Archive for category News

Why is electricity so expensive in South Carolina?

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 20, 2017

In a ranking of states by total energy costs, South Carolina is solidly in the middle, at 24th most expensive.

When the costs of electricity, natural gas, motor fuel, and home heating oil are averaged and combined, state residents spent $278 per month.

That’s much better than the most expensive state, Connecticut, at $380, and much worse than the least expensive, Washington, at $226. (The District of Columbia is even lower, at $219.)

More curious is the ranking of states just on monthly retail electricity costs.

To get that figure, the authors of a study released last week by the personal-finance firm WalletHub took data from the Census and from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Then they multiplied the average monthly consumption of electricity per housing unit — in South Carolina, that’s 1,380 kilowatt hours — by the average retail price for electricity, which here is $0.1257 per kilowatt hour.

The result: South Carolina is the highest in the nation, at $173.47.

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For commissioner, governor turns to chamber

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

More than two months ago, the office of Governor Henry McMaster was lining up a permanent replacement for former state Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Wooten.

When it did, it was guided solely by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, according to documents obtained through an open-records request.

Wooten served a single, four-year term, representing the Seventh Congressional District, which encompasses Myrtle Beach. His tenure was controversial in some quarters, owing to allegations that he had conflicts of interest — he also runs DDC Engineers, a Myrtle Beach firm that does business with state and local government.

Wooten’s commission expired February 15. The law allowed him to sit on the DOT board for another six months. The governor, meanwhile, had the choice of nominating him for another term or naming someone new, in either case subject to the legislature’s ultimate approval.

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Bad news on sales tax

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

If you shop locally and wonder where the money goes, the Tax Foundation has an explanation. South Carolinians pay the 17th-highest sales taxes in the nation, according to a new midyear report from the nonpartisan think tank.

The ranking, arrived at by combining state and a population-weighted average of local sales taxes, is another rebuke to public officials who tout the Palmetto State as a low-tax environment.

The highest rate is Louisiana, at 10.02 percent. The lowest non-zero rate is Alaska, at 1.76 percent. South Carolina comes in at 7.37 percent, just lower than Colorado (7.5 percent) and higher than Minnesota (7.29 percent). Delaware, Oregon, Montana, and New Hampshire have no sales taxes.

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When economic development becomes a state priority, citizens lose control

By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

As the Policy Council has been compiling this year’s Best and Worst of the General Assembly, I couldn’t help noticing a recurring theme: economic development-related bills.

Some are overt, like one that would create two new programs and a grant fund to further integrate economic development into the school system.

Others are not, such as the bill that offers a tax credit for purchasing South Carolina produce. The credit is capped, which means not everyone who applies will get it. Guess who doles it out? Not the departments of Agriculture or Revenue. It’s the Coordinating Council for Economic Development, which is instructed to consider “factors related to the economic benefit of the state” when selecting the winners and losers – excuse me, the recipients — of the credit.

These are just a couple of examples from this year’s bills. This is nothing new: Multiple state agencies have economic development missions. The economic development mentality permeates our government.

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I-73: One giant step forward, same old error

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 5, 2017

When it comes to spending and infrastructure, one of South Carolina’s great white whales rose from the deep with news last week that the Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit to begin work on the South Carolina leg of I-73. Ultimately, the interstate highway could take motorists from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula straight down to Myrtle Beach.

The permit covers the whole state length, slicing across its northeastern corner, starting near Bennettsville. Construction could begin within two years, supporters say, on a project first contemplated in 1982.

The southern half alone, linking I-95 to the Conway Bypass, is estimated to cost more than $1 billion, with total costs estimated now to reach as high as $4 billion.

U.S. Representative Tom Rice, the Republican from Myrtle Beach, hailed the permitting, saying that “studies indicate” the highway will generate approximately 22,000 permanent jobs.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Dean seconded that, saying the highway would bring “more jobs, higher wages” and “economic growth” to an area dominated by the tourism industry. Myrtle Beach already sees more than 15 million annual visitors. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating functional art from recycled skateboards

By Kyle Vuille
Carolina Reporter

The act – and art – of skateboarding is open to interpretation and those who practice it believe they can do anything their bodies and minds are capable of expressing.

Professional skateboarder Marc Johnson said it best: “I had this idea, if you think of something, you can do it. You know, skateboarding is ideas that are put in action. I mean, every time you do a trick it’s mostly in your head and your body is just responding to what your head is telling it what to do. You can do any trick if you really want to, if you put your mind to it and try it long enough. if you can think of it, you can pretty much do it on a skateboard.”

Larry Reaves, 41, has expanded on those possibilities, taking two different schools of thought on form and function and blending them to create beautiful crafted pieces from old skateboards.

A standard skateboard deck is comprised of seven individually glued layers of maple wood that are pressed together.

Colorful scraps of the “skatewood” lay in a box. Reaves is influenced by Japanese artist Haroshi who uses recycled boards to make sculptures of art and his friend, George Rocha, who started Iris Skateboards.

In the skateboard world, boards come and go. Just by the nature of skateboarding, boards are used and abused.  They’re bound to be scratched, cracked, and snapped over time. Most decks get thrown away or go in the pit at your friend’s next bonfire.

Reaves grants these battered boards a second chance to shine by combining his craft of woodworking and his 31 years of skateboarding to create beautiful, and functional, pieces of art.

Reaves, 41, has been practicing carpentry for eight years, but many of his woodworking skills were honed over the years as a skateboarder who built his own ramps.

This piece from Reaves’ personal collection is a small club made from a board pressed between two pieces of mahogany wood.

“Since about ’86, it’s like, means to a way, making things to skateboard on, and steal your dad’s tools and make a thing to skateboard on, so yeah, I guess that’s full circle now we’re here making things out of skateboards,” Reaves said.

Reaves makes everything from knife handles to beer tap handles using “skatewood,” as Reaves calls it. He said he has been influenced in his work by Japanese artist Haroshi and George Rocha, founder of Iris Skateboards, a company that makes new boards out of old ones.

The process starts with getting the grip tape off the top of the board. Reaves’ secret is leaving the boards out in the sun for 20 minutes so the glue weakens and the top of the grip layer loosens, leaving some residue.

“You just use solar power and it comes right off,” Reaves said.

He then takes a palm sander with coarse sandpaper and sands off the graphics on the bottom along with the remains of the glue from the griptape.

Reaves says depending on the project he is working on for a client, he will ask them to supply him with a deck of their own giving it a personal, sentimental feel.

The next step in the process is shaving the “skatewood” into strips and gluing them in different shapes and patterns to create a work of art. The number of boards used for a project depends on the size and nature of it. This is where the table or band saws and the lathe come in to cut and shape a piece.

Reaves works a piece on the lathe. His machine rotates the wood to be shaved and formed.

 

For those who aren’t carpenters, a lathe, by definition, is a machine for shaping a piece of material, such as wood or metal, by rotating it rapidly along its axis while pressing a fixed cutting or abrading tool against it.

The finishing touches include sanding down the piece once for a smooth texture and if desired, adding a coat of varnish to create a shiny, polished look.

