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 is can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

Ways to Connect

Officials with the state’s Forestry Commission, Forestry Association, Commerce Dept. and other agencies planted a Loblolly pine tree on the eastern grounds of the state house.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The South Carolina Forestry Commission announced the industry has $21 Billion dollar impact on the state’s economy. Speaking during a press conference on the State House grounds, agency director Gene Kodama said the figure exceeds the "20-by-15 Project" goals set by the Commission, the Forestry Association of SC and other partners of the project.

"It was designed to help the forestry industry recover as quickly as possible from a recession that was just getting started," Kodama said.

Solar eclipse - November 13, 2012.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will cover a 70- mile-wide strip of South Carolina from Greenville through Columbia to Charleston. University of South Carolina Astronomy Professor Steve Rodney is already making plans for the event. The last few days have seen the sun in the same place in the sky it will be on Aug. 21, so Rodney and his students can prepare well for the once-in-a lifetime event in the Midlands. They’ve located where the sun will be to make sure there will be no obstructions, and he’s got students scouting the best locations on campus for eclipse watching.

Robert Zander's West Columbia home was heavily damaged by the historic rains that produced the flood of October 2015.  With help from a nonprofit disaster relief agency.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

The flood of October 2015 damaged homes it didn’t even enter, as West Columbia resident Robert Zander discovered the hard way. The historically heavy rains soaked the ground in his yard, causing a large tree to fall through his roof. Rain waters soaked the interior and rotted sheetrock all over the house. After a frustrating six months dealing with FEMA, Zander was about to give up when Hearts and Hands, a non-profit disaster recovery agency, showed up. Together with its partners in Brethren Disaster Ministries, repairs were made, even exceeding Zander’s expectations.

Orders in hand, Navy Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, skipper of the USS Hornet (CV-8) chats with Lt. Col. James Doolittle, leader of the Army Air Forces attack group. This group of fliers carried the battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire.
U.S. Navy

75 years ago, on April 18 1942, 80 brave men did what had never been attempted: they flew army bombers off a U.S. aircraft carrier on their way to bomb Tokyo.  The attack, which has become known to history as the Doolittle Raid, was America’s first strike back at Japan after the infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.  In this report, Mount Pleasant author James Scott talks about the significance of the raid to the war, and its great psychological effect both on the American and Japanese publics. 

(April 21, 1972) Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station no. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site.
NASA

On April 16, 1972, with the deafening blast of a Saturn V rocket, the Apollo 16 mission carried three Americans to the moon.   Five days later, Charles M. Duke Jr. of Lancaster, South Carolina became the 10th man of only 12 in history to walk on the surface of the moon.   In this report Duke, a retired Air Force general, talks about his historic mission, including the difficulties of landing and the advances in science made because of the space program, as well as his role as communications liason on the Apollo 11 mission, which put the first men on the moon.  

Golf club next to golf ball.
[CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Golf is an economic juggernaut for the South Carolina, accounting for a $3 billion economic impact on the state.  A large part of that will be felt in one week; the week between the Master’s and the Heritage golf tournaments.  Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Dept.

Tim Tebow at a Columbia Fireflies press conference.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has taken on a new challenge: breaking into baseball at age 29.  Signed to the New York Mets organization, Tebow has begun working his way through the minor league ranks beginning in South Carolina’s capital city.  Tebow has been assigned to the single A Columbia Fireflies, and the fans have turned out in large numbers.  Hopes are not only that Tebow will be an asset on the field, but the Fireflies’ president and a University of South Carolina sports management professor predict he will have a positive economic impact on the team a

During a 2016 town hall meeting, Williamsburg County residents learn about the state's flood recovery program. Officials report the program is on track to help 1500 households.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

When the state’s 2015 flood recovery program was created, Program Director, retired Army Col. J.R. Sanderson knew $96 million dollars was not going to be enough money to recovery every resident who would have remaining unmet needs. SC Public Radio spoke with Col. Sanderson about how the new program is helping residents in 22 counties and what options will be left to those who the program cannot help.

“We’re at a point now in the program where I think we can show some substantial growth,” Col. Sanderson said. “I would say that right now, we feel good about where we’re at.”

From left to right: Suzanne Snyder, Stacy Massard, Carmen Bowie
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Eighteen months after the devastating flood in October of 2015, three women from Columbia and Lexington are still not home. Stacy Massard, Carmen Bowie, and Suzanne Snyder continue struggling in the aftermath of the storm. They agree friends and family just don't get it; they're grateful for the bond between fellow flood victims.

Residents in Nichols, SC being rescued after Hurricane Matthew.
Courtesy of Nichols resident Courtney Wilds

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) will hold four town hall meetings this week to present the Hurricane Matthew action plan and obtain public feedback.

Much like the office's 2015 Storm recovery program, the Hurricane Matthew recovery program is designed to serve as many citizens as possible while concentrating on meeting the needs of the least resilient citizens. Based on public response, SCDRO may add or revise portions of the action plan before submitting it to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Charleston School of Law student Tyler Gilliam rehearses his tax argument with Prof. Kristin Gutting as his partner Anna Boning looks on.  Gutting coached the students to the school's sixth consecutive tax moot court national championship.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

For a law student, winning a national moot court championship is like winning the Super Bowl.  And Charleston School of Law students recently did it an astounding six times in a row.  Teams of students argue cases in front of judges to simulate situations in a real courtroom – in this case,  it was tax law, though other disciplines of law have their own moot courts.  This year’s winners, Anna Boning and Tyler Gilliam,  have the distinction of being the first team to repeat the feat, and win the competition for the second time. 

This drone is ready to fly.  Drones have many applications ,but the law hasn't caught up with some of them yet.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Drones are becoming more and more common, with possibly a million or more sold in 2015.  As recreation, they’ve been used as an extension of the traditional model airplane.  Newer uses in business, government and other enterprises have seen them used for traffic monitoring, inspecting farm crops and even collecting information from whale spray.  In this report, law professor Bryant Smith talks about legal concerns brought about by the use of drones, and oceanographer George Voulgaris and graduate student Doug Cahl discuss the drone’s role in various areas of research.

Mug shot of Roof taken by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, June 18, 2015
WP:NFCC#4

22-year old Dylann Roof will plead guilty to state murder charges during an April 10th hearing. This comes several months after a federal court sentenced the self-proclaimed white supremacist to death. A guilty plea means Roof has agreed to a mandatory life sentence without parole. The sentence would only take effect if the federal sentence fell through which is highly unlikely. 

Roof was convicted in January on thirty-three federal charges including hate crimes and the use of a gun to commit a violent crime.  

Aiken County cotton farmer Carl Brown overlooks one of his fields.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

American consumers buy nearly 20 billion new items of clothing a year, many of them made of Southern cotton, but 98 percent made overseas.  A University of South Carolina professor wondered about the journey of cotton from South Carolina to China and back. Laura Kissel says she learned a lot about the cotton-to-cloth-to-clothing process while making a documentary film about the people who grow the cotton and make the garments.  

Aiken County farmer Carl Brown discusses the changes in cotton farming over the course of his career. 

USC Law School's Pro Bono program provides student volunteers for legal services throughout South Carolina.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

It’s tax season, and many people are working with tax preparers.  But some preparers are giving away their services for free to elderly or low income clients.  They’re tax law students in the Pro Bono program at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  The Pro Bono program provides volunteer services to many causes year round: clerks for pro bono lawyers, research, wills and other areas of the law. 

Cayce Boat Landing Re-opens after 2015 Flood Damage

Mar 28, 2017
Thomas H. Newman Boat Landing
Josh Floyd/SC Public Radio

The only boat landing in Cayce is finally re-opening, after being closed since the devastating flood in October of 2015. The Congaree River mangled and disconnected portions the Thomas H. Newman Boat Landing, rendering it unusable. Mayor Elise Parton says she's been waiting for this day a long time -- she received many calls from locals asking when it would finally open back up.

A row of recovered cannonballs in the Charleston Museum
Alexandra Olgin/SC Public Radio

Live cannonballs from more than 200 years ago continue to be found in Charleston. The relics from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars occasionally wash up on beaches or are found underground. While some are inactive hunks of metal, others could still explode.

In an empty field near Charleston, military bomb experts are getting ready to detonate a rusted cannonball from the 1800's. The ordinance is buried underground and wrapped in C-4. An expert yells, "Fire in the hole!" as an explosion rips through the air.

Poison Center operator Kelly Funderburg, a former emergency room nurse, answers a call and looks up information to advise the caller about a potential toxin.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

A child has drunk sweet-smelling shampoo.  A senior has taken his wife’s prescription by mistake.   A person comes to the emergency room after taking multiple medications at 3 in the morning.  What to do?  The Palmetto Poison Center is on-call 24/7 to help with cases from parents’ worries to questions from doctors unfamiliar with the effects of varying drugs taken together. 

Forester Chase Folk looks over a section of Sumter National Forest in Newberry County.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

For 90 years, the South Carolina Forestry Commission has fought fires and advised landowners on how they can best manage the woodlands on their property.   According to Forest Management Chief Russell Hulbright and Forester Chase Folks, forests can be managed for timber production, wildlife protection, aesthetics, soil and water preservation, or a combination of these outcomes.  Hulbright says the public benefits from trees just from the fact that they’re out there along the highways of South Carolina.  The state is blessed to have 13 million acres covered by public and private forests, acc

For the past two years, South Carolina has suffered back-to-back disasters. The thousand year flood in 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 damaged homes, took lives, and crippled businesses. One of the businesses hit the hardest by these events was farming. For farmers, the setbacks from the storms were massive. Federal Recovery Programs offered little help and insurance didn’t completely cover damages. Only what is harvested can be insured, so when disasters two years in a row lead to low yields for farmers, the insurance just wasn’t going to cut it.

