Estate Planning Attorney inHardeeville, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Hardeeville, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Hardeeville that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Hardeeville. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Hardeeville, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Hardeeville, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Hardeeville, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Hardeeville, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Hardeeville, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Hardeeville, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Hardeeville, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Hardeeville, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Hardeeville, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Hardeeville, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Hardeeville, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Hardeeville, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Hardeeville, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Hardeeville, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Hardeeville, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Hardeeville, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Hardeeville, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

CONTACT US

Latest News in Hardeeville, SC

Tenet Healthcare selling two local hospitals to Novant Health in $2.4 billion transaction

Tenet Healthcare is selling three local hospitals, including Coastal Carolina in Hardeeville and Hilton Head Hospital to Novant HealthBluffton Today0:000:59ADCoastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville and Hilton Head Hospital will soon have new owners, once an acquisition is completed, according to a press release from their current owner, Tenet Healthcare.Tenet Healthcare Corp., based in Dallas, Texas, has entered into a definitive agreement with Novant Health for the sale of three Tenet hospitals and rel...

Tenet Healthcare is selling three local hospitals, including Coastal Carolina in Hardeeville and Hilton Head Hospital to Novant Health

Bluffton Today

Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville and Hilton Head Hospital will soon have new owners, once an acquisition is completed, according to a press release from their current owner, Tenet Healthcare.

Tenet Healthcare Corp., based in Dallas, Texas, has entered into a definitive agreement with Novant Health for the sale of three Tenet hospitals and related operations in South Carolina for approximately $2.4 billion in cash, according to a Nov. 17 Tenet press release. The release said after-tax proceeds would be approximately $1.750 billion.

The transaction, Tenet said, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024, subject to customary regulatory approvals, clearances, and closing conditions.

"Our care delivery network includes United Surgical Partners International (USPI), the largest ambulatory platform in the country, which operates or has ownership interests in more than 480 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals," the Tenet release said. "We also operate 61 acute care and specialty hospitals, approximately 110 other outpatient facilities, a network of leading employed physicians, and a global business center in Manila, Philippines."

Novant Health is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and is a part of a four-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatients centers and hospitals, according to the company's website. The network has more than 1,600 physicians and 29,000 employees at more than 640 locations.

Along with Coastal Carolina Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital, the sale also includes East Cooper Medical Center in Charleston County, affiliated physician practices and other related hospital operations, the release said. Tenet’s ambulatory facilities operated by USPI in these markets will remain with Tenet, the Tenet release said.

“Our three hospitals on the coast in South Carolina are well-regarded by the communities they serve for the high-quality specialty services they deliver,” Saum Sutaria, M.D., chairman and CEO of Tenet Healthcare said. “Novant is an innovative healthcare organization with a deep commitment to patient-centric care. Integration of these three hospitals into their network will bring benefits for generations to come. Our new partnership in revenue cycle management and expanded collaboration in ambulatory surgical services will support consumer-centric healthcare.”

Revenue cycle management in healthcare involves a financial process that helps healthcare facilities such as Tenet and others manage tasks such as billing and scheduling.

Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams, recently learning of the news, said, "Coastal Carolina Hospital and Tidewatch Emergency Center have been a valuable part of our city and county and wonderful community partners."

Williams added, "The hospital's service during the pandemic providing testing and vaccines is a testament to their everyday commitment and importance to our region."

Coastal Carolina Hospital is also located in Jasper County, and county leaders said they were looking forward to the future as Novant Healthcare becomes the new owner.

“Novant brings tremendous healthcare experience and resources enabling Hilton Head Hospital and Coastal Carolina to continue providing our community with best-in-class health care our community deserves,” Jasper County Council Chairman Marty Sauls said.

The purchase agreement also includes Tenet's Conifer Health Solutions subsidiary, entering into a new and expanded 15-year contract to provide revenue cycle management services for the South Carolina hospitals and related operations, according to the release. Tenet also said Novant Health and USPI will also be enhancing their ambulatory surgery partnership.

"For the last 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2023, the three hospitals and related operations included in the sale generated revenues of approximately $552 million, pre-tax income of approximately $126 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately $150 million, excluding interest expense of approximately $1 million, litigation and investigation costs of approximately $3 million, and depreciation and amortization expense of approximately $20 million," Tenet said.

