Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the House

Bluffton Today Thank you very much to all who called in about last week’s column, especially the kind words about the Tom Herbkersman Commons. There were several more stories about what kind of man Tom was and how he will be remembered. The excellent pocket park is a great and lasting tribute to Tom’s life, and the dedication was very touching and emotional for my family. We are grateful. There was also a fair bit of commentary on the pushback from the Hospital Association over my comments on the Affordable Care Act. Let me just say that the healthcare conversation in our state, as well as in the nation, will continue to evolve for many years. Obamacare was so dramatic and so seemingly radical that the conversation became hyper-political almost instantaneously. As with so many issues that are emotional and involve so much of the economy, we are just going to have to keep at it until we are finally grappling with the true issues: how to provide a suitable level of care for our citizens; how and who will pay for it; and who will make the final decisions about allocation, quality control and cost control. I predict we will climb this mountain for a generation. The Bluffton/Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) clinic in Bluffton is a local part of that national conversation. We are a compassionate people and we will not knowingly allow our most vulnerable residents to live without a level of basic care. VIM does great work and deserves our support. This is a roundabout way of reminding you that the Community Matching Grant Fundraiser for VIM is this Thursday (tomorrow) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Pine House in Old Town Bluffton. Our hostess will be my good friend Joanie Heyward, who is rightfully famous for her hospitality and exquisite southern charm. There is already an impressive list of community leaders who have stepped up as sponsors, but donations at all levels will be gratefully accepted, even after the event. For more information, call Joanie at 757-3354 or email While we are in gratitude mode, we all owe a big thank you to Kim Jones of the Town of Bluffton, and her boss, Town Manager Anthony Barrett. The May River part of the Beach Sweep/River Sweep was a huge success, in large part due to the organizational efforts of Kim and all the good people who showed up last Saturday morning and did what needed to be done. I was there with my good friend and current Chairman of Beaufort County Council, Weston Newton. Weston is not only an aggressive trash picker, he is also the presumptive House of Representative member from the new District 120. Forgive me, but I felt a small twinge of pride in the event for reasons beyond the fact that my community comes out in force to protect what is ours. I was also proud that the Beaufort County Delegation, as part of the Coastal Caucus, played a big role in saving the Sea Grant Consortium, one of the overall sponsors of the clean-up. Folks, we simply must do what we can to save our rivers-- certainly the May River, but also the Colleton-Okatie River and the New River, and all the little tributaries that make up our amazingly productive watershed. As we get closer to the election, I will do a column on how the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program has been and will continue to be essential in protecting and preserving those areas of our community where development would be inappropriate. There is a referendum question on the November ballot and I want to make the case for an overwhelming YES vote.