LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

in Contributors/Lolita Huckaby/News by

By LOLITA HUCKABY 

It’s Back!
Country Council approves return of mask ordinance

BEAUFORT – A mask ordinance for the unincorporated areas of Beaufort County is back in place.

A majority of County Council on Monday night approved the emergency ordinance to continue the restrictions they let lapse in October. Monday night’s swing vote came from Councilman Stu Rodman who in October felt like citizens could handle the matter themselves.

Even the three council members who voted against the ordinance – Brian Flewelling, Chris Hervochon and Mike Covert, who was attending his final council meeting – said they personally wear masks but felt a mandate was not necessary.

The county will join all the other local municipalities in mandating mask wearing in public places. Only Hardeeville, which is partially in Beaufort County, does not have a mask ordinance.

The county ordinance, like the other municipal ordinances, will remain in place until Gov. Henry McMaster lifts the state’s emergency ordinance.

The local ordinances have been in place since July, with penalties. To date, no law enforcement agencies have reported writing any tickets or warnings.

Farewell and good wishes

BEAUFORT – Beaufort County Council, besides quickly dealing with the mask ordinance, said farewell to several folks who are leaving at the end of the year.

Councilman Mike Covert of Bluffton, who has served for three years on council, said his farewell after opting not to seek another term. He promised his colleagues he’d “be back” in two years. But he did not say where.

Among the county employees handing over their keys is Coroner Ed Allen who, after 33 years with the county, first as EMS Director then as the elected coroner for 12 years, also opted not to run again. His successor David Ott will take office in January

Allen said his family insisted it was “time for him to come home,” which is Lady’s Island. Allen said he was ready.

McMaster’s plan to give COVID relief to private schools rejected

BEAUFORT – In case you missed it, Gov. Henry D. McMaster’s plan to give federal COVID-19 relief funds to private schools took another beating last week, this time from the S.C. Supreme Court.

A lower court had already ruled in October that the Governor’s plan to direct $32 million to private K-12 schools to provide financial aid for enrolled low and moderate-income students.

The court agreed with critics that the federal dollars should go to public education and could not be spent in private schools.

The state has to agree on how to spend the CARES funds by the end of the year or risk losing those dollars.

That clock is ticking.

Black Chamber of Commerce holds onto Accommodations Tax allocations

BEAUFORT – A lawsuit against the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce almost sidetracked a $32,000 allocation from the County Council this week.

According to reports in The Beaufort Gazette, the suit was filed by a group of BCBCC board members who contend President Larry Holman has refused to share financial reports with the group and may be endangering the tax exempt status of the organization.

County Council’s Finance Committee was reviewing allocations of the state accommodations tax revenues when it was pointed out $32,000 initially recommended for the chamber were no longer on the distribution list.

Because of questions raised in the lawsuit about the legitimacy of the chamber board, financial staff had turned to the committee for advice on how to proceed.

The committee, followed later in the evening by the County Council, agreed the dollars should be held in escrow for the BCBCC until the legal issues are cleared.

“Let’s not make this into a mess for ourselves,” Councilman York Glover, a member of the committee, said.

Plans inch forward but no opening date yet for Harris Teeter

LADY’S ISLAND – Plans for that Harris Teeter store inched forward last week with approval from the city’s Design Review Board for exterior design of the grocery and adjoining convenience store.

The two buildings, on the corner of Sam’s Point Road and Sea Island Parkway, will occupy the lot formerly occupied by Publix, before it moved across the street in 2016.

An inquiry to the Harris Teeter corporate offices in Matthews, N.C., indicated they have no timetable to announce for their opening.

Across the Beaufort River, on the west side of town, plans are also moving forward on the new Wendy’s planned for the corner of Trask Road and Boundary Street. City officials last month announced plans to purchase the existing Wendy’s, further east, as part of the Boundary Street redevelopment project.

Representatives of the fast-food franchise told the DRB they hope to come in for final approval of plans by the January board meeting.

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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Plan for Lady’s Island Harris Teeter continues to move forward