Tenet added, "The company estimates recording a pre-tax book gain of approximately $1.6 billion as a result of this anticipated transaction. Tenet anticipates utilizing the proceeds from the transaction primarily for debt retirement."

Hardeeville’s East Argent developers found guilty of tax fraud involving more than $1B

Jack Fisher, founder and former CEO of Preserve Communities, the real estate company responsible for Hardeeville’s East Argent development, was convicted Friday of fraudulently selling over $1.3 billion in tax deductions meant to help protect the environment, making millions from the scheme.A federal jury sitting in Atlanta convicted Fisher and James Sinnott, form...

Jack Fisher, founder and former CEO of Preserve Communities, the real estate company responsible for Hardeeville’s East Argent development, was convicted Friday of fraudulently selling over $1.3 billion in tax deductions meant to help protect the environment, making millions from the scheme.

A federal jury sitting in Atlanta convicted Fisher and James Sinnott, former Preserve Communities president and chief operating officer, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aiding and assisting the filing of false tax returns, and subscribing to false tax returns Friday. Fisher also was convicted of money laundering.

Fisher and Sinnott have since been removed from Preserve Communities’ leadership team page.

The City of Hardeeville approved Preserve Communities’ East Argent Planned Direct Development in 2005 for over 12,500 residential units across 7,350 acres, according to its website. It is the largest development in Hardeeville’s history and sits between U.S. 278 and S.C. 170. Since its inception, the project received mixed reviews from officials and residents who worry about potential environmental and traffic impacts.

Fisher used the money to purchase a Mercedes Benz, a private jet, and an RV and trailer. He also used the money to buy homes in the United States and Caribbean.

The scheme the jury convicted Fisher and Sinnott of dated back nearly two decades and involved “syndicated conservation easements.”

Under standard conservation easements, landowners get charitable deductions for giving up their land’s development rights, normally by donating them to a nonprofit land trust. Many local plantations in the ACE Basin Watershed have entered these conservation easements in the past. It’s a legal agreement that protects the land from being used for commercial or residential development. The Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Basin is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries located primarily in Colleton, Charleston and Beaufort counties.

According to Propublica, with syndicated versions, bad actors:

1) Buy vacant land, like abandoned golf courses, that aren’t worth much.

2) Hire an appraiser willing to wrongly declare the land is worth much more than it actually is. In Fisher and Sinnott’s case, they often appraised the land 10 times higher than what they originally paid to acquire the property.

3) Sell stakes in the donation. Fisher and Sinnott sold stakes in the donation to wealthy individuals, promising them deductions 4.5 times the amount they originally paid.

4) Donate the land to a nonprofit land trust and receive charitable deductions much more than they should actually be. Fisher, Sinnott and others received more than $41 million in payments that were backdated or late for false and inflated tax deductions.

Fisher and Sinnott face a maximum of between three and 20 years in prison for each count. The government is also seeking the forfeiture of money and properties purchased by Fisher and Sinnott in connection with their fraudulent scheme. A federal district court judge will determine their sentence.

Preserve Communities was unavailable for immediate comment about how this would impact Hardeeville’s East Argent development.

Jack Fisher’s voicemail was full, and Jennifer Fisher-Buntin, the vice president of marketing for Preserve Communities, didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail.

This story was originally published September 25, 2023, 5:18 PM.

April 21 - Rollen's RAW opens new retail location in Hardeeville

April 21, 2023 - Rollen’s RAW Grains, the Lowcountry’s newest heritage foods destination, offers signature locally grown items like Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island Red Peas and Sea Island Yellow Guinea Flint Grits, in addition to fresh local eggs, yogurt and produce at a new retail store located at 3333 S. Okatie Hwy. in Hardeeville, S.C. The bright, inviting country store features spacious ...

April 21, 2023 - Rollen’s RAW Grains, the Lowcountry’s newest heritage foods destination, offers signature locally grown items like Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island Red Peas and Sea Island Yellow Guinea Flint Grits, in addition to fresh local eggs, yogurt and produce at a new retail store located at 3333 S. Okatie Hwy. in Hardeeville, S.C. The bright, inviting country store features spacious front and back porches. Future plans include adding a large fire pit for oyster roasts and locally sponsored events with farm-to-table heritage meals.

All Rollen’s RAW Grains products are non-GMO, gluten-free and preservative-free and are grown and harvested using traditional Lowcountry rice-growing techniques. Rollen’s RAW Grains will also host agritourism experiences for groups, ranging from outdoor farm-to-table heritage meals to tours of Lowcountry heritage rice fields. Rollen’s RAW Grains is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fourth-generation farmer Marion “Rollen” Chalmers, who owns Rollen’s RAW Grains with his wife Frances Chalmers, grows Carolina Gold heritage rice on more than 40 acres of land in the South Carolina Lowcountry. He provides high-quality rice to top restaurants across the South and has been featured in Garden & Gun and on The TODAY Show for planting, growing and harvesting Carolina Gold rice and bringing back this once-prized heritage crop. A direct descendent of Gullah residents in South Carolina who trace their roots back to slavery and West Africa, Chalmers is one of the most experienced and respected growers of heritage rice in the United States.

“We want to bring fresh, local, seasonal items to Rollen’s RAW Grains and provide sustainable foods to the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire,” Chalmers explains. “I love talking to people and sharing what I’ve learned from years of farming. I’ve searched all over, and I’ve never found anything like what we have here.”

Originally from Hardeeville, S.C., Chalmers has been farming since the age of 19, and his family has been growing rice in South Carolina since the 18th century. This experienced farmer uses the same rice-growing techniques that were originally brought over from West Africa by enslaved people in the South. Chalmers has been inspired by Dr. Richard Schulze, Sr., who is responsible for the rebirth of Carolina Gold Rice, and worked closely with Dr. Richard Schulze, Jr., who gave Chalmers the opportunity to cultivate Carolina Gold Rice and Charleston Gold Rice at Turnbridge in Hardeeville, S.C.

Widely known as “the coolest rice grower in America,” Chalmers grows Carolina Gold Rice on the original fields where this heritage crop was harvested in the 18th and 19th century. For almost 20 years, Chalmers has been growing Carolina Gold Rice for heritage grain purveyor Anson Mills. Anson Mills founder Glenn Roberts has called Chalmers a “quiet force” behind the food revival of the Sea Islands, crediting him with the renewed interest in heritage rice and with the comeback of Carolina Gold Rice. The new Rollen’s RAW Grains retail location in Hardeeville, S.C. serves as a natural extension of the company’s overall mission to share high-quality, sustainable food with a wider audience.

“We can’t grow all our own fruits and vegetables, but we are in a position where we can source it from local farmers and local farmers’ markets,” says Rollen’s RAW Grains co-owner Frances Chalmers. “Our new store is located in the middle of a food desert, and the closest grocery store is approximately 10 miles away. We’re incredibly honored to share fresh, nutritional food and inspiring heritage experiences with local residents as well as visitors from across the country and around the world.”

Hicks: South Carolina roads stalled with traffic, population explosion

It looks like Hardeeville won’t have to worry about South Carolina’s acute housing shortage for much longer.There’s one problem off the list.As The Post and Courier’s Tony Kukulich reported Tuesday, a developer has inked a deal to build 6,700 new homes on the largest swath of available high ground in Hardeeville. Those homes will go up next door to the 3,000 planned for Latitude Margaritaville.Gotta have somewhere to put those 90,000 people moving into the state every year.The problem is th...

It looks like Hardeeville won’t have to worry about South Carolina’s acute housing shortage for much longer.

There’s one problem off the list.

As The Post and Courier’s Tony Kukulich reported Tuesday, a developer has inked a deal to build 6,700 new homes on the largest swath of available high ground in Hardeeville. Those homes will go up next door to the 3,000 planned for Latitude Margaritaville.

Gotta have somewhere to put those 90,000 people moving into the state every year.

The problem is these nearly 10,000 new houses are going in right beside one of the worst traffic choke points in the state: Interstate 95 at, yep, Hardeeville.

This is a fairly common malady in South Carolina. People are flocking to the state, but the places getting flocked can’t handle the resulting traffic.

Now, the build-out on those developments could take a decade or two, which in one respect is good — seeing as how the state Department of Transportation needs at least another 6 years to finish its long-planned widening of I-95 in the lower part of the Lowcountry.

