BOS Adopts BIMRC Recommendation for the Marina

At a special called meeting of the Board of Stewards on Sunday, September 2nd, the board adopted a recommendation made by the Belle Isle Marina Redevelopment Committee (BIMRC) based on their special meeting earlier in the day. This recommendation was made after presentation of two options to move forward with the marina.

BIMRC developed two environmental options in response to obstacles only recently raised this week by SCDNR to solutions proposed by engineers going back to 2016/17, essentially saying that a permit would not be granted for any structure placed within the marina basin, such as a seawall and including a geotube pyramid structure configured as a wall. The option adopted is the least initial cost to Belle Isle members, and it appears at this early date to be sustainable financially without a special assessment and everyone involved is committed to that becoming reality. In addition, we have had a cursory review by SCDNR Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) and they have greenlighted this option. It is not a permit approval; however, it raises no more red flags.

Option Adopted
Since a large component of any dredge has been the cost of spoils deposit/removal, the size of any dredge is for now limited to approximately 34K cubic yards of spoils material (down to 5' of material moved). To limit the dredge to this volume for this year, the marina footprint will be reduced by approximately 40% to 50% to provide 40 to 50 slips (instead of 80), including courtesy docks. Unfortunately, there is presently no current solution for being able to divert the freshwater from the lake spillway to significantly reduce the catalyst of freshwater causing sediment within tidal saltwater to drop right in our basin, nor to prevent sediment-filled tidal water from coming into the basin in the first place. Therefore, for now, we will need to dredge annually to maintain a channel for water access within the basin. Engineering studies project that without seawalls at the entrance and against marsh grass areas, for each 5' of materials removed, we will lose 18" to 26" of access annually.

 Red line indicates the 2018-19 dredge footprint and conceptual configuration of a reduced marina configuration.

Red line indicates the 2018-19 dredge footprint and conceptual configuration of a reduced marina configuration.

Costs
While dredging annually is not the best possible news, the option adopted does provide for best use of funds to minimize cost both initially and annually to maintain a boating channel within the marina. Initial cost is in the range of $625K-$700K. Annual dredge cost is in the range of $125K-$150K. BIMRC and BOS emphasize that these are early numbers and, even so, do indicate there is a fiscally responsible reason to move forward with next steps. The BOS voted on a motion to apply for a permit, develop a proforma, acquire financing, and mobilize equipment to begin dredging as early as mid-December and have an operating marina by late winter. BIMRC and BOS also emphasize that there may be many iterations to the actual number and configuration of docks, and both organizations are committed to keeping membership informed.

How Much Will the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Cover?
The BIG grant's purpose is to support the development of transient boating infrastructure as folks move up and down the coasts, rivers, and ICW (marinas, additional docks, restrooms, laundry facilities, food service, fueling, etc.). The adopted option does not focus on these transient boater components that would qualify as an expenditure to be reimbursed 18 months later. To maintain a courteous relationship with SCDNR/OEP and other state and federal agencies involved in grant decisions, BIMRC voted to recommend that the BOS pass a motion to officially withdraw our BIG grant application. Sustaining a good relationship with these individuals and agencies leaves the door open to pursue BIG monies in the future if it makes sense for Belle Isle Marina.

Survey
Thanks to all who have already submitted their marina survey. If you have not yet submitted one for your unit, please do so before the deadline September 16th. The responses to the survey will play a part in shaping the configuration of the marina, and in the projection of financial operations. If you do not share what your needs are they may be overlooked, whether you are a boater or non-boater.

Book Club Fall Schedule

The Belle Isle Book Club meets for snacks and laughter the third Monday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the Belle Isle Yacht Club. You've seen it on the calendar and here is your invitation to take action and join in (or just observe the discussion) of the featured book and author, have a snack provided by the host or hostess, and enjoy the fellowship. We have been on vacation for the summer, but in just six weeks we will begin our fall schedule. Buy or borrow the book, enjoy the read, and plan to meet some new friends. Contact Kathy Rodriguez if you have any questions (delrod4946@aol.com / 843-546-9640).

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September 17th: Eleanor Olyphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, hosted by Jen Batton.

October 15th: The Thief by Clive Cussler, hosted by Nancy Corrigall.

November 19th: Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson, hosted by Marie Houpt.

December 17th: Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston, hosted by Kathy Rodriguez.

January 21st: The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham, a play to be read by members and guests in tribute to Mary McAlister. *

* For this January event only, everyone bring a snack or beverage. Husbands, boyfriends, and clandestine lovers are all invited, and we hope you will participate in reading the four small parts in the play meant for the male voice.

