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Take care when watching solar eclipse

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

In the summer of 1963, I was living in Ohio and experienced my first solar eclipse (although it was only a partial).

I remember it clearly because my father, the nuclear physicist, was in the backyard hours before the designated time. He was making a homemade Box Pinhole Projector.  

This contraption consisted of a cardboard box, a sheet of white paper, a pin to hold up the paper and a few other items that truthfully, I do not recall. 

My thought at the time was: Why should I look at a cardboard box when looking up in the sky would be so much fun? My father assured us that we would damage our eyes if we looked up during the eclipse and anyone not willing to follow his instructions would be sent, immediately, into the house. 

Now, over 50 years later, and I am awaiting another solar eclipse.  

According to the Weather.gov site, the place in our area to see this event is the Charleston area on Monday, Aug. 21. The total solar eclipse will take place around 2:48 pm.  

And social media is buzzing with people planning to visit those cities where they can witness the event. Some are even planning parties.  

For us in Beaufort, we will only experience 98.7 percent of the solar eclipse, which is close enough for me. I also think sitting in my backyard might be more fun too than driving somewhere. 

And, like my father, I am getting ready for this rare phenomenon.  

When I first started to see these special solar eclipse glasses advertised, I wondered why I could not just wear my own sunglasses. My Maui Jim’s have polarized lens. They were developed in Hawaii.  They cost me a bunch of money. 

But no, I heard my father’s voice ringing in my head.  I broke down and bought the approved solar eclipse glasses. They are on sale now all over and some libraries are even giving them out for free.  

Check the ISO rating. According to the NASA site, there are certain requirements. Mine are the approved ISO 12312-2. They look very cheap and weigh about a 10th of an ounce.

Beaufort County schools are going to be closed on Aug. 21. I am not sure if it was planned, but it is a good idea not to have over 21,000 students getting off school buses that afternoon. The temptation to look at the sun during the solar eclipse is natural.  

So, get ready, pick up some of those sunglasses or make a Box Pinhole Projector and pray for good weather.    

Looking to ease college tuition anxiety?

in Business/Contributors/Wells Fargo by

Did you realize that, according to the College Board, more than $240 billion in grants from all sources (federal loans, federal work-study, and federal tax credits and deductions) was awarded to undergraduate and graduate students in the 2015-2016 academic year? 

And that those students came from households spanning a wide range of household incomes? 

During that academic year, the average aid for a full-time college student amounted to $14,460, including $8,390 in grants (that don’t have to be repaid) and $4,720 in federal loans.

Once you realize how many resources may be available and begin your research on financial assistance, you could be on your way toward easing some of the anxiety often associated with paying for college.

Following are five lessons for seeking help for college costs:

Start planning during the high school years. Pay particular attention to your child’s junior year of high school and reposition assets or adjust income before it begins. When financial aid officers review a family’s need, they analyze the family’s income in the calendar year beginning in January of the student’s junior year.

Assume you’re eligible for aid … until you’re told you’re not. There are no specific guidelines or rules of thumb that can accurately predict the aid you and your child may be offered. Because each family’s circumstances are different, keep an open mind as you consider financial aid alternatives. A number of factors ‒ such as having several children in school at the same time ‒ may increase your eligibility for assistance.

Reassess assets held by your children. Federal guidelines expect children to contribute 20 percent of certain assets toward their education’s costs, while parents are expected to contribute up to 5.64 percent. 

That’s why assets held in custodial accounts (bank accounts, trust funds, brokerage accounts) in your children’s names may reduce the aid for which the family qualifies. But assets held in Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and 529 plans are factored into the parent’s formula, having less effect on the aid for which the family qualifies.

Help grandparents’ target their gifts. Grandparents’ hearts often lead them to make gifts directly to grandchildren or to pay their tuition expenses. Even though payments made directly to a college avoid gift taxes, financial aid sources generally count these payments as an additional resource the family has to pay for college expenses. Distributions from grandparent-owned 529 plans are also considered as resources and assessed as your child’s income, which can reduce eligible aid. 

A better idea for grandparents may be to make a gift to a 529 plan that is owned by the parent or grandchild. The financial aid treatment of gifts to 529 plans is generally more favorable than for gifts made directly to the grandchild. Plus grandparents using this alternative may also realize estate tax and gift tax benefits.

Assess your family’s financial situation to determine what your children will need. Gather records and begin researching available financial aid, grants, loans and scholarships. Two forms will be key to your aid application process: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (PROFILE). 

The FAFSA helps you apply for federal aid, and many states also use it to determine a resident student’s eligibility for state aid. You can find forms in high-school guidance offices, college financial-aid offices or online.

Many schools use the PROFILE to collect additional information before awarding their own funds, i.e., institutional student aid. 

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 savings plan. The official statement, which contains this and other information, can be obtained by calling your financial advisor. Read it carefully before you invest. 

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Katie C. Phifer, certified financial planner and financial advisor in Beaufort at 843-982-1506. Any third-party posts, reviews or comments associated with this listing are not endorsed by Wells Fargo Advisors and do not necessarily represent the views of Phifer or Wells Fargo Advisors and have not been reviewed by the firm for completeness or accuracy.

There’s a nuclear meltdown in Columbia

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

There is high political theater complete with pyrotechnics in our state capitol these days … since South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) announced it won’t be moving forward with the construction of its two new V.C. Sumner nuclear power plant reactors.

Over the past nine years South Carolina’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved nine rate increases worth now $1.4 billion so that the utility’s ratepayers could participate directly in the cost of the construction of the two reactors. The average SCE&G customer is now paying an additional $324 a year, or 18 percent, on their utility bill to help raise the money for the construction of these reactors.

They are less than half complete; work has stopped; and their joint owners, SCE&G and Santee Cooper, say they will not continue building them.

Gov. McMaster is looking for someone to buy them, but the early indications are he won’t have much luck. With the surge of wind and solar — and the low cost of oil and natural gas — nuclear is out of fashion. Good for him for trying, but he’s selling bellbottom trousers in a world that wants sundresses.

What SCE&G’s decision says, simply put, is we don’t need the plants. And that would be okay, if the ratepayers who were supposed to be being protected by the state government weren’t so deep in the hole.

Our state senator, Tom Davis, is calling for state-owned Santee Cooper — the owner of the minority stake in the project — to be privatized as a way of preventing future similar fiascos. That’s a good “reduce the size of government” idea, but as a practical political matter it probably won’t happen. And even if it did, it wouldn’t prevent future fiascos. SCE&G, the owner of the majority stake, isn’t a public company — it is a subsidiary unit of SCANA which is listed in the New York Stock Exchange. And that’s who led us into the mess.

Here’s what’s amazing: on the news of SCE&G’s decision to pull the plug on the project SCANA’s share price jumped nearly 10 percent.

Why?

Because investors hadn’t liked the smell of the project for some time, and with it gone they knew it would be the ratepayers and not the shareholders who would be the stooges left holding the bag. In all fairness I must add here that last week everybody who’s anybody in the mess declared they would sue everybody else who’s anybody in the mess. So, as this column goes to press, reacting negatively to the uncertainty that results from leaving matters such as this to the courts, SCANA’s stock price has drifted back to its pre-meltdown news level.

Nonetheless, at this writing it appears there’s a pretty good chance it will be the ratepayers who will end up holding a lot of the bag, by current estimates $2.2 billion more over the next 60 years. For nothing. And that’s just plain wrong.

So what can be done to prevent that tragic outcome, and future similar fiascos?

All signs point to the State Legislature. With power — and they have the power — unfortunately also comes responsibility. For example, the State Legislature appoints the members of the Public Service Commission. I urge readers to go their website (psc,sc.gov) and check out the group who’s protecting our pursestrings. I don’t know any of them.  I’m sure they’re all nice and honest and upstanding people. But in this they are in way over their heads. It makes you wonder about those who appointed them, and the process whereby the appointments became inevitable.

