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The light was exactly right for this picture taken in 2010 by Charleston's Ron Byrd, an amateur photographer since the 1970s. He explained that when he was taking a morning nature walk, he noticed the limbs bending over the waterway, which created a natural cathedral effect. .



Dolphin Architects changes hands from mentor to mentee

BY COLLEEN TROY | permalink

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C., July 21, 2014 -- A design-build company with decades of experience in the Lowcountry is changing hands in a unique way.


Wally Seinsheimer founded Dolphin Architects and Builders in 1990, ultimately building a collection of fine homes valued at over $200 million. At about the time the beloved local philanthropist and executive was ready to retire, a young business man raised his hand to help.

Earlier this month, Christopher Ibsen stepped in as owner and chief executive of Dolphin. Armed with years of local experience (including successful stints at Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company and Porter-Gaud School), an MBA from Duke University and experience in construction management, he's ready to lead Dolphin through the coming decades.

But he won't do it alone; a key part of the sale was Seinsheimer's agreement to stay on for three years in an advisory capacity. A similar model was recently tested in a Kansas community, where a new generation of business leaders is encouraged to buy established businesses, and founders are required to stay involved for at least a year.


"Wally has been a valued mentor of mine for nearly 18 years," said Ibsen. "I've always admired him personally, and respected the business and brand he built with Dolphin. In exploring a new opportunity for my career, this made perfect sense."

"Christopher has terrific business savvy and drive," said Seinsheimer. "He feels - as I do - that this company is all about its reputation, and its people. He deeply values the existing team, and having him here to guide Dolphin through future changes gives me the confidence to start the next chapter of my life."

Located on Johns Island, Dolphin employs eight full-time professionals and numerous subcontractors. Homes designed and built by Dolphin typically range in value from $750,000 to $2.5 million, and can be found throughout the greater Charleston market.

"There is no signature 'Dolphin' style," says Ibsen. "Rather, the homes we build reflect their owners. We listen closely to their wishes, and bring them to life. Wally assembled a great design-build team to make those dreams real; I'm thrilled to carry on the tradition, with continued guidance from the founder."

Colleen Troy is founder of Touchpoint Communications in Charleston.

Chamber should embrace library's November referendum

Editor and publisher
| permalink

JULY 21, 2014 -- This is the story of two Charleston County voter referenda that will be on the ballot in just over three months.

One seeks to extend a 1-cent sales tax from 2016 to 2022 to generate $540 million, 70 percent of which would go toward capital projects. The rest of the money would help maintain school buildings and add technology across the Charleston County School District. Currently, the district is benefiting from a 2010 referendum that is projected to generate $450 million for new schools by 2016 when the penny tax will dry up.

The new referendum to continue the tax for six years is wholeheartedly supported by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, which has voted to lead a voter education campaign that will cost $75,000 to $150,000 to encourage county residents to support it.

"As you may know, this will be an extension of the sales tax that passed in 2010," said Mary Graham, senior vice president in charge of business advocacy. "Our chamber led that campaign as well. Preparing a skilled and work ready talent pool of future employees continues to be a top priority of our business owners and leaders."

"It's irresponsible for the chamber to give the green light to one referendum and dilly-dally with the other."

The other referendum on the ballot will ask voters to back a $108 million bond program to improve the county's libraries, which haven't had major renovations in 28 years. That's before the Internet existed. This referendum envisions construction of two new libraries, completely replacing three libraries, and renovating and upgrading technology at 13 remaining branches. Since the 1986 referendum, which funded four regional libraries, the county's population has grown 27 percent and the library's circulation went up by almost 300 percent.

Unlike the school measure, the library referendum isn't wholeheartedly embraced by the chamber. Instead, it has given lukewarm support that's little better than lip service.

"The chamber's Business Advocacy Committee, which establishes all chamber issue positions and evaluates all referendum support requests, did a thorough vetting of the Charleston County Public Library referendum request," Graham explained. "The business leaders, who comprise the committee, recommended a neutral position on the library referendum due to the work required to advance the chamber's other major advocacy responsibilities and taking on the campaign to extend the sales tax for Charleston County public schools. The Business Advocacy Committee is extremely deliberate in only selecting advocacy priorities that it believes our chamber can effectively tackle. At this point, they feel that our bandwidth is being fully pressed with the agenda we have at hand."

Hogwash. It's irresponsible for the chamber to give the green light to one referendum and dilly-dally with the other. It would have not taken much gumption at all for the chamber's public advocacy campaign to shift from "Vote Yes for Schools" to "Vote Yes for Charleston" in backing both referenda.