And, don't forget the Belle Isle "Book Borrow Box" in the Yacht Club, downstairs. Leave a book (not required) and take one home. We have grown beyond our first cabinet into a second. In addition to popular fiction and non-fiction, there are travel books, coffee table books, paperbacks and hardbacks of the classics.

 

New Neighbors in Our Midst!

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One of the Belle Isle mama turtles looking for a nurturing spot to lay her eggs apparently found the Swilers' front garden on Pheasant Loop a perfect place to do so. Miriam unearthed these babies while shoveling dirt to plant more flowers. "They just started scampering as soon as I removed the dirt and so I took a photo quickly. I went to get some water for the hole and before I got back they had all crawled off." As eggs, these hatchlings may have been in the ground since the spring-summer mating season. 

Miriam's daughter, Beth McCall, is a public school teacher in Mount Pleasant and is always on the job. She identified these babies as "yellow-bellied sliders", a popular pet species prolific in our part of the country which can live for over thirty years in the wild. They are mostly carnivorous as hatchlings, but as adults will eat exclusively plant material.

Gunny Honored With a Quilt of Valor

Gunny hasn't forgotten the training he received and self-discipline he developed as a proud Marine. We thank you for your many years of service and sacrifice, Gunny!

At Belle Isle and other places he is known as "Gunny" and everyone calls him that except for Fran Muldoon, who calls him Dexter (his Christian name). Fran's friendship and love are a bright light for Dexter Floyd, a true southern gentleman and a long-term resident of Belle Isle. You will see his bright smile these days as he walks his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel "Lu" and takes her for rides in his golf cart.

But before he came to us, Gunny served this country for many years as a Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Standing in front of a brigade or platoon, his job was to lead fellow marines in combat. Some were just boys, soon to be men with Gunny's leadership, encouragement, and teaching to always remember the marine "standing next to you ... because he is your brother, Marine!"

Three tours in Viet Nam demonstrated that this quiet man we know successfully taught others wearing the Marine Corps green how to survive in combat. He gave them skills, tough love, and showed them how to get the job done.

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, Gunny was honored with a commemorative Quilt of Valor made especially for him, bestowed by the Georgetown Knights of Columbus. The Quilt of Valor Foundation grew from one woman's dream and subsequent conviction that she and her quilting friends in Delaware could symbolically hug a combat veteran anywhere with a quality-made quilt reflecting the flag colors, to say "Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and valor." Her own son was deployed in Iraq and in 2003 she dreamed about a veteran showing despair in one moment and in the next moment she saw this same veteran covered in a quilt, exhibiting a demeanor of hope and well-being. From that dream a foundation was established to envelope veterans with comfort and honor. Almost 186,000 quilts have been awarded according to the foundation website.

Gunny's cloak of honor was made by the Quilts of Valor Foundation, Myrtle Beach Shorebirds. On the blue side it carries a label commemorating Dexter Floyd, the quilters, the foundation, and a Purple Heart Recipient label.

Click here to learn how you can support Quilts of Valor Foundation with a tax deductible donation, request a Quilt of Valor for a veteran, or donate a quilt.

Carolinas Region Porsche Club Dinner

Richard Little arranged for the Carolinas Region Porsche Club of America members to come to Belle Isle for a catered dinner after club members toured the low country on Saturday, March 24th. At least four members of CRPCA are Belle Isle residents: Richard and Barbara Little, and Drew and Glenda Smith. Take a look at the cars on parade against a backdrop of beautiful Battery White and Winyah Bay.

Plantation Tour 2018 Highlights

Fred and Aysel Dyer led another huge volunteer effort to deliver a successful Plantation Tour hospitality event at Belle Isle. Over 20 residents provided complimentary baked goods for around 400 guests visiting the Yacht Club on Friday to learn about Belle Isle as a former plantation site and its role during the Revolutionary War, to stroll Battery White's earthen berms and see cannons protecting Winyah Bay during the Civil War, and to view the artifacts featured in the mini-museum. Our stop on the tour is a favorite for those reasons, of course, and also because we offer the Yacht Club as a place to sit and eat a bag lunch or just to rest for a few minutes and enjoy our precious view. Sale of beverages provided over $200 as a donation to the tour sponsor, Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church.

An earlier email from the Dyers listed those who provided baked goods and welcomed guests at the Yacht Club. The volunteer spirit is strong at Belle Isle! Thanks to all who contribute in so many ways to make our community a special place to spend our time.

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Near-Spring Social Scene

Spring is here and, in the run-up to the spring season, Belle Isle has seen social gatherings blooming along with the azaleas. You may enjoy seeing a few of the photos contributed by attendees.

Pizza-Bingo February Fourth Friday - The Lorsons provided us all with a nice evening of pizza and bingo. It was so wild and crazy that no one sent photos! Thanks Marc and Carol for all of your hard work.

Rice Canal Renovation Reception - Miriam Swiler and J.C. (and others) did a beautiful job giving our Rice Canal Club a facelift and a lovely reception to celebrate! The Rice Canal Club is locked, but the office has a key, as do presidents of the regimes. Or, just take a peek through the windows to see fresh paint, new flooring, decorative curtains, and a conference room for smaller private meetings.

St. Patrick's Day Early Fourth Friday - The Lorsons had us seeing green. For the first time in memory, out of all the food brought ...  there were no desserts!

A Word from the Commodore

We have just passed midway of the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  A year we knew would be full of change and challenges. Some of the changes have presented challenges and some challenges have prompted change.   So here we are mid year adapting, adjusting and moving forward.

Our biggest challenge, the marina dredge, is still in front of us.  Needless to say that everyone would have welcomed an open, useful and enjoyable marina for this season.  All who worked on it were hopeful, but honestly, completing the project by this season was probably always a pipe dream.  Though an engineering team had been hired, concentration on the project did not start until JC was hired last June.  So, we have actually accomplished a great deal in just 8 months.  Remember this is a two-fold and complex project, involving a marina dredge and a marina wall.

Progress has been made. Thanks to Bill Duncan’s dedication, the loan packages were prepared for two very receptive banks. We now have a completed design for proceeding with the project, the permitting application has been submitted and we are taking bids for the wall.

We still have two “swells” to navigate.  The previous spoils area does not have the capacity to hold the spoils for the anticipated dredge.  This is frustrating and a solution must be found to deal with the spoils in the most creative and economical way possible or the project is stumped.  It is unfortunate that this fact was not clear from the last dredge, which evidently filled the area and prevented the complete execution of the last dredge. Had it been understood, we could have been looking for a spoils area for the past 4-5 years, preparing.  A final cost estimate is dependent on the spoils disposal method.

Additionally, and critical to the project is finding a responsible and economically feasible financing solution. 

Many factors have contributed to the rapid silting of the marina but if we can afford to, we have a real chance to get it right this time and complete a more long-term solution. BI Marina can be a profitable concern, managed for the first time by someone with many years of professional marina experience

Please appreciate the many hours of work that staff, board members and volunteers, are dedicating to resolve the marina situation.   The marina is an important asset that sets Belle Isle apart.  If you have questions, please ask JC.  He is ready and willing to share information and facts.

Just a couple of months prior to the start of the 2017-2018 year we experienced the loss of administrative staff and volunteers temporarily stepped in to make deposits, post checks and pay the bills.  This change actually proved to be beneficial. Valuable tax information was revealed that allowed the Purser to reduce our tax liability approximately $20,000 and recoup several years of overpayment, a result of failure to file proper forms. 

Another challenge for everyone has been the anticipation of receiving accurate financial reports.  It has been frustrating for the BOS, Financial Committee and all residents.  We have explained to you many times that this problem has existed for almost 2 years and has been unbelievably difficult to correct.  I will not go through all of this again, but will be happy to explain it further by request. On the plus side, the yacht club is financially stable and overall within budget, meeting our obligations, all without having to use any reserve funds.

After many corrections to and reconciliation of accounts by Erin, our bookkeeper, Kelley Moore, Accountant and Judy Troup, Purser, we have accurate reports to distribute for July 2017-December 2017. 

Final tweaks are being made to the new accounting system, Tops, and management is very close to launching full use of the system that will allow residents to have access to their accounts.  This too, has been a tedious accomplishment and required many hours of training by staff.   Set up has not occurred as quickly as JC had hoped as Tops’ new, upgraded system has had some snags to overcome, but the technical team has been working to resolve the problems. We are almost there.  All accounting after December 2017 is on Tops and the old system closed out.  An audit will be conducted to assure accountability from one system to another. All reports will be generated from the Tops system from December 2017 forward. 

A notice and instructions will be forthcoming to residents regarding access to your accounts on Tops.  JC and Colleen will be available to assist.