Take the chairman. According to his official biography he was a UGA football walk-on who served four years on the Winnsboro town council.  And he owned a trucking company there for 22 years. Or consider the commissioner who represents us here along the coast. According to his official bio he’s also associated with the trucking business and he’s active in the Boy Scouts. The vice chairman is a former Mayor of Clinton who was the public address announcer for Presbyterian College football for 30 years.

Where are the killer venture capitalists who shamelessly ask the gut-ripping questions?

We could have used a couple of them here.

Some want to blame the PSC’s staff, The Office of Regulatory Staff, but that’s a cop-out. If the staff can’t do their job, it’s up to the bosses to find some people who can.

Then there’s the 2007 Base Load Review Act (BLRA). Before condemning the PSC commissioners, consider this. The BLRA is a law that the Legislature passed overwhelmingly. Its purported purpose was to “protect ratepayers” but in the light of recent events it had the opposite effect. Basically what it said was when it comes to paying for the construction of the two new reactors SCE&G won’t have to pass the customary “prudence test” before the Public Service Commission.  Building the reactors was prudent, the Legislature proclaimed by South Carolina Law in 2007. The Public Service Commission was thus prevented from applying that critical test as the nine rate increases to help pay for the project were proposed. By the Legislature at least one of their hands was tied behind their back.

Too bad.

Wags like to say, “When government tells you they’re coming to help, beware!” The BLRA is a billion dollar example of that.

No one really knows what will happen next.

Surely a way will be found to stop the PSC from having to find that NOT building the reactors is prudent, and thus shifting the $2.2 billion future costs — which are mostly to make bond payments — from the ratepayers to SCANA’s balance sheet.

But SCANA has given $1.5 million in campaign contributions to legislators since 2009 and their best in class lobbyists are working overtime today, so the Legislature must be watched closely on this.

Watch the hands, not the lips. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Agri Supply store holds many treasures

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By Lee Scott

According to Trip Advisor, there are numerous places in South Carolina and North Carolina to visit.  

Charleston, Hilton Head, Beaufort and Ashville all come to mind as great destination spots. 

However, on a recent road trip with my spouse I found myself in front of an Agri Supply Store. Turns out Trip Advisor did not even have it listed. The closest Agri Tour found on Trip Advisor was the one at Mont Plaisir, Mahe Island, in the Seychelles. It has a five-star rating. 

As we pulled up I said, “Some husbands take their wives to five-star locations.”

“You will love it.” he said. 

He was right. 

The reason he wanted to go to the Agri Supply store was he needed two new heavy-duty blades for his tractor. The smaller blades he had bought at our local hardware store worked, but he wanted serious cutting blades. 

The first thing I noticed at the Agri Supply Store was the enormous field next door. It was filled with all kinds of farming equipment. 

As we walked into the store (which, I might add, was extremely busy at 9 a.m.) I was overwhelmed. It was like stepping into a different world. I could have spent the whole day in there wandering around, and there was not even an entrance fee. Every farming and gardening equipment you can imagine! There were attachments for trucks too.

My husband went back to the salesclerk and described what he needed for his tractor. She asked questions like what kind of soil, what kinds of roots and what kind of tractor. Questions he had not even considered. Turns out they had access to over 250,000 mower blades and parts to fit over 70 various brands.

I wandered to the “girl section.” You know, housewares, where I spotted a cute umbrella. It was for a tractor or the back of a pickup truck. They also had canning equipment, like Ball jars and granite canners with jar racks. Not your average items.

When my spouse and I hooked up again, he asked what I thought of the place.  I told him it was like stepping back in time when I was growing up in Illinois surrounded by cornfields and farming equipment. It reminded me how lucky we are to have the farmers in our own area.   

