Beaufort and Jasper counties' council members met Tuesday over onion rings and sweet tea to discuss their waste management plans, extending the Bluffton Parkway and a new Jasper County port.
The lunch at Jim N' Nicks BBQ in Bluffton was an opportunity for the two councils to meet face-to-face and become more familiar with issues in both counties, Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville said.
"Sometimes you just want to chat with each other," Jasper County Council Chairman Henry Etheridge said. "I think we should get together more often, because we are neighbors."
Among the issues facing both counties is the future of the Hickory Hill Landfill in Jasper County, which is expected to be full in six to 13 years.
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Beaufort County is negotiating with Waste Management, which owns the Hickory Hill site, for a long-term trash deal, but the details have not been made public. Beaufort County has discussed building trash transfer stations in the county to compact, bale and ship its garbage to other landfills.
A resolution could include provisions for Jasper County's waste, but no member of either council discussed details Tuesday.
"I hope we'll be able to talk more intelligently about that soon," Etheridge said. "It should be very soon."
In other business, Etheridge said the S.C. Ports Authority has said a port in Jasper County won't be needed for another 12 to 13 years. He also said Jasper County hopes to expand Exit 8 on Interstate 95, where it meets U.S. 278, and is studying whether the Bluffton Parkway could be extended through Jasper County to Exit 3.
The two councils should cooperate for the benefit of both counties, Etheridge added. At Beaufort County Councilman Rick Caporale's suggestion, Etheridge agreed that he, Sommerville, Beaufort County administrator Gary Kubic and Jasper County administrator Andy Fulghum should meet regularly.
"If you keep an open line of communication between your administrators, things will move much more smoothly," Jasper County Councilwoman Barbara Clark said.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.