Army Corps sets aside $45 million for Charleston Harbor

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Some political leaders say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $45 million this year to help deepen a South Carolina harbor.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a news release Thursday the money will help pay to deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, the deepest on the East Coast.

South Carolina State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome would not talk about the money until it’s officially announced by the Army Corps. Newsome said in April the port needs $90 million in federal funds each year for three years to stay on schedule.

South Carolina lawmakers already provided the state’s share of $271 million. Even with Thursday’s announcement, the federal government has only provided $66 million of the $287 million it is supposed to pay.

Senator Lindsey Graham Statement

I’m very appreciative of the Trump Administration’s decision to dedicate nearly $50 million to deepen Charleston Harbor. When it comes to the Port of Charleston, President Trump listened and delivered.? OMB Director Mick Mulvaney was invaluable in making the case for the needs of Charleston.

?“This is great news for the Port of Charleston and the state of South Carolina.? Charleston Harbor deepening is about jobs – both today and in the future.? With this news we are one step closer to having the most dynamic port in the United States.?

“The nearly $50 million in the Army Corps’ work plan allows construction to go forward without delay and keeps the project on track.? And when it comes to Charleston Harbor deepening – and the needs and demands of international shipping – time is money.?

“It’s long been my belief that the sooner we get this project done, the better.? It remains a top priority for me and will continue to be so until it is complete.? ??

?“I also want to thank the congressional delegation – particularly my friend and colleague Tim Scott — for their unified efforts in support of the Port and Governor McMaster’s strong and effective voice.? I also very much appreciate the support of South Carolina State Senator Hugh Leatherman and the entire South Carolina State Legislature.?

“Charleston Harbor deepening has been a team effort.? I think we all understand this is a long term investment which will benefit South Carolina and American business in perpetuity.”

Is the Delicate Charleston, SC Ecosystem in Jeopardy?

By Mark A. Leon

Four years ago, I lived on the corner of Morris Street and Rutledge Avenue. Before there was the Sweet Radish, Wild Flour, Brown’s Court Bakery, Octobachi or Sunrise Bistro Express, there was a small community garden on Rutledge Avenue between Spring Street and the crosstown. Situated between a bohemian community of students, artists and local residents, this corner plot stood as a representation of nature, community, health, wellness and education manifesting itself into a garden of unified spirits growing harmoniously. One evening after a group dinner at Five Loaves, I was taken to the garden and served up a sixty-minute lesson on all the greens and flowers and their importance in the ecosystem of this community garden.

The garden is gone now and three stories of concrete reside there now.

Fast forward to 2011 through 2016 when Conde Nast voted Charleston America’s favorite city, fifteen new hotels and boutiques have been approved for development through 2015, Mount Pleasant became the 9th fastest growing city over 50,000 people and the delicate balance of history, intimacy and simplicity has begun to slip away.

The economy is booming in Charleston. In September, a Charleston company on Daniel Island, BenefitFocus, made its debut on the NASDAQ stock exchange and in December announced 1,200 additional jobs and a $60 million campus expansion.? The new Children’s Hospital and development on the College of Charleston is making construction as common as carriage rides.? Can you remember a time there was not construction on the peninsula in any direction.

Boeing’s North Charleston project is expected to create at least 3,800 jobs and represents an investment of at least $750 million. There are 2,600 workers in North Charleston working at the former Vought plant that Boeing purchased this summer and the Global Aeronautical facility that is a 787 subcontractor to Boeing. That facility is a joint venture between Boeing and Alenia. Some have speculated that Boeing will have more than 6,000 employees working at the aircraft factory by 2016.

PeopleMatter opened its new sales and customer operations facility at 483 King Street, bringing a new corporate presence to Upper King Street.

The peninsula is below sea level in most areas, which rears its ugly head each time rainfall and high tide create a mix of transportation terror.? Mount Pleasant is the seventh fastest growing city in the United States.? Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston are in the top 20 fastest growing coastal communities on the Atlantic. ?? Charleston, South Carolina is projected to see a population growth of 18% plus between 2010 – 2020.


