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EGRET WINNER: Summerville photographer David Archer won first place and $275 in the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens 2013 Photography Contest for this "Snowy Egret." The second and third place winners, Jim Miller of Mount Pleasant and Leah Sparks of Charleston, also captured images of egrets strutting their breeding plumage. This year's contest, organized with the Lowcountry Photographic Club, attracted entries from 118 photographers from across the country. More. Photo provided.

Issue 5.35 | Monday, July 1, 2013
Red shoes and summer reading edition

FOCUS Monroe's book on relationships
BRACK Taylor's new book is thriller
SENIORS Estate planning myths
GOOD NEWS July 4 salute, UnLock SC, more
HISTORY Palmetto Trail
SPOTLIGHT Charleston RiverDogs
FEEDBACK Send us your thoughts
BROADUS Red shoes, mystery solved
THE LIST More on mosquitoes
QUOTE Angels have the red shoes
CALENDAR This week ... and next

Monroe's new summer book captures complex relationships
A special review to Charleston Currents

JULY 1, 2013 -- Three granddaughters. Three months. One summer house.

In this enchanting trilogy set on Sullivan's Island, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe captures the complex relationships between three half sisters scattered across the country -- and a grandmother determined to help them rediscover their family bonds.

Mary Alice Monroe is one of my favorite Southern writers, and she hits another home run in her just released "The Summer Girls."

Set amid ancient live oaks and palmettos, overlooking the water, historic Sea Breeze is Marietta Muir's ancestral summer home. Her granddaughters once adored vacations there, but it's been years since they've visited. In her words, Mamaw is like an overripe peach, past her prime, and she fears once she is gone the family bonds will fray. The Muir family is one of Charleston's oldest and the blood of their pirate captain ancestor runs strong, so Marietta drops a subtle promise of loot -- pearl necklaces, priceless antique furniture, even the house -- to lure her "summer girls" back to the Lowcountry.

They all spent summers together at the beach but have become estranged and live very different lives. The grandmother insists that they all need to spend the summer at the beach together or be taken out of her will. No husbands, beaus or mothers allowed! Carson is the sister at the heart of the novel, along with her newfound friend, a dolphin that saves her from an attack while surfing. They befriend each other and Carson begins a journey about self-discovery, forgiveness and the true meaning of family and friendship.

Mary Alice beautifully brings awareness to the beautiful bottlenose dolphins that inhabit our waters and their fight for survival. She helps increase our knowledge and understanding of these dolphins so we can create a better symbiosis not only with the dolphins but with their habitat as well.

This is a fantastic beach read -- it will make you want to pack up and head directly for the nearest beach umbrella.


Local novelist on writing a thriller (and he's got a new one)
By ANDY BRACK, editor and publisher

JULY 1, 2013 -- Charleston novelist Brad Taylor has had a pretty varied career for the last few years. Not too long ago, he was a commander of the elite Delta Force, an Army Special Forces detachment that does all kinds of secret missions like those described in his thrillers. ("I can't really discuss what I did.")

[Post publication clarification: Taylor points out that he was one of several commanders inside the Delta unit, not the only commander of the whole force during his time in the unit.]

Then he took a posting as a military science professor at The Citadel, during which he wrote his first novel. And then he decided to try to retire from the military to see if he could make a go of it as a security specialist and novelist, the latter of which is taking up more and more of his time.

Born in Okinawa when his father was in the service, Taylor grew up in Texas. After he left the military and The Citadel in 2010, he said he stayed in the Charleston area, in part, because his father now is here and he spent a lot of summers here with grandparents.

With Taylor's fourth Pike Logan thriller due to be released nationally July 16 in Charleston, the retired lieutenant colonel seems to be enjoying his emerging success as a novelist. His three earlier efforts made The New York Times' bestseller list.

Taylor, who lives with his family in Mount Pleasant, recalls that the first novel was the toughest because he didn't know how to write a novel. He got it all down on paper in about six months, but then had to spend lots of time writing and rewriting to get the point of view and tone right. He sent out lots of letters andsummaries to try to get an agent and when one agreed to represent him, he quickly got a book contract.