There are numerous places like the Agri Supply Store not listed by Trip Advisor. Places that take us out of our own little world. As it turns out, it was also a lot cheaper and faster than flying to the Seychelles Island. We would not have liked that 37-hour flight, despite its five-star rating. 

Take care when watching eclipse of the sun

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark Siegel

On Monday, Aug. 21, the entire United States will see a partial eclipse of the sun. Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse, including South Carolina. 

If you get a chance to see it, make sure to take care of your vision during the eclipse. 

To see a complete eclipse of the sun, you need to be in the right place. The area that will have a complete eclipse – the path of totality – is only 70 miles wide and will move across the continent very quickly. Plan now for where you want to be. You may want a backup plan in case weather gets in the way of your view of the sky. Beaufort County is NOT in the path of totality, therefore we will only see a partial eclipse.

The only time it is safe to look directly at the sun is when it is completely covered by the moon during the totality phase of the eclipse. You must protect your eyes during the rest of the eclipse or you could damage your retina, possibly causing blindness.

Areas outside the path of totality will have a partial eclipse. Only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse. In those areas, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. 

You must protect your eyes while watching the entire eclipse. This would include those of us in Beaufort County.

A truly awe-inspiring event, a solar eclipse is when the moon blocks any part of the sun from our view. The bright face of the sun is covered gradually by the moon during a partial eclipse, lasting a few hours. 

During the brief period of a total eclipse when the moon fully covers the sun (only a couple of minutes), the light of day gives way to a deep twilight sky. The sun’s outer atmosphere (called the solar corona) gradually appears, glowing like a halo around the moon in front of it. Bright stars and planets become more visible in the sky.

Watching a solar eclipse is a memorable experience, but looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently. It can even cause blindness, called solar retinopathy.

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

Here are some steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:

• Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.

• Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.

• Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

• The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.

• Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

• Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society. 

NASA will have a live stream of the eclipse that can be watched online, which is exactly what we’ll be doing.

Dr. Mark Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology at 111 High Tide Drive (off Midtown Drive near Low Country Medical Group). Visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com.

Traffic circle is roundabout of distress

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

It is said that change is the one constant in life. Expected, planned and choreographed, change brings about excitement, adventure and even peace.

However, not all change offers reason for ceremonious celebration. 

Small towns handle change as well as overly tired toddlers handle bedtime. We know it is coming; we have seen it before yet we are willing to fight it to the death no matter how much it is needed. Our beautiful town is tossing and turning with the torments of change at every corner.

Steadfast we tightly grasp all that we can with the hopes that not all of our comfort will be conformed towards the unrecognizable realm of development’s dire reach. 

Options intrigue us as long as they are few, improvement romances us as long as it is rightfully romantic and expansion allows us room to protest the parameters of necessary growth. 

All in all, change is a constant we consistently hate. Arguably our very essence is the opposite of change. Our accolades toast our traditional small town charm as they persuade travelers to pack our streets. The smaller we are, the bigger our reach. It’s all quite confusing. 

There is no better example than the Lady’s Island traffic circle. All aspects of humanity can be witnessed as our small town struggles to accept this French-born response to increased attention. 

It is a symphony of confusion that separates men from boys, women from children and manners from mayhem. It’s a roundabout of emotional distress from those that prefer a more direct approach. 

In order to fully appreciate a small town’s response to change, simply find a safe perch and watch as Beaufort’s best attempt to navigate the new right in the middle of the familiar old. Some rush in and navigate with ease, others hesitate for examples of successful survival and the most unwilling forge on, refusing to accept the path has changed. It’s beautiful Beaufort chaos at its best. 

As with all necessary nuisance, the shine will wear off, peace will be restored and for many it will become part of their small town story. But until then commuters will curse, confusion will ensue and we will finally have something, other than sand gnats, that makes our existence less than perfect. Safe travels Beaufort, SC. 

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

Become a ‘service human’ for a dog in need

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By Lee Scott

There are dogs in our community that wear special vests. This “service dog” identificatin are lets people know that the dog is working.  