In 2011, in 9 crime categories, Charleston County as ahead of National Averages in 8 of those categories.? This can be factored into wage disparity, economic conditions, population growth and demographic changes in the area.

Crime 2011

Individual and small business ownership is a critical part of the economic success of the Charleston area.? Food trucks are one key example of the entrepreneurial spirit of Charleston.? With 32 registered food trucks, the concept of the brick and mortar establishment is a thing of the past.

In 2012, it was announced that over 1500 new hotel rooms were being built on the peninsula.? Whether it is the Holiday Inn Express, Bohemian Hotel or Hilton Gardens, the traditional skyline of Charleston is a thing of the past.? Tourism growth.? It is estimated that between 4.5 Million and 4.8 Million tourists visit Charleston each year by cruise ship, plane or car.? This could be damaging to a peninsula that masses 7.6 square miles.

Marion Square by Spring of 2017 will be nearly entirely surrounded by hotels (Marriot Courtyard, Francis Marion, Embassy Suites and Dewberry).? Our beloved corner of Calhoun and King is now a corporate billboard highlighted by Starbucks, Panera, Moe’s Southwest, Chipotle and Walgreens.

This influx of residents and tourists are weighing in on the beauty and historic tradition we value.? On Christmas morning, 2012, I walked the streets of the peninsula to bask in the solitary confinement of a city that was free of people and cars.? In the midst of my walk, I encountered a trash and litter at every corner, run down yards and a level of fifth, I never would have expected from Charleston.

The goal of this article is awareness.? You will all hear wonderful stories of praise for Charleston.? We represent all that is good in the world.? We have a state of the art medical facility, beautiful ocean front, a city with the richest historic value in the south and a level of genuine warmth you will not find anywhere else.? We are also losing our identify.? With increased crime, taxation, high end retail, housing development growth, traffic issues, school over-crowding and challenges to our way of life, there are areas we need to look closely at.? We each have a civic responsibility to care for our culture, environment and the value systems we have developed.? If you have concerns, use your civic awareness to raise a voice in your town.

Let’s not let Charleston lose its identity.




Deane Bowers: Artist, Environmentalist and Passionate Voice for Charleston

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Deane Bowers, you may not know by name, but you may have seen her work.? This environmental artist is a voice of Charleston.? From educating our youth to bringing conscious awareness of our natural treasures through her work and message, Deane is leading a life of meaning.

She recently spoke to a summer camp sponsored by a local North Charleston church and in the sparkle of the children’s eyes where wonder was as ample as air, Deane was saddened.? Recently the county cut funding to several school programs including the art program.? With all the ambition and enthusiasm, she was able to share with the children, she knows it will be challenging for these same children to continue to foster their love of art.

This is Deane Bowers: ?Driven by desire for an Earth filled with balance and fueled by a creative pulse that is the center of her heartbeat.

We took some time to pick her brain and learn more about her passions, vision and hopes for the future.

CD:? Do you feel using recycled local material helps you connect your work with the Charleston community?

DB:? Recycling and re-purposing local materials definitely connects me to the Charleston community for so many reasons. First, just the physical process of collecting the found objects.?I have walked through more neighborhoods?and parking lots than I would if I didn’t collect things. I am familiar with which parking lots have the best materials and are the dirtiest and which parks provide the best scraps. The act of collecting has brought me out in the community and now, several businesses recognize me when I walk through their parking lots. The employees at Gerald’s Tires have even chased me down the street,?offering up more nails, screws and washers than I could find!

