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.

Ways to Connect

USC sleep specialist Dr. Antoinette Rutherford says there's a cure for everyone who snores - it's just a matter of finding the right method for each individual.
Nick Wilkes [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Snoring can ruin the sleep of millions of South Carolinians, and it doesn’t do the snorer any good, either.  Sleep expert Dr. Robert Puchalski says vibrations in the throat cause snoring, and by the passing of air through a tight space in the upper airway, in the way that wind instruments create sound.  At least half of people snore, according to USC sleep specialist Dr.

hoto from the University of South Carolina's Motion Image Research Collection.
Photo from the University of South Carolina's Motion Image Research Collection.

At the University of South Carolina, the Moving Image Research Collection has established a reputation as one of the top film archives in the country. Curator Greg Wilsbacher says Newsfilm Collections at USC has received some notable donations over the years—including footage from the United States Marine Corps. But it all started with a donation in 1980 from the Fox Corporation, containing countless hours of newsreels and outtakes from the turn of the 20th Century.

FBI Will Use Another Database For Gun Background Checks

Jul 17, 2018
FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is planning a major change to its gun background check system in an effort to keep  more weapons out of the wrong hands.   

Examiners will be given access to a large, previously untapped database of more than 400 million records as they determine when gun purchases can go through nationwide.  But for the survivors and victims’ families in a Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, the change did not come soon enough.

If a black cat crosses your path on Friday the 13th - or any other day - don't worry, says USC sociology professor Barry Markovsky. There is no truth to any superstitions about Friday the 13th, black cats or any other traditional "bad luck" myths.
Pauline Havard [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

Of the various superstitions people are subject to, one only manifests itself up to three times a year: Friday the 13th.

These vats at Columbia microbrewery Hunter Gatherer yield locally crafted beer popular with Midlands beer connoisseurs.
Clay Sears/SC Public Radio

Small scale brewing operations like River Rat and Hunter Gatherer in Columbia are representative of the growing craft beer industry in South Carolina and nationwide. For this story we spoke with Kevin Varner, founder of Hunter Gatherer Brewing, about the laws he helped pass back in 1995 that gave brewers more freedom to run their operations. We also sat down with River Rat brewmaster Drew Walker, who talked about how brewers work to stay on top of such a rapidly changing industry.

Remembering Friendship Nine Member James Wells

Jul 10, 2018
Friendship Nine member James Wells
SCETV

57 years ago, nine young African-American students of Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill were arrested for attempting to desegregate the all-white lunch counter at the McCrory's variety store. One of those students was James Wells. He died Sunday, July 8th in his hometown of Rock Hill. The decision Wells and the other young protesters made, following their arrests, would help shape the civil rights movement throughout the South. 

Members of a mission team from Chapin United Methodist Church (Chapin UMC) expected to fly back to the United States Monday after being delayed in Haiti for two days because of protests, have safely made it to the airport in Port Au Prince. Jody Flowers is lead pastor of the Lexington County church. Monday morning he said they were cautiously optimistic about the news of the group leaving the country.

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Friday was a special day for lovers of the Southern diet: National Fried Chicken Day!

A Maersk Line container ship approaching the ravenel bridge in Charleston.
SC Ports Authority

  According to a recent analysis by the U.S Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina will be among the state’s hit hardest by the looming trade war, threatening the more than $30 Billion dollars in goods exported from the state each year.  The state exports cars, steel products, refrigerators, soybeans and many other goods putting it in the top three states in the country that relies on exports and imports.

According to the U. S. Chamber, almost 580,000  jobs in the state are tied to trade, and there are more than 6,000 companies operating here that export goods around the world.

Students Create Computer Games and Apps at Girls Go for IT Camp

Jun 29, 2018
Instructor Jaya Gantt, a recent graduate of USC, teaches 6th-grader Kenney Williams and other students at Girls Go for I.T. camp.
Laura Hunsberger

During the last two weeks of June, the University of South Carolina's School of Earth, Ocean and Environment was home to Girls Go for I.T., a camp for middle school-age girls who are interested in learning about computer science and programming. South Carolina Public Radio's Laura Hunsberger and Clayton Sears went to USC's campus to see what the girls are creating and to talk with the professors who started the program, Dr.

Danny Flores (left) and fellow Community Leadership Corps participants took part in training exercises with the Obama Foundation at the Richland Library earlier this month.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

On Saturday, June 16, around 50 young adults, ages 18 to 25, gathered in the Richland Main Library in Columbia. All of them, in some capacity, were activists, hoping to gain the skills to influence change in their own communities with the training of the Obama Foundation as members of its newly minted Community Leadership Corps, or CLC.