Reaves’ company, Reaves Woodworks, has gained exposure in the past year with the help of social media sites such as Instagram.

A special order of beer tap handles made of the “skatewood” are ready for more sanding and polishing. This unique design is headed for a bar in Charlotte.

“That’s funny, like my Instagram has gotten pretty popular in the past year and so I get a lot of those DIY crafter people that follow me and they’re just like ‘how do get your veneers that color’ and ‘how do you make all those lines in your products,’” Reaves said, “and I’m like ‘It’s a recycled skateboard, did you not read the description of what I’m posting?

“So that’s pretty funny to see people not dumbfounded, but just like ohhhhhhh, okay I understand now but yeah, it’s a trip to see non-skateboarders,,, their take and also their appreciation,” Reaves said.

Reaves says the appreciation of the skateboard community is such a boost to his business. Transworld Skateboard Magazine gave him a shoutout on Instagram and overnight, Reaves gained thousands of followers. Reaves currently has 12,200 followers and always has projects going on.

With the support of nearby local skateshops ranging from Charleston to Charlotte, Reaves has plenty of used boards to keep up with the supply and demand of his products.

“Then last holiday season, just trying to batch out bunches of screwdrivers and knives and some like that, I think I did 30 knives, 40 cutting boards, and then assorted hand tools,” Reaves said, “Last holiday season was a killer for us.”

Reaves does normal carpenter jobs building tabletops, stairs, porches as well as still being on call for information technology work, which he did before starting his woodworking shop.

The father of three says he’s the happiest he’s ever been doing what he loves to do while earning a living for his family.

“I like making useful items, not so much something that sits on the shelf.”

SCLEAP: Providing on-call counseling for South Carolina’s law enforcement

By Joseph Crevier

Carolina News

When gunman Sueng-Hui Cho burst into a Virginia Tech classroom building and fatally shot 32 students and professors and wounded 17 others in April 2007, law enforcement officers from all over Southwest Virginia responded to the 911 alarm.

The carnage they witnessed in Norris Hall and a campus dormitory was almost too much to absorb. Within a day, the Rev. Eric Skidmore was traveling from South Carolina to Virginia to help Blacksburg area officers cope with the aftermath of the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.

Methodist Church

Eric Skidmore and the SCLEAP team are based out of the Heyward Street United Methodist Church located at 2501 Heyward Street in Columbia.

Eric Skidmore

Eric Skidmore, program manager, was recruited in 1997 by SLED to lead the then-new South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program.

Police car

SCLEAP works largely in conjunction with the Columbia Police Department, but also extends throughout the state and to four state departments.


“That chief, she knew that they needed help because this was much bigger than a single internal peer team can take care of, because all their people were involved in it,” Skidmore, program manager for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, said. SCLEAP is modeled on an FBI program aimed at assisting officers who have witnessed traumatic events, from widely publicized incidents to those that don’t get much attention but nevertheless leave an impression on the minds of law enforcement.

Eight years after the Virginia Tech slayings, Skidmore and his staff headed to Charleston the day after nine parishioners were killed at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by white supremacist Dylann Roof. Roof, who was sentenced to die for the crime earlier this year, had been welcomed into the church’s evening Bible study on June 17, 2015. At the benediction, he pulled out a gun and began firing at the pastor and church members in what he hoped was the launch of a race war.

“It happened of course on a Wednesday night at a Bible study, and Thursday I got a call from an administrator in Charleston County that said we’ve heard about your peer support for police officers, can you come down here and talk with us,” Skidmore said.

Upon its founding in 1997, SCLEAP only served the members of five state agencies and their family members, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, known as SLED, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon.

Today, it extends to much of the Southeast and has been involved in assisting officers who have responded to major tragedies and less publicized, but violent, incidents from domestic violence to suicides that weigh heavily on first responders. The agency also helps those who suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome from their time in war zones, those who have alcohol and drug related issues related to their service in the military or law enforcement and suicides in law enforcement.

The SCLEAP team only responds to tragic events upon request, Skidmore said. He said relationships he has built through training and seminars have led to partnerships as far north as Ohio and as far east as Texas.

It also relies on help from peer support team members, who are law enforcement officials trained to provide counseling. SCLEAP also has a cadre of trained volunteers who are officers, mental health professionals and chaplains.

“We have worked diligently on partnership with other states. So, when Virginia Tech happened, what’s important to know about that in terms of why they called us, (is that) we knew each other and we had trained together,” Skidmore said. “It was the personal relationships between the chief of police in Blacksburg, Virginia, and peer support elements in other states.”

Skidmore, along with SCLEAP staff members Steve Shugart and Ron Kenyon, are all ordained ministers. They offer 24/7 support and counseling to non-sworn and sworn law enforcement officials upon request, many of whom are veterans of the U.S. military.

The three-man staff is required to work 37 hours a week but often works overtime without pay because of the on-call nature of it, Kenyon says.

“When I was in the army we had to go over for tours in Vietnam and we were gone for months at a time, so this isn’t that bad,” Kenyon said.

Shugart and Kenyon specialize in counseling veterans, who often choose to go into law enforcement after the military.

Dr. Jack Ginsberg, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, said signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and stress are more common in veterans because of the nature of their jobs. He uses forms of therapy ranging from simple verbal counseling to more intense types like neurotherapy, which tracks brain waves.

“Almost all returning combat veterans have a period of excessive alcohol use upon return. Three months is the minimum, six months is the typical, some of the time they will straighten out on their own,” Ginsberg says.

Ginsberg said drug use isn’t nearly as prevalent as alcohol abuse, though neither form of self-medication is helpful. In fact, they only make the problem worse, he said.

But that’s exactly what SCLEAP tries to do — minimize stress and prevent extreme cases.

“When they call, they kind of know what they’re gonna get,” Skidmore says.

“They’re gonna get people trained in a particular model, they’re gonna get mostly peer support team members, sworn officers from other agencies, they’re gonna get a mental health professional, they’re gonna get a chaplain and they’re gonna get a program that is tried and true and is sort of a standard of care in the high speed environment of public safety.”

 

Please email Joe Crevier at Joseph.Crevier@yahoo.com with any questions

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Map of infinite connections

Kyle Vuille
Carolina Reporter

In the entrance to the Lincoln Street tunnel, a palette of brilliant colors pop off the wall, transforming the gloomy pedestrian walkway into a vivid passage to imagination.

Local artist Michael Dantzler, 31, of Eastover, started drawing and collecting maps around the age of six after being exposed to his father’s model train displays.

On a recent April morning, local artist Michael Dantzler commenced painting a mural of Columbia on one of the walls, a giant grid map he paints from memory.

“I’m not writing any names of streets. People have Google maps for that,” said Dantzler. “Pretty much the idea behind this is Columbia: map of infinite connections.”

Dantzler, 31, was chosen by Leadership Columbia to take part in its “Watermarked” project that commemorates the historic thousand-year flood of October 2015. The newly renovated public space, which celebrates the city’s community and unity, will open April 20 in partnership with OneColumbia.

“I’m a big advocate of public spaces. I believe that people should have other places to go besides work, home and shopping. Sometimes you should just have a destination where you can just sit and relax and enjoy the scenery,” said Dantzler, who holds a degree in geography from USC.