As an artist, my?recycled folk art has been a liaison to meet some wonderful people in the arts community. Mike Gibbons with the Charleston Arts Alliance is one of?the first to come to mind. I adore him and that organization and will do all I can to support them. My art has opened doors to meet gallery owners, art collectors, store owners and other artists as well. Two years ago, I joined a local?nonprofit group called Gallery72 and we do pop up shows around Charleston and a portion of our proceeds goes to outreach in the community. I love exhibiting my work in non-traditional spaces such as bars, coffee shops, EarthFare, Local Works, The Sustainablity Institute, Queen Street Grocery, Southend Brewery, the Johns Island Library and the Downtown Library just to name a few places. And all those exhibitions put me in contact with some wonderful people! And all those wonderful people in their own way, make Charleston a happier, better place to live!

As an environmentalist, my art has put me in contact with awesome people like Dana Beach, the Coastal Community Foundation, Keep Charleston Beautiful, The City of Charleston, MUSC Sustainability, Charleston Waterkeeper, Charleston Green, Charleston Parks Conservancy, Fisher Recycling, Charleston County Recycling and most exciting Mayor Tecklenburg and his executive assistant, Kristen! We are all working to make Charleston a cleaner, greener space and hopefully through my art, I can help educate, motivate and donate (art for fund raisers)?towards this goal! The recycling, green community have?been my best supporters and have been extremely receptive and encouraging to me as an artist. Most of my followers on?Instagram and Twitter are individuals with ties to the recycling community! They truly are my favorite followers!

CD:? How important is it for your customers to take away the importance of being green, recycling and conserving our natural resources?

DB:? I find that people don’t enjoy and even?buy my work if they?don’t “get” the green, recycling feature about my art. Usually viewers are first attracted by the vibrant, bold colors I use?and on closer inspection begin to see all the intricate details of the found objects layered one upon another. Then they start to get excited and want to know more about my process and when I share that each piece is almost 100% created from recycled, salvaged?and reclaimed materials, I?see their faces light up. Especially satisfying is to?see parents point out individual hardware scraps to their children and begin a dialogue with them about recycling. It is very important for me that the viewer realize that recycling can be an art form and that even that busted, cracked piece of metal, wood or wire has an artistic purpose!

CD:? What first inspired you to create this type of art?

DB:? Before?working with found objects, I spent years painting and as a ceramicist.?Working with ceramics, you have to be precise, a perfectionist, and follow the rules of working with clay. I hate following rules, (my husband says because I am stubborn), I am anything but a perfectionist and I don’t like to always be precise. So I was growing weary of ceramics and feeling frustrated by it all. It is a very expensive medium due to the cost of the clay, the glazes and running a kiln to fire all the work.

One weekend about 10 years?ago, one of my best friends, who is also an artist and I spent a long weekend at the Outer Banks. We had planned to sit on the beach all weekend and take long walks and maybe do some art each night. But the rain changed our plans on Day #2 and we had to quickly find a way to occupy our time. Because we are?both artists, we had packed a few things to work on, but had very limited art supplies. My friend went to work creating?a ladies?jacket out of about 50 brown grocery bags she stitched together. I started collecting the wood I found on the beach and walked through a few parking lots and found some old nails, bottle caps and wire. I made a couple of sculptures with birds in the composition?and my friend, who has an incredible eye saw the potential. She said “Deane, I think you have found your next medium. You seem so free and happy working with these things and I love hearing you laugh while you work.” No one ever said that to me when I worked with other mediums. And found objects are not only freeing, but forgiving and there is no right or wrong way to create with them. Plus, this medium would be a totally unique, new and different path for me to take as an artist. As in any profession, if you don’t keep evolving?and changing, you don’t thrive. So the rest is history! From the start, I loved that I could simultaneously clean up the streets around me and make art with what I found. Free art supplies and cleaner streets! It is a win win for sure!

CD:? Is there a commissioned piece that you are personally connected to that left a lasting impression on you?

