March 24, 2011

An Introduction to the Roadwise Program

March 22, 2011: Allen O'Neal, the Charleston County Administrator was introduced to our club by Rob Dewey. Mr. O'Neal assumed his position in 2009 after many years working in local government from North Carolina to New Port Oregon. He has served in roles working with FEMA, disaster recovery and administration among others. Allen is a Paul Harris Fellow, the father of two grown sons, Michael and Joseph, and an avid Tarheels fan.

O'Neal began with a brief overview of county government and moved to his focus area, The Road Wise Program. Charleston County was formed in 1949; it consists of 9 districts, each represented by a council person on County Council. The county has 37 departments, employs 2300 people and operates on a budget of approximately $328 million. The Transportation Sales Tax Program was approved in 2004 and tax collection began in 2009, it anticipates a 25 year duration and $1.3 billion in collections. Those funds are allocated as follows: $847.2 million to Roadwise, $221.5 million to Green Space, and $234.6 million to Transit.

As of March 15, 2011 Roadwise has completed 279 projects, all which utilize mostly local engineering firms and construction companies and has an additional 90 active projects in motion. All funded projects are decisioned after extensive research and input from municipalities, communities and leadership. Allen pointed out that transparency is of the utmost importance; "after all they are your tax dollars, you should know how they are spent". He also reiterated that the goal is to enhance the quality of living for residents of Charleston County by creating safe avenues for bicyclist and pedestrians, improving traffic conditions for drivers, and preserving property values and landscapes.

Palmetto Commerce Parkway - Phase 1 took Ladson Road to Chrysler from two lanes to 4 lanes, its 2.1 miles long and had a budget of $48million, and it began in March 2006 and was completed in 2007. Phase 2- to complete Phase 1 and widen lanes from 2 to 4 from Ladson Road to Ashley Phosphate - budget of $43 million, project just completed.

Folly at Maybank Highway - began in March of 2009, completed in June of 2010 to improve drainage, sidewalks etc. budget of $4.1 million.

Bee Street at Courtenay Drive - began in May 2010, scheduled completion date of April 2011- improve traffic patterns- budget of $6.1 million

Glenn McConnell at I-526 - began in May 2010 scheduled completion of May 2011, adding lanes in both directions from Orleans Road to 526, address issues of highway noise for local neighborhoods - budget of $7.5 million

As is apparent by the projects above, the county works diligently to spread funding over the whole county based on need. Details pertaining to the RoadWise program and all of the projects can be found at

Submitted by Elizabeth Burwell, Keyway Committee Chair

March 18, 2011

Dr. Ray Greenberg on MUSC

March 15, 2011: Rotarian Julie Medich introduced today's speaker, MUSC President, Dr. Ray Greenberg, beginning with his impressive educational biography including such institutions as Duke University, Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Before joining the Medical University of South Carolina in 1995 as the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Greenberg serviced on the medical school faculty at Emory and was the founding dean of the Rollins School of Public Health. Julie concluded her introduction on a personal note, as his Sullivan Island neighbor, she described Dr. Greenberg as a gray hoodie wearing, Arts & Crafts furniture designer and neighborhood animal lover.

Although mourning the loss of his beloved UNC Tar Heels, Dr. Greenberg began his presentation with a smile and a sincere thank you to all Rotarians and their national and international contributions to those in need, stating "I never turn Rotary down." In addition to his sincerity, Dr. Greenberg was also quite comedic as he pondered the reasons why MUSC was not included in this year's March Madness. After recognizing Rotarians Chip Hood and Tom Anderson as MUSC's important leaders, Dr. Greenberg's comedy continued as he told us "what he was not going to tell us," by cleverly listing MUSC facts such as their 12,000 employees, $2 billion a year finances, 7th place ranking, largest research grant recipient in SC, etc. and ending with "...because you already know!"

Although his MUSC statistics were impressive, Dr. Greenberg continued his presentation with a dose of reality as he explained the Innovative Activity Score Card and Charleston's low ranking. The Innovative Activity Index is essential because, as the Score Cards states: "The ability to generate new ideas, products and processes is an important measure of regional competitive advantage. An environment of innovation encourages the launch of new businesses, provides growth opportunities for existing businesses, and attracts leading-edge businesses from outside the area. The result: new, higher paying jobs for area residents." The index's indicators include patents, employment in technical professions and science-related graduate students. Although Charleston's "half the national average" score of 52 is not optimal, Dr. Greenberg explained that growing innovations such as the new SCRA MUSC Innovation Center, Clemson's building of the world's largest test facility for next-generation wind turbine drive trains and MUSC's Hollings Caner Center now ranking as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) are vital "seed" factors that will help Charleston economic activity grow.

Charleston scored a 93 on the Entrepreneurial Environment Index and although it is an improvement from the Innovative Activity score, the less than the national average score still shows there is a vital need for growth. Dr. Greenberg explained MUSC's important role in helping "to grow the seed corn" of Charleston by "transferring technology" and working across disciplines with locally based, national companies, such as Berchtold Corp. and Sabal Medical Inc./Swisslog. With these strategic corporate alignments, MUSC can "help Charleston achieve its full potential" and aspire to be an economic leader.

Dr. Greenberg concluded his presentation with a brief question and answer session discussing the following topics: the importance of federal funding to "help curtail this drunken binge of spending," MUSC's Level One Trauma Center's full range of services , among other research programs as well as the TeleStroke program.

