Subscribe today for free

Insert your email address and click subscribe.

About | Underwriters | Archives | Subscribe | Submit | Contact | HOME
Issue 2.29 | Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2010 | Smile

The fountain at Waterfront Park has always fascinated kids, including Cassie Middleton, 3, of Wadmalaw Island. Cassie's mother, Mary Middleton, has written a new family-oriented guide to Lowcountry destinations and activities called "Go Local Charleston." The book looks at parks, nature trails, museums, farmers markets and a variety of other attractions. Find out more in today's Currents column. (Photo by Kate Wyman)

:: Value added by outdoor living spaces


:: New guide for local kid fun

:: Schools lost time with early closing

:: Designer data

:: Fleet blessing, 'Bin Yah,' new name


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

___:: REVIEW: Send us your recommendations

___:: HISTORY: White lightning

___:: QUOTE: Osler on moving on

___:: 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


Outdoor living spaces offer 'staycation,' boost home value

President, Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc.
Special to

FEB. 18, 2010 -- With the economy lingering in the doldrums, many families are holding off on spending thousands of dollars to take a vacation abroad. Instead, consider the alternative of creating a personal oasis in the comfort and convenience of your own backyard. For a fraction of the cost of a journey abroad, a remodel or addition can help turn your travel dreams into a staycation reality. Best of all, the benefits of your outdoor space remodel can be enjoyed long after the normal duration of a one- to two-week vacation.


Currently, more than ever before, homeowners are validating the significance of the home place, where the backyard and patio are clearly enhancements of the living area inside the house. The economy has motivated people to choose to stay home, staycation, and spend their money on their investment through a remodel or addition of an outdoor living space where the family can spend time together in the comfort of their own home, essentially taking the indoors out.

In today's sluggish real estate market, the second most likely home-remodeling project is outdoor entertaining space. According to Consumer Reports, by creating an inviting outdoor living space, people can easily increase their home's value. Many outdoor spaces are also designed to be the focal point of a home.

Outdoor living spaces, such as this one by Classic Remodeling & Construction, are among the top remodeling projects in today's economy. Bringing the indoors out provides a custom-made escape that's still close to home. (Photo by Tripp Smith)

Consider stone fireplaces for cozy gatherings; pergolas and gazebos to resemble a faraway oasis; flat-screen televisions seamlessly incorporated into outdoor surroundings; weatherized dining tables suitable for family-style meals or an intimate dinner for two; and elite, gourmet grills containing storage, sinks and refrigerators.

Today's remodeling project is tilting toward a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, and it's fitting that another requirement for these remodels is to incorporate a nice flow between the inside and the out. With the help of a professional design-build remodeling company, you can transform your backyard into a soothing outdoor space conducive to relaxation and entertainment, while maintaining the natural elements that make the outdoors so appealing.

Imagine never leaving the comfort of your home to experience the gratifying effects of a staycation in your beautifully remodeled outdoor space. Take that staycation, and create a space that is the hub of your family's social life.

Bob Fleming is president of Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc., a Johns Island based company that specializes exclusively in residential remodeling and restoration. The company, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is an underwriting partner of

New guide focuses on kid-oriented fun in tri-county area
By ANN THRASH, editor

FEB. 18, 2010 -- Guides for what to do in Charleston aren't hard to come by. You can organize activities around our military history, our historic plantations, our golf courses, our historic homes and gardens, just about any theme you like. But there hasn't been a go-to guide that's organized around kids - until now. Parents, say thank you to Mary Middleton.


Middleton, who lives on Wadmalaw Island, just released "Go Local Charleston: A Parent's Guide for Children's Activities in Charleston, S.C." Chock full of activities, local knowledge, facts and guides for both residents of the area and visitors, "Go Local Charleston" is all about family-oriented, kid-friendly activities. It's a real departure from most guidebooks, which have just a few pages at most on things kids will enjoy.

Middleton says the idea for the book grew out of her own family trips - ones she took as a child and the ones she's taken recently with her husband and their daughter and son, ages 3 and 1. The family takes a trip to Maine annually and were always on the hunt for kid-oriented activities, she says. After seeing a book there that focused on things to do with the kids, Middleton started looking around for a comparable guide when she got back to Charleston, but there really wasn't one - nothing that pulled together a lot of information on diverse activities and attractions, all in one place.

"The guides that were out there really kind of glazed over the activities for children," she says.

