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Are you ready for the Aug. 21 eclipse?

Aug. 1, 2017

On Aug. 21, Georgetown County will be in store for a rare sight. Parts of the county, including the City of Georgetown, Pawleys Island and the Town of Andrews, are in the path of totality for a total solar eclipse that will occur that afternoon. 

It’s being called “The Great American Eclipse” as its path goes across the middle of the nation, from Oregon to South Carolina. But there are a very limited number of cities within the path of totality, which will be only about 70 miles wide. For a short time, those in the path of totality will see night briefly fall in the middle of the day. The temperature will drop, birds go to nest and crickets begin their evening chirps.

“It’s really quite amazing to witness,” said Dr. Louis Rubbo, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Coastal Carolina University. 

Areas outside the line of totality will not experience full dark. Even within Georgetown County, areas as close as Litchfield and Murrells Inlet are outside the path and will still be able to see a bit of sunlight. Rubbo will watch the eclipse from the City of Georgetown for the full experience, he said. 

   This will be the first time since 1979 that a total solar eclipse will be visible anywhere in the United States. The last time an eclipse crossed the continental U.S. was 1918.That year the moon’s shadow passed from Washington through Florida, and finally out to Bermuda, Rubbo said. The August solar eclipse will mark the first time in our nation’s history that the eclipse will be exclusive to the United States.

Because of the rareness of this event, areas within the narrow band of totality are preparing for a huge influx of visitors who want to watch the eclipse. Officials in Georgetown County and its incorporated areas aren’t sure how many people may flock here for the event, but residents should expect larger numbers than usual, with eclipse watchers joining the usual summer crowds. Expect traffic on roadways including Highway 17. There will also be a larger police presence out, particularly around the City of Georgetown. And residents who want to view the eclipse themselves should plan now. Pick your viewing spot, and if it is a public place, plan to get there early. 

For the City of Georgetown, the partial eclipse will begin at 1:17 p.m. This is when people will first start to see the moon covering the sun. The total eclipse begins at 2:46 p.m. At this point, you will be able to observe the “diamond ring effect” at be beginning of totality. The maximum eclipse point is at 2:47 p.m. This is the ONLY point when it is safe to view the eclipse without special protective glasses. For areas outside the path of totality there will not be a time at which the eclipse can be viewed safely without protective eyewear. 

 The total eclipse will be over at 2:48 p.m. and the partial eclipse will end at 4:09 p.m. Make sure to put your eclipse glasses back on as soon the total eclipse is ending. Please note these times are approximate and may vary slightly from location to location, even within a small area. To access an interactive map showing the path of the eclipse and determine if you are in the area of totality, as well as exact times for the eclipse at your specific location, visit: http://www.eclipse2017.org/xavier_redirect.htm.

 

Where to watch the eclipse

For Georgetown County residents and visitors, there will be plenty of options for viewing the eclipse and sharing the experience with others. 

Sites in the Georgetown area that have been named designated viewing areas for the eclipse include: 

• The Georgetown Harborwalk, along which Front Street businesses will by open. Business owners, restaurants and museums have a limited number of eclipse glasses to distribute.

• Francis Marion Park on Front Street, where Dr. Louis Rubbo, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, will be positioned to answer questions. 

• East Bay and Morgan parks in the City of Georgetown. East Bay will also house a cooling station. A shuttle service will take residents who park in satellite lots at Georgetown High and Middle Schools, to East Bay and Francis Marion parks. The shuttle will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will also pick up at the Hampton Inn and Quality Inn. Find more information on the City of Georgetown website.

• Carroll A. Campbell Marine Complex, 101 Riverwalk Dr. A perfect place to park and watch the eclipse or launch a boat and watch from the river. Bring a cooler and snacks.

• Georgetown Airport, 860 Aviation Blvd. The Georgetown Airport will host a fly-in and drive-in on Aug. 21. Pilots from other areas will be invited to fly in for the day and view the eclipse. Local residents will be invited to drive in and watch. Bring a lawn chair. Solar eclipse glasses, food and drinks will be available for sale. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free but get a ticket at https://solareclipsegtcountycounty.eventbrite.com.

• From the Santee River. Black River Outdoors will have a Solar Eclipse Kayak Tour fundraiser to help rebuild the Huntington Beach State Park Nature Center. From noon to 3:30 p.m., participants will paddle the Santee River with experts on hand to talk about the eclipse. Everyone will have a chance to rest on a sandbar during the middle of the trip.  For information, call (843) 546-4840 or visit www.blackriveroutdoors.com.

• (Sold out) Kaminski House Lawn. The Kaminski House Museum will host an eclipse party from 1-4 p.m. Aug. 21. Admission is $10 and includes viewing glasses. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, and stay for the after party. They will also be streaming NASA coverage of the eclipse. Water, beer, wine and soft drinks will be sold. Find details at www.kaminskimuseum.org

• (May be sold out) Hopsewee Plantation. Located 12 miles south of the City of Georgetown, Hopsewee Plantation is just 10 miles from the center of totality and will have a slightly longer time to view the total eclipse. It will host an eclipse celebration from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with dancing, live music, a live feed from NASA, food, drinks, classes and tours. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and include eclipse glasses. Classes and tours are an additional fee. Details at www.hopsewee.com.

