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Op-Ed: Who Holds the General Assembly Accountable?

By Shane McNamee
April 24, 2015

The General Assembly has long dominated South Carolina politics. Members of the House of Representative and Senate elect judges, perform executive functions such as procurement, and investigate and punish ethics violations in their own bodies.

The pervasive nature of legislative dominance is such that it affects nearly every issue in our state. And nowhere is legislative hegemony clearer than in the debate over road funding.

First, lawmakers in the Senate have revealed a casual disregard for the state constitution. S.523, a bill first introduced by Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), has since been turned into a vehicle for the Senate Finance Committee roads plan. Both the original bill and the version to emerge from the Finance Committee raise existing taxes and fees, and create other new fees. Both raise revenue, which the constitution explicitly forbids the Senate from doing. Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The Missing Tooth

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

There’s a new entry in my Four Words You Never Thought You’d Hear in NASCAR journal. They are “I miss Kyle Busch.” Among my circle of friends, acquaintances and random people who just feel the need to give me their opinions on racing, this succinct sentence has been repeated so many times that it has actually gone viral.

There are lots of reasons to miss Kyle Busch. When he was seriously injured during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the day before the 2015 Daytona 500, he left a hole in racing bigger than the gap in a 6-year-old’s mouth after the loss of his first tooth.

Regardless of how you feel about him personally, there is no denying that Busch is one of the most fascinating personalities in racing, and about the closest thing we have to an “old school” driver. He doesn’t back away from saying what he thinks. He is honest and brash, sarcastic and funny. He seems to be completely devoted to his wife Samantha and their new baby boy who will be joining the family in May.

Behind the wheel, he is canny, aggressive and completely focused on winning. Love him or not – and both sides have their ardent supporters – you can’t deny that watching him race is always a blast.

Except when it isn’t. Fans were horrified to see Busch make hard contact with an interior concrete wall at Daytona, then somehow crawl out of the car, lie down on the grass, and subsequently be whisked away to a nearby hospital by emergency rescue workers.

We later learned that he had sustained serious fractures in both legs, would be undergoing surgery, and would be absent from racing for an unspecified period of time. Read the rest of this entry »

Cop Cameras “protect the truth”

Sgt. Thomas Horton of the Darlington Police Department patrols the city with a camera mounted to his cap.

Sgt. Thomas Horton of the Darlington Police Department patrols the city with a camera mounted to his cap.

By Samantha Lyles
Staff Writer
slyles@newsandpressonline.com

[This story was originally published on September 10, 2014 in the News & Press]

After a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed suspect on Aug. 9, the town endured a few extremely tense weeks punctuated with protest marches, looting, and sporadic violence. Confusion over differing accounts of the shooting lent fuel to the fire. In the absence of any objective documentation of what occurred, people ended up creating their own narratives, like ‘the white police officer was a racist looking to bully a young black man,’ or ‘the victim was a suspect in another crime and he provoked the officer’s actions.’ This absence of documentation has caused many police departments to investigate the option of equipping their officers with body-mounted cameras – a tool the Darlington Police Department saw the need for long before Ferguson.

“Had there been a body camera video of what happened with that incident – I’m not saying it would have exonerated the officer, I don’t know – but people couldn’t just make up a story that benefits them,” says Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson. “If you have video, you don’t have to worry about perception. I can see exactly what happened because video doesn’t lie, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t forget.”

The DPD has been using body-mounted cameras since around 2009 when Watson (then a captain), Captain Jimmy Davis, and the late Chief Jay Cox saw them at a law enforcement expo and decided the potential benefits were worth the expense. The department conferred with camera maker Taser, the same company that produces the non-lethal force mainstay Taser stun guns, and the company provided several Axon cameras for a trial.

“I wouldn’t say the officers were fighting over them. When it comes to new technology in law enforcement, people can be reluctant, asking what are the adding benefits? Will it work or not? What are the unintended effects?” Watson recalls. “But when we got them and were able to use that video in court and saw all the other benefits, we thought, how did we ever work without them?”

The results were so positive that the DPD contracted with Taser to provide body cameras for all patrol officers. The cost is about $12,000 per year, and Watson says he has come to view the cameras as an insurance policy safeguarding his officers and the community they serve.

