Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

I want to thank all of you for the emails, questions, and positive suggestions concerning the last two columns devoted to Medicaid/Medicare issues. We always appreciate it when we get calls from people saying they now have a better understanding of issues we try to help with, both in the column and from the office. We do our very best for each constituent, but there is something humbling and gratifying when we get a modicum of acknowledgment for our efforts. None of us are immune to the powerful charm of the simple “thank you.”

I also want to give thanks on behalf of my family to all the good folks who stopped by the office, called, or emailed us at the passing of my brother, Tom. The long contest with his ultimately terminal adversary showed us a man of persistent optimism, immune to despair, who endured his trial with good grace and humor even as the inevitable approached.

Tom was trained as an accountant, with interests around Beaufort County as well as in the mountains of North Carolina. While he was frequently about his businesses both here and away, we shared an office in Bluffton for almost eighteen years. More times than I can count, as Cathy and I would struggle to keep up with the issues and demands of my legislative office, Tom would pitch in. He became so familiar with the workings of state government and with the people who run the offices at the various agencies; he became an integral part of the team. He was so personable that many of those agency heads became his personal friends, eager to help with our requests. Everyone liked Tom, but those who knew him best, liked him the most. He will be missed.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. If the truth be told, most of us in District 118 have so much to be thankful for, a proper tally of gratitude would fill a dozen issues of Bluffton Today. Our blessings and abundance also require that we share with those who might be momentarily excluded from prosperity, or facing health challenges, or simply don’t have the good choices most of us enjoy. Local civic and church groups offer a huge array of opportunities for service. The local Rotary is ringing the bells for the Salvation Army. Bluffton Self Help and the new Volunteers in Medicine both need helpers, both as workers and as check-writers. Service is the active form of gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, there were boatloads of grateful folks last Sunday out on the high bluff over the Colleton River at the Waddell Mariculture Center for the 4th Annual Taste Of Waddell celebration. Sponsored by the Friends of Waddell and the HHI Sportfishing Club, the event was a benefit for the cobia, red drum and sea trout enhancement program, as well as the Port Royal Sound red drum study and other essential projects carried on by Al Stokes and his crew at the mariculture center.

Participants not only had a gorgeous Lowcountry afternoon to enjoy, they also got to taste some of chef Mike Sigler’s specialty shrimp dishes, enjoy Bluffton bluegrass with Lowcountry Boil, and compete for some pretty impressive auction items donated by local charter captains and merchants.

In a later column, I will detail how Waddell went from nearly being defunded every budget cycle for a decade to being the centerpiece of the newly expanded water quality effort being spearheaded by the Friends of the Rivers’ successor organization, Port Royal Sound Foundation.