Review Category : Profile

Beth and Rob Lewis demonstrate what it means to put careers, family and environmental awareness in focus

By Pamela Brownstein

For the Lewis family, it’s a life in constant motion. Beth Lewis has been known to rise at 5 a.m. three times a week to walk the McTeer Bridge so she could work out before her son wakes up. Then she commutes to her job with the Town of Bluffton in the stormwater division, which often takes her into the marsh and waterways, sampling water quality and stormwater runoff.

The Lewis Family: Beth and Rob with their son Benjamin, 3.

The Lewis Family: Beth and Rob with their son Benjamin, 3.

As producer and director with The County Channel, Rob Lewis can be seen all around Beaufort County shooting local events and educational programs, even sports tournaments that last late into the evening.

They are also busy raising their energetic son, Benjamin, 3, who attends The Little Brown School in Port Royal. On the weekends, they all like to spend time at the downtown playground, at The Sands or exploring Hunting Island State Park.

Beth said it is important to take pride in what you do. “We all have to work for eight hours a day so being happy and feeling like you are contributing to society is what makes it all worth it.”

Born and raised in Charleston, Beth and Rob both attended the College of Charleston, where they met through a mutual friend. Beth said, “Rob and his friends made their first full length feature called ‘The Hard Way Out.’ I tagged along with a friend for the party, and it was there we met. We dated for several years and married in 2008 at my old neighborhood dock with a view of Charleston.”

That film also proved to be the start of Rob’s career in video production. “‘The Hard Way Out’ was supposed to be a 5-minute project for a class. It turned into a 42-minute action-comedy-buddy-cop-epic movie. I haven’t put the camera down since,” Rob recalls.

“I grew up in South Carolina watching ‘Nature Scene’ on SCETV. I was lucky enough to work for ETV, and meet some of the folks behind the scenes. I always admired the photography on that show,” Rob said.

At The County Channel, the main project he works on is “Coastal Kingdom.” They have a partnership with Tony Mills and the LowCountry Institute to produce the half-hour nature documentary series that Rob directs, shoots and edits.

He said one of his favorite memories was celebrating “Coastal Kingdom’s” Emmy Nominations and Telly Awards last year. “We had a big party with family and friends. And Beth made me a framed ‘Coastal Kingdom’ movie poster,” Rob said.

While Rob captures the beauty of the Lowcountry on film, Beth plays an active role in monitoring and improving the area’s unique environment. As a Marine Biology major, Beth said she has been drawn to the outdoors since college. “I’ve always wanted a career in natural resources. Prior to working for the Town of Bluffton, I worked for SCDNR, and Beaufort County’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department, where I was introduced to the field of stormwater.”

It was the outdoors that brought the Lewis’ to Beaufort eight years ago when Beth got a job with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at the Waddell Mariculture Center.

Her current position requires several different duties, including water quality sampling, GIS field work, and stormwater education. “My favorite duty at work is the water quality sampling we do. Each week I strap on my snake boots and go out into the field to sample drainages that eventually lead to the May River. There’s nothing like being on the ground floor in this field,” Beth said.

This year, she also helped to organize the May River Cleanup.

Rob said the philosophy behind his work is simple: “I always just try to tell a good story with pictures.”

He produces videos for Beaufort County Schools; directs an educational series about astronomy called “The Night Skies of Beaufort County”; and has participated in the 48-Hour Film Festival in Savannah.

Although their hectic schedule keeps them busy and on the go, the Lewis’ try to stay in focus and remember what they like best about Beaufort. They enjoy teaching Ben about his environment and exposing him to the outdoor opportunities that the Lowcountry offers.

Rob said, “We love the people we’ve met and had a chance to work with and learn from. Our friends and coworkers have helped strengthen our family and careers over the past eight years.”

As for the future, they are preparing for the arrival of a new baby — a girl this time. Beth exclaims, “We are expecting our second child in March of 2015 and couldn’t be happier about becoming a family of four!”

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Ginger Wareham is the creative force behind PickleJuice Productions

Ginger Wareham’s love of bright colors, her positive personality and creativity are reflected in her clean, eye-catching, innovative website designs. As owner and creative director of PickleJuice Productions and, she lives up to her clever business motto that “PickleJuice infuses creative projects with zesty stuff to relish.”

The Wareham family: Ginger holding Cecila, 1, and Will holding Hogan, 4.

The Wareham family: Ginger holding Cecila, 1, and Will holding Hogan, 4.

Ginger was born in Indiana, grew up in Illinois and made her way south when she attended Ole Miss for college. She spent 12 years in New Orleans before moving first to Isle of Palms and finally to Beaufort where she runs PickleJuice Productions with her husband, Will, who handles the marketing and business side of things.

“I was fortunate to work for a startup web company during my last year at Ole Miss,” says Ginger. “I designed and developed the first website for the University of Mississippi’s art department as my senior thesis.”

