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November 03, 2011

A Day in the Life on Dempsey Farms

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By Tess Malijenovsky

About a 60 acre plot of history grows out on St. Helena Island by the name of Dempsey U-Pick Farms. The local farm, now passed along three generations, began in the 1950s when Davis Dempsey’s father bought the plot of land and built a house for his family. Davis took over in 1968, continuing the family tradition of running on tomatoes and cucumbers, and the “u-pick” came about a decade later with the 1978 trucker’s strike.

Davey Dempsey giving a hayride on Dempsey U-Pick Farms.

“We had tomatoes in the field and we couldn’t ship them because the truckers went on strike,” says Davis. He remembers giving his son Davey a small field patch off to the side for growing tomatoes at age 9. “He went down there and sold his first 120 buckets of tomatoes and got them all in one dollar bills. He came back home with a stack of bills, I tell ya’. ”
Ever since, customers have made their way to the farm to pick their fresh vegetables and fruits. Just ask Ed Craft of Dawtaw Island who’s been coming to the farm for 11 years. “I love Dempsey — good and good for you,” says Ed. “They have a better selection than anybody else, and of course this double crop is outstanding. I just pine for strawberries coming up in March.”
The double crop, or second crop, is the fall crop — a variety of winter squashes, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, joi choi Chinese cabbage, eggplants, okra, sweet corn and, of course, pumpkins. This is the Dempsey’s third year growing pumpkins, a challenge most South Carolinian farmers won’t trouble with on account of the disease that plagues the crop.
“Fall is hard,” says the professional. “You have so many things against you in the fall: hot weather, disease, most bugs and worms. You make a fall crop, you’re lucky. You’re real lucky.”
There’s still time to come out for fresh pickings, but it all depends on the first winter frost, so call ahead.  “You win some, you lose some, that’s farming. The good Lord blesses everything and he controls everything,” says Davis.
Yet with 60 plus years of farming experience, the Dempseys manage to harvest a variety of fresh vegetables every three to four days. Davis and son Davey Dempsey say the same thing about their career in farming: “I just didn’t know nothing else to do.”
But for anyone who has ever managed to grow a plant from a seed, let alone a variety year after year, the miracle of growing is a long education.
The strawberries are already being planted for the spring. The pumpkin patches are being cleared this November to make way for next year’s watermelons. And come the first winter frost when second crop dies, the farmers will repair their equipment, work the soil and plant cover crops like snap peas and sudan-sorghum grass. Not only does the tall sudan-sorghum grass replenish soil with nutrients, but it also makes up an eight-acre maze for family exploration.
“The maze and hayrides are for the children and families,” says Davey, standing out on the pumpkin patch with Riverview Charter School’s second graders. The kids are devouring uncooked sweet corn and running all over the patch looking for their perfect Halloween pumpkin.
Hiking over the earth and pumpkin vine with nothing in sight but the tree line and sky, it’s to no one’s surprise on Dempsey Farm that sunny afternoon why Mr. Davis Dempsey would say, “My favorite part [of farming] is going on the tractor and getting in the field.”

The Civil War in 3D

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As the first year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial draws to a close, historians, educators and Civil War buffs will have a unique opportunity to journey through The Civil War in 3-D on Friday, November 11 at the University of South Carolina Performing Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Civil War photography expert, Bob Zeller, will present “Lincoln in 3D,” a complete stereoscopic slide show on the history of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the battlefield photography of America’s epic Civil War.

Wearing 3-D glasses, viewers will feel as if they literally stepped into the tableaus of many iconic photographs of the Civil War era, including  more than a dozen portraits of Lincoln, photographs of both of his inaugurations, his visits to Antietam and Gettysburg, his summer home, the White House, the city of Washington, the hanging of the assassination conspirators, and many of the most famous images from the battlefields of the Civil War.
The 45-minute digital presentation will be shown in the original stereographic format.  An estimated 70% of all Civil War documentary photography was shot as 3D “stereoviews”, the equivalent of today’s videos. Most of the 3D photographs of the war that are shown in books and in documentaries were originally meant to be seen that way by the famous Civil War photographers who shot them.
The show also includes three of the earliest photographs of St. Helena Island — vivid and depth-filled images taken in 1866 that form the very foundation of  the Penn Center’s rich and unique photographic archive of its long history.  The Center for Civil War photography has consulted with the Penn Center on the significance and history of their collection of stereographs.
Bob  Zeller, who narrates the show live, is co-founder and president of the non-profit Center for Civil War Photography ( and is one of the leading collectors of original Civil War photography.
The panel presentation will also include Dr. Stephen Wise, historian and Director of the Parris Island Museum, who will present on “The Battle of Port Royal,” and Dr. Larry Rowland, distinguished professor at USCB, who will speak about his new book, “The Civil War in South Carolina.” Re-enactor Donald Sweeper will begin with an opening monologue on Robert Smalls, Civil War hero and statesman.
The Penn Center will also present a living history program by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment Re-enactors on Saturday, November 12 at the Heritage Days Celebration, beginning at 11 a.m.
For reservations or tickets, please call the Penn Center at (843) 838-2432 or visit their website at This event is sponsored by the Penn Center, the University of South Carolina/Beaufort and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Beaufort.  Tickets are $15 for adults.

