December 16, 2007

Honoring Our Heroes: The Charleston Nine

December 11th, 2007: A meeting like no other was held last week to honor the Charleston Nine, the heroes who expired on June 18, 2007. As the meeting convened, Kathleen Wilson, a talented harpist and a member of the City Council and CSO, played the harp. Ms. Wilson also played "Amazing Grace" for the club during the meeting. The City of Charleston Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors, and was present for Chaplain Rob Dewey's invocation and leading in the pledge of allegiance. Chaplain Dewey offered thoughts regarding religion in times of grief. He reminded us that there is no explanation for disaster, but that some may find comfort in scripture or religion. He was called to pray and offer comfort on the scene of the fire on the night that it occurred. President Jermaine Husser also offered his thoughts and prayers, and read out the names of the nine heroes the world lost on June 18, 2007.

President Jermaine Husser then unveiled and presented the bronze plaque, which was graciously donated by Trigard Bronze. Robert Goodwin and Rich Darby, representatives of Trigard Bronze, were present for the meeting and unveiling. Mayor Riley then addressed the club and guests. He assured us that he will find the most appropriate place possible to display the plaque. The Mayor commended the way in which the City came together in response to the night of June 18, 2007. Chief Rusty Thomas was also present to commemorate the heroes.

We were also pleased to welcome Bob Trenor, Rick Moore, and Ed Carter, Rotary Assistant District Governors, to our meeting on December 11, 2007, to commemorate the Charleston Nine heroes. We thank Jeff Pulley from the East Cooper Rotary club, who helped plan this event, and helped receive our guests. We will never forget our heroes, and we hope that we have managed to show some of our gratitude for their service and courage.

Submitted by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee

December 9, 2007

"Take the Fight to the Enemy"

December 4th, 2007: Colonel John "Red" Millander, the Commander of Charleston's own 437th Airlift Wing, the largest C-17 base in the world provided our Club with a "fact-filled" presentation on why we should be proud of our own local airbase. A 1986 graduate of Auburn University, Col. Millander opened his presentation with a 3-minute video that illustrated Team Charleston's themes: Take the Fight to the Enemy; Delivering Freedom; and Delivering Hope.

He expounded upon the economic impact of Charleston Air Force Base (CAFB) to our community. As the third largest employer in the tri-county area, it had expenditures of $587 million in fiscal year 2007. When CAFB combines with the Naval Weapons Laboratory in 2009 to form Joint Base Charleston, it will become the largest single employer in the region. As related by Col. Millander, we've always enjoyed a unique relationship. In the 1950's we became the first "joint use" airfield in the country. Today, for the first time, the civilian requirements actually exceed those of the 50 C-17s stationed at CAFB and are driving a runway extension plan.

Col. Millander provided a mission overview of: Global Direct Delivery; Outsized Strategic Airlift; Strategic Brigade Airlift; and Special Operations Support. Of special note, and great pride, he stated that every piece of re-supply cargo to Iraq comes through CAFB: 300 tons a day... "that's more than the other 14 Air Mobility Command airbases combined!" The C-17 is the only aircraft capable of delivering our military's newest vehicle, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) vehicle, 975 to date. The airlift wing, in conjunction with its tenant Air Force Reserve Wing, the 315th Air Wing, can also dropped 3000 military fighting personnel in 30 minutes and has 3 aircraft on 24 hour alert in support of our special operation missions. Last year the Air Wing set a world record with 20 C-17s launched in formation...mark your calendars: they will attempt to break their own record on December 20th, 2007.

Col. Millander completed his comments with his emphasis on quality of life improvements for "his airman" and emphasized how important our community is in that role.

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

December 2, 2007

Mead/Westvaco: The East Edisto Project

November 27th, 2007: Chris Kerrigan introduced Ken Seegar, the head of Mead/Westvaco's Land Management, who is responsible for the East Edisto Project we have heard so much about. Ken gave us an overview of the efforts by Mead/Westvaco to make the East Edisto Project a "model of land use" for the community that respects the culture and provides what the community needs. He began by sharing the background and history of Westvaco here in the Low Country where it has had a presence since the 1920s. In 1937, Westvaco built the Charleston Mill. That presence continues today with the East Edisto Project, which represents less than 10 percent of Mead/Westvaco's land assets.

According to Seegar, it is very important for Westvaco to continue to be a good corporate citizen of the Low Country. They've embraced the concept of sustainability. It began with their partnership and involvement with the ACE basin. Their focus and effort on being a responsible citizen this year resulted in their being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which recognized their accomplishments.

Mead/Westvaco Land Management has 800,000 acres in five states and currently has 400,000 of those acres in Charleston and South Carolina areas. They are moving in a new direction because, at the merger of Mead and Westvaco, they had over 4 million acres under Management. The reason for this change is, according to Seegar, that there are more effective ownership models for land. The South Carolina land under their Management is used for fiber sources, construction, recreation, commercial, and industrial, and is in a Master Planning for entire communities. Currently, they are developing a warehouse to support the Port of Charleston.

The most visible of their activities is the East Edisto Project, which contains 72,000 acres or 112,000 square miles. There's never been a tract of land this large developed in the Charleston area and it is in the direct path of Charleston's growth.

According to Seeger, the benefit of single ownership of this tract is that they can create a Master Plan without constraints by natural barriers or competing owners. Today the East Edisto Project contains roads, wetlands, conservation areas, and even special places such as the homestead of the family that founded Summerville.

They're working to develop a conservation inspired Master Plan with a long-term view of 10, 20, and 30 years that focuses on a village concept where people work, live, and play. The object is to create a sustainable community, preserve the rural character of the area, address traffic concerns, provide for the infrastructure, and excel in its development based on the criteria set forth by the Urban Land Institute and also South Carolina statutes. The goal is "green development."

Currently, they are working to gather input from the community and from a series of planning partners. They've had 10 public meetings where 850 people attended and gave feedback. In January, there will be a preliminary plan developed. Seegar said it is important that they hear from everyone as part of their planning process. It seems as though it has the potential to be a model project and become a jewel in the crown of the Low Country.

Reported by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee