South Carolina Focus

SC Focus is a regular feature of South Carolina Public Radio.  As its name suggests, the segment focuses on the Palmetto State and its people.  It covers a wide variety of subjects, from South Carolina's war veterans to scientists, musicians and other topics, both serious and whimsical.  SC Focus can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

Ways to Connect

Students Create Computer Games and Apps at Girls Go for IT Camp

Jun 29, 2018
Instructor Jaya Gantt, a recent graduate of USC, teaches 6th-grader Kenney Williams and other students at Girls Go for I.T. camp.
Laura Hunsberger

During the last two weeks of June, the University of South Carolina's School of Earth, Ocean and Environment was home to Girls Go for I.T., a camp for middle school-age girls who are interested in learning about computer science and programming. South Carolina Public Radio's Laura Hunsberger and Clayton Sears went to USC's campus to see what the girls are creating and to talk with the professors who started the program, Dr.

Danny Flores (left) and fellow Community Leadership Corps participants took part in training exercises with the Obama Foundation at the Richland Library earlier this month.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

On Saturday, June 16, around 50 young adults, ages 18 to 25, gathered in the Richland Main Library in Columbia. All of them, in some capacity, were activists, hoping to gain the skills to influence change in their own communities with the training of the Obama Foundation as members of its newly minted Community Leadership Corps, or CLC.

Governor Henry McMaster and businessman John Warren (left) debating on June 21 at the Newberry Opera House.
SCETV

The two remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates faced off Wednesday, June 21 at the Newberry Opera House for a debate co-sponsored by SCETV and the Post and Courier. Governor Henry McMaster and businessman John Warren positioned themselves as the experienced politician and the political outsider throughout the night as the top vote earners from June 12’s primary sparred over healthcare, education and statehouse corruption.

The first annual Lizardman Festival and Comic Con was  held June 8-10 at the S.C. Cotton Museum in Bishopville.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

The tale goes something like this: a young man gets a flat tire late one night in 1988 while driving near Scape Ore Swamp, and gets out of his car to change it. Then, from the shadows emerges a creature that’s green, wet, seven feet tall, with three fingers, red eyes and scales. As the young man scrambles to drive away, the creature viciously attacks his car.

Liberia, South Carolina - An African American Appalachian Community.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

June is PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.  The mental health problem can develop after a person has been exposed to one or more traumatic events. For members of the military, PTSD can develop because of combat and missions where soldiers were exposed to horrible and life-threatening experiences. According to the health clinic at the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, 22,000 veterans are seen for mental services in general, many of them are referred for PTSD therapy.

Lowcountry Bridge Reopens Early

Jun 2, 2018
South Carolina Department of Transportation Announces Plans for Wando Bridge with Local City Officials
Victoria Hansen

A major artery connecting coastal communities to Charleston and beyond is back open, one week earlier than expected.  South Carolina Department of Transportation officials made the announcement late Thursday and reopened the west bound lanes of I-526 to traffic Saturday.  Fortunately, the weather permitted.

"Well it's very welcome news, " said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie.  "We  have 33,000 cars a day going out of Mount Pleasant over that bridge and  there are only nine lanes of traffice leading out of our town and two of them were lost in a moment's notice."

Kids from Charleston's Meeting Street Academy go backstage for the Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company performance of the Pied Piper
Victoria Hansen

There's a melancholy to his voice and a sadness in his eyes, as the managing director of the centuries old  Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company of Milan speaks in his best English to elementary school children at the Emmet Robinson Theater at the College of Charleston prior to the company’s Spoleto performance.  Peiro Corbella paces the stage as he begins his story, 40 years ago when he became  a puppeteer, thanks to the guidance of his mentor and good friend, Eugenio Monti Colla.

From her Camden home, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can monitor the goings-on around the world by flipping through the TV news channels and keeping an eye glued to her Post, which she reads daily along with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.  Parker is one of the most widely-syndicated columnists in America, read in more than 400 media outlets twice a week.  Like her colleagues, she started as a newspaper reporter – in her case, in Charleston – and moved through the ranks of various papers until an editor realized she had a voice “and I have difficulty keeping my voice

As electric cars increase their range, which in new models is around 150 miles between recharges, and offer more variety of models, which is also on the way, they will become even more common, experts say.
mmurphy [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

Traffic can be pretty noisy, but one component of the nation’s traffic is growing quietly.  The component is the electric car.  Sold by Chevrolet, Nissan, Tesla and other makers, Nissan alone has sold a quarter-million electric vehicles since 2011.    Mac Martin, who sells the electric Leaf model by Nissan, says it’s so quiet the manufacturer actually installed a speaker to project artificial speed-up and slow-down noises so that pedestrians will  be aware of their presence. 