• Brookgreen Gardens. Brookgreen will host a solar eclipse festival on Aug. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gardens will close to the public for a special ticketed event, with gates opening to ticketholders at 10 a.m. Festival activities begin at noon. Get free eclipse glasses, enjoy music by Oracle Blue and watch live streaming of NASA’s eclipse coverage, as well as live streaming from the aviary at Brookgreen’s Lowcountry Zoo. Tickets are free for members, but must be reserved in advance. Cost is $20 for non-members. Get more information at www.brookgreen.org.

• Main Street, Andrews. The Town of Andrews will be the site of a Total Eclipse Gospel Party from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 21. The party will take place at 510 W. Main Street and includes live music and free food.

Eclipse times and phases

How to View the Eclipse Safely

Keeping your kids' eyes safe

Eclipse Interactive Map

Eclipse programs at the library

 

County to begin 2nd phase of road resurfacing plan in mid-July
June 29, 2017

Georgetown County residents will see more than 60 road resurfacing projects completed over the next 12 months, thanks to the 1 percent Capital Project Sales Tax voters approved in 2014.

This is in addition to more than 40 road projects completed last year during the first phase of work. All projects are scheduled to be finished by June 30, 2018.

The contract was awarded this spring and crews will begin paving in mid-July on roads that don’t require concrete work. For roadways with concrete elements, such as sidewalks, driveways and curbs, concrete work must be completed before paving can begin. Crews will also begin concrete work in areas, including the City of Georgetown’s historic district, in mid-July, said Kit Scott, resident construction engineer for the S.C. Department of Transportation’s office in Georgetown.

SCDOT is working closely with the county on the projects. However, dates for completion of specific roadways within the plan are not available, as the order in which roads are completed is up to the contractor. Contractors are allowed to complete paving in the order they deem most efficient, as long as the full project list is completed by the deadline — June 30 of next year.

View Road List and Completion Status

 

 

Restaurant, community outreach programs included in new airport plan
April 1, 2017

The important role the Georgetown County Airport plays in the area’s tourism and economic development is too often overlooked and uncredited, say members of the County’s Airport Commission.

That group, along with other leaders in the field and county staff, are working on a master plan to correct that. A series of work sessions over the last several months — including a flight to tour the Greenville Downtown Airport and Donaldson Field — have been dedicated to determining what the future of the airport in Georgetown should look like and laying a path to achieve that vision.

What they have come up with so far is a wish list that includes making people (locals as well as potential visitors) more aware of the airport, introducing youth to career possibilities in aviation, and growing the business community around the airport. This includes taking steps to make it easier for economic development staff to attract appropriate businesses to property near the airport and opening a restaurant on the airport campus to cater to pilots as well as attract local residents to visit the airport.

“We’re at the part now where we’re wrestling down the specifics of all the tasks that need to be done and setting time frames,” said Doug Decker, a pilot and tenant at the airport who was recruited to help lead the charge. “The process we’re going through gets down to a fairly finite level of detail.”

To help with that aspect of planning, Decker and the County called on John McDonald. “He’s not an aviation guy,” Decker said. But with a background as deputy undersecretary for the Army and working in the business world, he’s a master at strategy and planning, and knows how to take ideas from paper to reality. Decker said his biggest concern was that a plan would be created and left to gather dust on a shelf somewhere. McDonald’s role is to ensure that doesn’t happen.

It is expected to take about 10 years for all aspects of the plan to be executed. But some components will start to be carried out as early as this summer. Among the first goals to be tackled will be community outreach. Airport Commission members will reach out to the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Alliance and local schools to form partnerships and find ways they can help each other.

Committee members said they see a great need to reach out to local schools, expanding and creating programs that allow students to visit the airport and, in some cases, even take their first flight. There is a huge number of students in the county who have never been on an airplane or even to a regional airport, committee members said during their most recent meeting March 23. That, they said, certainly contributes to the lack of interest locally in pursuing careers in aviation.

“We have a lack of demand here for flight training and also for mechanical engineering programs up at PIA [Pittsburgh Institute for Aeronautics] in Myrtle Beach,” Decker said. “We just haven’t built that demand from the bottom up. We have to reach out to schools at the high school and college level with robust programs and let them know what kinds of opportunities there are for people with those skills. There is good pay and a demand for people in those jobs.”

PIA has a facility use agreement with Horry-Georgetown Technical College, and thus could offer satellite courses on HGTC property in Georgetown.

 The S.C. Aeronautics Commission already has a high school curriculum developed and ready for use that local schools could put in place.

James Stephens, executive director of the state commission, is part of the Georgetown planning group and said he applauds the county’s vision for the airport and is enthusiastic about seeing their goals become reality.

“The development of a business plan will enhance the airport and ultimately the economic viability of the community,” he said. “Airports are a vital part of the transportation infrastructure within their respective communities, and without this critical infrastructure component, economic development efforts are often inhibited.”

Aerospace is the second largest industry in South Carolina, and the coastal region leads in aerospace jobs and services, he added. 

“The strategic efforts that are currently underway will enable Georgetown County to be part of the growth, and doing so at the airport will facilitate further aviation/aerospace opportunities for the state and the county,” Stephens said. “I look forward to the completion of the project, and I believe that the end product will be something that can be replicated across South Carolina at many of our other airports.”

Planning meetings will continue and, once completed, the resulting master plan will be presented to the public by the end of this year.

“We’re excited about the plans being made here and the potential of our airport,” said Ray Funnye, director of the county’s Public Services Department, which is in charge of the airport. “We already have a wonderful facility here, and we’re delighted to be able to put things in motion to really highlight that and make it even better.”

 

 

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