That website launched Ginger into the possibilities offered by the World Wide Web and after graduation she chose to apply her design degree in interactive development rather than print. After a move to New Orleans she landed a job at as their sole designer. While there she worked on many other city and country websites including, and

Ginger and Will have worked with a variety of clients over the years. They have developed websites for 5-star resorts, hotels, restaurants, festivals, non-profit organizations, magazines, storefronts and even a waste disposal business.

“I love the diversity of clientele that we get to work with,” Ginger says. “Will and I believe that every business needs a good website presence to represent their brand and it’s really fun to make that happen.”

Ginger says that the PickleJuice philosophy is based on creating unique and successful design solutions and establishing long-term relationships with clients.

“We’re proud of our 98 percent client retention rate,” she says. “We appreciate that every project is unique and we’ll work with clients to develop their vision and recommend services consistent with their needs and budget.”

Since moving to Beaufort, Ginger says she’s been fortunate to collaborate with other local businesses like a community campaign that was kicked off a couple years ago. The Shop Local Beaufort campaign was created to support and promote local artists and locally owned, independent businesses in Beaufort.

According to Ginger, “As a family-owned and operated business, we know how important it is to have support from our friends, neighbors and local businesses. Most of our clients are small businesses and without them we could not survive in this tough economy. The Shop Local Beaufort campaign is our way of saying thank you and giving back to our community.”

PickleJuice has also developed websites for many of local non-profit organization including CAPA, Born To Read and The Junior Service League of Beaufort.

Ginger and Will recently started working on a new project that is solely owned and operated by PickleJuice. is a new website that they are launching to help in planning a wedding in Beaufort, Hilton Head, Bluffton  and the Sea Islands of Beaufort County.

“ highlights preferred local wedding vendors, real Lowcountry weddings, exquisite venues, impeccable bridal style, unique inspirations and the true southern hospitality of Beaufort County, South Carolina,” says Ginger. “Our goal is to provide Beaufort brides, grooms and their families with quality resources, creative ideas and exquisite details to help them plan their memorable Lowcountry wedding.”

Parents to 4-year-old Hogan, who goes to school at Miss Linda’s, and 1-year-old Cecila, Ginger and Will look forward to building their business in Beaufort.

“We love Beaufort and look forward to growing our business and raising our family here. The Lowcountry holds a special place in our hearts and we hope to stay here for a very long time,” Ginger exclaims.

PickleJuice Productions is located at 308 Charles Street, Beaufort. Contact Ginger at 843-641-9478 or visit

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Sales & Service: As General Manager of The Island News, Nikki Hardison believes in the client and supporting the business community

Nikki Hardison joined The Island News as general manager at the beginning of the year. In her role, Nikki is responsible for advertising sales, distribution and marketing, and, as she says, “Anything else needed to make sure The Island News continues to be Beaufort’s favorite newspaper!”

With dedication and a can-do attitude like that, The Island News’ advertising clients can expect top customer service and attention to detail from Nikki.

Before starting her new job, Nikki was the sales associate for The Island News’ sister organization, Beaufort Daily Deals, and she also worked for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Bubba and Nikki Hardison at Hunting Island State Park.  Photo by Captured Moments Photography.

Bubba and Nikki Hardison at Hunting Island State Park.
Photo by Captured Moments Photography.

Nikki credits a dispute with a vendor as what led her into outside sales. She was a receptionist for Georgia Coast Realty on  St. Simons Island and she was disputing a bill with the owner of The Real Estate Book, a publication where Realtors list properties. The Real Estate Book’s owner must have noticed something he liked in Nikki’s manner as she handled the dispute, because at the end of the conversation he asked her if she was happy with her job. Although she enjoyed her current job, she agreed to meet with The Real Estate Book and soon she was managing the publication for the Brunswick/St. Simons area.

Outside sales was obviously Nikki’s niche because she’s spent nearly two decades in the field. She has experience in print, radio and television outside sales.

If it’s unusual for a dispute to lead to a 20-year career, it’s probably even more unusual that Santa Claus led Nikki to The Island News.

According to Nikki, “Santa Claus was coming through our neighborhood three years ago and my husband and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Where we come from, Santa doesn’t drive through your neighborhood on a fire truck. I was taking pictures and my next door neighbor asked me to send them to him so he could put them in the paper. That’s when he introduced himself as Buck Boone from The Island News.”

Not one to pass by an opportunity, Nikki soon emailed Buck, the former general manager of the paper, to ask him about job possibilities and became a sales associate of Beaufort Daily Deals.

Nikki believes in working smart, playing hard and making the most of every day. “I get to meet so many incredible people because of what I do for a living,” she says. “If you love what you do, it’s not really work.”

“It’s so rewarding how much people love our newspaper,” Nikki says with a smile. “They cannot wait to get it every week and read it cover to cover. People in Beaufort are proud to have a local newspaper that is concerned with what goes on in our community.”