The state’s primary election is June 12. All executive office positions are up for election as well as all seven seats of the US House of Representatives. The eight candidates vying for the state’s top job recently fielded questions on various topics during two, hour-long debates. Republicans debated May 23 and Democrats on May 24. Democratic candidates Phil Nobel, Marguerite Willis and James Smith answered questions on the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear power station, education, legalizing marijuana, protecting students from school shootings and more.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is found in South Carolina, along with other venomous species.  Wearing proper clothing and keeping your eyes open when in the woods or hiking on trails can help people avoid being bitten by a snake.
Georgia Wildlife Resources Division via Flickr

With the coming of warm weather, more people are getting outdoors.  It’s a great idea – unless you’re bitten by a snake.  The number of snakebite calls to the Palmetto Poison Center has increased the past two years, to about 200 per year.  It’s probably not because more snakes are out there, but more emergency room doctors are calling the center for advice, because they don’t see that many snakebites, says center Director Dr. Jill Michels. 

Two Eastern Box Turtles cross the road.
Chesapeake Bay Program / Flickr

Now that summer is approaching, it’s a common occurrence to see turtles crawling across roadways in South Carolina (and many other states). Ever wondered why that is? In honor of World Turtle Day, I spoke with Cris Hagen, Director of Animal Management at the Turtle Survival Center, a program of the Turtle Survival Alliance, in Charleston.

The Hansen Twins Record their Story with Robert Harding in Chicago
Scott Hanson

It's been three years since Carter and Jack Hanson were featured on CBS news for their rare friendship with a World War II veteran who served aboard the USS Yorktown.  That's when the  network set up a surprise meeting on the  ship just outside of Charleston.   They had gotten to know Robert Harding through email.  It was quite a moment as the three came face to face, and their bond has grown stronger ever since.   Now 13 years-old, the twins recently attended the Yorktown's 75th anniversary with their family, celebrating Harding who could not  be there.

A freshly buried sewer line parallels Gills Creek in Forest Acres. Some people and agencies are still recovering from the historic flood of October 2015.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

The aftermath of the October 2015 flood continues to occupy the business of many people and agencies in South Carolina, such as the East Richland County Public Service District (ERCPSD), which operates the sewer system for a section of the county heavily damaged by the flood.  ERCPSD Deputy Director Ed Schooler said the flood changed the route of the system’s pipes, knocking many right out of the ground. 

Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden at the University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library. Gen. Bolden has donated his personal archives of papers, personal items and professional artifacts for curation by the University's Caroliniana Library.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Students from three local Columbia high schools got a rare opportunity Monday—to see real life astronaut and former NASA Administrator Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr. speak about space, science, and the future. For Bolden, who hosted the talk at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library in honor of the gift of his personal archives to the university, it was also an opportunity—to share his journey with students of his own alma mater, C.A Johnson High School.

abstract mental health symbol
GDJ via Pixabay

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there is much that most people are not aware of about mental health.  Just more than 43 million Americans experience a mental illness in a given year, including millions of cases of depression, anxiety disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.  USC psychiatrist Dr. Meera Narasimhan says many illnesses are caused by the stresses of everyday life, such as unemployment or divorce, or more jarring experiences such as war.  

Starting a Mobile Business class travels to different bases throughout the state.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

One of the ways the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides assistance to small businesses is through education. SBA provides free individual face-to-face, and internet counseling for small businesses, and low-cost training to nascent entrepreneurs and established small businesses. In South Carolina, a fairly new education program for military spouses teaches how to start a mobile business. South Carolina Public Radio talks with the creator of the class to learn how a successful small business can help military spouses, their families and the economy.

The mandolin is a central of many Bluegrass groups. (Mandolin player with the Jeff Austin Band, on stage at the 80/35 music festival in Des Moines, July, 2016.)
Max Goldberg via Flickr [CC BY 2.0}

Bluegrass music has always been popular in South Carolina, but Willie Wells thinks it’s about to break out to a new, mass popularity.  Every Friday night, Wells holds a bluegrass jam at his store, Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor.  Fans and musicians enjoy a performance before getting out their guitars, banjos and fiddles to play country, gospel and bluegrass tunes with each other. 

A month ago, Gov. Henry McMaster offered to send SC National Guard troops to Texas to help fight illegal immigration along the Mexican border. Friday, the Governor officially announced one Army National Guard helicopter and approximately nine Soldiers and crew will leave for the area the week of May 13. Here’s what we know.

