James J French A Spotlight Series

Dated: 10/19/2015

Views: 736

How often have you driven over a bridge, or entered a highway interchange, or a rest area,  and seen a non-assuming, almost invisible, innocuous little sign proudly naming it: "The John Q. Public"  rest area?Image title

Now we're not talking about the big ones, like the Ronald Regan Airport, or the Ravenel Bridge, usually reserved for national figures or citizens of widely recognized import.  No,  we're talking about the lesser known, yet still humbly earned and dutiful honored, like the James J. French intersection in Avalon, West Ashley.

Quietly placed in-between the Lava Salon, (btw one of the Top 100 Salons in America according to Elle Magazine!), and a now-defunct-akido-storefront-for-rent,  stands a 12 foot high,  24" x 30",  green,  SC DOT sign proudly proclaiming this Magnolia Road intersection as the James J. French Intersection!

Which brings up two obvious questions;

  1. Who and how is it determined to name these lesser known plaques of permanence?, and

  2. Who is James J. French?

The first question is easily answered. It turns out that the process for naming small, permanent road locations falls to the local legislature. The process goes through the State General Assembly and anyone can request it. The proposal then becomes an actual bill introduced as A Concurrent Resolution, voted on, approved and forwarded to the DOT to execute and install.  Typically there is some community significance, i.e. a fallen fireman, a great community volunteer or a local philanthropist, etc.

In this case, Mr. James J. French was the founder of the Charleston Chronicle in 1971, a Navy Chief Journalist, a prolific writer, photo-journalist, recipient of the Bronze Star, the Presidential Citation, and a station manager for numerous overseas radio and television stations.  His resume includes interviews with President Eisenhower, Fidel Castro, and others , as well as countless journalist rewards and recognition.

So in April, 2012,  SC Senator Robert Ford, (serving on the SC Committee on Invitations and Memorial Resolutions), introduced  S.1418 proposing that:  " the members of the General Assembly request that the Department of Transportation name the intersection located at the juncture of United States Highway 17 and Magnolia Road in Charleston County "James J. French Intersection" and erect appropriate markers or signs at this intersection that contain the words "James J. French Intersection", in his honor."

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And so it is.

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