South Carolina Focus

SC Focus is a regular feature of South Carolina Public Radio.  As its name suggests, the segment focuses on the Palmetto State and its people.  It covers a wide variety of subjects, from South Carolina's war veterans to scientists, musicians and other topics, both serious and whimsical.  SC Focus can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

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Poet Ray McManus conducts a poetry workshop at a high school in Blythewood.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

University of South Carolina – Sumter English Professor Ray Mcmanus is a poet who can’t sit still. He travels the state conducting workshops in poetry much as a missionary would: But the message he brings to the people – that is, students from elementary to high schools – is that poetry isn’t the exclusive realm of artsy, smart people; it’s accessible to everyone, and it’s already in their lives if they take notice.

Dean Kilpatrick, Ph. D. - Director of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, MUSC.
MUSC

Dean Kilpatrick marks a milestone not by looking back, but by building for the future.  He's the director of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  As the center celebrates 40 years, it is also opening the nation's first and only Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center.

"We will definitely have our hands full as far as coordinating this," said Kilpatrick.  "But we're just very happy to have the opportunity to serve.

SC Attorney General Alan Wilson announced new program to help veterans, active duty military, and members of the reserves.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Attorney General Alan Wilson announced a new program that will help Veterans, active duty military, and members of the reserve get free legal help. The program is called V.A.L.O.R., which stands for Veterans, Active/ Reserve Legal OutReach. Wilson said the program will better connect veterans and members of the military with legal help they need and may not know where to get or may not be able to afford.

50 years ago, Columbia resident Jack Van Loan was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Recently, Van Loan spoke with South Carolina Public Radio about the six years he spent in captivity. Today, the retired Col. of the U.S. Air Force is preparing to serve once again, this time as Grand Marshal in the City of Columbia’s 39th annual Veterans Day Parade.

WATCH: Sights and sounds from the 2016 City of Columbia Veterans Day Parade 

Christina Miles cools chocolate in a mold from her vat of liquid chocolate.  The Columbia chocolatier uses chocolate from Belgium and France to make her own unique candies, and hand-paints them with icing.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Chocolate is one of life's great treats for most folks.  Traditional, mass-produced chocolate candies have been enjoyed for generations, but lately, specialists have been making chocolates in South Carolina.  Columbia chocolatiers Christina Miles and Joseph Vernon have developed their own unique varieties of chocolates. 

Richland County meteorologist Ken Aucoin checks the weather several times daily to give accurate reports to county emergency managers.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Ken Aucoin is up before the sun each morning, preparing a weather forecast for Richland County emergency managers, looking for potential weather threats.  As the county’s meteorologist, he’s the only one in the state in his job, which also includes emergency management and public relations duties.  Aucoin has established a network of weather stations across the county, enabling him to pinpoint storm cells and wind problems to within three to four miles of any location in the county. 

Children and families in South Carolina will have a chance to exchange Halloween candy for toys and send deployed U.S. troops a "sweet" reminder of home this holiday season
Kool Smiles

Children and families in South Carolina will have a chance to exchange Halloween candy for toys and send deployed U.S. troops a "sweet" reminder of home this holiday season during Operation Troop Treats, an annual candy exchange hosted by the local Kool Smiles dental offices in partnership with Operation Gratitude.

Dr. Diane Earle is Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles, she said Operation Troop Treat was created six years ago to promote healthy dental habits during Halloween.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Richard Rothwell, via Wikimedia Commons

Frankenstein is a classic of fiction, movies, and other media, and also a Halloween staple. The novel has not been out of print in the two centuries since it was published in 1818. USC English Professor Paula Feldman, an authority on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, talks about the real- life tragedies in Shelley's life that caused her to wish she could bring the dead to life again, and the dreams that inspired the writing of the classic book that is regarded as the first science fiction novel.

A nurse instructs students on the use of IV medications.
Photo courtesy University of South Carolina

Nursing has been described as a virtually recession-proof occupation, one that will always be in demand.  Even so, the heads of nursing departments at both the University of South Carolina and Midlands Technical College decry the critical need for bedside nurses, in spite of the fact that their nursing programs are full.   They cite bedside nursing is physically demanding, and added to 12-hour shifts, night and weekend work and new positions in other areas of nursing as reasons for the shortage.

Edgar Allan Poe mural above the fireplace, Poe's Tavern Sullivan's Island, SC.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Whether you're walking down Raven Avenue or biting into a Gold Bug Burger at Poe's Tavern, you are certain to find plenty of Edgar Allan Poe treasure on Sullivan's Island.  The elusive 19th Century writer has direct ties to the island.  But they weren't discovered until decades after his death, even though there are clues in his writings.

"In his own time, Poe essentially covered up the fact that he had been an enlisted man in the Army," said College of Charleston American literature professor Scott Peeples.  "That of course including his being stationed at Fort Moultrie."

South Carolina Focus
SC Public Radio

The curtain surrounding the ongoing probe into alleged Statehouse corruption was raised some this week as special prosecutor David Pascoe alleged for the first time in open court that the powerful Republican political consultant, Richard Quinn, Sr. is at the center of what he called a “sphere of unlawful influence over elected officials." Quinn and four current and former legislators were indicted last week on criminal conspiracy charges.

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Cain sign their wedding certificate before friends at the Columbia Fireflies ball park.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

A recent wedding at the home of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team would seem unusual to most people, but to a group of University of South Carolina students, it’s just part of a class.  The wedding planning class is included in the curriculum of the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program, and for at least a decade has had the dual advantage of giving students experience in all the details that go into planning a wedding and providing the bride and groom with a free wedding and honeymoon.  The catch?  They must give the students total control over everything.  But s

World War II Veterans A Vanishing Generation

Oct 25, 2017
Families say goodbye to USS Yorktown veterans.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

95 year old Bill Watkinson and 97 year-old Arthur Leach have been coming to the USS Yorktown Reunions just outside of Charleston for decades.  Both were fighter pilots aboard the ship during World War II. But each year, they find fewer of their own.

"It's interesting to see those of us who are still standing and those of us missing," said Watkinson.  "The missing list is getting pretty long.

Lou Alice James is the 200th homeowner to receive assistance from the Midlands Flood Recovery Group. Here, she clings to the one family heirloom that survived the mold, a crystal candlestick.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Early this month, South Carolina reached the 2-year anniversary of the devastating October 2015 rain event, offering a natural opportunity to pause and observe the many tragedies that the widespread flooding wrought, and the many triumphs of recovery that have followed. The Midlands Flood Recovery Group, for its part, celebrated a significant milestone in its flood recovery narrative this month: the 200th home repaired by the group and the gift of a restored home for one resilient flood survivor.

Retired Army Major Miguel Santana stands in front of his home in Columbia. Santana says he is a victim of contractor fraud and it's stalling his flood recovery.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio.

Since 2005, the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) has received over 70,000 complaints from 50 states, 6 territories, and 4 countries involving over 50 natural and man-made disasters. Retired Army Major Miguel Santana says after the October 2015 flood, he became a victim of contractor fraud. His costly mistake is stalling recovery for what was to be his retirement home.

Soldiers participate in final salutes for Privates Timothy Ashcroft and Ethan Shrader during a memorial service at Fort Jackson Post Chapel.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

This past September, Timothy Joseph Ashcraft of Cincinnati, Ohio and Ethan McKay Shrader of Prospect, Tennessee enlisted in the United States Army. The two were members of the 2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment and were in their eighth week of training when they were killed during a training exercise on base. During a memorial service Tuesday, the two were remembered as brave aspiring soldiers who answered the call of duty.

Glen Ward
Courtesy of Glen Ward

Humorist and inspirational speaker Glen Ward left a comfortable job at a bank 25 years ago and took a leap of faith into a venture he’d long been doing as a  sideline – public speaking, including both inspirational messages and impressions of well-known personalities.   It worked out, because a quarter century later, he travels the country bringing South Carolina humor to 36 states and counting.  Whether he’s imitating famous Palmetto State politicians such as former U.S.

The South Carolina State Fair's midway rides at night.
Nathan Harper [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

The South  Carolina State Fair has rolled around every fall since 1869.  Begun on Columbia’s Elmwood Avenue as an agricultural exposition, historian Rodger Stroup and fair manager Gary Goodman say it has kept its agricultural and mechanical roots while expanding through the years at its present location on Rosewood Drive, where it moved in 1914. 

Another Nichols family returns to a repaired home
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

About 75 families have returned to repaired homes in Nichols, South Carolina. The small town in Marion County was home to 260 homes before Hurricane Matthew brought strong winds and devastating floods in 2016.  All but three sustained flood damage and most businesses were also impacted.  South Carolina Public Radio spoke with Mayor Lawson Battle and Disaster Recovery Advisor Rita Pratte about progress in recovery, one year after Matthew.

Farmer Bill Coburn directs his border collie Lucy to herd sheep using vocal and whistle commands.
Laura Hunsberger

At Windy Knolls Farm in Laurens County, Bill Coburn raises ducks and sheep. He’s retired from farming, but he still spends time on one of his favorite occupations: training border collies. The shaggy mid-sized dogs have a natural instinct to herd animals, and Coburn says he’s been working with them for nearly 30 years. He still shows his border collies regularly at demonstrations throughout the southeast, and at the State Fair, he will show the dogs in action for a few select afternoons. South Carolina Public Radio's Laura Hunsberger has the story for this South Carolina Focus.

