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 is can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

Ways to Connect

Cherryvale Community Center
Josh Floyd/SC Public Radio

On an overcast day in Sumter County, there’s a community center with a huge RV parked outside.  FEMA is stenciled across the front of the vehicle and wires hanging out the back are snaking their way inside.  The RV provides internet and phone service to the Cherryvale Community Center ,where FEMA has set up their short term Mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). It’s one of the last recovery center’s open in the state before Hurricane Matthew flood victims can no longer apply for FEMA grants or low-interest loans.

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (right) with Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, S.C. Adjutant General.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

It’s expected to be early 2017 when Gov. Nikki Haley becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster becomes Governor.  However the developments are already impacting the 2018 elections.

Soldiers from Fort Jackson lead City of Columbia’s Veterans Day Parade. Over the past two years, the area has seen a 14% decline in homelessness. According to the United Way, Veterans typically make up 15-17% of that population.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The October 2015 flood created new cases of homelessness in the Midlands of South Carolina. But despite that increase, the United Way of the Midlands has been able to shrink the number of homeless cases. This accomplishment, in part, is because of a national program called Built For Zero.

Built for Zero is coordinated by Community Solutions, the national effort supports participants in developing real time data on homelessness, optimizing local housing resources, tracking progress against monthly goals, and accelerating the spread of proven strategies.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941. A small boat rescues a seaman from the 31,800 ton USS West Virginia burning in the foreground. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred. Note the two men in the superstructure.
Library of Congress/U.S. Navy, Office of Public Relations, Washington.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II.  The Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, was blamed for the defeat, demoted for dereliction of duty and forced into retirement, along with his army counterpart, Gen. Walter Short.  In 1944, the first of 10 investigations and hearings into the Pearl Harbor defeat effectively exonerated Kimmel, but his rank was not restored because the war was on.   

The world's hottest pepper- the Carolina Reaper, grown in Fort Mill.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Many people distinguish themselves in the worlds of sports, entertainment, writing and other endeavors.  Ed Currie of Fort Mill has distinguished himself in a much hotter manner:  he holds the Guinness world record for the hottest pepper on earth, his self-developed Carolina Reaper.  He grows many varieties of peppers for the food industry, but it’s the Reaper that makes some hot-sauce aficionados rethink how tough they are.  In addition to setting people’s insides on fire, however, Currie says the pepper has other uses in the paint, medical and defense industries.

Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

Jurors in Charleston, South Carolina will continue deliberating Wednesday morning in the trial of former police officer Michael Slager. He is charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott last year. Bystander cell-phone video of the officer repeatedly shooting him in the back as he ran away shocked a country still trying to come to terms with other instances of police using deadly force against black men. This tape was a key piece of evidence used by both the prosecution and defense.  

A roller derby match pits the Columbia Quade Squad All Stars against a team visiting from Tampa.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

  Half party, half combat. That’s roller derby, a growing sport in South Carolina. Though most teams are women, there are some men’s teams and even juniors teams. In this report we talk to Dell Corley, coach of the Richland County Regulators, as well as two married players. Kelly Wuest of the Columbia Quad Squad All Stars, inspired her husband Mike to join the Carolina Wreckingballs when he saw how much fun she was having. All three, however, say a more important part of the sport than winning is the family-like relationship that links the players.

Each of these silver spoons has a story to tell, and Dawn Corley knows them all.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Dawn Corley of Charleston began collecting silver as a child under the tutelage of her great aunt.  As her collection grew, so did her expertise, until SCETV’s Beryl Dakers dubbed her the “Charleston Silver Lady,” a nickname which has stuck over the years.  Corley has presented programs on silver for U.S.

These Narragansett turkeys are raised by University of South Carolina professor Joe Jones.  Though he keeps his flock small, the quality of the meat is far superior to mass produced turkeys.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

From 9 to 5, Joe Jones of Blythewood is a professor of marine science and environmental science at the University of South Carolina.  After 5, he becomes a farmer, raising sheep, pigs, chickens, and especially Narragansett turkeys, which makes him popular around Thanksgiving.   He and his wife keep their flock small, preferring quality over quantity.  Jones and his wife Amanda talk in this story about the difference between homegrown birds and the corporate, mass-produced turkeys most people consume (hint: price and flavor have a lot to do with the difference).  There are challenges to rais

  Many people are fearful of a Zika virus epidemic because of the publicity the virus has received.  But South Carolina law enforcement officers are fighting a much-less-publicized epidemic – the growth of heroin addiction.  This problem, however, is largely rampant among middle class users, according to Frank Shaheen, director of the Recovering Professional Program.  

