5.52 | Monday, Oct. 28, 2013
drivers need to slow down, be more careful
2013 -- According to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Charleston has,
for the third year in a row, been voted by readers as the country's Number
One city to visit. Most of us think this is such a wonderful place and,
obviously, so do a lot of others.
just as an employer periodically reviews employees, goals should be set
for areas of improvement for our city, too.
I have worked in and around the Charleston historic district and have noticed the aggressiveness and impatience of drivers. It is state law that vehicles must stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk.
noticed many tourists scurrying across intersections dodging cars. Drivers
cut in front of pedestrians and do not make eye contact. I guess, if you
are that driver, lack of eye contact lessens the guilt.
Many of the towns and cities I have visited have crosswalks that are marked with bright pylons and a sign reminding drivers "state law gives pedestrians in the crosswalk the right of way."
find one intersection in the entire city that is marked with anything
more than a small road sign and an arrow pointing where the crosswalk
our governor and Highway Department can find a few dollars to provide
safer crosswalks. They certainly had no problem finding money to remove
the "killer trees" on I-26. Failing that, Charleston drivers
could do the courteous thing and just let people cross.
City offers surprises, new opportunities
OCT. 28, 2013 -- You don't expect to find a world-class art gallery in Lake City, a rural South Carolina community between Kingstree and Florence.
But that's just what you can experience thanks to millions of dollars being pumped into the community by native daughter and financier Darla Moore. There's a lot of redevelopment -- even a boutique hotel being built downtown -- and an annual art festival, ArtFields, that has $100,000 in cash prizes to draw attention to the area and promote opportunities.
We stumbled upon the Jones-Carter Gallery last week in a visit to the Pee Dee and were blown away. Right now, the gallery is showcasing the work of modern painter William H. Johnson (1901-1970), an African-American master born in Florence. He moved to New York City when he was 17 and saved money to pay for classes at the National Academy of Design. He enjoyed some success with his modern paintings with folk influences, but by middle age, he wasn't able to sustain himself through art. He reportedly stopped painting in 1956 and lived in a state hospital for the last 23 years of his life.
Johnson's art -- more than 1,000 pieces -- almost was thrown away, but was rescued by friends and later given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service honored Johnson's talent by issuing a postage stamp in recognition of being one of the country's most important African-American artists.
The exhibit in Lake City is worth the trip. Developed by Morgan State University and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, it offers oils, woodcuts, watercolors and more that dazzle.
But what's more interesting is the fact that this gallery is in Lake City, home to about 6,500 people, about a third of whom live below the federal poverty line. Like Charleston Place was a linchpin of an economic resurgence in Charleston, the gallery, which was a hardware and grocery store in a previous life, and the hotel under construction may become a similar lure. According to a brochure, the gallery "is convenient to contemporary shops, clothiers, antique stores and several restaurants."
A dozen years ago, few would have conceived as Lake City as a "destination," but it's worth seeing what's happening in this small Pee Dee town.
* * * * *
There's an election in Charleston next week, in case you didn't know.
Not only are six city council seats up for grabs, but voters will be able to cast ballots for candidates running for the Commission of Public Works, which may be better known as the Charleston Water Service Commission. On the ballot is our friend Catherine LaFond, a frequent columnist for Charleston Currents. We encourage you to get to the polls and vote.
On the Nov. 5 ballot:
us your thoughts
Plantation and Gardens
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. Today we shine our spotlight on Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. It has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870. Open 365 days a year, Magnolia offers its visitors splendid tours of nature and history and the role African-Americans played in the development of its award-winning Romantic-style gardens.
of rising bond market on stocks, more
OCT. 28, 2013 -- Last month, we took a look at what was happening in the bond market as interest rates rise. Now, let's look at the consequences that a rising bond rate market will have on your non-bond investments?
To answer that question we'll look at three things that investors ask when choosing investments other than bonds:
1) What is the potential risk and return of the alternative investments?
When we talk about alternatives to bond investments, we mostly talk about stocks. If the stock market starts to look edgy, or the U.S. starts sliding back into recession, the Fed will want to keep interest rates low and be a tad more gradual about ending its QE activity.
2) What is the current and expected inflation rate?
