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.

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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.

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

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.

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.

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