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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U.S. Marines with Company G, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, direct a concentration of fire at the enemy during Operation Allen Brook, 8 May 1968.
Official Marine Corps photo 371490, via Wikimedia Common

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’s new documentary The Vietnam War airs this week on SCETV. In this segment, we continue our talk with historian Fritz Hamer and Palmetto State veterans Jim Knight and Wade Fulmer. Knight recalls many small firefights and one really big one – the TET offensive of February, 1968. Hamer said even though TET was a military disaster for the the North Vietnamese, it was a propaganda bonanza.

The exact nature of the crescent which adorns the corner of the South Carolina state flag has been the subject of debate for years.  Is it a moon, as many people say?  Two state historians say it sure looks like one, but according to the flag's creator, t
Wikimedia Commons [CC0 1.0]

South Carolina is widely acknowledged to have one of the most beautiful state flags in the country.   Created by Col. William Moultrie, the flag features a palmetto tree, which became a beloved icon of the state.  But what about that crescent shape in the corner?  Many people call it a moon but is it really?  

"P" is for Patterson, John James [1830-1912]. U.S. Senator. Patterson moved to South Carolina in 1869. Involved in banking and railroad development, he was accused of bribing legislators to pass laws favoring his interests. In 1872 he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate--and it was alleged that his only qualification was that he had the money with which to bribe legislators. He won the election and was arrested and charged with bribery and election fraud—but was never tried.

Each of these silver spoons has a story to tell, and Dawn Corley knows them all.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Dawn Corley of Charleston began collecting silver as a child under the tutelage of her great aunt.  As her collection grew, so did her expertise, until SCETV’s Beryl Dakers dubbed her the “Charleston Silver Lady,” a nickname which has stuck over the years.  Corley has presented programs on silver for U.S.

HLD Lowers Steam Generator into Containment at SCE&G's VCS Unit 2, Jan 10, 2017.
SCE&G

The political firestorm surrounding the failed V-C Summer nuclear project intensified this week with the release of a private document containing the results of a critical audit of the management of the mammoth construction project.

It's dry now, but when it rains, people in this office building in Charleston's upper peninsula must walk this plank to avoid a sometimes six- inch "river" on the way to work.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In 2014, the streets of Charleston were flooded on 11 days.  It increased to 38 days in 2015, and in 2016, it was 50 days.  The city is taking the threat of sea level rise seriously, says Chief Resilience Officer Mark Wilbert. 

More than $200 million has been spent on infrastructure, Wilbert says, and the city is planning a vulnerability analysis, which is needed because the tides already have risen a foot over the past century.   The increased flooding is easy for Cathryn Zommer to observe. 

A telltale red hourglass shape identifies the black widow spider, a native of South Carolina.
Shenrich91 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

People who leave their shoes on the porch to air out would do well to shake and inspect them before putting them back on, especially if left out overnight.  According to naturalists Rudy Mancke and Chick Gaddy, black widow spiders love to shelter there.   And even in the driest closets, attics or basements, brown recluses may lurk.  These are potentially deadly spiders that have rightly earned fearsome reputations.   

Residents in Nichols, SC are rescued by boat after Hurricane Matthew in 2016
Courtesty of Nichols resident Courtney Wilds

The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) website reminds that electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working and that public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis.

The agency recommends individuals should be prepared to be self-sufficient (able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones) for at least three days following a disaster.

This sign, erected by Clemson's Belle W. Baruch Institute, marks a plot that was originally a research environment for trees affected by Hurricane Hugo. In October 2016 the plot was affected by Hurricane Matthew as well.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

The Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown, South Carolina is a rare place. Situated between the Winyah Bay estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, the property contains both freshwater habitats and salt marshes, interspersed with loblolly and longleaf pine forests. The variable ecosystems that Hobcaw supports make it the ideal site for university research centers such as Clemson University’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science.

Columbia Canal Rebuild Could Be Years Away

Aug 29, 2017
View of the Columbia Canal from Riverfront Park
Laura Hunsberger

During the 2015 floods, the Columbia Canal breached at the Congaree River. It took the National Guard and a team of engineers days to build a temporary dam and secure the city’s water supply. In the months that followed, the City of Columbia began considering how to rebuild the canal and make improvements, a process that is still ongoing.

Prior to May, 2017, about 500 pelican nests, and those of other seabirds, were established on Crab Bank near Charlestons Shem Creek.
Courtesy SC Dept. of Natural Resouces.

Last spring, there were approximately 500 pelican nests on Crab Bank, a sandbar near Charleston’s Shem Creek where pelicans and other seabirds have safely bred for years.  Erosion has gradually reduced the area of Crab Bank, but a storm and high tides in May combined to nearly obliterate the breeding ground.  Now only about 45 pelican nests remain, with no nests left of the roughly 1000 terns that also nested on the bank. 

