Wednesday, July 23, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

There is a lot happening in Bluffton these days. We have a fabulous new neighbor in the Promenade, as well as some well-planned changes at the Bluffton Town Hall.

My good friend, Bluffton Town Manager Anthony Barrett, is retiring. After more than five years of leading the administrative part of the town government, Anthony and his lovely wife, Angelica, are embarking on the next phase of their loving partnership. Leaving the town in great shape, with a newly awarded AA plus bond rating, the Barretts will be greatly missed. He was a true friend to me and to Bluffton. His knowledge, wisdom and experience were key factors in the great strides made in our not-so-little town. I know many of you will want to go by town hall and express your gratitude to this excellent public servant.

The sadness of losing Anthony Barrett is somewhat tempered by the fact that his job will be assumed by another good friend, current Assistant Town Manager Marc Orlando. Marc joined the town staff over ten years ago, and has had success in each of the positions he has held. From planner to administrator to economic development official, Marc has brought competence and class to each day of his tenure. I have every confidence that his past accomplishments are a mere introduction to what we can expect from this talented leader and public servant.

In fact, a couple of years ago, we took a look at all the planners and visionaries who have contributed to taking Bluffton from what it was, to what it is becoming. We looked for folks who had made a real difference in preserving the very best of “the old days” while opening the door for a new era of economic prosperity, historic preservation, conservation of our natural resources, and the fostering of the very best part of our Bluffton culture. Marc Orlando was deemed to embody all the visionary qualities, as well as the skills and the passion to translate great ideas to a great community.

In recognition of all these factors, a Resolution of the South Carolina House of Representatives was passed, citing Marc’s leadership in helping to define and refine what we as a community should be about. It’s on the wall of the statehouse for the duration.

Our new neighbor in the Promenade is the Lost Art Building. It is at the beginning of State of Mind Street, which is appropriate. This gorgeous old brick structure is a striking piece of functional architecture. Housing sumptuous residential upstairs and an intimate, high quality restaurant on the ground floor, it is a rare gem. Margie and Jimmy have created a building we can be proud of. The level of fit and finish is just superb. I am confident that both the residential and the restaurant will raise the standard for Old Town and beyond.

Years ago, when we were holding meeting after meeting for community input on the Promenade, we pretty much all agreed that towns rarely stay the same. They either go up or go down. The Lost Art Building is a leading indicator, in my view, of where we are heading.

Next time, I will have some comments on the ACLU suit in Jasper County, what it means, who is responsible, and why this level of political machination is profoundly hurtful to the good folks of this county. Schools are our best mechanism of social mobility, but for generations, the good people of Jasper County have been denied the benefits of good public schools. It must stop.