DB:? The commissioned pieces that give me the greatest joy are the ones I create for hospitals, child advocacy groups and any nonprofit that loves artwork in their facilities, but doesn’t have the budget to purchase it. My recycled folk art really took off in 2009. Ironically, it was the same time our country went into a deep recession. Art budgets were the first things slashed! About the same time, my mother was hospitalized for about a week as she recovered from a stroke. I was dismayed by the depressing and dismal artwork I saw in the hospital and some of its clinics. That is when you need uplifting, cheerful artwork the most when you or your family are facing some sort of medical crisis. I started doing some research and contacting various art curators (who hadn’t been laid off)?at local hospitals about providing them with some free artwork. I also contacted several child advocacy centers where I had contacts and just spread the news that I would?love to donate my artwork to their facilities. As a result, I provided artwork for waiting rooms, hospital lobbies, children’s?cancer wards to name a few. One of the happiest installations I had was with two?of my children and my sister present. I had been commissioned to create 3 huge pieces for The Levine Children’s Center at Carolinas Medical in Charlotte, NC. These were the biggest pieces I had made to date and I had my support staff with me. While the pieces were being installed, the nurses starting coming out of the wood work to see. Some of them went from somber stares to smiling faces and others, who were already smiling said they were going to go get some of the children who were patients to come see the new artwork. To me, that was better than any paycheck I could ever receive! And next month, I will be heading over to Winston Salem, to provide artwork in the lobby of one of their biggest hospitals on a rotating three-month cycle. Last month, I outfitted the entire Barrier Medical Clinic in Ridgeville, SC with artwork. They just opened up a brand new beautiful clinic but had no money for artwork. So I found out via Twitter that they had put out a call for local artists and a relationship was formed!

CD:? What are the five attributes that define you as a person and an artist?

DB:? Five Attributes that define me as a person and an artist… I had to look up Webster’s definition of attribute to get this question right! Passionate, Driven, Enthusiastic, Optimistic and Loving! Not in that order, but those would be the big 5!

CD: What does art mean to you?

DB:? What does art mean to me… Freedom, self-expression, vitality, happiness, satisfaction, community, peacefulness. I could go on…And I hate more than I cannot?adequately express my deep sadness?that the?Charleston County School Board just slashed their art funding. A huge mistake!!! We all need the arts! Whether it is visual or performing, we need the arts to give our lives meaning, dimension, character and solace. To lose one self?in a song, or in a painting or just by looking at a beautiful color is extremely healthy and necessary! Art is what gives us personality, definition and character! And hope!

CD:? What is the five-year plan for Deane?? Where do you see your career and your work?

DB:? My five-year plan…I hope to do many more commissioned pieces for hospitals and non-profits. I hope to travel to new cities with my art and spread my mission and passion of being an environmental folk artist. I would love a green organization or company to use one of my images on their labels or packaging. I want to continue to meet new people and hopefully uplift them with my art. Personally, I hope I continue to develop my skills, flair and personality as an artist. Whether I make a million dollars or just one dollar, I will continue to make my happy art because it comes from my heart and it is my way of bringing a very small dose of sunshine and love to this world that continues to be plagued with sad and tragic events!

Recently, Deane was commissioned by the Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.? She created three pieces named after her children.? This commitment to helping others, sharing the beauty of art and leaving a family legacy that will carry over is only a fraction of the selfless gift that Deane has to offer.? Take time to see her vision and share in her love for our environment and the beauty that is art.

Contact Email – Deane Bowers


Onboard With CARTA Until It Gets Dark

By David McNamara
By David McNamara

Since relocating to Charleston I’ve noticed a peculiar trend amongst locals when discussing the state of the public transport system – everyone has an opinion. And everyone considers their opinion legitimate regardless of whether they have ever set foot on a CARTA bus or not.

I recently moved to Mt Pleasant and for the past three months I’ve relied solely on a candied pink and green colored women’s cruiser and the Route 40 to get around. I find CARTA a consummate service at an unbeatable price. A standard flat rate fare is $1.75 with a $0.30 transfer fee allows me to travel across the city, through downtown and all the way to Folly Beach or North Charleston for a mere $2.05.