“I’m not a spokesman for Taser or anything, but I am a huge supporter,” says Chief Watson. “Taser says their personal protection devices protect life. Well, the Axon protects the truth, and that is a fact.”

Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson with the charging bank and download station where the DPD stores its Axon cameras

Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson with the charging bank and download station where the DPD stores its Axon cameras

The first-person perspective provided by the body-mounted cameras gives an unaltered account of who said what, who did what, and what exactly transpired, without prejudice toward any party. Darlington Police Department policy dictates that officers must activate the Axon cameras and begin recording each time they have any interaction with the public. The video recorded by the Axon cameras is stored on secured remote drives and uploaded each day to Taser’s secure servers. The video is view-only and not accessible for alteration or deletion, and the camera provides only a human-eye level of observation.

“The camera is in no way enhanced. It can’t see any more than you can see with your normal vision, as far as low light situations,” says Watson, adding that the naturalistic perspective of the cameras adds to their reliability in documenting “in plain site” evidence discovery.

While Taser client departments cannot edit the Axon videos, Watson says the DPD can send links to the Fourth Circuit Solicitor’s Office for evidence review, and the department can review those same linked videos with citizens who file complaints or have questions about their interactions with officers – which can sometimes devolve into name-calling or worse behavior.

“You can only be as nice as people let you be,” says Sgt. Thomas Horton, a DPD officer who wears an Axon camera clipped to his department-issue baseball hat.
“People are going to say stuff, they’re going to curse. It’s going to happen. This system has made officers even more aware that everything they do is under scrutiny. It helps them to remember,” says Watson.

Watson says the cameras have significantly reduced the number of false complaints against the department, since many who fabricate stories of officer misconduct are forced to recant after seeing video that contradicts their accounts. Additionally, those who file false complaints may face charges for doing so. But when the complaint is valid, the Axon video supports their claims. In such cases, the video can serve as a valuable teaching tool to help correct an officer’s behavior, or it can help a department cleanly part ways with a bad apple.

“People do have legitimate complaints sometimes. It does happen,” says Watson. “No officer is perfect. We can and do make mistakes… and when that happens, you need to take a step back and figure out how to resolve the issue.”

, , , , ,

7 incidents in April alone, and the month isn’t over

Editor’s note: Contact info for this story is Rebecca Johnson, 803-320-0284, john2658@email.sc.edu.

Stories, photos and videos provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Dr. Deborah Gump, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

Sidebar to It’s not black and white: How to talk about race in S.C. – or anywhere

***

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio: Two male students are charged with racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic slurs on a campus residence hall billboard. University President David Hodge said the students will face legal and disciplinary actions.

 Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama: Two white faculty members at the university have filed a suit against the school for racist hiring and admissions practices toward white people. Steven B. Chesbro and his partner John Garland also claim that ASU passed regulations against same-sex couples in retaliation for their complaints about racism.

SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, New York: Sketches of a swastika and nooses were found drawn on walls of campus dormitories. The Bias Crimes Unit of the Westchester District Attorney’s Office is investigating the hate crimes. Some of the drawings were on the door of a half-black student and a Jewish student.

Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut: Racist graffiti found in a campus student center restroom prompted the college to cancel classes so that students could attend a campuswide discussion about racism and discrimination. The incident came shortly after a professor posted derogatory comments about the Gaza Strip on a Facebook page.

Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Three students were expelled after making racist comments and using a slur in a campus radio broadcast. An inmate at a nearby prison heard the comments and reported them to the Lewisburg Prison Project.

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina: Students found a noose hanging in a central plaza less than two weeks after a group of white students allegedly taunted a black student with a racist chant. The chant was the same heard sung in a video by a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa.

University of California-Berkeley in Berkeley, California: UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union sent Chancellor Nicholas Dirks a list of demands aimed at improving the black student experience on campus. The 10 proposals include creating a resource center for black students and hiring two full-time black admissions staff members. The list was tied to an ongoing conversation between Dirks and the union about lynching effigies that showed up on campus last December.

- Rebecca Johnson, USC School of Journalism

It’s not black and white: How to talk about race in S.C. – or anywhere

Editor’s note: Contact info for this story is Rebecca Johnson, 803-320-0284, john2658@email.sc.edu.

Stories, photos and videos provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Dr. Deborah Gump, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

W/sidebar 7 incidents in April alone, and the month isn’t over

***

By Rebecca Johnson
USC School of Journalism

How do we have a conversation about racism and discrimination?

The events sparking such conversations have been piling up with grim frequency. The most shocking, the shooting of a black man earlier this month in North Charleston, resulted in murder charges against a police officer.

But while the death of Walter Scott erupted into national headlines, racial incidents have been rolling across what are supposed to be centers of diverse thought and ethical reasoning: college campuses, at least seven in April alone.

An eighth incident came April 3 at the University of South Carolina, when a student was suspended after a Snapchat screenshot went viral. The picture showed the student holding a red marker in front of a whiteboard list that described why “USC wifi blows.”

The first reason is a racial slur.

The online conversation quickly grew into a firestorm. Comments on Yik Yak, an app where users post anonymously, alternately threatened and defended the student’s free-speech rights. Twitter feeds were barraged with hashtags of the student’s name and tweets to the student’s account. Online users tweeted at the student’s account, the university’s accounts and the accounts of major national news organizations to praise or question the university’s response, condemn the student’s comments and call attention to the story.

But not all the tweets were constructive.

“We the white delegation have released (name deleted) from our roster.”

“Only mistake (name deleted) made was getting caught.”

Online conversations have a history of devolving into troll-like behavior. Face-to-face conversations can be easier, especially if everyone shares the same view, as evidenced by an on-campus town hall meeting shortly after the whiteboard incident.

Organizers repeatedly said the meeting wasn’t a response to the whiteboard incident, but an attempt to move the discrimination discussion forward.

“In order for us to even begin to talk about the diversity issues on this campus, we have to start somewhere,” said Karli Wells, a junior from Columbia and one of the leaders of Students Invested in Change, which ran the meeting.  “It’s always kind of hit-or-miss when you’re trying to have an open discussion, especially about something this controversial.”

So how do we have a frank conversation about racism and discrimination – in person?

Shay Malone, director of USC’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, said the simplest way to react to an offensive comment, whether it’s intended as a joke or not, is to “Just combat it head on. Say, ‘hey, that’s not cool.’ ”

Once you express your own feelings, Malone said, it’s important to hear the offender out.

“I think a lot of times people don’t understand the power of listening,” Malone said. “On both parts, I think oftentimes people are lashing out because they feel hurt, and they don’t understand that their words are hurting someone else.”

Dr. Kim Simmons, a professor of anthropology and African-American studies at USC, said that shutting down discriminatory comments is a start but that it’s important the offender understand why the comment was offensive.

“I think you have to show the person why that might be insensitive or offensive, and you can’t do that if you shut it down,” she said. “If you shut it down, it’s the end of it. It doesn’t encourage any conversation.”

She said how a listener should react depends on the situation. One tactic she suggests for listeners is to say that the comment made them feel awkward, embarrassed or hurt, which diffuses the situation by avoiding accusations. Ask speakers why they would say such a thing or believe what they said.

“If they get defensive, they won’t want to think about what they said,” Simmons said, but beginning a conversation allows people to grow and learn about different perspectives.

Simmons said it’s important to remember that all ideas come from somewhere, and exposure to different ideas helps one understand them. She said asking someone about their beliefs can lead to better understanding.

“It’s about exposure, where you’re presented with something different,” she said.

“We can have all the diversity we want to have. We have a diverse campus with diverse classrooms and diverse residence halls, but if we don’t learn anything from each other, what good is it?” Simmons said.

She added that conversations allow people to learn not only about differences but also about similarities. Those conversations can be difficult, though. A survey done for MTV found that an overwhelming 80 percent of millennials are uncomfortable having a discussion about race.

To bring about the discussion, Simmons uses an exercise with her students that makes it obvious that everyone has something in common. It involves students walking across the room if they identified with a statement, putting participants in the majority at times and in the minority at others.

Simmons’ game is similar to an icebreaker that opened the town hall meeting. Members of the audience were asked to stand every time they identified with a statement, and every person in the room stood when asked if they had experienced discrimination based on their body, ethnicity, race, religion, sex, gender, or disability status.

