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Issue 2.59 | Monday, June 7, 2010 | Visit

This oil-covered plastic bottle washed onto the beach at Gulf Islands National Seashore Sunday just south of Pensacola Beach, Fla. Publisher Andy Brack spent the weekend looking at what's going on along the Gulf coast, as described in today's Currents column below.

:: On buying a green home


:: Gulf residents apprehensive

:: Send us your thoughts

:: 1773 Award winners

:: Green challenge, tribute, more


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

___:: REVIEW: Send us a review

___:: HISTORY: Poultry

___:: QUOTE: On voting

___:: SPOTLIGHT: Meet an underwriter


ABOUT US offers insightful community comment and good news on events twice each week. It cuts through the information clutter to offer insight and news on the best of what's happening locally. What readers say


We encourage you to follow us through Twitter @chascurrents.


Goals, preferences part of buying ‘green’ home

Broker-in-Charge, Charleston Your Home
Special to

JUNE 7, 2010 – Green building usually means something different to everyone. For some, making their home or office more sustainable could be as simple as putting a seal around windows and doors. For others, creating a green space means installing solar panels and dual-flush toilets. And when it comes to buying a new home, personal tastes and budgets play a key role.


At its core, the practice of green building – whether it’s a home or a shopping center – is about creating a symbiotic relationship with the environment. The overall goal is complementing and marrying the building design concerns of comfort, durability, utility and economy.

As green building – both in the commercial and residential markets – becomes more prevalent, it’s important for homebuyers to think about what a sustainable home means to them and the features they want when shopping for a new house. Much of that will depend on their budget as well as their knowledge of sustainability and how important certain features are.

Building a truly sustainable home means factoring in the environment, the design, the materials, the construction and the lot – that means everything from the roof and insulation to the doors and windows.

Potential considerations for a green home:

  • Conserving electricity, water and heat through the overall design of the home, which could include placement of the home on a shady piece of the property or adding more windows to maximize natural light. 

  • Use of sustainable appliances and big-ticket items that conserve energy and cut down on power bills, such as a tank-less hot water heater, energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units, energy-efficient appliances.

  • Green products are available for essentially every room in the house and for the overall décor, such as a flooring, countertops, cabinets, furniture, lighting, toilets and showerheads.

You may even decide to purchase a home and renovate or retrofit it to be sustainable. Or certainly building from the ground up gives homeowners the chance to be as green as they want to be.

The bottom line on buying a green home depends on your pocketbook, your overall commitment to being green as well as your knowledge of what it means to be sustainable. Don’t just buy a home that’s labeled “green.” Do your research and come prepared knowing what matters to you and which home features need to be green at the core and not just in the paint job.

Carolyn Dubrofsky is the broker-in-charge and co-owner of Charleston Your Home, which is a certified EcoBroker.

Scent of kerosene leaves mark
By ANDY BRACK, publisher

ALONG THE GULF COAST, June 7, 2010 – The hint of kerosene in the air on Mobile Bay served as an immediate reminder of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


It wasn't an overpowering scent, but a faint fragrance similar to what you might smell a few minutes after spraying WD-40 on something.

For all of the people I met and talked with during a weekend long exploratory tour of what's happening along the Gulf coast from Dauphin Island, Ala., to Apalachicola, Fla., this change from the normal salty sea breeze to slightly oil-tinged winds is something that won't be easy to shake.

To be clear, I didn't see a bunch of goo on any of the white sandy beaches that are as typical of the Gulf coast as sugar is in sweet tea. But here are some observations:

  • People are very worried about what the oil is going to do to the tourism and fisheries businesses along the coast. And they're more worried about the impact of the spill for wildlife.

  • But they're apparently not worried enough yet not to swim in the water. It was surprising how people would bathe in the clear, green waters as crews periodically combed beaches for pea-sized tarballs.

  • Contract crews were spotted in Dauphin Island, Ala., and just south of Pensacola Beach, Fla. They wore makeshift haz-mat suits – yellow plastic boots that were duct-taped to their pants. The stuff they picked up seemed small – no larger than a silver dollar, one observer said. It wasn't hard to wonder whether these crews were on beaches more for public relations purposes than for significant clean-up work.

  • The red and yellow strings of boom around parts of the shoreline seemed pretty flimsy, making us wonder just how much oil they can keep out.

During the trip, I talked with Peck Thompson, a 77-year-old retired sheet rock worker who was fishing for croaker in Mobile Bay. He said he wasn't too sure how much longer he'd be able to fish like he'd been doing for the last 60 years.


