Thursday, August 15, 2013
Per the article in the Aug. 6 edition of The Post and Courier, I fully support any and all measures that see to it that anyone who is handling their cell phone for any reason while driving should, if caught, be fined. With all new technology, there is a “space” here for still conversing and calling without using your hands and eyes to connect via the hand-held cell phone. If it is necessary for you to converse at all, opt for bluetooth or equivalent, and your calls are as if you are talking to the person in your passenger seat.
I can literally tell when the person in front of me on the road is texting or using the cellphone. The whole “demeanor” of the car is an outright sign that the driver is preoccupied just enough to be a threat to me and others. Personally, you get caught the first time, the fine is $162.50, which is fine with me. Get caught a second time, make it $500. Get caught a third time, lose your license.
Kindly do not start comparing DUI punishments to this. As far as I am concerned, you are DUI, you go to jail and lose your license - pure and simple.
Too many excuses for all this garbage that goes on in cars these days. If you’ve got things to do and people to contact or want to drink, then don’t drive.
By the way, careless driving laws are just too “general” for this very specific cell phone business and do not address what is now an epidemic.
Oh and do not forget, cellphoners, you may refute the officer’s ticket but your cell phone records will verify his timing. You will be guilty.
As an elected member of the Mount Pleasant Town Council, father of three (former) Charleston County School District students and two-time member of The Blue Ribbon Committee for School Accountability, it is my obligation to set out a few personal observations about the CCSD building program, Mount Pleasant school overcrowding and allocation of financial resources.
There is no dispute that one of the most rapid areas of increased public school enrollment is the northern area of Mount Pleasant. Enrollment increased even during the economic downturn of the last few years. It is no surprise that CCSD schools in the north area of Mount Pleasant are bursting at the seams, despite the unappealing mobile units.
CCSD, like all governmental bodies, is accountable to the taxpayers. Financial transparency is an absolute requirement. That said, as best I understand it (and following the money trail is very difficult), $20 million for a new East Cooper Elementary School was originally shown in the CCSD’s Master Plan for the 2005-2009 building program. In addition, that same plan allocated $9 million for a substantial “renovation” of Sullivan’s Island Elementary School.
As of August 2013, no new Mount Pleasant elementary school has been funded or started. Rather, money purportedly “saved” from a prior building program (funded with a bond) was reallocated to SIES for a full rebuild, rather than a renovation. Could those funds have been directed by the CCSD to build a critically needed new Mount Pleasant elementary school?
It is beyond logic that the CCSD is building a new school on a barrier island. The vast majority of students who attend SIES don’t even live on Sullivan’s Island. Remember, SIES services less than 100 students from Sullivan’s Island. Many Mount Pleasant families send their children to SIES because there is simply no room for their children in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood schools.
Very recently, much has been written about school “rezoning” and how Mount Pleasant parents are upset (and they should be). Now, in addition to the elementary school problem, we now must begin to focus on the critical need for a second high school in Mount Pleasant, one which is long overdue as well. Get ready. This is the next skirmish. And, I am ready. Mount Pleasant is ready.
Mount Pleasant Town Councilman
I wholeheartedly endorse Mr. Rapp’s point of view (Aug. 7, “A lost art”), regarding Mount Pleasant drivers’ failure to use turn signals. It has been my experience that the overwhelming majority of local drivers choose to ignore what I thought was Basic Driving 101.
Perhaps it is because they are too busy texting or talking on their cell phones to observe proper (and safe) driving rules of the road. Yet another reason to ban texting while driving?
A good cause
Last Tuesday, Brian Hicks, an awesome opinion writer at Charleston’s venerable Post and Courier, wrote a very heartfelt piece about the upcoming Lt. Dan Band concert scheduled for The Citadel on Sept. 14, and his concerns when I told him the status of our current ticket sales.
“What gives?” Brian wrote. “South Carolina and the military are supposed to go together like peas and carrots!”
Brian’s column has obviously had an impact as ticket sales have increased by more than 40 percent in the two days after his column appeared, a trend we hope to see continue. Aside from ticket sales though, Brian’s piece turned me introspective and challenged me to think seriously about the reasons why I personally, as well as many of the volunteers intimately involved in the planning of this event, feel that it is important for Charleston to get behind this event in a big way.