The exercise made it clear that few are strangers to feelings of discrimination.

“We all feel uncomfortable at different times,” Simmons said, adding that it’s helpful to be exposed to different perspectives by attending cultural events like festivals and holiday and religious events.

Asking questions about culture or race, she said, “can be tricky, but at the same time, how else do people learn?”

Dr. Kim Simmons is an anthropology and African American studies professor at USC.

Dr. Kim Simmons, an anthropology and African-American studies professor at USC, offers strategies for how to begin a constructive conversation about race. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The town hall meeting held on campus Wednesday, April 15 was full of students, staff and faculty members. The three-part meeting was held to share personal experiences with discrimination and discuss how to positively react in future situations.

The town hall meeting on campus Wednesday, April 15, was packed with students, staff and faculty members. The meeting was held to share personal experiences with discrimination and discuss how to react in future situations. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Karli Well, a junior and the leader of the campus organization Students Invested in Change, begins the town hall meeting with a reminder of what the gathering was for. The organization called for the event to begin an open, campus-wide conversation about discrimination.

Karli Wells, a junior and the leader of the campus organization Students Invested in Change, begins the town hall meeting with a reminder that the event is intended to begin a campuswide conversation about discrimination. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

 

 

Shay Malone is director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at USC.

Shay Malone, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at USC, says that discriminatory comments can’t be left unanswered. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Tweet sent after the whiteboard incident at USC.

racemedia5

Tweet sent after the whiteboard incident at USC.

racemedia6

Tweet sent after the whiteboard incident at USC.

racemedia2

Tweet sent after the whiteboard incident at USC.

racemedia3

Tweet sent after the whiteboard incident at USC.

 

“Get in, get out” by Stuart Neiman

"Get in, get out" by Stuart Neiman

“Get in, get out” by Stuart Neiman

Everyone is running

The sport of running is booming thanks to the increase in non-competitive and non-traditional events that appeal to a larger audience. The number of people running has increased over 300% in the last decade. With over 700 running events in South Carolina in 2013, the palmetto state is one of the national leaders in this movement and this activity is challenging to be S.C.’s favorite pastime . . . and women are leading the way!

Editor’s note: The contact for this informational graphic is USC, Prof. Scott Farrand, 803-777-6422, farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Informational graphic is provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Scott Farrand , School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

NOTE: This is a PDF file and if you would like to use it please email Scott Farrand so he can send it to you.running_edited

Everyone is running

The sport of running is booming thanks to the increase in non-competitive and non-traditional events that appeal to a larger audience. The number of people running has increased over 300% in the last decade. With over 700 running events in South Carolina in 2013, the palmetto state is one of the national leaders in this movement and this activity is challenging to be S.C.’s favorite pastime . . . and women are leading the way!

Editor’s note: The contact for this informational graphic is USC, Prof. Scott Farrand, 803-777-6422, farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Informational graphic is provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Scott Farrand , School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

NOTE: This is a PDF file and if you would like to use it please email Scott Farrand so he can send it to you.Sherpy_edited

Everyone is running

The sport of running is booming thanks to the increase in non-competitive and non-traditional events that appeal to a larger audience. The number of people running has increased over 300% in the last decade. With over 700 running events in South Carolina in 2013, the palmetto state is one of the national leaders in this movement and this activity is challenging to be S.C.’s favorite pastime . . . and women are leading the way!

Editor’s note: The contact for this informational graphic is USC, Prof. Scott Farrand, 803-777-6422, farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Informational graphic is provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Scott Farrand , School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

NOTE: This is a PDF file and if you would like to use it please email Scott Farrand so he can send it to you.Taylor_Edited

Everyone is on the run

Editor’s note: Contact  this informational graphic is Prof. Scott Farrand, 803-777-6422, farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Informational graphic is provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Scott Farrand, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.williams_edited_BW

NOTE: This is a PDF file and if you would like to use it please email Scott Farrand so it can be sent it to you.

The sport of running is booming thanks to the increase in non-competitive and non-traditional events that appeal to a larger audience. The number of people running has increased over 300% in the last decade. With over 700 running events in South Carolina in 2013, the palmetto state is one of the national leaders in this movement and this activity is challenging to be S.C.’s favorite pastime . . . and women are leading the way!

