Mayor Hatem’s Community Update for February 2022

In this video, Mayor Hatem gives his monthly update for the City of Southport. 


February in Southport is a time for heartfelt reflection, celebration, and continued strategic planning.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day and cherish those in our lives and reflect on those who are absent but remain in our hearts. We celebrate the birth anniversaries of President Abraham Lincoln and President George Washington, on President’s Day, Monday, February 21st.

It is American Heart Month where we raise awareness of heart disease and the importance of prevention and early intervention.

We celebrate Black History Month with heartfelt reflection and will have on February 25—27th, the 10th Annual Brunswick County Black History Symposium which will be a virtual event this year; details are on the city website.

February 10th, the monthly Board of Aldermen meeting will include a Proclamation for Black History Month.  Also on the agenda, Taylor Field Project Update and Recommendations for Planning Board Positions.

February 17th, the city will hold its second Board of Aldermen Workshop. The main topic will be our Capital Improvement Plan—CIP—which is a strategic plan for goals and priorities, costs, and will include information, in particular, on the condition of our infrastructure across the city.

The condition of the water and sewer pipes on the west side of the city are structurally in dire need of replacement. These broken sewer pipes need to be replaced before the roads can be paved, which paving is another large infrastructure project.

We have pump stations that need to be repaired or replaced, part of our sewer infrastructure, which is in addition to the $30,000,000 loan to pay for the expansion of the Brunswick County Sewer System, which regionalization with the county is part of our strategic plan.

And as noted in your water and sewer bill, there is information included as to why sewer and water rates are increasing effective with the February 2022 billing. Water rate increases due to Brunswick County increasing its water rates to customers in order to pay for the costs of the reverse osmosis plant to improve water quality, and as mentioned above, increase in sewer rates to pay for the county sewer expansion and Southport’s merger with the county system.

There will be a presentation from Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, BEMC, concerning the burying of power lines.

There will also be a presentation on mosquito control and protocols —the city’s use of the most environmentally safe chemicals and instituting other mitigation measures to control the mosquito population while sparing other insects.  

For a more detailed list of goals and priorities, from waterfront stabilization to historic preservation, please see my update from January 19, 2022, in The State Port Pilot or on the city website. The February Newsletter includes an update on the Yacht Basin and the next step in developing a strategic plan for the future.

There will also be discussion at the February 17th workshop on how we continue to protect and preserve the marsh and open space of the Yacht Basin as we have done so far with our Unified Development Ordinance. The continued protection of our tree canopy is also important and our tree ordinance will be reviewed again by the Planning Board.

There is so much more I can say, including parking, traffic, and crosswalks. With respect to parking, please read the article in this week’s Pilot. I am not in favor of paid parking because I believe it diminishes our quaint village atmosphere. However, we look at all ways to try to have tourism help pay for the use and maintenance of our infrastructure. It does not mean they will be implemented. Parking has many issues involved and our city will plan for this important aspect of city life.

I would like to quote from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the commemoration of Black History Month: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving.”

I take these words to heart as together we move our city in the “Best Way Forward” with steady progress. Southport was founded in part by River Pilots who had great courage and used the stars in the heavens, the wind, the sun, and the knowledge of the shoals, to guide their ships from the Cape Fear River to the Atlantic Ocean and then safely return.

They embraced the Salubrious Breeze that is Southport and were creative and not critical. They believed in family, duty, honor, country, and believed in a Heavenly Father, believed in each other, and instead of cursing the darkness, they celebrated the light and founded Smithville, now Southport. 

It is our solemn obligation to continue their ideals and the freedom, liberty, and democracy that this quaint fishing village was founded upon. We are building on the foundation of those men and women who built their lives around the foundation of Fort Johnston, and they inspire us and challenge us to be the best people and the best city we possibly can be.

In that regard as we celebrate the founding of the Boy Scouts of America on February 8th, 1910, I recite to you part of the Scout Oath, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”  If we all just followed these beautiful words.

I close with LCHC. And since we are on the coast, the second “C” is SEA. Southport will be known for its historic heritage, its beauty on the river, its village charm, literature, religion, diversity, inclusiveness, and southern hospitality.

This includes LCHC: Love, Compassion, Hope, Service, Excellence, Always. We love our city, each other, and what we do in life. We believe in each other and our mission.

Compassion guides us—we look out for each other and for our city and contribute in ways to help those who may be less fortunate.

Hope—there is the quote from Thomas Caryle—“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”

We hope for a better tomorrow—especially with respect to the Pandemic—as we immunize our way out and continue public health measures, the number of cases will continue to improve. We hope that the decisions we make are the right ones for our citizens and for our city.

Service—we are here to serve, and we love to serve, in particular, to make our city a better place for all who live and visit in Southport.

Excellence—in everything we do, what we strive for and what Dr. Michael DeBakey titled his speech when I was a first-year medical student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “Relighting the Lamp of Excellence.”

Always—we are always ready, prepared and will always embrace the above principles: Love, Compassion, Hope, Service, Excellence, Always, in enhancing the quality of life, the preservation of the human spirit for our citizens and our city.

I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Shop and dine local—support our business community—and above all, cherish those loved ones in your life and make a special memory this Valentine’s Day.

Joseph P. Hatem, MD, MPH
Mayor, City of Southport