Dantzler first became enamored of maps as a young boy growing up in Eastover. His father collected model trains and set up miniature cityscapes around their house.

“I always had an overview of towns and I always found that interesting,” Dantzler said. Those moments in his life became the seeds for the artist he is today.

His love of maps and geography goes deeper than just the lines he draws. He remembers, shortly after his father’s death, he got lost with his mother when he was about seven years old.

“We got lost on the interstate and I cried really bad,” Dantzler said, “and I made a vow to myself to never get lost again.”

He started buying, collecting and studying every Rand McNally map he could get his hands on as well as drawing his own from his imagination.

“I used those maps as a kid to travel within my head if I wasn’t able to physically, and when I finally did travel, I knew exactly where I was going, down to the exit,” Dantzler said. “It amazed people.”

In the Lincoln Street tunnel mural, the map is colored coded depicting highways, streets and the movement of people around the metropolitan area. Dantzler’s vision includes some geometrical shapes representing landmarks around town that could potentially spark treasure hunts among onlookers of his piece.

“To the Oshun” is an allusion to the African river goddess. Dantzler was inspired by an older artist who once drew a map and labeled the Atlantic Ocean, the “Atlantic Oshun.”

One small but eye-catching detail can be found towards the bottom. Big white letters towards the bottom of the map read, “TO THE OSHUN.” “Oshun” is an allusion to the African river goddess, Oshun. Dantzler was inspired by an older artist who labeled the Atlantic Ocean “the Atlantic Oshun.”

Dantzler has painted two other murals in Columbia. One sits in the stairwell of the Nickelodeon Theatre and another drawn in chalk in inside USC’s School of Music.

“This is kind of the only thing I know how to draw actually,” Dantzler said. “My brain works in layers like a map.”

Artist Tyrone Geter: Searching for a universal language

By Taylor Halle
Carolina Reporter

By his own admission, Tyrone Geter says he is not the best-known artist. His work is not commercial, and he does not paint what will sell in galleries.

But the 72-year-old painter and Benedict College professor is experiencing a late-life renaissance in the art world as people discover the deep revelations in his larger-than-life pieces.

“My work is not supposed to allow you to walk past and not feel. I believe that one of our problems in society is that we’ve learned not to care,” Geter said. “We see something happening to someone, we say ‘oh, wow, that’s too bad,’ and you go on about your business and that keeps happening. Mine was to make us feel like we are one with the human race.”

The power of Geter’s world view and imagination is on view at the Columbia Museum of Art, where “Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter” runs through June 11.

Will South, chief curator of the Columbia museum, says Geter explores through his art the thorny issue of uniting different ethnicities in America and understanding each other without stereotypes.

“Tyrone takes that on,” South said. “He’s not a politician, and yet he is. By default, you are making statements that people listen to, and that’s powerful.”

The size of his exhibit’s opening night audience attested to this.

“It was black, white, but beyond black, white, it was young and old,” South said. “Young people of any color or any background, we have a hard time getting into the museum, because they’re all about their cell phone and their social life.

“Some of them were his students – that says something. They love their teacher, they like what he has to say.”

The power of family

Geter’s early years were spent in segregated Anniston, Alabama. Raised by a single mother and surrounded by two sisters, Geter realized the power of women early on. Today, that theme is reflected in his work, which often depicts outsize auras of hair on his female subjects.

“My mother believed firmly that her kids could do things even though she came out of a third-grade education,” he said. “But she believed that that third-grade education allowed her to be a domestic worker.”

His earliest exposure to art came from his eldest sister, who enjoyed drawing comic books and using the “Draw me” instructional booklets of the times. After watching her sit at the table and work, he decided to try it for himself.

Geter’s family later moved to Dayton, Ohio, seeking a safer life as an African-American family trying to survive in a time of institutionalized southern racism. The young and curious artist attended Roosevelt High School, where he met Ruth Nincehelser, a teacher that would become an instrumental figure in his early career as an artist.

“Those students that she thought could do art, that had possibility, she drove us relentlessly,” Geter said.

In his senior year of high school, he still hadn’t learned how to drive a car, so he decided he would quit art and take driver’s training. But Nincehelser called his mother and implored her not to allow her son to abandon his art.

His teacher asked “if she could find any other way to let me take driver’s training, and if she had to she would help her, and I think she actually did,” Geter said. He remained in art and his mother worked extra hours so he could learn to drive outside of school.

After graduating high school, Geter attended Ohio University in hopes he could master painting the figure and realistic drawing. Here, he met his Nigerian-born wife, Hauwa, another integral figure who would eventually lead him to Africa, a place that influenced his art ad represented a turning point in his artistic career.

After they married, the couple moved to Hauwa’s home in Nigeria near her family. Their two daughters, now grown were born there.

“When I left Ohio, I had no concept of Africa.  I’m not even sure I had even met an African in my life from Dayton, Ohio,” Geter said.

Once there, he landed a job teaching art at Ahmadu Bello University, the biggest university in West Africa at the time. They stayed for seven years, moving back to the U.S. because of Nigeria’s crumbling economy, and the need to start their daughters in American school. Most importantly, he wanted to give his daughters a chance to meet his family and learn his side of the culture.

After his time in Nigeria, his art transformed into a search for a universal language.

“For most of my life as an adult artist, that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Geter said. “Find a way to speak a universal language that will talk to anybody that sees it, and this is the first time I feel like I’ve gotten close.”

For a long time, Geter said his main subjects were family, because his mother, sisters, wife and children represented such a powerful force in his life. He also became a successful illustrator of children’s books and now claims nearly a dozen to his credit.

For the last 17 years, he has taught art to students at Benedict College, a private historically black college in downtown Columbia. He and his family lived in the Waverly area near the campus until his wife’s death in 2004. She was his ballast – and also the organizer of his many projects – so he determined he could not stay in the home where they had been so happy and raised their family.

He moved to the little community of Elgin, a 30-minute commute from the college, where it is unlikely his neighbors know an artist resides in their midst.  There he creates art in his cluttered second-floor studio and contemplates how to approach the big questions of life.    

My life has been one big wall

Geter has rarely listened to voices except those inside of his own head. So he has been shocked by the response to the two dozen pieces that hangs on the walls of the Columbia Museum of Art.

People have come to him, some crying, saying how much the paintings move them emotionally.

Geter said that’s what he has been trying to do all along.

“I’m trying to make you get past the fact that this might be a black face,” Geter said. “That face is the same thing your mother went through or your father went through.”

“If I’m talking about any particular issue, you can darn well believe that whites, Hispanics, everybody got that same issue, so when you look at it, that’s where they go; they go to their own experience with that. They don’t see that black face anymore, they see themselves. It may not be a universal statement but it’s mine.”

The path for Geter has been filled with more road blocks than most artists might go through. Although he’s been featured in other exhibitions including museums and galleries in Boston and New York, Columbia has been one of the most important.

“What I do, it’s never on that cutting edge, what they’re demanding out there. I’m always at odds with the market, so that’s one continuous wall for me,” Geter said.