“It's a disaster right now,” he said Saturday. “It's going to shut a lot of businesses down – bait shops and stuff and the people who make their business fishing.” He said business at the bait shop over which he lived was about half of what it should be.

A few minutes later, I ran into Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association. He had been sent from Washington state to find out the impact of the spill on wildlife. He had, he mournfully said, a bunch of pictures of oiled birds.

Later that day, Capt. Billy Lyons, president of Volco.LLC marine contractors from Spanish Fort, Ala., described how he came up with an idea to protect Weeks Bay and its national estuarine research reserve. Because Weeks Bay, a relatively small inlet off Mobile Bay, is only about 600 yards across before it opens into a large area, Lyons said he was implementing a plan to block the entrance of the bay by positioning three long barges across the neck of the inlet buffeted by sectional floating barges. The barges would knock down choppy waves from Mobile Bay and allow the boom, positioned behind the barges, to do their work. Otherwise, he said, the waves would jump over boom, carrying oil with it.

Early Sunday, Tampa, Fla., TV reporter Don Germaise told viewers during a live broadcast from Pensacola Beach, that the spill was “only going to get worse.” The day before, he said he had seen a bunch of tarballs on beaches east of town. When Germaise finished his shot, a salesman for 'oil-eating microbes” tried to get the news team to do a story about their product for which a display was set up nearby.


Moments later at a beach in Gulf Islands National Seashore, 36-year-old Larry Femrite of Pensacola was walking off the beach with a camera. He explained he had just left an overnight shift at a nearby WalMart and was on his way home. In recent days, he had started to stop to check to see what he could see of the spill on the beaches. On Saturday, he said he saw oily specks washing ashore. On Sunday, he didn't see much of anything, other than a goo-covered empty Gatorade bottle that washed ashore.

“It should be a wake-up call to the oil companies and government,” Femrite said. “They should have better procedures in place in case something happens. I don't know if the ecosystem will ever recover.”

A couple of miles away, National Park Service Ranger Mark Whipps dug into the sand near the tide line to see if any oil detritus had been buried in the white sand. “I'm extremely ecstatic that it's not deep,” said Whipps, who had been sent from his regular park (Natchez Trace near Tupelo, Miss.,) to Gulf Islands for a 14-day tour of patrolling the beach.

As about 20 contract workers prepared to look for oil pollution on the beach, he noted, “One of the good things since I've been here is the crews have gotten here right away. It's kind of an ongoing process.”

If you'd like to see more pictures of the weekend trip, visit a new photo blog that will chronicle what's happening along the Gulf. Go to:

Andy Brack is publisher of and president of the Center for a Better South, which is offering the photo blog as a way to keep track of how the spill is impacting people's lives. Brack can be reached at:

Send us your thoughts

  • We love getting input from you. If you have an opinion you'd like to share, send your letters to: We look forward to hearing from you!

Charleston RiverDogs

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is the Charleston RiverDogs. The Lowcountry’s leader in sports entertainment, Charleston RiverDogs baseball is an attractive, affordable medium for your group or business. The RiverDogs develop the next major league stars for the 26-time World Champion New York Yankees at one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball -- Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Three short words sum up the every day approach taken by the Charleston RiverDogs front office. The brainchild of club President Mike Veeck, the nine-letter phrase “Fun Is Good” is meant to be a guideline and daily reminder of how employees should approach their jobs and in turn capture the imagination of the fans to turn them into repeat customers. Call them today at (843) 723-7241 or visit online at: The new season is underway!

Local groups to launch Green Business Challenge

The city of Charleston and several new partners – including the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston County and several local nonprofit organizations – will host a get-together tomorrow to kick off the Green Business Challenge. The challenge is designed to help local businesses who sign up for the voluntary program to save money and resources, support environmental stewardship, and earn recognition for sustainable business leadership. The city of Charleston was selected as one of five local governments nationwide to create the challenge with assistance from the organization ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).

Tuesday’s meeting will give business owners a chance to get details about the program, which officially begins in August, and pick up scoring information. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. at the John Wesley United Methodist Church gym, 626 Savannah Highway. Speakers will include Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and Kim Brokhof with ICLEI USA.

The 12-month voluntary program encourages businesses to reduce waste and consumption and also support community involvement. Several local nonprofit organizations have partnered with local governments on the challenge. For example, the Sustainability Institute will help participating businesses stay on track and provide direction on ways to achieve individual goals; Lowcountry Local First will assist participating businesses by locating local resources; and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce will promote the Green Business Challenge to its members.

