August 29, 2008

"Senior Shield ... Dial 800-868-9095"

August 26th, 2008: Lt Governor Andre Bauer gave a stirring speech on South Carolina's task force to prevent senior citizen abuse.

In the past, "aging initiatives" were buried in the Agency for Human Health and Services. After realizing that SC has a growing population of senior citizens migrating from colder climates, each representing an average of one million dollars of assets and one hundred thousand dollars of annual income, SC established an agency to protect our senior citizens and placed it directly under the control of the Office of the Lt Governor.

Andre represents this group of senior citizens as the "Andy Griffith generation:" very trusting and an easy target for unscrupulous individuals. As such, in April 2008, the SC Legislature passed a resolution that empowers over 70 SC agencies, under the responsibility of the Lt Governor's office, to protect our senior citizens by:

1. Establish an educational campaign
- For every one reported incident, 15 don't call/report "the bad guys"

2. Establish a "Senior Shield" Program to:
- Pre-qualify vendors who market to Seniors
- Ensure the vendors are held to a higher standard
- Conduct background checks on vendors
- Make this information readily available to non-internet/computer savvy seniors

Lt Governor Bauer ended our meeting with a rousing Q&A session highlighting key "senior initiatives."

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

August 22, 2008

"Delivering Excellence"

August 19th, 2008: We were privileged to have our member, Dr. Nancy McGinley, provide an insightful look at the challenges she faces and the successes she's achieved. As Superintendent of the Charleston County School District, she leads 5,000 employees serving 42,000 students in 80 schools with 5 special programs in a radius of 100 miles. While we read and hear about the schools, students, teachers and the Board, the real story is the progress being made under Dr. McGinley's leadership.

Dr. McGinley opened her talk with a tongue & cheek comparison of the sport of surfing, being an avid enthusiast, and being Superintendent. She said that in both you must navigate through rough waters, not be afraid of sharks and sometimes get hit by a board. While this was a humorous way to look at challenges she faces, all were in awe of her challenges and successes she had achieved in a short time. This year the District had 450 new students after a 5 year decline. This comes from her approach; "stop planning for excellence and start expecting it."

Because she wakes up every day in awe of the power of education, she's focused on delivering real results for students, parents, community and those in the educational system. The District is moving further toward establishing community learning centers not just for children, but also for parents in order to make school a more integral part of the community. The Community Outreach Program, designed to get children into school, has been very successful using innovative techniques such as the First Day Festival and even getting 10 North Charleston police officers to identify school-age children and get them into school.

The District is continuing to focus on expansion of the enrichment of programs by adding foreign languages, arts, sports and other activities that make the school a more enriching experience. She is leading the District to expand more options that parents can select; including charter schools, magnet schools, partial magnet schools, neighborhood schools and career academies to better meet the needs of children.

While there were many accomplishments, including improvement in test scores and creating a better environment by an aggressive building program, the real key was Dr. McGinley's focus on the essential part of the learning experience. Her mantra "victory in the classroom" and stressing that everyone is there to support the teacher are two of the key reasons why significant improvements have been made and will continue to increase.

Submitted by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

August 15, 2008

"Education Humanizes the Heart"

August 12th, 2008: As Richard Dukes introduced James Smith, we knew we were in for a treat. Even as a member of the House Judicial Committee, he is the recipient of a Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge ... no small accomplishment in today's political environment. We've lost many politicians who also served in defense of our country as veterans in recent years.

James Smith truly believes in "service above self" as exemplified by his tour as a mentor to the Afghanistan police in Kabul Provence. When James and his nine-man team arrived in country, the Taliban were killing 200 to 300 individuals a month. His team deployed as a full spectrum counter-insurgency effort. Not only did they protect our interests, they built schools, churches, and facilitated an emerging democracy.

James stated, "the best security I saw was the people." I'm the father of four, they want the same things we want. The Afghan police we mentored made $70/month; when we left, they were making $120/month and we did our best to ensure their pay "didn't go to a corrupt boss." The Taliban is full of hate ... that's tough for folks in the US to understand. Once I got there, we didn't lose another policeman. But every one of the locals were dealing with bad men. We chose to deal with the kids. They are the hope and the future of Afghanistan. They love pictures and will always tell you the truth! "Education humanizes the heart and doesn't allow it to be cruel." Seeing a young girl in school is an incredible site ... something the Taliban would never allow. If there were a couple of million Rotarians there, we wouldn't have this problem.