However, cost alone won’t persuade people to leave their cars at home. Most of us happily pay for convenience, or at least the illusion of it. CARTA describes this as “point-of-pain” which refers to the frustrations of congested traffic, increases in petrol prices and parking difficulties. And most folk need a lot of pain, or a damn good excuse to get out of their vehicles ? even when the long lunchtime queue at Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru can easily be circumvented by parking up and walking into the store for counter service.

While sharing public transport with retirees, hospital staff, the odd tourist couple, and young workers dressed in aprons and nametags, my only major criticism is its infrequency and lack of after-hours services. A CARTA spokesperson agrees.

“Increasing frequency of service and offering late-night service are two of the major issues we encounter while trying to grow ridership – and in those areas we find ourselves constrained by limited financial resources.”

Covering North Charleston, Route 11 operates CARTA’s latest daily service which departs downtown at 8.52 pm on Monday through to Saturday. Typically all routes suffer from heavily reduced schedules on Sundays with no service after 7.00 pm.

From Mt Pleasant I can use public transport and arrive downtown to meet friends as late as 9.45 pm on most nights. In contrast, the last service home departs from Mary Street/Meeting Street at 7.45 pm. So like a fairytale, the Ravenel Bridge for me transforms from an aspiring, sunlit image of connectivity to a nocturnal curse. And on most evenings I feel marooned in Mt Pleasant, barred from the peninsula’s late night hubbub due to costly taxi prices.

Mt Pleasant Mayor, Linda Page agrees that while CARTA performs an invaluable service to people with limited resources there should be much shorter times between trips.

“Public transport is difficult because it often does not recover the cost of the service. Communities need to bridge the gap until the service can support itself. This is not to say that we should fund a public transportation that does not meet standards, but we should strive to have a system that is self-supporting.”

CARTA believes Lowcountry residents should be applauded for recognizing the need for a strong public transport system. A CARTA spokesperson also identified commuters who forgo individual vehicles in favor of public transport as an enormous help to the city.

“CARTA’s ridership continues to grow at a record-breaking pace. Last year our ridership was 4.9 million, or about 40 percent of transit trips in South Carolina. Public support has grown in the past few years, and that can largely be attributed to advancements and improvements in the system, as well as increased visibility and communication with the community.”

So is it strange for an antipodean import to be questioning the lack of late-night transport? Well, to me it is – especially as Charleston is consistently ranked highest in terms of the most desirable and livable city in numerous international economic and travel guides.

Only recently Charleston City Paper reported the confounding arrest of a young man for public intoxication when he unwittingly asked two undercover cops for a ride because he had drunk too much and rightly decided against driving. Whether this is indicative of a growing intolerance to Charleston’s late night drinking culture is debatable. But along with the controversial confiscation of bicycles on King Street, and the increased congestion and parking difficulties due to large-scale development and the 1300 people CARTA says are moving to the region each month, more and more residents are turning to public transport.

Most young Charlestonians who I address the lack of late-night transport with shrug indifferently, as if it were an immutable facet of Lowcountry living, while others sound more concerned with their legal rights to evade a DUI.

CARTA appreciates the steady influx of people moving to the region for this reason. A CARTA spokesperson says new arrivals also play a major part in changing public transport’s unfortunate cultural stigma.

“Leveraging residents, who are new to the area and very familiar with using public transit plays an important role in removing old ideas and stigma. They come to the area with a different perspective and attitude and often influence their peers to ride as well.”

As a wanderlust struck author I have always been a strong advocate of public transport for countless benefits communal travel provides. Beyond the pragmatic and environmental advantages, sharing a journey with others reinforces social connectivity, broadens cultural perspective and emboldens our compassion. It shapes an internal vessel of appreciation that we’re all in it together – from the toil of early morning wakeups to end-of-day relief where a tacit nod of understanding or shared greeting become the medicine for everyday vicissitudes and hardships.

CARTA admits the public has shown moderate demand for late-night services, but this is not enough without additional interest and funding.

