Lolita Huckaby



Please don’t say any more nice things about us

BEAUFORT – Well, it’s happened again. Beaufort’s been given a glorious title. This time its “The South’s Small Best Town” by Southern Living magazine.

While these kudos bring huge smiles to the folks at the local tourism agencies who spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to bring visitors to the area, including the writers of these travel magazines who bestow these “best” titles, such accolades are more and more bringing groans to some residents who already know about the wonders of Hunting Island, the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, the historic homes, the great restaurants and bars.

Those who live here, or are trying to find a home to live here because the price of housing has increased so quickly it’s hard to live on a “reasonable” income and forget about getting a seat at your favorite watering hole because if it’s been mentioned in one of the many travel guides and on-line reviews, well you’re better off staying home with your own bottle and dining in.

This most recent article encourages readers to come to the area and “breathe deep … look more closely. Life slows down and a sense of awe percolates up.”

Those must be the drivers from out-of-state who cruise down Bay Street through the shopping district, ignoring the stop-for-pedestrian crosswalks because they’re looking at our quaint scenery. Or those crossing the lovely Woods Bridge with their awe percolating while business traffic stacks up behind them.

Life may slow down, indeed, when you get to the Lowcountry, especially if you’re lucky enough to retire here. But this is still a real, working community with school children to get to school on time and employees who need to open a shop those customers who, drawn to this area, will hopefully patronize.

It’s a wonderful little place, and with good leadership and a little luck, hopefully it will continue with some semblance of that wonder. Or, as is often stated, you can always leave.

City adopts Ukrainian town as latest Pride in Place project

BEAUFORT – Speaking of nice things, Beaufort city officials took a step in that direction last week when Mayor Stephen Murray reached out to the western Ukrainian town of Ostroh to “adopt” and to be the beneficiary of local fundraising efforts.

The city’s Pride of Place project, which is separate from the city’s operating budget therefore not supported by taxes, is where citizens can contribute real dollars for specific projects. In the past, it’s been used for new street flags, bike racks and playground equipment.

As the whole world’s been watching for the past two weeks, the loyal Ukrainians are literally giving their lives for their country.

And some of us complain about the military jets zooming overhead … or worse yet … gas prices and traffic on Sams Point Road.

City Council’s action on Federal ARPA monies prompts single complaint

BEAUFORT – Local elected officials had a bit of fun lately doling out what many have called federal “free money,” dollars allocated by Congress under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Beaufort City Council last week gave their blessing to $1.4 million of appropriations in the first round of ARPA spending – bonuses for full-time employees who worked throughout the COVID shut-downs (excluding elected officials and department heads), police body cameras, a bucket truck for public works, cardiac monitors for fire trucks and a contribution to the USCB Center for the Arts.

But while their list has been in the discussion stage since last fall, Beaufort County Board of Education member William Smith waited until the final reading to voice his complaint that the list didn’t include anything for the younger population.

Smith, whose District 3 includes part of the city, urged the city officials to “do more” for the kids, specifically, improving programs at the Charles Lind Brown gym on Greene Street. The county facility was the subject of its own public hearing as part of the county’s efforts to update long-range parks and recreation plan.

More than a hundred concerned citizens, both “been-here’s” and “come-here’s” expressed the need for building and pool renovations as well as expanded programs for all ages. Pickle-ball courts were a hot topic, as well as more tennis courts and even public launching facilities for local rowing and kayak clubs.

The building, built in the late 1970s, has been empty for the past year after it had been leased for several years by Bridges Prep school. The school has relocated to a new campus on S.C. 170 and their former main campus was purchased by the city recently for a new cyber security instructional facility.

Post Office Blues

BEAUFORT – It’s encouraging that Congress has agreed (that alone, is enough to bring hope … that they agreed on something) to send $50 billion to improve the U.S. Postal Service.

Now, maybe they can get around to repairing BOTH outdoor drop-off boxes at the Charles Street and Burton offices. Both were apparently vandalized more than a month ago, causing motorists to park their cars and walk into the building – with masks – to drop off a stamped envelope.

Work orders are “in the works,” as they’ll tell you.

And last but not least

BEAUFORT – Local businessman Dick Stewart took some by surprise last week with a press release that stated the hometown boy-gone-off, made-good-and-then-came-back is going to retire from the 303 Associates development firm he created in 1998.

The announcement quoted Stewart, at 72, had decided there was “no need for (him) to be underfoot and adding friction to the process.”

Stewart and his wife, Sharon, have two lovely grandchildren he apparently plans to spend more time with and out of Beaufort’s public spotlight as the developer some love to hate.

It’s hard to imagine Stewart walking away from this baby he’s created in downtown Beaufort as well as “the Midtown” that hardly existed before he brought new businesses and living spaces (thanks to a relationship with USC for the Boundary Street dormitories). He’s definitely made his mark and poised to make an even greater one if the courts rule against those opposed to his downtown hotel, parking garage and three-story apartment complex.

He still has property interests in Port Royal, so while he may be “retiring,” it’s likely he’ll still be making that mark.

Harris Teeter update

Correction: One of my sharp-eyed, knowledgeable readers pointed out last week’s comment about the headquarters of Harris Teeter being in Salisbury, N.C. … Silly me … I KNEW it was Matthews, N.C., on the “other” side of Charlotte. Just trying to keep the record straight.

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

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