It's a good
time to renovate, but be a smart consumer
By CHET HALL
President, Hallmark Construction
Special to CharlestonCurrents.com
13, 2009 -- Have you considered doing a renovation or addition to
your home? Now may be an excellent time. In this economic environment,
contractors are getting very competitive on their pricing. The competition
is because of the lack of projects available. It's the simple law
of supply and demand. The current demand for construction work is
low, thereby driving the price down to some of the lowest levels
we've seen in years.
can currently hire quality contractors to do even small projects
on your home. We've all heard the nightmare stories of someone giving
a "contractor" a deposit and then never seeing them again.
If that person was truly a licensed contractor, then you would have
had a means of getting your money back. Unfortunately, many "handymen"
pose as contractors when in fact they don't have a contractor's
license. This leaves you with little recourse in the event that
anything goes wrong on your project.
the past, one would hear comments such as: "We couldn't get
a contractor to show up when we set an appointment." Now the
problem is sorting through all of the people, both contractors and
handymen, offering to do work on your home. Working with licensed
contractors is the only way to go.
verify that you are working with a licensed contractor go to this
Web site and then check either residential builders or commercial
contractors to see if the person you're dealing with is licensed
in the state of South Carolina.
getting estimates, be sure to check the referrals, financial status
and type of jobs your contractor is accustomed to performing. Pick
someone who you feel you can work with. A contractor should be able
to sit down with you and give you a solid estimate of what the project
entails. If he has done his job, he will identify any potential
overruns that you might incur before the project ever starts. This
ensures that you have budgeted enough money to complete the project
reasons the cost of labor has gone down are as follows:
have been very limited with the amount of money they have been
willing to loan. In fact, I've seen cases where people who have
HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) have seen their original
is little to no new construction to employ the tradesmen.
are unsure of the stability of their jobs; therefore, they are
choosing not to do any unnecessary work on their homes.
values have gone down, even here in Charleston, so people who
can financially qualify for HELOCs are finding that they have
little if any equity in their home.
starts are low in South Carolina. The contractors who have been
working for all of the tract builders are trying to fill their
voids in the remodeling area now.
few points for choosing the contractor who's right for you:
Reliable contractors will not ask you for "start-up money."
out the financial status of your contractor. Asking for a list
of his trade accounts and placing a few calls to see if he is
in good standing with his suppliers can accomplish this.
Hall, president of
Hallmark Construction, is a 1989 graduate of The Citadel. He
has been a licensed residential builder since 2005.
designers in spotlight on 'Project Runway'
ANN THRASH, editor
13, 2009 -- When you think of the things Charleston is known for
nationally, what comes to mind? I think of our history, hospitality,
great restaurants, culture and beautiful landscapes. Most people
here in the Lowcountry - and around the nation, for that matter
-- would probably agree on some or all of those attractions. But
beginning next week, we'll all need to add something else to the
list of what Charleston is known for: Fashion.
because Charleston is the only city in the country other than New
York City to land two fashion designers in the upcoming season of
Runway," a mega-hit reality competition show hosted by
supermodel Heidi Klum. The new season, which was filmed in Los Angeles
late last year, premieres at 10 p.m. Aug. 20 on Lifetime (Comcast
Cable Channel 29). The show gets thousands of applications from
designers who think they have what it takes to be the next big name
in haute couture, so it's pretty neat that two women who call Charleston
their home base have made the cut and will be on the show.
you're not familiar with "Project Runway," here's how
it works: The show pits 16 fashion designers against each other
in weekly challenges, with a designer (sometimes two) eliminated
each week by a panel of fashion-expert judges and celebrity-guest
fashionistas -- for example, Christina Aguilera, Eva Longoria Parker,
and Lindsay Lohan. Some of the design challenges in seasons past
have included designing a garment completely out of things from
a grocery store, making an outfit out of spare automotive parts
(OK, so real-world fashion it ain't) or taking photographs of flowers
at a botanical garden and creating an evening dress based on one
of the photos.
last designer standing sews up a prize of $100,000 to start his
or her own fashion line, as well as a few other goodies such as
a trip to Paris.
you tune in to the show next Thursday, the two locals to watch for
are 24-year-old Carol Hannah Whitfield and 45-year-old Gordana Gehlhausen.
originally from Ohio, is among the youngest designers on the series.