He remembers a director at the Aiken Art Museum who told him he was going to struggle his whole life, because Geter’s work is difficult to pigeonhole. He said when galleries can’t do that, it’s hard to find a track record for selling what he does.

“I don’t know how to get beyond it either and at this point in my career I really don’t care about that wall anymore,” Geter said. “My thing is that I can live with me. I think there was a time I really hated myself, but right now I’m OK with me.

“I know this that I’ve done the best I could. I know my mother raised me to treat people better than anything else, they’re the only thing that counts in the world. Nothing else matters but people.”

Discovering a new passion

One of the lessons Geter says he tries to teach young artists is that the best thing they can do for themselves is learn technique.

“I don’t care what anyone says, learn technique and you’re free. You’re free to go any place you want to go.”

This has proven to be true for Geter, as his portfolio is filled with not only just paintings, but other mediums such as charcoal, pastels, torn paper and ceramics.

But one theme that stays consistent among all of these is the subjects’ hair. In almost every piece, Geter weaves in wispy, playful and exaggerated hair, sometimes even resembling the roots and branches of trees. He connects it back to his youth in a household full of women.

His two daughters grew up washing their hair and allowing it to air dry, which was a common thing among African-American women in Nigeria. But when they moved back to Ohio, they soon realized others were confused by or disapproving of the curly manes.

Geter remembers his oldest daughter decided to ride around on her bike so her hair would dry faster, but the other neighborhood kids quickly began harassing her.

“She came back in the house, she was so hurt. After that she wouldn’t go outside with her hair like that again. That was something that was just tragic, that’s a loss of innocence. It was really, really tragic that we could do that to each other,” Geter said.

Years later, Geter was working on a piececalled “Target,” which he recalls being his first to incorporate his signature hair illustrations. The incident with his daughter’s hair popped back into his mind.

“Women are being targeted for looks, body types, all kinds of things. That’s where it started and after that I just kept using it,” Geter said. “It’s not deep it’s just meaningful. When I was growing up, women were a major force in our community.”

Mastering the craft of voice

Peter Chametzky, the director and art history professor at USC’s School of Visual Art and Design, discovered Geter’s work just a couple years after moving to Columbia from New York. He says Geter is a master draftsman and skilled artist, and successfully uses these skills to make statements about identity and counter stereotypes.

“He’s dealing with textures a lot and he’s dealing with, you know, it’s not conventional drawing in that he’s drawing both with charcoal, colored pastels, as well as using materials like torn paper as drawing material in itself,” Chametzky said. “So collaging it together and that kind of materiality I think appeals to people. You’re seeing that work of art as an object and seeing it as more than just a picture, it’s not a picture, and it’s not like a photograph, it’s got texture, it’s got this kind of physical presence.”

He points out Geter deals with subject matter that is especially important in what the United States currently deals with today.

“He’s not followed various art world trends. He’s followed his own path and that’s what, in a sense, I think most really strong artists do. They’ve got to follow whatever path their own artistic will guides them to and that’s the way to make strong art,” Chametzky said.

Geter believes he has found his voice, and more importantly, a way to get others to listen to it.

“I do art because I have a right to speak. You don’t have to listen to me, but you have to allow me to speak. And if I want to reach a mass of people, how was I going to do it? All I had was art.”

Open carry bill heads to the Senate

Kyle Vuille
Carolina Reporter

Legislation that would allow legal gun owners to openly carry handguns without a government permit narrowly passed the S.C. House Wednesday afternoon but will face more scrutiny in the Senate.

The House voted 64-46 after more than three hours of debate. Five did not vote and five were absent.

Some legislators and opponents of the so-called “open carry” bill said Thursday they were frustrated by the way the bill had been pushed through a committee and onto the floor.

“They didn’t allow any public input,” said Arlene Andrews, of Blythewood, a member of the S.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Members of the group are visible around the State House because they don red T-shirts that read “EVERY TOWN FOR GUN SAFETY” across the back. The shirts establish the women as a part of a nationwide group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

The nonprofit group, launched on Facebook by Indiana resident Sharon Watts in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, has expanded across the country with chapters in every state.  Each chapter consists of mothers, survivors, and some mayors, who have their own group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Andrews, a retired professor at the University of South Carolina College of Social Work, recalls the images from the Sandy Hook shooting and seeing people praying in the aftermath.

“The answers to those prayers was to go out and do more,” said Andrews.

Andrews is one of the women who dons a red shirt. The safe gun law advocacy group monitored the House committee where they were not allowed to speak and followed up by watching the House debate from the gallery above.

The group is now on to lobbying their message of safe gun legislation to state senators before the bill heads to a Senate committee.

“That’s what I’m doing today, contacting all the senators who oppose this bill,” Andrews said Thursday.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, and proponents of the measure believe it reflects the intention of the U.S. Constitution and the writers of the Second Amendment. But some were worried that there is no provision for training in the bill or question how law enforcement would handle volatile situations, particularly related to the minority community.

Pitts has acknowledged that the bill would have to be revised significantly before the Senate would even consider passing such a law. The measure has failed in previous years.

“You are not under government permitting for a constitutional right,” Pitts said.

Andrews worries the measure will have a detrimental effect on tourism in the state if passed.

“Most people want to feel safe and they will go elsewhere if they see people walking the beach or in the local bar openly carrying a gun,” said Andrews.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has expressed that they are not against guns nor does the group want to take guns away.

“We are not against guns,” said Sylvie Dessau, “but we want safe gun legislation.”

 

Battle over plastic bag bans postponed until 2018

Danielle Kennedy
Carolina Reporter

Legislation that would take power away from local counties to impose charges or institute bans on single-use plastic bags won’t be debated in the S.C. House until next session.

“The bill is in limbo,” Rep. Eric M. Bedingfield, R-Greenville, said Wednesday. “A motion was filed and we lost by one vote. The bill won’t be discussed on the House floor until next session in January.”

Bedingfield and others introduced the auxiliary container bill after two oceanfront communities, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, implemented bans  on plastic bags because of the potential danger the plastic poses to wildlife. In a state that values local control, the General Assembly is seeking to regulate the use, prohibition and taxation of these bags statewide.

Across the country, environmentalists have pushed for such bans, arguing that the plastic bags are significant polluters.

Litter, whether plastic or metal finds itself in the environment in unusual ways, along the side of roads, highways and even tucked in the aloe vera plant at the University of South Carolina-Columbia campus.

Earth Fare prides itself on offering Rainforest Alliance Certified, post consumer paper bags meaning that the bag you use to check out at the store is 100 percent recycled.


Laurie Aker explains that Earth Fare is an environmental leader in part because of customers demanding environmentally friendly products, especially shopping bags.

Karen Jackson, water resource officer, explains how plastic bags cause problems in sewage systems and are problematic to the environment overall.

In North Carolina, legislation has been put in place to encourage consumers to utilize reusable bags over single-use plastic bags along it’s barrier island counties of Currituck, Dare and Hyde. California was the first to ban plastic bags statewide with Proposition 67 despite the plastics industry push to overturn it.