So now what happens? The chamber will move forward with its planning that has not "outlined the specifics or needed funding at this point." And the library will have to move forward on its own to get voter support. That effort likely will cost at least another $150,000 to be done right for effective communications with voters.

Unfortunately, both efforts are running out of time. They've raised little to no money and haven't communicated much with potential voters. While the last library referendum passed with the approval of three-fourths of voters and the library currently has very high approval ratings from its thousands of patrons, the political climate is much different these days.

Don't be surprised if the Koch brothers' cynical Americans for Prosperity group, which recently opened a South Carolina branch in Mount Pleasant, makes a big push to discourage voters from voting for either referendum.

Instead of excluding the library from its voter education effort, the Charleston Metro Chamber should welcome the county's library system. Otherwise, neither referendum -- both of which back efforts that are vitally needed here -- may get voter approval.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report. He can be reached at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


Rant and rave: Send us your opinions

If you have an opinion on something we've offered or on a subject related to the Lowcountry, please send your letters of 150 words or less to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!


Charleston RiverDogs: Don't miss a game!

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is the Charleston RiverDogs. The Lowcountry’s leader in sports entertainment, Charleston RiverDogs baseball is an attractive, affordable medium for your group or business. The RiverDogs develop the next major league stars for the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees at one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball -- Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.

Three short words sum up the every day approach taken by the Charleston RiverDogs front office. The brainchild of club President Mike Veeck, the nine-letter phrase “Fun Is Good” is meant to be a guideline and daily reminder of how employees should approach their jobs and in turn capture the imagination of the fans to turn them into repeat customers.

  • This year for the first time in nearly two decades, the RiverDogs' ballgames will be broadcast on WTMA 1250 AM. Visit the 'Dogs online at: www.RiverDogs.com.

Cool spots for kids that keep summer reading hot
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

JULY 21, 2014 -- When a child leaves a grade level behind and summer commences, every parent hopes the child will somehow retain enough vital knowledge to enter the next grade level on a strong foothold.

Schools assign a summer reading list to encourage children to keep their minds as active as their bodies and we are fortunate to have a wonderful public library summer reading program that supports this aim.

For the last eight years, we at Pluff Mud Kids have been fans of the summer library reading initiative and have found other local venues that offer creative reading areas for children as well. By supporting these local booksellers we find bargain books and help with age appropriate selections thus keeping small businesses with inviting reading spaces alive and well in our community.

Browsing books allows children to discover for themselves what's popular with their peers as well as leafing through selections their parents or grandparents may have enjoyed as kids. Herewith, a list of bookshops and libraries we have grown particularly fond of with special consideration for children. After all, whether you cuddle up and read aloud to your child or they settle into a book on their own, reading is a wonderful retreat on a hot summer day! (All of the locations listed here are featured on pluffmudkids.com in the archives under "Books" and/or "Library." Check out our reviews.)

These spaces all offer their own special twist on book nooks for kids of all ages:

  • Charleston County Library Summer Reading Program. This year, the program is titled "Fizz, Boom, Read" and is designed for children aged 11 and under. Sign up and log reading hours to receive prizes. (Your child is also entered for a chance to win a grand prize.) This program really helps motivate and inspire children to read a lot and be accountable for keeping track of their reading time over the summer months. The program runs through August 10 -- just in time for school to pick up and keep the ball rolling. Teens in grades 6 to 12 can get in on the action with this summer's "Spark a Reaction" reading program, which rewards prizes as well as a graphic T-shirt. This is a FREE program.

  • The Charleston Library Society and the Timrod Library. Both of these libraries are steeped in history and charm and are by membership only. The Charleston Library Society is located in downtown Charleston and the Timrod library is in Summerville. These private libraries offer unique, cozy reading areas for children with many titles that are no longer in print and are hard to find making this a sweet option for grandparents who enjoy summer reading with old favorites. Passing their enthusiasm on to emerging readers is an incredible tool in terms of inspiring avid reading habits.

  • NEWLY RENOVATED. Blue Bicycle Books recently completed an extensive renovation of its King Street space, which included updating a kids' reading room. The bookstore, which opened in 1995, has in the past housed a print shop, ophthalmologist's office and deli. Photo provided, by Lauren Sanchez Design.
    Blue Bicycle Books, 420 King St., Charleston. Owner and author Jonathan Sanchez has recently redesigned this bookshop to include a beautiful space just for young children (complete with teepee!) This creative bookshop features "used, rare, and local" books and you can always find something intriguing here for readers of all ages.

