Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Every cloud has a silver lining. That old expression can be a bit worn, but like many old sayings there’s a lot of truth in it, as well.
Downtown Georgetown suffered a horrific blow in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
A fire that started at Limpin’ Jane’s Restaurant in the 700 block of Front Street destroyed seven buildings and damaged others. All of the buildings were at least a century old. One person watching as the remnants were demolished last Thursday noted that it was the first time in at least 100 years that anyone could stand in that spot on Front Street and see Goat Island, because the buildings had been lost to the fire.
For those of us who grew up here, as well as those who came later or visit, it’s all the same. A sad, tragic event.
Despite the losses, however, the spirit of togetherness and helping one another is widespread and heartfelt.
People who owned property or ran businesses, worked in those places or lived in apartments of the businesses got welcome news late on Friday afternoon.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) came through with a disaster declaration sought by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Details are elsewhere, but those directly affected by the fire could be eligible for low-cost loans.
As one owner said Friday, we had insurance but it’s not enough to rebuild. Perhaps these loans will make the difference.
We are blessed to live in this place on the “borderland of God” as the Marquis de La Fayette remarked in 1777 when he landed at North Island. The name DeBordieu stuck and has been taken on by a beachfront development near Georgetown.
We also face a tremendous opportunity that locals, visitors and tourists should embrace.
Not only should we help our friends and neighbors recover and rebuild, but we should take hold of the good spirits to help our whole community.
Georgetown is a gem, a diamond often hidden from unknowing and unseeing eyes.
A planned meeting Tuesday night was to consider plans for Goat Island. That land, which used to be a peninsula in the Sampit River, became an island around 1949 or 1950 when a channel was cut to allow easier access to and from Winyah Bay for shipping for International Paper Co.
The paper mill and ArcelorMittal steel mill are still here, and the island can be lightly enhanced to take advantage of its natural beauty.
For decades, passers-by have not realized the gem that is Front Street, downtown Georgetown and the Historic District.
The views along our highways going through town haven’t been as attractive as they should be.
Forget arguing about “red stain” or the ferrous oxide that may result in part from the combination of a steel mill, paper mill, and ocean port.
There’s a lot to be said for cleaning up, buckets of paint, attractive landscaping and weed-eating.
There’s even more to be said for fixing up, repairing or getting rid of some of the eyesores that appear on the other side of those windshields as cars and trucks travel through Georgetown to the far points of the compass.
We love Georgetown and Georgetown County. But we also need to be realistic. If appearances matter — and they do — we should make a coordinated effort to look good.
And we should avoid pettiness, bickering and downright arguing.
Our common goal is to have a wonderful place to live, work and play. Many of us also want our kids and grandkids to stay here. They need jobs, good schools and a wonderful and attractive lifestyle.
Let’s work hard — together — to make that a reality.
The tragedy that fell upon us two weeks ago may have a brilliant silver lining.
It’s up to us to make it so.
Let’s do it.
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