In addition to polluting the ocean, plastics of all forms find their way into sewage systems, waterways, farmlands, landfills and along the sides of roads. Even though tossing away a disposable bag seems harmless the reality is not so simple.

“We say everybody lives downstream,” said Karen Jackson, water resources agent at Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service in Richland County. “What you’re doing at home affects others downstream.”

The rivers and creeks that are littered with plastics also have an impact on oceans, drinking water sources and agricultural areas where food for consumption is grown and raised. There is a myriad of mixed opinions on whether or not the state should have the power to overstep localities.

Opponents of banning plastic bags say jobs are at stake with Novolex in Hartsville being a major producer of single-use plastic bags. Environmentally-conscious individuals and businesses argue the environment should be free of plastics and harmful chemicals.

Jackson said that plastic bags are especially troublesome during floods where the bags block the water systems and prevent proper drainage and system flow.

Wheaterly Thomas, a Richland County 4-H agent at Clemson Extension, said that Midlands farmers are bothered more by litter such as aluminum cans tossed in fields rather than plastic.

Bryan Tayara, the owner of Rosewood Market & Deli, said that he fully supports a ban on plastic shopping bags. Most of his customers bring reusable bags, which many shoppers have switched to as an alternative to paper or plastic.

“I strongly feel that if everyone truly understood the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags we would all support a ban on these destructive bags,” Tayara said.

On average single-use plastic bags cost about a penny to five cents to produce per bag. While cheap to make, they aren’t biodegradable and take between 10 to 1,000 years in a landfill to decompose.  Paper bags cost roughly five to 23 cents per bag because of the wood pulp and water necessary to make the bag.

Laurie Aker, a spokeswoman for the grocery store chain Earth Fare, said Earth Fare has not taken a stance on the pending legislation, but she said the grocer is committed to serving their customers in a way that is beneficial to both customers and the environment.

“Our customers have our environment as a top priority and they’re not inconvenienced by that decision. Instead of the plastic bags we offer paper bags that are made from 100 percent recycled, post-consumer material,” said Aker.

Earth Fare’s paper bags are Rainforest Alliance Certified sources material from only sustainable growers and the store also provides a box corral for customers who forget their bags.

“We want our customers to live longer with Earth Fare and that extends to our environment,” said Aker.

Sarah Lyles, executive director of Palmetto Pride, said the nonprofit conservation organization works to eliminate trash along South Carolina highways, particularly along secondary roads, which are among the most littered. The organization has not taken a position on the current bill.

“Plastic bags are things that are a part of the litter stream, and anything that we can do to get it out of the litter stream, we want to do that.”

Bagels and lox: A southern Jewish deli provides touch of northern culture

Harvey Nathan making sandwich

Philadelphia native Harvey Nathan prepares each sandwich by hand and works open to close every day, six days a week.

By Joseph Crevier

Carolina News

If you walk into Hello Deli in North Charleston, you might forget you’re in South Carolina. It’s a slice of Philadelphia and that’s no coincidence; that’s exactly the atmosphere owner Harvey Nathan has aimed to establish for nearly three decades.

“We’ve had people that have been coming to us for 25 years,” Nathan said. “On a Saturday morning, the same people come in and get here five in the morning waiting for me.”

Bagel and Lox

Hello Deli uses lox imported from Atlanta and bagels from Brookyln, N.Y. Owner Harvey Nathan says the New York water used to make the bagel dough is what makes them superior to bagels made in South Carolina.

They come to the glass-fronted brick deli for breakfasts of lox, onions and eggs, and New York bagels stuffed with lox and cream cheese. Lunchtime patrons, some sporting Yankees and Phillies baseball caps, munch on thick sandwiches packed with kosher pastrami and corned beef, roast brisket and tongue.

Nathan left his native Philadelphia in 1971 to open a meatpacking business in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This was followed by delicatessen ventures in Maryland, Virginia and, finally, South Carolina. Nathan tested the waters in three other South Carolina towns before settling into the North Charleston location, where Jewish culture has a lengthy history. It worked.

“Are the eggs different? No, it’s the BS, it’s the Northern culture versus the Southern culture,” Nathan said.

With each move, Nathan brought his Philadelphia flare, along with a variety of recipes for traditional Jewish foods like corned beef, pastrami and lox.

“I haven’t changed; I’m still the Northern wise guy. The people here are more welcoming; it’s a much softer touch,” the affable, bearded Nathan said.

The first Jewish settlers arrived in Charleston in the 17th century, finding a surprising degree of religious tolerance, a warn climate and a welcoming economic climate.

“Charleston is by far the most historic. It has the early settlement; it has the first congregation which is Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, which has been active since it was founded in 1749,” said Dale Rosengarten, founding director of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is one of the first five colonial congregations and the first reform congregation in America. It started as an Orthodox congregation and later committed to Reform Judaism in 1841.

“What’s happening in Charleston is the proliferation of Jewish organizations,” Rosengarten said. “The three basic divisions are Orthodoxy, Conservative and Reform and Charleston has had all three since post-World War Two.”

As Jews made their way to South Carolina, they brought not only their religion and customs, but also their foods. As Nathan knows, people like to eat.

Harvey Nathan making sandwich

Many of Hello Deli’s meats are kosher, but Nathan says he buys them just because they taste better. Because of Charleston’s small observant Jewish population, he says the customer base isn’t large enough to be fully kosher.

On King Street, downtown Charleston’s prime tourist destination, Jewish merchants have thrived for more than a century. Their presence dates to the early 1900s, when King Street was full pawn shops, shoe repair stores and furniture stores.

Today, Charleston, known as the Holy City for its soaring church spires, is among the nation’s top tourist destinations. King Street has blossomed into an upscale shopping and dining hub that draws thousands.

King Street is central to boutiques and restaurants, many of which remain in the hands of Jewish business owners.  D’Alessandro’s Pizza, an Italian pizzeria, and Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale, a popular sports bar and Mexican restaurant, are only examples of the Jewish-operated businesses.

“It may just be numbers, there’s such a huge tourist business and so many people come from the Northeast, there’s a very substantial Jewish tourism business,” says Rosengarten.

Nathan’s establishment is seven miles and a 10-minute commute from hip King Street, but that doesn’t deter tourists who flock to his establishment along with regular customers from nearby North Charleston City Hall and other businesses.

“My daughter and her husband have a vacation house in South Carolina, so we like to come here when I visit. The doctors say I shouldn’t eat food like this, but I always get the pastrami sandwich because it’s so damn good,” Martin Annese, 94, said.

Nathan’s infamous bagel, cream cheese and lox sandwich isn’t special because of the lox, but the bagels that he has delivered from Brooklyn. The bagels arrive as dough and Nathan boils and steams them in-house. He says every ingredient is the same as in a South Carolina bagel, but the New York water used to make the dough is the difference maker.

Although Hello Deli is a Jewish deli, Nathan doesn’t cater to strictly kosher customers. Nathan said roughly five to eight percent of Jews in Charleston are observant, meaning they eat only kosher foods, so the majority would not pay premium prices.

“They’re not going to pay the up price for a kosher sandwich, unless it’s right on the way. They say, ‘I’m here, shucks I can have it,’” he said.