Governor Henry McMaster and businessman John Warren (left) debating on June 21 at the Newberry Opera House.
SCETV

The two remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates faced off Wednesday, June 21 at the Newberry Opera House for a debate co-sponsored by SCETV and the Post and Courier. Governor Henry McMaster and businessman John Warren positioned themselves as the experienced politician and the political outsider throughout the night as the top vote earners from June 12’s primary sparred over healthcare, education and statehouse corruption.

The first annual Lizardman Festival and Comic Con was  held June 8-10 at the S.C. Cotton Museum in Bishopville.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

The tale goes something like this: a young man gets a flat tire late one night in 1988 while driving near Scape Ore Swamp, and gets out of his car to change it. Then, from the shadows emerges a creature that’s green, wet, seven feet tall, with three fingers, red eyes and scales. As the young man scrambles to drive away, the creature viciously attacks his car.

Liberia, South Carolina - An African American Appalachian Community.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

June is PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.  The mental health problem can develop after a person has been exposed to one or more traumatic events. For members of the military, PTSD can develop because of combat and missions where soldiers were exposed to horrible and life-threatening experiences. According to the health clinic at the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, 22,000 veterans are seen for mental services in general, many of them are referred for PTSD therapy.

Lowcountry Bridge Reopens Early

Jun 2, 2018
South Carolina Department of Transportation Announces Plans for Wando Bridge with Local City Officials
Victoria Hansen

A major artery connecting coastal communities to Charleston and beyond is back open, one week earlier than expected.  South Carolina Department of Transportation officials made the announcement late Thursday and reopened the west bound lanes of I-526 to traffic Saturday.  Fortunately, the weather permitted.

"Well it's very welcome news, " said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie.  "We  have 33,000 cars a day going out of Mount Pleasant over that bridge and  there are only nine lanes of traffice leading out of our town and two of them were lost in a moment's notice."

Kids from Charleston's Meeting Street Academy go backstage for the Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company performance of the Pied Piper
Victoria Hansen

There's a melancholy to his voice and a sadness in his eyes, as the managing director of the centuries old  Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company of Milan speaks in his best English to elementary school children at the Emmet Robinson Theater at the College of Charleston prior to the company’s Spoleto performance.  Peiro Corbella paces the stage as he begins his story, 40 years ago when he became  a puppeteer, thanks to the guidance of his mentor and good friend, Eugenio Monti Colla.

From her Camden home, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can monitor the goings-on around the world by flipping through the TV news channels and keeping an eye glued to her Post, which she reads daily along with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.  Parker is one of the most widely-syndicated columnists in America, read in more than 400 media outlets twice a week.  Like her colleagues, she started as a newspaper reporter – in her case, in Charleston – and moved through the ranks of various papers until an editor realized she had a voice “and I have difficulty keeping my voice

As electric cars increase their range, which in new models is around 150 miles between recharges, and offer more variety of models, which is also on the way, they will become even more common, experts say.
mmurphy [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

Traffic can be pretty noisy, but one component of the nation’s traffic is growing quietly.  The component is the electric car.  Sold by Chevrolet, Nissan, Tesla and other makers, Nissan alone has sold a quarter-million electric vehicles since 2011.    Mac Martin, who sells the electric Leaf model by Nissan, says it’s so quiet the manufacturer actually installed a speaker to project artificial speed-up and slow-down noises so that pedestrians will  be aware of their presence. 

The state’s primary election is June 12. All executive office positions are up for election as well as all seven seats of the US House of Representatives. The eight candidates vying for the state’s top job recently fielded questions on various topics during two, hour-long debates. Republicans debated May 23 and Democrats on May 24. Democratic candidates Phil Nobel, Marguerite Willis and James Smith answered questions on the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear power station, education, legalizing marijuana, protecting students from school shootings and more.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is found in South Carolina, along with other venomous species.  Wearing proper clothing and keeping your eyes open when in the woods or hiking on trails can help people avoid being bitten by a snake.
Georgia Wildlife Resources Division via Flickr

With the coming of warm weather, more people are getting outdoors.  It’s a great idea – unless you’re bitten by a snake.  The number of snakebite calls to the Palmetto Poison Center has increased the past two years, to about 200 per year.  It’s probably not because more snakes are out there, but more emergency room doctors are calling the center for advice, because they don’t see that many snakebites, says center Director Dr. Jill Michels. 

Two Eastern Box Turtles cross the road.
Chesapeake Bay Program / Flickr

Now that summer is approaching, it’s a common occurrence to see turtles crawling across roadways in South Carolina (and many other states). Ever wondered why that is? In honor of World Turtle Day, I spoke with Cris Hagen, Director of Animal Management at the Turtle Survival Center, a program of the Turtle Survival Alliance, in Charleston.

The Hansen Twins Record their Story with Robert Harding in Chicago
Scott Hanson

It's been three years since Carter and Jack Hanson were featured on CBS news for their rare friendship with a World War II veteran who served aboard the USS Yorktown.  That's when the  network set up a surprise meeting on the  ship just outside of Charleston.   They had gotten to know Robert Harding through email.  It was quite a moment as the three came face to face, and their bond has grown stronger ever since.   Now 13 years-old, the twins recently attended the Yorktown's 75th anniversary with their family, celebrating Harding who could not  be there.

A freshly buried sewer line parallels Gills Creek in Forest Acres. Some people and agencies are still recovering from the historic flood of October 2015.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

The aftermath of the October 2015 flood continues to occupy the business of many people and agencies in South Carolina, such as the East Richland County Public Service District (ERCPSD), which operates the sewer system for a section of the county heavily damaged by the flood.  ERCPSD Deputy Director Ed Schooler said the flood changed the route of the system’s pipes, knocking many right out of the ground. 

Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden at the University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library. Gen. Bolden has donated his personal archives of papers, personal items and professional artifacts for curation by the University's Caroliniana Library.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Students from three local Columbia high schools got a rare opportunity Monday—to see real life astronaut and former NASA Administrator Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr. speak about space, science, and the future. For Bolden, who hosted the talk at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library in honor of the gift of his personal archives to the university, it was also an opportunity—to share his journey with students of his own alma mater, C.A Johnson High School.

abstract mental health symbol
GDJ via Pixabay

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there is much that most people are not aware of about mental health.  Just more than 43 million Americans experience a mental illness in a given year, including millions of cases of depression, anxiety disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.  USC psychiatrist Dr. Meera Narasimhan says many illnesses are caused by the stresses of everyday life, such as unemployment or divorce, or more jarring experiences such as war.  

Starting a Mobile Business class travels to different bases throughout the state.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

One of the ways the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides assistance to small businesses is through education. SBA provides free individual face-to-face, and internet counseling for small businesses, and low-cost training to nascent entrepreneurs and established small businesses. In South Carolina, a fairly new education program for military spouses teaches how to start a mobile business. South Carolina Public Radio talks with the creator of the class to learn how a successful small business can help military spouses, their families and the economy.

The mandolin is a central of many Bluegrass groups. (Mandolin player with the Jeff Austin Band, on stage at the 80/35 music festival in Des Moines, July, 2016.)
Max Goldberg via Flickr [CC BY 2.0}

Bluegrass music has always been popular in South Carolina, but Willie Wells thinks it’s about to break out to a new, mass popularity.  Every Friday night, Wells holds a bluegrass jam at his store, Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor.  Fans and musicians enjoy a performance before getting out their guitars, banjos and fiddles to play country, gospel and bluegrass tunes with each other. 

A month ago, Gov. Henry McMaster offered to send SC National Guard troops to Texas to help fight illegal immigration along the Mexican border. Friday, the Governor officially announced one Army National Guard helicopter and approximately nine Soldiers and crew will leave for the area the week of May 13. Here’s what we know.

The Crew

Drew Wynne at a party.  He died while using a paint stripper containing methylene chloride at his business.
Wynne family

His voice sounds excited, yet hesitant.  Brian Wynne has just learned the Environmental Protection Agency will take action on a proposed ban from the Obama administration that would keep a potentially deadly chemical from being used in paint strippers commonly found on store shelves.  He met with the EPA chief two days ago, sharing the story of his younger brother from Charleston who died after being exposed to that very chemical, methylene chloride.

file photo of water pouring into a drinking glass
StockSnap via Pixabay

May 6-12 is national Drinking Water Week, a time to appreciate the high quality water found throughout most of the Palmetto State.  Jennifer Satterthwaite, communications coordinator for the Columbia Water Works, says while the city has two excellent sources of water, Lake Murray and the Columbia Canal, many people don’t realize that what they use on land, such as use certain fertilizers, automobile oil or pet waste, can find its way via stormwater runoff  into the water supply.  Fortunately, Water Works Superintendent Clint Shealy says the city does more than it’s required to to keep its

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