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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County Fire Station 21 on Ladson Road is now closed while construction begins on a major remodel.The $3.3 million project will see the station completely demolished and reoriented so the building faces the road.Fire Chief Tres Atkinson says the new station is part of the county’s strategy for redeveloping the Oakbrook area. He says the new station will have four bays, office space, living quarters and at least six bunkrooms.“This is a big deal for this area. I think...
DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County Fire Station 21 on Ladson Road is now closed while construction begins on a major remodel.
The $3.3 million project will see the station completely demolished and reoriented so the building faces the road.
Fire Chief Tres Atkinson says the new station is part of the county’s strategy for redeveloping the Oakbrook area. He says the new station will have four bays, office space, living quarters and at least six bunkrooms.
“This is a big deal for this area. I think not so much for the call volume but just the way this area is growing and the way it looks,” Atkinson said. “We really need to make it fit the ticket for the remodel of the Oakbrook area. We really need to make this more aesthetically pleasing, and I think it’s a win for both sides - for the fire service and for the community as well.”
It will also feature a weight room and a dedicated area for turnout gear. This is a decontamination area to purge gear of harmful chemicals picked up during fire calls. Many of those chemicals are carcinogenic, meaning they can cause to cancer.
The project is currently $300,000 over the original budget with construction expected to be completed sometime next year, although a more specific timeline is not yet available. In the meantime, the fire trucks and ambulances have been moved to other areas.
That has some people living in the area concerned.
“The new station will be great in the long run, but I am just concerned that they were not planning their coverage in the meantime,” said Fred K. “There are numerous apartment buildings being constructed within a half mile from here. How are we going to have the same coverage while this construction is going on?”
Atkinson says they moved the fire engines to Station 22, about four miles away. They transferred EMS services to a Summerville fire station one mile away.
“We worked with our automatic aid partners in Summerville and North Charleston,” Atkinson said. “North Charleston has two stations right close by. . . There really won’t be a big impact to the response times.”
Fred’s concern isn’t about distance so much as it is about traffic.
“I’ve seen EMS have to drive over the concrete medians they put down on Dorchester Road. It’s not too easy for them to get down this way in heavy traffic,” Fred said. “The areas they have to go through are some of the most congested traffic in Dorchester County up here on Ladson Road and Dorchester Road. There’s so much more traffic here than there used to be even from just a few years ago. "
Atkinson says they’ve done the math and can guarantee there will not be a noticeable change in response times.
“We’ll be on scene very quickly,” Atkinson said. “It’ll be a big truck, a big red truck and it might say North Charleston or Summerville or Dorchester County on it but we’ll be there in a timely manner.”
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.
There’s no question traffic congestion in many parts of Dorchester County might be residents’ biggest annoyance, and there’s no question that as the county continues to grow, such congestion will, too. So we understand why Dorchester County Council is asking voters to extend the 1% sales tax to raise more money for further projects that promise to provide relief, at least for a bit.But we fear that two projects on the ...
There’s no question traffic congestion in many parts of Dorchester County might be residents’ biggest annoyance, and there’s no question that as the county continues to grow, such congestion will, too. So we understand why Dorchester County Council is asking voters to extend the 1% sales tax to raise more money for further projects that promise to provide relief, at least for a bit.
But we fear that two projects on the county’s recently said it hopes to fund with the new sales tax could undermine the success of the Nov. 8 ballot referendum, because of growing concerns they could harm the natural and cultural resources of the Ashley River. Fortunately, there still is time for County Council to take those projects off the table. We urge council to do so.
Both are listed online as projects of regional significance. One would build a section of the Glenn McConnell Parkway from S.C. Highway 27, across U.S. Highway 17A and S.C. Highway 165 and terminate it at the Charleston County line, presumably in hopes that Charleston County or the state eventually would connect it to the current end of Glenn McConnell at Bees Ferry Road. The other would extend Ladson Road across the Ashley River and cut through the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.
The Ladson Road project is not even included in the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government’s long-range transportation plan; the Glenn McConnell Parkway’s multiple phases rank near the bottom of that plan’s 138 projects, which considers projects’ cost, environmental impacts and benefits to regional mobility.