And to be fully kosher, the establishment must be supervised by a rabbi, who checks the kitchen and all ingredients, Rosengarten said.

Nathan is preparing for the upcoming Passover holiday, where he does some catering business. Rosengarten said Passover is the most widely celebrated holiday among the Jewish faithful. The holiday celebrates the liberation of Israeli slaves from ancient Egypt. It’s the only Jewish holiday that isn’t celebrated at the synagogue, but rather at home with friends and family.

But even if you are not Jewish, Nathan’s Hello Deli offers up a slice of Jewish culture inside of a delectable bagel.

This one’s ‘Four’ the fans

Senior guard Justin McKie holds up the East Regional Champions trophy
after South Carolina’s win over Florida. McKie scored three points in 13 minutes against the Gators.

By Micaela Wendell, Joe Crevier and Collyn Taylor
Carolina Reporter

“Fi-nal Four! Fi-nal Four!” The chants by deliriously happy South Carolina fans rose higher and higher Sunday as the men’s basketball team arrived home after its historic Elite Eight win over the Florida Gators.

Gamecock fans young and old showed up to welcome the players home. Festive flags and costumes dotted the buzzing pool of garnet and black as revelers awaited the team’s scheduled 10 p.m.

Senior business student Josh Birkbeck said watching his Gamecocks advance to the Final Four was a dream come true and he’s glad he stayed in Columbia to enjoy the victory with his fellow students.

arrival outside of the Colonial Life Arena.

The welcome party capped a day of exuberant celebrations of ecstatic USC students jumping into the Thomas Cooper Library fountain and storming the streets of Five Points following the 77-70 victory. Images of the celebration flooded social media.

Murphy Cook, a fourth-year experimental psychology student, didn’t think she would experience a party of such epic proportions while at USC.

“When I came for freshman orientation, they were saying when things get exciting people jump in the fountain, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen while I’m here,’” she said. “And it did.”

Cook brought her dog, Bogey, to Colonial Life Arena and dressed him in his own Gamecock gear to share the school spirit and excitement.

“This is the best thing that’s happened since I’ve been here,” she said.

Columbia fans of all ages gathered outside Colonial Life Arena Sunday night to welcome home the Gamecocks and head coach Frank Martin fresh off their Elite 8 victory in New York City Sunday afternoon.

Josh Birkbeck watched the fateful game in Five Points and saw firsthand just how cocky fans got in their post-game celebrations.

“There were people taking running jumps into the fountain, and I saw two dudes walking down the street with a couch to burn,” he said. “Our recliner is definitely going up in flames when we win on Saturday.”

The commotion outside Colonial Life Arena drew families, students and more to try to catch a glimpse of the team. While much of the crowd squeezed itself into the courtyard by the glass doors for a front-row view, other fans climbed onto low walls and took turns sitting on shoulders.

USC student Matthew Weathersby left his job at a local wing bar to watch the Gamecocks return. He dressed as a chicken because he was “just fillin’ in for Cocky.”

Phones popped up from the tight crowd like periscopes to capture precious live stream moments and Snapchats. Those who arrived a little later found spots on the Discovery parking garage, and a few drones captured a sky view of the excitement.

Matthew Weathersby had his own bird’s-eye view from the ground, as he showed up dressed as a chicken with a Final Four sign in hand. His manager at a local wing bar let him leave work early for the win.

“I’m just fillin’ in for Cocky until he gets back from New York,” the 20-year-old transfer student said. “I don’t plan to steal his position!”

As the clock passed 10 p.m., USC President Harris Pastides took the podium to keep the crowd’s energy high. But once it hit 11 p.m. with no sign of the team, people started to leave. The cheers became less frequent, and open pockets formed in the once-impenetrable crowd.

Ten minutes later, cheers erupted from the front doors of Colonial Life Arena, and a stampede of fans from the outskirts of the crowd rushed in to finally see the team. After Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner spoke, men’s basketball coach Frank Martin finally addressed the fans.

“How ‘bout them Gamecocks?” Martin asked. Fans cheered, screamed and tossed spurs as high as they could reach. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to come home and see you great fans. Thank you so much … I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”

Senior guard Duane Notice also expressed his gratitude for the fans.

“Through our ups and downs, you’ve been here for a long time,” he said. “We play for you guys.”

Senior guard Duane Notice only scored six points in 38 minutes of play against Florida, but delivered the game-clinching dunk with 11 seconds left. Notice told the Gamecocks fans “We play for you guys.”

Scott Newman had been waiting decades for this milestone in the program. He watched the game against the Gators at his brother’s house, and the win was an emotional one for them both.

“We’re longtime Gamecock fans. I saw John Roche play right over there,” Newman said, referencing the NBA player’s time at the Carolina Coliseum in the 1960s and 1970s. “I never thought we’d get to the Final Four. This is special.”

Newman admitted that while the older fans were a bit outnumbered by the younger ones, it was still a time no Gamecock men’s basketball fan will forget anytime soon.

“This is magical. These guys are having the best days of their lives. This is great,” he said.

Drummer Pete McMahon brought his cowbell to the rally and began a “Go Gamecocks” chant while the crowd awaited the team’s arrival.

After the event — which included numerous chants to cancel class the next day — some students were ready to head down to Five Points to keep the celebrations going. But for many of those who had been partying all day for the Gamecocks, it was time to head home.

“It’s been a long day,” said Kristina Johnson, a 21-year-old nursing student.

Other Gamecocks were already making plans for Saturday’s game in Phoenix, Arizona, against Gonzaga.

“I bet tickets are gonna be like $400,” Adam Coulter, a fourth-year business student, said. “But my parents said they’d hook me up because the Gamecocks in the Final Four is once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Unpredictable weather, breaking buds part of S.C. winemaking life

By Micaela Wendell
Carolina Reporter

First in an occasional series

April showers may bring May flowers, but March sunshine brings out the buds on the growing number of grape vines planted across South Carolina.

An unseasonably warm February seemed to mark an early spring for the state’s vintners. Then temperatures plunged below freezing in the second week of March, causing worry for those who cultivate wine grapes.

Delicate buds emerge from the woody canes at the beginning of the wine grape growing season, called “bud break.” Frost can kill the buds and strong winds can knock the sprouts off the vine. Once a bud is gone, it likely won’t produce fruit for the rest of the season.

“It’s a bit of a concern,” said Jesse Freiwald, the owner and chief executive officer of Deep Water Vineyard in the South Carolina Lowcountry. “I’m not concerned that the vines will die or anything. I’m just concerned if the buds get frozen. Then, they’re not going to produce as much.”

Deep Water Vineyard is among more than a dozen commercial vineyards in South Carolina, ventures that have combined agritourism with the development of distinctive wines that owners hope will appeal to a growing market.  Millennials surpassed baby boomers in 2015 for their share of the country’s total wine consumption, and there are now more than 78 million millennials who are now 21 or older.

But before those wines are bottled, there’s the weather to battle.

In March and April, all wine vines go into a stage called “bud break,” when tiny, extremely delicate buds emerge from the woody canes. If they are destroyed before they can flower, they most likely won’t produce any fruit until the next growing season. If enough buds are destroyed, it could impact the profit of the final harvest.