Everyone is on the run

Editor’s note: Contact  this informational graphic is Prof. Scott Farrand, 803-777-6422, farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Informational graphic is provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Scott Farrand , School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

NOTE: This is a PDF file and if you would like to use it please email Scott Farrand so he can send it to you.

The sport of running is booming thanks to the increase in non-competitive and non-traditional events that appeal to a larger audience. The number of people running has increased over 300% in the last decade. With over 700 running events in South Carolina in 2013, the palmetto state is one of the national leaders in this movement and this activity is challenging to be S.C.’s favorite pastime . . . and women are leading the way!

Running graphic_Williams

Running graphic_Williams

My Brain on NASCAR: What a Way to Go

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

During the week of June 18, 2007, I publicly cracked what has gone down in local lore as one of the worst jokes ever spoken aloud on the radio. It went something like this:

Within the past couple of days, Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon both became first-time fathers. Tiger’s new daughter is named Sam, and Gordon’s little girl is named Ella. So I guess you could say the professional sports world has been hit with a case of Sam-n-Ella.

Sam-n-Ella. Get it? (If not, don’t fret; you are not alone.)

I remembered that unfortunate pun while watching The Masters last weekend, first of all because it reminded me there’s a reason why I’m not a comedy writer; second because Woods’ and Gordon’s daughters were born only two days apart; and third, because I believe it was the first time in nearly eight years I had thought about the similarities between Gordon and Woods.

Gordon finished seventh at Texas Motor Speedway, and Woods survived a final-round injury scare to finish The Masters tied for 17th; no trophies or green jackets for either of them, but pretty respectable nonetheless.

This is what’s bothering me: At what point does “respectability” cease to be enough of a reason to continue grinding it out every weekend? When you’ve been at the very pinnacle of your sport, is simply being competitive enough incentive to keep going?

It depends on who you ask.

Tiger Woods joined the PGA tour in 1996 (nearly 20 years ago), won his first major tournament in 1997; he has won a total of 14 majors so far, and has racked up a whopping 79 PGA career victories, placing him second on the all-time win list behind – wait for it – Sam Snead. Not too shabby.

He has been plagued by back trouble in recent years, which naturally has affected his performance on the course, but, if you believe what you’re told (by him), Tiger is pretty tough. After injuring his wrist on the ninth hole of The Masters, he administered a little impromptu field surgery.

“A bone kinda popped out and a joint kind of went out of place, but I put it back in,” he told CBS broadcasters after the match. Whether you’re a Woods fan or not, that’s wicked cool.

Jeff Gordon’s first season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was 1992. He won his first race in 1994, the first of his four championships in 1995, and to date has 92 winner’s trophies on what must be one of the longest, sturdiest mantles in all of sports.

Like Woods, Gordon has suffered with back problems – spasms, to be specific – but in a recent interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, he dismissed them; well, somewhat.

“It’s not worth talking about,” he said. “It’s not something I’m just going to fix. It’s not something I can do and all of a sudden my back will be healed. It’s an ongoing process for me to maintain it.”

I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that if something in Gordon’s back “popped out” during a race, he would not be able to right that ship. But I am completely certain that if it was possible, he would give it a try.

On the all-time win list, Gordon ranks third, behind – again, wait for it – Richard Petty and David Pearson. There’s some rarified air for you.

Woods is 39 years old and will celebrate birthday number 40 in December. My personal opinion is that he will hang up the full-time spikes before many more years pass; when you’ve been on the top of your world, there is nowhere to go but down.

Gordon is 43 and has announced that 2015 will mark his final year of full-time competition in the NASCAR Sprint Series. There is nothing more embarrassing, for both fans and athletes, than trying to hang on too long. I applaud him for knowing when to say when.

But what happens next?

Well, just to keep things current, 21-year-old Jordan Speith won his first Masters tournament on April 12. And if you can remember back as far as February, when the smoke had cleared after the 2015 Daytona 500, 24-year-old Joey Logano was the guy celebrating in Victory Lane. These two young’uns are tearin’ it up in their respective games right now, and we will have the opportunity to enjoy watching them for years to come.