Nikki is eager to help launch new specialty pages in The Island News that will allow even the smallest businesses to advertise and reach a larger audience. In addition, she sees expanding The Island News’ readership and helping grow the paper is part of her responsibility to serve her customers.

The Brunswick, Ga., native is married to Bubba Hardison and they have three adult children and one grandson. Dalton 23, lives in Beaufort and works for Carolina Air; Halley, 22, is mom to 2-year-old Brayden, lives in Brunswick and is in nursing school; and Michael, 21, is a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Nikki attended the College of Coastal Georgia but she says emphatically that she’s a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan. She has been a Chamber of Commerce volunteer in Brunswick and Beaufort for approximately 15 years. She’s also involved in the Beaufort Chapter of Business Networking International (BNI) and is a member of the current class of Leadership Beaufort.

In her free time she enjoys traveling and deer hunting with her husband (bow hunting is her preference) and she looks forward to hunting season every year.

Contact Nikki at 843-321-8281 or

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Animal Advice: Canine columnist Tracie Korol cares about the Whole Dog

Tracie Korol is probably best known to readers of The Island News for her weekly column about dogs called “BowWOW.” In it, she gives practical advice to common behavioral issues facing our Best Friends — as she likes to call our canine pets — and offers holistic approaches on everything from nutrition and exercise to barking and raising a friendly, well-adjusted dog.

Tracie Korol performs Reiki on one of her patients.

Tracie Korol performs Reiki on one of her patients.

Although pets are her passion now, Tracie’s diverse background includes graphic design, retail advertising and being a practicing herbalist.

Born in Pittsburgh, she was raised in Johnstown, Pa., and central Ohio. She lived for a long time in New England before moving to the Lowcountry more than six years ago. In that time, she has written more than 300 articles for the paper.

Tracie has a BFA in graphic design and an MFA in advertising theory. Her first career was as a graphic designer/art director in Ohio. She also had her own firm for 22 years that specialized in industrial and retail print advertising; she’s designed Happy Meal boxes and international retail signage.

She is also certified in canine massage and homeopathy and recently certified in animal nutrition.

“The interesting juxtaposition in these two fields is that I used to BE the person writing the copy and putting the pictures on the dog food bags,” Tracie said. “I know first hand that what you’re buying is hardly ever what you think it is. What is on the bag has nothing to do with what’s in the bag.”

But she left advertising to literally “go to the dogs” designing, building and operating the first community play boarding kennel in Vermont. It was during this time that she really started to notice changes in the health of the dogs that came to the kennel. “I began to see that my dog friends were beginning to develop odd ailments — lupus, myelin sheath disorder, were getting fatter or were routinely coming with more and more medicines. It was not unusual to have 5 out of any 22 dogs be on prednisone and antibiotics at any given time. The why of it all began to bug me,” she recalls.

“I began to study, ask questions, reach out. Mind you, this is pre-internet,” Tracie says. “When I discovered Marty Goldstein in upstate New York, I began to study in earnest and get any certification available.”

Marty became her mentor and stressed whole foods, clean water, exercise, homeopathic remedies, herbal supplements, nutraceuticals, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and energy healing.

“Couple that with my already being a practicing herbalist, I made the acquaintance of Randy Kidd who authored ‘Dr. Kidd’s Herbal Care for Dogs,’ and honed my herbal skills to include animals,” Tracie said. “Along the way I also put myself in front of Richard Pitcairn and Albert Plechner, two of the forerunners in natural animal health, who stress that dogs are what they eat.”

Today, she works with a holistic vet in Aiken providing nutritional counseling for dogs with “dis-ease” for local clients who have tried traditional allopathic treatment and still have itchy, ill, badly behaved dogs.

She also produces REAL FOOD for dogs — a nutritionally complete frozen food for general health and maintenance made from real fruits, vegetables and hormone-free, antibiotic-free proteins.

As an adjunct to that, she also offers home boarding (CouchTime) because some dogs are not suited to kennel — the tinies, the elderly, the medically compromised and the dogs that have no life experience. She believes her yard and many acres provide the best place for a dog to reclaim his inner canine.

“I also as serve as personal chef for a number of dogs that have very specific dietary requirements due to very specific medical impairments,” Tracie adds. “And just because, I will coach dog owners with ‘difficult’ pets in how to achieve a good working relationship with their Best Friends.”

Tracie said one of the most interesting aspects about her profession is seeing the difference between a sick dog and a healthy dog, and how rewarding that change can be for everyone. “It is selfishly gratifying to help a dog go from being an uncomfortable, unhappy, unwell, smelly creature to the dog we all want to have — the dog with a sparkle in his eye, a shiny coat, a carefree sense of being, and what I particularly like, an ornery edge — in a relatively short period of time,” she said. “It is gratifying to see the change in owners, too, when they are no longer stressing about endless, exorbitant vet bills and their chronically sick animal. It makes a big difference, spiritually, in people when they feel that they are contributing to the betterment of their pet’s life instead of blindly turning it over to strangers.”