We expect a growing chorus of voices to oppose these projects — and possibly even the Nov. 8 ballot question — if County Council fails to remove them. The Ashley River Historic District is one of our nation’s most special places, and a lot of advocates already are concerned about how this scenic area may suffer death from a thousand cuts — a new gas station here, some trees removed there, development somewhere else.
Fortunately, council can back away from the Glenn McConnell and Ladson Road extension projects without having to amend the referendum question itself, which lists no specific projects and only mentions that $700 million of the sales tax money would go toward “highways, roads, streets, bridges, and other transportation-related projects facilities, and drainage facilities related thereto, and mass transit systems.” Another $35 million would go to greenbelts.
The awkwardness of the county’s list might have been avoided had Dorchester County sought more public feedback in creating it. Charleston County did a commendable job of seeking such feedback when it came up with its project list for its most recent sales tax referendum, though County Council later squandered the trust and goodwill it might have built up through its public process by committing to the costly and controversial Interstate 526 extension project it had deliberately removed from the list — a project that fortunately is back in limbo because its price tag is beyond what the county can afford.
The Nov. 8 referendum is being backed by a coalition known as the Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth, which includes elected officials, conservationists and civic and business groups. We urge the group to work with the county to remove these controversial projects to increase the likelihood of passage if nothing else. As Tony Pope, chair of Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth, told reporter Maddy Quon: “Not supporting this is not an option. ... Traffic will only get worse if we do not move forward with this referendum.”
The two controversial projects are a small part of a much bigger picture; they’re only two of the 10 projects on the county’s regional significance list, and there also are at least 22 roads on the list of local significance. The way construction prices are rising, the county should have no problem allocating the sales tax proceeds among the remaining 30 projects.
Local sales taxes have played a critical role in financing transportation improvements across our state, particularly in its fastest growing counties like Dorchester, where the voters first approved a transportation sales tax 2004.
But when local voters are asked to pay for big transportation projects that previously have been paid for by state and federal governments, it’s up to the local governments to make doubly sure that these locally funded projects are really ones that locals want to see.
The next HipstervilleThe neighborhood around Reynolds Avenue in North Charleston is about to get a major facelift, becoming the next Hipsterville in the greater Charleston area. Much like Avondale, Park Circle or Upper King Street, Reynolds Avenue is getting ready to experience an injection of new life.“What’s happening here is we’re getting the kind of renewed interest of being a small business district again,” said developer Ed Sutton. “With everything happening like a lot of people moving here...
The neighborhood around Reynolds Avenue in North Charleston is about to get a major facelift, becoming the next Hipsterville in the greater Charleston area. Much like Avondale, Park Circle or Upper King Street, Reynolds Avenue is getting ready to experience an injection of new life.
“What’s happening here is we’re getting the kind of renewed interest of being a small business district again,” said developer Ed Sutton. “With everything happening like a lot of people moving here and mom and pop locations being priced out of downtown, the nature of downtown is changing, and I really do feel kind of like now’s the time for Reynolds.”
Reynolds Avenue was a hot spot in the 1960s when the Charleston Naval Shipyard was going full-throttle. Back then, Navy officers, engineers, sailors, tourists and their families strutted up and down Reynolds Avenue, much like today’s downtown King Street area. Tourists at the former Star of America motel visited with curiosity and excitement.
But after the Navy departed starting in the late 1990s, the hustle and bustle of the lively entertainment district waned and deteriorated. Now come big plans to return in a big way.
Shuai and Corrie Wang of the Park Circle restaurant Jackrabbit Filly recently announced plans to open King BBQ at 2029 Carver Ave. The Wang’s barbecue joint in the middle of this new Hipsterville is expected to merge the flavors of Chinese and Carolina barbecue and a much larger space than Jackrabbit Filly.
But that’s just one of the many planned projects in the area. Next to King BBQ’s future space is Rexton Street, an area known to flood. Clemson University’s Architectural Program created plans to address the area’s flooding and turn the surrounding areas into a parking lot and park for more community engagement. The plan includes AstroTurf, plenty of trees for shade, an amphitheater for outdoor activities and a playground for kids to run around and explore.
