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

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

Education majors at the College of Charleston gather to talk about ways to improve student safety at schools
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Professor Anne Gutshall teaches psychology courses to future educators at the College of Charleston.  Her students have a lot on their minds.   From teacher walkouts nationwide over low pay to deadly mass shootings at schools, it’s a wonder they want to teach at all.  But they do.  They really do.

A replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall is on display at Historic Camden
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

A scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is on display at Historic Camden. Its called the Wall That Heals and features all the names of the 58,318 who served and died in Vietnam. South Carolina Public Radio spoke with students, teachers, veterans and community members during a recent visit to the exhibit.

Industrial robots on an automobile assembly line.
ISAPUT [CC BY-SA 4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Automation has been increasing in the Palmetto State’s factories for a long time, bringing with it fears of job losses for people whose jobs are vulnerable to being replaced by machines.  But Roger Varin of Staubli Robotics, which makes robots for industry, says jobs are changing, but not necessarily vanishing.  In fact, he asserts, automation creates jobs in some areas. 

Richland County celebrates the first new mobile home given to a 2015 flood survivor.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

For the past two years, South Carolina has been in recovery mode. Long-term recovery for families, business and municipalities, following the historic rain event and flood of October 2015, is seen in almost every county. Recently, during National Community Development Week, Richland County celebrated the first home in its flood recovery program given to a flood survivor. The event marked a major milestone in the County’s recovery program and also presented a second chance at recovery for those still living in unsafe and conditions.

The 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index was released in April. A program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the index gauges each state's response to emergent situations affecting public health.
nhspi.org

It’s that time again. Spring is in full swing, and so are preparations for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. The National Weather Service is preparing to recognize National Hurricane Preparedness Week in early May, and will partner with the state’s Emergency Management Division to sponsor South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness week beginning May 27.

Healthcare Power of Attorney illustration
James D. Sims [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

May is National Elder Law Month, a time lawyers endeavor to spread the word that their specialty provides legal advocacy, guidance, and services to enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. Columbia elder law attorney Lauren Wasson says there are three basic financial documents that should be in place for every senior citizen: a will, a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney, which assigns a trusted person to speak for the elderly client if he/she is unable to speak for him/herself.

Lowcountry Mayors Unite in Fight Against Sea Level Rise

Apr 27, 2018
Beaufort Waterfront
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Both have historic homes, waterfront parks and battery walls,  as well as  reputations for hospitality.  Charleston was named the  best southern city this year by Southern Living Magazine.  Last year, Beaufort was awarded best small town.  But that’s not all these two Lowcountry communities have in common.

“We’re sort of like brothers,” said Beaufort Mayor Keyserling.  He’s referring to his life-long, family friendship with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.  Their cities may be 70 miles apart, but the two catch up by phone at least once or twice a week.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
Federal Communications Commission

For the past nine years, South Carolina native Mignon Clyburn has served as commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). She was sworn into office, on August 3, 2009 at the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Courthouse in Columbia and since then has become a strong supporter of net neutrality, media ownership reform and lowering prison phone rates. This month, Clyburn announced she was leaving the agency.

Sexaual assault awareness and prevention efforts extend into the military. This T-shirt was on display during a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month event at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2013.
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ashley Bell

The instance of sexual assault in the United States is growing at a rate that would surprise, even alarm, many people.  According to Shannon Nix, associate director of sexual assault and violence intervention and prevention at the University of South Carolina, one in four women - and one in six men – will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.   This high number doesn’t mean more assaults are happening, however.  Nix said it seems that way because more people are reporting it. 

The new Four Paws Animal Clinic recently opened a few blocks from its former location after more than two years of operations in a temporary building while it recovered from the 2015 flood and sought the right place for its new home.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

For some, the so-called “thousand-year rain” and the floods that followed it in October 2015 may seem an event long past, but many are still recovering from the storm’s devastation.  For some businesses in Richland County, the after effects of the floods continue to pose particular difficulties. Take the Four Paws Animal Clinic, which was forced to operate out of a temporary location for more than two years after the flood, when the business' original building bordering Gills Creek was ruined.

Beth Drake, United States Attorney, with officials from SLED, SC Departent of Corrections, and the FBI.
Laura Hunsberger

The United States Attorney's Office announced the arrest of fourteen employees of South Carolina correctional facilities who are now facing Federal charges to bribery and bringing contraband in the state’s prisons. U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, Beth Drake, says the charges resulted from an investigation that has been ongoing for years.

The Williamsburg Regional Hospital's building in Kingstree was irreparably damaged during the 2015 floods.
Laura Hunsberger

For more than a year, the Williamsburg Regional Hospital has been serving patients from a temporary facility located right next to their old building. The hospital was damaged beyond repair during the thousand-year floods. Eventually, the hospital determined that they had to move out of the old building.