It’d be pretty to think this timing was coordinated.

Officials in Hardeeville have been planning for this development nearly two decades because, well, they aren’t making any more land on Hilton Head. Or in Bluffton. And it is an increasingly popular retirement destination.

Trouble is, the Legislature didn’t even start giving DOT officials the money to widen I-95 or handle myriad other problems until 6 years ago, when it raised the gas tax for the first time in decades.

Those years of neglect are precisely why most of our roads are in terrible shape ... and can’t handle the current volume of traffic.

This is the problem that leads to so many others here. See, in South Carolina, the people with the most control over local development have very little say over the infrastructure.

See: Johns Island.

About a quarter-century ago, the city of Charleston and the county set an urban growth boundary on the island to protect most of the rural landscape and limit development on the island to a couple of areas (near ingress and egress points). Then they turned developers loose.

At the time, local officials expected the traffic from those new neighborhoods would be mitigated by a finished 526. But a little protesting by some environmentalists, some Johns Islanders and some legislators (who wanted to steal the 526 money), and, well, the road got held up.

The houses didn’t.

That created the very situation most of those protesters were trying to avoid. Which is why the county’s in the shape it is now, going it mostly alone. But that’s another story.

Point is, cities and counties can plan for growth all they want, but they can’t guarantee they’ll be able to handle the ensuing traffic because the state owns most all the roads. And unless or until the locals find the money and are willing to take over those roads, the state does what it wants. Or doesn’t, as is often the case.

Hardeeville just happened to get lucky here.

A recent Post and Courier editorial noted that governments not working together can have a negative domino effect. Some places, suffering from debilitating traffic, decide to limit future growth (we’re looking at you, Mount Pleasant), and that growth is pushed out farther — to, say, the wilds of Dorchester County.

Which makes traffic worse for everyone. Again, look at the 526 fiasco. If you think its absence messes up Johns Island traffic, look at West Ashley.

Seriously, Mount Pleasant 526 critics: Look at West Ashley.

Now, the part of I-95 that runs through Hardeeville needed widening long before all this Hilton Head overflow development started. And, if that development continues, it’s hard to imagine the interstate won’t be overburdened soon after it’s widened.

Folks are clamoring for housing, and local governments know they need more stock to combat escalating prices. They like the bigger tax base, too.

But if they want to build those houses in the hinterlands (and what choice is there at this point?), then they need the infrastructure to service them. For instance, if North Charleston is going to allow development of Watson Hill, it needs an extension of the Glenn McConnell Parkway.

North Charleston, however, has absolutely no say in that nebulous road project.

Those state boys like to own and control everything in South Carolina. Well, they — not the locals, and not the Transportation Department — certainly own this problem. So it’s up to them to ramp up road improvements.

If people have to sit in traffic long enough, whether it’s in Hardeeville or West Ashley, they might eventually figure out who’s to blame here.

Summer storms preparedness: Safety tips to remember when severe weather warnings issued

Hardeeville and surrounding areas, including Bluffton, were hit with severe weather June 14. The storms left behind toppled trees, powerlines.Bluffton TodayStormy weather recently toppled trees and power lines in both Jasper and Beaufort counties, and local emergency officials want citizens to remain as safe as possible throughout early summer storms.Severe weather swept through parts of Jasper County and the Bluffton area on June 14, leaving behind debris across roadways and trees on homes, while also t...

Hardeeville and surrounding areas, including Bluffton, were hit with severe weather June 14. The storms left behind toppled trees, powerlines.

Bluffton Today

Stormy weather recently toppled trees and power lines in both Jasper and Beaufort counties, and local emergency officials want citizens to remain as safe as possible throughout early summer storms.

Severe weather swept through parts of Jasper County and the Bluffton area on June 14, leaving behind debris across roadways and trees on homes, while also temporarily shutting down a portion of Interstate 95 in Hardeeville, officials said. The severe weather also led to the closing of the Hardeeville Recreation Department on June 15 and 16 due to a partial power outage, according to a news release from the city. The center reopened on June 20 for normal operating hours.

Severe thunderstorms are officially defined as storms capable of producing 1-inch or larger hail or wind gusts over 58 mph., the weather service said. Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs, and vehicles. Wind this strong, the National Weather Service said, is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage.

