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Anti-maskers drive County Council off Facebook

BEAUFORT – The question of who’s zooming who took an interesting twist last week when the chairman of Beaufort County Council decided to cut down on some of the zooming.

Chairman Joe Passiment directed the County Council’s meeting video be removed from FaceBook because of “vile … hateful … and obnoxious” comments being made by viewers. The council, like a majority of local governmental bodies, has been meeting via Zoom since the county office buildings closed down in March due to COVID. The buildings are still closed to the public and the council’s discussion, via Zoom, of the ongoing mask ordinance has been lively, to say the least.

Discussion last month on whether to continue the ordinance or, as many demanded on the county Facebook, let the ordinance expire and the people decide for themselves, prompted hundreds of comments. The council did decide to delay second reading on the ordinance to extend the ordinance until they can have a work session but don’t count on watching it on Facebook.

The thing is, the county’s meetings are broadcast on the County Channel. If you can’t watch the meetings live, they are also archived so you can go back and hear what your elected representatives had to say.

And as Passiment, who has been trying hard to steer this willy group of eleven through troubled waters, pointed out there is no requirement for the meetings to be posted on Facebook. Citizens can submit comments via email in advance of the meeting, which meets the requirement for “open meetings.”

By the time you read this, the County Council will have met, again on Zoom, and indeed, Election Day will be behind us, although it’s anyone’s guess if we’ll know who the BIG winner is. Let’s hope for the best.

Besides, don’t “they” say after the election, this virus thing is going to go away?

And speaking of wildlife

BEAUFORT – Since its inception 20 years ago, the county’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program has been in the experienced hands of the Beaufort County Open Land Trust (OLT).

But like so many things, that may be about to change.

The council’s Natural Resources Committee, after talking about the issue behind closed doors this week, agreed to recommend negotiating a three-month contract with a Charleston consulting firm while re-advertising the management contract which resulted in three widely divergent proposals.

RES Environmental Operating Company was the low-bidder for the annual consulting management contract while the Beaufort County Open Land Trust came in with a cost estimate almost double. The third company out of North Charleston didn’t include a specific number.

The OLT, which is the state’s oldest land trust entity, boasts of protecting from development more than 25,000 acres of land in seven counties.

It will be interesting to see if the County Council is, indeed, ready to part company.

This one’s for the birds … and bird-watchers

PORT ROYAL – For the nature lovers among us, fear not, the town’s Cypress Wetlands is just going through a renovation.

Starting last month, the Wetlands, located in the middle of this growing municipality, is being drained in preparation for removal of excess vegetation that if left unchecked could choke the popular nesting habitat.

The pathway system has been blocked off although the Richmond Avenue overlook remains open.

Port Royal officials hope to have the work completed by the end of the year.

For more information or to enjoy photographs from the popular park, visit the Facebook page of The Friends of Port Royal Cypress Wetlands.

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


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