LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

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By LOLITA HUCKABY

 

McTeer Bridge accident still under investigation; motorists still flying along roadway

PORT ROYAL – It’s been more than two months since Tikia “Ty” Lashay Doe and her three sons died in the Beaufort River, victims of a vehicle accident that is still officially under investigation.

A Port Royal Police Department spokesman said last week the department, as lead agency in the fatal accident, is still waiting on reports from the S.C. Highway Patrol which is assisting in the investigation.

The last reports on the accident, issued two weeks after the Sept. 19 incident, say the Dodge Caravan in which Doe and her sons were passengers, went over the railing of the eastbound lane of the McTeer Bridge, in between the two bridges.

Donald Perry, who was driving the vehicle, was able to escape the submerged vehicle but Doe, who was pregnant and the three boys, did not.

Along with their mother, 16-year-old Jashawn Hawkins, Alonzo Houston, 6, and Cameron Perry, 3 were found by divers in the submerged car and declared dead at the scene.

The report also stated a gold-colored Chevrolet Malibu driven by a 19-year-old and a gray F-150 truck were believed to be involved in the crash which resulted in the family mobile going over the railing.

Police interviewed the drivers of all vehicles and the Malibu driver, who was driving with a beginner’s permit, reported he didn’t know what caused the wreck other than he swerved from the right lane to the left and was behind the F-150.

According to the report, a witness said she saw the Malibu driver switching lanes but she did not see the crash.

No charges have been filed in the case.

In the meantime, F-150s and other large trucks continue to race up and down the McTeer Bridge, along S.C. 802 and down Sam’s Point Road as if the roadway is the drivers’ private airfield. In some minds, they’ve become the “pit bulls” of the vehicular flow with a possibly undeserved bad reputation, but a reputation none the less.

Sound of Freedom shifting

BEAUFORT – Speaking of flying down the road, MCAS Beaufort had an early holiday present for some of the local community.

The Air Station’s primary runway, which has been under renovation for the past year, is now complete and the heavy jet traffic over the downtown area will be shifted back to that main runway. Heads up for the residents of Habersham and Pleasant Point.

Waiting for your tax bill?

BEAUFORT – The year 2020 is drawing to an end, but the Beaufort County taxman still hasn’t “cometh.”

Because of an ongoing feud about millage rates between the Tax Auditor Jim Beckert and the rest of the county administration, particularly County Treasurer Maria Wall, 2020 tax bills haven’t been mailed yet.

Taxpayers who have that money burning a hole in their pocket can go online to MyBeaufortCounty or wait until the bill actually comes. The county staff, in the meanwhile, have gotten permission from the S.C. Department of Revenue to give an extension until Feb. 15 to make payment.

Not sure if that qualifies as good news or bad news or just a continuation of 2020 craziness.

Get your Chick-fil-A fix now

BEAUFORT – Focus has been on the chessboard-like movements of Wendy’s fast-food restaurants, as well as the comings and goings in the grocery store scene.

Now it’s Chick-fil-A’s turn to break our hearts by announcing it’s closing down at the end of this month for renovations.

“What?” you may say. “How will I survive?” But the chain’s owners say they’ll re-open in early March. You would think with all the business they’re apparently experiencing, in this time of Covid they might want to postpone that work. But what do we know.

809 Port Republic Street, moving on up

BEAUFORT – Plans for Dick Stewart and his 303 Associates’ latest project were expected to be blessed by the city’s Historic Review Board this week.

The plans for a three-story additional structure to complete the adjacent Beaufort Inn received preliminary approval in September. After some tweaking recommended by the HRB, architect Bill Chambers is ready to move forward, although there is no timeline yet associated with construction.

Part of the construction calls for the removal of a small structure on 305 West Street, which the Historic Beaufort Foundation pointed out during preliminary review was one of the few remaining structures owned and operated post-World War II by African-American businessmen.

No schedule yet for construction of a parking garage to house the inn’s occupants, a project that has also been in the discussion stage between 303 Associates and the city for several years.

New parks won’t be ready by Christmas

LADY’S ISLAND – Plans for two new county parks, including the long-awaited Whitehall property, became public this week before the County Council’s Natural Resources Committee.

The Whitehall park, which was purchased as part of the county-city negotiations with developer Sam Levin, is a 10-acre parcel closest to the Sea Island Parkway. Plans were developed after two virtual public comment periods which attracted more than 600 comments.

The park will have gated access to vehicles during the day light but includes a proposed pathway that walkers travel. Included is a new walkway from the park to the Parkway sidewalk which crosses the Woods Memorial Bridge and into the city of Beaufort.

Not included is a dog park which a number of public comments recommended. According to the planners, there is not enough space for a dog park as well as the other areas requested.

Eight acres of the tract has a conservation easement imposed on it so that land will remain in its natural state.

The Beaufort City Council will get a look at the plans next week at their council meeting.

The future of the remaining part of Whitehall continues to be in the hands of lawyers.

The Committee also took a look at plans for a passive park at Fort Frederick, in Port Royal on the Beaufort River and adjacent to the Naval Hospital. Future phases of development in that area include a fishing dock and ramp for launching kayaks.

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.

RUNWAY MAINTENANCE COMPLETE

Here is MCAS Beaufort’s statement about the completion of runway renovations:

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort’s primary runway, 05/23, has been under construction since November 2019, and is now complete. Aircraft flight patterns will resume back to normal, with runway 05/23 being primary and 14/32 being secondary.

The maintenance conducted improved the proficiency, safety and readiness of our pilots and airfield operations. We appreciate the continued support and patience from our Beaufort community.

For information about aircraft noise, please see the Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) section on our website at www.beaufort.marines.mil/Community-Resources/. It is important to note that the decibel levels on the AICUZ map are the day-night average sound level (DNL), not single event noise. Single event noise can be higher than the average. For example, if you live in the 60-65 DNL zone, you may experience single event noises greater than 65 dB.

For questions or concerns, please send us an email at BFRT_JPAO@usmc.mil or leave us a voicemail at 843-228-6229.

“The noise you hear is the sound of freedom.”