Mary Middleton, daughter Cassie (left) and son Connor set out on a hike in the Lowcountry.
(Photo provided by Mary Middleton)

The book seems like a natural extension of Middleton's recent work in the education and nonprofit communities. She was formerly a teacher at Friends School and the O'Quinn School, a former education coordinator with the Charleston Museum, and former chairperson of the Heritage Education Forum.

"In my years of work as a teacher and museum educator, I was often approached by locals and visitors looking for activities that were geared toward kids' interests and activity levels," says Middleton. " 'Go Local Charleston' is born out of what I saw as a void between lack of activity advertising, local know-how, and my years of experience with children and families."

"Go Local Charleston" covers a wide range of activities and attractions in the tri-county area, everything from plantations and historic sites to the House of Bounce. Activities are further broken down according to how much time parents will need to allow (for example, "On the Fly" activities will take two hours or less, with the "Pack a Lunch" and "Make A Day of It" options taking longer). Activities are also rated for affordability, Middleton says.

Other activity highlights include lists of paved, off-road, and interpretive trails for hiking or bike-riding, ongoing and daily events around town, places to "u-pick" local produce, farmers markets, and sites where you can rent kayaks, surfboards, boats and more.

Middleton also has established her own publishing company, Backroads Publishing, with "Go Local Charleston" as the first title. The next one - a field-trip guide for teachers and home schoolers - is already taking shape in Middleton's mind. She's also started a blog as a companion to "Go Local Charleston." She hopes it will be a central location that might eventually offer some reviews, as well as a continually updated calendar of events and a place where local families can connect. "I really hope it will be something that helps us promote all the great things about the Lowcountry, and all the local people and shops and the nonprofits that put on such great events to help make this such a wonderful place to live," Middleton says.

"Go Local Charleston" costs $14.95 and is available online or at a number of local shops and sites, including Wonder Works, Indigo Books, Blue Bicycle Books, Hollipops, the Charleston Museum gift shop and the Middleton Place gift shop.

Ann Thrash, editor of, can be reached at:

Valuable time lost when schools decided to close early

To the editor:

I agree with you 100 percent (on schools unnecessarily closing early for last week's snow)! Other ramifications of them closing early is the unproductive time in discussions before reaching this decision and the issues surrounding after-school care and parents' work schedules. If educators spent more time focused on educating kids, maybe our kids would learn what they are supposed to when they are supposed to learn it.

-- Joanne B. Milkereit, Charleston, S.C.

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.

South Carolina Aquarium

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. In this issue, we turn the spotlight on the South Carolina Aquarium, the #1 attraction in Charleston. The aquarium offers interactive excitement and value for visitors of all ages. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the South Carolina Aquarium aims to inspire conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research, and by providing an exceptional visitor experience. Guests can explore exhibits such as Penguin Planet with four Magellanic penguins, the Touch Tank featuring Atlantic stingrays, the 385,000-gallon Great Ocean Tank featuring sharks and moray eels as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at the extraordinary care that is provided to rescued sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Hospital. Starting in March 2010, the Aquarium will feature a rare ghost of the swamp, an albino alligator, in the renovated Blackwater Swamp exhibit. Check out the daily educational programs with animal feedings and dive shows. Start planning a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium today at

Blessing of Fleet leaves Alhambra Hall for town's new park

The town of Mount Pleasant's 23rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival will leave its longtime home at Alhambra Hall this year to move to the town's new Memorial Waterfront Park at the base of the Ravenel Bridge. Town officials say the popular event, planned for April 25 this year, has simply outgrown the Old Village.

"The Blessing of the Fleet at Alhambra Hall and Park has attracted an increasingly larger crowd over the years," Mayor Billy Swails said in a town press release. "Its popularity has overwhelmed vehicle and pedestrian routes in the Old Village and has posed a serious challenge to public safety, thus prompting the need for a new home. Our Memorial Waterfront Park will provide an unmatched panoramic view of the fleet, a state-of-the-art playground, and sprawling lawns for our chefs, our crafters and our artist guild. Handicapped parking and handicapped access will be greatly enhanced, and ample parking will accommodate the more than 12,000 people who attend the festival each year. This is a perfect fit."

Originally just a one-day activity, the Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival now features a week of events centered on the importance of the shrimping industry. Activities will include lectures, cooking demonstrations, a dance on the pier, and a reading by local author Mary Alice Monroe, a nationally known novelist whose book "Last Light over Carolina" focuses on the shrimping tradition in McClellanville.

For more information about festival events, call Su McManus-Frost at 884-8517 or go online here.

