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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  As the search for a suspected terrorist spread to Brussels, Belgium following the recent attack on Paris, a group of scholars from South Carolina got an experience it never expected – a close-up look at an international manhunt. Dr. Brent Nelson, a political scientist, and his students talk about being in the city where the dragnet took place. The tension in the air, precautions they took, and not caving in to fear were part of their daily routines.


A coyote
ForestWander.com

  Wildlife does not recognize borders, and so in 1978, a non-native species, welcomed or not, moved into the Palmetto State – the coyote. It has not only caused problems for hunters (where it has affected the deer population) and livestock farmers (where it preys on cattle, goats and more), but also has moved into cities, causing concerns among people not used to seeing these wild predators. Jay Butfiloski of the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources gives advice about how to deal with these furry beasts, whether it’s trapping or hunting in rural areas, or making urban settings less hospitable for them.


  Yesterday Governor Haley presented the results of a 2013 executive order directing state agencies to assess what the state owns. The Governor’s Department of Administration worked with a real estate firm, CBRE, to collect data and analyze how the state can save money on the buildings and properties. The state owns more than half a million acres of land and 7800 buildings. While CBRE’s assessment process is still ongoing, the firm has recommended three ways for the state to increase efficiency and save money. South Carolina Public Radio’s Laura Hunsberger has more.


  More than $2 million is lost to fraud in South Carolina every year, says Juliana Harris of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The department tracks scams in the state, and receives 3,000 to 4,000 reports of these crimes each year. Harris lists some of the more common scams, tells how consumers can spot them, and how people can avoid being taken in by scammers.


  On this holiday edition of South Carolina Focus, we talk with two men who essentially make their entire year’s livings in one month. They’re Christmas tree farmers. Mike McCartha and Bryan Price talk about the work it takes all year to grow Christmas trees, and what they like about the business – seeing smiling faces returning year after year.


  More than $2 million is lost to fraud in South Carolina every year, says Juliana Harris of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The department tracks scams in the state, and receives 3,000 to 4,000 reports of these crimes each year. Harris lists some of the more common scams, tells how consumers can spot them, and how people can avoid being taken in by scammers.


  On this holiday edition of South Carolina Focus, we talk with two men who essentially make their entire year’s livings in one month. They’re Christmas tree farmers. Mike McCartha and Bryan Price talk about the work it takes all year to grow Christmas trees, and what they like about the business – seeing smiling faces returning year after year.


  One of the most iconic marketing images in American history is the classic Coca Cola bottle. The familiar design turned 100 years old this year. But most folks don’t know that this familiar object was helped to its popularity through the millions of these bottles that were made in Laurens, S.C.


  The turkey has been gobbled and the pumpkin pie inhaled, and now the holiday shopping can really ramp up. Merchants are more than ready. In this edition of South Carolina Focus, two South Carolina small business owners assess this shopping season with optimism at a growing economy, but with the realization that the recent floods in much of the state could affect both the pocketbooks as well as the shopping spirit of many South Carolinians.


South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year

Nov 25, 2015

  Education in South Carolina is frequently ranked low among the states. Suzanne Koty, the new South Carolina Teacher of the Year, disagrees with this assessment. There are great things happening in South Carolina classrooms, she says. She talks with ETV Radio about the innovative programs she has witnessed and her eagerness to find more of them over the next year, and to share them with schools statewide.


   While some survivors of October’s floods may have received a letter from FEMA saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance, FEMA spokesman Carl Henderson urges these people not to give up. Visit your nearest Disaster Recovery Center and speak with a counselor. It may be that all the I’s were not dotted, or the T’s crossed, and you may become eligible with the proper backup paperwork and properly completed forms.

DOT workers repairing bridge approach damaged by October floods.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Progress has been surprisingly rapid on road and bridge re-openings since the October floods in South Carolina. SC Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Poore says of 541 roads and bridges that were closed statewide on Oct. 5, only 80 remain to be opened.

Poore says that the agency's efforts to put workers on the ground while the rains were still coming down helped give it a head start on recovery. "I think we were as prepared as we could be, as an agency, and I think that paid off."

  The South Carolina Department of Transportation has worked hard to repair and reopen roads and bridges following October’s historic floods in the state, especially in the central part. Of 541 closures on Oct. 5, the department’s list is down to only 80, a repair rate of 85 percent. Spokesman Pete Poore talks about the work that exceeded expectations, why roads over dams will take the most time to replace, credits maintenance workers from lesser-impacted counties who came to help in other parts of the state, and the surprising reaction from the public to the department’s work.


Show horse and rider
iStock

  This week on South Carolina Focus, we learn about the successful show horse industry in South Carolina, and the extraordinary success of two breeders/trainers. Bob and Kelli Bennett of Swansea have won more than 10 national championships with their own Arabian horses, and Bob has trained many more national champions and top 10 Arabians. They give us a hint at what it takes to be a champion in this competitive field.


In October of 2015, Columbia's Four Paws Animal Clinic was underwater when the October flood hit.  There were no pets in the clinic when the building flooded.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

When the historic floods hit the Midlands in October, many small businesses, like many homes, were inundated. Ceiling-high waters in low-lying areas would seem to ruin the businesses for good. But the owners are fighting back.

   In a vault at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library reside numerous collections of rare books and papers from some of the world’s great writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Robert Burns, to name a few.   Elizabeth Suddeth, director of Rare Books and Special Collections, takes us to the vault and talks about how the library attracted these collections, and its growing reputation as a destination for researchers and a magnet for prestigious literary collections. 


