Public service reps brief DINA members on various projects
What’s fueling a recent uptick in crime on Daniel Island? Could a lighting strike pose a greater fire risk to your home based on the type of natural gas piping on your property? What’s in store for 911 dispatch services in Berkeley County? How does the county plan to handle recycling needs in the future?
These questions and more served as topics of discussion at the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association meeting on April 4 at the Church of the Holy Cross. Those tasked with providing public services for Daniel Island citizens took center stage at the gathering in an effort to bring the community up to speed on a variety of issues impacting the city and county.
Serving as guest speakers at the program were City of Charleston Police Department Commander Lt. James Byrne of Team 5, outgoing Fire Department Chief Karen Brack, interim Fire Chief John Tippett, Fire Marshal and Battalion Chief Mike Julazadeh, Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler, and Jane Baker of the Daniel Island Property Owners Association. Also in attendance were Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley, City Councilman Gary White, and Berkeley County Deputy Supervisors Tim Callanan and Les Blankenship.
First up at the podium was Lt. Byrne who updated audience members on the recent thefts of electronics equipment from boats stored at Stockade Storage. A number of victims have been identified in the break-in, but at the time of the meeting no arrests had been made. The case is under investigation, noted Byrne, who urged those in attendance to do the “neighborly” thing and look out for one another.
“I know some people keep boats there and they don’t necessarily use them for several months of the year,” he said. “Some have been placed there by folks who live out of town and they come here and want to have their boat available to them…If you know these folks…go over there and check on some of their property for them…Keep an eye out for each other.” Byrne also discussed other property crimes happening on the island, including multiple car break-ins over the last several months. Police are close to making an arrest related to recent incidents that took place in Codner’s Ferry Park and Etiwan Park. They are still searching for a firearm that was stolen from an unlocked vehicle earlier in the year. In most cases, there is a common theme, he said.
“I think the takeaway is that not all of what we’re facing is coming from the outside in. We are seeing folks who are living on Daniel Island or visiting Daniel Island - and we’re seeing them committing crimes against you, their neighbors, their friends and sometimes even their families. The root that we keep seeing at the base of every one of these property crimes is drugs.”
Byrne urged those in attendance to be sure they properly dispose of prescription medications that are no longer needed - by taking them to a “Drug Take-Back Day” event, a pharmacy or other authorized drug disposal location.
“We’re seeing increases in the use of Xanax, Adderall, some of the other prescription drugs,” he stated. “If you have these things in your house, if you’ve taken them for as long as you need to, or you’ve got Oxycodone (leftover) from an injury, please don’t keep them around. Please get rid of them.”
Often they hear the same stories from the culprits behind crimes, he continued.
“What some of these kids are doing is they’re getting together, they’re drinking, they’re doing drugs and they’re going out,” said Byrne, who added that adults are also engaging in similar activities. “…Many times, they go out to try to find things they can sell or pawn to fuel their drug habits.”
In addition to getting a “hands-on” look at the Daniel Island fire station’s brand new $1.1 million aerial tiller ladder truck, which was on display in the parking lot of the church prior to the meeting, attendees were also given an update from the Fire Department’s top brass on some upcoming changes. Among them - new leadership after the departure of former Chief Karen Brack.
“The only reason I am here tonight is to thank you for your support,” said Brack, who was just two days from her final day in office at the time of the meeting. “And to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do what I’ve been able to do for the past 35 years, which is have the best job in the world. I don’t think there is anything quite like being a firefighter.”
Brack, who joined CFD in 2012, called new Interim Fire Chief John Tippett an “exceptional fire officer.”
“If he is named the permanent chief, I don’t think you could do much better,” she continued. “But in the interim, I know that you are in good hands and he will continue to serve this community with everything he’s got.”
Tippett also addressed the group, remarking that the gleaming new fire truck outside represented “your tax dollars at work.” He credited Councilman Gary White, Mayor John Tecklenburg, and the rest of City Council for working to ensure funds were available for purchasing the truck, but he also gave credit to the personnel at the Daniel Island fire station, who pushed for the vehicle as a way to provide better service to the community. The Daniel Island station will also be getting a new pumper truck in late May or early June, Tippett said.