  • A Very Little Bookstore, 112 S. Main St., Summerville. This delightful bookshop is just for kids with a well chosen array of books that encourage reading at an early age. Little ones can sit and sample a book in a cozy space that's not quite as overwhelming as a big library or bookstore can be, making the selection process a little easier.

  • Indigo Books, 472 Freshfields Dr., Johns Island. This little bookshop is perfect for grabbing a beach read and has a fantastic section for children that offers activity books, chapter books, and unique picture books for children of all ages. There are also cards and wrapping paper here for one-stop shopping for gifts for children who love to read.

  • Mr. K's Used Books, 5070 International Blvd., North Charleston, as well as locations in four other cities including Greenville. If no one told you this was a used book store, you would never know it. This huge, immaculate, well-organized space specializes in gently used books, comics, DVDs, CDs, and much more all at low prices. Trade your used books in for new titles and keep the reading bug alive! We love the children's corner here and have had good luck in finding school summer reading list books at rock bottom prices. Allow plenty of time to have a lengthy look around.

All of these local bookshops and reading spaces are featured in stories on pluffmudkids.com with more entries to come. Enjoy your summer reading!

Writer Leigh Sabine of Mount Pleasant offers a monthly look at fun activities for Lowcountry kids. It's based on her great blog, PluffMudKids. Check it out. (Photo by Leigh Sabine.)

JAW-SOME: Shark Week starts Aug. 1 at S.C. Aquarium perma

From shark-themed dive shows to shark touch experiences, the S.C. Aquarium's Shark Week offers "jaw-some" fun for all from Aug. 1 to 10.

Reel in the Shark Week experience with tons of toothy fun! From shark themed dive shows, interactive shark carts, and our popular Shark on the Shelf, there's excitement for all ages all week long:

  • Bruce, the Aquarium's giant inflatable shark, will welcome guests
  • Bamboo shark touch experience (limited times only)
  • Shark-themed dive shows
  • "Shark on the Shelf" making a special summer appearance
  • Shark-themed interactive education stations such as Sharkeology, where you can dig for shark artifacts, and our Shark Cart with fossils, teeth, and more!
  • Photos in a giant Megalodon jaw
  • Shark dress-up area
  • Marvel at 13 sharks which call the Great Ocean Tank home, including a sand tiger shark!

There's also a Dark Blue kick-off party July 31 with food, drink and dancing.

Big Red shoes to be filled in October with new charity walk

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston is presenting the first-ever Red Shoe walk, this October in Hampton Park to help raise money to benefit the 27 families of critically-ill children they help each night.

You can sign up now at RedShoeWalk.com for the Oct. 25 walk, which will start at 9 a.m. in the city park, and get a brand new pair of big red shoes. A $50.00 registration fee is required. Sign up on the website to have a private link to send to family and friends for donations! Between now and Oct. 25, the charity is asking each participant to raise $1,600, the cost of running the house for one night.

"On average, our House turns away 8 families every night due to a lack of space," according to a press release. "This year, we are expanding our home to help more families in need. We will be adding 5 bedrooms for a total of 32 rooms. "

Local newspaper thinking "outside the box" with context

A new outdoor art project and contest will help the WestOf community newspaper to increase distribution and presence in the West Ashley area.

The weekly newspaper, which runs publisher Andy Brack's Statehouse Report column, has purchased more than 35 refurbished metal, outdoor newspaper vending machines.

The "Outside the Box" contest, with help of chART (Charleston's Outdoor Initiative and Gallery), West Of is looking for 25 to 30 Charleston-based artists to participate turn the "blank canvases" of the newspaper vending machines into creative art. An art show will take place in the shops and along the sidewalks in the Avondale neighborhood in the fall. A panel of local artists and art enthusiasts will select the winning boxes. The artists of the "Best In Show" box will receive a $500 cash prize. There will also be prizes for the runner-up, a "Reader's Choice" winner, and the "Most West Ashley" box.

There will be few restrictions for the artists as long as the art is not offensive and does not cover up the front glass where the paper will be displayed. The coin mechanisms will be removed from the boxes so that the paper will continue to be offered free to the community.

To participate, you need to apply by July 25. To be considered, send contact information, a short artist statement and examples of your work to WestOfArtBox@gmail.com. Learn more.