Tree Board recommends pilot areas for burying utility lines

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Three Beaufort neighborhoods are recommended as pilot areas for moving overhead power and communications cables underground, according to a report from the Beaufort Tree Board.
Still under study: How to pay for the estimated $1 million pilot project. Options include special assessments on utility bills; the city’s partner, SCE&G, allows for such joint ventures between utility and customer through its Non-Standard Service Agreement. Using similar funding from other low-voltage providers is one possible avenue of funding.
Sections of the historic Point, nearby Pigeon Point and Mossy Oaks should be the first locations where power poles are removed and cables buried. That’s largely because of the existing tree canopy and number of quality live oaks impacted, Tree Board Chairwoman Barb Farrior said.
The Tree Board, working with city staff and at the City Council’s direction, began meeting about a year ago to find ways to improve Beaufort’s protection of live oaks and other trees, to improve safety and to stop or reduce the utility companies’ major limb trimming that happens every five years.
“This is an important first step that will help shape our work to come,” Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said of the recommendations. “Every journey starts with a few steps, and these initial steps are important to set the tone for what will come as we move forward.
“Ultimately, Beaufort will look better, our residents will be better served by lines that aren’t knocked down by falling tree limbs during thunderstorms, and we’ll allow our tree canopy to grow in a more natural way without the hacking that’s required for power line clearance,” he said.
The City Council gave the first of two required approvals this month to an ordinance that basically requires that, as electrical power lines are relocated and/or moved underground, the low-voltage communications and cable TV lines move with the power lines. The goal: Reduce the number of poles and overhead lines crisscrossing the city.
Beaufort officials are partnering with SCE&G to relocate overhead power lines underground. As that is being done, low-voltage lines that typically carry cable TV and phone signals also should be buried, Dadson said.
Will Saleeby, an engineer with power provider SCE&G, helped the Tree Board. He suggested they concentrate on two-block areas where lines could be easily “looped” once placed underground.
“The Tree  Board scouted the city, neighborhood by neighborhood, evaluating trees as they interfaced with areas of easily looped single phase power lines, the ones that connect houses to the main power lines,” said Eliza Hill, landscape architect for the Beaufort Planning Department.
“The board’s conclusion and recommendations are based on the ease of looping each circuit, the quantity of significant trees, the health of those trees and, of course, cost,” Hill said.
Over the course of the year, the Tree Board met with utility and cable companies on two occasions and members of the Point Bury Beaufort Cables Committee.
Early projects put the cost of burying overhead lines in two blocks of the Point at about $197,000, including power, cable and phone lines. The area is bordered by Federal, Pinckney, King and East streets.
The projected cost to relocate lines on two blocks of Pigeon Point — Woodward Avenue, Nairne, Emmons and Pigeon Point Road — is about $379,000. The conversion cost in the recommended area of Mossy Oaks along Langhorne Drive, Duncan Drive and Waverly Way is about $500,000.
“The (Tree) Board will continue to research and evaluate potential funding sources for supplemental financing of this conversion project,” Farrior said, thanking “the concern by Beaufort’s citizens regarding the protection of our urban forest.”

Weekend Crime Reports

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EMBODY: Who doesn’t love an excuse to dress up and pretend to be someone or something else, just for one night? Well it’s all fun and games till the law gets involved because someone takes his costume a little too far, like the guy last weekend who slashed two unsuspecting car tires valued at $350. Just because you’re a cow on Halloween doesn’t mean you can milk yourself; and just because you dress up like a knife-happy criminal doesn’t mean you can go around slicing things open, please.
PUNCH DRUNK LOVE: Saturday night, 30 minutes till last call at Panini’s a female called the police after she was reportedly punched in face for no good reason. The woman throwing punches was said to be starting trouble with the victim, then BAM. She left the victim with a bloody lip and wondering, where is the love?
DOPE DUMMY: A marijuana “manufacturer” on Cedar Grove Circle was caught last Saturday growing plants with evidence of intent to sell. Officers obtained a search warrant after “observing marijuana in plain view.” Such an obvious and forgetful mistake is perhaps why such dealers have the dumb and dull stereotype. When running a drug operation, at least close the blinds.
NOT SO HOT BOY: At 2:49 p.m. on Friday, October 28, a man who stands 5’3” tall, weighs 130 lbs and goes by the nickname Hot Boy gave his nickname a whole new meaning when he pulled out a pistol and fired at two victims leaving the Ambrose Run apartments in their car. The shots hit the car and narrowly missed the occupants. The victims sped off to a safe location and called police. Hot Boy was an acquaintance of the pair and was identified as 16 year-old Mykel Deyshawn Johnson. He is being charged with two counts of attempted murder. Hot Boy ain’t so hot anymore.
BAD JOKE: Two African Americans and a ginger walk into a cup cake boutique … What could have been a hilarious introduction reality turned to a bad joke when in real life the three men robbed a woman opening up the Crave Cupcake Boutique on Boundary Street as she was opening up the restaurant that morning at 8 a.m. last Friday.

