The devil is my friend

  • Monday, April 28, 2014

Michaele Duke

The Internet: My better half calls it the devil. I suppose it can be equated to the devil - if you donít exercise self-control and good judgment. Last Monday I had a moment to myself while at the office. Instead of leaning back in my chair and trying to catch a snooze (I donít really do that) I decided to research a press release about state highway signs.

The article refers to a program (administered by the state Transportation Department who, in conjunction with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture) that gives qualifying businesses highway signs directing travelers to South Carolinaís rural attractions or working farms. Some signs have been posted and others are on the way. I wanted to know if Williamsburg County is on the list. Iím still looking.

However, my search took me first to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The DOT gets a bad wrap because our state roads are in horrible shape. I found out our 41,444 miles of roads and 8,337 bridges constitute the fourth-largest state-maintained highway system in the United States. Thatís three times the number of miles as in other states. But South Carolina invests fewer state dollars per mile than any other state. In fact, the highway user fee, which is collected at the rate of 16 cents per gallon hasnít grown with the price of fuel.

The site also contains answers to just about anything you want to know in reference to our highway system: some of which have been asked during town and county council meetings. For example, Iíve often heard citizens ask about getting street or road signs or how to tell whether a road is maintained by the town, county, or the DOT. The answers are spelled out on the site.

The AP article about signs mentioned the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is part of the initiative so my next stop was the SCPRT. I learned the SCPRT is a cabinet agency assigned to operate and manage South Carolinaís 47 state parks among its responsibilities. We know the SCPRT for its leadership role is promoting our largest industry, which is tourism but the cabinet is very much involved in getting the word out when it comes to historic preservation projects. Daufuskie Island, Beaufortís Spanish Moss Trail and the State Museumís current expansion are but a few that are promoted on the website. And if you are like just about every South Carolinian who considers BBQ part of the soul of the south there is a link called ĎCue, Competition and Camaraderie that is filled with pork infused information, including the BBQ Trail which is a map of the best places to chow down.

As for the sign project, I can see a sign erected in Williamsburg County. We have plenty for tourists to see. We have one of the most beautiful Robert Mills designed courthouses in the state, we are the site of many American Revolutionary War battles including the Battle of Kingís Tree and Black Mingo, and we have Thorntree House. One overlooked attraction is a statue on the courthouse grounds. On May 10, 1910, a great celebration was held at the courthouse for the unveiling of a Confederate soldier statue. However, things didnít go quite as planned. Can you imagine the horror sweeping over the crowd when the drape was dropped to reveal a Union soldier? Iím willing to bet more than a few of the attendants considered that guy perched on top of that three-story high marble column as the devil. Though debate as to whether the statue is truly that of a Union soldier continues, the notion that a Yankee stands guard over our county is a great urban legion and one that indeed qualifies Williamsburg County as a very special and certainly unique place to visit.

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