Normally, one does not go up to one of these dogs to pet them. Service dogs are trained to help individuals who have an assortment of issues, like blindness or PTSD. They provide a valuable service to many citizens in our community. 

I do not have a service dog. However, Brandy, our dog, has a “Service Human”: me.   

Brandy was a rescue dog. She had been picked up by Animal Control and spent three months in the hospital before we could adopt her. She was skinny and skittish. The SPCA would not allow her to go to a family with children, because they were not sure how should would behave.

The first time I saw her, I knew she was going to need a “service human,” someone who could love her. I prepared myself for a few months of training (on my part). 

She would “leak” if the television was noisy, the voices were too loud or a stranger came into the house. But like any good “service human” I was there to provide companionship and courage for her to venture out.

The first time she had a seizure, I held her for the 5 minutes as it went on. “You are OK. It’s OK. We are here.” 

We discovered that any lawn chemicals sprayed on our neighbor’s lawn would lead to a seizure. We asked them to just warn us beforehand so we could protect her. I also learned early not to smack flies with a folded newspaper, once I realized how it affected her. I would throw away the newspaper, sit on the floor, hold her and say, “I don’t know who hit you in the past, but I will never hit you.”  

Most people, who have opened their hearts and homes to dogs do not wear vests that identify them as Service Humans, but they are all around us. They are individuals who have taken on the responsibility of a dog that needs to be cared for and loved. 

Some of these dogs have been raised in happy, safe home environments, but they had to be turned into the SPCA. Sometimes it is because their owners could not care for them anymore or maybe because the owner has died. These are very lovable dogs that just need a home. They assimilate very easily. 

So, if you have ever considered becoming a “Service Human,” contact the local rescue shelter. There may be a rescue dog out there that really needs you.

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Fun camping trip turns into nightmare

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

I love my extended family.

So much so, in fact, that I agreed to go camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Brevard, N.C., with one of my extended family brothers and his children last week. We would be seven: three adults and four children. His children and ours, all four between 9 and 13 years of age, are best buddies.

It was an experience to remember … to remember in the future to avoid.

This wasn’t the first time. Over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend the same group had likewise set off together for the Mt. Pisgah National Forest, which is a spectacularly beautiful — and correspondingly popular — place. Because my brother was several hours delayed getting off from Beaufort for the 2015 adventure, we got to the park late and every last camping spot — legal or otherwise — was taken. So we stayed in a motel for the weekend which diminished somewhat the communing with nature experience.

But, our wounds healed and determined to recoup, with high hopes and great enthusiasm we set our sights once again last weekend on Brevard .

This time we got off from Beaufort more or less on time but suffered a setback when just outside Columbia, which is about halfway to the mountains, the fuel pump in my brother’s truck hit the skids. Luckily we were in two trucks so we squeezed his children and all their gear into our truck with us (and our big dog!) and we moved on while he stayed behind to deal with the fuel pump.

A good man with good ideas and strongly-held views, as we were pulling off my brother gave us specific instructions as to which campsite was our destination. Those instructions were: “Go up the road to the fish hatchery. Pass it. Soon thereafter the road turns to dirt and there are turn-offs to the left. Park there. Climb down the little hill to the little trout stream. Step across it and pick the one you like from the several campsites that are there.”

That sounded absolutely perfect and non-debatable, especially to the boys who had their fishing poles and were determined to catch dinner.

My wife says it always rains in the North Carolina mountains — at least when she’s there — and it had been raining apparently in her absence as well, because when we got there the “little trout stream” was up to its historic banks and tumbling fiercely down its course.

Of course there’s no cell service in the mountains, so if we moved campsites we knew my brother couldn’t find us. So we decided to man up, form with the children a six-person human chain to pass both families’ gear across the river, and thusly press on.

By the time my brother arrived in a jelly bean rental car at about sundown we had the campsite humming, including stringing up a clothesline to dry all the wet clothes, and the children cheerfully warming up with cocoa around the campfire.

