SC Focus

News and features from South Carolina.

Ways to Connect

Binky is the breed standard for the Carolina dog, and has been given the registration number 1 by the American Kennel Club.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

A breed of dog that came to North America with man thousands of years ago over the Bering land bridge and was  overlooked in the South for many years has recently been saved from extinction with the help of a pair of Aiken breeders.  What is now called the Carolina dog, a common "yaller dog" of the South, was rediscovered by University of Georgia professor I. Lehr Brisbin in the 1990s and introduced to Billy Benton and Jane Gunnell, who became fascinated with the largely-unnoticed dogs - most of which had become wild - and began breeding them. 

Wynton Marsalis Jazzes Up the Holidays

Nov 28, 2018
Wynton Marsalis plays holiday songs with the jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Ask Wynton Marsalis to name his favorite holiday song and he might tell you, “The Christmas Song” by Mel Torme.  Then he’ll likely explain it’s personal.  When Marsalis first moved to New York, he played in a show with Torme.  He was 18 years-old.

“The contractor thought I was only a classical trumpet player,” Marsalis recalled.  “He said this boy can’t play.  I don’t know why he’s playing this gig, and Mel heard me play and said, this boy can play.  Leave him alone.”

V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 Aerial View, Jan. 2017.

The question of who will pay for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project is now in the hands of the seven-member S.C. Public Service Commission, the state’s official utility rate setting authority.

Last week, the PSC completed three weeks of contentious hearings on how much South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. should be allowed to charge its over 700,000 electric ratepayers for the abandoned reactors.  They’ve already paid in over $2 Billion.

Lumapoche [CC0 1.0] via Pixabay

You may say to- MAY-toe and I may say to-MAH-toe, but the 1930s pop song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" demonstrates playfully that there are often various ways to pronounce certain words.  Even numbers are subject to differences of opinion. 

A South Carolina resident figures in the story of  a Vietnam veteran's search for the man who saved his life when PBS and SCETV begin the second season of We'll Meet Again, hosted by Ann Curry, Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.  The program focuses on reunions of people whose lives have crossed at pivotal times.  The searcher is Dave Johnson, whose helicopter was shot down in Cambodia during the war.  Surrounded and under heavy fire, Johnson and five others were rescued by another helicopter crew led by pilot Bruce Grable.

Historians Observe Centennial of World War I's End

Nov 9, 2018
Suresnes American Cemetery, Suresnes, France
U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Ben Sowers/Released

Nov. 11 is Veteran's Day, which was once known as Armistice Day. It's also the 100th anniversary of the original Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, on which ended World War I, then known as "the Great War," or - with hope, but sadly, not truly - "The War to End All Wars."

Joe Cunningham chats with supporters and friends after midterm election win
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

After a nail biting night and an all too close early morning win, Congressman-Elect Joe Cunningham addressed the press Wednesday night in front of a small group of family and friends at a longshoremen’s union hall in Charleston.   He spoke about a campaign that began at a kitchen table with no money, no staff and no idea how to run for election.  But Cunningham said he decided to run to fight for a nation less divided for future generations.

Charleston School Helps Women Sail the Seas of Life

Nov 2, 2018
Tall ship "Liberty Clipper" arrives at the Charleston Maritime Center
Victoria Hansen

Just leaving their cell phones behind for a week might seem tough enough, but 17 teenagers from Ashley Hall in Charleston, a private school for girls, spent a week at sea hoisting sails and navigating by stars aboard the tall ship, “Liberty Clipper”. Most had never sailed before. The trip is part of the school’s annual Offshore Leadership Program.

Literary Classic "Frankenstein" Turns 200

Oct 30, 2018
A detail from the frontispiece of the 1831 edition. Steel engraving (993 x 71mm) to the revised edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831.
Theodore Von Holst (1810-1844) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Halloween brings out the ghoul and monster in both kids and adults, and a perennial favorite is Mary Shelley's ground-breaking character, Frankenstein.  Acknowledged as the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein has hit another milestone this year: first published in 1818, it turns 200, and has enjoyed popularity virtually from the moment of its first printing.  University of South Carolina English professor and Shelley expert Paula Feldman said the story speaks to the mysterious fears of our nature, and thus has remained popular through the centuries.  She revealed that the inspiration

Lt. Governor Debate
Gavin Jackson / SCETV

In one week, South Carolina will elect a governor. Through that mid-term election decision, a new lieutenant governor will also be selected.

Monday, lieutenant candidates, Republican Pamela Evette and Democrat Mandy Powers-Norrell, met for their only televised debate. They shared what they both would bring to the state's 'executive office table' and reinforced their running mate's positions on topics like healthcare, taxes, education and gun control.