Tiger Woods might keep plugging along for a few more seasons, but for me, 2015 is the year of Jeff Gordon. He has consistently been one of NASCAR’s most popular, successful and classy competitors, a real racing rock star and a living legend, and it makes me very proud that he has chosen step down while he is still on top.

What a way to go.

Cathy Elliott is the former director of public relations for Darlington Raceway and author of the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR and Darlington Raceway: Too Tough To Tame. Contact her at cathyelliott@hotmail.com.

“Over A Traffic Ticket” by Stuart Neiman

"Over A Traffic Ticket" by Stuart Neiman

“Over A Traffic Ticket” by Stuart Neiman

Business Leaders in ‘Small Town’ South Carolina

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

It is often said that South Carolina is a big small town where everyone knows everyone else. And if we don’t know someone personally, then it’s usually “I know who they are.”

Growing up in a small Southern town, we all generally knew who the “successful” people were, and we also knew about the one or two people that were really successful; they were in a class by themselves. When we saw them on the street, they had a certain air about them; they always seemed to be just a little bit reserved and they were universally treated with respect. People tended to defer to their ideas and opinions.

In short, they were leaders. Nobody had officially designated them as such, that’s just who they were and everyone recognized it.

More often than not, their position was largely attributable to some combination of their personal character and their business or professional success. They often ran the major business or company in the area, they headed or sat on the board of the bank and they were elders and deacons in the local church.

When something good for the community needed doing, they were usually there. When there was an exceptionally bright or talented young person in the community that had “lesser means,” these community leaders often saw to it that they had what they needed to go to college and develop their potential. They usually did these things quietly without a lot of show.

And by both temperament and instinct, they were progressive, not in the modern political sense of left or right, but progressive in that generally they believed in progress. They believed that by their commitment and actions, they could do things that would help their community and state progress – progress to simply get better. And they would work to make it happen.

To some this may all just seem like just a hazy, nostalgic indulgence about the small town paternalism of the past, but it is not. It is about the here and now; it’s about a few very special South Carolina business leaders of today and their commitment to make a better, more “progressive” future for our state.

It’s about the SC Business Hall of Fame and their work to support Junior Achievement.

Recently they had their thirty-first annual banquet, where two new laureates, Hugh Lane Jr. and Joseph Blanchard, were inducted into the Hall of Fame – more on them later. The banquet was an elegant black-tie affair (though as a member of the working press, I tried to get by with just a coat and tie.) Since it’s founding in 1985, over 100 laureates have been recognized, and this evening the words most often used to describe those laureates, present and past, were – accomplishment, visionary, innovative, core values, integrity and passionate community engagement.

These were men and women whose life and work has had an enormous impact on our state and nation. Historic figures such as global financier Bernard Baruch, architect Robert Mills, agronomist Eliza Lucas Pinkney, and modern business giants like Jerry Zucker, Martha Rivers Ingraham, Darla Moore, and Jerry Richardson.

The laureates were South Carolinians with local businesses and local roots – not transplant executives from big multi-national companies who tend to be here today and gone tomorrow. And it was striking how many laureates were from the same families, often going back several generations – the Hipps, Cokers and Walls, the Springs/Close family, the Mikel/Shaw family, the Long/Way family, and others.

And in keeping with this tradition, one of this year’s laureates, Hugh Lane Jr., is the son of Hugh Lane Sr., one of the original laureates selected in 1985. Lane Jr., like his father, is a banker who cares passionately about his community and especially education, having made major personal and financial contributions not only in his native Charleston but to institutions all over the state. Perhaps his greatest legacy will be his and his brother Charles’s leadership in the creation of the 250,000 acre Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

Joe Blanchard is another great example of the proud history of the laureates’ combination of business, family and service. Joe’s father started their heavy machinery and equipment business and it now includes Joe’s sons. The family’s commitment to service, especially in the arts, education and the Midlands regions has been an inspiration to many others.

And education and inspiration is what Junior Achievement is all about – teaching financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness to new generations of South Carolinians. While the overwhelming majority of past laureates have been male, white and native born, like our state’s future, most of the 20,000 young people served this year by JA are not.