Saturday morning’s much-anticipated sounds of the woods and the stream were interrupted unexpectedly by police sirens, but we didn’t think much of that. 

We took a big afternoon hike at the end of which my brother suggested we take the children just outside the park’s gate for ice cream cones at the ice cream parlor there. Funny, we noticed on our way out, there were no cars in the oncoming lane, and also out of the ordinary was that there was a police barricade and a sheriff’s deputy at the gate. After parking at the ice cream parlor, while the others got their ice cream, I walked over to talk to the deputy.

He was turning all the cars, and the pedestrians, and the bikers and the bicyclists around and not letting them into the park. To one guy he explained very carefully how to get to Tennessee. Seeing this, I said, “We just came out to get ice cream. We can get back in, right?”

“No,” the deputy said very gently. “It’s not safe. We’re getting everyone out. There’s a dangerous fugitive in there and he’s armed.”

“But our stuff’s all in there.  We’ve got our whole campsite set up.”

“Well, it shouldn’t be long,” the deputy said. “We’ve got some great recent intel and now he’s boxed in.” 

That was at about 6 p.m. Saturday. We put our heads together and decided we’d go over to the local brewery until 7:30 and then check back with the deputy.

You know the rest.

That night we had to drive an hour plus to find hotel rooms because all the other campers who had been kicked out of the park had an hour-and-a-half head start on us. Plus we had a dog — a big dog.

It rained hard that night, and on Sunday and on Sunday night. We pictured in our minds our cozy campsite. But we certainly couldn’t get to it. If the fugitive was boxed in, it was with a very big box.

Incidentally, Mt. Pisgah, if you haven’t reviewed your Bible recently, is the place from which Moses was shown the Promised Land, but he wasn’t allowed to go there.

There was one piece of good luck … if you can call it that because it very nearly killed me.

My brother and his two children headed back to Beaufort in the rental car on Sunday afternoon with just the same old hiking clothes they’d had on their backs since Saturday morning. Clothed similarly, we found a closer-by hotel for Sunday night and went to see “Dunkirk” at the movie theater in Brevard, which was probably the best thing that happened all weekend.

On our way back to Beaufort on Monday morning we stopped by the park entrance.

There an amazing thing happened. The deputy on duty turned us away, but there was a Transylvania County fire marshal there who overheard my story and asked me where our campground was. When I told him he said, “Oh they’ve got the gunman boxed in way away from there. I’m off in about 45 minutes. I’ll take you in if you can be quick.”

I swore to this lovely man: “We’ll be quick.” Forgive me, sir. I know you understand.

After two days of rain the little trout stream was now a raging torrent. The human chain didn’t have a chance because we were down two hands. Given the increased volume of water, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. The children would have had to have been college football players.

All the camping gear — especially my brother’s whose tent had leaked badly — was completely soaked. It weighed a ton.

Piece by piece my wife and I carried (swam?) soaking wet comforters, pillows, sleeping bags, tents, and wads of clothes (not to mention coolers, bags of trash, frying pans, hatchets, air mattresses and bicycle pumps) across the ice-slick rocks and through the torrent. As a gesture of thanks — and because there wasn’t a square inch of room for it in the truck! — we were going to give the fire marshal a watermelon we’d brought with us, but it was lost downstream.

Neither we, nor the truck which still smells of wet, nor probably the nice fire marshal who gave us nearly three hours of his time have fully recovered yet.

I love my extended family. And love means not keeping score. But I’m off Mt. Pisgah. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Good neighbors share emergency info

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

A friend of mine had an accident recently, and because she lives alone, I decided to follow the ambulance to the hospital. 

Driving along it dawned on me that I had no idea how to get in touch with any of her relatives. I have met her daughters, but did not even know their last names, much less have their contact information. One would think that after three years of friendship, I would have at least one telephone number to call.  

