Busy Town meeting caps of first full, permanent year with meeting chock-full of surprises
By Charlie Morrison | Community Editor
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in James Island politics. The Town capped off a flurry of municipal activity in holding it’s August meeting of Town Council last Thursday, Aug. 15. The date, symbolically at least, marks the first anniversary of the fourth and now permanently incorporated Town of James Island, announced Mayor Bill Woolsey in opening the meeting.
Held amidst a looming debate over the Town’s grand tree policy (see story page 4), the Town both announced and achieved a lot last week. However, before it got down to business the members of Town Council turned to a former member of Town Council, current County Councilman Joe Qualey, for a special moment to open the meeting.
Mayor Bill Woolsey presented Qualey the “Key to the Town,” a commendation the longtime island-based politician received with both appreciation and his trademark emotion.
“I was very happy to see that Joe Qualey was awarded the Key to the Town,” said former town councilwoman Robin Welch. “He has stood by us on Harbor View Road. He has stood by us on I-526 and on the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) issue.”
“Mr. Qualey, I want you to know that you don’t just hold the Key to this Town, you hold the key to your constituents’ hearts,” said Welch to those in attendance. “I think I speak for almost everyone in this room, but certainly for myself and my family, when I say that we really appreciate and value you.”
The symbolism of the moment and the significance of the evening itself aside, James Island Town Council progressed rapidly through a crowded agenda following the public commentary period.
Town Council heard first from a pair of Town staffers. Finance Clerk Jane Hale gave a concise report on the Town’s financial position, in short stating that as of the filing of this first report of the fiscal year the Town’s financial position was strong and improving every day.
Following Hale’s presentation outgoing Town Administrator Hal Mason said his goodbyes after delivering his final report on the activities of the Town’s staff. Mason will retire at the end of August.
In a highlight of the evening Town staffers reported that they’d successfully lobbied the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to reduce the speed limit on Clearview Drive from 30 mph to 25 mph.
Highlights of Committee reports included the revelation from Councilwoman Mary Beth Berry that the Town had identified another potential parcel to purchase with its $1.1 million in Charleston County-allocated Greenbelt funds. Berry further stated that negotiations with the property owner were underway.
The Town passed a number of ordinances and resolutions last Thursday evening, most notably, a resolution authorizing Town Council to make contributions to various community service organizations.
On the back of the passage of that resolution, the Town Council authorized four charitable donations. The Town gave $5,000 to James Island Outreach, a donation that was happily received in person by the organization’s Director Pastor Joseph Barbour.
The Town additionally authorized donations of $2,000 apiece to John’s Island causes Barrier Island Free Medical Clinic and Sea Island Habitat for Humanity, along with an additional $1,000 to James Island-based non-profit Pet Helpers.
Mayor Woolsey closed the meeting with a couple of announcements of his own, principally that the City of Charleston had dropped a pending lawsuit over the Town’s annexation of houses on both Schooner and Peregrine drives.
Along with a consent order the Town signed with the State reversing four of what was originally six annexed properties, the City’s dropping the suit clears the way for not only the annexation of all six properties on Secessionville Road, the Grimball Road area, the River Run neighborhood, and on Sol Legare Road. Woolsey stated that this also marked an entirely new process of annexation to be implemented with other tracts on James Island in the future.
Woolsey closed the meeting by recommending that former Kiawah Island Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker be hired on as the Town’s next Administrator to replace Mason.
For more information see Mayor Woolsey’s Blog, at http://mayorbillwoolsey.blogspot.com/.
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