Submitted by Teal Van Saun, Keyway Committee

March 11, 2011

Looking Into The South

March 8, 2011: Local publisher and past club president Andy Brack filled in as the meeting's speaker to describe a book on which he is working.

The project started two years ago when an Australian student visited the Brack family. After meeting with Alex Sanders, Fritz Hollings and Jack Bass and attending a Rotary meeting, Brack took the student on a tour of the South. Over the next few days, they visited people and places in Columbia, Greenville, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, the Mississippi Delta, Jackson and Montgomery.

After the trip, Brack said he wrote a chronicle of their experiences to highlight how someone who knew little about the South learned about it. A year later, the book was done.

"But something wasn't right. So I left it alone for about four months. Then I figured out what was wrong - - basing a whole book on a thin chronology just didn't work. So I decided to recast the whole thing."

Now, he is reformulating the more than 200 pages of text into a work that attempts to explain the South to outsiders.

"People from the South are exceptional in many ways, but outsiders often don't understand what they see because they are blinded by preconceived notions based on Dukes of Hazzard and Burt Reynolds movie caricatures."

Past president Earl Walker asked whether the 1940s work "The Mind of the South" by W.J. Cash played any part in the current work - and noted that Cash eventually went crazy. Brack said Cash's book was one attempt to define the many-times-defined "New South," and that while the new work was following in a tradition of essays explaining the South, the term "New South" should be dead.

Member Vito Scarafile said the South had dramatically changed since he moved to the area in the 1960s. "I feel more like a Southerner than anything else," he said. "I wouldn't live anywhere else."

Past president Dyson Scott noted how Census figures showed more African Americans were returning to the South - in part because the sense of community that exists in the region.

Member Colleen Moring suggested the book should include a section on the language of the South because she didn't understand that "supper" was "dinner" and that "balled peanuts" were "boiled peanuts" when she moved to the region when a teen.

Brack said he hoped the book would deal frankly with issues like race, education, economics, history and more. He said he expected to complete it this year.

March 4, 2011

FORT SUMTER NATIONAL PARK: The Construction and History

March 1, 2011: Ranger Rick Hatcher, a 17 year veteran of the National Park Service and a native of Virginia, gave us a historical perspective of this major monument in a way that was both informative and entertaining. After the war of 1812 the Federal government began to build a series of forts on all major harbors from Maine to Key West. Although Charleston already had three forts [Moultrie, Johnson and Castle Pinckney] they were considered obsolete. Therefore work began in 1829 on shoals in the main harbor entrance. Over 109,000 TONS of rock were shipped in from New England to make the foundation. The Fort itself has 5' thick walls, three tiers, room for 135 guns, and was designed to hold 650 officers and men. In 1833 it was named for General Thomas Sumter, a native of Virginia.

In 1860 the Fort had been under construction for 31 years, but was still only 90% complete. Ranger Rick cited this is a typical Federal project! At this time, the total Army had 16,000 soldiers and 5 generals, most of whom were assigned to the western territories.

On April 12, 1861 General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate Army, ordered the attack on the Fort. Six hundred rounds hit the walls, which held, but within the walls there was fire and total destruction. To the Federal government this attack was viewed as an insurrection; to the South it was viewed as a second revolution. Charleston was chosen as the site of this first attack as it was the most important shipping center in the nation at that time and the Confederacy felt that it had to keep the harbor open.

Later the union attacked with huge Dahlgren cannons that could fire a 440lb cannonball. The three story fort was reduced to the height of one third by the fierce firepower.

In 1898 the fort was changed with the addition of a huge concrete structure within its walls. This new fort housed two 12" artillery pieces which weighed 53 tons each and could fire a 1100LB projectile. They stayed in place until World War II when they were converted to scrap metal and several anti U-Boat guns were installed.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

March 1, 2011

Mount Pleasant - An All-American City

February 22, 2011: The historic Rotary Club of Charleston hosted a presentation by The Hon. Billy Swails, Mayor of Mt. Pleasant.

He provided the lunch gathering with a compelling overview of the current state of the town and a snapshot of where it's headed ... even adding welcome levity and sincerity about the cordial relationship the three mayors enjoy working together to advance our community at large. A few of his headlines on the economic development front include:

- Mt. Pleasant will host a new campus for Trident Technical Community College. This is an important step in the area's overall commitment to economic development.

- As a business friendly town, Mt. Pleasant is increasing its focus and support for small businesses that can thrive in Mt. Pleasant.

- The town is pushing a marketing campaign that is promoting the fine quality of life people can enjoy here.

- The town is operating with a balanced budget, which in part has been fueling the interest of many new companies to make this their base of operations since 2008.

In short, said Mayor Swails, "Mt. Pleasant is open for business!" Money magazine concurs with its recent ranking that positions Mt. Pleasant (Charleston) as "one of the best places to live in the country."

The mayor announced that they will be opening an new building that will serve as an entrepreneurial incubator, with an opening date slated for July.

Against the backdrop of the economic development momentum we are seeing across the state, we can all be proud of the great work our municipal leadership is providing to ensure a strong and vibrant future for all. Clearly, this stewardship of our future is indeed a demonstration of "service above self." Thank you, Mr. Mayor!

Mayor Billy Swails was elected to the position of Mayor in 2009. He currently chairs the Police, Legal & Judicial and the Transportation Committees of Council. He also serves as Ex-Officio Member on the Mount Pleasant Waterworks Commission.

Submitted by Mark Danes, Keyway Committee