News briefs for August 24th-30th

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Fripp Island voters OK $5.5M for infrastructure

Voters on Fripp Island overwhelmingly voted in favor of funding $5.5 million in various infrastructure improvements requested by the Fripp Island Public Service District.

About 25 percent of eligible voters turned out for the Aug. 15 vote. Of 223 votes, 211 were in favor of the referendum.

The infrastructure projects include:

• Harbor River Waterline Replacement: The South Carolina Department of Transportation intends to replace the swing bridge spanning the Harbor River along U.S. 21 in Beaufort County. 

The Fripp Island Public Service District’s water main, which provides potable water service to Harbor, Hunting and Fripp islands, is located within SC DOT’s right-of-way and buried in the causeway approaches on both sides of the bridge. 

It is suspended from the bridge except at the mobile swing-span, where it drops down and is buried in the bottom of the river. 

The SC DOT’s preferred construction alignment will interfere with the district’s waterline for nearly the entire length of the construction. SC DOT policy requires utilities whose lines are located within DOT rights-of-way to relocate their lines at the utility’s expense. 

The district has obtained engineering estimates of up to $3.2 million for relocation of the line.

• Fripp Inlet Revetment Repairs: The Fripp Island Public Service District’s revetment (a structure to prevent erosion) along Porpoise Drive, which protects the road and water and sewer lines under the road from erosion along the Fripp Inlet, was badly damaged due to Hurricane Matthew storm surge and wave action. 

Even though it was damaged, the revetment accomplished its intended purpose with no loss of water or sewer lines and minimal damage to the road. However, the necessary repairs to return the revetment to its previous condition are estimated to cost $2.3 million.

Community foundation adds two staffers

Bailey Schorr and Leslie Vargas-Prada have joined the staff at Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.

 Schorr will serve as program associate, assisting with grant management and administration, serving as a liaison to several fund advisory committees and providing support for special projects and initiatives. 

He’s a recent graduate of University of South Carolina Beaufort where he majored in psychology and minored in French. While a student, Schorr and a classmate built and maintained a hydroponic garden. Vegetables grown were donated to the Jasper County Boys & Girls Club and integrated into a cooking class that taught the children about healthy cooking and the benefits of eating vegetables.

Vargas-Prada recently moved to the Lowcountry from the Atlanta area. Her professional background includes over 20 years of administrative management and client relationship experience, primarily in the financial industries. 

In her new position, donor services liaison, she’ll serve as a liaison between the Community Foundation and select donors, handle aspects of donor relationship management and engagement, undertake outreach efforts with constituent groups and assist with various donor and development committees.

With more than 340 charitable funds, combined assets totaling $63 million and grantmaking and scholarships reaching $58 million, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is the largest source of unrestricted philanthropic resources dedicated to Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.


BJWSA recognized as Utility of the Future Today

Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) has received national recognition as a Utility of the Future Today – one of 25 water utilities from across the U.S. recognized as forward-thinking, innovative utilities that are providing resilient and value-added service to communities.

The selection committee, consisting of peer utility leaders, cited BJWSA for its achievements in the areas of Community Partnership & Engagement, Water Reuse and Watershed Stewardship.

The Utility of the Future Today program was launched in 2016 by four water sector organizations: the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) and WateReuse, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

BJWSA General Manager Ed Saxon will accept the award during a ceremony at WEFTEC 2017 – WEF’s 90th annual technical exhibition and conference – in October in Chicago.

The Utility of the Future Today concept is being promoted as the nation’s water system faces challenges such as aging infrastructure, water pollution and workforce shortages, as well as impacts of climate change, including drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. 

To learn more about the program, visit

Additional help available for hurricane damages

The Palmetto Disaster Recovery Office, an affiliate of the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office, is holding additional application intake events this month for individuals who still have unmet needs as a result of Hurricane Matthew. 

The next events will take place on Monday, Aug. 28, Tuesday, Aug. 29, and Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the Beaufort Branch Library at 311 Scott St. in Beaufort.

Individuals can also receive assistance from the Palmetto Disaster Recovery Office at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, 921 Ribaut Road, Building 6, Beaufort.

All intake events for Beaufort County residents are scheduled to end Nov. 10. Questions should be directed to the Palmetto Disaster Recovery Office at 1-888-860-7137.

The PDRO/SCDRO oversees grant programs that focus on rebuilding or repairing homes damaged by severe weather events by managing federal funds available to assist individuals in disaster recovery. The program is managed with the support and guidance of the South Carolina Department of Commerce.