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March 29, 2012

HBF bestows awards at its annual meeting

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By Lanier Laney

The annual meeting of the members of Historic Beaufort Foundation was held Monday, March 19. The featured speaker was Nancy Tinker of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  HBF gives their highest Preservation Honor Award every year to exemplary restoration or adaptive use projects. This year’s winners for the Restoration Award were Beek Webb and Ashley Hefner for 302 King Street, owned by Ann and Sam Bluntzer. The Adaptive Use Award was given to the Garrett Family and Campbell Thorp. Chuck Ferguson was the contractor who remodeled 302 Carteret Street — the former City Hall that became Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe.

From left: Preservation Award Winner Beek Webb with HBF Trustees Conway Ivy, Chairman Randy Kohn and Bo Mohr.










Adaptive Use Award winners Noel Garrett and Campbell Thorp of Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe.


Behind the lens: Spring photo club winners

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Patricia Powers "In Flight"

The Photography Club of Beaufort’s semi-annual print competition was held Monday, March 19.  Three local artists served as judges for the club:  JW Rone, director of ARTWorks; Stuart Lathrop, IT director and visual artist; and Bob Sofaly, photojournalist. They studied each of the 40 entries, analyzing each for composition, technical quality and interest. Often they rose from their seats and checked the focus or close up detail of the prints.

Patricia Powers "In Flight"

As the judges deliberated, club members were able to view the same images, submitted digitally on a projected screen.  As a learning tool, judges constructively commented on each image as the scores were tallied.
The top winners of the 2012 Spring Photo Competition for the Photography Club of Beaufort are:
Expert: Lamar Nix, “Three-Gabled Manse”
Advanced: Phyllis Kaupp-Seas, “Cloud Cover”
Intermediate: Ellen Corbett,   “Singin’ the Blues”
Three-way tie for Novice:   Charlotte Gonzales, “Flower and Bee”; Tom Brady, “Dragonfly”;  Patricia Powers, “In Flight.”

Charlotte Gonzales: “Flower and the Bee.”

Ellen Corbett’s “Singin’ the Blues” was also part of the club’s American Music exhibit at the Beaufort Library in December and won the People’s Choice Award.
The Photography Club also instituted a Best in Show ribbon which was awarded to “Cloud Cover.”
The club meets the second Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at ARTworks on Boundary Street in Beaufort. Please check out for more information.

Two Beaufort County schools win Palmetto’s Finest award

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Hundreds of Beaufort County school supporters clapped and cheered in Columbia’s Koger Center for the Performing Arts last Tuesday as Beaufort Middle School and Hilton Head High School were announced as winners of 2012 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards.
With the double victory in the middle and high school categories, Beaufort County became only the third South Carolina district in the award’s 34-year history to have two winners in the same year, according to the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.
“To be the last schools left standing after such a long and rigorous statewide selection process is simply amazing,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale.  “And to have not one, but two winners in the same year is extraordinary.”

The extensive judging process for Palmetto’s Finest includes evaluations by previous award winners and fellow educators who focus on student achievement, faculty training, program goals, teaching quality, office practices and community involvement. Awards are presented to two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
Entrants in the Palmetto’s Finest competition submitted 20-page applications last fall and received on-site visits by independent review committees.
This was Beaufort Middle School’s second consecutive year as a finalist. A Red Carpet award winner, the school’s strong academic focus resulted in 24 Junior Scholars in 2011 and also 67 seventh-graders who qualified to participate in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. The school also has a strong arts curriculum that has earned it designations as both a Distinguished Arts Program School and an Arts in the Basic Curriculum School. Beaufort Middle’s football and basketball teams both won Lowcountry championships in 2011.
Last week, Beaufort Middle also learned that it had received a Palmetto Silver Award from the South Carolina Department of Education — its second consecutive such recognition — for improving student achievement.

Best drag race in the Lowcountry returns this weekend

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Beaufort Beauties is back this Saturday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. at The Shed in Port Royal, 809 Parris Ave.
Prominent local businessmen put their best “high heel” forward by dressing as women and competing in a hilarious beauty pageant complete with choreographed musical numbers to raise money for four local charities. The event will be hosted by former “Saturday Night Live” Alum, Terry Sweeney, as the poison-tongued “Lucinda Ravenel.”
This year’s contestants are Mike McFee, Hometown Realty and Beaufort City Councilman; Will McCullogh of Low Country Real Estate; Karl Wells with 104.9 The Surf; Bob Cunningham, Merry Maids; Hank Herring of Green Herring Art Gallery; and Worth Liipfert of Griffith, Saddler and Sharp Law Firm.
Ticket sales and silent auction items will benefit Main Street Beaufort, USA as well as FRIENDS of Caroline Hospice, the Lions Club of Beaufort and Thumbs Up. Miss Congeniality will be crowned according to the man/woman who raises the most money. Your tax deductible tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $25 from Main Street Beaufort at (843)525- 6644 or 101 West Street Extension in downtown Beaufort. Online at WePay Beaufort Beauties 2012. Or $35 at the door. You can also donate money towards a specific beauty’s quest to become Miss Congeniality and cheer on your favorite candidates in person. It’s a truly great evening of fun and laughter!