Living area inside new manufactured home
South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office

In less than one month, almost 800 individual cases for South Carolina’s  October 2015 Storm Recovery Program have been started.  The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) manages the program and is very close to placing some storm victims in new homes.

StoryCorps: White House Correspondents

Nov 23, 2016
StoryCorps

At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Here Susanne Schafer and her husband Charles Bierbauer speak about their careers as journalists and their time as White House correspondents during the Reagan administration. A pioneer in her field, in 1989 Susanne Schafer became the first female Associated Press correspondent covering the Pentagon.

StoryCorps will be recording in Columbia from November 17 to December 19.

SCETV President and CEO Linda O'Bryon talks with two of StoryCorps facilitators outside the MobileBooth in Columbia.
Tabitha Safdi/SCETV

StoryCorps' mobile recording booth opened to story tellers in Columbia, SC, on October 18th, beginning its one-month stay. Columbia Mayor Stephen BenjaminSCETV's President and CEO Linda O'Bryon, and StoryCorps MobileBooth Manager Stacey Todd spoke to a crowd near Edventure near the SC State Museum.

StoryCorps in Columbia, South Carolina

Nov 18, 2016
The StoryCorps mobile recording booth outside Edventure in Columbia, SC.
Tabitha Safdi/SCETV

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. They acheive this by recording and celebrating the stories of everyday Americans. They are partnering with South Carolina Public Radio to record, preserve, and share the stories of Columbia, South Carolina, from November 17 – December 19, 2016.

Judge closes Roof competency hearing to the public

Nov 16, 2016

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ordered the competency hearing for Dylann Roof will be closed to the public. The 22-year-old white man is facing 33 federal counts, including hate crime charges, for the murders of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. 

Philip Habermehl of the U.S Geological Survey measures streamflow in the Reedy River south of Greenville, SC.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

For the Piedmont section of South Carolina, the hot, dry summer has become the warm and even drier fall.  Much of the Upstate is in a prolonged drought.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, counties in the northwestern area of the state are actually in a severe or extreme drought brought on by almost no appreciable rain, and above average temperature for months.

Counselors from Carolina United have worked  with thousands of flood victims in the past year, including this one in Eastover, S.C.
Courtesy Carolina United, SC Dept. of Mental Health

More than a year after South Carolina’s historic flood, crisis counselors from the state Department of Mental Health’s Carolina United program continue to find and help flood victims.  But hearing the woes of thousands of victims over a long period can have detrimental effects on the counselors as well, sometimes producing stress or depression. 

Poster for "Eight Days a Week."
Apple Corps

The recent Ron Howard documentary film “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years” highlights the cultural phenomenon of Beatlemania in the 1960s.  The movie captures America’s excitement as John, Paul, George and Ringo stormed the country at the forefront of the most popular musical revolution of the century, the British Invasion.   

Inside the Marion County Administrative Office.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

At the end of a busy strip mall, a line is weaving out the door. The Marion County Administrative Office is home to "Team South Carolina" -- a one-day event striving to connect local flood victims with recovery services. More than ten agencies, government and non-profit are organized at the back offering forms, brochures, and advice. Many here are from Nichols, one of the hardest hit towns by the flood that followed Hurricane Matthew. For most, it's the first step towards long-term recovery.  Cooper McKim has the story.

Slager Trial Day 1: Opening Statments and Testimony

Nov 8, 2016
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Defense Attorney Andy Savage face the jury during opening statements.
Grace Beahm/Post and Courier

In opening statements at the murder trail of former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager today, attorneys described the shooting death of a 50-year-old black man last year in South Carolina two different ways in opening statements. A former North Charleston police officer is on trial for that man’s murder after he was filmed on cell phone video shooting the motorist as he ran from a traffic stop. 