'Bin Yah' documentary to be shown at gallery, on ETV

A documentary about the loss of historic Gullah communities in Mount Pleasant will get a screening at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park tonight prior to airing on SCETV's "Southern Lens" next week.

"Bin Yah: There's No Place Like Home" explores the culture, history and importance of the land and the concept of home through the eyes of black residents of communities that have been threatened by suburban sprawl east of the Cooper. Many of the people featured in the film, which was directed by Justin Nathanson, live in close-knit neighborhoods that were established by freed slaves and have been home to the same families for generations. The residents include a number of sweetgrass basket makers.

"Bin Yah" will be screened at 6 p.m. today at City Gallery. A panel discussion on land development and cultural preservation will follow. On Feb. 25, the "Southern Lens" episode featuring the film will air at 10 p.m. on ETV.

For more information or to see clips from the film, go to

Horne/Guest changes name to Blue Water Benefits

Horne/Guest, a local employee benefits consulting firm, has changed its name to Blue Water Benefits. The company, one of the largest employee benefits agencies in the Southeast, offers products and services to help businesses navigate the insurance industry. Approximately 200 companies work with BWB, including Piggly Wiggly Carolina, Heritage Trust, Stella Nova, Jupiter Holdings, Porter-Gaud, Carolina Health Specialists, the Gibbes Museum of Art, Global Aeronautica and Orient Express. The company is also an underwriting partner of

The company opened its doors in 1980 under the leadership of Dick Horne. Current President and Lead Consultant Brandon Guest has 21 years of experience in the insurance industry and is a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist and Registered Health Underwriter. The company, which has 28 employees, has its headquarters on e-Wall Street in Mount Pleasant.

Send us your reviews

HAVE A REVIEW? If you have a review or recommendation 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.


White lightning

White lightning, a white whiskey made surreptitiously and illegally, was once produced in great quantities in South Carolina. It got its name from its color and the kick it delivers when consumed.

The beverage achieved popularity in South Carolina and the rest of the South largely because of the high taxes on legal whiskey, the ready availability of the major raw material-traditionally corn-and the region's poverty, which made moonshining an attractive industry for many farmers. Production mushroomed between 1915, when South Carolina went legally dry, and 1933, when national prohibition ended. White lightning became part of the culture of some rural areas, including parts of southern Appalachia.

The potable, often referred to as "moonshine" because it was usually produced at night, is often made under conditions so primitive that it has proved lethal. But its "proper" manufacture is considered an art form by some backwoods connoisseurs. The whiskey is produced from mash, which is a mixture of grain, sugar, water, and yeast that ferments to produce the alcohol. Lack of aging leaves the whiskey with a clean "white" look. Distilleries are commonly made of copper for the most part, which, the producers think, helps maintain the flavor. Manufacturers usually make their own stills.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, humorously called "revenooers" by the moonshiners, have sharply curtailed the illegal operations. In 2003 a South Carolina law enforcement official said the last distillery raid had probably occurred just three months earlier. But isolated still masters still ply their art in South Carolina, and many of their customers wax ecstatic when they are lucky enough to purchase a batch they consider safe and savory.

- Excerpted from the entry by Robert A. Pierce. 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.) 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.)


We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the Statehouse. It's free.

SC Clips -- a daily news compilation of South Carolina news from media sources across the state. Delivered by email about the time you get to work every business day. Saves you a lot of money and time. Sign up for a free trial subscription today.

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

GwinnettForum -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

CREDITS is provided to you twice a week by:

Address: P.O. Box. 22261 | Charleston, SC 29413


We hope you'll keep receiving the great news and information from, but if you need to subscribe, click here.

© 2008-2010, Statehouse Report LLC. All rights reserved. is published every Monday and Thursday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.

Designer data

Charleston Fashion Week is coming up March 16 to March 20, and one of the big draws this year will be "Project Runway" finalist and designer Mychael Knight introducing his first full collection since that Bryant Park show a couple of years ago. We got a newsletter from the fine folks at Fashion Week with some fun fill-in-the-blank questions the event staff had posed to Knight. His answers to five statements are below. To see the full Fashion Week schedule, buy tickets or sign up for e-mail updates, go to this Web site.

  • I started designing when I was: "Eight or 9 years old. 'Soul Train' was my first reference of inspiration!"

  • When I think about style, I think about: "How it should be effortless and personal."

  • The one thing I wish I could change about the fashion industry is: "The lack of representation of African-American designers, models, and industry insiders."

  • My biggest challenge as a designer is: "Escaping my comfort zone."

  • I think every woman's wardrobe should have: "A nude pump."

On moving on

"Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows."

-- Sir William Osler, British physician (1849-1919)


Third Thursday: Feb. 18, downtown Summerville. The monthly Third Thursday promotion in historic Flower Town has a February theme of "Fall in Love with Downtown Summerville." Stores will be open until 8 p.m. for shopping and strolling, and restaurants will be offering dinner. More info: Online or 821-7260.

City's "Sickly Season": 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St., downtown. Charleston was the unhealthiest of the 13 original colonies, and during the 18th and 19th centuries, diseases of epidemic proportion plagued the city and hampered its grown. Museum Curator of History Grahame Long will give a presentation titled "Infections, Afflictions, and Perilous Prescriptions: Charleston and 'The Sickly Season.' " Free and open to the public. More info.

(NEW) Gibbes Community Day: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 20, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting St., downtown. Sponsored quarterly by the Junior League of Charleston, Community Day gives visitors a chance to enjoy the Gibbes Museum at no cost. Nature is the theme for the event, which includes art-making activities for kids. Scheduled activities include a musical performance by students from Memminger Elementary at 10:30 a.m. and a book reading by Christi Sanford, author of the "Legare the Lizard" series, at 11:15 a.m. Beverages will be provided by Rising High Café. More info online.

Sustainable Seafood Dinner: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 20, Restaurant at Middleton Place Plantation, 4300 Ashley River Road. The South Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative and the restaurant will present a dinner featuring sustainable seafood, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Initiative. Reservations (required): 577-FISH (3474). More info.

Charitable Society Oyster Roast: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Feb. 20, Charleston Visitor Center Bus Shed, 375 Meeting St., downtown. The Charleston Charitable Society's 17th annual oyster roast is a benefit for Carolina Autism and is the Charitable Society's first joint event with the Palmetto Society. Tickets include oysters, chili, beer and wine; Soul Function will provide the music. Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door; available online or at South Carolina Bank & Trust branches at 46 Broad St., 315 Folly Road and 1032 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.


ABWA Game Night: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 22, Holiday Inn Express, 120 Holiday Drive, Summerville. The American Business Women's Association's Jessamine Chapter of Summerville will hold a game night fundraiser and silent auction to benefit women's scholarships. Open to the public. Guests are invited to bring their favorite game and/or team. Prizes, food and beverages provided. Cost: $10 ticket donation. Reservations requested. Contact Shirlie Taylor, 873-6769 or get tickets online.

Arts in Crisis Tour: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Feb. 23, Recital Hall, Simons Center at the College of Charleston. Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., chose Charleston for his only South Carolina stop on his 50-state Arts in Crisis Tour. He will speak about current challenges and opportunities for arts organizations. The Charleston Concert Association is hosting the program in partnership with the S.C. Arts Commission, the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, and the College of Charleston School of the Arts. Free and open to the public, but advance registration is required; e-mail or call 727-1216.

Sorensen to speak: Noon, Feb. 23, Charleston Music Hall, 37 John Street. Attorney Ted Sorensen, former key aide to President John F. Kennedy, will offer reflections to students at the Charleston School of Law. The public is welcome, but is asked to reserve a spot. Click here for more.

Winter Golf Classic: Feb. 23, Wild Dunes Resort's Links and Harbor Courses, Isle of Palms. Sponsored by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce to offer businesses five hours of uninterrupted networking with key clients, customers or contacts. Tournament (captain's choice format) includes 60 teams on two full courses; each team gets 18 holes of golf with lunch and beverages, followed by a reception and dinner at the Sweetgrass Pavilion. Registration begins at 10 a.m.; shotgun start at 11:30. Cost: $800 per team or $200 per individual. Registration here.

Amuse Bouche: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 26, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, 161 Calhoun St. The event, the unofficial kickoff of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, benefits the Lowcountry Food Bank's Kids Café and Backpack Buddies Programs and the Halsey Institute. Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q will "Pork from Around the World" tastings, and Whole Foods will offer an open wine bar. Cost: $20 per person at the door; RSVP no later than Feb. 24 to 747-8146 or

Park Angel Get-Together: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28, grassy area near Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside St., downtown. The Charleston Parks Conservancy will host a social for old and new members to get acquainted and learn more about the group. Food, games and prizes along with opportunity to learn about upcoming events and volunteer needs. The organization works to support local public parks by planting and maintaining green spaces and promoting the history and beauty of local gardens. For more info or to register as a Park Angel (it's free), visit this Web site.