Nature also challenged our community in the last six months with Irma and the winter storm.  We thankfully survived these storms with little misfortune. These storms spurred discussions toward better emergency management for the future.

The first part of our year has also held some changes and accomplishments:

We repaired the yacht club retaining wall that was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  We will be patching the parking area and sowing grass this Spring to complete the repairs.

The new management team is settling in and we are very fortunate to have these dedicated, professionals on our side.  Erin Roper, Colleen Trimmer and JC Cappleman. Reach out to know them. They are here to assist all residents.  Just ask.

Billy Roberts retired after many years with Belle Isle.  His position was not filled.  We are now contracting all work.  Work orders are still handled as in the past.

The web site is better than ever.  Please utilize it for your calendar of events, notices and general BI information.  Enjoy the blog for news and articles of interest.  Nancy Voiselle’s articles are interesting and well presented. You may submit articles for publishing to Colleen at the marina office.  It is your blog. Use it.

Remember, that hard copies of the calendar and blog articles may be picked up in the distribution box at the mailboxes.  The number of hardcopies is limited so please take one only if you do not have access through your computer.

Thanks to Randy and Kate Beaver we added beautiful additions to Battery White and enjoyed a great community service day.  I look forward to more. 

We also owe thanks to Randy and Kate for the framed official certificate from the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing Battery White.  It has been hung in the Yacht Club.  Ed and Mimi Beaver provided a Plexiglas-boxed model of a Confederate Blockade Runner, typical of ships that operated near Georgetown.  Both gifts are beautiful additions to the Yacht Club and I am deeply grateful.

There is a new “Lending Library” in the yacht club, an inspiration from Nancy Voiselle.  I hope many are enjoying and sharing books.

Our grounds look good.  I hope everyone is enjoying the newly mulched beds.  Thanks to Regime 1 for the cleanup to the front gate.  They graciously included the gatehouse and entrance walls to their regime power-washing project.  We are ready for the Plantation Tour.  Don’t forget to contribute cookies for the day.  Contact Aysel Dyer to donate.

The yacht club has proven to be an income generator, being frequently rented for showers, weddings, class reunions and other activities.  Thanks to Susan Duncan for managing the rentals.  We look forward to new bookings.

I have not been able to attend in many months, but I understand that Carol and Marc Lorson are doing a great job hosting Forth Friday and special events.

We are so happy to have Milligan’s grill and I hope everyone has been able to participate in the “special events”. 

For me two accomplishments over the last six months are very personal. The first is the renovation of the Rice Canal Club.  It was sad that such a neat amenity for homeowners had been neglected. However, thanks to funds from the Wahoo Tournament through Roger Cooke and Charles Young, design talents from Miriam Swiler and construction supervision from JC, the RCC is now a beautiful amenity for resident’s enjoyment.

The second accomplishment involves the Board.  When I started this tenure, as Commodore, my personal and primary hope was to work with a cohesive, respectful and productive Board.  There is no doubt that my hope was fulfilled and I am proud to serve this Board.

The current Board inherited several difficult tasks including the dredge, an inadequate accounting system and major changes in management.  They faced every challenge and change with positivity.  No decisions are made in haste and they are focused on serving the community.  They have sought to achieve a level of transparency that allows for a community of truth and not speculation.  Everyone is invited.  You will see a dedicated and diverse team of volunteers working together.

Also remember that you may also place any concern, question or comment on the BOS Meeting Agenda by providing your matter, in writing, to any BOS member. 

On the horizon:

The Board has committees continuing to work on clarification of by-laws and policies and procedures.  Chairman, Barb Passmore, has reported on these activities and explained the process for by law changes, which will require owner participation.  In the mean time, the Board is applying our current By-laws, Master Deed and Restrictive Covenants to its decisions.

Projects on the immediate horizon include recommendations from the Finance Committee for repairs to the Beach House and the tennis courts.

In conclusion, I am sure I have left something or someone out. If so, it is not intentional.  I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who contributes personal time and energy in support of Belle Isle.

Regards,

Carol Mason Mcmeekin
Commodore

Some Newsworthy Notes

Plantation Tour Hospitality
The Plantation Tour visits Belle Isle on Friday, March 23rd. If you can provide some cookies or finger deserts (no utensils needed), please contact Fred & Aysel Dyer. It is estimated that we need a minimum of approximately 800 individual items -- that's over 66 dozen! If you will not be in town that week, consider making cookies and freezing them to be used on tour day.

