Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

As always, I appreciate your calls and emails on last week’s column. I also got at least another hundred or so calls on the Waddell situation. This thing has really hit a nerve with folks who cannot fathom how the maintenance of such a dramatically well-performing asset such as Waddell is not a slam-dunk. It also seems to be resonating with people who see the parallel with our roads and bridges, especially considering the plan to essentially divert general fund dollars to the Infrastructure Bank in a tepid effort to address our looming $30 billion transportation shortfall. While I don’t think the analogy is entirely apt, I believe we should get serious about our roads and bridges before we reconvene in January. There should be some real proposals on the table for debate when we return.

As far as Waddell is concerned, at this writing, the conference committee is still working over the budget. Your delegation members are making calls and trying to be certain that this thing doesn’t fail because of lack of information or effort. In fact, on the last day of session, the speaker turned us loose early to avoid the tropical storm. Even so, Rep. Weston Newton and Sen. Tom Davis remained in Columbia long enough to make and distribute copies of the House budget page detailing the Waddell renovation funding to their respective colleagues on the committee.

Events around the Old Town this weekend were another indicator that Bluffton is becoming the center of the universe, at least as far as civic pride and big fun are concerned. The Friday Blues and Brews fundraiser for Palmetto Animal League at the Oyster Factory was absolutely packed with locals and visitors. A perfect evening for well-behaved people and animals.

The third annual Shag and Drag on Calhoun St. and inside the Promenade was another over-the-top success. Saturday afternoon, Calhoun St. was lined with cool cars and car folks. The party moved to the Promenade in the early evening with music from City Lights that had the hundreds of revelers literally dancing in the streets. The combination of open space, interesting commercial buildings topped with stylish residential lofts has become even better than we imagined years ago. The parking and pedestrian flows accommodated the crowd easily, leaving merchants and fun-seekers alike enjoying a productive and entertaining evening.

This weekend also marked the opening of the newest Promenade offering: Moon Mi Pizza. The reviews have been fantastic as any potential production glitches were worked out long before the doors opened. We are also proud of the fact that this is a local operation, managed by local folks, and providing full and part-time employment for 22 to 25 of your neighbors. Managed by Brandon Hughes, with back end by Matt Stone and Harlan Kendrick, Moon Mi Pizza features summer helpers Shelby and Cole Herbkersman, as well as a California transplant, Christian Quick.

We enjoyed all the big smiles and the good comments from our first several hundred customers. In addition, there is something about creating jobs for local people that goes beyond simply numbers on a P and L statement. My brothers and I were all expected to get and do well at summer jobs each year from high school until we finished our education. I can tell you we got a lot more out of it than a paycheck. When I see these cheerful, competent young folks learning the rudiments of business success, I feel good. Knowing that among them are our two beautiful children, makes Mary and I feel great.