Companies located in the city of Charleston that are interested in participating can contact Carolee Williams at 724-3776 or for signup information.

Children’s Museum’s new exhibit a tribute to Angel Oak

A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is devoted to helping kids and families explore the beauty and wonder of one of the Lowcountry’s greatest natural treasures, the Angel Oak.

The leaf station at the new TREEscape exhibit at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. (Photo provided)

TREEscape, which opened on Friday, is a 700-square-foot exhibit designed by the museum’s inaugural artist-in-residence, Jennifer Van Winkle. Described as “an activity center and hands-on ecology lab,” TREEscape features a variety of inventive and interactive activities that let children explore the historic live oak tree in a multisensory way, including felt boards, leaf sorting and pattern games, discovery spaces, puzzles and ecology activity kits provided by the Lowcountry Hall of Science & Math.

The Angel Oak is a massive live oak tree that is estimated to be more than 1,500 years old. Located on Johns Island, the tree is 65 feet tall, with a circumference of 25.5 feet. The biggest limb is 89 feet long, with a circumference of 11.25 feet.

Van Winkle, TREEscape’s creator, is an installation artist, community arts choreographer and arts activist from Charlottesville, Va. Her TREEscape project was selected in a regional competition last year to be the first recipient of the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence award.

The Children’s Museum is located at 25 Ann St. downtown. For hours or more information, go to

Kids can step up to plate at RiverDogs baseball camps

The Charleston RiverDogs will hold two youth baseball camps at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park this summer, as well as a special one-day hitting clinic. Camp Session I runs June 14-June 16, while Session II is set for July 14-July 17. The hitting clinic will be held on July 30.

Each session is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, and is open to children 6-13. The cost is $150 per camp, which includes a RiverDogs goodie bag with water bottle, a camp T-shirt and a ticket to the RiverDogs’ game for each evening. “Spending the day with future New York Yankees will create memories and friendships these campers will never forget,” said Melissa McCants, the RiverDogs’ director of special events.

Participants will be divided into age groups to learn and hone their skills in hitting, fielding, pitching, base running, bunting and agility. In addition to receiving evaluations and progress reports from RiverDogs’ players and coaches, who serve as instructors, campers can get autographs following each day’s session and will also take home a photo with a RiverDogs player. At the conclusion of each session, there will be an awards ceremony on the field prior to the first pitch of that night’s RiverDogs game.

For more information or to register, contact Amy Fritzsche at 723-7241 or visit

Gym rewards students striving for healthy lifestyles

Three local residents who’ve pledged to demonstrate healthy lifestyles and encourage others to do the same have been awarded college scholarships by PrimeTime Fitness on Sullivan’s Island.


The winners – Claire Salgado (College of Charleston), Brennan McDavid (Elon University) and Cara Brotherton (College of Charleston) – each received a $500 scholarship.

PrimeTime awards the scholarships annually. Students are chosen based on the criteria of a minimum 3.0 GPA, their fitness goals, and their activities to maintain healthy behaviors and inspire others to do the same.

McDavid and Brotherton

Scholarship candidates must also submit an essay on the role physical fitness has played in their life, how they are trying to encourage fitness in the community, and how they intend to keep up a healthy lifestyle despite the multiple demands of college life.


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.


The humble chicken has risen from the obscurity of the barnyard to the summit of South Carolina agriculture. In the late twentieth century the poultry industry (broilers, turkeys, and eggs) became the state’s leading agribusiness, contributing $500 million annually to the state’s economy.

But before chickens and turkeys were cash crops, they were part of the culture. Native Americans raised turkeys long before Europeans and Africans came to South Carolina, and chickens arrived with the first settlers. Soon chickens were the most common domestic animal in South Carolina, and virtually every farm family raised poultry for its own table and sold surplus eggs and fowl to townsfolk. This pattern of husbandry persisted nearly three centuries. Predictably, poultry earned an honored place in the region’s cuisine: fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, chicken bog, and pilau became celebrated staples of the Carolina diet.

Poultry evolved from a subsistence activity to a business in the 1930s. Farmers fleeing boll-weevil-infested cotton fields experimented with poultry as a cash crop. Production of broilers (chickens ten to twelve weeks of age at processing) rose from a mere 300,000 head in 1934 to 14 million by 1952 and to 48 million by the 1980s. The South Carolina poultry industry followed the pattern developed in Georgia by J. D. Jewell in the 1940s. Farmers entered partnerships with poultry processors, providing land, buildings, and equipment; processors furnished baby chicks, feed, vaccines, and veterinary services. Farmers fed and cared for the chicks until market weight was achieved. Processors collected the fowl and paid farmers based on weight gain. Processors then slaughtered, dressed, packaged, and delivered birds to market. Farmers typically raised four broods each per year.