Afghans are courageous. If they hear a gun shot, they head to the fight. But we had to deal with their culture and I convinced them to "not smoke marijuana while we were engaged and not shoot at anybody who didn't shoot at us first."

I'm proud to say I left an area less griped by fear and more ready to build infrastructure and tell the truth about the Taliban. I guarantee you, "if that place is safer, then our place is safer."

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

August 8, 2008

Disasters That Shaped Charleston

August 5th, 2008: Dr. Nic Butler, Special Collections Manager for the Charleston County Library, was asked to speak to our club on disasters that changed Charleston. But during his introduction, he said he had tweaked the topic just a little as the natural disasters that have affected this city numerous times over several centuries didn't necessarily change the city, but more often, defined and shaped the resilience Charlestonians have shown time and time again.

As most native Charlestonians know, our city is in a place where hurricanes, tornadoes and even earthquakes are a possibility. Throughout its history, we've had many disasters strike our city. We've had numerous hurricanes, but 21 major hurricanes have had a significant impact on us. The first recorded storm and one of the most notable was the hurricane of August 1686. There were no papers back then so there are no photographs, but history tells us that the Spanish were on their way from St. Augustine to Charleston to reclaim it from the British. They went through Edisto and burned several plantations, kidnapped and killed the Governor 's brother and were closing in on Charleston when one of their 3 ships sank because of the approaching hurricane. The remaining two ships decided to turn around and go back to St. Augustine, thus saving Charleston. Many believe that storm prevented the area from being eradicated.
The Hurricane of 1686 illustrates how a storm may have saved us, but doesn't speak to the resilience of the city and all those that inhabit it. Many disasters followed: There have been eight major fires including the fire of 1838 that burned 1,000 homes in Ansborough. There have been 4 earthquakes and several tornadoes that have caused the city major damage. However, whether we received help from the state of South Carolina, cities like Philadelphia lending us money or the city providing loans and work vouchers for its citizen, we prevailed and are a better city because of it.

There are lessons to learn from our past, and certainly things we still need to learn. Always be prepared, build a plan for the worst case scenario, establish relief networks to help in a crisis and most importantly, prepare for the inevitable. We are a coastal city on a fault line and odds are, we are vulnerable and will likely face a disaster again. When it does happen, we'll do what we've always done, rise to the occasion and start again.

Reported by Darby Siegel, Keyway Committee

August 3, 2008

"A New Age for Energy in South Carolina"

July 29th, 2008: Lonnie Carter was introduced by Dr. Earl Walker as an extremely accomplished professional who is best known for his "plain spokeness" but is treated as a "rock star" wherever he goes. Mr. Carter took the podium with the comment, "I'm not a rock star, but I am a big fan of Rotary International." We were treated to an enlightening talk on the background of Santee Cooper. It has grown from a sleepy little business in 1982 to the largest producer of electricity, 5700 mega-watts, in South Carolina ... a company that supports over half the State's population through 20 electrical co-ops with low cost reliable power it in an environmentally responsible way.

Lonnie emphasized the decisions our leaders are now making relative to energy are critical to our economy, ability to compete globally, quality of life, and economic security. He confirmed our State is growing faster than most, 8th last year. That is extremely positive and extremely challenging at the same time. Our base level requirement for energy by 2020 will be 1,100 meg-watts. Though that's 11 years and 5 months from now Lonnie said we must be planning now to meet that challenge. We're currently making great strides in conservation management of energy through demand-side management; that won't be enough. To meet this challenge, we'll need a combination of:
- Conservation
- Energy Efficiency (1.6 million CFL light bulbs we give away)
- Renewable Power (Wind & Solar Projects)
- Base-load Power Generation (Coal & Nuclear)

Mr. Carter explained the challenges to these endeavors: "not everyone wants wind towers on our beaches or solar panels on our homes." We can't get people to pick up the CFL light bulbs or use our free energy audits at Lonnie emphasized that re-starting the nuclear project will be difficult and costly: $10 billion ... it's been dead for 3 decades.
Concerning the topic of coal fire, he was passionate in stating we've reduced mercury by 95%, particulates by 99%, sulfur-dioxides by 98%. He also challenged the audience to get the truth on mercury at "Less than 1% of all mercury is produced by the energy industry."

The Q&A session was lively; in a nutshell: "the world is run off energy, everyone wants our standard of living. To protect our future, we need a viable national energy policy."

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair