When I was a biologist for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, I conducted aerial surveys along the coast from Murrells Inlet to the Savannah River to record dead marine mammals and sea turtles. I flew once a month from 1980 to 2006, when I retired. Over those decades, I saw many changes in the beaches, especially in Beaufort County.
The first “Turtle Lady” of Hunting Island lived in a cottage under live oaks on the south end of the beach. There was a lawn, vegetable garden, and steps over the dunes. None of that exists today. I watched “gabions” (fancy word for seawalls) march southward down the front of Fripp Island until the entire island was encased in rocks. On Pritchards Island, the “Loggerhead Hilton” caretaker’s cottage and two round houses on pedestals are gone. The University of South Carolina Beaufort built its laboratory/dorm behind the dunes. It is now in shambles on the beach.
Bay Point Island’s beaches come and go as sand is redistributed by storms and natural erosional cycles. See for yourself on Google Earth by using the icon for historical images from 1994 to 2019. When I flew, one year the dune field in front of the cottage was about 100 yards wide. Another year, loggerheads nested under the deck of the house.
It is insanity to put structures on these barrier islands and think that they will survive. The examples above should bring that fact home. No permits should be issued for Bay Point for anything.
Sally R. Murphy
Vote Nov. 5 on school bond with data, logic
All eligible voters, please vote on Nov. 5. We have an obligation to vote on a $344 million school bond referendum, the largest in Beaufort County School District history.
The district’s facts and data verify that since 2008, the last successful referendum:
▪ Enrollment has increased by 3,300 students.
▪ Six new schools and additions were built, increasing capacity by 5,800 students.
▪ More than $380 million has been spent on building new schools and expanding facilities, of which $208 million was solely dedicated to facility preservation, maintenance and upgrades.
We’re told that a 35-year-old (K-8) school must be demolished and rebuilt at a cost of $55 million (average age of school buildings in the U.S. is 40).
We’re told many other schools’ infrastructure systems are at risk, making them unreliable and outdated, compromising students and staff’s health and safety.
How, why and when did the situation become so dire?
Since 2008, with the infusion of approximately $208 million, these conditions still exist! Gentle reminder, approximately 45% of school district buildings are less than 19 years old and 80% are less than 39 years old.
What criterion drove decisions for identifying priority repairs?
Why were the expenditures ineffective?
Who identified and prioritized the needs and who inspected the repairs?
Is another $340 million the only answer?
Your vote will send a message.
A “yes” vote means, “Do what you’ve been doing, no questions asked.”
A “no” vote means, “New decision-makers with better oversight and greater transparency is the mandate.”
Reasons to vote ‘yes’ on Beaufort County school bond referendum
I am a parent of one, soon to be two, Beaufort County School District students. My child attends elementary school north of the Broad. I am voting “yes” on the Nov. 5 school bond referendum and here’s why:
▪ Growth and maintenance: By law, capital projects cannot be financed from the school’s operating budget and are often funded through districtwide bond referendums. After 11 years without a successful referendum, the district has utilized the borrowed funds typically used for school maintenance, to find room for new students as the district continues to grow. Maintenance needs for all schools cannot be addressed without passing the referendum.
▪ Safety and security: While several projects on the referendum are school-specific, there are districtwide projects, including safety, security, and technology upgrades for every school.
Repairing public address systems, installing or replacing security cameras, and improving emergency communication systems are all critical to help keep students safe.
▪ Community Project Review Committee: The CPRC, a group of community members, worked over 900 hours visiting schools, reviewing presentations from outside experts, and evaluating potential projects across the district. The committee identified districtwide facility needs and assigned overarching priorities, which are components of both referendum questions. They worked hard to ensure the referendum got it right.
These are the reasons I will vote “yes” in November. This funding will provide critical maintenance, security and technology upgrades throughout Beaufort County, and priorities have been thoroughly vetted by the community.
Show the data on U.S. 278 road and bridge options on Hilton Head
We recently had a status readout from SCDOT on six U.S. 278 alternatives they consider reasonable. But their report is flawed.
▪ It does not include any costs or verifiable data on why they chose those alternatives and rejected others. That lack of transparency fans suspicions of insider bias.
▪ They dump six lanes of traffic into already overloaded lights and intersections and do not include the costs and impacts of dealing with it, including connecting to the Cross Island Parkway to/from which about half the traffic flows.
In my opinion, the 2018 referendum was premature, poorly worded and unethical. It was manipulated by a small number of “good old boys” with an estimated $500,000 advertising campaign using incorrect and misleading wording and bridge panic to push their six-lane bridge agenda. In fact, when I researched it on the Packet website back then, a pop-up video of former mayor Tom Peeples appeared, extolling the need for six-lane bridges. (Was that a paid advertisement?)
What we really have is a traffic problem, plus a single-span bridge problem, plus a lack of trust.
The solution is an unbiased evaluation of the cost, capacity and impacts of the various solutions, which include six-lane bridges and several suggested bypass options providing an express path to the Cross Island Parkway. That evaluation must be quantitative, transparent and not manipulated by the “good old boys.”
Local politicians must help provide voters with unbiased and transparent data for all the options. Show us the data.
Steven M. Baer
Hilton Head Island
Bad examples on US justice
I’m wondering how our local justice system is working these days.
Our country has had repeated examples drifting down from the president of the United States of America and his friends. They tell us by example that subpoenas can be ignored with no penalty. Each person can apparently choose whether or not to respond to a subpoena.
If that individual does appear before Congress, he or she can practice comedy routines in answer to questions.
Our latest Supreme Court justice set the pace by responding to a United States senator’s question about whether he has experience with blackout, by asked the senator if she had a problem.
I’m wondering: How are our local governments and judicial systems working these days with such examples from the top?
Hilton Head Island
Bluffton Parkway poorly designed
I have lived in Bluffton for about eight years and part-time for another eight. Bluffton Parkway was put in to make travel to Hilton Head Island from the area easier and take some of the traffic off of U.S. 278. As time went on, the road has shown the problems in its design.
The number of accidents and deaths is very troubling. The latest accident — where a young girl went out of control, hit the curb and then flipped over — is a perfect example of the design issues with the road. Curbs and gutters are made to collect the water and direct it off the road.
This parkway’s design has no breakdown lane and leaves drivers with no place to go, resulting in them hitting the curb and going out of control or hitting the vehicle in front of them. Either choice can be catastrophic as it has been shown.
With a combination of speed, distracted driving and poor design, it is a recipe for disaster. We need the state, county and town to put their heads together and deal with this problem before more people are killed.
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