The first book, "One Rough Man," came out in January 2011, followed by two others in the series. The new book, highlighting how Taylor is now trying to do two books a year, is "The Widow's Strike." It focuses on a special group of operatives, of which Logan is leader, who try to stop a rogue state from unleashing a deadly biological weapon that could kill hundreds of millions of people.

An enjoyable, fast-paced read, "The Widow's Strike" gives insights into what special operations feel like from a writer who lived in that secret world for about a decade.

"At a gunfight level, it's as accurate as I can make it," said the 47-year-old Taylor, who was preparing for a five-city book tour last week. "Nothing in there I've actually done specifically." But then again, he can't go into past operations that he was involved in because the information is classified.

Taylor says he does a lot of research to support the books, including quick travel stops in exotic places like Thailand and Macau because they provide sights and smells for context in the book that you can't get from looking up stuff on the Internet.

Taylor encourages budding novelists to write -- a lot. "I wouldn't be here right now if I hadn't finished a book. Just trust your heart. If I had listened to how everybody told me to write, I would have never had a book."

These days, he's researching another book, making notes in an ever-present notebook to write down details, thoughts, scenes and scenarios. With the fourth book being unveiled 6:30 p.m. July 16 with a relaxed signing at the Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn (19 Vendue Range Street), he's just finished the draft of his sixth book and seems well on his way to keeping his goal of writing two thrillers a year as long as the muse is with him.

Charleston readers might enjoy a detail that's in every book. The Charleston-based hero, Pike Logan, has a cold, adult beverage in every novel. In the fourth, it's at the Rooftop Bar (hence the book-signing location).

Trivia question of the week for a pair of RiverDogs tickets: What are the other three bars that make a guest appearance in Taylor's first three novels? Send your guesses to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com.

* * *

FROM STATEHOUSE REPORT: The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down federal civil rights protections from 1965 to cure racial discrimination at the voting booth in South Carolina and eight other states is a mixed bag.

On one hand, it's about time we were treated like other states that don't have to pre-clear election law changes with the federal government. On another, having the power to make changes without federal oversight brings the very real possibility of a scary, new world that could hurt lots of people in the short term.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report, where the latter part of this commentary first appeared. He can be reached at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


Send us your thoughts, reactions

If you have an opinion you'd like to share or a bone to pick (150 words or less, please), send your letters to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!

Charleston RiverDogs

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents 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 27-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.

The season is in full swing! [Bad pun intended.] See the schedule. Call the 'Dogs today at (843) 723-7241 or visit online at: www.RiverDogs.com.


Some common myths of elder law and estate planning
By CATHERINE LAFOND, contributing editor
Special to Statehouse Report

JULY 1, 2013 -- Today let's look at three common myths about elder law and estate planning:

Gifting up to $10,000 won't affect my Medicaid eligibility. The benefits of the current annual exclusion amount are often misunderstood. Basically, this exclusion allows for persons to give up to $14,000 (the annual exclusion amount in 2013 after inflation-indexing) to as many people as s/he wants without affecting their lifetime gift tax or estate tax exemption. Since these exemption amounts are currently at $5.25 million, over 90 percent of Americans wouldn't need the annual gift exclusion to avoid estate/gift taxes.

A benefit that can be realized by more than the ultra-rich is that you do not have to file a gift tax return for gifts under the annual exclusion amount as long as the value of the gift is easily ascertainable (i.e., a check).

Trusts protect my assets from creditors (including Medicaid). Revocable Living Trusts are considered an alter-ego of the person who created them (and their spouse) for purposes of taxes and creditor protection. Therefore, these trusts do not provide tax or creditor protection benefits. That being said, they do have a place in estate planning for purposes of avoiding probate and making management transition more fluid if the grantor (the person creating the trust) becomes incompetent.

There ARE trusts, however, that do provide asset protection. These typically are irrevocable trusts that name trusted children or loved ones as lifetime beneficiaries and then, at the death of the grantor, are distributed to the remainder beneficiaries pursuant to the grantor's original estate plan (i.e., equally to children, all to pool-boy, etc.)