McMaster, Smith Make Last Televised Appeal to Voters

Oct 25, 2018

With less than two weeks to go before voters head to the polls during midterm elections, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and Democratic state Rep. James Smith met for their second and final debate Thursday at Greenville Technical College.

The two fielded questions about how they run their own personal bsuinesses to how the state should use its lottery earnings if the recent Mega Millions Jackpot winner(s) choose the lump sum option.

The Citadel Encourages Diversity through Listening

Oct 25, 2018
Citadel faculty and members of the media take part in the school's first CitListen session.
Victoria Hansen

It’s been a little more a than year since the Citadel started  its Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center.  One of the goals is to help the once all-male military college in Charleston acknowledge its history in perpetrating racism and continue to evolve into a more inclusive community.  The school is now holding what it calls CitListen sessions to encourage change through conversation.

Early childhood expert and author Helle Heckmann talks to educators and community members at an education summit in Florence
Victoria Hansen

A conference thousands of miles away in California has inspired an early childhood education public awareness campaign in Florence.  That’s where district one teachers heard a woman from Denmark talk about serving children’s needs so they are better able to learn and grow.  The speaker was author and early childhood education expert Helle Heckmann.

Gubernatorial candidates meet for first debate.

Incumbent Republican Governor Henry McMaster said he is in favor of low taxes, believes the Superintendent of Education should be appointed by the governor, has created a commission to study flooding, and warns against messing with 2nd amendment rights. His Gubernatorial challenger Rep. James Smith is a supporter of pro-growth tax initiatives, wants the people of South Carolina to pick the person who heads the state’s education department, criticizes the governor for not investing in infrastructure and believes more can be done to curb gun violence.

Rocket, Sand Sculpture part of State Fair Traditions

Oct 16, 2018
The rocket is the most recognized icon of the South Carolina State Fair.  Meeting family and friends there has been a tradition for nearly 50 years.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

October brings many things to South Carolina - more football, turning leaves, cooler temps (we hope!).  And one of the fall's most anticipated events is the South Carolina State Fair.  Long-time fairgoers have established many traditions they associate with the fair, but "meeting at the rocket" must be at the top of nearly everyone's list.  The rocket, according to fair General Manager Nancy Smith, is actually a long-range intermediate range ballistic missle built in the 1960s and designed by legendary rocket engineer Wehrner von Braun.  It was named Columbia, and was eventually donated to

Walks Aim to Highlight Suicide Prevention

Oct 5, 2018

Suicide is on the rise in nearly every state (Nevada is the exception), the 10th leading cause of death both in South Carolina and nationally, and for ages 15-34, the second leading cause of death in both state and nation.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that suicide is up a distressing 38 percent in the Palmetto State.  Though it’s too early to know just why the rate is climbing so high, Helen Pridgen, South Carolina Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, listed some reasons that might suggest an explanation.  Though most people who die by

Georgetown Braces for Florence's Final Stop

Sep 28, 2018

The city of Georgetown may get a bit of a reprieve as Hurricane’s Florence’s flood waters make a final push before heading out to sea.  Georgetown County officials now say an updated flood anticipation map from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources shows a much improved forecast and is encouraging people who have evacuated to take a look and decide if it’s safe to return. That certainly was not the case a couple of days ago.

Debbie Long and Morgan Sellers embrace as the street quickly floods
Victoria Hansen

The Waccamaw River has yet to crest and people who fled Conway before Hurricane Florence and returned are now evacuating, either on their own or being forced to go.

Debbie Long helped her mother-in-law move out of a neighborhood east of town near Crabtree Swamp just days before the National Guard moved in, pulling people from their homes.  So how high was the water?

“I don’t know,” she said.  “The fire ants are doing their thing where they float and if you get close to them they will swim to you.  I’ve already been bitten.”

South Carolina writer Mary Alice Monroe is one of the many Palmetto State authors and poets to be featured in the new ETV series "By the River," which can be seen Thursday nights at 8 p.m. beginning Sept. 13.
Courtesy Mary Alice Monroe

South Carolina is blessed with gifted writers. To celebrate this gift, a new program, “By the River,” premieres on ETV Thursday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. Produced by ETV and USC-Beaufort, the show will feature in-depth conversations with Palmetto State authors and poets set against the backdrop of the Beaufort River. 

A sign for the Lumber river in Nichols, SC.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Flooding will be a major concern for parts of South Carolina, possibly during and after Hurricane Florence makes landfall. The town of Nichols, in Marion county, experienced severe flooding in 2016 during the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Disaster Recovery Coordinator Michaela Hufford shares what the town is doing to prepare for Hurricane Florence.

"Everyone, rightfully so, is nervous about it. It is a really big storm and a lot of newscasters are comparing it to Hugo," Hufford said.

