Beaufort businessman paints over graffiti on street signs and a building for sale.

A sign on Billy Gavigan’s office wall reads, “Action = Results.”

“I was a Marine,” he says.

On Easter Sunday he was riding around the Beaufort area with his young daughter when he took spontaneous action on something that has been gnawing at him for years.

He spun his vehicle around, went to Lowe’s and bought paint and supplies.

Two hours and $50 later, he had painted over gang-like graffiti on a building for sale and on street signs around a public school.

“My intent was to make the area nicer and teach my daughter a lesson,” Gavigan said.

A photo of it on his Instagram account “blew up,” he said. Someone shared it on Facebook and suddenly Gavigan began to wonder what might happen if he got a ticket for his action on someone else’s property.

“But I didn’t care,” he told me this week. “I care about this county. I put my heart and soul into this county. I pay a lot of money to this county. The code enforcement officers are out fining people and riding right by gang tags all over signs. The government needs to get focused on things that matter.”

What matters, he said, is all the blight and unkempt property in Beaufort County.

Gavigan says he has mowed grass and done other things to spruce up roadsides. He acknowledges it could provide a financial benefit. His Gavigan Homes business sells and develops real estate, including the Mint Farm neighborhood in Burton, where he covered the graffiti.

“I’m on the front line when people consider moving here,” he said. “The No. 1 objection I hear is what I call the ‘Lowcountry flavor’ of property that is not kept up.”

Gavigan doesn’t have the answer. You can’t dump it all on the government, he said. He works regularly with the Beaufort County staff and knows their budgets have been slashed.

But he’s convinced we should be beautifying corridors. And it’s not going to happen with talk, talk, talk and meetings, meetings, meetings.

“My intent is to inspire others to take action,” said Gavigan. “We need to look out for our neighbors and cut the grass for them if they need it. But people talking is not going to fix anything.”

He asks what you’d think if you were considering moving to Beaufort County, went to check out the public school and saw gang tags on signs all around it.

Wiping out blight makes capitalism work, Gavigan said. And since that’s what the governments and citizens say they want, they should quit sitting idly by.

Improvements at Mint Farm have tripled the property value, Gavigan said.

But he said that after months of looking at graffiti on the building for sale nearby, “there comes a time it’s been their long enough.”

He hopes the property owner is not mad.

He hopes he won’t get a ticket.

He hopes to get more people taking action.

He hopes for results.

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