New Lady's Island park to be named after slain Beaufort County policemen

achristnovich@beaufortgazette.comApril 23, 2012 

  • In other action, the Beaufort County Council adopted a resolution to form a debt reserve policy, which provides guidance for how the county can sock away enough to cover one year's worth of debts owed on bonds, to be prepared in the event of a hurricane or natural disaster. The resolution is not as legally binding as an ordinance, but suggests the property-tax rate should be set to cover at least the amount the county owes in interest each year. The vote was unanimous.

Ten years after two Beaufort County sheriff's officers were killed on duty, a park on Lady's Island will be named in their honor.

Cpl. Dyke "A.J." Coursen and Lance Cpl. Dana Lyle Tate, who both lived on the island with their families at the time, were killed during a call to a domestic disturbance when they were shot with an M-16 rifle. The Beaufort County Council voted unanimously Monday to call the new park the "Coursen and Tate Memorial Park."

Sheriff P.J. Tanner said he's wanted to name a landmark after the men for several years. When county administrator Gary Kubic approached him about the new park earlier this year, Tanner said he was thrilled.

"This is the perfect opportunity to do what's proper, and we're going to do it in memory of the men that gave their lives," he said.

Marie Tate, widow of Lance Cpl. Tate, said she was happy to hear of Tanner's proposal and couldn't wait to take her grandchildren to the park.

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "My husband and I had four kids, and nine grandkids now. He was a family man."

Coursen's wife, D.J., moved to Ohio four years ago and did not know of Tanner's request. The relationship among D.J. Coursen, Marie Tate and Tanner has been strained since an agreement could not be reached on putting a sign on the Broad River bridge in memory of the men.

Coursen and her husband used to eat lunch and watch the construction of the bridge when they first moved to the area, she said. The sentimental value makes it the most appropriate way to commemorate her husband, she said.

"Nothing around there has a meaning like that bridge," she said.

While state legislators signed off on naming the bridge "Coursen-Tate Crossing," a sign was never installed.

Coursen, who has not been back to the area since she moved, paused for a while when asked if she would ever visit the park.

"Because my husband's name is on it?" she said. "I might look and see what was there ... but it has no meaning to me. That park wasn't even there when either one of the guys were alive."

Tanner said he hasn't been in contact with Coursen for years, and his attempts to reach her about the request were unsuccessful.

In any case, he said, the proposal he made was not in the name of the families, but on behalf of the department.

"The request did not come from the families. The request came from me," he said. "I'm the one pursuing the park being named after the two officers."

The construction of the $775,000 project is completed, according to county engineer Rob McFee. A date for a dedication has not yet been set but should be announced by the end of the month, director of parks and leisure services Morris Campbell said.

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