(NEW) Southern Politics: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 3 and 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 5, The Citadel. Author and former Alabama congressman Glen Browder will speak on race and Southern politics. The March 3 event is an author presentation and book signing; Browder is the author of "Stealth Reconstruction: An Untold Story of Racial Politics in Recent Southern History" and "The South's New Racial Politics." The March 5 event is a panel discussion during the Symposium on Southern Politics, an examination of the 2008 elections. More info.

"Whistler's Women": 3 p.m. March 7, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting St., downtown. The Charleston Chamber Opera and the Gibbes will present an afternoon of opera in the rotunda, the setting for the "Whistler's Travels" special exhibition. Soprano Patrice Tiedemann, mezzo soprano Lara Wilson and baritone Paul Soper will explore the life and loves of artist James McNeill Whistler (who was married but had several lovers, one of whom bore him several children and another of whom raised his son by yet another woman). The clever mix of art song, opera and theatrical flair will include the music of Debussy, Saint-Saens, Mahler, Gilbert & Sullivan and others. Tickets: $10 museum members and students; $20 nonmembers. Buy online, at the museum store or by calling 722-2706, ext. 18.

(NEW) Stiletto Stampede: 10 a.m. March 13, Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Mount Pleasant. An offbeat 100-yard dash in which contestants must wear 3-inch heels (both male and female). The top male and female finishers get $5,000 from Gwynn's of Mount Pleasant, and Charleston Magazine will give $1,000 to the runner with the best costume. Post-race food and entertainment offered in the Whole Foods parking lot. Proceeds from the run benefit MUSC Children's Hospital. Race fee: $30. Entry form/more info.

(NEW) Party for the Parks: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 13, Ashley Avenue overlooking Colonial Lake, downtown. "Amusement on the Avenue," sponsored by the Charleston Parks Conservancy, will feature live music from the Flatt City bluegrass band, the Plainfield Project and DJ Trailmix along with roller skaters, breakdancers, jugglers and hip hop dancers. Food provided by Oak, Muse, the Bagel Shop, Queen Street Grocery, Taco Boy, Closed for Business and La Fourchette; there will also be a cappuccino bar by Royal Cup and a tasting for a new vodka from Firefly. Event is open only to those age 21 or older. Tickets: $55 in advance, $75 at the event. More info.

Museum House Furniture Tours: 4 p.m. March 18 and March 19, and 10 a.m. March 20, Heyward-Washington House, 87 Church St. downtown. The Charleston Museum's Heyward-Washington House will host furniture-focused tours with special information on the significant 18th-century English and Charleston-made furniture collection housed there. Visitors can learn about Charleston cabinetmakers, locally harvested and imported wood, and the influence of Thomas Chippendale. Reservations not required. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children (free for museum members). More info: 722-2996, ext. 235, or visit online.


7/1: Shaffer: Picky Eaters Group
6/28: Bender: Fishy Fourth
6/24: Belden: Society 1858
6/21: Stevenson: Summer reading
6/17: Handel: On Jim Fisher
6/14: Reeves: Summer dress
6/10:Martin: Garden tips
6/7: Dubrofsky: Green homes
6/3: McCutcheon: Young pros
McFaddlin: Health benefits
5/27: Ledbetter: Senior riders
5/24: Myers: Microloan's impact
Gadson: Rural Mission's needs
5/17: Bender: Bocce bashing
DeMarco: Homeless help
Spencer: Ending violence
5/6: Westmeyer: Fish to buy
Maas: Spoleto tips


3/4: Green mowers
Get outdoors
Local guide book for kids
Reviewing Jenny's book
MSNBC looks at success
Tell Mt. Pleasant
Winter plant tips
New books


3/1: Cut all of the cuts
A look at summer camps
School district Einsteins
About mules
Bauer should get out
Gibbs at White House
Friend's new show
Rockwell painting
Palmetto Priorities
Piggly Wiggly visit


2/4: Advice on working with Boeing
1/21: Co-working group
1/7: Free library text questions


3/4: Tickets still left
Eat & Run
RiverDogs' auction
Recycling bins
Designer data
SC Olympians
Prohibition cocktails
Tops for Charleston
Sweet treats
Free at SEWE
Artists' gift
Sharks at Aquarium
Church turns 100
3 helping Haiti
Civil War lectures
5 for King Day
New at SEWE
Staying warm

About | Underwriters | Archives | Subscribe | Submit | Contact | HOME