On the other side of King BBQ at the corner of Reynolds Avenue and Rivers Avenue is the remnants of L and W Thrift Store. Before that, the corner spot was the Goldmine Pawn & Bargain Store, a former landmark in the area. The building is slated for renovation with plans that are multi-use including offices on the second floor, and a restaurant and bar on the ground. This corner building is expected to be the eye-catcher of the new Reynolds Avenue, with a theater-like lighted marquee stretching around the corner onto Carver Avenue to catch the eyes of night owls looking for a place to grab a drink.
“It kind of sends a signal to people like: ‘Hey, you’re entering a new area of town,’ ” Sutton said.
For some business owners already in the area, such as Mr. Narwhal’s Magnificent Snoballs, much of the development has been seemingly kept under wraps. During an information session held by Charleston and North Charleston about the plans, much of the information, according to Mr. Narwhal’s business owner, who asked to be referred to as “Dunny,” seemed like it was “a closely held secret … or they just have not finalized any plans.”
“One of the questions that most of the business owners over there had was, ‘When is this supposed to happen?’ ” Dunny added. “And nobody had an answer.”
Despite the little information Dunny has heard about the area, he’s still plenty excited for the things he knows will come, such as the Lowcountry Transit Rail, a bus rapid transit system that’s planned to stretch from Ladson to the Charleston peninsula. Having a stop on Reynolds Avenue is “just awesome,” Dunny said, “because just think of the amount of people who now have access both ways … and it will be another main attraction to help bring people in.”
Rebel Taqueria owner Lewis Kesaris said he is excited to see the changes happening to his Reynolds Avenue neighbors.
“It wasn’t the nicest neighborhood when we first moved in here,” Kesaris said. “But people are more confident in coming to the area. It’s a good spot for people that live in Charleston that want a low key and nice little place to hang out.”
Kesaris said he believes the redevelopment will provide economic success to the community, much in the same way Upper King Street has thrived with new local businesses.
“I kind of feel like we’re doing a little bit of what Rec Room did,” Kesaris said, “and how Rec Room was way up there and people thought they were crazy. Now they’ve got awesome restaurants all around them and they kind of paved the path for Upper King Street.”
Much in the same way of redevelopment of Upper King Street, Avondale or Park Circle, community members are worried about gentrification, according to the Rev. Bill Stanfield, CEO of Metanoia. The organization is an outreach group that maintains and preserves the community by making sure the neighborhood maintains a reflection of its current population. The organization does this by building leaders, establishing quality housing and generating economic development.
Metanoia currently owns three buildings along Reynolds Avenue, which includes Mr. Narwhal’s. By owning the buildings, said Stanfield, the organization can work with Black business owners and entrepreneurs so that it “can stay ahead of the curve.”
This redevelopment of Reynolds Avenue isn’t what drew Dunny to opening a Mr. Narwhal’s in the area, though. He said it was his dedication to the children of the community.
“You don’t have enough business owners willing to come in on the ground level and wait it out,” he said. “I came in specifically for that reason not because I knew everything that was happening there. I was more concerned about the community and the kids in the area, because if they don’t have anywhere to go or like a safe haven, they can come in and get some snowballs and hang out for a little bit, get some quiet time.”
The next step after adding more local businesses in the area is more affordable housing, Sutton said: “We don’t need any more luxury apartments. Build something that workers can actually afford.” He hopes that workforce housing, retail businesses, restaurants and bars in the area would mitigate the traffic issue in the area, as the places people will need to go are within walking distance.
More businesses, affordable housing and easier transportation may all be important factors in redeveloping and revitalizing Reynolds Avenue, but what matters most is the voice of the community, Stanfield said.
“Redevelopment of a street like that doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition,” Stanfield said. “In other words, there are some uses that are really detrimental to the community, there are some uses that are very beneficial to the community and a lot of the uses that are sort of somewhere in between. Will something that’s coming in create opportunities for the current residents, or will it just sort of be there for somebody else?”
The former Star of America Motel at 3245 Rivers Ave. is returning in a big way, according to Walker Lamond, creative director of the Starlight Motor Inn. Lamond, along with his longtime partner Ham Morrison, are in the final stages of launching the Starlight Motor Inn in the former Star of America space. Morrison has renovated several properties in the Charleston area, including the Redux Contemporary Art Center.
