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Issue 1.77 | Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 | Enjoy an ice cream cone today

Ears of sweet corn fill a bin at King's Market, a roadside produce stand on Edisto Island. In addition to an array of fresh local vegetables such as squash, eggplant and tomatoes, the market carries specialty condiments, key lime pies and even gourmet treats for dogs. (Photo by Ann Thrash)

:: Time for renovations, but be smart


:: Local designers on "Project Runway"

:: Send us comments on local issues

:: Wines for grilling

:: 526 delays, Preservation Society, soccer


___:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next
___:: REVIEW: Tell us why you like a book
___:: HISTORY: Moving Star Hall
___:: QUOTE: Youngman on love and marriage
___:: BOOKSHELF: Interesting reading
___:: SPOTLIGHT: Meet an underwriter


ABOUT US is a new online twice-weekly publication that offers insightful community comment and good news on events. It cuts through the information clutter to offer insight and news on the best of what's happening locally. More | Reader testimonials


It's a good time to renovate, but be a smart consumer
President, Hallmark Construction
Special to

AUG. 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.

You 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.

In 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.

To 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.

When 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 at hand.

The reasons the cost of labor has gone down are as follows:

  • Banks 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 amounts lowered.

  • There is little to no new construction to employ the tradesmen.

  • People are unsure of the stability of their jobs; therefore, they are choosing not to do any unnecessary work on their homes.

  • Property 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.

  • Housing 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.

A few points for choosing the contractor who's right for you:

  • Reliable contractors will not ask you for "start-up money."

  • Find 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.

Chet Hall, president of Hallmark Construction, is a 1989 graduate of The Citadel. He has been a licensed residential builder since 2005.

Local designers in spotlight on 'Project Runway'

By ANN THRASH, editor

AUG. 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.


That's because Charleston is the only city in the country other than New York City to land two fashion designers in the upcoming season of "Project 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.

If 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.


The 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.

If 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.

Whitfield, 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 work space.


Gehlhausen, 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.

Although 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 the outcome.

To 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.

Ann Thrash, editorof, can be reached at:

Send us your comments on local issues

Have a comment or want to vent? If you have something to say about leadership in South Carolina, the state of baseball today, good barbecue or something about your community's government, drop us a line to: Please send no more than 200 words and include contact information (phone number, hometown) so we can get in touch with you.

Maybank Industries

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Maybank Industries, LLC of Charleston, SC. With broad experience in commercial and government operations, Maybank Industries applies deep-rooted commitment to teamwork, reliability and personal service to provide innovative business solutions for project development, information technology, logistics, vessel design, shipping agency services and marine terminal operations, both locally and internationally. Maybank Industries applies a powerful blend of professional expertise to research, analyze and develop tailored solutions with thorough plans of action, combining a heavy dose of common sense to solve today's needs that can adapt to changing or evolving requirements. More: Maybank Industries and Maybank Systems.

Buxton wins contest to identify mystery photo

Congratulations to local attorney Jim Buxton for correctly identifying the location of the photograph in Monday's edition of 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.

Motorists advised about West Ashley traffic delays

Road 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 through October.

Charleston 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.

Construction is scheduled to begin on Aug. 16 and will continue through Oct. 1; the completion date is dependent on the weather.

The 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.

The project is funded by the Charleston County Transportation Committee (CTC) and will be administered by the Charleston County Transportation Development Office.

Tickets on sale for Preservation Society's big fundraiser

The Preservation 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.

The 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 Society tours.

Tickets 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 only.

Local soccer club hosting prestigious Belgian players

The 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.

The 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 barefoot.

Nineteen 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. 25.

JMG 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.

"To 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 Ayoub.

What's your favorite?

HAVE A REVIEW? 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.

Moving Star Hall

Located 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 in. … If you want to speak … you got the opportunity - we give it to you."

Moving Star Hall

Following 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.

As 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 by permission.)


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Wines for grill fare


We love reader-submitted lists here at, 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."

  • Sauvignon Blanc: This 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, California.

  • Brut Rosé: 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, France.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon blends: 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 Valley.

  • Chianti Classico: Striking 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.

  • Pinot 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.

On love and marriage


"I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back."

-- Comedian Henny Youngman (1906 - 1998)


Darius 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 here.

"The 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 here.


DeMint talks: 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 what’s going on in Washington. Cost: $12.50 (to cover breakfast). RSVP by Aug. 10 to Stacey Lindbergh.

Going 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 info online.

(NEW) Health 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 478-3911.

Buy 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.

RiverDogs 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 or 577-DOGS.

Women 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, and Daily Grommet. Lunch and networking opportunities included. Registration (required): $20 (includes lunch). More info/registration.

Surf 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.

(NEW) Chamber 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.

Wine + 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.

Wednesdays 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 or 884-8517.


In this section, we offer a list of good reads that you might want to consider reading:

  • A Short History of a Small Place, T.R. Pearson
  • The Book of Marie, Terry Kay
  • Charleston Jazz, Jack McCray
  • I'll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Comebacks, Putdowns, and Ripostes, Chris Lamb (List)
  • Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, Merle Miller

  • Suggest a book to us


11/5: McCutcheon: Work gap
Ohl: On carpooling
Wiedman: Women at Gibbes
10/26: Matouchev: Bear markets
Conover: BarCamp buzz
Wilson: Symphony update
Bender: Special Olympics
Baron: Breast Center
Ginn: Growing prosperity
Buffum: Waterkeeping
Personal branding
Acker: Designer fashion
Spencer: Art galleries
Riley, Moryl: MOJA
Gaither: Green Room
Chesson: Museum Mile
Barnette: Chas. Ballet
Deaton: Thrive Prize


11/5: Improving turnout
10/29: Celebrating a year
10/22: Good, bad signs
10/15: Bob's new food show
10/8: Robot ice cream
10/5: Costumes, snarks
Must-see TV
9/17: Fall leaves
Cold comfort, more
Being a fan
Good, bad, spineless
Locals on Runway
Cookie contest
Vote on car tags
True confessions
New way of tithing?
Lookout for manatees


11/2: Boeing highlights needs
No place for prejudice
Have fun at Halloween
Renovated Gaillard?
10/1: Napa wine trip
9/28: Anti-crime measures
9/21: Caw Caw park
Debris policy
Mystery solved
This and that
SC's treasures
8/17: RIP to old clunker
8/10: Lots to squeeze in
8/3: On flying Delta
7/27: Conspiracy theories
7/20: Protect carriage animals
7/13: Economic thaw here?


11/5: Weather watching
5 cooking classes
Best lists of year
Oyster recycling
Howl-o-ween fun
Giving blood
Top ratings
Major league
Book sale
Citadel football
Taste of Charleston
Feeding the need
History for sale
Shrimp baiting
Day of Caring
Free legal clinics

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