When it comes to family, Tracie’s mother, Doris, was a clinical dietician who instilled in her at an early age that you are what you eat. “She’s 91 and feisty, so it’s true,” Tracie adds.

Her son Jaren Shafaieh, 30, is a chef at Swank & Swine in Portland, OR, and Tracie said she looks forward to moving out there sometime in the future.

But for now she says most of her community efforts are for and in Sheldon, SC. “It’s a pretty hip little place with pretty hip people, all in all,” she said.

The philosophy behind her work is simple: “Our dogs hold a very special place in our physical and spiritual lives. They have not hurt us, have not let us down, have not criticized us. At the same time, they are woven into almost every moment of our lives. They are our best teachers of mindfulness: paying attention to their surroundings with a focus we’ll never know, living in a world of scent, movement, and adventure. They feel joy and happiness yet also frustration, fear, anger, disappointment, hunger, pain, discomfort. But they do not carry those stories. (This is the crux.) It is because of this gift to us that we must make their lives more complete. If I can help people understand how easy it is to be mindful and caring toward their dog — through allowing a dog to be a dog, through a diet that will give them the vitality to be the best dog, learning a new way to communicate effectively — in return, I am happy.”

Tracie’s goal is to teach more people how easy and how much cheaper it is to feed their Best Friends better food. She will do one-on-ones, group workshops, shopping/teaching expeditions or will just make it for folks who are convinced of the benefit but have no knife skills.  Delivery is free.

Contact Tracie Korol at 843-846-0804, email is,

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Donation Celebration: One of the largest donations in Beaufort County given to Holy Trinity Classical Christian School

A little over six months after the Rev. Chad Lawrence announced to parishioners at the Parish Church of St. Helena’s that an anonymous benefactor had promised to match $750,000 in a six-month, all-or-nothing challenge for Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, he once again stood before the parishioners on Sept. 7 to announce that the goal had not only been met, but exceeded. Lawrence announced that a total of $ 1,673,000 would be deposited to establish the “Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Scholarship Fund” at Holy Trinity Classical Christian School for families who could not otherwise meet the financial requirements of the school.

Holy Trinity students celebrate the donation with Rev. Chad Lawrence.

Holy Trinity students celebrate the donation with Rev. Chad Lawrence.

In making the announcement last Sunday, Rev. Chad Lawrence, who also serves as the school’s headmaster, said, “It is truly amazing how the community has come together for the future of our children, our nation, and our faith. Checkbooks have been opened and piggy banks emptied to provide families in our community who otherwise might not be financially able the opportunity for their children to receive a life-changing classical Christian education.”

Lawrence also announced that the anonymous benefactor was the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund that issued the “Raise Up A Child” challenge.

Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan, the fund’s namesake, were missionaries who went to Africa in 1946 to dedicate their lives to the fulfillment of The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19 (ESV).

Over the next 40 years, they lived this command going to Nigeria, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Swaziland to spread the Gospel.

In 1993, to honor their service by providing financial assistance for projects that also furthered the Great Commission, the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund was created. It has purchased, translated and distributed Bibles to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, hymnals for churches in Swaziland, translated the “Jesus” film for Southern African languages, funded a chemistry lab for a Baptist High School in Nyeri, Kenya, provided church planting tents in Kenya, built a maternity clinic in Malawi, aided persecuted believers in Iran, and supported Young Life of Beaufort.

“Saying thank you to the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund is hardly enough,” Lawrence said. “As the Runyans’ mission experiences often proved, ‘What God orders, He pays for.’ Again, He has done so with us, and more.”

Alan Runyan, the son of Farrell and Elizabeth and trustee of the fund, said this is not really the end of the fund but a new beginning.

“The Endowment Fund is taking its greatest and final step onto the most important mission field of the 21st century: training up young minds in the way they should go. For these young minds, trained in the way they should go, will be tomorrow’s missionaries to a lost world in whatever they do, wherever they go,” Runyan said. “It brings a wealth of emotions for me, it causes me to think about the lives of my mother and father and what they stood for, all the effort and the risks they took and it truly is a moment of both humility and challenge. Humility because of what has been done in such a short time and the challenge to the school to educate children with the kind of love for humanity that my mother and father would cherish.”

According to Lawrence, the classical Christian education not only provides a quality education but also equips youth with a strong Biblical foundation so they become ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, fully prepared to defend and advance the apostolic Christian faith.

Holy Trinity school provides a centuries-old, tried-and-true approach to education. “We endeavor to expose students to the good, the beautiful, and the true in all areas of human learning that we might cultivate well-rounded wise, virtuous, and eloquent leaders who are prepared to go wherever God calls them,” Lawrence stated. “A primary objective of classical, Christian education is to teach students how to learn,” Lawrence said. “Learning the truth is important, but learning how to seek the truth is even more critical.”