As she and I sat there in the emergency room, we discovered that neither one of us could make a phone call. The hospital was a dead zone. Then when she left to get some X-rays, a song started playing in my head. I began to hum.

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.” The response is: “Then fix it, dear Georgie, dear Georgie, dear Georgie.”

The message was clear: Fix it, Lee.  

I spotted the “free wi-fi” sign and grabbed both of our phone chargers and plugged them in. At least we could text people.  

Picking up her phone, I thought I could locate her contacts or recent calls, but her Android phone operates differently from mine. I did not even know how to turn it on.  

When she came back to the room, she gave me her daughter’s number and I left the hospital to make the call.

Afterwards, I said to her, “You know we should both have each other’s family names and phone numbers. If anything happened to my husband and me, how would you know who to contact?” 

Then I told her that even my best friend, Christine, who knows all about my kids, does not have my relative’s contact information and they do not have hers. The only person in possession of my emergency contact information is Bonnie, my dog sitter. Why it had never dawned on me to give it to other people is beyond me.  

When I got home that day my husband said, “It’s probably not a bad idea to put some emergency numbers on the refrigerator. There are times when we travel and if there was any kind of problem with the house, relatives could get notified.”

We tend to not think of these issues when everything is normal; when there are no emergencies around. But in that time, when reaching out to family members or friends is critical, it would not hurt to provide friends with relatives’ names and vice-versa. Because you see, Georgie and Liza, you might just want to fix that hole in the bucket before you really need it.

Festival reminds us to enjoy life

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

In present society where the definition of social has morphed into one-sided conversations with a photo and a screen, our sleepy little town reminds us of the joys of face-to-face, value in congregation and powerful pull of the sea.  

Few occasions show human nature, soul simplicity and signs of a gentler time more than when a city celebrates as one. 

One of those rare wrinkles in time belongs to none other than the Beaufort Water Festival. If you question the power of a social contagion, or the beauty of human nature, pack up your pessimism, sit back and absorb the enigma that is our beloved annual festival.

Watch stress-drained men trade in the business suits for the lighter weight of board shorts, well-meaning moms trade in fabric stitched in obligation and patterned in responsibility for skin-baring bikinis that replace years with youth and vitality. 

Even if just for a few hours, maybe a few days, the shrimper, the crabber, the lawyer and the preacher become simply Beaufortonians. The shackles of roles and responsibility merge into rivers of freedom, folly and wardrobe faux pas. 

Greetings change from the required and rote “How are you?” to an enthusiastic “Happy Water Festival!” Days turn to nights, nights turn to stories and those stories turn into folklore.

Time clocks and time sheets become a bit more forgiving. Differences disperse as the winds of well-wishes blow forth. Blue collar, white collar inevitably becomes no collar as the Water Festival is the great equalizer. 

The only division is whether your chicken is a six piece and your swimsuit a two. The worry over current events, the weight of a world longing for laughter and the reality that tomorrow brings battles of varying degree all take reprieve on a blanket in the park. 

A couple in their 60s will shag under the stars toe-to-toe with a pair at 16. Long love, new love, renewed love finds itself along the water’s edge.

Visitors question their own way of life as they observe with envy the sweet, slow summer nights that lead to warm mornings full of events and celebration that showcase that which can’t be simulated, only experienced. Music echoes off our shores as life happens under the stars. 

Land-locked laments fade as toes and woes submerge in saltwater and sand. Focus on troubles take second place to focus on tides. Desk chairs empty and deck chairs fill. Quiet souls who hide behind societal norms unite on the sandbar to shine like polished pennies. 

Monday morning will come soon enough. There will be plenty of time to excuse away momentary mishaps and questionable quandaries. 

For now, let your hair down, lift your spirits, ditch the shoes, lose the shirt, tap dance through the day, shag through the night, and douse the day-to-day dread with real life, real moments and real smiles. It’s time to celebrate all that we are and all that we love. 

Happy Water Festival Beaufort South Carolina from my family to yours!

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

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