Jury is out in the case of the courthouse

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By Chris Damgen

No one I know has ever called Beaufort architecture boring or mundane. However, it can certainly be understood that visitors to our area often get overwhelmed with the T-floor plans, the two-story piazzas, and the differences between federal and neoclassical chimney designs.
It is interesting though whenever I take out-of-town visitors for a walk around the historic district that the one building that always draws measured interest is the very one that doesn’t fit the vernacular of our antebellum district. It is the federal courthouse building.
The courthouse has been sitting on the Bluff like a forgotten beauty on prom night for many decades. What was once an ornate county courthouse on the tight corner of North and Bay gave way to a beautiful and elegant Art Deco design of the WPA era, as was the popular architectural trend at the time. Although having sat quietly in recent years as court cases moved away, the building received a fresh coat of spectacularly white paint only last year and has certainly aged gracefully.
Now we hear that this building took the top honors in a list of courthouses across the country that are scheduled to be shuttered, leading to the inevitable discussion of what to do with this building.
Beaufort County (which has first dibs on the property) has already expressed interest in utilizing the building and is all but measuring drapes and imagining mundane cubicles scattered about the old court room. Dissatisfaction with the complex on Ribaut Road has even led some to suggest that County Council meetings ought to be held in this space.
All I can say is that I hope we can find a much better use for this property.
In the past few years, Beaufort has demonstrated an awesome ability at adaptive reuse of older properties. Take the corner properties at Carteret and Port Republic streets. What was once a furniture warehouse and bottling plant has become two the top restaurants in town. A rundown motor lodge from the 1950s became an upscale boutique hotel. A former post office and city hall has become a produce market and café.
There is no reason to believe that the federal courthouse could not be turned into the next Breakwater, Wren, City Loft or Lowcountry Produce.
Furthermore, the courthouse’s anchor position on the south end of Bladen Street can serve as a catalyst for future mixed-use development on that corridor. The City of Beaufort has already completed a streetscaping project on the northern blocks of Bladen Street and will be completing the second phase of this project on the south end this year. Nearby MidTown Square will be adding close to 20 newly constructed homes less than two blocks from the courthouse. Individual renovations of properties across the Northwest Quadrant continue to bring improvements to the area.
Think of the possibilities for what can be achieved for that building. Converted loft apartments. A community theater space (motion pictures or stage). A microbrewery. Senior assisted living. USCB dormitories. These are just some of the suggestions that I have heard from my friends when discussing the situation on Facebook the other day.  Any of the above uses would go a long way to helping the Bladen Street area develop into a true “midtown” mixed use district.
There are many other possibilities out there. One thing though is for sure:  the highest and best use for a building of such prominence and beauty should not be limited to government uses for only five days a week. Consider as well that there are several government owned buildings within a mile’s distance of the courthouse that are sitting empty or at half capacity. Before investing in converting the building for county use, perhaps the county could actually sell the land and make some money to pay for improvements to its existing buildings.
While the verdict may be inevitable on the immediate future use of the building, let it not be said that there was alternative testimony in the case of the courthouse’s future. Before we rest this case, let us consider all available possibilities so we can have an outcome worthy of the building itself.
Chris Damgen lives in Beaufort and is a city planner in South Carolina.