As society becomes more dependent on technology, from smart phones to driver-less cars, the need for security has grown, and not just for financial institutions. The University of South Carolina and Gov. Nikki Haley recently announced the formation of SC Cyber, a coalition of educators, industry and government designed to protect information and anticipate the problems posed by new uses of technology.

Watchmaker Todd Waites works with tiny parts to get big results in repairing watches at Wristwatch Doc in  Cayce, SC, near Columbia.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

With competition from cell phones and an attitude of replace-not-repair toward many items, watch repair has become a rarer trade.  There are now fewer watchmakers (or repairers, to us general public types) in the United States than ever before.  Cayce watchmaker John Gawronski says that makes for a greater demand, and his staff is always busy.  He is sought out because not only does he have the skill, but also millions of rare watch parts gathered by buying out retiring watchmakers or jewelers.  There are opportunities for younger watchmakers if they’re willing to work, says Gawronski, and

Jury Chosen in Slager Murder Trial

Nov 7, 2016
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman has been appointed from his regular post in Williamsburg County to preside over the trial.
Grace Beahm/Post and Courier

A jury has been chosen in the case of a former South Carolina cop charged with murder.  

The jury panel has one black man, six white males and five white females. Those 12 will decide whether ex-cop Michael Slager, who is white, murdered 50-year-old Walter Scott, who is black. Slager fired repeatedly at Scott as he ran away following a traffic stop. The April 2015 shooting was captured on cell phone video. Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department.

It took attorneys three days to choose the final jury.

Peanuts fill tractor trailer containers at PeeDee Peanut buying station in Marion County
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

In September of this year, farmers across the state, who suffered losses during the October 2015 flood and who were approved for the Farm Aid Grant, started receiving checks in the mail. But less than a month later, some of those same farmers were once again assessing damage to their farms, this time from Hurricane Matthew.  South Carolina Public Radio’s Thelisha Eaddy reports on how back-to-back natural disasters are impacting local farmers.

Despite the good economy, South Carolina state lawmakers are already bracing for difficult budget debates when the legislature convenes in January.  While damage estimates from Hurricane Matthew are still being developed, the storm will definitely impact next year’s state budget.  Last year’s (2015) historic flooding cost the state around $200 Million.

Mobile Intake Center Schedule For January 2017

Nov 2, 2016

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) mobile intake centers accept individual applications for housing recovery related to the October 2015 storm. The mobile offices serve three counties a day for one week. Intake Centers alternate locations each week to reach citizens around the state more effectively.

RELATED CONTENT: Intake Deadline Nears for 2015 Flood Recovery

File Photo
warrenksi/Flickr

South Carolina’s voting machines were purchased in 2004.  For electronics, that’s old.  Computer technology advances quickly and needs replacing frequently.  Nevertheless, S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire and USC Computer Science Professor Duncan Buell believe that with caution, the state’s machines may get through this fall’s election with few problems. 

Not leaving a will is considered the biggest "sin" of estate planning.  Even an online form, not the best of ideas, is better than no will at all.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Perhaps as much as 50 to 60 percent of South Carolinians do not have will.  According to attorney Bert Brannon, a will is a person’s last chance to say what he or she wants to happen to his/her possessions, so it should be taken seriously.  Brannon and Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCullough name some reasons why people put off making a will, and why not leaving a will is a really bad idea.  While It has no effect on the deceased at all, it can cause untold distress and trouble for those left behind.

The dam (foreground) of Lexington's Old Mill Pond gave way during the flood of October 2015, leaving an empty pond behind it and destruction in front.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Broken dams across the state made last year’s historic floods in South Carolina even worse.  In Lexington, three dams burst, washing debris through the city and flooding U.S. Highway 1.  The city is now seeking to reconstruct the old dams to be more resilient. Tut Underwood has the story.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Richard Rothwell, via Wikimedia Commons

“Frankenstein” is a classic of fiction, movies, and other media, and also a Halloween staple. The novel has not been out of print in the two centuries since it was published in 1818. USC English Professor Paula Feldman, an authority on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” talks about the real- life tragedies in Shelley’s life that caused her to wish she could bring the dead to life again, and the dreams that inspired the writing of the classic book that is regarded as the first science fiction novel.

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