Richland County Flood Recovery on Track

Mar 21, 2017
Richland County Farmland flooding in 2015
Provided by Michael King

The Red Cross and National Guard may no longer be on the streets of Richland County, but that doesn't mean recovery from the devastating 2015 flood is over. In fact, hundreds of people are still out of their homes in the county according to Mike King, Richland County's Long-Term Disaster Recovery Chief. He says there’s been a lot of progress in recovery, but there's still a long way to go.  

Scientists Seek To Learn More About Sharks

Mar 17, 2017
OCEARCH researcher tagging the male white shark Hilton
Provided by OCEARCH

Off the coast of Hilton Head Island, the M/V OCEARCH sits stationary ready to catch sharks from twelve inches to twelve feet. The vessel is a temporary laboratory for scientists conducting research on the fish, from the way they see color to their mating habits. OCEARCH has done expeditions around the world, though this is the first time the organization has worked off the South Carolina or Georgia coast. They were pulled here by shark activity.

Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor of Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    Live classical music is widely available in the Palmetto State, thanks to orchestras in at least seven South Carolina cities. But even the same music can be approached differently by different orchestras and conductors. 

Greg Wilsbacher, checking film in USC's Moving Image Research Collection.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Since 1980, the University of South Carolina has built a national reputation as one of the top film preservation archives in the nation.  Its Moving Image Research Collection has recently become the recipient of a significant national gift – the archival films of the United States Marine Corps.  Tom McNally, Dean of Libraries at the University,  says the school took the collection with no funds to preserve it, but with the faith that revenue donors could be found, which they were.  

Beached vessel at Woods Bridge Marina
Provided by County of Beaufort

Beaufort County officials are planning to begin removing abandoned boats and dock fragments from its shores this week. A storm surge caused by Hurricane Matthew left a substantial amount of debris in several locations around the county.

Beaufort County Deputy Administrator Josh Gruber said, “It looks like a number of the boats and large pieces of the dock[s] were washed up into the marsh."

Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery staff join Keoashaws Brewer and her family for a ribbon cutting ceremony as part of their "Welcome Home" celebration.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

Update

Laura Hunsberger recently spoke with Marilyn Gray, Midlands District Chair of the St. Vincent de Paul South Carolina Disaster Relief Program, and Dr. Lisabeth Medlock, Founder and Director of the Palmetto Project Community Flood Hub. Over the past year, Hunsberger has been following their work to provide furniture to families affected by the 2015 floods. In this interview, Gray and Medlock explain how their organizations, along with other community partners, developed a streamlined furniture distribution program.

In front of Tripp's photo his mother Sandra, sister Emily and father Glenn Rabon hold his baseball and football jersey. Tripp was killed in a car crash in December 2015.
Alexandra Olgin/South Carolina Public Radio

Sandra Rabon unfolds a large piece of white paper on the floor of her home in North Charleston.

It is her son Tripp's timeline for his life. Rabon reads aloud from the class project.

"Here he has graduating from Clemson 2021 and starting his own business in 2022," she said. "Then sell company or give to son, go fishing with the grandkids and finally die in a rocking chair in June 2098."

Industrial Hemp Seen as a Potential Boon to Farmers

Mar 7, 2017
Sign at the end of the road near the Baxley's farm
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

On a 5000-acre farm in Marion County, the Baxley family grows corn, soybeans, tobacco, and peanuts. In the past few years, intense storms have ruined their harvesting season, denying the family much needed revenue.  Neal Baxley, who manages the farm with his dad, is interested in planting a new crop, one that's more flexible, resilient, and profitable. For Baxley, hemp is the answer. The only problem is hemp isn't legal to produce in South Carolina. Cooper McKim reports that the state is one of many currently trying to legalize hemp production this year.

Jessica Skinner leads a rehearsal of the Cola Ukulele Band at a Columbia music store.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Over the past decade or so, the ukulele has grown tremendously in popularity among a wide variety of people, helped by its use by popular artists such as Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson.  The trend hit the Midlands recently when University of South Carolina music student Tim Hall got a grant to start the Cola (not Columbia, though that’s where it’s located) Ukulele Band.  Since its beginning, the band has attracted members of all ages, from elementary school children to grandparents. 

World War II veteran Marvin Veronee of Charleston with a photo book, for which he wrote the text, on the Battle of Iwo Jima.  Veronee was in the battle as a 19-year-old sailor.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

In February and March 1945, one of the most significant battles of World War II took place:  Iwo Jima, just 760 miles from Tokyo itself.  Among the 70,000 marines assigned to the operation was 19-year-old Marvin Veronee of Charleston, a navy gunfire officer who went ashore with the Marines to call in fire from warships stationed off the coast when he found good targets.  75 years later, a 93-year-old Veronee recalls his  duties in the battle, his narrow scrape with a Japanese banzai charge ( a suicide attack), and his sight of the first (not the second, world-famous) American flag raised on

Pages