North Inlet - Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Aerial view of meandering tidal creeks and extensive pristine marshes in North Inlet Estuary. Vicinity of Georgetown, South Carolina.
NOAA Photo Library/Flickr

Earth Day is held each April to remind people of the importance of caring for our world, according to USC Environmental Health Sciences Professor Joe Jones.  He practices what he preaches, as he regularly takes his students outdoors to pick up trash that has washed into a campus creek from Columbia’s Five Points area, where many students eat and drink.  He tells them that if trash could wash from one part of town to another, it could also get into the Congaree River and thus to the coast, and, ultimately, wash up on the shores of other countries. 

Coral polyps on Molasses Reef, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Brent Deuel [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

People picture coral reefs as bursting with color and teeming with a variety of undersea life, which many are. But their number is shrinking, says College of Charleston biologist Phil Dustan, because they are hyper-sensitive to temperature changes, and climate change is warming the ocean to intolerable levels for many reefs. In his 40-plus years of studying reefs, Dustan said, the Florida Keys, for example, have probably lost 90 to 95 percent of their living coral reefs.

Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

You know it’s spring in Charleston when the cars are thick with yellow pollen, as well as  a colorful array of out of state license plates.  Porta- Potties line the streets, novice runners sport bright, new shoes and college kids seeking sun and warmth stretch out behind the beach dunes.  Typically, the signs appear in April, alongside two annual events; the Cooper River Bridge Run and the Volvo Car Open.

At State Education Department in Columbia, Superintendent Molly Spearman announces state of emergency in Williamsburg County School District.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman declared a state of emergency in the Williamsburg County School District and will now take over day-to-day operations. During a press conference in Columbia, Spearman cited financial mismanagement, systemic programmatic issues, and poor student academic performance for her decision.

Raised house at 42 Rutledge Avenue back on a new foundation.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

How do you raise a large, historic home?  Better yet, how do you put it back down?  Should such an old  home be raised at all?  All are tough questions in a city that until recently had never lifted one before.

“There’s a lot of head scratching going on,” said long-time contractor Gary Walters.  He’s been working on a massive home at 42 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston, S.C. since last fall.  That’s when  its owner, Jack Margolies, finally got approval from the city’s Board of Architectural Review to raise the 1859 structure.

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

76 years ago (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. 

 The cost of raising a child to the age of 17 has been estimated to be about $234,000.  But that figure can easily quadruple for children with special needs.  Donald Bailey knows.  He is a special needs advocate and author whose grown son has autism.   He urges families with special needs members to make a plan for caring for that individual because, as it did with him, the question will eventually come around: what will happen when mom and dad (or other family) are no longer around to care for him/her? 

James and Tammy Blackwell take a picture of a box containing the names of all South Carolinians who died during the Vietnam War.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The last American troops withdrew from South Vietnam in 1975. On March 29, the 50th anniversary of this historic event coincided with the first National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Vietnam War Veterans Day is a new holiday, established when President Trump signed the Vietnam War Recognition Act of 2017. Veterans and supporters across the country gathered to remember their sacrifices and also to finally hear the words "thank you for your service."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking in Kingstree, SC, May 8, 1966.
Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina

On July 30, 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in South Carolina. He had tea at Septima Clark’s house in Charleston and later that day spoke at a meeting at the old county hall building on King Street. It would be his last visit to the Palmetto state. Nine months later, King was gunned down at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Jnn 13 [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

"The Star Spangled Banner" is one of the most familiar songs in the United States, and rightly so, since our national anthem is sung or played at so many events, particularly sporting events.  And with so many ball games and other events, there are many opportunities for people to sing or play the anthem.  Each spring, the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team holds auditions for people to have a chance to share their musical talents with the public at a Fireflies game during the season.  This week we talk with  - and listen to – a few of the musicians who tried out for the 60-some

Thousands of cells phones are smuggled into South Carolina prisons every year.   Many are confiscated, but the ones which aren't are being used to plan crimes from inside prison walls.
SC Dept of Corrections

Thousands of cell phones are smuggled into South Carolina’s prisons, and those of other states, each year.  This is probably the worst kind of contraband to be smuggled in, say officials, because they are being used to continue some convicts’ careers of crime from behind prison walls.  Murders, drug deals and all kinds of scams are planned and executed from within prisons with these phones, says state Dept. of Corrections Director Brian Stirling.  

Charleston Book Club Gives Veterans a Voice

Mar 29, 2018
Members of Charleston book club for veterans meet at downtown Charleston County Library
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

It’s a Saturday morning and a small group meets at the downtown Charleston County Library, their thick books cracked open to the same page of “The Illiad”, an epic poem recounting the final weeks of the Trojan War.  It’s intense reading for 10 a.m.  But the ancient story resonates with the young soldiers at the long table.  It’s part of their book club for veterans.

“He was going to leave town without going to hunt her down and say goodbye,” said the group’s facilitator Kate Hudson.  “Why would he do that?”  There’s silence.   Then, former Marine Lee Gonzalez weighs in.

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