The world's hottest pepper- the Carolina Reaper, grown in Fort Mill.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Many people distinguish themselves in the worlds of sports, entertainment, writing and other endeavors.  Ed Currie of Fort Mill has distinguished himself in a much hotter manner:  he holds the Guinness world record for the hottest pepper on earth, his self-developed Carolina Reaper.  He grows many varieties of peppers for the food industry, but it’s the Reaper that makes some hot-sauce aficionados rethink how tough they are.  In addition to setting people’s insides on fire, however, Currie says the pepper has other uses in the paint, medical and defense industries.

Bicycle racers from around the world fly through the air as part of the BMX World Championships held recently in Rock Hill.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Rock Hill has enjoyed a growing reputation as an amateur sports Mecca, and the city recently proved it by hosting the BMX (bicycle motocross) world championship competitions.  Men, women and children came from across the globe to compete, and the event drew 3700 riders and 20,000 spectators from 48 countries. 

This house on Hassel Street in Charleston is getting a makeover for the popular PBS program "This Old House."
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

The popular series "This Old House" has been a fixture on PBS  since 1980.  It has filmed in many locations across the country, and now it has come to South Carolina.  The show is shooting the renovation of a classic single-wide home in Charleston for broadcast next March. 

From left to right: Dr. Clayton Copeland, Dr. Robert Dawson and Dr. David Leach.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

At the University of South Carolina, three faculty researchers have formed an unexpected research partnership in response to the Thousand-Year-Flood. Soon after the historic October 2015 rain event, a Dr. Clayton Copeland of the School of Library Science approached two of her colleagues from the School of Medicine’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program and proposed a joint study of disabled individuals’ experiences in relation to the flood.

"S" is for Sayle, William [d. 1671]. Governor. In 1641 Sayle was appointed governor of Bermuda—a postion he held off and on for the next twenty years. In 1648 he and a group of adventurers failed in an attempt to establish a new colony in the Bahamas. In 1670 he was named governor of the new colony of Carolina and was on the first ship of settlers. Arriving at Port Royal, he and the settlers originally chose to settle on the western side of the Ashley River. As in Bermuda political strife plagued Sayle’s administration.

"R" is for Richardson, Robert Clinton [b. 1935]. Baseball Player. Born in Sumter, Richardson played sandlot, high school, and American Legion baseball before signing a pro contract with the New York Yankees. He made his major league debut in 1955 and from 1957-1966 was the Yankees’ regular second baseman. He earned national attention when he hit a grand slam in Game Six of the 1960 World Series and was voted Series MVP. In his major league career, he was a seven-time All-Star and winner of five Golden Glove Awards.

May 20, 2012, eclipse viewing at Arches National Park, Utah.
NPS/Neal Herbert

People across the nation are anxiously awaiting the total solar eclipse August 21st. South Carolinians are among them, as the Palmetto State will be one of the best places in the United States to view the event.  The 65-mile wide path of totality, or area of total eclipse, will pass through Greenville, Columbia and parts of Charleston.  Lawn chairs and sun block will help people to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event.  But two Midlands ophthalmologists remind us that the most essential  element to viewing the eclipse is proper eye protection.  The sun’s rays can burn the retinas of unprotected eyes and produce legal blindness.  Today we get good tips on safely watching the eclipse.

Nile [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

Much of South Carolina will experience heavy traffic on and around Aug. 21. That’s the day the much-anticipated total solar eclipse will pass through the state in a 65-mile wide path from Greenville to Charleston.   Many law enforcement officers will have their hands full that day with traffic both from locals and the many visitors the state expects, some say up to a million people statewide. 

SC State Dept. of Education Superintendent Molly Spearman
http://www.mollyspearman.com

For the second time in almost two decades, Allendale County schools are under the control of the State Department of Education. Superintendent Molly Spearman said, when students return to school August 17, they will see the same teachers that were there previously, but will also encounter new faces working with familiar staff. Superintendent Molly Spearman explains how these individuals and the department will work with students, teachers and the community to improve the effectiveness of the schools.

Dr. Walt Tobin has been assigned superintendent of the district.

Mariah Williams helped test a new Braille guide to the Aug. 21 eclipse written by educators from the College of Charleston.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Millions of people nationwide are anticipating the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. It will be a spectacle to behold, but some people can’t behold it: the blind. For this reason, College of Charleston geology professor Cassandra Runyon, along with fellow C of C geologist Cynthia Hall and a colleague in  Pennsylvania, developed a braille guide to the eclipse for blind and visually impaired people who want to know more about the event and what it entails.  They were aided by blind College of Charleston recent graduate Mariah Williams, who helped "field test" the book, which was printed by NASA.  Five thousand copies have been printed and distributed to libraries, schools for the blind and other service organizations nationally.