Thirty Girls
By Susan Minot

Thirty Girls is a novel based on a real-life event: the 1996 abduction of thirty girls from a convent school in Uganda, at the hands of rebel forces who believe their leader is receiving instructions from God. The girls are beaten, deprived of food, forced to march great distances, and otherwise abused. Some of them are taken as wives by rebel soldiers; some bear children. It's a disturbing story, but Minot shows the horror without being gratuitous or overly graphic. In a parallel narrative, Jane, an introspective American journalist, travels to Africa to investigate the kidnapping, becoming involved with a group of expatriates of various nationalities as she navigates a way of life and a world far removed from anything she has ever known.

-- Jim McQueen, John's Island Regional Library

Find this and similar titles from Charleston County Public Library. This item is available as a book, audio book and downloadable eBook. To learn more or to place a hold, visit www.ccpl.org or call 843-805-6930.

An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us a short paragraph review of why you liked a recent visit to a restaurant or a book that you recently read. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com

Charleston Renaissance (part 2 of 2)

The country gradually became Charleston-conscious, and as a result tourists began to come, especially in the spring, to "America's Most Historic City." Tourism was enhanced by improved transportation, not least of which was the opening of the Cooper River Bridge in 1929, which facilitated automobile traffic with the north and provided makers of sweet-grass baskets direct access to passing motorists.

Hotels such as the Francis Marion and the Fort Sumter were built in the early 1920s to accommodate the influx of visitors. Azalea festivals, musicals, and house and garden tours were offered as entertainment but also served as fund-raisers.

Former plantations, such as Magnolia Gardens and Middleton Place, welcomed tourists to their newly restored gardens. Most of the visitors were northerners, and many of the wealthier ones purchased derelict area plantations, which they restored and transformed into hunting preserves.

Among the more notable figures who came to coastal Carolina in the 1930s were Solomon R. Guggenheim, who loaned to the Gibbes Museum of Art his collection of nonobjective painting for its inaugural exhibition; Archer M. and Anna Hyatt Huntington, who acquired various Allston family plantations to form Brookgreen Gardens; and Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Kittredge, who transformed the old rice fields at Dean Hall plantation into Cypress Gardens.

Through words, melodies, pictures, and even a dance step, the idea of Charleston was broadcast across the nation. Although local residents realized that Charleston was undergoing a dramatic revitalization, the phrase "The Charleston Renaissance" did not get widespread usage until the 1980s, although the word "renaissance" occurred occasionally in newspaper accounts. The designation coalesced in 1985 when the Catfish Row Company sponsored a production of Porgy and Bess on the folk opera's fiftieth anniversary and the Gibbes Museum of Art mounted an exhibition, Charleston in the Era of Porgy and Bess.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Martha R. Severens. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Making reading fun

Local artist Marcus Amaker performs some of his spoken word poetry in front of Freedom Schools youth at the Carolina Youth Development Center earlier this month. Freedom Schools is a six-week summer enrichment program coordinated through the nationally-recognized Children's Defense Fund that helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. Photo provided. NOTE: Amaker's "Out of breath" poem was featured earlier this month in Charleston Currents.

Stump us. If you have a picture that you took that you think will stump people, send it along and we'll publish it as a mystery picture. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Make sure to include your name and a description of the photo (in case we're not good enough to guess.)

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© 2008-2014, Statehouse Report LLC. All rights reserved. Charleston Currents is published every Monday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.

Issue 6.39 | Monday, July 21, 2014
Soggy, drying out

FOCUS: Firm's local transition
BRACK: Embrace library vote
: Great places to read
GOOD NEWS: Shark Week, red shoes
HISTORY: Charleston Renaissance
: Charleston RiverDogs
FEEDBACK: Send your comments
REVIEW: Thirty Girls
: Learn local history
: Garner on acting
: This week ... and next

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Learn about local history

The Charleston County Public Library will offer four talks about history impactingCharleston. Take a listen:

Triumphs and Failures of General Ulysses S. Grant: 3 p.m., Aug. 2, Main Library, Charleston

Teenage Servitude and Slavery: The Apprentice System in Early Charleston: 6 p.m., Aug. 12, Main Library auditorium, Charleston

Local History: Sea and Service Stories: Noon, Aug. 16, Poe/Sullivan's Island Branch Library, Sullivan's Island.