Both my spouse's and my names are on the deed to our house so it will automatically transfer to the survivor upon the first to die. I would say 99.9 percent of the persons I've asked believe that as long as two person's names are on a deed the survivor takes the property upon the first to die. This is incorrect without anything further. In South Carolina, unless there are specific words of survivorship used in the granting clause of the deed, a tenancy in common will be presumed. What this means is that, without the requisite survivorship language, upon the death of the first to die, that person's interest passes to whomever s/he designated in his/her will or, if none, to his/her intestate heirs as determined by the SC Probate Code §62-2-10 et seq.

Catherine LaFond, J.D., LL.M., of catherine e. lafond, p.a., is an elder law attorney accredited with the VA to assist veterans and their surviving spouses with the presentment of claims for Improved Pension and can be reached at info@lafondlaw.com or 843.762.3554. She is VA Accredited Attorney #19668.

Look to the skies July 4 for a special salute

The federal budget sequestration couldn't stop the fourth annual Salute from the Shore on July 4, but this year's event will be a little different.

For the last three years, F-16 fighter jets from Shaw Air Force Base zipped along the coast from the Grand Strand to Hilton Head Island to the delight of beachgoers along the Palmetto State's coast.

This year, the jets are grounded because of the budget situation, but the show will go on -- with vintage planes from World War II.

The air parade will begin at 1 p.m. from the northernmost beaches in Myrtle Beach area, arrive in Charleston area around 1:45 p.m. and continue south to wrap up in the Hilton Head island area around 2:15 p.m., organizers said.

"It's really inspiring that despite challenges this year, we are flying anyway," said Salute from the Shore board president Andy Folsom in a press release. "This event is a reminder and celebration of our freedom and all the military does to ensure that."

YEScarolina gets $2,500 entrepreneurship grant

Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina, better known as YESCarolina, has won a $2,500 grant from MeadWestvaco (MWV) to boost entrepreneurship education in the classroom.

From left: Pictured from the left is YEScarolina founder Jimmy Bailey; Alyssa D'Orazio, MWV community relations specialist; YEScarolina development director Harriett Lee; and Becky Vaughan, MWV communications coordinator. Photo provided.

"We truly believe in the organization's mission and feel strongly that they have developed a winning model to ensure each and every classroom in need has the proper tools to ensure today's youth will be tomorrow's business owners and business leaders," said Alyssa D'Orazio, MWV community relations specialist.

YEScarolina, a nonprofit organization to promote entrepreneurial education in middle and high schools, has influenced thousands across the state through its teacher training and mentoring programs. MWV's grant will support continuing growth of YEScarolina and its 2013 efforts that will allow for more opportunities for students and involve influential members of the community. YEScarolina has trained more than 600 teachers who, in turn, have trained more than 12,000 students about entrepreneurship.

UnLocking South Carolina with technology

Two local companies are trying to help poor South Carolina counties "unlock" technology to improve education in a crowdfunding campaign that kicks off today.

BiblioLabs, which has tablet- and web- based application that synchs technology with education, is partnering with crowdfunder Funding SC to start "UnlockSC" to raise money to give S.C. students access to the app.

"Schools in our state and across the country often fall behind the technological curve," said BiblioLabs founder Mitchell Davis. "We're born and bred South Carolinians, and we've developed this product that has tremendous potential to positively affect the way students learn. So, we thought, why not make a change here in South Carolina?"

UnlockSC's goal is to raise enough money for the three South Carolina counties with the lowest per capita income to receive access to BiblioBoard. First up: Dillon, Marlboro and Clarendon counties. "If we reach that goal, we'll keep adding counties," Davis said.

BiblioLabs says it hopes to cover nominal maintenance costs with the funds raised- they will be reducing BiblioBoard's retail price by 96.3 percent for the UnlockSC project. UnlockSC will be launched on local crowdfunding site, Funding SC, which is part of a larger system of localized crowdfunding sites founded by Charleston entrepreneur John Osborne in February.

DIG SOUTH festival seeks conference presenters

The annual DIG SOUTH Interactive Festival is seeking conference presenters for its April 2014 event from July 4 to Aug. 7, 2013. If you are interested in presenting, you should apply at present.digsouth.com.

The five-day festival, which starts April 9, will include a two-day interactive conference with high-level presenters and innovative startups, a two-day tech and creative industry expo, a one-day Culturama featuring the HACKCharleston Challenge, national touring bands, comedians, "Space Walk" tours, Deep Dive workshops, dine arounds, craft beer gardens and unlimited networking opportunities.

