Even though these two topics have been addressed in the media and on all social media platforms, I wanted to write about each. They are: our town manager search and palm trees that line Calhoun Street.
Town manager search. As you all know, we lost our town manager at the beginning of 2021. We immediately went to our human resource director to have her give us options on how to select our next town manager.
Timing was of the essence, so we went to the Municipal Association of South Carolina to see if there was an executive personnel search company that was state approved.
The reason we wanted to do this was twofold: We wanted an objective viewpoint on the applications, and we didn’t want to spend months putting out an RFP. Find Great People was our selection that matched all of our objectives and, as promised, they started immediately to post this opening in all of the publications that have candidates with interest.
We now have a really good number of great applicants and will begin soon to narrow those to a number we want to interview face to face. Once we get down to three applicants these names will be released to the media and, we hope, shortly after we will have a new town manager.
Palm trees on Calhoun Street. This has been one of the most frustrating parts of being on council. Every five years one of our utilities, formerly SCE&G and now Dominion Energy, go through the state and trim trees so there are no branches hanging over their power lines. I am sure you see the results of their trimming all over South Carolina and I, along with you, really don’t like the look they leave behind. But I do understand that safety and continuation of service must come before beauty.
This past few weeks they have been in sections of our town doing this trimming, and now they are back on Calhoun Street with the same issue we have had for more than 15 years, and that is the concern over the palm trees that line Calhoun Street, directly under the power lines. Dominion ( like other utility companies) has legal rights to do any maintenance they feel is required and they don’t have to abide by our town’s wishes at all.
While our town pleaded with them about giving us a few more years to bury these lines, they didn’t agree, so several of these trees have now been removed. We also called our legislative delegation of Weston Newton, Bill Herbkersman and Tom Davis. They moved mountains and at least were able to speak to higher-ups explaining our position.
As of this writing, we feel we made some headway on saving as many trees as we possibly can to give us time to complete our streetscape project.
Also to clarify, no palm trees on the east side of Calhoun Street will be touched, as they have no power lines above them.
Thanks to George Haslam and Michael Reynolds, we are planning on relocating as many of the bases of the palms as we can to an area near Calhoun Street to create a special memorial for our heroes lost in World War I. My hopes are we can create a story board or plaque that adequately expresses our thanks and gratitude to these fallen heroes.
I know this isn’t what we all wanted, but looking ahead and trying to make good of a very bad few days, I feel this is a great idea and I am so grateful for the suggestions from these two Blufftonians.
I hope this sheds factual light on any questions you may have on either of these topics, and remember we are always here to talk or email if you have any concerns.
Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton. firstname.lastname@example.org