She describes her fashion style as "fun, feminine, a little
bit funky," and at the show's Web site, she offers a video
tour of a Sullivan's Island house that she shared with a bunch of
girlfriends, as well as a storage unit that serves as sort of a
formerly from Yugoslavia, gives a tour of her home and introduces
her two teenage children in her video. She owns a local boutique,
Goga, at 377 King St. downtown. Online sites say she recently moved
to Southern California to open a shop in San Diego. Still, the Lifetime
Web site lists Charleston as her hometown.
the shows won't begin airing until next week, the filming for this
season essentially concluded in mid-October with three finalists
remaining. Those three had several months to put together a fashion
collection that was shown at New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park
on Feb. 20. The finalists weren't identified by name or seen on
stage at Fashion Week, in order to keep viewers in the dark about
learn more about the designers and see their videos and portfolios,
visit this Web
site. Good luck, ladies, and congratulations for helping put
Charleston on the fashion map.
Thrash, editorof CharlestonCurrents.com, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Maybank Industries applies a powerful blend of professional expertise
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Industries and Maybank
wins contest to identify mystery photo
to local attorney Jim Buxton for correctly identifying the location
of the photograph in Monday's edition of CharlestonCurrents.com.
The photo was a close-up of an architectural detail on top of the
Gibbes Museum of Art's dome. Jim won tickets to one of this week's
Charleston RiverDogs games. Thanks to everyone who entered, and
a special thank you to Marla Loftus, director of communications
at the Gibbes, and photographer Julia Lynn for that brain-teaser
of a photo.
advised about West Ashley traffic delays
construction on a project to improve the I-526 and S.C. Highway
7 (Sam Rittenburg Boulevard) exit west of the Ashley is likely to
cause nighttime traffic delays beginning this weekend and continuing
County officials say drivers could experience intermittent delays
from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. along I-526 West at the S.C. 7 intersection
because lane closures are needed throughout the project. Some early
preparation work that does not involve lane closures will take place
during the day.
is scheduled to begin on Aug. 16 and will continue through Oct.
1; the completion date is dependent on the weather.
road improvement project consists of building an additional turn
lane at I-526 West onto S.C. 7 to access U.S. 17 South. After the
turn lane is constructed, the intersection will be reconfigured
to include a dedicated left-turn lane, a combination through and
left-turn lane, a dedicated through lane and a dedicated right-turn
lane. In addition, new asphalt surface will be placed across all
four lanes for approximately 800 feet.
project is funded by the Charleston County Transportation Committee
(CTC) and will be administered by the Charleston County Transportation
on sale for Preservation Society's big fundraiser
Society of Charleston's 33rd Annual Fall Tours of Homes and
Gardens are scheduled for Sept. 24 through Oct. 25, and tickets
for the event are now on sale. The tours are the society's foremost
annual fundraising and educational opportunity.
tours will highlight American architecture from the early Georgian
period into the 20th century, with stops in private homes, churches,
public buildings and gardens. Most of the properties on tour are
privately owned and are open to the public exclusively for the Preservation
are $45 per person for each individual tour. A special weekend rate
of $120 per person is available; that rate includes Thursday/Friday/Saturday
tours or Friday/Saturday/Sunday evening tours of the same weekend
soccer club hosting prestigious Belgian players
prestigious Jean-Marc Guillou (JMG) Belgian youth soccer academy
recently began a three-week long cultural and sporting exchange
with the Mount
Pleasant Soccer Club (MPSC). The academy is the first top-flight
European soccer academy to visit Mount Pleasant, and this is the
academy's first appearance in America.
JMG Academy is a full-time, tuition-free soccer school for aspiring
professionals. It aims for technical perfection and tries to foster
young players' character development as well. The academy's training
methods include some distinctive practices, such as training players
players ages of 10-14 are in Mount Pleasant with the academy, as
well as two coaches. The group arrived from Belgium on Aug. 3 and
began practice with MPSC on Aug. 4, and their schedule is packed
with practices, games, cultural activities and more through Aug.
has academies in Africa, Asia and Europe, with one in approximately
3,000 applicants being accepted for the Belgian academy. The academy's
players train for 20 hours per week, 10 months per year for six
years. The Belgian youth players visiting Mount Pleasant have just
completed their first year of the program.
have an organization such as JMG traveling from Europe to Mount
Pleasant says a lot about the worldwide appeal of sports, especially
soccer, and how it is truly a common language for children of all
ages," said Mount Pleasant Recreation Department Director Ken
If you have a review of a book, movie, restaurant or local arts
endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to editor Ann
Thrash. Make sure to include your name and full contact information.