Belle Isle Lake Needs More and Healthier Game Fish
Our outside-the-gate neighbors are starting an initiative to fund feeding the fish in Belle Isle Lake, and to restock with some species that reproduce in shorter cycles and serve as food for wide-mouth bass. This relatively expensive re-stocking initiative is being funded through money and game fish food donated by the entire Belle Isle neighborhood.

  1. Gifts by check should be made out to the outside-the-gate neighborhood association ("Belle Isle Homeowners Association") and you should reference "fish stock initiative". Send those checks to "Brock Hemmingsen, 245 Egret Circle, Georgetown SC 29440".
  2. Consider purchasing a bag of game fish feed from Tractor Supply (or other source) and regularly feed and attract the fish to your shore line. This is a great activity for children and a wonderful teaching moment!

Click here for a full explanation of the need and solutions addressed by experts on the health of lake game fish in our back yard.

Show off Belle Isle's Beauty!

As Spring moves us into the most beautiful phase of Belle Isle's landscape, keep your camera ready to get more pictures for the website's "Photo Gallery" page. From this page, you can download pictures that showcase the scenes we see every day -- beautiful landscape, gorgeous sunrise/sunsets, bright moon displays, mysterious fog over the lakes and bay, and wildlife. To get your photos into the gallery, send a well-composed and sharp image (without people) to Nancy Voiselle (nvoiselle@gmail.com). The best pictures will be added for the public and residents to see. Click here to see the Photo Gallery page.

Banana Pudding Bonanza

Who knew that we have a celebrity in our midst?

Phyllis Jones was one of three judges Thursday night at Seven Hundred Modern Grill on Front Street, working to select the best homemade banana pudding from among five. Phyllis absolutely loves banana pudding and offered to be a judge while dining at the restaurant on Wednesday night. The next evening, she and two other judges tasted, and tasted, and tasted the five offerings in a blind taste test without influence from the submitting bakers (one of the servers, frequent customers, and a visitor to Georgetown who saw the challenge on Facebook). After many spoonfuls, a clear decision was made and a winner declared. Phyllis loves banana pudding so much that she took home two more servings -- of the winning dish, of course!

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Tickets for Touring!

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Only a few weeks are left until the Plantation Tour begins (Friday/Saturday, March 23rd/24th). Tickets go on sale January 29th through March 9th, and must be ordered through the mail. Tour sites are listed on the tour sponsor's website (link to it here). Belle Isle is on the tour on Friday (23rd), along with other plantations south of Georgetown and some historic homes in downtown Georgetown. On Saturday (24th) plantations north of Georgetown along with some historic homes in downtown Georgetown are on the itinerary.

Prepaid tickets are strongly encouraged, since the event is occasionally sold out before the date of the tour. You might get lucky and get tickets by standing in line at the Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church Parish Hall on the tour days.
Link to the Ticket Order Form

On Friday the 23rd, visitors on the tour are welcome to:

  • Visit Battery White, the Tea Garden, and the Mini-Museum at the Yacht Club;
  • Use restroom facilities at the Yacht Club;
  • Relax upstairs at the Yacht Club to eat lunch they bring and enjoy our view;
  • Enjoy complimentary desserts prepared by Belle Isle residents;
  • Purchase coffee, tea, bottled water and soft drinks with proceeds going to the Diocesan Women of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, which hosts the Plantation Tour each year as a fundraiser for missions and building preservation;
  • Visit Milligan's at the Belle Isle Grill for lunch or drinks.

As it gets closer to the tour date, Fred and Aysel Dyer will be accepting offers from residents to prepare and donate cookies, brownies, or other finger desserts. If you can provide cookies but cannot be here that weekend, freeze them and get them to the Dyers for use on tour day. To donate desserts, email Aysel and Fred at dyersc@gmail.com.

Got Books?

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If you have books around the house that you are not using, consider donating them to the Belle Isle "Book Borrow Box" and free up some space in your bookcases and closets! You may also donate boxed games and jigsaw puzzles. This new "book borrow" is initially located in the first built-in wall cabinet on the Yacht Club lower level, to the left as you face the bay. all residents, family, and guests are welcome to donate and borrow books.

Donation:  Books must be freely donated (not loaned), with the expectation that they will not be reclaimed.
Borrowing:  Books may be borrowed for any length of time; there is no sign-out register. It is not necessary to donate a book in order to borrow one.

Supermoon

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The only "supermoon" for 2017 provided a beautiful orange orb to appreciate as it rose over the Hobcaw treeline across the bay on December 3rd. A "supermoon" occurs when a full moon is closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit. The moon was actually closer to the Earth back in May but it was not a full moon and, therefore, not a "supermoon". Michael Dollason captured this image on his phone, zooming in when the moon cast a wide reflection on the water.