  Charles Courtney Tew was an educator, a soldier and, in 1846, was the first graduate of The Citadel.  As a Colonel of the 2nd N.C. Regiment, he was killed at the battle of Antietam,  His sword, a present from his students at the Arsenal in Columbia, was taken from him and disappeared for a century and a half.  David Goble, director of the Citadel’s Daniel Library and Museum, and Citadel historian Steve Smith discuss the mystery and trace what is known of the path that brought the rediscovered sword back to the military school – from Canada! 


  Some flood victims who applied for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency received letters of ineligibility.  But FEMA’s Carl Henderson that may just mean some detail was omitted , and he encourages people who have received these letters to visit their local disaster recovery center and talk with FEMA representatives.  Some may be eligible after all.


SBA Disaster Loan interview. (File Photo)
SBA

    Even if a survivor of the recent floods in South Carolina doesn’t plan to accept a loan from the Small Business Association, he or she is encouraged to apply, because the application may make them eligible for other assistance.  Homeowners, renters, small businesses and even nonprofits may benefit from loans for disaster-related damage.

FEMA Offers Free Legal Services to Flood Survivors

Nov 3, 2015

  In the wake of October’s historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering legal services at no charge to people who can’t afford a lawyer. FEMA Public Information Officer Carl Henderson says the legal problems people may encounter could vary from disputes with contractors to insurance claim issues and more.

Survivors who have flood-related legal issues and cannot afford a lawyer should call 877-797-2227 ext. 120 OR 803-576-3815 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


  Number 38 on the Summerville High School football team has a different approach to the game. That’s because #38 is different, a first for the Green Wave: she’s a girl. Emaleigh Tuggle came to the team as a kicker, also having played on the school’s girls’ soccer team. She talks about what it’s like being the only girl on the team, and her coach, Joe Call, discusses what he saw in her that convinced him she’d make a good addition to the team. They both think more girls should, and most likely will, play football.

File photo. A polo match.
iStock/FreezingRain

  Though unseen by some, the large horse community of South Carolina has made polo a big industry in Aiken County. Tara Bostwick likens Aiken’s Whitney Field to the polo equivalent of the Augusta National golf course, a bucket-list destination for polo enthusiasts worldwide. She says the sport is not as much for the wealthy as it may appear, but it does generate a huge economic impact for the area. Retired player Tiger Kneece, who has started a kids’ polo program, also talks about what it takes to play the sport.


Russ McKinney gives an update of the continuing saga of the changing North Carolina/South Carolina border.  Some residents are unsure exactly which state live in.

  Frankenstein’s monster is a classic of fiction, movies, and other media, and also a Halloween staple. The novel has not been out of print in the two centuries since it was published in 1818. USC English Professor Paula Feldman, an authority on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” talks about the real life tragedies in Shelley’s life that caused her to wish she could bring the dead to life again, and the dreams that inspired the writing of the classic book that is regarded as the first science fiction novel.


  Over an incredible 63 years, John McKissick coached the Summerville High School Green Wave to an amazing 621 wins, the most of any football coach at any level, as well as 10 state championships. He retired in June of this year, and just turned 89. In this South Carolina Focus segment, the legendary coach talks about his work ethic and his philosophy of football, as he is praised by a former player and the new coach at Summerville, Joe Call – who happens to be McKissick’s grandson.


Maria Contreras-Sweet
SBA

  Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, came to South Carolina to meet with local officials, residents, and business owners to talk about the ongoing recovery efforts after the historic flooding. Working alongside FEMA, the SBA offers disaster relief in the form of low interest rate loans for homeowners, renters, and business owners.

File: Fair Ride
Susanna Berggren

  One of the fall traditions in South Carolina is a visit to the South Carolina State Fair. Part of the tradition for many is eating food that we don’t normally eat. Today we talk with vendors of such delectable – and sometimes weird – foods as elephant ears, chicken with Frosted Flakes, deep fried candy and doughnut burgers, and find out why the South Carolina State Fair is one of their favorite fairs.


Erosion caused by Hurricane Joaquin at North Myrtle Beach.
Courtesy of scbeaches.org

  The recent rains, floods and storm surge produced by Hurricane Joaquin caused many areas of South Carolina’s beachfront to erode. Folly Beach lost approximately 400,000 cubic yards of sand to the storm.

Nicole Elko, executive director of education group South Carolina Beach Advocates, tells why wide beaches and high dunes are important not only for tourism, but for the protection of beach property and infrastructure. Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin explains the hierarchy of storm damage and the mixed blessing of sea turtle nesting areas in rebuilding the beach.

Overflow from this normally small creek caused flood waters to wash out a portion of Bluff Road.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    As flood waters continue to recede in South Carolina and the threat to roads, dams and property is diminishing, the water can still pose a hazard to the many South Carolinians who get their water from private wells. Robert Yanity and Dr. Linda Bell of DHEC say that illnesses from contaminated water can still pose a danger.

Gov. Nikki Haley in press conference at the SC Emergency Management Division. (File Photo)
SCETV

    It's been almost two weeks since the first rainfall from this month's torrential storm hit the state. And, with the exception residents and businesses who suffered substantial losses, the state seems to be back on it's feet. All major highways are open, schools have re-opened, only a few hundred people remain in the seven shelters that are still open, and Columbia's water problems have been corrected.

On Wednesday, Governor Nikki Haley thanked the citizens of the state for getting through it, saying "We know that we are coming to brighter days."

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