Compiled by Tess Malijenovsky. Crime Report items are chosen from the files of the Beaufort Police Department. Please contact the police with any insider information on these cases.

Iraq veteran, Parris Island Commanding General to headline Veterans Day events

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The Beaufort County Office of Veterans Affairs hopes residents will turn out in good numbers on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11 and show their support for our retired and active duty military.
Edward Ray, Beaufort County Veterans Affairs Officer, said small tributes like attending the parade and ceremony go a long way in showing appreciation. “Our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen deserve a great deal of appreciation for preserving our freedom and our American way of life. The gratitude of our citizens means a lot to them.”
Sgt. Major Carl R. Green, USMC, (Ret.), a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom was selected parade grand marshal and Brigadier General Gen. Lori Reynolds, USMC, Commanding General, MCRD/ERR, Parris Island, will be the keynote speaker at the 11 a.m. ceremony at Beaufort’s National Cemetery, 1601 Boundary Street.
The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. and will follow the downtown Beaufort parade route which begins at Rogers Street near the national cemetery, moves along Boundary Street toward downtown, turns right onto Bay Street, right onto Bladen St. and back to the cemetery.
The Whale Branch Early College High School Band will perform in both the parade and the ceremony. Other participants include several area high school bands and the color guards of each branch of the service along with marching military personnel. In addition, there will be participation from all local veterans service organizations and ladies auxiliaries. .
Various local business, school groups, civic organizations and fire departments will also participate as will state and local elected officials, the Water Festival Pirettes and the Patriot Guard Riders. A reception has been scheduled immediately following the ceremony at the AMVETS Post #70, 1831 Ribaut Road, Port Royal.

Citizen input sought for future of St. Helena Island

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Members of the St. Helena Island Community Preservation/Cultural Protection Committee and the Beaufort County Planning Department hope island residents will participate in a series of design and planning workshops which will affect the future of their communities.
The first workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 at St. Helena Island Elementary School. Children are invited and refreshments will be served. It is being called a “Visioning Kickoff” by County Planning Director Tony Criscitiello.
“Citizens of St. Helena are urged to attend. We understand how loyal St. Helena residents are to their culture and to their community. Without their opinions, ideas and concerns, we cannot develop a good plan. We need to take the best of the past and see what the community values most and put that in the planning toolbox to envision what happens next.”
Consultants with Opticos Design of Berkeley, Ca., will also participate. The company is known for its work in form based codes, which are a response to modern challenges of suburban sprawl, deterioration of historic communities and neglect of pedestrian safety in new development. The codes offer an opportunity for local communities to address these issues and they provide the regulatory means to achieve a vision of what residents want their communities to look like in the future.
Members of the committee have been meeting for several years with county planners to understand the implications of the form-based code and to educate residents and landowners about it. The current committee was selected by County Planning Commissioner Mary LeGree, of St. Helena Island. It includes representation from different geographical areas of the island and is chaired by Jonathan Brown, who is also the leader of the Corner’s CP Plan.
The committee studied the entire island and considered the value of land preservation, economic development, rural land uses, access to water, and cultural and environmental heritage sites. Along with county planners, the committee identified areas where development is most likely to occur.
A second workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at St. Helena Elementary School. It will focus on plans for the Lands End and Scott communities. A workshop featuring plans for the Corner neighborhood is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday, November 29 at the elementary school.
A public design studio will also be held at Penn Center on Monday, Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Residents may drop by and observe the progress of the design and planning process.
For more information, call the Beaufort County Planning Department at (843) 255-2141.