Reproductive rights take center stage at Statehouse

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Reproductive health advocates from across South Carolina echoed many of the same messages being heard at the national level when they hosted their annual legislative action day on Wednesday, March 28. The 10,000 member grassroots coalition Tell Them presented a “Reproductive Bill of Rights” to lawmakers calling for uncensored reproductive health education and access to services for all South Carolinians.
The “Bill of Rights” was designed to challenge mounting legislation in South Carolina that puts basic health rights at risk.  Some state lawmakers want to take away access to birth control, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), emergency contraception for rape or incest victims, and even undermine the standard of care established with the Hippocratic Oath.
“The recent national focus on reproductive health rights has inspired many everyday citizens to learn more about their own state policies,” said Tell Them member Deborah Billings, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health; Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina. “It’s troubling to see how many long-standing health protections are in jeopardy in South Carolina.”
During the last three legislative sessions, 41 ideologically motivated bills related to women’s reproductive health were introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly including the controversial “Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act” (H.3408). If passed, this legislation would allow health care professionals and institutions to use their personal ideology as a reason to deny patients information and services. That means any provider could legally interfere with decisions made by a patient and a doctor. For example, a pharmacist could legally refuse to fill any prescription (including birth control, HIV medications, and even cancer medications) based on personal values versus what is in the best interest of the patient.
“Our Reproductive Bill of Rights is about a person’s ability to make decisions about their own health and the health of their families,” said Emma Davidson, Tell Them Program Manager. “We will ask lawmakers to protect these rights and in doing so create a stronger, healthier South Carolina.”
While previous efforts in South Carolina have focused on issues like sex education, funding for DHEC family clinics, and pregnancy prevention programs, these recent policy attempts are reaching into areas that compromise basic health care. Experts point to similar movements across the country to restrict health rights, specifically women’s rights. Currently, 13 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide services related to contraception; 18 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide sterilization services; and a recent ballot initiative in Mississippi sought to ban many forms of birth control and assisted reproduction like in-vitro fertilization.
To learn more about the “Reproductive Bill of Rights” and legislation currently being considered in South Carolina, please visit

Beaufort takes first steps to buy Commerce Park

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In what Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling called “a bold decision, a historic decision, an important decision,” the Beaufort City Council Tuesday night unanimously put the gears in motion to annex, buy and rezone a 167-acre Commerce Park near the Marine Corps Air Station.
Final consideration and votes on the Commerce Park purchase and annexation are scheduled for Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m.
Current owners of the Commerce Park parcels petitioned their land to be annexed into the city limits. At the same time, City Council approved on first reading the purchase of the Commerce Park for $1.85 million —less than what the property had been appraised at last year. The contract with SCBT bank calls for the deal to close within 60 days.
The council also approved initial reading of an ordinance to amend the Unified Development Ordinance to create an “industrial park” zoning district for the Commerce Park. The site will be used for heavy and light industrial purposes.
“This is a big first step in providing a brighter future for Beaufort, for the families of Beaufort, the children of Beaufort and the military stationed in Beaufort,” Keyserling said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us before this is finalized, and we’ll get a lot of questions. Our job is to provide a lot of answers and see this through.
“The time is now to go after better paying jobs for the people of northern Beaufort County,” Keyserling said. “This is a patience game. It doesn’t happen overnight … We need to do everything we can to diversify the economic base.”
The Commerce Park is located near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.  The park was most recently owned by the Lowcountry Economic Network and prior to that it was owned by a group of private investors.
Each year, Beaufort sets aside funding for land purchases and currently has $1.034 million available. Several options, to include financing, are available for the balance, and none of them require a tax increase for city residents, Keyserling said.
Part of Beaufort’s comprehensive plan includes expanding the city’s economic base while growing and grooming its core areas through infill development. The City Council uses the comp plan to guide its decisions.
“This is one more way we are approaching ‘City-building,’ by seeking ways to expand Beaufort’s economic base,” Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said.

Lowcountry Broil

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Proposal for Whitehall property
Last May I sent this proposal to the Beaufort County Open Land Trust  … that the Whitehall property would make an incredible natural park, with its view of Beaufort over the water. And it should be named in honor of Harriet Keyserling.

Support the performing arts at USCB
When I moved to Beaufort from Washington, DC, earlier in the year, I did not expect the sophisticated level of cultural entertainment that I left behind.  But, lo and behold, I discovered USCB’s splendid blend of theater, independent film, and musical performances whose pricing and accessibility easily topped what I was used to in DC.  The latest French film, “Women on the Sixth Floor,” was one of the most endearing and enjoyable movies I’ve seen in years. I have been disheartened, however, by the often sparse attendance and it concerns me about the future of these programs.  USCB’s program offers a varied and thoughtful selection of performances in a spacious,  lovely, and technically up-to-date setting, close to a number of restaurants for a pre- or post-performance meal. I want to make sure other Beaufortonians are not missing out on these opportunities because they are not aware of them.  If we are to be the vibrant and expansive community that we want to be, we must all support these excellent efforts — and for just the price of parking at the Kennedy Center!

Speed limit ignored on new McTeer bridge
Does anyone really know what the speed limit is on the new McTeer span? It seems that many are taking the limit sign to mean minimum speed. I thought only in Italy or Germany would you find vehicles riding right up your tailpipe. Try 60 or 65!

Did you get a boot on your car parking downtown or would you like to thank a stranger for a random act of kindness? Here’s your chance to sound off about what you love and hate. Send your comments to and you could see them in our new column called Lowcountry Broil. Don’t worry: They’re all anonymous. (Any specific negative references to people or businesses will not be published.)

Adage Re-visitation Team launched

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By Jack Sparacino

Well finally, some good news from the rough and tumble language front: the Adage Re-visitation Team was successfully launched last month.  Seven members, plus four backup players, ready to look before they leap into action at a moment’s notice. Their charter is to take a careful look at some of the most notable old expressions and sayings — adages — that most of us grew up with.  Knock the rust off them, they were urged. Look under the hood. Kick the tires. Run them up the flagpole. And tell us which of them is basically true and which may be bogus.  Talk about some heavy lifting!
We gave our team plenty of high-tech tools — an easel loaded with paper, colored markers, Post-It notes, scrap paper, a pocket calculator and a nice big wicker waste basket.  Oh yes, and access to the library and the Internet. We’re proud to present their initial results.
1. Opposites attract, or birds of a feather flock together? Turns out the former sounds good, but it’s just not true and the birds have it right. Sure, we all know couples who seem to have some really interesting differences.  But the fact is, lots of research shows that in GENERAL, with fascinating exceptions, couples tend to share basic values, opinions and viewpoints. They are likely to come, overall, from similar backgrounds, to share similar levels of education, and to display similar personality traits, related behavior patterns including hobbies, and even physical characteristics. Red Sox fans tend to pair up, for example, as do Yankee fans.  So do taller men and taller women, maybe so they can see (you guessed it) eye to eye.
2. A stitch in time saves nine.  Absolutely true, our team reports, though they felt the “nine” was probably very conservative. Highly competitive manufacturing companies spend a significant amount of time and money on preventive maintenance for a reason.  Not to mention practically everyone who drives a vehicle.  Sew there!
3. Cross that bridge when you come to it.  We had an architect and a mechanical engineer on the team, so that helped with this one. Also three amateur philosophers and (ahem) a dentist.  But they couldn’t agree on where the bridge was located or how fast they were approaching it, so the team went around in circles.  Fortunately, the circles started expanding and eventually they came to the Woods Bridge and crossed it.  Happily, it was lunch time so they took a well deserved break before getting back to work.
4.  Actions speak louder than words.  True, said our team. Then they asked to be reimbursed for their lunch. They claimed that action would speak louder than a mere thank you.
5.  It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Actually, it’s both what and who you know. And what people THINK you know. Say what?  Who’s on first? You know.
6.  Knowledge is power.  You bet.  The team also emphasized their belief that it’s as important to know what you don’t know as what you think you know.  This was followed by a brief argument about power cords, power mowers, and what Tyrone Power’s best movie was.
7.  Lightning never strikes twice.  Oh sure it does, just ask the people of Haiti about hurricanes and floods. Or the people who have won multiple lotteries.  Or our poor team leader, “Lucky,” who was bonked on the head twice when the easel fell over on him. (He cast the tie breaking vote on this one.)
8.  Neatness counts. A resounding “YES” on this one. Neatness vs. sloppiness or disorganization, whether in a factory, a financial service, or a medical practice, for example, often spells the difference between success and failure.  “A neat process or operation is better poised for success, in part through the virtues of simplicity as opposed to clutter, and cleanliness as opposed to dirt or contamination,” claimed one of our team members, Squeaky.  (He was nominated to clean up the room after they finished each day.)
9.  Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. Our team was hesitant to endorse any adage with the word “never” in it but they reluctantly agreed with this one.  This prompted a discussion on hair do’s and don’ts and pretty quickly they all decided they needed to get their hair cut.  One of them noted that “a neat haircut helps make a great first impression,” perhaps in an attempt to create a new adage, and a long break ensued.
10.  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. A big YES on this one, especially from those on the team who liked to watch “Antiques Road Show” and “Storage Wars” or go to tag sales.  They were quickly drafted by Squeaky to help him clean up the room.

For all the ladies in the house …

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By Pamela Brownstein
I thought it appropriate that March 12 marked the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts during Women’s History Month. I was a Girl Scout for many years (well, technically, I was a Brownie and then graduated to the green garb) but during that time I learned many important skills — how to get out there and sell cookies, work with other girls (without being too bossy) and the adventures of camping (even if it was in a cabin).
My mom was the leader of our troop for seven years, and when she passed away in 2010, I received messages from almost every girl in Troop 419 telling me how much she meant to them and thanking me for those memories from elementary school.
The Girls Scouts as an organization is devoted to giving girls confidence, and our troop learned how to be active, engaged members of our community.
At a time when women have more choices, and with that more challenges, the positive message that the Girls Scouts represent is just as relevant as ever.
This emphasis on being a strong woman makes me proud to live in Beaufort: we have a history of electing women representatives (Harriet Keyserling, Shannon Erickson), and all over town there are inspiring women role models as business owners, working moms and community leaders.
Girl (Scout) Power!

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