The Star of America Motel was a thriving business in the 1960s and early 1970s, but fell into disrepair over the decades. In 2020, the motel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the state for being the first prefabricated and prefurnished motel in Charleston County and possibly the country.
“It was lively,” Lamond said. “Reynolds Avenue really was kind of North Charleston’s Main Street back when the Navy base was open. Maybe a little rough and tumble, but certainly a lot of open storefronts, restaurants and bars. It was a whole community and the community is still there. It just needs places to go to be together.”
The renovated Starlight Motor Inn will have 51 rooms, a restaurant, cocktail lounge and, coming in 2023, a pool and poolside bar. Eventually, Lamond added, he and Morrison want to renovate five cottages in the property adjacent to the inn and dub it “Starlight Village.” Each cottage will be available to rent like a motel room to “add a few more options,” Lamond said.
“What we’re hoping is that the building just kind of becomes what it always was, which is like a nice little landmark for the neighborhood, and a nice sign for what we think is gonna be a vibrant corner of North Charleston, kind of like it was back in the ‘60s,” he added.
The motel is expected to open in November.
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It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.As word spread th...
It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.
Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.
As word spread the rink would close permanently, skaters unabashedly filmed one another to document their joy and camaraderie as they zoomed around in circles grooving to the beat.
The closing of Music in Motion is a major cultural loss for the area, many say, especially since the only other rinks in the area, Hot Wheels Skate Center and Stardust Skate Center, closed in 2014.
Summerville native Demont Teneil said he has skated at Music in Motion for 14 years. For him, roller skating is therapy to help navigate career and relationships changes.
“I needed something that no one could take from me — and it was skating,” Teneil said. “It’s been my outlet. I just kept going and just kept trying new tricks and it rolled me out of depression.”
Teneil said he heard from his fellow skaters that Music in Motion, which opened in 2001, would not be a roller rink much longer.
“I’m sad that it’s been sold but it will definitely still always be a part of me, because I’ve learned so many of my tricks at the skating rink,” Teneil said. He plans to start traveling to Savannah, Ga., and Columbia to rink skate, and will hit the outdoor skate areas, such The Bridge Spot off of Poinsett Street in downtown Charleston.
The dynamic of teaching and learning is a big part of the roller skating experience at Music in Motion, others said.
“Everybody’s really nice and supportive,” said Nick Velez, who’s been skating regularly at Music in Motion since February. He has roller skated for about 16 years and used to be an instructor in Southern California before he moved to Goose Creek.
“Everybody’s really cool and down to help out,” he said. “If you’re struggling, don’t fear. They’ll help you up. If you have any questions, if you want to learn something, they’re more than happy to show you how to do it. If you’re trying to pop off and be yourself, they’re all about it.”
Shmeika Hall from Goose Creek said she worked at Music in Motion for almost a year before she left her position as a rink floor guard last June.
“Working here was important to me because I was able to teach people how to skate,” she said. “I was able to interact and make skating friends. When I first started skating here, maybe five years ago, it was a very small crowd of adults, but over time it has grown. [The rink] was like a safe place for adults to come and have fun, and I don’t know how we’re going to do that now.”
A few months ago, Auburn Fiore, who lives in Knightsville, visited Music in Motion for the first time in 10 years. As a child, she said she visited frequently.
“When I came here for adult skate night, I realized how joyous and amazing the community is here,” Fiore said. “While we’re here, we’re all one big community that loves to come together, dance and have a great time. I’m definitely scared of losing a place for us all to gather and bond over roller skating.”
Roller skating is just as much about congregating as a group as it is the privilege to have a space to skate, she said. Outdoor roller skating isn’t an ideal option for beginner skaters, she added, because of uneven concrete, blistering heat and rules that prohibit skating at sports courts around the area.
“It’s definitely devastating,” Fiore said. “Now all the people that have bonded over this super-interesting talent and hobby, there’s nowhere for us to congregate.”
While the future of roller skating in the area is unclear, one option exists for women skaters: Lowcountry Highrollers Derby, a local women’s roller derby team. It’s offering a meet-and-greet Thursday.
Highrollers president Traci Doutaz of Ladson remembers going to Music in Motion often between 2015 and 2017 after Hot Wheels Skate Center closed.
