Rock Hill

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

One could make much of the timing of Chef Rob Masone’s next big food venture, seeing that it just happens to intersect with a moment that’s brought us both a pandemic and a major conversation about the meaning and breadth of race and racism in the United States.

Laurie Helms / City of Rock Hill

Rock Hill’s shiny new Sports & Event Center was all set to be a big deal. It was just slated to open at a colossally unfortunate time – March, 2020.

To be fair, it did open, briefly. There was a soft launch; a few events happened. But the city’s newest economic driver, a facility humming with revenue-raking sports and contests, ringed by businesses and restaurants poised to make a killing, never got its hoopla-launch. COVID-19 shut the center’s doors for two months, before it even had a chance to prop them open.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The weekend after George Floyd’s death, a thousand-or-so people took to the streets of Rock Hill. At the heart of their march was a call to develop a citizen’s review board – a mechanism that allows residents to weigh in on claims of police misconduct. By the end of the march it was announced, to booming applause, that the city would start to develop one.

A few days later, a couple hundred people bowed their heads at a prayer vigil in Chester. The city’s mayor, Wanda Stringfellow, helped pull the vigil together with Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey. During the vigil, Stringfellow said she would personally shepherd a citizen’s review board to the City Council.

By June 22, the ordinance for such a board passed its first of two hearings with the council.

It might be tempting to end the story there.  

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Two calls to change names tied to the Confederacy occurred in Rock Hill Friday. One was the call by the Winthrop University Board of Trustees to change the name of Tillman Hall back to Main Hall – a move echoing this exact call at Clemson University last week and similar to the one at the University of South Carolina to remove the name Sims from a dorm; the other an effort to rename Confederate Park.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

On Saturday morning, about 1,000 residents of all ages and races gathered in Rock Hill’s Fountain Park to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of four police officers  in Minneapolis, Minn.

Floyd’s death sparked protests in cities across the U.S. over the past week, calling for racial justice and an end to what protesters say is a history of police abuse and mistreatment of black citizens.

While some protests have turned violent, including one in Charlotte Friday afternoon, the Rock Hill march was one conceived in peace as a way to bring attention to the plight of black communities.

Volunteers at Golden Corner Food Pantry in Oconee County prepare bundles of food for drive-through clients. It's one of the many adjustments the pantry, and others in the Upstate and Pee Dee, have had to make because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Food pantries in the Upstate and Pee Dee have had to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic on the fly, like everyone else. They’ve seen need for food increase with spikes in South Carolinians out of work, as much as they seem increased demands on their time, energy, resources, and budgets.

But they’re also learning a lot about themselves, about the people who visit, and about the ones who help them with their missions. Here are three pantries and what they’re facing in the pandemic.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Blood is in short supply, in large part because of the coronavirus outbreak, says Maya Franklin, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Charlotte, NC.

“That’s resulted in dozens, if not hundreds, of blood drove cancellations by our sponsors,” she says.

That statement only refers to the Carolinas region between Rock Hill, SC, and Greensboro, NC. Nationally, says Franklin’s Rock Hill colleague, Ashley Collier, about 5,000 blood drives had been cancelled, through March 20.  

Kaitlyn Cannon / SCETV

Business is suffering some of the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Some, like restaurants, may not be able to make it back, even if our collective quarantine were to end today.

But a few industries are doing very well. In York County, at least, residential real estate is cruising along, thanks in part to historically low interest rates and an already healthy market in the ever-growing Charlotte metro region.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Rock Hill has two services the city's homeless population uses on a daily basis to get something to eat. One is the MyRide bus system, a free, citywide service for all; the other is the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen,

MyRide drops off across the street from the soup kitchen Monday through Saturday at around 11:30 a.m. There, a usually packed No. 2 route bus mostly empties and riders make their way to a hot lunch at one of the soup kitchen's tables, amid plenty of chatty company.

On Monday, lunch was not hot, not chatty, and not served on a plate taken to a table. It was a ham and cheese sandwich, a ham buscuit, some snacks, and a diet Mountain Dew, placed inside a plastic shopping bag and given at the door. Guests took their lunches, thanking the women who give them, and strolling away to various places on a chilly, cloudy morning.

It is a meal most certainly made on the fly, in reaction to a stunning and sudden outbreak of a pandemic

that demands people all over the United States keep their distance from each other. Jan Stephenson, the director of Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, says the sandwich-and-biscuit lunch is not ideal, but it is what could be done today.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-5th) were on hand Wednesday to dedicate Miracle Park in Rock Hill. The Miracle Park project is the first of its kind in the United States – an outdoor recreation center built specifically to accommodate visitors of all abilities.

Dubbed the most inclusive public project in the city’s history, Miracle Park will feature two softball/baseball fields, a fishing pond, and other recreational sites between Cherry Road and Eden Terrace.

Tapping Into York County's Booming Craft Beer Scene

Sep 30, 2019
Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Even just three or four years ago, one of the biggest complaints people had about York County was that there wasn't much to do there if you were looking for a night out.

Brewhouses have certainly helped changed that. The six brewpubs and breweries that now operate in Rock Hill and Fort Mill bring thousands (and thousands) of visitors a year. Most are looking to sample the IPAs and sours and Belgian ales and stouts. Some are looking to get a T-shirt.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

If you’re the type who likes to say you knew someone back in the day, you might want to remember the name Kamron Venable.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The Rock Hill Boxing Club is the kind of old school gym real boxers come out of – Golden Glove contenders, burgeoning pros, Olympic hopefuls …. There’s nothing corporate or pretentious about this place. It’s decorated with spray paint and duct tape-wrapped bags; it’s beastly hot; it’s packed with young men looking to make a name in the ring.

But look past the trappings of a small-city boxing gym and you’ll see what the Rock Hill Boxing Club really is for the people who train here – a community. Dare one say a family.

Pinky Funderburk's Legion of Honor medal, as presented by U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-5th) in Rock Hill on Aug. 2.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Tom Funderburk is 94 years old. He's one of the last surviving B-17 pilots who flew in World War II.

He goes by the nickname 'Pinky,' because of his once-red hair.

He lives in Rock Hill with his 8-year-old cockatiel, Pretty Boy.

He has more military medals than people have toes; and one of them is the Légion d'honneur -- the Legion of Honor, the highest order of merit bestowed by the government of France. 

There's South Carolina Gold in Them Thar Rockets

Jul 2, 2019
Spun gold. These shiny bands are actually a fiber soft enough to make space suits with and tough enough to shield firefighters (and astronauts) from flames.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Forgive yourself if you can’t pronounce “polybenzimidizole,” much less know what it’s used for. But if you ever went to the moon, you were sure glad to have it on your skin.  

Familiarly, polybenzimidizole goes by the much more vocally friendly name of PBI. It’s a twill-like material made by, fittingly, PBI Performance Products in Rock Hill. The company makes polymers, solutions, and films for industrial purposes, but the Rock Hill plant is the only place in the world that manufactures the company’s most visible product, PBI staple fiber.

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