The current inflation rate is low partially because the high unemployment rate is making it harder for workers to ask for substantial raises, and partially because the banks have a lot of money to lend but not a lot of people asking or qualifying to borrow it. A recent report notes that an astonishing 82 percent of the U.S. money supply is currently on deposit at the Fed, mostly in accounts held by large banks. From January 1959 through the end of 2007 only 6.18 percent was on deposit at the Fed. By the laws of supply and demand, banks don't have a lot of leverage to demand high rates of interest.
You can project a high interest rate if you believe that the unemployment markets are going to tighten up in the fairly near future, and that somehow millions of people will want to borrow most of the global supply of dollar. If this is not your belief, then you should probably not worry about an explosion in the inflation rate for the foreseeable future.
3) Are the longer-term rates attractive enough to lure you away from the relative safety of shorter-duration bonds?
At the moment, short-term rates on Treasuries and most other fixed-income vehicles are about as close to zero as they can get. The Fed has announced that its policy rate is 0 percent. Until the economy gets fully back on its feet and unemployment comes down dramatically, this is likely to continue to be its policy rate. The spread between 3-month T-bills and 10-year Treasuries is currently about 2.8 percent. This is nearly twice as high as the 1.5 percent historical average. Can it go higher? Yes. On two occasions since January of 1970, the spread has reached as high as 4 percent.
The facts lead me to a different outcome from the disaster scenarios you hear in the news. The Fed is planning to stop buying Treasuries at some point and let market forces take over -- but only when it believes the economy is healthy and only as long as it can do this without harming economic growth or hammering the stock market. The market forces themselves are unknown, but it's hard to see how the 10-year Treasury bond will rise above 4 percent. Stated another way, it's hard to imagine the 10-year Treasury bond yielding more than twice as much as the dividend yield in the overall S&P 500.
So what we're seeing in the bond market appears, if you can get away from the breathless headlines, may not be catastrophic over the long term, but a short-term adjustment to the imbalance that was caused by the Feds presence in the Treasury bond market. Bond investors are asking an extra 1.3 percent a year to compensate for all the uncertainty they face as they commit their money for the next 10 years. They may well ask for a bit more in the future.
In the meantime, we are regrouping and making the decision to increase our position on the short end of the yield curve. We can then wait and watch and as interest rates rise and reposition into higher yields.
As always, the reality is that the world and its markets are dynamic. We must pay attention and make the best informed, educated adjustments that we can.
YEScarolina raises $215,000 at annual gala on October 17
The fourth annual Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina gala recently generated $215,000 to help train teachers about entrepreneurship in coming years.
"We are overwhelmed by the support of our community and proud that our supporters understand the importance of entrepreneurship education in today's economy," said founder Jimmy Bailey of Charleston.
At the event, attendees met and networked with South Carolina's top ten student entrepreneurs. Each student had a table with their business displayed and materials to share.
"YEScarolina has provided me with a lot of experiences and opportunities that I certainly would not have had without participating in the class and events<' said student Evan Knox. "I have been unbelievably motivated and inspired by many of the people who I've had the opportunity to meet and the places which I've had the opportunities to visit, all of which would not have been possible without you and YEScarolina!"
YEScarolina, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is the only organization in the state of South Carolina dedicated to teaching youth the principles of entrepreneurship and free enterprise. Learn more. http://yescarolina.com/
Harrington receives medal from The Citadel
Retired Marine Col. Myron C. Harrington Jr., received the Palmetto Medal Award on Friday for his distinguished 30-year military career and decades of service to veterans, disabled children and his alma mater, The Citadel.
According to a citation, " Harrington received the most notable awards and decorations in 1968 when he was a young captain serving in Vietnam. He led a courageous assault against a heavily fortified enemy stronghold in the Hue City Citadel during the infamous Tet Offensive. In the face of extreme personal danger, he led his Marines in overrunning the entrenched North Vietnamese. For that action, Colonel Harrington received the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest military award for valor in combat."
Harrington, also former headmaster of Trident Academy, is a 1960 graduate of The Citadel. The award he received was created by the college's Board of Visitors to recognize exceptional performance by cadets, faculty, staff or alumni.
North Charleston readies for $42 million Public Works complex
North Charleston officials broke ground Thursday on a new $42 million
Public Works complex off Vector Avenue. The new complex features a state-of-the-art
design on a 38-acre campus to streamline public works functions. It also
places the facility centrally within the city, according to a press release.
Charleston acquired the property after the Charleston Naval Base closed.
For years, a municipal court annex and several city departments operated
there. Additional property was later transferred to the city by the U.S.