Such classical education was used to educate most of America’s founding fathers, as well as the world’s philosophers, scientists and leaders between the 10th and 19th centuries.

While there has been a resurgence in classical Christian education, Lawrence said that Holy Trinity’s growth has been quite dramatic since it opened in 2012. “We grew from 100 students the first year (PreK through fifth), to 150 students the second year (when the school added sixth grade), to 190 students this year (when the school added a seventh grade) and we are at capacity,” he said.

Lawrence said that many of the schools they visited started with only seven or eight students but that the Beaufort community has responded in such an incredible way to this educational approach that the initial growth that Holy Trinity has realized is almost unheard of in the classical, Christian educational community.  He said that others who want to start a classical Christian school are now visiting the Holy Trinity campus for more insight.

“However, the most encouraging part,” Lawrence said, “is how the students are responding.”

He said that the 2013-2014 ITBS testing scored Holy Trinity’s kindergarten in the 99 percentile nationwide, and across all grades, the school scored in the 95 percentile.

“It has indeed been a tremendous two years,” Lawrence said, “and with the generosity of the Farrell and Elizabeth Runyan Endowment Fund, the parishioners at St. Helena’s, Beaufort and its surrounding community, we eagerly look forward to the opportunity to serve the community of Beaufort as we help ‘Raise Up A Child’ for years to come.”

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Celebrating life with fashion: Local cancer survivor Nancy Vista is chairwoman of Belles, Baubles and Burlap to benefit Friends of Caroline Hospice

By Wendy Pollitzer

Nancy Harris Vista is no stranger to the Lowcountry. A businesswoman, a philanthropist and a stalwart member of the Port Royal community since 1992, Vista embraces the art of giving back.

And now, a breast cancer survivor, she wants to celebrate her journey and reciprocate her appreciation for life

Sharon Dwyer, left, director of Friends of Caroline Hospice, stands with Nancy Vista — chairwoman of Belles, Baubles and Burlap, Fashion for Compassion — at a recent Island Girls Night Out at Nancy’s store, Nuances, located at 918 8th Street in Port Royal.

Sharon Dwyer, left, director of Friends of Caroline Hospice, stands with Nancy Vista — chairwoman of Belles, Baubles and Burlap, Fashion for Compassion — at a recent Island Girls Night Out at Nancy’s store, Nuances, located at 918 8th Street in Port Royal.

by giving back to an organization she reveres as a valuable asset to Beaufort County. Friends of Caroline Hospice is dedicated to providing the highest quality end-of-life care that focuses on enhancing the overall comfort for terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less. Vista came very close to needing Friends of Caroline Hospice’s services and wants more people to know the significance and merit of hospice care.

Vista was diagnosed with Stage 4 triple negative breast cancer in August 2013. Triple negative breast cancer occurs in 10% to 20% of breast cancer patients and can be more aggressive and difficult to treat.  Also, the cancer is more likely to spread and recur.

After several rounds of failed chemotherapy treatments last fall, Vista was losing hope. But then, late that winter, she turned a corner. “I truly believe in divine intervention. Something, and I don’t know exactly what, started working. The tumors are gone. I am so grateful,” explains Vista.

About that time, Sharon Dwyer, director at Friends of Caroline Hospice, approached Vista while judging the wings competition at the annual event, Bands, Brews and BBQ. Vista inquired about the annual fashion show that normally is held in the spring. Dwyer explained that the fashion show was going to be held in the fall this year and asked Vista if she would be interested in helping plan the event. Vista agreed to chair the fashion show committee to benefit Friends of Caroline Hospice.

She’s the perfect fit for the role. Vista has years of experience planning successful events, owns a popular women’s apparel store in Port Royal called Nuances, and truly appreciates the value of hospice and palliative care.

“I’m excited to chair this year’s event, Belles, Baubles and Burlap, Fashion for Compassion. I think women in the community are going to be in for a treat,” says Vista.

This year, the fashion show will be held at the Dataw Island Clubhouse on Wednesday, September 17 at 11:30 a.m. The show will feature over 30 fashions from 13 area retailers, a live and silent auction and a delicious luncheon catered by Dataw. The emcee again this year is Deanna Bowdish, and Ash Milner will offer DJ services. All proceeds will support bereavement and caregiver support services at Friends of Caroline Hospice.

Vista is still receiving weekly chemotherapy treatments but maintains a positive outlook and is very appreciative of the community that has helped her through this difficult time.

“The people here are amazing. Everyone has been over-the-top generous with support,” says Vista. “I want this fashion show to be a celebration … of community, of perseverance … of life.”