These ladies have the responsibility of judging baked goods at the South Carolina State Fair, and they take their work seriously.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

(Originally aired in 2016) - Eating cupcakes, pies, cakes, and cookies is a pleasure for most folks, but for judges at the South Carolina State Fair, it’s also a responsibility.  Judges Laurie Aker and Mae Wells say because baking contestants work hard to prepare their entries, they should also be diligent in evaluating each entry to get the fairest (no pun intended) and most accurate result in determining winners.  Here they give their criteria for judging food, and for a judge’s qualifications.      Aker lists some common mistakes made by some cooks, and judge supervisor Brenda Turner tel

Pixabay

In 2015, 753 people took their own lives in South Carolina.  Reducing that number is the goal of the state’s chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  The Foundation holds six "Out of the Darkness" walks around the state each October, in Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Columbia, Aiken, and Hilton Head-Bluffton.   In this story we talk with two women who have suffered the suicides of loved ones and have found healing by participating in the walks, discovering that helping others cope with their losses helps them, as well.

Faces of Recovery: For the past two years, South Carolina Public Radio has shared the stories of survival and recovery from the Oct. 2015 flood.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Two years ago, Mary Burch watched and prayed as heavy rains caused the underneath of her family home to flood and eventually rot. Months later, the 77-year- old Sellers resident was living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions as mold started to grow and the structure of her homw was compromised from the flood. The week of the two-year anniversary of the October 2015 flood, Burch was able to walk through her near-finished new home. 

A vintage microphone.
HutchRock [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

From his beginnings in radio in Darlington in 1960 (which he lied his way into at the urging of his mother), Woody Windham has become a South Carolina radio icon.  He has enjoyed a long career in Columbia and Charleston, both solo and with his brother Leo.  It would not be too big a stretch to speculate that millions of South Carolinians may have grown up listening to "Woody with the Goodies" on a variety of stations in the Midlands and Lowcountry and beyond. 

Historic Brattonsville

South Carolina is steeped rich in military history. The state is home to several war battles and historic sites. In York County, Historic Brattonsville, a 775-acre historic Revolutionary War site, has hosted a Civil War reenactment event, for the past years. Recently, the Culture and Heritage Museums of York County, which oversees the site, recently announced it was cancelling the event. Officials cited safety and protest concerns following the violence in Charlottesville, VA and also the 2015 murders of nine black church members in Charleston, SC.

Clemson researchers are studying the role wetlands have in exporting carbon during floods and severe weather events. Shown here are wetlands of the Hobcaw Barony, home to Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute.
Dr. Bob Pohlad of Ferrum College via Flickr

It's no secret that access to drinking water can be limited during severe weather events. But what about the days and weeks that follow? According to research from Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, water can still be unsafe weeks after residents' access to water has been restored.

American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis.
National Fish and Wildlife Service

Once-endangered, alligators have made such a comeback under federal and state protection that hunting them is now allowed by the state during a one-month season.   Many have also intruded enough into human space to become tagged as “nuisance alligators,” which must be removed by state or private personnel.  Jay Butfiloski, alligator and fur-bearer expert from the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources, says a nuisance alligator is simply a gator in a place where someone doesn’t want it to be, whether it’s a private pond or a shopping center parking lot. 

Watchmaker Todd Waites works with tiny parts to get big results in repairing watches at Wristwatch Doc in  Cayce, SC, near Columbia.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

With competition from cell phones and an attitude of replace-not-repair toward many items, watch repair has become a rarer trade.  There are now fewer watchmakers (or repairers, to us general public types) in the United States than ever before.  Cayce watchmaker John Gawronski says that makes for a greater demand, and his staff is always busy.  He is sought out because not only does he have the skill, but also millions of rare watch parts gathered by buying out retiring watchmakers or jewelers.  There are opportunities for younger watchmakers if they’re willing to work, says Gawronski, and

WWII B-17 Bomber
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Between 1935 and 1945, more than 12,000 World War II Boeing B-17 Bombers were produced. The aircraft was dubbed the “Flying Fortress,” as a result of the defensive fire power used during the war. A little more than a third (4,735) were lost in combat and today only 12 still take to the skies.

The Madras Maiden is a B-17 that was built towards the end of the war; it was used as a training aircraft. Today, the bomber is owned by the Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit museum whose mission is to preserve WWII aviation history.

U.S. Army Bell UH-1D helicopters airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from the Filhol Rubber Plantation area to a new staging area, during Operation "Wahiawa", conducted by the 25th Infantry Division, northeast of Cu Chi.
James K. F. Dung, SFC; U.S. National Archives Catalog:530610

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’s new documentary The Vietnam War airs this week on SCETV.  As a companion piece, we talked with Vietnam veterans Wade Fulmer and Jim Knight, as well as historian Fritz Hamer, who pointed out that Vietnam was the most unconventional of wars the U.S.

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