Bad breaks for buds

Wine grape buds are so tender that even a strong breeze could pluck them from the vine. Cold snaps could be especially devastating. So how do winemakers in the Palmetto State protect these precious buds from the cold?

“Pray,” Freiwald said. “There’s not a lot you can do unless you are doing something extreme.”

Large, commercial vineyards sometimes hire helicopters or employ massive fans to blow hot air over the buds until the freeze subsides, even at the risk of accidentally knocking the sprouts off the vines. Some growers spray water over the vines to create a preemptive shield of ice on the buds, but even that doesn’t guarantee their survival.

A few of Freiwald’s vines were in bud break when the freeze warnings occurred. But across the state in Newberry, Enoree River Winery owners Richard LaBarre and his wife, Laura, said their vines remained dormant despite the warm February temperatures. If there were buds in the vineyard, the LaBarres said they were resigned to let nature take its course.

Jesse Freiwald and his wife bought the Irvin-House Vineyard from Jim and Ann Irvin in 2015, and they rebranded it as Deep Water Vineyard. They kept the same vines and staff but placed their own twists and personal touches on the property and products.

“What can you do?” Laura LaBarre said. “We don’t have an irrigation system to spray them with water like they do, you know, with peach trees.”

She also said that if a freeze hurt their yearly harvest, they would buy juice to supplement the crop during the winemaking process.

“Thank goodness they haven’t budded yet,” Richard LaBarre said, of the muscadine vines that are native to the southeastern U.S. and known for their thick skinned-grapes and hardy nature.

Muscadine wine

Laura LaBarre, who also is a teacher at Mid-Carolina High School in Prosperity, says that many customers have fond memories of wild muscadines, often recalling forays into the woods as children to pick the grapes.

“They always talk about stuff that relates back to their childhood,” she said. “I think it just brings back some really nice memories for a lot of people.”

Muscadines are a different species than European or “Old World” grapes, called “vinifera,” such as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Vinifera grapes are much more delicate and susceptible to the pests and diseases that muscadines are resistant to.

“They want to grow, I guess, if that makes sense,” Freiwald said. “There’s not a lot that can really harm them.”

Laura LaBarre, co-owner of Enoree River Winery, enjoys a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Her winery doesn’t “oak” the red wines in barrels or with wood chips — a choice that gives their wine a smoother sip while still being dry.

In the mid-1800s, American grape vines shipped across the Atlantic almost ruined the European wine scene. The American vines carried diseases and a root-eating aphid called phylloxera, and the devastated Old World vineyards were saved by grafting American rootstock onto their vines.

Deep Water Vineyard, nestled on Wadmalaw Island 30 minutes from Charleston, only grows muscadine grapes, namely the bronze or “Scuppernong” varietals named Carlos and Terra and the red/purple Noble and Ison. However, Freiwald says they are hoping to introduce vinifera in the future to diversify their product and offer more flavors for a wider audience.

“Muscadine wine traditionally is known as a very sweet wine, which people either love or they hate,” he said.

Enoree River Winery not only grows Carlos and Noble vines, but it also has Columbia-native Herbemonts, vinifera hybrids Black Spanish and Chambourcin, and several other vines under experimentation. Many of these vines are still in their youth and might not reach adulthood, according to LaBarre.

“The trouble with South Carolina and the humidity and the diseases that are in the ground is the fact that muscadines are native, so they’ll grow,” he said. “But if you try and do a chardonnay or a cabernet or something like that, it would die within two years.”

But both wineries have room for trial and error. Deep Water Vineyard produces about 3,000 cases each year, and Enoree River Winery makes about 5,000. At 12 bottles per case, that’s thousands of bottles.

Long before his retirement, Richard LaBarre worked as a Southeast regional director for the Vietnam Veterans of America and settled on a more intriguing way to travel around South Carolina between his work destinations.

“I discovered that the best way of traveling the interstate is going from one winery to another winery,” he said.
South Carolina agritourism business is on the rise. The SC Department of Agriculture kicked off the S.C. Agritourism Passport Program in January 2016, where visitors to any SC Agritourism Association farm can pick up a booklet and have it stamped for their visit and collect stamps from other participating farms. S.C. certified prizes are awarded each year.  Not all wineries in the Palmetto State are in the 2017 passport.

Both vineyards predict full bud breaks within the next few weeks, so it’s only a matter of time before grape vines across the Palmetto State will look ready for spring — hopefully without any interruptions.

Sold out: No public tickets for free Darius Rucker concert

Thousands of USC students who requested tickets March 13 – 20 were greeted by this exciting email on Monday.

By Micaela Wendell
Carolina Reporter

There will be no public tickets for the free Darius Rucker concert on April 5. All seats have been claimed by USC students at the time of this reporting, and admission is only allowed via digital pass on a Carolina Card.

Rucker announced in August that he would perform a free concert if the USC football team reached six wins in its 2016-2017 season. The 44-31 victory over Western Carolina on Nov. 19 sealed the deal. From March 13- 20, students were allowed to request tickets on their Student Account Manager, and seats were awarded on Monday.

The original venue for the Darius Rucker concert in April was going to be the historic Horseshoe, just like the 2015 performance for the USC journalism school opening, but the concert was moved to the Colonial Life Arena. Photo courtesy Lewis Zeigler.

Julia Lang, a student ticketing assistant from the Office of Student Athletic Tickets, confirmed that the free concert passes are indeed sold out.

“We’re not selling to the general public at all,” she said.

Most ticket holders have a general admission pass, so they can sit wherever they like in Colonial Life Arena except for the floor; that’s reserved for students who were offered special spots for their high loyalty point totals.

An Adobe Spark Page attached to the student ticket request email provided a warning for those wanting to cash in on the hot demand for Rucker’s event.

“Any attempt to sell or distribute your ticket/Carolina Card or use someone else’s will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and the ticket will be revoked,” the document said.

The Charleston-based country singer’s most recent performance for USC was on the historic Horseshoe in September 2015, when he played with former Hootie and the Blowfish band-mate Mark Bryan for the opening ceremony of the new journalism school building on Sumter Street.

If some students end up canceling their claimed tickets, they may then be released to the public.

Rucker’s concert at Colonial Life Arena will begin at 7:30 p.m., with fellow USC alum Patrick Davis as an opener. Attendees are asked to use the Lincoln Street entrance of the venue.

Emmy award-winning filmmaker coming to Columbia

Kyle Vuille
Carolina Reporter

Orangeburg residents and college students march through town in 1960. This is one of Williams’ images being used in the film, “Tell Them We are Rising.” Photo Credit: Cecil Williams

The strong, moving images of Stanley Nelson Jr.’s “Tell Them We are Rising” film and other excerpts of his documentary work will flash across Columbia’s Booker T. Washington Auditorium screen Friday evening.

Nelson’s “Tell Them We are Rising” is primarily focused on students who were educated at historically black colleges and universities and who went on to lead the nation’s civil rights movement and become a part of America’s black professional class.

