Hurricane Irma, creating an even longer weekend, without the fun.

If you’re exhausted, think about how tired our great Town staff must be. We had full staffing for all of those long weekends, and of course our professional staff and our Fire and Rescue volunteers were of necessity away from their families and homes. This is the sort of dedication we see every day, year-round, but it was especially valuable and apparent during these times. Please thank all of our staff and volunteers when you see them.

And while we often think first of our Police and our Fire and Rescue staff and volunteers, please remember that ALL of our Town staff are fully engaged at such times, whether it is Town Hall staff dealing with crushes of people asking for emergency return decals or dog tags for the hurricane or holiday weekend or eclipse glasses, or our Water and Sewer staff feverishly trying to manage the great inflow of stormwater that infiltrates our sewer collection system during rain events, or our Public Works staff cleaning out drains before storms and cleaning up the debris afterwards.

The calm at the center of all these challenges, orchestrating the effort of all these fine folks, is our able Town Administrator, Andy Benke.

I can tell you from experience from Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017) that you will never know how much he does until you go through a hurricane with him.


What an exciting topic (YAWN)…until you have a bunch of debris from your yard that you want to be rid of, or you’re tired of looking across the street at a bunch of debris from your neighbor’s yard.

Obviously Irma left us with a variety of broken limbs, fallen leaves, and washed up dead marsh grass. Hopefully we will get help with disposing of all that, but post-storm debris removal takes a lot longer than our routine needs.

But a more, long-term matter is the yard debris that we generate year-round. While meandering around the Island, it’s easy to see that most folks doing their own yard work have gotten the message that yard clippings need to be put in paper (not plastic) bags, limbs need to be no longer than 4 feet, and loose items should be placed in trash cans marked as “yard debris”.

But professional yard crews working on the Island have different requirements under our ordinances: they must carry off all the clippings, trimmings, branches, etc. that they are creating on your behalf. So any contractor you retain has to take away all the yard debris they create; they are not allowed to leave it at the curb. Costs for that (removal and landfill fees) are no doubt embedded in their quote to you. So, don’t hesitate to insist upon getting these services for which you are paying even if not listed. (We reiterate this information to landscape vendors who get business licenses, so licensed contractors are well aware of this.)

Most of the lawn/landscaping work done on the Island is performed by great, reliable contractors who follow the rules. But if you note a vendor’s crew leaving their products behind on the curb, you should know that they are not living up to their obligations. And don’t hesitate to call Town Hall for all your debris questions or issues at 843.883.3198 then touch 3.


Speaking of disasters, in October we are alerted to one variety that we can often avoid. Fire Chief Anthony Stith asks me to remind you that Fire Prevention Month should be your cue to check your smoke detectors and replace the batteries in those that rely on battery power.

Also to check the fire extinguishers in your home to be sure their charging indicators are still in the appropriate range. And if you said: “What smoke detector?” or “What fire extinguisher?” get to the store.


State law requires t hat every municipality update its comprehensive plan every 10 years. Accordingly,our Planning Commission is commencing that process for our Town, which they will shepherd throughout its course. Over the next year there will be a series of opportunities for citizens to provide input.

 Please try to attend one or both of these first opportunities to participate in this important process, which really does create the blueprint for our Town for the next 10 years:

Tuesday, October 10, 5:00 – 6:30, Kickoff meeting

Wednesday, November 8, 5:00 – 6:30, Open house and visioning session.

 Both sessions will be at Town Hall.


If you ever have a medical emergency that requires you to be transported by helicopter ambulance, you will no doubt be concerned with far more immediate issues than the bill. But rest assured the tab will be very substantial. Even with medical insurance, an air medical transport can leave the patient and family with very large, unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

While of course we hope nobody here ever needs it, Sullivan’s Island residents can feel a little more comfortable about the post-transport sticker shock. The Town recently entered into an agreement with Meducare Air and the AirMedCare Network to offer protection in some of these instances.

Because of this agreement, if a full-time Sullivan’s Island resident with health insurance requires air medical transport on any AirMedCare Network helicopter ambulance, for a life- or limb-threatening emergency from within Charleston County South Carolina, that air medical service will work with the resident’s benefits provider to secure payment for the flight. Whatever the patient’s benefits provider pays is considered payment in full.

If the resident transported is uninsured at the time of transport, he or she will be billed at the “Medicare Allowable Rate” for the transport.

Sullivan’s Island residents may also take advantage of upgrading to a full AirMedCare Network Membership at a discounted rate, to gain full coverage with fewer pickup location or insurance coverage restrictions.

For questions about membership in the AirMedCare Network program, please call 800.793.0010 or visit Locally, AirMedCare Network Membership Manager Wes McAden can be reached at 843.708.6192 or See you around the Island!

Pat O’Neil, Mayor

843.670.9266 | | @oneilpm1

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