Foremost, it is the wounded veterans and their primary caregivers, the men and women who have given up so much of their personal independence in service and sacrifice as the rest of us comfortably go along with our lives for whom we do this. For them, many of whom will be spending the preceding week bonding with one another and participating in therapeutic activities at the stunningly beautiful Palm Key retreat in Ridgeland, the concert at The Citadel will be the culmination of what will be a life-changing, and in some cases a life-saving, experience.
Deeper though, there is a very practical reason for people in the community who support the troops to come out to this concert to “Support the Troops” because 100 percent of the $20 that they spend on their ticket will be rolled right back into the South Carolina economy by our 100 percent all volunteer non-profit to provide the tools, therapies and guidance that severely injured veterans are otherwise not receiving.
One example of a therapy we are providing injured veterans that the VA currently is not is taking place South of the Broad on Hilton Head Island where Dr. Pete Stephenson runs a Hyperbaric chamber. Hyperbaric therapy has been clinically shown in case study after case study to provide significant cognitive improvement and overall well-being in persons who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries, (TBI). For those who are unaware, TBI and traumatic amputations are the two signature wounds of this generation’s warriors.
Recently we sponsored one veteran and his caregiver as they went through three weeks of therapy at Dr. Stephenson’s facility. The results were, forgive me, mind-blowing.
Patient Paul Cornett’s case summary reads like that of countless other war veterans with multiple combat deployments that I have become familiar with over the years. In September 2003, Cornett had an IED explode behind his Humvee. The blast drove Cornett into the windshield, after which he was unconscious for three to five minutes, followed by tinnitus and dizziness for a few days. In February 2004 he received shrapnel wounds to his head, followed by severe headaches and somnolence. In June 2004, the blast from an RPG, which exploded nearby, knocked him off his feet after which he slowly got up and walked away.
These men and women are tough, and in the combat zone they shake it off and drive on with the mission as best they can. These injuries though are insidious. Left untreated they tend to manifest themselves in deeper and more challenging ways down the road.
Symptoms that developed in Cornett included frequent migraine headaches, long and short term memory loss, confusion, slow thought process, sleep walking, insomnia, nightmares, anger, forgetfulness, flash-backs and, most importantly a withdrawal from other people and social situations.
When Cornett and his wife came down for their treatment program nearly two months ago we had no idea how this would turn out. We lodged them at the Palm Key retreat because we have found that just being there for many veterans with these type injuries can be healing and therapeutic in and of itself. Mother nature and the serenity found in sitting on the back porch of one of the cottages as you listen to the ebb and flow of the tide through the Lowcountry marsh grass cleanses the soul as much as it does the gorgeous landscape.
“Before we were given this opportunity I think we had truly given up all hope of ever finding anything that might give us a shot at a normal life,” wrote Cornett’s spouse and caregiver, Faith Cornett. “I say we because Paul may have been the injured soldier, but we as his family have lived the nightmare and the heartache and pain right along with him. We have all suffered and watched Paul suffer too, with us being helpless to stop it.” Simply getting them to agree to come and leave the safe nest they had built for themselves in their home we felt was a triumph in itself.
“Paul and I as a couple just decided to give up,” Faith continued in her letter. “It wasn’t a decision that we came to lightly, but we were exasperated and at the let go point.
That downward spiral began to change almost immediately when they arrived at Palm Key where the proprietors, Judy and Em Rigg, themselves a retired military couple, welcomed the Cornetts like they were part of their family, well maybe because they are.
Midway through the treatment program Faith wrote, “The changes in Paul are so beyond anything I could have imagined. He had migraines at least five times a week and now, not one since we’ve been doing the treatments. He can wear socks and shoes now, wearing shoes in itself is awesome but socks? OMG! He hadn’t been able to sleep for years and now he sleeps more than six straight hours a night. He says the pain in his feet has gone from feeling like they were wrapped in barbed wire to just a slight tingle. Previously he was taking 10-12 pain pills a day and since we’ve been here he’s taken maybe four at the most.”
But the thing that Faith wrote that stopped me dead in my tracks was this:
“The Independence Fund saved us, not just us but our children and grand children as well. You have saved all of our lives. This treatment is the miracle that I have been praying for the last six years. I had that tiny bit of faith and it’s paid off.”
All of the funds that we raise from the Lt Dan Band concert at The Citadel will be allocated towards bringing more veterans and veteran/caregiver teams to the Independence Center at Palm Key where they will be able to receive the tools, therapies and guidance that can turn their lives around.
This is why I am asking you to spend the $20 and please come out and join us at the LT. Dan rocks The Citadel concert on Sept. 14. I can promise you that it will be the most rewarding $20 you have ever spent.
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