The poultry industry experienced phenomenal growth in the 1980s and 1990s. … Observers credit automation and mass production for keeping consumer prices low, making poultry a bargain. Cultural influences were also factors. Health-conscience consumers made chicken and turkey centerpieces of the trendy low-fat cuisine that swept the country in the 1990s. In 2001 broilers, turkeys, and eggs ranked first, fifth, and seventh, respectively, of South Carolina’s top-ten commodities.

– Excerpted from the entry by Eldred E. Prince Jr. 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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1773 Awards

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce honored several local businesses and industries last week with the chamber’s 1773 Award, which is given to organizations that best reflect the core values of the chamber: leadership, relevance, integrity, diversity and innovation. The awards are named for the year the chamber was established. Here are the winners and their business categories. One of these companies will be honored with the 1773 Chamber of the Year Award at the chamber’s Annual Gala on July 9.

  • Communications: Touchpoint Communications
  • Construction/Real Estate: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Leadership
  • Finance/Insurance: South Carolina Federal Credit Union
  • Health Care: Trident Health System
  • Hospitality/Tourism: Charleston RiverDogs
  • Manufacturing/Processing: Pegasus Steel
  • Nonprofit: Father to Father Project Inc.
  • Professional: Lindbergh & Associates LLC
  • Public: City of North Charleston
  • Retail/Wholesale Trade: Rick Hendrick Imports
  • Scientific/Technical Services: Scientific Research Corporation
  • Special Award for Diversity: Prudential

On why you should vote tomorrow

“I believe that voting is the first act of building a community as well as building a country.”

– John Ensign, U.S. senator from Nevada (1958 - )


(NEW) Immigration Law Talk: 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. June 9, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 4500 Leeds Ave., Suite 100. The chamber’s North Area Business Council will bring together a panel of experts to discuss state immigration laws and their impact on small businesses. Beginning July 1, employers with 100 employees or fewer will face new regulations. Speakers include Lee Depret-Bixio of Ogletree, Nash, Smoak and Steward, PC; and Jim Knight, S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Cost: $15 chamber members, $30 nonmembers. Registration.

Community Night Meal: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 9, Lighthouse Church JUVO Center, 1177 Gregorie Ferry Road, Mount Pleasant. Healing Farm Ministries sponsors a community meal on the second Wednesday of every month to raise awareness about the organization, which provides a place and activities for members of the community to experience relationships with those who have disabilities. Participants will work together to prepare and share a meal. Open to anyone touched by a disability or anyone who wants to learn more about HFM. More info/registration: e-mail or call 971-9300.

Mobile Skin Cancer Screening: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 12, Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark, Wannamaker County Park, North Charleston. The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and MUSC will man a fully equipped mobile doctor's office to offer free skin cancer screenings. The mobile unit will also visit the Isle of Palms on July 10; it will be set up on the front beach from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. that day. No appointments necessary. More info: 792-1414.

Culinary Sale: 9 a.m. to noon June 12, The Real Estate Gallery, 214 King St. Vintage cookbooks, silver serviceware, linens, collectible kitchen pieces and more will be offered at the annual Culinary Tag Sale sponsored by the Charleston chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier, a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverages, and hospitality. Proceeds benefit Les Dames' scholarship fund. Open to the public. Only cash will be accepted for purchase.

Food and Farming Course: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays for nine weeks, beginning in June. The Food and Farming Entrepreneurship Course is offered by FastTracSC and Clemson Extension for those who are interested in becoming food-system entrepreneurs (urban/rural farmers, local food artisans, chefs/caterers, bakers, food media, processors, etc.). Cost: $145. More info:

Colonial Art Tour: 4 p.m. each Thursday, Through June 24, Heyward-Washington House, 87 Church St., downtown. Explore the art of portraiture and satirical engravings popular with wealthy colonial Charlestonians. The Charleston Museum's art collection at the house features portraits by Jeremiah Theus, Samuel F.B. Morse and Henry Benbridge; later copies by Johann Stolle and George Whiting Flagg; and original, irreverent engravings of William Hogarth. Cost: $10 adults, $5 ages 3-12; free for Charleston Museum members. Reservations not required. More info: 722-2996, ext. 235.


