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Issue 2.03 | Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 | Fall finally in the air

TURN ON THE LIGHTS: It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the Holiday Festival of Lights first brightened the Lowcountry, but that's the anniversary the event will celebrate this year. Friday is opening night for the festival, which features more than 2 million lights in almost 600 displays at James Island County Park. See The List for more. (Charleston County PRC photo.)

:: Holiday "Buy Local" week grows


:: On South Carolina's hidden gems

:: Preserve areas like West Ashley

:: Beyond the lights

:: Winning idea, Harvest Fare, Northbridge


___:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next

___:: REVIEW: Send us a review

___:: HISTORY: National Beta Club

___:: QUOTE: Steinbeck on sleeping on it

___:: 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


Holiday 'Buy Local' week adds new events, opportunities
Executive Director, Lowcountry Local First
Special to

NOV. 9, 2009 -- Across America we are seeing the effects of an economy that has become embedded in Wall Street while sacrificing our Main Streets, leaving both large corporations and mom-and-pops wondering what the future holds.


I became a part of Lowcountry Local First because it spoke to me on a personal level - first as a business owner not willing to outsource my product to China or sell to online retailers, but also as someone with a culinary background and an appreciation for what is grown close to home and those who farm our land.

When, after I served on the original steering committee for LLF, the opportunity to lead the organization was presented to me, I could not say no, and spent the first year investing sweat equity into an organization that I hope is making a difference in our community. We hope to see that return to Main Street and family farms as we reinvest in our own communities.

We recently launched the 10 Percent Shift this past summer, which encourages all business owners, government agencies, and community members to shift at least 10% of their annual budget from nonlocal businesses to local-independents. LLF would like to see those shopping during the holidays to go beyond the 10 Percent Shift in support of local-independents. Many of these businesses rely on the holidays for the bulk of their sales, and without the support of the community they may not be here for another holiday shopping season.

Last year I took it upon myself as a personal challenge to do all my holiday shopping with local businesses. The response that I received from these retailers when telling them of my endeavor was one of gratitude and appreciation for the extra effort it sometimes takes. It was all worth it, though, when I saw the quality of service and products that I received!

Not surprisingly, this year the Department of Commerce reported that December 2008 retail sales overall were down a record 9.8 percent over December of 2007, but a survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that cities with active "Buy Local" campaigns reported much stronger holiday sales than those in cites without such campaigns. Independent retailers in these cities reported an average drop in sales of 3.2 percent, compared to a steeper decline of 5.6 percent for those cities without an active Buy Local initiative.

Once again, as part of our ongoing efforts to heighten community awareness of the importance of supporting those businesses that are owned and headquartered within our community, Lowcountry Local First will be celebrating our third annual "Buy Local Week" Nov. 30 through Dec. 6. As this grassroots movement grows, so has our week of events, which highlights local retail, restaurants, artists and nonprofits with a variety of happenings throughout the week.

I invite you to fully take part in what is offered during this week and support those businesses and organizations that support LLF and other nonprofits in our community. Some of the fun happenings during Buy Local Week are "Eat Local Night"; an Independent Movie Night and after-party at the Hippodrome; the Alternative Giving Fair; Pure Theater's production of "It's a Wonderful Life"; our Holiday Stroll, which will take place on the peninsula, in Avondale and in Mount Pleasant; and our final event of the week, the Buy Local, Be Local Bash at The Landing on Shem Creek.

Being local was never so much fun! See for more details or to join Lowcountry Local First.

Jamee Haley is executive director of Lowcountry Local First.

Hidden gems flourish across Palmetto State

By ANDY BRACK, publisher

NOV. 9, 2009 - Our state, known for its "smiling faces, beautiful places," has countless hidden gems - restaurants, parks, communities that shine for their uniqueness and special offerings.


We all have a special place that we value, whether it's a waterfall, a mountain walk, a blackwater river, a country store, a prime fishing hole or a tucked-away corner of a beach. Over the last week, we've asked people from across South Carolina to share their hidden gem. Here are some of the best:

Stumphouse Tunnel, Walhalla. State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, suggests a trip to this uncompleted tunnel started during the Civil War. Cool in the steamy summers, it reportedly is where Clemson's famous blue cheese was housed in the early days. "It's very dark, wet and creepy in the back," Bryant says - just the thing for a kid around Halloween time. More.

Williamsburg County. S.C. Coastal Conservation League leader Dana Beach says a great place to check out is this rural, poor county that is abundant with natural resources - "the Black River, Black Mingo Creek, beautiful longleaf pine forests and small towns without the clutter of development." And if you're hungry, stop by Brown's to get some of the best barbecue around. More.

Chesterfield County. Wendy Wagner at Chesterfield General Hospital writes, "Enjoy the peace and beauty of nature in Sandhills Wildlife Refuge in an area with the best air and water quality around - Chesterfield." More.

Beautiful Charleston view. Former 1974 gubernatorial candidate Pug Ravenel of Charleston recommends a visit to the top floor restaurant on the round Holiday Inn on the Ashley River in Charleston because it has "the best panoramic view in South Carolina - marshes, Ravenel Bridge, the Citadel, Fort Sumter, downtown old houses and the Atlantic Ocean."

Some of the birds spotted at Caw Caw Interpretive Center near Ravenel.

Willington. Charleston politico Phil Noble says a must-visit is to the small McCormick town of Willington, which is rebranding itself as a destination for book-lovers to buy books. "Willington is truly an inspiration," he says. "It was once a thriving little town that nearly died and is now coming back to life. And they are doing it in a unique and creative way that can show countless other struggling communities - in South Carolina and across the country - what can be done with bold leadership, a sense of a caring community….and just plain hard work. They are true heroes."

Orangeburg restaurant. S.C. Chamber of Commerce President Otis Rawl couldn't say enough about the Four Moons Restaurant and says that some of his well-traveled friends rate it as one of the top dining spots in the world. "The menu and wine selection is second to none. The atmosphere is delightful. The quality and the variety of the food is the experience."

Belton eatery. Not to be outdone is Grits and Groceries, a Belton restaurant that is a favorite of GOP gubernatorial candidate Gresham Barrett. "Grits and Groceries offers a taste of New Orleans right here in rural South Carolina. Heidi and Joe [the owners] always live up to their motto of 'real food, done real good.'"

Hitchcock Woods, Aiken. Steve Hale says this 2,000-acre preserve in Aiken is "a true treasure and people in Aiken would riot if someone wanted to disturb it." More.

Conway. Allen Stalvey of the S.C. Hospital Association recommends his hometown and its "small streets, beautiful old homes, large oak trees, a nice riverfront area near the beach." More.

The Joe. Charleston RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols says one of the nicest, soothing spots in Charleston is the back railing near the marsh during sunset at Charleston's Joseph Riley Stadium.

Glencairn Garden, Rock Hill. Marketing coordinator Laurie Helms says the renovated 11-acre garden is a jewel in the heart of Rock Hill: "No matter who visits, no matter the time of year, Glencairn Garden leaves guests with the strong imprint of the beauty and history that live within its flower-filled borders." More.

And one of my hidden gems? Caw Caw Interpretive Center near Ravenel. This Charleston County park is a wonder of calming marsh vistas and trails. Wildlife is abundant. On recent visits, my daughters thrilled to the swooping flight of a great blue heron, jumping mullet and baby foot-long alligators within a few feet of their 8-foot mother.

If you have a hidden gem to share, send an email to:

Andy Brack is publisher of

Make historic preservation a priority in suburbs

To the editor:

Loved the photo of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad trestle over the Ashley River in (the Nov. 5) issue. It highlights a serious problem that needs to be addressed - historic preservation in the suburbs of Charleston.