What makes the laureates and JA so special is that they have managed to combine both a historic, multi-generational tradition of personal commitment and shared roots with the new mission of developing the next generation of business leaders who will, by design, look very different – in sex, race and nationality – from the previous laureates. In short, they are “honoring the best to inspire the next.”

This rare combination of history and future, continuity and change, is what makes this group of South Carolinians – and South Carolina itself – so special.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnewdemocrat.org   www.SCNewDemocrats.org

“Rosy Deal” from The Times and Democrat

"Rosy Deal" from The Times and Democrat

“Rosy Deal” from The Times and Democrat

“Modern Economics” from The Times and Democrat

"Modern Economics" from The Times and Democrat

“Modern Economics” from The Times and Democrat

 

“You tell me” from The Times and Democrat

"You tell me" from The Times and Democrat

“You tell me” from The Times and Democrat

Strawberry fields: Not forever, but perfect in S.C. right now

Editor’s note: Contact info for this story is Rebecca Johnson, 803-320-0284, john2658@email.sc.edu.

Stories, photos and videos provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Dr. Deborah Gump, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

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By Rebecca Johnson
USC School of Journalism

There’s nothing like a fresh, plump strawberry fresh off the vine. Or your grandmother’s collards, covered in chow chow and pepper vinegar.

Strawberries and leafy greens are growing on farms across South Carolina and are freshest for eating right now. Asparagus, cabbage, green onions and radishes are also ripe for the picking.

Most crops are in transition between the gourds and tubers of fall, like sweet potatoes and butternut squash, to the crisp veggies and juicy fruit of the summer, like zucchini and peaches.

But strawberries are a sweet gesture of springtime in South Carolina. Strawberry fields all over the state are sprouting pink and red, and farms are beginning to haul them in by the bucket-full.

“So far, the crop looks great, the taste is good, the quality is good and the yield is high,” said Sam Jackson, owner of Jackson Bros. Farms in Pelion.

Pickers at Jackson Bros. begin plucking berries before the world has gotten busy. On a picking day, manager Roger Hoover said, the picking crew is in the fields from 7 in the morning to 6 in the evening, sometimes later, covering 14 acres of strawberry fields.

Jackson Bros. Farms began harvesting the first week of April, one of the earliest in the state, because of the Midland’s warmer climate, Hoover said.

They’ve been picking every other day, and Hoover said they gathered 1,000 pounds on Monday.

Hoover said the warm days and cool nights of April are ideal for growing leafy vegetables.

“They’re the earliest to start in the season because they’ll grow through the winter,” he said. Jackson said they plant leafy greens year-round on a monthly basis. Other fields at the farm are growing summer crops of zucchini, cucumber, squash, tomatoes, beans and corn.

Strawberries were a big hit at the farmers market on the University of South Carolina campus this week.

Phyllis Churchwell of The Veggie Patch in Neeses sold out of strawberries grown on a farm in Lexington. She was also selling fresh green onions and kale grown on The Veggie Patch, a 10-acre family-owned farm.

Leonard Bell of B&B Farms was selling mustard greens grown on his farm in Ridge Spring, and he sold all but one carton of strawberries grown by Jackson Bros. Farms.

And those summer crops we were talking about? Look for them starting next month.

 

Leonard Bell, owner of B&B Farm in Ridge Spring, sells his mustard greens on Greene Street in Columbia. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Leonard Bell, owner of B&B Farm in Ridge Spring, sells his mustard greens at the USC farmers market in Columbia. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

A picker empties his bucket at Jackson Bros. Farm on Fairview Road in Pelion. The picking crew will work for as long as five hours to pick over 14 acres of strawberry fields, said manager Roger Hoover. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