“Operating the buses is a huge expense, and the fare we collect recovers at most a third of that amount. The one way we can effectively combat this is by partnering with businesses to fund routes. It’s something we do with Boeing, Tanger Oulets and North Charleston on our North Area Shuttle Route.”

Lack of funding has always plagued CARTA since its inception in 1997. A CARTA spokesperson explains the recent recession caused forced cuts in hours and late-night services because of diminished funding. While Mt Pleasant Mayor, Linda Page agrees additional services would be of benefit she says there are more pressing issues facing CARTA.

“The largest issues facing CARTA is an ageing fleet and the cost to build its Intermodal Centre in North Charleston. I don’t believe CARTA can afford to discuss new or expanding service without first budgeting for new equipment to meet these demands.”

However, with its new center and a push to have mixed traffic-HOV lanes, CARTA and its progressive team are not stepping back from the challenges ahead.

“We are looking forward to leading our community in thinking about transit from a more regional perspective and connecting our communities with more efficient and effective services. To get there, we would like to see more partnerships cultivated between CARTA and other agencies and organizations in the area. Growing these relationships will directly impact funding the future of public transit here in Charleston.”

Talking Wetlands Conservation with Environmental Lawyer Heather Murray

By David McNamara
By David McNamara

As an environmental lawyer in Charleston, Heather Murray’s upstate charm and easy-going nature belies her commitment and focus to environmental conservation and animal protection. Hailing from New York, Heather studied political science at Clemson before going to law school at Georgetown in Washington DC.

“I focused primarily on environmental law because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I took internships at environmental non-profits. After I graduated I worked for two years at Defenders of Wildlife in DC, which focuses on endangered species work before moving here,” she explained.

As part of a regional non-profit organisation Heather works in a small Charleston office, concentrating on coastal issues mainly related to wetlands protection and water pollution.

“It is the predominant environment here and an extremely sensitive one, and many projects or developments here are going to impact wetlands.”

It’s clear what makes Heather’s work so rewarding is giving a voice to the wildlife areas around Charleston. So it’s not surprising to hear that Heather sees herself primarily as an environmentalist, and views her education, experience and expertise as a lawyer as the tools she’s been given to make a difference.

“I’m an environmentalist who has this education and training and is able to affect change. But I think a lot of other public interest lawyers would say the same thing.”

The challenge facing Heather and other environmentalists is advocating ways to be smarter when developing in a region that is already densely urbanized.

This is why environmental and conservation groups spend a lot of time with state and federal agencies, trying to give them the right information they need to make an informed decision when issuing permits for proposed planning and development.

The wetlands not only provide the supernal backdrop to Charleston’s iconic charm, they are also a major source of recreation and enjoyment to so much of local community. However, in residential and industrial debates championing progress, the environment is often marginalized by invested parties. Some business groups may even view environmental protection grounds as anti-development.

Heather says an important part of the decision-making process for projects affecting the environment is to provide alternatives and to understand the invaluable role natural resources play in maintaining balance in the larger ecosystem.

“Impacting natural resources may have severe and unintended consequences that must be considered before projects move forward.”

Assessing the environmental cost and consequences related to revenue based expansion is a complex issue. In Charleston this is especially the case regarding the controversial redevelopment of the old cruise terminal on East Bay Street and Market Street, as well as the extension of I- 526 to James Island based on original design plans made over 40 years ago when construction of the interstate began.


Heather says it is never difficult to find people and agencies in our local communities interested in protecting fragile habits. The added challenge to non-profit groups is using limited resources to get the right information to decision-makers and the public who have time to listen to complicated issues, which are difficult to package in catchphrases and memorable quotes.

Heather appreciates there’s always going to be different perspectives when discussing commerce and environmental sustainability because they are so entwined with each other. Hopefully, this progressive approach will continue to nurture healthy debate with the array of interested groups concerned about the city’s future and committed to keeping Charleston beautiful.