The construction of this bridge changed the course of history for West Ashley. Before it was constructed in 1880, the main line for the Charleston and Savannah line followed the path of the West Ashley Greenway from Johns Island Station to Croghan, the site of Porter-Gaud School. The line opened in the fall of 1860. Charlestonians from downtown would take the ferry across the Ashley to the depot.

After the construction of this trestle in 1880, the line from Johns Island Station to Croghan became only a spur line which served many truck farms along the route. The only remaining piece of West Ashley's railroad history remaining today is the former shed at Dupont Crossing at the intersection of Savannah Highway and Wappoo Road. It has been more recently known as Limehouse Produce. This property is in grave danger of demolition and has no protection from local government.

-- Charlie Smith, Charleston, SC

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.


The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Horne/Guest, a local employee benefits consulting firm that's home to Charleston's best workforce engineers. Horne/Guest is poised to fill this demand by offering greater flexibility, service and expertise. Innovative employee benefit plan design ideas, state-of-the-art employee benefit plan communication techniques and up-to-date compliance information is what makes us unique. Horne/Guest is sensitive to every opportunity in which we can help our clients improve their employee benefit plans. To learn more about Horne/Guest and its Applied Wisdom Advantage™ , visit the company online at:

'Storm Stud' wins grand prize for Hay in New Ideas SC contest

Charleston's Henry Muhler Hay won the 2009 New Ideas SC Contest with his patent-pending integral attachment system for windows and exterior doors called the Storm Stud. The results of the contest, which drew more than 300 entries from 28 counties in the state, were announced recently at the Small Business Innovation Summit in Charleston. Entries were judged on the idea's viability, innovation/vision and profit/revenue potential.

The Storm Stud system is designed to offer an affordable solution for hurricane or wind protection of windows and doors that starts with a simple addition to the frame during construction of the window or door. Once it is in place, the homeowner has a secure place to support whatever type of protection he wants to install.

As grand prize winner, Hay, who owns The Muhler Company, will receive $5,000 in seed money for his idea, a scholarship to a FastTrac entrepreneurial training program and a "dream team" of mentors for a year to help him cultivate his idea.

Five first place prizes were also awarded in the categories of Bio-Science, Software/Information Technology, Engineering, Environmental Sustainability and the Wild Card. Each winner will receive $2,500 and a scholarship to FastTrac. There were also five $1,000 honorable mention prizes distributed in each category.

Hay was the category winner in Engineering. Other local category winners were Pearce Gilbert of Charleston, who won the Environmental Sustainability category with a household glass grinder that will convert glass containers into sand that can be recycled in yards or more conveniently delivered to a recycling facility; Rusty Ashby of North Charleston, who won honorable mention in that category for a machine that compacts yard waste and other biomass products into a fire log; and Brian Bowers of Charleston, who won the Wild Card category with the "KEB-Lock" or "Keyless Entry Bike Lock," an automatic lock/unlock mechanism (point and press) for bikes.

Harvest Fare at farmers market to feature local chefs

The second annual Charleston Farmers Market Harvest Fare, which spotlights local chefs making delicious use of seasonal produce from local farmers, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Charleston Farmers Market on Marion Square. The demonstrations are free and open to the public.

The schedule of chefs and demos is: 9:30 a.m., "MELT Down," with market vendor and MELT Chef Nathan Albertson; 10:30 a.m., "From Farm to Plate," with Craig Diehl, executive chef at Cypress Restaurant, using Fields Farms organic produce; 11:30 a.m., "Organic Table," with Mike Lata, executive chef of FIG, joining forces with organic herb vendor Lee Burbage to honor the Southern tradition of growing organically; and 12:30 p.m., "Swamp Fox Dessert Treat," with chef Ryan Kacenjar preparing a sweet treat for the fall.