on Johns Island in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Moving Star Hall
provides an example of an antebellum "praise house" that
served the slave community, and later the freed people, as a center
of social and cultural life. "The Hall," as the people
of Johns Island referred to it, featured intense, all-night "prayings"
in an expressive and egalitarian worship style. John Smalls, a longtime
member of the Hall, told interviewers in the 1960s, "We don't
charge nothing to come in Moving Star Hall
whether you are
white, whether you are dark like myself, or different color, come
If you want to speak
you got the opportunity -
we give it to you."
emancipation, the Hall served as the headquarters of the Moving
Star Society, a fraternal order whose services included both a burial
and a "tend the sick" society. Representing the ability
of slaves and freed people to create cultural institutions under
the most oppressive of conditions, Moving Star Hall continued to
serve the people of Johns Island as a place of worship and a community
center into the 1960s.
of 2001, Moving Star Hall provided a place of worship for an African
American Pentecostal Church. This new congregation had not broken
completely with older practices of worship at the Hall, as evidenced
by the intermingling of modern gospel music and elements of the
"ring shout" tradition in their worship. The folkways
of the people of Johns Island were also kept alive by the Moving
Star Hall Singers, who have shared the music of the Hall, stories
of lowcountry life, and African folktales at the Charleston Spoleto
Festival and the national festival of Afro-American Arts in Atlanta.
Excerpted from the entry by W. Scott Poole. To
read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina,
check out The
South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used
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We love reader-submitted
lists here at CharlestonCurrents.com, and here's one from Lori Narlock,
who visited the Lowcountry recently and offered to share some of
her wine knowledge with us. "After visiting Charleston for
the awesome Wine & Food Festival in March, I have not been able
to stop thinking about what a charming town Charleston is and how
wonderful it must be to live there. Since I can't be there again
soon, I thought I could at least offer a taste of the wine country,
where I live, for all the wonderful Charlestonians I met with a
list of five wines to pair with grilled dishes."
lively, zesty white wine is a natural match for Portobello burgers
with a goat cheese spread. Try Mount Nelson from Marlborough,
New Zealand, or Silverado Vineyards Miller Ranch from Napa Valley,
All fruit and effervescence, this wine sings for something a little
spicy or salty, like pork loin marinated in soy sauce, sesame
oil and fresh garlic, or chicken thighs with a spice rub. Try
Schramsberg Vineyards from Napa Valley or Delamotte from Champagne,
Reminiscent of sun-warmed blackberries, a fruit-forward red blend
spans the range from ribs with a not-too-sweet sauce to a grilled
corn and red bell pepper salad. Try Girard Artistry from Napa
a nice balance between fruit flavors, tannins and acid, this Italian
delight made with Sangiovese is made for a grilled T-bone adorned
with salt, pepper and a spritz or fresh lemon. Try Castello di
Volpaia from Tuscany, Italy.
Noir: Delicate yet satisfying, a fruity pinot noir is ideal
for salmon. Make the fish easy to grill by spreading a light coat
of mayonnaise mixed with lemon zest, salt and pepper over the
entire piece of salmon. Cook over medium-low heat. Try Domaine
Faiveley Bourgogne Rouge.
love and marriage
my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back."
Henny Youngman (1906 - 1998)
Rucker Homegrown Concert: 7 p.m. Aug. 13, Family Circle
Tennis Center, Daniel Island. Rucker will offer a special concert
to help bring in donations of school supplies for needy local students.
Country music star Dierks Bentley will be among the special guests.
Fans are urged to bring school supplies to the concert to donate.
Tickets: $40 for floor or first-tier reserved seats; $32 for reserved
second-tier seats; $25 general admission third-tier seats. To purchase:
Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone (1-800-745-3000), local Publix outlets,
Family Circle Tennis Center ticket office, or online
Tryal of Major Stede Bonnet": 4:30 p.m. Saturdays through
Sept. 26, Old Powder Magazine, 79 Cumberland St., downtown.
A one-of-a-kind interactive theatrical event that brings to life
the story of "gentleman pirate" Stede Bonnet, who plied
his trade in the waters off Charleston in the early 1700s. The 40-minute
show was written and is performed by Rodney Lee Rogers of PURE Theatre.
Cost: $8 and $12. Tickets/info: 534-6169 or online
ONGOING AND SOON
7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Aug. 17, Daniel Island Club, Daniel Island.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., will speak at a meeting of the Daniel
Island Neighborhood Association that is open to the public. Topics
will include economic development and jobs in South Carolina, as
well an update on whats going on in Washington. Cost: $12.50
(to cover breakfast). RSVP by Aug. 10 to Stacey
Green for the Girls II: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20,
Halls Chophouse, 434 King St. Green Drinks Charleston, Carolina's
Eco-Unit, and Halls Chophouse are throwing a second cocktail hour
to help fund some simple energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits
to the historic building downtown that houses the Center for Women.