This tiny house may be only 400 square feet, but it contains a number of green, sustainable design features.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Three brand-new houses off busy Two Notch Road in Columbia seem a world away from the road’s heavy traffic.  They’re in a wooded area that a visitor would believe was in a forest miles from any city.  In addition to their unique location, the houses are different because of their size: just 400 square feet.  They’re tiny houses, part of a new back-to-basics movement that is gaining traction across the United States.  Friends Joanne Williams and Priscilla Preston thought up the houses when they met at Quaker meetings, where they talked about simplifying their lives.  They’re renting the tiny

Before the afternoon showing of the play, cast members in full costume show children what it is like to carry and shoot muskets, bayonets and rifles.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

The Battle of Kings Mountain took place in rural South Carolina on October 7, 1780, just nine miles south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. There, Patriot militia defeated the Loyalist militia during the Southern campaign of the Revolutionary War.

Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

This Thursday through Sunday, August 4th through 6th, is South Carolina’s annual Tax-free Weekend, and shoppers may save between $2 million and $3 million in sales taxes.  Arthur Dunn of one Columbia Target store says it’s a busier time for his store than Black Friday, and he expects an increase in business over last year.  The weekend is big for small stores, too, like Salty’s Board Shop, where owner Paul Goff expects to sell a lot of khaki pants and other school apparel, plus book bags and skateboards.   

V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 Aerial View, Jan. 2017.
SCANA

This week’s momentous decision by South Carolina Electric and Gas Company and Santee Cooper to abandon a project to build two, new nuclear reactors after spending billions of dollars, could cause economic and political ramifications for the state that could last years.

It is believed that the final price tag for the project could have ended end up being $25 Billion. It’s original projected cost was $10 Billion. 

The path of the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.
scemd.org/TotalEclipse

With more than one million visitors expected in South Carolina for the total solar eclipse, representatives from state agencies urged residents to plan ahead.

“Wherever you want to be when this event occurs, don’t be on the road. Don’t be rushing,” said Major General Robert Livingston with the state’s Adjutant Generals office. “It’s going to be a historical event, treat it like that.”

USC Library Shines Light on Eclipses in Literature

Aug 3, 2017
Astronomy text from the Robert Arial collection, image for personal research use only.
Makayla Gay

Columbia is preparing for an estimated million visitors to come this month to witness a total solar eclipse, a scientific phenomenon that inspires awe and wonder in those who view it. The world goes dark in daytime as the moon completely covers the sun. Imagine what it must have been like for people in the past who didn’t necessarily understand what was happening.

On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be seen along a roughly 70-mile wide path through South Carolina from the Upstate through Greenville and Columbia to Charleston.
NASA/Hinode/XRT, via Wikimedia Commons

This summer’s total solar eclipse is a rare event for the Palmetto State.  Normally a total eclipse doesn’t return to the same spot for close to 400 years, but this will be the second in only 47 years for the folks in Sumter and the surrounding area.  Hap Griffin remembers seeing the last eclipse as an 11-year-old on March 7, 1970.  He said he still recalls how "blown away" he was in the backyard of a friend.   Nearby, the Rev. Joel Osborne climbed a forest tower to take in the awesome celestial  event, and it was a push along his spiritual journey, he said.

Many businesses in Nichols remain closed, nine months after Hurricane Matthew caused massive flooding in the area.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

When rising river waters inundated the small town of Nichols, donated funds from all over the country also came flooding in. With the help of a recovery steering committee, the town is using the funds to help its residents recovery through two programs: the Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Grant Program and the Unmet Needs Assistance Program.

The two programs were created by Rita Pratte, SBP Disaster Recovery Advisor to the town. “I am working with the steering committee, helping them make decisions on how to spend their funds."

Columbia Rock-n-Roll Camp Puts Girls in the Spotlight

Jul 25, 2017
Girls Rock Columbia Founder and Executive Director, Mollie Williamson
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

With participants across the country and world, the Girls Rock Camp Alliance is made up of organizations that hold annual camps to empower girls through rock music. In each week-long day camp, kids are assigned a musical instrument: bass, electric guitar, drums, key board, or vocals. Many campers have never picked up a musical instrument before. Mollie Williamson is the founder and executive director of Girls Rock Columbia. This will be Williamson's last camp as she steps down as executive director to pursue her Master's degree out of state.

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