Returning from Columbia after the House budget marathon, it seemed that the roadsides were almost pristinely free of the usual litter and the detritus of interstate travelers' thoughtless contribution to the landscape.
Beyond Point South, I exited onto Highway 462, and the scenic road was strangely clear of the usual construction debris. The mystery deepened until I stopped at the traffic light on Highway 170 at the entrance to Riverbend.
My phone beeped with an email from my friend, SCDOT legislative liaison Allen Hutto. I read the title: "Spring Spruce-Up."
The mystery was solved. I waited until I was in my driveway on Myrtle Island to read the email. Allen wanted me to know that the Department of Transportation (SCDOT) had deployed 2,200 workers around the state to remove the litter from our roads.
Fifty-three of those workers had cleared the roads in Beaufort and Jasper counties, collecting 661 orange bags of trash - almost 10,000 pounds of cups, bags, diapers, roofing remnants and assorted other items.
They were expecting more than a million travelers to pass through our state either heading north from Florida, or south to Savannah or Hilton Head Island for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
The idea to clean the roadsides was a good one. Nonetheless, I felt a little guilty. For over a year, I had been reminding SCDOT (and Allen Hutto) that the intersection of Highway 170 and Snake Road needed to be reconfigured.
It was unsafe, and folks from Callawassie and the Greater Low Bottom area were pretty exercised about it. I had spoken recently with several SCDOT folks, including Mr. Hutto, about the matter.
My last conversation was perhaps less subtle or more pointed than it might have been. I felt bad about it, but the reconfiguration happened almost immediately.
I can't say that conversation prompted the new, much safer intersection, or that it just came up on the schedule. I will assume the latter, but will not forget the impact of the former.
Such is the way that Representative Democracy sometimes works.
As I have for many years, I participated in the Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade. The particulars of the enjoyable experience will be shared another time, other than to say that the parade committee did, as always, an incredible organizational job. You are wonderful and I thank you.
What I want to say is that the selection of my friend, David Lauderdale, as the Grand Marshal of the parade was both inspired and appropriate. David is the keeper of the cultural history of Hilton Head Island.
His writing, however folksy or witty, also speaks to the notion that communities must embrace a politics of both ethics and transparency. His example helped compel me to take my public service portfolio from County Council to the Statehouse.
For David, it is the spotlight of journalistic truth on the issues; for me, it is the sunshine that is the best antiseptic for the process by which we arrive at legislative truth.
In this, we are brothers, albeit by different fathers.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives. WestonNewton@schouse.gov