Beaufort News

Beaufort County loses representation on S.C. State Ports Authority

Beaufort County's two members on the S.C. State Ports Authority were replaced Tuesday with representatives from elsewhere in the state, drawing mixed reactions from local officials.

Some expressed concern, while others said they don't think the change will affect efforts to develop a port in Jasper County or sell the shuttered Port of Port Royal property.

Pat McKinney of Kiawah Island will replace Beaufort attorney Colden Battey Jr. Willie Jeffries, a former S.C. State University football coach, will replace Doug Robertson.

The state Senate confirmed Gov. Nikki Haley's appointments Tuesday.

"I think both Colden Battey and Doug Robertson were strong and effective advocates for the Jasper port and the sale of surplus property at the Port of Port Royal," said state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, who serves on the state's Ports Authority Review and Oversight Commission. "I met both individuals who are replacing Colden and Doug, and they both said they would bring the same level of dedication to the Jasper port and sale of" the Port of Port Royal.

Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, finds the new appointments more concerning.

"We simply need representation on the Ports Authority," Herbkersman said. "From 10 years' experience, I can tell you, the only people looking after Beaufort County's interests are the people of Beaufort County."

Port Royal town manager Van Willis called the lack of Beaufort County representation "somewhat disconcerting," but said the town will continue working closely with the Ports Authority as it attempts to complete a pending sale of the 51-acre port property along Battery Creek.

The authority signed a letter of intent in April with a buyer that hasn't been identified yet and took the property off the market while the sales contract is being finalized.

Follow reporter Juliann Vachon at twitter.com/eyeonbeaufort.

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