The theme for 2014 is #mobilize, according to DIG SOUTH organizers. Conference presenters will explore the mobilization of digital tools and platforms and the global workforce. General tracks include technology, business, marketing, gaming and culture.

DIG SOUTH is the first and only event celebrating the Southeastern digital economy. Earlier this year, DIG SOUTH featured 134 presenters from across the nation, 454 Conference participants and 3,162 total Festival attendees.


An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us a short paragraph review of why you liked a recent visit to a restaurant or a book that you recenly read. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com


Palmetto Trail

The Palmetto Trail is South Carolina's first cross-state recreational trail. It is designed as an easy to moderate hiking and mountain-biking trail. When complete, the more than four-hundred-mile mountains-to the-sea trail will link Oconee State Park, near Walhalla, with the Intracoastal Waterway at Buck Hall Recreation Area, near Awendaw. Enthusiasts may choose to hike or bike the entire trail or accomplish one or two "passages" at a time.

Along the Palmetto Trail users visit South Carolina's forests, parks, historic sites, wildlife refuges, the State House, a military base, and a variety of private and corporate lands. Highlights of the trail include open vistas of the Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Moultrie, the Wateree River, and landscapes ranging from rolling farmlands to mountaintops. There are waterfalls, boardwalks, historic sites, small towns, and barbeque restaurants. Hikers and bikers may see ospreys, eagles, deer, turkeys, alligators, and a variety of warblers, herons, snakes, turtles, butterflies, dragonflies, trees, and wildflowers.

The vision for the Palmetto Trail began in 1994 through the efforts of the nonprofit Palmetto Conservation Foundation, working with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. The trail is supported by the General Assembly, numerous public and private landowners and land managers, and corporate and private contributions. Trail construction has been aided by the many land managers, the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, the South Carolina National Guard, Santee Cooper, Boy Scouts of America, and many volunteer groups and individuals.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Tony Bebber. 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.)


Red shoes

Charleston's Tony the Peanut Man is the latest local celebrity to help the Ronald McDonald House in Charleston celebrate its 30th birthday by wearing big red shoes touted on billboards. So far this year, models who have appeared wearing the campaign's red shoes include Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Bill Walsh, Brett Gardner and Darius Rucker. You can see the billboard on I-26 near Ashley Phosphate Road. More: www.wearredshoes.com. Photo provided.

MYSTERY PHOTO: Only two readers knew that last week's beautiful red flower from Brookgreen Gardens was a Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana') Hats off to Christopher Ibsen of Charleston and Cheryl Smithem of Folly Beach who took home a pair of ticket vouchers for a RiverDogs game. Congrats!


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.

TravelOrMove.com -- a fun, interactive site where you can input your travel or retirement preferences and find places you might not have considered.

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.


Charleston Currents offers insightful community comment and good news on events each week. It cuts through the information clutter to offer the best of what's happening locally.

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More than you might want to know

Last week, we gave you some ways to get rid of mosquitoes. This week, how about some fun facts about the pests?

  • A mosquito's life revolves around water; a female mosquito lays her eggs in water or in areas expected to flood.

  • Once they hatch, a larvae mosquito must remain in water until it emerges as an adult approximately one to two weeks later.

  • Mosquitoes can become infected with the West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds.

  • Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease from an infected dog or cat to a healthy dog or cat.

  • Mosquitoes beat their wings 300-600 times per second, making the mosquito buzz sound.

    Learn more


Red shoes

"How can you say that I'm too old, when the angels have stolen my red shoes."

-- Elvis Costello



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(NEW) Coastal Living's 2013 Showhouse: Open at various times now through Oct. 20. The magazine's newly-constructed home along the Wando River on Daniel Island is open for tours with a portion of the $15 ticket proceeds to charity. More info and times here.

Reopening of Folly Beach County Park: 9 am., July 3, Folly Beach. An hour after the reopening, there will be a ceremony will be the day to celebrate the stabilization of the shore at the park. Click here for an update.

Fish, Fun and Fireworks: 7 p.m., July 4, S.C. Aquarium, Charleston. The attraction will offer evening hours leading to a great place to watch Independence Day fireworks. There will be barbecue, local beer, music and more. Tickets are $55 for adults, $30 for children. More.