Donation of $10 (cash or check at door) includes food samples. There
will be a cash bar. More
Care Films, Forum: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20, North Charleston
Picture House, 1080 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston. The Greater
Park Circle Film Society will offer a forum on health care reform
in conjunction with the premiere of two independent films, a documentary
called "Charleston Health Care Stories" and a musical
comedy called "Damaged Care." Following the films, panelists
will react to the movies and discuss issues related to health care
reform. Tickets: $2 film society members; $5 nonmembers, available
at the box office starting at 6:45 p.m. the night of the event.
Seating is limited, and a standing-room-only crowd is expected.
More info: Online
or Burn Book Sale: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 22, Village
Square Shopping Center, 1650 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (formerly The
Map Room); sneak preview ($10-per-person admission) from 2 p.m.
to 6 p.m. Aug. 21. Event to benefit Trident Literacy Association.
Wide variety of books, CDs, DVDs and other electronic media will
be priced for quick sale; only cash or check will be accepted. Book
donations will be accepted at the sale site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
daily Aug. 17 to Aug. 20, or books can be dropped off at any Trident
Literacy location. More
info online or 747-2223.
Cow Bingo: 6 p.m. Aug. 22, Joe Riley Stadium. The Charleston
RiverDogs' inaugural Cow Bingo contest will give participants a
chance to win $5,000. The baseball field will be marked off as a
grid with 10-foot-squares. Fans can purchase a square for $25, and
if a cow "drops a chip" in a purchased square, that square's
owner will win the money. There will also be line-dancing, hillbilly
horseshoes, "moo'shine," "Ye Haw" contests,
food, a dunk tank and more. The $25 fee for a square also includes
two tickets to the event. Regular event tickets (square not included)
are $5 (free to ages 12 and under). Tickets/more info: Online
in IT: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 27, Tate Center,
College of Charleston, Room 207 and Gallery. The forum will explore
the challenges and opportunities for women in the IT industry with
a panel of local industry leaders and educators. An MIT Enterprise
Forum video from Technology Review's EmTech08 Conference will be
shown, featuring successful female entrepreneurs in the industry
with companies such as ZipCar, GoLoco, Ziggs.com and Daily Grommet.
Lunch and networking opportunities included. Registration (required):
$20 (includes lunch). More
Seining at Sullivan's: 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28, Station
30, Sullivan's Island. The Station 30 area on Sullivan's Island
area has been a seining hotspot for generations. Join the experts
from Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission to catch and
discover a variety of marine critters at the first CCPRC seining
program on Sullivan's Island. A registered and paid chaperone is
required for participants ages 15 and under, and pre-registration
is required. Open to ages 6 and up. Cost: $7 Charleston County residents,
$9 nonresidents. Registration/more
info, or 795-4FUN.
Grassroots Meeting: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1, Charleston
Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2750 Speissegger Drive, Suite 100, North
Charleston. The chamber will join the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and
other area chambers in preparing for the 2010 legislative session
with the annual Charleston Grassroots Regional Meeting, an open-forum
session that's the first step in creating the 2010 Competitiveness
Agenda and the business community's annual list of legislative priorities.
Free. RSVPs/more info: Julie
Scott by email or 803-255-2628.
+ Food Launch Party: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3,
Founders Hall, Charles Towne Landing, 1500 Old Towne Road. Barbecue
and beverages will be available, and the latest news about next
year's BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, including the lineup
of chefs and authors, will be announced. Entertainment by the Blue
Plantation Band. Tickets: $10 per person cash or check at the door,
with proceeds benefiting the festival's charitable efforts. Reserve
tickets by Aug. 31 by e-mailing
or calling 727-9998, ext. 4.
on the Waterfront: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through mid-October,
Pier Plaza at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Free concerts
for the community. Beverages available for purchase at pier shop.
Bring a chair or use the benches and tables at the site. Upcoming
performers include Nick Collins, acoustic guitar, Aug. 12, and Jeff
Norwood, Southern Blues revivalist, Aug. 19. More info: Online
In this section,
we offer a list of good reads that you might want to consider reading:
Short History of a Small Place, T.R. Pearson
Book of Marie, Terry Kay
Jazz, Jack McCray
Be Sober in the Morning: Great Comebacks, Putdowns, and Ripostes,
Chris Lamb (List)
Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, Merle Miller
a book to us
Women at Gibbes
new food show
on car tags
way of tithing?
place for prejudice
fun at Halloween
to old clunker
to squeeze in
lists of year