Beautiful sunrises, moonrises, sunsets, and night moons are just a few of the reasons Belle Isle is such a beautiful place to spend time. If you haven't checked out the Photo Gallery lately, click on this link to the Gallery and see the images you can download. Everyone is encouraged to contribute your favorite Belle Isle images. Images will be periodically used in the design of webpages on this website, and flyers.

 

A Good Start on the Holidays

The 2017 Christmas Celebration at Belle Isle was a dashing, delicious, dancing affair. Almost forty members and their guests enjoyed Chef Eddy Chacon’s entrees (as we watched phones for progress in the football games). Thanks to Marc and Carol Lorson for all of their work bringing relaxed enjoyment to all of us.

Another Toys for Tots box was filled, providing a good start on the holidays. If you haven’t delivered your new and unwrapped toys yet to the Yacht Club lobby boxes, do so by Thursday, December 14th. USMC representatives will be picking up the boxes that day for the final time this year (at Belle Isle).

A Recipe from the Feast

Neighbors gathered at the Yacht Club on Thanksgiving Day and shared food, recipes and good times, and went home with leftovers just like every family gathering. Events Committee co-chairpersons Carol and Marc Lorson prepared turkey, dressing and gravy, two types of potatoes, stewed tomatoes and, as Kate Beaver said,  "did the lion's share of the work putting the event together." Everyone else brought side dishes and desserts, and when it was all over Marc did the dishes by hand for fourteen people  ... literally... while Carol directed traffic for all to help with clean-up.

Kate Beaver's recipe for Southern Spoon Rolls

1 package dry yeast
2 cups very warm water
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
4 cups self-rising flour
Muffin tins well-greased, for 18 rolls*

Dissolve yeast in water in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter then add beaten egg. Add yeast mixture to creamed sugar/butter/egg mixture. Stir in flour last, a little at a time, until well mixed. Place dough in an airtight container (maximum 2/3 capacity) to accommodate the rising yeast. Refrigerate one to two hours before baking at pre-heated 350˚ for 20 minutes or until browned. *Dough can be kept for several days in the refrigerator to be used as needed.

The next evening was a Fourth Friday ... and we all ate again. And the next day was Milligan's Oyster Roast and 50 guests ate again. We should just start calling this the "Feast Week at Belle Isle!" Special thanks to Michael Dollason for fabrication of tables for the oyster roast.

A Bond Lost and Found

Our own Stephanie Young feels the blessings of a life well-lived these days. In late October, Stephanie met her birth mother for the first time after having searched for her for two decades. She saw her mother get to know her two granddaughters and three great-grandsons, one just a few months old. These are experiences many of us take for granted, but Stephanie worried that maybe she would never get to make that connection.

When Stephanie was 31 years old she had lost both of her parents and, without siblings, she felt the absence of immediate family and began to look into her adoption. She quickly found that adoptions in Virginia are closed, where only the birth family names, birth and adoption dates are confirmed.

Gunny Lends a Hand

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The Toys for Tots campaign got underway last week and we have our very own "toy warrior" here at Belle Isle. Dexter Floyd, whom most of us know as Gunny, is leading the effort and has already gotten donations from folks outside of Belle Isle. As a Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, he was responsible for planning and coordinating his unit's operations and training, so he is a natural to lead the Toys for Tots campaign. He will count on another Marine, Reservist Mike Voiselle, to help out.

The Toys for Tots box is in the Yacht Club lobby again this year, and is placed out of the way in a closet when there is an event at the Yacht Club. Bring your new, unwrapped toys at any time. The Marines usually pick up the box of toys in early December, so please don't wait too late. We want to make this the biggest and best campaign yet.

Sarah Graydon McCrory, Age 96

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It is with sadness that Belle Isle acknowledges the passing of Sarah Graydon McCrory on October 24, 2017 in West Columbia. She and her husband, Marvin (Mac) McCrory owned a unit at Belle Isle for many years and long-time residents will remember her. Among many notable accomplishments, Sarah McCrory was responsible for Battery White being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. She prepared the application, followed through and sponsored the plaque dedication held at the old Belle Isle Yacht Club. During the early days of the development of Belle Isle, Sarah was instrumental in increasing the public's awareness of the historical role of Belle Isle and Battery White.

You can read her obituary in The State newspaper (click to link to the site).