The fashion show brings women together from all walks of life, young and old, not only to enjoy today’s trends and fashions, but also to rejoice in fellowship. This year, Vista wants everyone to remember why they’re there.

“What happened to me could happen to your mother, your daughter, your sister, or your friend. I hope all of the women who attend will pay silent tribute to those who have been diagnosed with and those we have lost to this horrible disease.”

Of course, Friends of Caroline Hospice, assists patients and families who have been diagnosed with a variety of illnesses and has been providing quality care for the Beaufort and Port Royal communities for over 30 years.

The fashion show’s popularity with local women is a testament to Friends of Caroline Hospice’s legacy of trust within the community, and it continues the tradition of bringing ladies together for a classic luncheon.

To purchase tickets to the fashion show, please call Friends of Caroline Hospice at 843-525-6257. Single tickets are $55 and tables of 10 are $500. Seating is limited, so be sure to make a reservation by Tuesday, Sept. 9.

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Meet the Mitchells: Abby and Patrick, and Parker makes three

By Lanier Laney

Abby and Patrick Mitchell were both born in Beaufort and were destined to be together. But Abby’s family moved to Columbia when she was 6 and it wasn’t until 15 years later that fate brought her back to Beaufort where she and Patrick met, fell in love and were married. Their adorable son Parker started at Beaufort Academy this week as the “Littlest Eagle” in the school’s Pre-K 2-year-old class.

Abby’s parents were both educators. Her mom taught at Beaufort High where her dad was also a coach. They continued teaching after their move to Columbia to help Abby’s aging grandmother.

The Mitchell Family, from left: Parker, Abby and Patrick.

The Mitchell Family, from left: Parker, Abby and Patrick.

Meanwhile, back in Beaufort, Patrick — the son of Red and Marjorie Mitchell — was growing up.  Marjorie ran the popular House and Garden Gift shop on Lady’s Island along with her mother-in-law for years. Red Mitchell was president of Mitchell Brothers, Inc., a company he ran along with his brothers and cousins. Patrick joined the firm after getting a degree in Business Management from Presbyterian College. Today, Patrick, his brother Cecil and cousin Jason Hincher represent the third generation to run the company.

Abby got a degree in Early Childhood Education at Clemson and found her first  teaching job back in her beloved Beaufort at Coosa Elementary where her fun spirit made her a popular teacher.

Says Abby, “I met Patrick my second year of teaching here — the rest is history!” Adding, “When Patrick asked me to marry him, he was so nervous and random with his speech, I thought he was breaking up with me.”

They just happily celebrated their sixth anniversary together.  Says Abby with a smile, “For our anniversary I gave a nod to the traditional gift of iron and had Patrick’s old golf clubs cut down to toddler size and regripped for Parker. So in actuality, I gave him a gift that wasn’t really for him — and yet he still loves me!”

Abby spent 10 years teaching multiple grades kindergarten through third at Coosa Elementary, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2012-13. She now teaches at Beaufort Academy, and started the new school year with her son this past Monday.  “Patrick and I were sort of in a race to see who would get to Instagram Parker’s first day of school picture first. I, of course, won as I took the pictures and held them hostage until I had time to post them. I guess that shows how obsessed we are with our son,” says Abby with a laugh.

About her philosophy of teaching, Abby says, “Basically, I want my students to love coming to school each day and have plenty of fun while learning at the same time. I only have them for a year and I want to teach them as much as I possibly can in that short amount of time.”

She adds, “The staff and students at BA are just great! It’s because of them I enjoy every second of what I do.”

Patrick also pitches in by deep-frying turkeys for Abby’s class every year for her Thanksgiving Feast.

Mitchell Brothers, Inc. is an award-winning government contracting company that has successfully completed hundreds of projects for multiple military installations in Beaufort and the surrounding areas along with hospitals, churches and forestations.  The business was started in 1946 by Patrick’s grandfather and his three brothers who had recently moved to the small, barely developed (at that time) coastal town of Lady’s Island.

Says Patrick, “I enjoy working with my brother and cousins as part of a family business that has had a 69 year history of doing things the correct way. The second generation before us worked very hard to build Mitchell Bros. up to where it is today, and put us into a successful position. I credit our great team of hard-working employees to that legacy.”

He also credits the company’s clients. “I had a smart man once tell me that in the construction business, no matter how good you are, often your success is based on the success of the clients you work for,” says Patrick. “Mitchell Brothers has been very lucky to serve many great clients throughout our history and we could not be successful without them. The United States Navy, Beaufort County School District, Beaufort County, Bluffton Fire District, Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and Grayco Inc. are some of the clients we continue to enjoy working with to this day.”

As far as sports, Patrick has always been an avid golfer. Abby says her main “sport” now is strolling Parker over the bridge on weekends to visit the coffee or bagel shop.