Air Force. After the completion of the new city hall in the fall of 2009,
all city departments were consolidated, except for public works. The consolidation
allowed for the demolition of the former annex, freeing a large tract
of land for a new public works facility.
complex will consist of a multi-building campus, plus sheds for equipment
and storage, spread across 38 acres. Its centralized location allows access
to major thoroughfares and I-26. Construction is scheduled to be completed
in April 2015.
Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century
Geoffrey Parker, a renowned British historian, presents an analysis of scientific evidence and the first-hand accounts of men and women who experienced devastating political, economic and social changes around the world during the 17th century. Featured events include the Thirty Years War, the English Civil War, the Fronde in France and the Ming-Qing transition in China, among others.
Though Parker may not directly attribute worldwide disasters introduced during the 17th century to climate change, he explains how climate change resulted in crop failures, famines, flooding and droughts that exacerbated events during the period. While the lengthy 871-page count may deter non-scholars, those interested in current political and environmental issues may enjoy reading about the balance of population and food supply or the decision to concentrate on butter instead of guns.
Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1990, the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is part of the federal system of refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge represents the federal role in the larger ACE Basin Project with two units, one on the Combahee River and the other on the Edisto River.
The headquarters for the NWR is located at the Grove, a rice plantation begun in 1825 on the Edisto River. The plantation house dates from 1828 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Nature Conservancy purchased the Grove in 1991 and sold it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the following year.
With a total of nearly 12,000 acres, the ACE Basin NWR is managed for wildlife with careful attention given to habitat preservation. The estuary is home to a wide variety of birds, fish, and game, including such endangered and threatened species as wood storks, osprey, bald eagles and shortnose sturgeon. Limited public fishing and hunting for deer and waterfowl are permitted. With the completion of additional purchases, the future size of the refuge may reach 18,000 acres.
The refuge contains canals and dikes from the days when the land was home to large rice plantations. Through control of water levels, the former rice fields are used to encourage habitats for waterfowl and other bird species. Additionally, the NWR uses controlled burning as a tool for creating and maintaining habitat for turkey, quail and songbirds.
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Top cities in the world
While Charleston ranked first again in the U.S. as the top travel city for readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, it ranked fifth best in the world. In the top 10:
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Art on Paper Fair: November 1-3, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston. The weekend event will feature the sale of prints, watercolors, photos and drawings that celebrate the South. There are several events over the weekend. More.
Fall Festival: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., November 2, Charles Towne Montessori, 56 Leinbach Drive, West Ashley. Join the school for fun games, good food, special guests and unique vendors in its annual event. There's an open house that starts at 10 a.m. More.
Harvest Festival: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., November 2, Mullet Hall Equestrian Center, 2662 Mullet Hall Road, Johns Island. The 12th annual Harvest Festival will feature a barbecue cookoff, bluegrass music from five local bands, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, lasso demonstrations and more. Cost $12 per person; kids under 12 are free. More.
(NEW) Dunne lecture: 6 p.m., November 6, Citadel Alumni Center, Charleston. The World Affairs Council presents Middle Eastern expert Charles Dunne. More.
Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival: Nov. 7-10, Sottile Theatre, College of Charleston, downtown Charleston. The four-day festival will celebrate Italian contemporary cinema and culture with several films and special guests. More info.
Park Day Festival: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., November 9, Daniel Island. The annual festival will offer lots of family fun with a wide range of activities, including a mobile zip line, obstacle course, climbing wall and more. Online here.
(NEW) Celebrity softball: 2:05 p.m., November 9, Joseph P. Riley Park, Charleston. Comedian Bill Murray and a bunch of national and local celebrities will meet for the third annual Slim Down the South Celebrity Softball Challenge. More.
(NEW) On Golden Pond: November 14 through December 1, Charleston Acting Studio, 915 Folly Road, James Island. The studio will put on the award-winning play over two weeks. Click here for ticket information and times.
(NEW) Garden gathering: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nov. 16, Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, S.C. You can learn about wildlife and pollinators at this daylong event by Clemson Extension in the cypress swamp. Register ($60) and learn more.
(NEW) Lauder lecture: 6 p.m., November 20, Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street, Charleston. The Gibbes Museum of Art will host philanthropist and cosmetic executive Leonard A. Lauder as the inaugural speaker in a new lecture series. Lauder recently donated a notable collection of Cubist art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Tickets are $35 for members; $45 for non-members. More.
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.
Christmas to remember
9/30: What happens when rates rise