Fortifying Charleston during the War of Jenkins' Ear, 1739-1748: 6 p.m., Aug. 27, Main Library, second floor classroom,


On acting

"I'm from the Spencer Tracy school: Be on time, know your words, hit your marks, and tell the truth. I don't have any theories about acting, and I don't think about how to do it, except that an actor shouldn't take himself too seriously, and shouldn't try to make acting something it isn't. Acting is just common sense. It isn't hard if you put yourself aside and just do what the writer wrote."

-- James Garner, who died Saturday at age 86



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(NEW) Author submissions sought: Through Sept. 1. Join a forum for self-published authors and readers, and submit family-friendly content to Steven Schwengel, Main Library, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC, 29401. Submissions must be family-friendly and include the author's name, phone number, email and postal addresses. Authors of approved submissions will be invited to present their works during 4- to 8-minute presentations September 25. This event is not a sales forum, but a literary exchange for authors and readers More: phone 843-805-6943.

Charleston: A Novel: 5 p.m., July 31, Blue Bicycle Books, 420 King Street, Charleston. The shop will hold a book launch party for novelist Margaret Bradham Thornton on her new novel. More.

Be Brave Bunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Aug. 1, Cooper River Room, Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. The Center for Women will host its annual "Be Brave" celebration in honor of Women's Equality month. Online submissions are being taken through June 23 to honor five brave people. More.

Thursday Night Boogies: This new summer dance series is at the Mount Pleasant Pier. Dancers age 21 and older are invited to do dance starting at 6 p.m. on August 14. Learn more.

(NEW) Hitchcock movie marathon: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Aug. 29, St. Andrews Regional Library, West Ashley. The library will offer the best of Alfred Hitchcock in this day-long marathon.


Family movies at Freshfields Villages: 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday, Village Green at Freshfields Village near Kiawah Island. Starlight Cinema is a free outdoor movie series that offers top new releases and family classics. Coming soon: Muppets Most Wanted (July 30).

Yappy hour and more. Charleston County Parks will offer dog-friendly, after-work socials at James Island and Palmetto Islands county parks a dozen times over the summer. At James Island, Yappy Hour will be held starting at 4 p.m. with live music on Aug. 7, Sept. 18 and Oct. 16. At Palmetto Islands, dogs, owners and musicians will appear with food trucks in Pups, Yups and Food Trucks on July 24, Aug. 21, Sept. 25 and Oct. 23. More.

Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.


7/21: Troy: Dolphin's new owner
7/14: Waronsky: Message focus
7/7: Devaney: Winning poster prize
7/1: Dodge: Take 5 campaign

6/16: Pritchard: Anti-cruelty effort
6/9: Wentworth: Palmetto Poem
6/2: Mullins: Play on bishop's murder


7/14: Nearly impregnable
6/9: Prisoners to Charleston
5/12: Change of command
4/14: Charleston capture?
2/10: Attack of the Hunley
1/27/14: Bleak conditions


7/21: Problem with chamber
7/14: On being fair
7/7: Do more on civil rights
7/1: Great trip to Wyoming

6/16: All about chiggers
6/9: Hollywood drama at capitol
6/2: D is for dysfunctional


6/2: It takes a virtual village
5/19: Common IRA traps to avoid
4/7: Medication check-up
3/3: Read your deed
2/3/2014: Driving and being older

12/2: On the Personal Property Memo
11/4: Your time: great gift for seniors
10/7: Let's celebrate aging
9/3: Medicaid and your future
8/5: More on estates, wills
7/1: Estate planning myths
6/3: Pensions for wartime vets
5/6: Revocable Living Trusts
3/4: Resources to help seniors cope
2/4: On life estates
1/7: Next step in health care


7/1: Tax credits, deductions
5/26: Social Security conversation
4/29: Community ag/fisheries
3/24: Let's invest in Charleston
2/24: Getting beyond jitters
1/27/14: Financial independence

12/23: And now there is hope
12/2: The "thanks" of Thanksgiving
10/28: Impact of rising bond market
9/30: What happens when rates rise


7/21: Great reading places
6/16: Picking berries, making jam
5/26: Art and music for kids
4/21: ArtFields for kids
3/17: Spring break ideas in S.C.
2/17: Four great outings for limited times
1/20: Upstate wonders

12/16: More holiday fun
11/18: Winter activities to do
10/14: Four ways to preserve history
9/16: It's harvest time
8/19: Kids giving back

7/15: Childrens' museums
6/17: Interactive adventures
5/20: Birds, bees, butterflies
4/15: Signs of spring abound
3/18: Great local parks
2/18: What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventure


7/7: Amaker: Out of breath
6/9: Wentworth: Path to the Beach

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