Plenty to be thankful for in Hardeeville
November is the month of Thanksgiving and the past 12 months have given the city of Hardeeville much to be thankful for. The list starts with the recovery of Sgt. Kelvin Grant of the Hardeeville Police Department and Justin Smith of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.
Both received multiple gunshot wounds as they faced down a shooter just outside the city limits. In another example of outstanding police work, the Hardeeville Police Department, with the assistance of our neighboring agencies, apprehended a suspect in the tragic murder of Martin Stevens in only 36 hours.
This fall brought yet another potentially catastrophic storm but thankfully Hardeeville escaped with minimal damage. But if Irma had brought greater fury, Hardeeville’s first responders were ready to protect and serve with all hands on deck — poised for every contingency.
As you bow your heads over your Thanksgiving meal, remember the Hardeeville Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works, Media and Recreation Departments for their dedication to us all.
As you travel down Main Street, look with gratitude at the beautiful new Hardeeville Library, the first step in the renovation of the Martin St. municipal building corridor. This wonderful community asset includes 35 new computers for every age group, a community room available to any civic group, a section for children and one for teens.
You will continue to see landscaping activity to beautify the perimeter and my hope is that this facility will evolve into a focal point for learning, especially as an extension of the classroom. Thanks to the former Friends of the Library, this 40 year old dream became a reality in April.
On the economic front, Hardeeville has become the hottest location in the region and if you give a toast at your Thanksgiving table, perhaps this year you should raise a glass filled with a margarita.
The announcement in May of the planned community of Latitude Margaritaville has brought national awareness to Hardeeville and the entire Lowcountry. This is only the second development of its kind in the country and it is a source of pride for us all that Hardeeville was chosen before many other contenders.
The workforce of our region can look forward to more jobs in construction, landscaping, electrical, plumbing, painting and restaurant services. Many of these workers will be grateful for a shorter commute. Recently the Daytona Beach location opened its new sales center and had 1,500 visitors in the first couple days. When the Hardeeville location opens in 2018, there will be a similar reaction as visitors come to fill our hotels and eateries.
Hardeeville has become the Latitude with an attitude.
You may have noticed construction into the city-owned Commerce Park near Exit 5. Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Rural Infrastructure Authority, water and sewer lines are being brought to this 130 acre site. The city is also working to bring cable, electrical and gas lines into the area, making this land industry-ready. Already we have 2 potential clients who may locate there, and as we fill this park, jobs and tax revenues will grow and capital from the land sales can be used for other necessary projects.
Let’s give thanks for the donation of this land and all those who helped the city obtain the funding.
The past year has brought other economic projects to City Hall; some of which will bring good news in the months ahead. A couple are already in progress; notably the new Hampton Inn being built near Coastal Carolina Hospital, a new Verizon store near Cracker Barrel, and the expansion and annexation of 100 new homes in University Park near USCB.
Coastal Carolina announced their readiness to build a stand-alone Emergency Care Center on the corner of Tidewatch and Hwy. 170 near Sun City and ground breaking should start in early 2018. Among the many benefits that economic development will bring, let us all remember that our schools will benefit from additional funds.
Public safety has been elevated thanks to your Fire Department as they initiated a grant application that resulted in $81,000 that was used to train all firefighters as EMT’s. In August the city held a 5K run in collaboration with the Arrhythmia Alliance and the $14,000 raised to date will be used to purchase the first eight AED machines that will be added to police vehicles.
No doubt someday a loved one will eat a Thanksgiving dinner because they were saved by a Hardeeville Firefighter or Police Officer who arrived first at the scene.
During the coming Holiday Season, let us all give thanks for the many good things that have come to Hardeeville and be filled with optimism for the bountiful future that we face.
The city has obstacles to overcome and those of us who serve you will make some mistakes along the way — hopefully only a few small ones. Don’t be distracted by negativity — be united by good will.
Happy Thanksgiving, Hardeeville!
Harry Williams is mayor of the city of Hardeeville