“The film covers over 150 years of history in 90 minutes,” Nelson said. “Until the 1970s, it was the only way African-Americans could get a higher education.”

The public screening of Nelson’s newest documentary is just a piece of a larger academic event at the University of South Carolina celebrating journalistic work during the civil rights era from Reconstruction to today. Nelson arrives in Columbia Wednesday for three days of showcasing and discussing his Emmy-award winning work.

Cecil Williams holding an enlarged print of himself in his younger years. Williams is a renowned photojournalist and has worked in the same studio for 25 years in Orangeburg.

Photo Credit: Cecil Williams

The University of South Carolina is hosting the biennial Media & Civil Rights History Symposium March 30-April 1. Nelson will be the keynote speaker and will discuss his films and the stories behind them.

Nelson is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has focused on the African American experience throughout his films.

“At any point and time, as Americans, we need to know our joint and shared history,” said Nelson.

Orangeburg’s famed photojournalist and author Cecil Williams will appear on stage Friday night alongside Nelson because his work is featured in Nelson’s film. Nelson will show excerpts from several of his films and discuss them in-depth.

Williams captured defining moments in South Carolina’s fight for civil rights and photographed many black college students leading demonstrations and protests.

“Surely we will learn and be embellished from this,” Williams said of the event. “Most people forget and don’t learn from the past.”

The biennial USC event will kick off with registration and a private reception with Nelson on Thursday, March 30, at 4 p.m. at the rooftop garden atop of the journalism school.

Nelson believes his work is important and continues to be relevant how even 150 years after slavery.

“This country is fractured right now,” said Nelson, even though blacks and whites share a complicated history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicing up South Carolina

Sriracha: The condiment that became a

By Taylor Halle
Carolina Reporter

Food shoppers may have noticed an abundance of red and green taking over grocery store shelves within the past few years, and it’s not because of Christmas.

Sriracha, a type of hot chili sauce, has become the trendiest condiment phenomenon in recent years, so much so that people are now wearing it as well as consuming it.

The signature red and white rooster logo on the ubiquitous Huy Fong Food bottles has been featured on shirts, socks and even tracksuits. Many retailers now sell miniature bottles fans can carry on their keys, just in case a dish needs some extra spice.

Sriracha was ranked the number one hot sauce in the U.S. on Thrillist, the online food, travel and entertainment website, and ranked Time Out’s top 29. It’s also the top-selling spicy addition on Amazon’s Best Sellers page for hot sauce.

It seemed to spike in popularity around 2013 and shows no sign of slowing down. According to a 2015 Los Angeles Times article, Huy Fong’s Sriracha skyrocketed in sales from $60 million to $80 million in just a two-year span.

Sriracha’s unique taste comes from a few simple ingredients. The red paste is made from chili peppers, sugar, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar, and includes potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfite as preservatives and xanthan gum as thickener.

Major food brands have incorporated it into products as well. Cheez-It, Lay’s and Pop! have all flavored their snacks with the tangy hot sauce. Burger King came out with a Sriracha cheeseburger last year, and Wendy’s started topping their chicken sandwich with a Sriracha aioli and infused bun.

Those craving a spicy alcoholic beverage can now purchase Sriracha vodka and beer.

Kettle Brand, a chip company that features a large variety of flavors such as “pepperoncini” and “maple bacon,” recently created Sriracha-flavored chips.

“When the brand launched Sriracha chips in 2014, the top-selling Asian hot sauce was considered ‘the New Ketchup,’” a Kettle Brand representative said. “Kettle Brand’s flavor innovators hopped on the opportunity to replicate the chili-garlic-vinegar taste of the beloved condiment on its classic kettle-cooked chips.”

Although the brand cannot release specific sales numbers, it said it’s one of its top-selling varieties and has a loyal fan following.

The origins of Sriracha are rooted in the journey of inventor David Tran, who fled Vietnam on a Taiwanese freighter called Huey Fong. He began production of his spicy kitchen creation in 1980, calling his company Huy Fong Foods.

Tran made countless trips to Asian restaurants around California trying to get the rooster bottle on tables, finally ensuring the success of his flavorful concoction.

Today many restaurant tables are home to the red and green bottle. It may seem like the perfect partner for Thai or Chinese dishes, but other restaurants have started pairing it with anything from nachos to burgers.

Wild Wings Café in Columbia, South Carolina, features a “Srirachos” appetizer, which includes Honey Lime Sriracha-dipped chicken and a creamy Sriracha drizzle. The restaurant’s manager, Marty Cox, said he has received a lot of positive feedback about the dish.

“I would say it’s one of the most popular items we sell,” Cox said. He also thinks the company will probably feature other Sriracha-themed meals in the future.

Julie Blevins, a hot sauce “potionologist” and CEO of the Columbia-based Palmetto Pepper Potions, first encountered Sriracha in the late 1990s at a produce stand in Florida.

“It’s definitely got garlic and sugar, so it’s different from your typical hot sauces,” Blevins said. “I would not use it in my own recipes but it’s done well by a number of companies.”

She believes Sriracha has become a widespread foodie obsession because of the unique mix of ingredients.

“I think it’s the flavor profile. Instead of those traditional hot sauces, it adds garlic and sweetness and something more,” she said.

Calvin Chao, a junior at the University of Maryland and devoted Sriracha-user, said his father introduced Sriracha to him when he was a boy.

“When I first tried it I thought it was pretty spicy since I couldn’t handle spicy things when I was younger, but I liked the general taste,” Chao said.

He says he now flavors his food with the spicy concoction every day.

“I guess the particular flavor goes well with a lot of the foods I eat and it’s not as salty as some of the other ones I’ve tried,” Chao said.

But why is Sriracha just now catching on, so many years after its birth date?

“Maybe it’s because we’ve diversified in terms of culture and that comes with the foods so people are trying different things,” Chao said. “With people becoming more diverse it’s natural for them to dabble in the cuisine, thus exposing more people to Sriracha.”

For a PDF version of this graphic, contact Scott Farrand at farrand@mailbox.sc.edu

Important S.C. jazz venue fears losing home in Columbia park renovation

Le Cafe Jazz sign

Skipp Pearson’s Le Cafe Jazz is tucked into the top floor of the concession stand at Columbia’s Finlay Park with only this sign on a nearby fence as a hint it is there.

Skipp Pearson’s Le Cafe Jazz stands out not only as the renowned saxophonist’s home base but also for its focus on the music. But look at the preliminary renovation plans for Columbia’s Finlay Park. You won’t find the building it now calls home.
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Olympia-Granby Museum preserves mill villages’ past in uncertain future

Shery Jaco at Olympia-Granby museum

It’s costing more than $500,000 to create and equip the Olympia-Granby Mill Village Museum. Richland County is providing much of the money, but Olympia native Sherry Jaco said $50,000 was raised in small donations from those passionate about the neighborhood

Sherry Jaco hopes the Olympia-Granby Museum she’s building helps capture the culture of the mill villages she knows from decades of living there. But even as she builds it, museums like this are becoming a part of the very past they aimed to preserve. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Drug Costs” from The Times and Democrat

“Drug Costs” from The Times and Democrat