“For beginners, it’s super important to have a roller rink to learn not only because the floor is amazing, but [it] also has skates to borrow,” she said. “Roller skating is not the easiest hobby to just pick up and not having a local roller rink and its community just takes that option away for a lot of people.”
Doutaz joined Highrollers in 2010, and she said it was popular up until about 2015 when the group lost its bouting venue at The Citadel. Then Covid-19 hit and roller skating blew up, Doutaz said, so there was renewed interest in Highrollers. After more than a year of searching, North Charleston Coliseum offered the group a space to practice and hold bouts currently. The closest roller derby club for men is in Columbia, she said.
Doutaz has been roller skating for almost 30 years. She worked her first job as a carhop on skates at a Sonic in Kentucky.
“Emotionally it’s my escape,” she said. “It’s how I deal with things. It’s my happy place. I’m more comfortable with wheels on my feet than anything else.”
The Highrollers group offers a haven for women skaters who need to be shown the ropes.
“We will teach you everything: how to skate and how to fall,” Doutaz said. “You can show up even if you have never put skates on before.”
Lowcountry Highrollers Derby is hosting a meet-and-greet 6-9 p.m. Aug. 25 at Rusty Bull in North Charleston.
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LADSON, S.C. (WCIV) — Officials with Trident Medical Center are officially breaking ground on a new, standalone behavioral hospital!It will be the first the first freestanding ...
LADSON, S.C. (WCIV) — Officials with Trident Medical Center are officially breaking ground on a new, standalone behavioral hospital!
It will be the first the first freestanding behavioral hospital to open in the Lowcountry in over 30 years.
The nearly 58,790-square-foot facility in Ladson will include a single-story hospital and interior courtyard with space for recreation and therapy. The facility will have “state of the art” inpatient and outpatient services for Lowcountry residents.
The main difference this building will provide in comparison to general hospital care is more of a focus and extended resources for geriatric and adolescent care. The behavioral hospital will continue adult care as well.
The medical director for behavioral health at Trident, Jeffrey Culver, says he starts every day in the emergency room.
Currently, there are only 250 beds for mental health patients in the Lowcountry, and without a dedicated space for them — in most cases — a lot of them must go to the emergency room.
But with the construction of this new facility, Culver hopes it will help provide a safe space for real change and will get more people the help they need.
“I fully expect when this facility opens, that the dialogue both locally and nationally will continue to help chip away at that stigma. I think we're still a long way from where we need to be, where we can talk about mental health and mental illness the same way we talk about things like heart disease and cancer, but we're getting there. And I think being able to open up a brand-new facility and have people see that what we're doing is part of medicine,” Culver said.
ABC News 4's Sean Mahoney spoke with longtime mental health advocate Kelly Troyer, who works with the National Alliance of Mental Illness - Greater Charleston area.
She says the Lowcountry has come a long way in providing mental health services, but that there is still more work to be done and she hopes this will help kickstart that change.
Troyer also says the need for mental health services has drastically increased over the course of the pandemic.
The City of Charleston reported a 78.1 percent increase in the number of suicides from 2020 to 2021.
Troyer also has a personal connection to mental illness, as her son, Alex, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. She says finding resources in the Lowcountry was nearly impossible in the beginning, as she had to go out of state for care.
However, she says the construction of this new facility is a step in the right direction.
“As far as access to service, no, there's not enough in our state, especially in the rural areas. Then also, even here in the Lowcountry, we have great resources and we have people. But look at the Latino community and the African-American community, there's more [of a ] stigma around mental health conditions, so they don't reach out as much to the access that's here,” Troyer said. “So this groundbreaking of this hospital is very good news for us in our community. And we want to celebrate that.”
The hospital is expected to start out with 60 inpatient beds with the ability to expand and also will provide outpatient resources.
Construction started on the $30.4 million facility started in December, but officials with Trident waited until Thursday to hold the ceremony because of the weather.
Work is expected to wrap up in spring of 2023.
The groundbreaking ceremony and celebration is taking place at 11 a.m., at the construction site, which is about two miles from Trident Medical Center and right off highway 17 in Ladson, at 3445 Ingleside Boulevard.