The two are also active in the community. Patrick has served on the boards of the Beaufort County Storm Water Utility, the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club, and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee. Both he and Abby have been big supporters of Friends of Caroline Hospice’s Festival of Trees fundraiser for the past eight years where Abby has won several times for her innovative and clever tree designs.

As for the future, the Mitchells say they look forward to “introducing baby Parker to all the natural beauty that is Beaufort and all the great people here!”

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Get ready to sign up with David and Julie Felver

By Lanier Laney

Beaufort native David Felver met and fell in love with Julie Moore in art class at Battery Creek High School. They shared a passion for art, creativity and camping. Yes, camping! They have now been very happily married for 21 years and have restored over 30 vintage campers. Along with their successful sign business next door,  they now have one of the nation’s best custom camper restoration businesses right here on Burton Hill Road in Beaufort.

Julie and David Felver

Julie and David Felver

David, son of Wizard Auto Body owner Tom Felver, grew up in the vintage car restoration business with his brother Greg. Between the hot rods and car shows, David developed a passion for old things and how they could be made new again.

He and Julie didn’t have much money when they first got married, so they decided to buy an old Volkswagen camper and fix it up. Soon after they had their first child they realized they’d have to get a bigger camper. So when they sold their first camper so quickly, it gave them the idea that maybe there was a business there. Says David, “We’ve always restored campers how we like them — modern, but with a vintage feel.”

Their campers stood out at the vintage camper rallies they attended. And friends from the rallies started to ask them to help redo theirs.  That grew into the Felver Design Vintage Restorations.

Right now they try and focus on one camper rehab at a time and Julie adds her fine skills as an interior designer.  All the while overseeing one of Beaufort’s most successful sign companies next door.  But there is a connection between the two businesses.

Shortly after getting married, they moved to Orlando where both got jobs with a top sign company as graphic artists. This started their desire to eventually open a shop of their own.

“You have to find something to make you stand out, make people remember you,” says David about their sign and camper business. He also goes on to say how they love to work with a client to make a custom sign or camper that is uniquely “about them,” a perfect match of who the person is and their final product. “The sign business is a unique opportunity to work with people growing their businesses, and the camper business allows us to work with the people when they want to get away,” says David with a smile.

They feel whether it’s creating signs or designing the interior of a client’s camper, that their art background has brought them to where they are today. They started both companies in 2007.

They have two great children — Carson, their daughter, is 15, and Dawson, their son, is 13. The kids are both currently enrolled in an online charter school. This works very well for the family due to the fact that they are on the road traveling and camping so often.

When it comes to their camper restorations, David says, “We have a passion for bringing new life to treasures from a bygone era. We see potential in all things old where others might see none. Whether it’s the romance of the open road or the intrigue of wanderlust, these vessels of yesteryear will satiate your passion for adventure.”

Julie is also a local artist.  Her wonderful mixed-media shark tooth designs are currently  on display at SALT Gallery on Bay Street.

Both Julie and David love Beaufort. Says David, “Beaufort has a magnetic pull with its history, culture, art and the people.”

Adds Julie, “We love our beautiful hometown of Beaufort. On our off time we enjoy spending time with our two children, (Carson and Dawson). Church, going to the beach, camping, travel, and music are also things we enjoy doing together as a family.”

Julie and David restore campers for clients as well as build spec campers to sell.   But whether it is signs or campers, customization is the key, says David, as they both work hard to craft the perfect final expression of a client’s tastes and inner wishes.

If you are thinking about rebranding yourself or your business or hitting the road with your family, then consider a visit to Felver Design Studio — a sign studio marketing business with a vintage camper restoration shop right next door!

Felver Design Sign Studio is located at 10 Burton Hill Road, Unit G, Beaufort. Contact 843-846-0099 or

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Coasting to Success – Joel Garrett of 94.5 The Coast

By Lanier Laney

Joel Garrett

Joel Garrett

Two years ago, Austin Texas native Joel Garrett started 94.5 The Coast, Beaufort’s local radio station, and he hasn’t looked back.  Says Joel, “Beaufort is one of the most beautiful places to live, and the people are what really make it.  Everyone has been so welcoming and gracious.  I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

When asked about his philosophy behind starting the station, Joel answers with a smile, “Be Live. Be Local.  Be Happy.  Wait, that might be a song….but honestly our goal is to bring old school radio back to smaller communities like Beaufort.  I want people to know the DJ’s. And, 94.5 The Coast should play music the whole family can enjoy– beach, soul, rock n’ roll, hits from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and also get some local news, weather and traffic as needed. This is a good ole’ fashioned radio station in the greatest town in the south.”
Joel got his first gig in radio while a freshman in High School. “I got my first job as a DJ at age 15 in Las Cruces, NM on a Country radio station.  I knew from that point on, it would be my career. I just wasn’t sure where I would end up or what level in the industry.  I worked my way up the radio ladder and decided that radio ownership would be an exciting direction to go, as long as you could do it in a small market with a great, close knit community.”

