Island Vibes December 2023

hen waters rise, Isle of Palms residents can rest assured that Robert Asero and his Public Works crew are working tirelessly to manage stormwater, minimize flood risks and maintain 6 NEWS IOP Cleanup Crew co-founder honored for litter prevention efforts By Isabel Alvarez Arata IOP Public Works assistant director recognized for city service By Heather Rose Artushin W nvironmentalist Susan Hill Smith recently received the Spirit of the Island Award in honor of her work as co-founder of the Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew. The prestigious honor recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to IOP through achievement, community service and volunteerism. Smith, a longtime island resident and former IOP City Council member, accepted the award alongside the IOP Cleanup Crew’s other co-founder, Katrina Naz Limbach, and a dozen volunteers at a council meeting on Oct. 24. The award requires an official nomination and review by a nomination committee, which includes the city’s mayor. “The recognition has extra meaning because the nomination came from islander Sarah Parker Daniel,” Smith said. “She does a great deal herself to keep our beach clean, healthy and E beautiful by regularly picking up litter, including left-behind items like plastic toys.” At the award ceremony, Smith expressed gratitude for the city’s willingness to spotlight the IOP Cleanup Crew’s commitment to finding solutions for the island’s litter and pollution crisis. Although Smith was recognized as an individual, she was steadfast in recognizing that the honor belonged to the IOP Cleanup Crew as a whole. Smith thanked Limbach and city administrator Desiree Fragoso for connecting her with her co-founder. She also recognized the group’s partnership with the South Carolina Aquarium’s conservation team as an integral part of the clean-up efforts. Smith also acknowledged those who have contributed to the IOP Cleanup Crew’s success, including islanders Rebecca Stephenson and her family as well as Howard Hogue, known as “Beach Santa,” for their enthusiasm and engagement. Smith also expressed thanks toward local businesses such as Team Blue from South Carolina Federal Credit Union for supporting the IOP Cleanup Crew through their employee volunteer program and various local restaurants for their ongoing sponsorship. She named The Windjammer and Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, two local businesses that have supported the group from its early days. Together, Smith and the IOP Cleanup Crew use volunteer power to keep the island’s coast clean. By collecting coastal waste, the group has been protecting the island’s natural ecosystems and public health since 2018 and has brought together thousands of volunteers from across the Lowcountry and beyond for their litter sweeps. It has also created awareness and inspired others to clean up on their own time. Smith noted that she is passionate about protecting the beauty of the Isle of Palms and recognizes that doing so is a monumental undertaking that requires the support of city leaders, residents and visitors. She also intends to put increased emphasis on litter prevention moving forward. Smith hopes to educate the public on the importance of avoiding single-use items such as water bottles and juice boxes at the beach. She’d like to see beachgoers relying instead on reusable items and learning about local ordinances that prohibit smoking, balloons, straws, plastic bags, Styrofoam and more. For more information on beach rules and regulations, visit beach-rules. Isle of Palms Public Works assistant director Robert Asero recently received the annual Leola Hanbury Award for exemplary service to the city in 2023. the city’s infrastructure. Asero, the assistant director, was recently honored with the Leola Hanbury Award in recognition of the excellence and passion with which he approaches his work for the city. “It is nice to be recognized by your peers and administration for the work you do,” said Asero. The Leola Hanbury Award honors former IOP City Council member Ms. Hanbury’s wishes to create an Employee of the Year Award with the $25,000 gift she left to the city. Five-hundred dollars is awarded annually to one employee displaying exemplary service, going above and beyond normal job requirements and expectations, while demonstrating integrity and a strong commitment to the Isle of Palms. “What I love most about my role with the city is being involved with large or small projects and improving all aspects of the city,” Asero reflected. “Isle of Palms has a small town vibe, you are not just a number. Our efforts are appreciated throughout the year by the residents and visitors.” In addition to exemplary achievement and performance, the Leola Hanbury Award honors excellence in customer service and personal interaction with colleagues and community members. Innovation and creativity that improves the quality of service and reduces cost is also taken into consideration when selecting a candidate for the award. After beginning his career by starting his own construction and contracting business, Asero turned to public service. Ever since, he’s been committed to continuing to improve the quality of life of residents and giving visitors a memorable experience while vacationing. Asero’s diligence, commitment to the Isle of Palms community and creative problem-solving abilities are truly an island treasure. “When you are a business owner, your name and the quality of work is your reputation,” Asero added. “I’ve carried that value over to give the residents of the Isle of Palms the best service possible.” IOP Mayor Phillip Pounds said it best, “Robert, this award is a testament to your abilities, remarkable work ethic and overall outstanding performance. We are grateful for everything you do to make our city a better place. We have a great staff serving our city. If you see them around our community, take a moment to let them know how much you appreciate them.” Photo Provided IOP Cleanup Crew co-founder Susan Hill Smith receives the Spirit of the Island Award at an IOP City Council meeting on Oct. 24, 2023. Photo Provided