Uncle Sam Jam: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., July 4, Mount Pleasant Pier, Mount Pleasant. The pier will offer an excellent viewing area for fireworks. Dance to live classics by Permanent Vacation. Admission is limited. Tickets $10 in advance; $8 for Charleston County residents. More.

History fair: July 6, Magnolia Plantations and Gardens. The attraction will showcase more than 30 of the area's historic organizations, businesses and institutions. Among the activities: a brickmaker will make brocks, a storyteller will tell the tale of an enslaved worker and a historian will portray French botanist Andre Michaux. More.


"The Practice Child:" July 11-21, Threshold Theatre, 84 1/2 Society Street, Charleston. What If? Productions will feature a world premiere production of Tyler Stuart's outrageous comedy that won the company's 2012 Playwrights Festival. Click here to learn more about tickets and times.

Book launch: 6:30 p.m., July 16, The Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn, 19 Vendue Range St., Charleston. Local New York Times bestselling author Brad Taylor will launch his brand new Pike Logan thriller, "The Widow's Strike," at this event. More.

(NEW) Book sale, John's Island: Starting at 9 a.m. on July 26 and 27. The Charleston Friends of the Library will present the John's Island Branch Book Sale at the John's Island Regional Branch, 3531 Maybank Highway, Charleston. Great deals to be had on books and other media. More.

Great place for lunch: Every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of July (except during July 4 week), 181 Palmer, Palmer Campus, Trident Tech, Columbus Street, Charleston. For just $15 per person, you can get a great lunchtime meal by student chefs with the Culinary Institute of Charleston. Make reservations here or phone 843.820.5087 for more.

Great watercolors: Through Sept 15, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston. In conjunction with Spoleto Festival USA, the Gibbes will present watercolors created in Charleston in the early 1990s by celebrated contemporary artists Stephen Mueller and Carl Palazzolo, who will give an opening day gallery talk at 2:30 p.m. at the museum. Art is from the collection David and Carol Rawle. More: GibbesMuseum.org

Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.


8/26: Ringler: Chasing after a cure
Sabine: Kids giving back
Frazier: Bat lab
Hathorne: Kudzu bugs

7/29: Sheahen: Poverty grows
Ferguson: Plate at the table
Kaynard: Mepkin Abbey
McCandless: At-risk youths
McGee: Monroe's new book

Williams: Avoiding foreclosure
Dewey: Preventing suicide
Hoover: Clean kitchens
Kulp: On breathalyzers


8/5: The Angel of Death
Assault on Battery Wagner
"A furious barbarian"
Recovery of Keokuk guns
"Turrets are coming!"
Preparing to attack
Blockade is broken
Stono Rebellion


8/26: What would Dr. King say?
Wool over our eyes
Essays on ordinary summer
Ford needs to get out of the way

7/29: New poverty study
Engage in trade war
Give brand to government
S.C. keeps treading water
Brad Taylor's new thriller

Brookgreen Gardens
New fee bring us closer?
Great new library service
On Robert Ford


7/1: Estate planning myths
Pensions for wartime vets
Revocable Living Trusts
Resources to help seniors cope
On life estates
Next step in health care


7/29: B Corps
GoodBiz Summit
Getting ready to evacuate
Tax policies
On good policy
Heirs' property
1/28: Two conferences


6/17: Interactive adventures
Birds, bees, butterflies
Signs of spring abound
Great local parks
What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventure


8/26: Citadel records
Tops in ice cream
Free computer classes
Hall of Famers

Beer shakes
Tall buildings
Keep pets safe
List recalibration
Mosquito facts

Curbing mosquitoes
Twitter tips
Help for job applicants
Summer projects

5/27: Hurricane tips
Cleaning up rooms
Traveling with friends
5 on melanoma

4/29: 5 on Cinco de Mayo
Best in Charleston
Generous cities
Spring cleaning tips
Vacation ID tips

3/25: Park and play
On the menu
Still no response
No response

2/25: Five on storytelling
Earth Day duties
For the heart
Home energy tips

Cold water boating
On Ted Stern
SMART goals
Dealing with email



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