LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

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By LOLITA HUCKABY

Who’s zooming who?

BEAUFORT – The battle of the masks continues with those opposed to the pretty much non-enforceable mask restrictions flooding zoom meetings and the social media with their objections.

In an effort to encourage social distancing, Beaufort County governing bodies for the last six months have been meeting via online technology, primarily the Zoom platform. Some people love it; others hate it.

But the overall impact, based on looking at the number of viewers watching, more people are keeping an eye on their government in operation than before.

There have been humorous moments as the elected officials, just like the rest of us mortals, experience a learning curve on the new technology. Some members seemed to forget they were online as they answered telephones, spoke to their spouses off-screen, lectured their pets … or children.

One eight-hour county school board meeting featured a particularly irritating pen-clicking background serenade by a very irate member lecturing his fellow elected officials.

On more than one occasion, the sound of a flushing toilet has drawn a smile.

But to their credit, the chair persons have gotten better at reminding their members to mute. Guess it’s too late for the presidential candidates to learn.

Hopefully, the virus will be behind us and our government officials can gather together in one place. For better or worse.

Board of Education reprimands Smith

BEAUFORT – With all the focus last week on County Administrator Ashley Jacobs’ depature, the majority of the county Board of Education “expressed their disapproval” with one of their own.

Board member William Smith was officially reprimanded for violations of board policy that involved his unscheduled visits to school facilities including at least one visit at 10:30 at night.

The board, 6-3-1, voted Smith was in “multiple violations” of the policy which says “members shall make official visits to schools only upon knowledge of the principal.”

Smith, who represents St. Helena Island (minus Dataw Island) and much of Beaufort, has been the subject of considerable school board discussion, following four different complaints filed by school employees about his activities more than a year ago.

Individuals who filed the complaints have not been identified and Smith has declined to comment on the issue, referring to the advice of his attorney.

Smith who is serving his first term on the school board will face re-election in 2022.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer and a former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today and Beaufort Today. She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com.