"The Harvest Fare is a wonderful way to celebrate the delicious produce found here in the Lowcountry and experiment with the many tasty ways we can mix the flavors," says Ellen Dressler Moryl, director of City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs. "We are glad to showcase these highly creative local chefs who offer not only their time, but share their tricks of the trade - it's a real treat!"

Teens team up with parks pros to spruce up Northbridge

The city of Charleston's Department of Parks pitched in with a group of young volunteers on Saturday to spruce up the Northbridge area after a local student offered to help spearhead the project.

Miranda Carruth, a local high school student, recently approached Charleston City Council member Aubry Alexander to propose a beautification project for the area directly off the North Bridge when entering the West Ashley area. Carruth also offered to gather volunteers to help with the project. Alexander coordinated the project with the Parks Department.

Everyone teamed up last weekend, with the city's Department of Parks planting five crape myrtles on Friday and youth volunteers planting 80 nandinas and salvias, as well as mulching, on Saturday.

The Department of Parks was responsible for the design of the project and worked with the S.C. Department of Transportation for the encroachment permit. Several local businesses made donations to the effort: the Northbridge Piggly Wiggly donated $500; West Ashley Home Depot donated the nandinas; Kapstone Paper donated the mulch; and Charleston County donated the compost.

Tell your view to our readers

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.

National Beta Club

The National Beta Club was founded January 8, 1934, at Landrum High School by Dr. John West Harris, faculty member at Wofford College. Reared on a farm and aware of the privations of his day, Harris worked to develop youth for effective leadership and achievement. His high standards and goals were fashioned after Phi Beta Kappa and the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. He knew achievers made A and B grades, and subsequently chose Beta (or B) for the organization's name. He asked principals and superintendents for permission to present his plan to local literary societies and sponsors.

The Landrum High School Literary Society (fifteen members) and sponsor Helen Prince were the first to apply for membership. Before the school year ended, eight other literary societies had become Beta Clubs. By the end of the following year there were seventy-five chapters in four states.

National dues are paid by members, and an endowed foundation supports the organization and its programs. The Student Loan Program assisted fifteen hundred worthy students before it became a Scholarship Program, supported by many national corporations and philanthropists.

Annual assemblies are held for members and sponsors at the state level, and delegates are elected to an International Convention. Each member receives a membership pin and a certificate, subscription to the Beta Club Journal, subscription to Beta Web network, a membership card, and a diploma seal for graduating seniors. Junior Beta Clubs began in junior high schools in 1961.

As of 2005, the National Beta Club, headquartered in Spartanburg, had more than 417,000 members in the United States, the Bahamas, Germany, Guam, Puerto Rico, Russia, and the Virgin Islands. Among the nearly five million former members are Erika Dunlap, Miss America 2004; NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme; former president Bill Clinton; the television journalist Diane Sawyer; and Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity.

- Excerpted from the entry by James Walton Lawrence Sr. 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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Beyond the lights

When you think of the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park, the three-mile drive through the fabulous light displays is the first thing that comes to mind. But there are plenty of ways to enjoy the show on foot. This year, park the car and take in these five additional attractions at the festival. Go to this Web page for hours, prices and more.

50-Ton Sand Sculpture: Damon Farmer of Shadetree Studio always has something special up his sleeve - and some sand in his shoes - as he creates a seasonal masterpiece from 50 tons of sand.

Carousel Rides: Let the kids take a spin on a traditional, 18-animal merry-go-round that always draws a crowd.

Holiday Train Rides: Head to the train depot at Santa's Village for a ride through the Enchanted Forest and an up-close look at the light displays.

Giant Greeting Cards: Created by local school groups, these 4-foot-by-8-foot oversized holiday postcards are displayed at Winter Wonderland. Check out who won the blue ribbons this year.

Photos with Santa: You'll have to wait until Nov. 25 for Santa to be able to break free from the North Pole and sit down for photos at the park, but beginning that night, he'll be on hand every evening through Dec. 23.

On sleeping on it


"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it."