A picker empties his bucket at Jackson Bros. Farm on Fairview Road in Pelion. The picking crew will work for as long as five hours to pick over 14 acres of strawberry fields, said manager Roger Hoover. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Brent Cothoir, a worker at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion, picks through just-picked strawberries, looking for bad ones and prepping them for packaging. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Brent Cothoir, a worker at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion, picks through just-picked strawberries, looking for bad ones and prepping them for packaging. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Bill Yandle, owner of Yandle's Plants and Produce, said he sells starter plants for 35 to 40 varieties of tomatoes, 30 varieties of peppers, and 30 different herbs, as well as collards, watermelon, cantaloupe and more. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Bill Yandle, owner of Yandle’s Plants and Produce, said he sells starter plants for 35 to 40 varieties of tomatoes, 30 varieties of peppers, and 30 different herbs, as well as collards, watermelon, cantaloupe and more. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Workers at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion are careful to only choose the ripest strawberries. Manager Roger Hoover said workers pick every other day, alternating early mornings and late afternoons to ensure ripe fruit. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Workers at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion are careful to choose only the ripest strawberries. Manager Roger Hoover said workers pick every other day, alternating early mornings and late afternoons to ensure ripe fruit. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

There are collards, kale, and turnip and mustard greens aplenty at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia. These heartier plants are planted in October to be harvested in the spring. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

There are collards, kale, and turnip and mustard greens aplenty at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia. These heartier plants are planted in October to be harvested in the spring. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Freshly-picked strawberries at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion are piled up to be sorted and washed before packaging. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Freshly picked strawberries at Jackson Bros. Farm in Pelion are piled up to be sorted and washed before packaging. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

 

 

 

 

“Is there a Reverse” by Stuart Neiman

"Is there a Reverse" by Stuart Neiman

“Is there a Reverse” by Stuart Neiman

 

Gamecock women high-five the fans as they arrive home from Final Four

Editor’s note: Contact info for this story is Zach Newcastle, 919-637-5654, newcastl@email.sc.edu.

Stories, photos and videos provided by University of South Carolina journalism students are available to the state’s news publications and websites. We ask that bylines be retained and, when possible, clips be provided for student portfolios. The mailing address is Dr. Deborah Gump, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. 29208.

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By Zach Newcastle
USC School of Journalism

The Gamecock women’s basketball team came home Monday to a crowd of  Gamecock fans after their loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Final Four.

The moment the plane landed around 12:30 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, cheers erupted from the swarm of Gamecock faithful waiting at Eagle Aviation terminal.

“DAWN!” “GAME … COCKS!”

The team members, led by head coach Dawn Staley, were nothing but smiles as they approached the cheering fans.

The players and coaches walked the line of fans, high-fiving and hugging them as they passed. The players showed none of the disappointment from their 66-65 loss Sunday in the program’s first appearance in the Final Four.

“I’ve been a fan for 15 years. This is as good as it gets,” said Lynn Bailey, who waited almost an hour to greet the team. “They represented South Carolina well. They are a class act.”

Fans had special praise for Staley. “I wouldn’t want anyone else coaching the team,” said Shar Player. “It’s an amazing accomplishment. If you set a goal and dedicate yourself, you can achieve it.”

Staley was enthusiastic about the support from the Gamecock faithful. In a short press conference before leaving the airport, Staley said she knew Gamecock fans would welcome the team home.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Staley said. “I know we have the best fans in the world.”

To keep up with all things Gamecock women’s basketball, follow their Twitter handle @GamecockWBB or at Gamecocksonline.com.

The Gamecocks Women’s Basketball team were welcomed back to Columbia by a crowd of cheering Gamecock fans. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

The Gamecocks women’s basketball team were welcomed back to Columbia by a crowd of cheering Gamecock fans. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

The Gamecock Women’s Basketball team supporters showed love for the players and head coach Dawn Staley. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Gamecock women’s basketball team supporters showed love for the players and head coach Dawn Staley. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Despite the close defeat, Gamecock players were all smiles when they were greeted at the airport. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Despite the narrow defeat, Gamecock players were all smiles when they were greeted at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Gamecock fans of all ages came out to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to show support for the Gamecock Women’s Basketball team. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Gamecock fans of all ages came out to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to show support for the Gamecock women’s basketball team. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Gamecock fans burst into cheers upon the team’s arrival at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

Gamecock fans burst into cheers upon the team’s arrival at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

At a brief press conference at the airport, head coach Dawn Staley applauded the overwhelming support Gamecock fans showed for her and the team. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

At a brief news conference at the airport, head coach Dawn Staley praised the overwhelming support Gamecock fans have shown her and the team. Photo by Zach Newcastle.

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