Councilman Sommerville to be LIBPA guest speaker

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District 7 County Councilman Paul Sommerville will be the guest speaker at the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association  November 8 meeting which will be held at 8 a.m. in the Beaufort County Realtor’s Association Headquarters (in the Professional Village behind BB&T on Lady’s Island Drive).
Sommerville was first elected to represent District 7 as a member of Beaufort County Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. He is a Beaufort native, a U. S. Army veteran and a management consultant with extensive experience in labor relations. In addition to serving as Vice Chairman of County Council, he serves as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Chairman of the Development Agreement Negotiations Committee and a member of the Finance Committee and Public Facilities Committee.
Councilman Sommerville has been requested to include in his discussion the following subjects:
• Can we afford an extension of the Rural and Critical Land Program?
• Should we begin now defining the projects to be included in the next (2012) 1% sales tax referendum?
• Is the development of Crystal Lake as a park financially feasible in this time of limited revenue?
• What steps should be taken to improve the economic picture of Beaufort County?

Fire safety lesson at school saves lives

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A five-year-old Beaufort girl who learned about fire safety this month during a classroom lesson helped save her mother and five other children from an apartment fire earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 25, at about 3 p.m., the young girl alerted her mother that she saw smoke and that they needed to get out of the apartment in the 2200 block of Southside Boulevard. Firefighters from the Beaufort / Port Royal Fire Department, assisted by crews from the Burton Fire District, responded to the smell of smoke and were able to locate and extinguish the fire quickly, Fire Chief Sammy Negron said.
“This young child learned how to react to a house fire in a recent fire prevention class conducted by Beaufort-Port Royal firefighters in her school as part of October’s Fire Safety Month,” Negron said. “The training session included classroom instruction along with hands-on education on what to do in case of a fire. By paying attention, this young lady may have helped save lives.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Damage was minimal, largely because the child’s quick response limited the blaze to a utility room and prevented the fire from spreading, Negron said.
Beaufort/Port Royal firefighters were assisted by Beaufort police, Beaufort County Emergency Services, the American Red Cross, the Burton Fire District and the Northern Beaufort County Fire Service Investigation team.
If you would like to speak to a firefighter about making your home safer, please call the City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department at 525-7055 or send an e-mail to

Pretty ponds: Trevor Strever creates serene garden features

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By Lanier Laney

Trevor Strever never imagined he would one day be know as the “water feature expert of the Lowcountry” when he married Sharon Carter, a Kingsport, Tenn., native, 21 years ago in the remote bush country of Transkei, Africa.
Trevor was a game ranger there, having gotten a biology and nature conservation degree from the College of Praetoria in his native South Africa, the country next door.

Pond and water feature designer Trevor Strever.

Sharon was there doing physical therapy for children with polio in the remote villages with a medical group of visiting doctors.  She had signed up for three months but ended up staying for three years. After Sharon and Trevor met on a guided nature hike, they fell in love and married in the tiny remote village of Umtata.
Sharon eventually had to return to the United States and Trevor was apprehensive at first about coming to America because he loved his job in the wilds of Africa. But he found a job as a biologist for the Florida Department of Natural Resources studying redfish in Tampa Bay and began to enjoy the great diversity and outdoors in the U.S.
On a visit to good friends who lived in Beaufort, they fell in love with the town and the area. They decided to move here and Trevor started and ran a successful fishing guide business for many years while they raised two children, Matthew, who is now 16, and Caroline, 14.
What started out as a backyard project to create a wildlife habitat with a pond eventually turned into a thriving business as friends asked Trevor to create similar beautiful ponds and water features for them.  Trevor then went to Acquascape college in Ohio to learn all he could about creating successful water features and they awarded him a Certified Aquascape Contractor degree after he completed his studies and they reviewed several projects he did for clients. This led to his current licensed and insured business: Island Garden Features.
Says Trevor, “I specialize in design and construction of low maintenance water features, which brings nature to your home with the soothing sound of waterfalls, fountains and ponds. I also build garden bridges, pergolas and natural flagstone walkways and stone walls. I find that water features can help turn your landscape into something special, providing a focal point and attracting wildlife.”
And in case you might be worried that your new water feature will attract bugs, Trevor adds, “Our installed ponds are complete ecosystems with the best filtration to ensure clear water with low maintenance. There are no mosquitoes at all and the water  is continually moving and being filtered 24 hours a day to keep it clear.”
You can see examples of two ponds that Trevor has done at Grayco in the outside garden department. Both have clean, clear water and a variety of beautiful blooming plants, many growing in the water.
Trevor has done water features for clients all over Beaufort, Spring Island, Bray’s Island, Bluffton and Hilton Head. And he also does regular follow-up maintenance.
The cost of fountains can start at $300 and the cost of ponds depends on the size, number of waterfalls and complexity of plantings. For more information on what Trevor can do, go to his website at or email him at or call 843-575-1997.

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