The Crew

Drew Wynne at a party.  He died while using a paint stripper containing methylene chloride at his business.
Wynne family

His voice sounds excited, yet hesitant.  Brian Wynne has just learned the Environmental Protection Agency will take action on a proposed ban from the Obama administration that would keep a potentially deadly chemical from being used in paint strippers commonly found on store shelves.  He met with the EPA chief two days ago, sharing the story of his younger brother from Charleston who died after being exposed to that very chemical, methylene chloride.

file photo of water pouring into a drinking glass
StockSnap via Pixabay

May 6-12 is national Drinking Water Week, a time to appreciate the high quality water found throughout most of the Palmetto State.  Jennifer Satterthwaite, communications coordinator for the Columbia Water Works, says while the city has two excellent sources of water, Lake Murray and the Columbia Canal, many people don’t realize that what they use on land, such as use certain fertilizers, automobile oil or pet waste, can find its way via stormwater runoff  into the water supply.  Fortunately, Water Works Superintendent Clint Shealy says the city does more than it’s required to to keep its

Education majors at the College of Charleston gather to talk about ways to improve student safety at schools
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Professor Anne Gutshall teaches psychology courses to future educators at the College of Charleston.  Her students have a lot on their minds.   From teacher walkouts nationwide over low pay to deadly mass shootings at schools, it’s a wonder they want to teach at all.  But they do.  They really do.

A replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall is on display at Historic Camden
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

A scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is on display at Historic Camden. Its called the Wall That Heals and features all the names of the 58,318 who served and died in Vietnam. South Carolina Public Radio spoke with students, teachers, veterans and community members during a recent visit to the exhibit.

Industrial robots on an automobile assembly line.
ISAPUT [CC BY-SA 4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Automation has been increasing in the Palmetto State’s factories for a long time, bringing with it fears of job losses for people whose jobs are vulnerable to being replaced by machines.  But Roger Varin of Staubli Robotics, which makes robots for industry, says jobs are changing, but not necessarily vanishing.  In fact, he asserts, automation creates jobs in some areas. 

Richland County celebrates the first new mobile home given to a 2015 flood survivor.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

For the past two years, South Carolina has been in recovery mode. Long-term recovery for families, business and municipalities, following the historic rain event and flood of October 2015, is seen in almost every county. Recently, during National Community Development Week, Richland County celebrated the first home in its flood recovery program given to a flood survivor. The event marked a major milestone in the County’s recovery program and also presented a second chance at recovery for those still living in unsafe and conditions.

The 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index was released in April. A program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the index gauges each state's response to emergent situations affecting public health.
nhspi.org

It’s that time again. Spring is in full swing, and so are preparations for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. The National Weather Service is preparing to recognize National Hurricane Preparedness Week in early May, and will partner with the state’s Emergency Management Division to sponsor South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness week beginning May 27.

Healthcare Power of Attorney illustration
James D. Sims [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

May is National Elder Law Month, a time lawyers endeavor to spread the word that their specialty provides legal advocacy, guidance, and services to enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. Columbia elder law attorney Lauren Wasson says there are three basic financial documents that should be in place for every senior citizen: a will, a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney, which assigns a trusted person to speak for the elderly client if he/she is unable to speak for him/herself.

Lowcountry Mayors Unite in Fight Against Sea Level Rise

Apr 27, 2018
Beaufort Waterfront
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Both have historic homes, waterfront parks and battery walls,  as well as  reputations for hospitality.  Charleston was named the  best southern city this year by Southern Living Magazine.  Last year, Beaufort was awarded best small town.  But that’s not all these two Lowcountry communities have in common.

“We’re sort of like brothers,” said Beaufort Mayor Keyserling.  He’s referring to his life-long, family friendship with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.  Their cities may be 70 miles apart, but the two catch up by phone at least once or twice a week.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
Federal Communications Commission

For the past nine years, South Carolina native Mignon Clyburn has served as commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). She was sworn into office, on August 3, 2009 at the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Courthouse in Columbia and since then has become a strong supporter of net neutrality, media ownership reform and lowering prison phone rates. This month, Clyburn announced she was leaving the agency.

Sexaual assault awareness and prevention efforts extend into the military. This T-shirt was on display during a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month event at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2013.
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ashley Bell

The instance of sexual assault in the United States is growing at a rate that would surprise, even alarm, many people.  According to Shannon Nix, associate director of sexual assault and violence intervention and prevention at the University of South Carolina, one in four women - and one in six men – will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.   This high number doesn’t mean more assaults are happening, however.  Nix said it seems that way because more people are reporting it. 

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