Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

Finally, the cool weather has arrived after a somewhat brutal summer. Most of us welcome the change, if for no other reason than October is the beginning of oyster season. The local tradition of the charity oyster roast presents an opportunity to savor what are arguably the finest oysters in the world while helping out the schools or my buddies at Rotary in the good works they perform.

As many of you know, the oyster has long been a symbol that seems to bind us together as Blufftonians, and as custodians of the incredible May River estuary, from which these succulent treats are harvested. Back in the old days, oyster canneries were common in the Lowcountry and Bluffton had more than our share. During the Great Depression, oyster harvesting and processing were some of the very few jobs available.

While there are still huge areas open to harvesting, my friends Larry and Tina Toomer of the Bluffton Oyster Company are nonetheless deeply concerned over recent shellfish closures in and around the headwaters of the May River. Your legislator will continue to work closely with the Town of Bluffton, Beaufort County, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to reverse the closures and add protections to the currently pristine areas. This is something you will hear much more about in the upcoming session, as well as for years to come. Unlike in the old days, only a small number of jobs are directly tied to oystering. However, our clean and green Lowcountry is a powerful driver of our visitor and retirement economy. If we become careless with our natural resources, we will lose much more than oysters.

One of the potential tools of great effect in keeping our natural beauty is the Blue Ribbon Coastal Futures Committee, which has continued to meet over the summer with some regularity. As noted in a previous column, this group is chaired by my neighbor and friend Wes Jones, who is a local lawyer and former head of the Coastal Council. Wes does a great job running the meetings and keeping our focus on the matter at hand. Whether you know it or not, when you call or email my office with advice or suggestions on more effective water quality or land management regulation, you are contributing to the work of this committee, as many of your comments are submitted into the record of proceedings.

Continuing in the environmental vein, I want to thank all those who called to comment on the new trash receptacles installed around the Calhoun Street Promenade. These units are set up so that one side is for regular trash and the other side is for recyclable materials, such as glass bottles or aluminum cans. All the merchants and residents of the Promenade already do a good job of recycling, but we felt it would help the cause if we made it convenient for our visitors and patrons to automatically do the right thing.

Finally, one bit of housekeeping to mention. Some time ago, we had some email and web site issues that caused us to miss a portion of our usual traffic. Hargray got the matter corrected expeditiously but we keep getting emails from a month ago. If you don’t hear from us almost immediately when you send email or make calls, please resend your traffic. Technology is great but sometimes it falls short. We absolutely need to hear from you. So, if in doubt, please resend.