His first shot at ownership was in the Lowcountry.  Says Joel, “I purchased my first radio station with a couple business partners in Hilton Head and quickly decided that wasn’t the place for me. I sold my radio station after a few years and discovered a way to launch Beaufort’s only local radio station.”

As owner and on-air personality, “I still talk too much,” says Joel with a laugh.  He credits his staff for the station’s success.  “I have the best staff from upper management to part time DJs, and they are all equally valuable to this radio station. There are many moving parts to a radio station. At the end of the day, I’m fortunate to have a great staff built up of a general manager, sales manager, account executives, on-air personalities, promotions and business team members.  I make sure all of these pieces of the puzzle are fitting into place.”  His mom, Judy Garrett, runs his books “and keeps me in line,” adds Joel.  His dad Bert Garrett is a practicing physician.

Joel also notes the contribution of his advertisers. “I have been very fortunate to have some great advertisers that believe in the product we deliver every day. Radio needs both the entertainment side and the advertising side to be successful and we are so lucky to have both.”

When not behind the microphone, Joel pursues sports like golf, snow skiing and asks, “Does beer and bowling night count too?”  He’s also a hunter and says one of his most memorable hunts happened a number of years ago when he went gator hunting in Louisiana, (his first hunting trip of any sort by the way).  Says Joel, “the sound of a girlfriend’s Dad yelling out ‘shoot em, shoot em!’ will always ring in the back of my head as I wondered what would happen if I missed this 10 ft. dinosaur with fangs.”

He contributes to local charities saying,  “I represent ARTworks (The Arts Council of Beaufort County) as their Entertainment Director.  I’ve always been a fan of the arts and entertainment.  ARTworks is a great place to
express it!”

I also support and get behind everything that Friends of Caroline Hospice does.  They are a great group with an even better story.” Joel’s plans for the future are to continue to grow the company and make it even better for his listeners and advertisers.  He invites you to tune in to 94.5 The Coast and join in on the fun.

The Coast radio station is located in the Beaufort Town Center- or can be found online at

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Southern Tree Services celebrates 22 years

By Lanier Laney

Beaufort native Ronnie Reiselt met his future wife Sonya when she first walked into Beaufort High School at age 14 after her father, a civil servant, was transferred here in 1984 from Tifton, Georgia.  They’ve been happily married for 20 years this October. Ronnie had been working for his father, Ronnie Reiselt Sr. for many years in heavy equipment

Sonya and Ronnie Reiselt

Sonya and Ronnie Reiselt

excavation. He and Sonya were both entrepreneurs at heart and wanted to create a successful business. That business became Southern Tree Service of Beaufort, one of the most respected tree services in the county, for the past 22 years.

Ronnie, President, and Sonya, Vice-President are both International Society of Aboriculture Certified Arborists and oversee 2-3 crews a day and all aspects of the company.

Their services include tree trimming and stump removal, lightning protection, insect and disease analysis, root fertilization, cabling, bracing, and tree planting and pre-construction tree evaluation among others.

Ronnie stays updated on new practices by continuous training through Tree Care Industry Association and ISA classes and seminars so that he can pass on knowledge of all aspects of tree care to his clients and community. Says Ronnie, “We value our loyal clients and feel a sense of family and responsibility to them.  Our success would not be possible without our dedicated office manager, Gen and our great General Foreman, Crew Leaders, and dedicated members of our team.”  Sonya agrees adding that “It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work, effort and teamwork they demonstrate daily.”

Sonya is also a realtor with ERA Evergreen Real Estate where she represents both sellers and buyers. She enjoys helping people open a new chapter of their lives by finding the right home for them or selling their current one.

Sonya and Ronnie love the Lowcountry life on the water, and if you are friends of theirs on Facebook, you will see many great photos from the river of their friends and family and now new grandson, Colton, age 1. Says Sonya, “We just love the breathtaking scenery we have so abundantly here, and we enjoy the ambiance and simplicity of life here in the South.”

Ronnie is an avid outdoorsman, and besides being an avid fisherman, also does diving, spear fishing, bow hunting, and on occasion, skydives.  Sonya loves to help organize events, spend time on the water as well as spending time with her family. They work out together at Omni Health and Fitness and the YMCA, and Sonya also enjoys yoga at Artizen Yoga Studio.

Friends of Caroline Hospice is a charity very dear to their hearts, and in the past they have been involved with its signature event, the Festival of Trees. They are also active with the American Heart Association. They are active members of Meadowbrook Baptist Church on Lady’s Island.

As for the future, Sonya and Ronnie say they are committed to continuing to do their part to help beautify the Lowcountry and make it a safer place for all of us to live in.

To learn more about Southern Tree Services or to get an evaluation of your tree situation, go to or call (843) 522-9553. To contact Sonya for your real estate needs call (843) 321-2158 or go to:

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