This stadium is the centerpiece of a re-vitalized North Augusta riverfront.
City of North Augusta, SC

This summer thousands of people have attended home games of the Augusta Green-Jackets, Augusta Georgia’s minor league baseball.  The team plays in a brand new stadium, SRP Park.  The stadium however is located across the Savannah River in South Carolina in the City of North Augusta.  The new, state-of-the-art stadium is the centerpiece of a re-vitalized North Augusta along its riverfront.

North Augusta is just one of a number of smaller cities in the state bringing their downtowns to life by creating new work, living, and play spaces and strengthening their local tax bases.

Retired Rear Admiral Ann Phillips U.S. Navy talks about the impact of climate change on the military
Victoria Hansen

Three years of back to back hurricanes and record floods have left many across the Lowcountry flood weary.  Now the height of hurricane season is here.  Scientists say climate change is to blame for increased flooding, creating more intense storms and rising sea levels.  But it’s not just coastal homeowners who are worried.  Some military leaders warn climate change is a threat to national security.

Vanessa Wyche / NASA

NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director Mark Geyer recenly announced that Vanessa Wyche was thethe next deputy director of JSC in Houston.

Wyche is a native on Conway and a graduate of Clemson University. As Deputy Director, she will assist Geyer in leading one of NASA’s largest installations (JSC has nearly 10,000 civil service and contractor employees – including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico). It also has a broad range of human spaceflight activities. Wyche talks with South Carolina Public Radio about current and future projects JSC is working.

S.C. farmers are expecting a bumper soybean crop this year.  However the global trade war has caused a 20 percent drop in expected prices.
SC Department of Agriculture

With the November elections just two months away, business leaders and political candidates are juggling the economic and political realities of the growing global trade war.  South Carolina is one of three states in the country expected to be most affected by new tariffs on imports and exports.

Marsh Tackies Make a Come Back on Dafuskie Island

Sep 4, 2018
Estelita is the first Marsh Tacky foal born on Dafuskie Island in decades
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

With her windows rolled down, Erica Veit gives me a lift  at the ferry boat landing on Dafuskie Island.  The other passengers, mostly tourists, scramble for golf carts.  There are few paved roads and no grocery store, hospital or police.  The hour long ride from Hilton Head Island was a sign.  This place is remote and intriguing.

Crowds gather at the Columbia Convention Center for a previous Soda City Comic Con.

In 2011, Donald Brock, Jr. found an old comic book on a shelf,  inside one of his father's properties. "I looked at it. It look reasonably old."

Brock said, the conditons in the warehouse were not that great, so "I swiped it and said I would go online and see if its worth anything."

Helena Lopes from Pexels

As Baby Boomers retire, their children, the Millennial generation, are coming into the workplace, behind the in-between Generation X.  University of South Carolina Sociology Professor Rob Ployhart says millennials differ from their predecessors in some key ways:  they are the first generation to grow up completely in the digital age, and they expect the companies they work for to be technologically savvy.  Certain ideas about millennials picture them as spoiled, self-obsessed techno-nerds that don’t want to work normal hours and need playtime at work, as evidenced by giant tech companies li

Photographing Veterans after Capturing Combat

Aug 21, 2018
Elizabeth Barker Johnson holds her 1943 Army portrait
Veterans Portrait Project images by Stacy L. Pearsall

Stacy Pearsall's office is tucked away in an upstairs bedroom of her Charleston area home.  Her service dog Charlie checks in occasionally, tail wagging, making sure she's alright.  Above her desk, hangs a collection of spoons; small, some silver, simple and ornate.  Stacy says she handpicked them for a loved one during her travels overseas, someone who has since passed away.  They reflect her love of service and a discerning eye.

Former Mayor Joe Riley celebrates the announcement the money needed to build the International African American Museum has been raised
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

The Charleston Maritime Museum was packed Thursday with a who’s who of community leaders, as well as local and state dignitaries.  Former, long time Charleston City Mayor Joe Riley could barely contain his excitement as he stepped up to the podium. 

“Today we’ve asked all of you to join us to tell you that the dream of the International African American Museum shared by so many will be a reality,” he said.  “We have met our $75 million fundraising goal.”

File photo: Soccer balls
Joe Shlabotnik [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Evidence of soccer’s enormous growth in America is the September kickoff of the inaugural season of the Midlands’ new semi-pro soccer team, the Soda City Football Club.  It’s the third team in the state in the 170-plus team United Premier Soccer League, joining Spartanburg and Charleston.  Coach and co-owner Patrick Burnette says soccer is exploding in the U.S., and thanks to small but dedicated clubs around the state, the talent pool is strong.  Player Hunter Haynes says it’s all he’s ever wanted to do, and like teammate Nestor Jaramillo (and the rest of the team, for that matter), he aspi