Jasper County Fire Rescue said on June 15 in a Facebook post, "In the course of an hour starting just after 8 p.m. the night of the storm, crews responded to nine calls all of which were storm-related. The calls ranged from ''trees on roadways, trees on power lines, a possible structure fire, vehicle verse trees, and trees on structures. Luckily no injuries resulted from these incidents.''

The City of Hardeeville, during the storm, also advised citizens to remain safe, especially if there were downed power lines in their area. The message said utility companies warned citizens to stay away from downed power lines as there had been several downed lines reported during and after the storm.

Jasper County Emergency Services Director Russell Wells said it was important for drivers to plan for potentially increased travel times when there is a possibility of severe weather along their route.

"Check your route before departing. Look for posted road closures or conditions that may impact your travels," he said. “Turn around, don’t drown.”

"According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), 12 inches of swift-moving water across a roadway can carry away a vehicle. At night or during bad weather conditions, be extra cautious for pedestrians or bicyclists."

Wells also said it was important for drivers to ''focus on the road you are traveling and avoid distractions.''

There were nine trees downed in about 90 minutes around Bluffton during the June 14 storm, Bluffton Township Fire District Public Information Officer Stephen Combs said. He said the department went into storm operations, dispatching its own calls from 8:15 to 10 p.m. in its emergency operations center.

Combs said citizens should remain aware of weather conditions as storms continue to develop quickly throughout the summer.

"The key is making sure you have reliable sources of information," he said.

Some of those sources include the Nixle alert system that is used in both Jasper and Beaufort counties and the South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division app. Combs said having an NOAA Weather radio would also provide the local weather information needed when storms are in the area.

To help drivers navigate as safely as possible through severe weather, the Bluffton Township Fire District also offered a few tips on its Facebook page. South Carolina law requires that headlights be turned on whenever windshield wipers are used. The first tip also asks drivers to ''slow down, especially in the rain as brakes do not work as well on wet roads.'' The second tip offered reminds drivers to use their turn signals, and the third asks them to leave space between their vehicles and those in front of them.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jonathan Lamb said on June 15 the weather service had compiled damage reports that were received from around the Jasper County area, confirming there were numerous reports of trees and power lines down in the Hardeeville area. The final report from the weather service showed severe thunderstorm damage in Jasper, though no tornado damage was reported.

The forecast for the week of June 18 in Jasper and Beaufort counties also included the chance of scattered thunderstorms, with a few thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind gusts and large hail, according to the National Weather Service.

Lamb said recent storms in Jasper County seem to have been severe thunderstorms with straight-line winds, but the weather service had evaluated to determine if there might have been a tornado in Jasper County. He said trees are downed when winds reach speeds of 60 mph or higher, and a severe thunderstorm can have winds of at least 58 mph.

The weather service had its first damage report at 7:51 p.m. June 14, as power lines were reported down across Interstate 95 in Hardeeville, with the north and southbound lanes being closed at Exit 8. Hardeeville Fire Department Deputy Chief of Administration Joey Rowell said during the storm, a driver on the interstate drove over an energized power line, which caught the vehicle on fire. No injuries were reported, he said.

Damage reports from the National Weather Service from around Hardeeville ranged from downed trees, downed power lines, and a report of downed trees on an apartment complex. The storm also traveled into the Bluffton area, with reports of several downed trees along the Bluffton Parkway, according to NWS in Charleston storm reports. There were also reports of power outages across both Jasper and Beaufort counties.

The first weather alert for Jasper County, Lamb said, was a severe thunderstorm warning that was issued Wednesday night from 7:02-7:45 p.m. He said in the same time frame, a tornado warning, the first of two, was issued from 7:35-8 p.m. Another tornado warning ran from 7:52-8:15 p.m. for Jasper County.

"The storms were quick-moving storms, and this led to rapid-fire warnings," Lamb said. "It is important to remain alert when the watches and warnings are issued, and some storms have rapid-fire warnings."

Lamb said two NWS staff members from the Charleston office had traveled to Effingham County in Georgia, located next to Jasper County in South Carolina, to assess the damage done there by the same storm system. Later reports stated there had been a tornado in Effingham County, the national weather service said. Lamb said local emergency officials in Jasper County conducted initial damage assessments in their county and reported their findings to the weather service.

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