“In the course of a year’s time, you’ve had a complete replacement of your apparatus at the Daniel Island station.”
Tippett also reported that the department will be opening a new, temporary satellite location to serve the Cainhoy Peninsula this summer, while a permanent site is being researched.
LIGHTNING STRIKE RISK ACCELERATED BY GAS PIPING
Fire Marshal and Battalion Chief Mike Julazadeh used his turn at the podium to inform residents about the “Yellow CSST Safety Campaign,” an effort to draw attention to the use of corrugated stainless steel tubing, a lightweight piping product that carries natural gas throughout a home.
“The product became very popular in the late 1990s and really picked up steam in the 2000s,” said Julazadeh. “…What they found out over time was that this particular piping didn’t always interact well with lightning strikes.”
Over the last five years, the city has had about 30 house fires related to lightning strikes, reported Julazadeh, and about 30 percent of those occurred in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy area. Of those, he continued, approximately 50 percent involved some sort of gas line rupture, post lightning strike. Julazadeh urged those at the meeting to visit the website www.CSSTsafety.com to learn more about the problem. Residents who have concerns are being asked to have an inspection of their piping done by a licensed electrician to make sure their system is properly bonded and grounded.
RECYCLING, 911, AND OTHER BERKELEY COUNTY MATTERS
Guest speaker Bill Peagler called attention to Berkeley County’s rapid growth in his remarks to DINA members and the county’s continued commitment to bringing in new business.
“We used to be the first in South Carolina and the 40th in the nation in (terms of) growth,” said Peagler. “Now we are 17th in the nation and still the fastest growing county in South Carolina. That’s out of 2,835 counties in our nation.”
Over the last few years, the county has brought in over $1.5 billion in new investment, he said, and they are making their selections as to who to recruit very carefully.
“We can afford to be a little picky,” added Peagler. “And we are. But we’re continuing to be aggressive…and we’re utilizing our resources.”
Deputy Supervisor Tim Callanan provided a long-awaited update on the county’s 911 call center operations. As opposed to joining the Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center (CCCD) in their facility, Berkeley County has passed a bond to build a new 911 facility of their own. They will use the same software as CCCD, he added, which will allow the two centers to share a “virtual” connection.
“What it will allow us to do is eliminate the problem that we have, which has to do with the hand-off of calls,” said Callanan.
Presently, when a Daniel Island cell phone user calls 911 for fire or police, both city services, it typically goes straight to the Berkeley County 911 call center (landline calls originating on Daniel Island go directly to the CCCD). The call must then be transferred to CCCD for police and fire to be dispatched.
“When Berkeley County 911 picks up and then transfers the phone call over to Charleston Consolidated Dispatch, the operator tells them the details and hangs up,” said Callanan. “This (new system) will allow you to essentially make that phone call and all the information will be transferred over to Charleston Consolidated Dispatch electronically so nothing has to be repeated.”
The county is in the process of starting the construction and design of the facility. For Callanan, the new system has been a long time coming.
“It eliminates a lot of that problem that we have been dealing with since I was DINA president, over 10 years ago…We will virtually be in the same system…I can tell you that we’ve probably made more progress…in the last two years than I did in seven years on (County) Council on finally resolving this 911 dispatch problem. We’ve still got a ways to go, but at least there is a path ahead and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
And when it comes to recycling, another issue Callanan has worked on for a number of years, both as a former County Councilman and now as Deputy Supervisor, change is also on the horizon. The county is looking at implementing a new program run by RePower South sometime next year.
“You can basically throw everything in your bin and it’s separated at the landfill,” he explained. “If successful, although it’s a new model, we will have the highest recyclable rate in the state, simply because whether or not you want to be part of recycling, you will be.”
The next DINA meeting is slated for June 6. Daniel Island Company President Matt Sloan is scheduled to serve as guest speaker. For additional information, visit www.dineighborhoodassociation.org.