June 26, 2005

The Need for Regional Planning
Addressing challenges while preserving quality of life

June 21, 2005- We have all felt the effects of growth in our community: traffic, congestion, sprawl, etc. The question remains: what can we do about it? Rotarians listened to Rep. Ben Hagood and his ideas about regional planning as a means of tackling the growing pains we are feeling in the Lowcountry.

Rep. Hagood began his talk by thanking all those who have served or whose families have served the public, which he paralleled to our Rotary motto of "Service Above Self." He then talked briefly about how he became involved in politics because he wanted to serve the area where he is from. His district currently includes parts of Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms. His district, Mt. Pleasant in particular, is one of the fastest-growing regions in the state, and Mt. Pleasant is, by some accounts, the 4th largest municipality in SC. Hagood quoted reports that forecast growth of 250,000 people in the next 30 years!

Obviously, we have to be thinking of how to plan for this many people and where they are going to live, work and raise their families. We feel the effects of this growth everyday when we drive Johnnie Dodds Boulevard or take our kids to overcrowded schools. But how can we address these challenges while maintaining the quality of life that draws so many people here in the first place? Hagood believes the answer lies in regional planning.

So what does that mean for our region? The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester region (BCD) currently has 35 arms of local government, each creating and implementing their own plans and ordinances. To think regionally, we must not worry only about what our municipality is doing, but what others are doing and how they might affect us. Hagood stated he is working on several initiatives at the state level to assist local governments in planning with more of a regional focus. He favors a "bottoms-up" planning approach, meaning that local governments and citizens make their own decisions (such as land use), but they are coordinated at the regional level with the assistance of Hagood has worked on the Infrastructure Priority Investment Act (IPIA), which is intended to alleviate conflict between local governments over land use decisions. The IPIA has the following tenets: 1) to coordinate with adjacent jurisdictions and other relevant jurisdictions such as school districts, public service districts, utilities and transportation agencies; 2) to identify priority infrastructure investment areas where development and community facilities are recommended to be directed; and, 3) to include a specific transportation element in the local comprehensive plan.

The bill allows local governments to continue to plan on their own, but requires that they coordinate with other governmental entities. The bill stalled and was re-filed with some provisions added for incentives for developers who build Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) projects, and incentives for affordable housing.

Another tool mentioned by Hagood that may assist with regional planning includes "donut hole zoning authority," where comprehensive zoning plans deal with pockets of municipalities that remain in one jurisdiction while the surrounding area are part of another. This is prevalent East of the Cooper where parts of the community are within Mt. Pleasant's jurisdiction and parts remain in Charleston County. Other tools include annexation law reform and user fees.

Although many questions are left to be answered, Hagood believes that the only way to get the dialogue started is to address these issues and start planning for our future now. Hagood also reflected on his time in the State House, and let us in on his "Five P's of Politics" which stands for People, Principles, Policies, Pork and Power. All of these are necessary for politics to work the way it is supposed to, but never forget the most important is People.

Submitted by Amy Riley, Keyway Editor

June 19, 2005

Interfaith Pilgrimage to Europe

June 14, 2005- The first speaker for this program was Lara Leroy, Director of the Jewish Community Center and in charge of the Remembrance Program. Lara is the granddaughter of two grandparents who are survivors of the Holocaust. She has recently edited a video in cooperation with the College of Charleston about Holocaust Survivors.

Lara made an initial presentation in which she showed slides of the recent trip by 24 people to Poland to remember and reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust. Several camps were visited with special emphasis on Auschwitz. The pilgrimage of persons of all faiths is to show respect for and honor all humanity. The group gives special attention to the many memorials present at the camps and helps maintain them for posterity.

The second speaker was Joe Engel, himself a survivor of Auschwitz, having spent time there between 1942 and 1945. His emotional, heartfelt presentation touched all who listened to him speak of the terror of his experience and his dedication to ensuring that such an event can never happen again. He showed pictures of the many memorials at the camps and urged all persons to make the pilgrimage to Poland to see first hand what happened. Only by such a visit can one understand what one human being can do to another human being, persons who suffered strictly because they happened to be Jewish. He does not know why he survived, but he is the only remaining member of his family. He spoke of the "killer machine" which separated children from their parents. The world should never forget what happened there.

In response to questions from the floor, Lara and Joe made the following observations. The Holocaust Museum in Washington is well done and well worth everyone visiting. There are currently virtually no Jewish people in Poland. Most were killed and those who survived would not want to return to that area. Joe's personal testimony has been recorded and is a part of major historical records. The Marion Square memorial is very special. Being within the city, the sponsors did not want it to be a horrific sight. Instead the wrought iron work provides a sanctuary and the sculpture within can be interpreted in many different ways, according to the image seen by the observer. It projects the victims, the perpetrators, and those who stood by and just watched.

There is an increasing amount of anti-Semitism in the world today, necessitating a state of vigil by all.


Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

June 12, 2005

Newt Newton Tells Rotarians About The Vought-Alenia aircraft plant

June 7, 2005 - On Tuesday, Rotarians were treated to a firsthand look at Charleston's newest manufacturing facility, the Vought-Alenia plant. Newt Newton of Vought-Alenia told us how construction is progressing at the new plant, gave us some interesting information about the Boeing 787 and then shared a few of the reasons why the city of Charleston was chosen out of 64 other candidates.

Mr. Newton began by introducing himself. He told the group that he knew from the time he was a little boy that he wanted to build airplanes. He trained as a mechanical engineer and joined the Boeing Company in 1967 only to find himself working on the first 747. Since that time, he has had the opportunity to contribute to the development of seven new Boeing models and has been involved in the start-up of five manufacturing facilities. At the Vought-Alenia plant, he will be part of the team to build the body of every 787. Materials for the fuselage will be manufactured here and together with parts flown into Charleston will make up about two-thirds of each aircraft's fuselage.

According to Mr. Newton, this newest Boeing will bring about the advent of a new generation of aircraft. The composite material which will be manufactured here to build the 787, is the key that will bring about this change. The new material consists of fibers about 2 times the diameter of a single hair. Untold numbers of fibers are sealed together with an epoxy-type glue and then submitted to enormous pressure. The result is a material which is lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel.

This composite material has been used by the military and from all reports it does not corrode, has no known fatigue life, and the process of shaping it is incredibly versatile. When used on airplanes, the plan will be 25% lighter and 20% - 25% more efficient than any plane in existence. Additionally, the Boeing 787 will be completely e-enabled. That is, a passenger can take his or her cell phone, computer, or blackberry around the world and stay in touch with the office even while in flight.

Vought-Alenia will employ about 1000 people. Approximately 75% will come from the Charleston area. Since the plant will have such a high need for continuous and on-going training, they will have a training center located right at the work site. When asked why the company selected Charleston, Mr. Newton said our city stood out early in the process. The company was initially attracted to our port facilities which are located right next to a major airport. Secondly, the quality of life here in Charleston was a positive draw. Management knew they would have to ask at least 250 employees to relocate and they wanted to make the process as easy as possible. Finally, and Mr. Newton became serious at this point, "It was the friendliness of the people." And, he warned, "Don't ever loose that quality. It is your greatest asset."

Submitted by Helen Harloe

June 3, 2005

Spoleto Festival is Here!
Festival directors commit to improving Charleston's performing arts facilities

May 31, 2005 - With the 29th Spoleto Festival USA upon us, Rotarians were treated to a talk by General Director Nigel Redden. Redden gave us the "inside scoop" on some of the performances, but mainly he was here to convey that although Spoleto has had its ups and downs financially, it has been running 9 years in the black and is ready to give back to the community.

To paraphrase Barbara Williams of the Post & Courier, Spoleto has reached a level of "maturity" that comes with its share of responsibilities. Redden feels these responsibilities include investing in Charleston's performing arts infrastructure. Charleston has long been associated with the arts, with theatres (past and present) dating back to the 18th century and rivaling some of the best in Europe (according to many). While some of these have long since been demolished, many have survived in "unfortunate" shape. One example of this is Memminger Auditorium on Beaufain Street downtown.

Memminger Auditorium is physically part of Memminger Elementary, but is too large to be used for the school as it stands today. The Theatre was basically ignored and used for storage until 2000, when Spoleto officials decided to clean it up for performances, including the Peony Pavilion, the 18 hour Chinese opera that took place in 2004. Memminger continues to serve as a Spoleto venue despite its bare bones condition and uncomfortable seating (which Redden claims was replaced thanks to seats purchased from eBay). Redden and Spoleto officials have commissioned the architect Hugh Hardy who plans to renovate the auditorium into a useful performance venue for Spoleto. The community is behind Redden and his efforts. In fact, Mayor Riley and the City of Charleston have appropriated $1 million to the renovation of Memminger. The space is especially important to restore given its location as a gathering place: the Auditorium is centrally located between many residences, businesses, and of course, Memminger Elementary.

Redden spoke of the changes we hope to see to the Auditorium, including a minor change to the facade and turning the parking lot into outdoor lobby space to make up for the lack of lobby space inside. Redden hopes the renovation will be complete by Spoleto 2007.

Renovating Memminger also provides opportunities for restoring some of Charleston's other fine performing arts venues, including the Dock Street Theatre and eventually, the Galliard Auditorium. After successfully completing a $25 million fundraising campaign (that was not even geared toward the Festival but to "bricks and mortar",) Redden believes that Spoleto can muster the funds to tackle these ambitious projects. He stated that a public-private partnership had been established to facilitate the process, since Memminger is currently owned by the Charleston County School Board.

Renovating our performing arts facilities strengthens the arts community and solidifies the ties we have to the Festival itself. Asked if he envisions the Festival to grow in the coming years, Redden stated that we are pretty much at capacity based on the facilities we have. Supporting the Festival, no matter how big or small, preserves this legacy for our children and ensures our heritage as an art community for years to come.

By Amy Riley, Keyway Editor