- John Steinbeck, American writer (1902 - 1968)


(NEW) Maximizing Connections: 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Nov. 11, Virginia College, 6185 Rivers Ave, North Charleston. The Charleston Metro Chamber's North Area Business Council will sponsor the meeting, which features Margaret Seidler, author of "Power Surge: A Conduit for Enlightened Leadership." Participants will learn high-energy networking skills to help diversify their contacts and business opportunities. Cost: $15 for chamber members, $30 nonmembers. Register online.

CRDA Luncheon: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 12, Trident Technical College Complex for Economic Development. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance's annual luncheon will feature a talk by David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times and the author of "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power." Book signing will follow the luncheon (copies will be available for purchase at the event). Tickets: $60, available online.

(NEW) Electronics Recycling Day: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 14, Tanger Outlets parking lot (on the Tanger Outlet Boulevard side), North Charleston. Sponsored by Charleston County's Environmental Management Department, residents can bring electronic items (TVs, computers, phones, fax machines, microwaves, VCRs, etc.) to the event to be safely recycled. Open to county residents only; no businesses or contractors. More info: 720-7111 or see this Web site.

Colonial Trades and Harvest Day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14, Charles Towne Landing, 1500 Old Towne Road. Costumed interpreters and craftspeople will interpret what life was like for Charleston's first settlers as the winter approached. Learn about open-hearth cooking, colonial foodways, the deerskin trade and colonial medicine. Participants can also dye an article of clothing with indigo dye and witness the smoke and thunder of a militia drill. More info: 852-4200 or online here.

Entertaining Charleston Style: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 30 through Nov. 18, Culinary Institute of Charleston's Palmer Campus, 66 Columbus St., Charleston. A series of short courses celebrating the many facets of entertaining with a focus on Charleston style and traditions. Guest presenters include hosts, event professionals, authors, collectors, stylists and other specialists known for their distinctive contributions to local hospitality and tourism. Light beverage and cocktail samplings will be provided. Cost: $149. More info/registration.


Entrepreneurs Networking: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 16, Holliday Alumni House at The Citadel, Hagood Ave. Sponsored by the Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Woman Series, the event is expected to feature more than 150 local businesswomen. Through "speed networking," participants can meet other entrepreneurs quickly and have the chance to introduce themselves, their business and their interests to everyone at each table. Light refreshments provided. Cost: $15 for Center for Women members; $20 for nonmembers. Free parking at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Register here.

Benefit Oyster Roast: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 22, Elks Lodge, 1113 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. Oyster roast and a silent auction will benefit the Outreach Learning Center at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Charleston (on King Street across from Marion Square). Oysters, fish stew, hot dogs, cole slaw, dessert; bring your own beverages. Live music by Wood & Steel. Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $10 for children under 12; available at the center, 403 King St., or online here.

(NEW) 'A Spiritual Christmas': 6 p.m. Nov. 27, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 67 Anson St., Charleston. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble under the direction of Nathan L. Nelson will perform African-American spirituals set to a holiday theme. Tickets: $10 per person at the door.


12/23: Christian: Mannie's story
Bender: Polar Plunge prep
Brooks: Homes for Christmas
Doll: Enjoy holidays sans lbs.
Yarian: Instruments of Hope
De Armas: Latin biz expo
Blevins: Autism
Hutchisson: Giving
Barnette: Nutcracker
Franklin: Reverse mortgages
Wutzdorff: Be a principal
Haley: Buying local
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


12/17: Cookbook, shopping
The Pig's wines
Neat shopping
LowCANtry holiday
Hawks vs. doves
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


12/23: Photographer Meyer
Ain't over on Sanford
Back off a little
Sanford presses on
Now is time for courage
Alliance's good news
SC's hidden gems
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?


12/23: Blackbaud 5
4 on holiday lights
Five about oysters
Winter finds
Free parking
Holiday parades
Home fire stats
Being a tourist here
Growing your business
Electronics recycling
Beyond the lights
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

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