Sustainable Seafood Dinner: 6:30 p.m. June 18, Fish Restaurant, 442 King St. Fish and the S.C. Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative will sponsor a four-course dinner that highlights local sustainable seafood. The menu will include local clams, grouper and porgy, all paired with wine, as well as a dessert course. Cost: $50 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Fish will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Reservations (required by June 16): Fish, 722-3474.

Sweetgrass Class: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 19, Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St. Learn to make traditional sweetgrass baskets with basketmaker Sarah Edwards-Hammond, who comes from a long line of basketmakers and has passed down the tradition to her own children, grandchildren and others in the community. The instructor will share a brief history of the art form, then participants will get started sewing their own basket. Workshop fee includes a starter and all supplies. No experience required; program is designed for adults. Cost: $40 museum members, $45 nonmembers. Registration (required): Online or call 722-2996, ext. 235.

(NEW) Self-Defense for Women: 10 a.m. to noon June 19, Charleston Krav Maga, 1250 Wappoo Road. Offered by the Center for Women. Learn the best ways to keep themselves safe in any dangerous situation or environment. Wear comfortable gym clothes and bring water. Cost: $20 Center for Women members, $40 nonmembers. Registration (required).

Scouts Day at Whirlin' Waters: June 19, Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark, Wannamaker County Park, North Charleston. Lowcountry Scouts are invited to the Charleston County PRC's Ninth Annual Scouts Day. Scouts can enjoy the water park, earn a patch on animal safety, win prizes, and enjoy a tasty catered picnic at Luau Landing. (Patches and catered picnic additional cost.) Lunch reservations must be made by June 16 (on-site registration not available). Cost: $12.99 per Scout and family members. Register online or call 795-4FUN (4386).

(NEW) Hurricane Business Plans: 7:30 a.m. to noon June 24, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 4500 Leeds Ave., Suite 100. The chamber’s Business Continuity Planning Council is hosting a workshop to help businesses prepare for hurricane season, including instruction on how to write a business continuity plan and how to test it before a disaster hits. Cost: $25 chamber members, $35 nonmembers. Registration.

Blogging Tips: 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. June 24, Charleston County Main Library, 68 Calhoun St. This month's Small Business & Nonprofit Networking Lunch looks at the differences between blogging, blogging professionally and having a professional blog. Presenter Heather Solos of will cover tips and strategies for using a blog as part of your small business marketing strategy. Registration is not required. More info: 805-6930.

(NEW) Jaycees Networking: 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 29, Harbour Club, 35 Prioleau St., downtown. The Charleston Junior Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a professional networking event with light refreshments. You do not necessarily need to work in an occupation that sells goods or services to attend. In addition to mixing, mingling and networking, there will be a program featuring social media consultant Ashley Caldwell of Modern Connections sharing a few social media tips. Cost: $5 per person; benefits Jaycee Camp Hope, a statewide residential camp for citizens with intellectual disabilities. RSVP/more info: Jennifer “Juice” Davidson, 343-7578 or, or Jeremy Mills, 814-5739 or


8/19: Peters: Getting lead out
Frazier: Magnolia gardeners
8/12: Myers: Redux art
Ginn: Opportunity Next
8/5: Barnette: Hedwig show
Deaton: Lured back
7/29: Hannah: SCRA center
Parezo: Personal chefs
Bender: Shark Week
7/19: Witty: Growth in down market
Carroll: Networking
7/7: Blanchard: Financial planning
Shaffer: Picky Eaters Group


8/19: Nirvana, Class of '14
History is interesting
Robert, Variety Store
Lazy? Boiled peanuts
Purple Toes book
Art opens doors
Lots to do on 4th
Ways to nab skeeters
Dump the Pump, more
Lots to do locally
Dancin' for dollars


8/16: Pharmacy, juice
Cherry juice, Gardner
Biden on Hollings
About Turkey
Campaign trash
Impatient electorate
Haley's thin record
Daddy-daughter trip
Gulf spill report


5/27: Facebook on privacy
Spark Charleston, more
Green Wizard, more
Encouraging biz signs
Biz fair, CED venture
Lowcountry tech hub
Advice on working with Boeing
1/21: Co-working group
1/7: Free library text questions


8/19: 5 local blogs
8/16: More plaudits
5 local dog romps
8/9: New heritage sites
8/5: 5 around Chucktown
Bedside reading
7/29: Five for fall
Hollings library
7/22: Wine + Food fest
New Chas app
Chas at top
7/7: SC films
7/1: Keeping cool

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