Simple Acts of Kindness Remind Us of the Warmth of Charleston

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Love in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon

Being intimately engulfed in the Charleston landscape, I can attest there is something special here that embodies the core principles of friendliness.

I would like to share six (6) very personal accounts.  These testimonies are just a snapshot of the remarkable Charleston stories that fill the air all around these parts.

Charleston Love and Kindness Can Be Felt All Around

Neighborhood Flood Relief:  I lived on the corner of Morris Street and Rutledge Avenue when I first moved to Charleston.  Being new to the area, downtown flooding was more of a myth than a reality.  One afternoon, while working from home, I was taken back by a steady downpour beating against my window.  Perhaps it was a feeling or just the need to take a break, but I put on my best weather proof clothes and went outside.  The corner of Morris and Smith had become a river and many cars were trapped in the mayhem.  Myself and several neighbors, without hesitation, went car by car helping drivers push their vehicle from the ravage flooded area.  It was a gesture of neighborly support and one of the first truly unwavering acts of generosity I had experienced here.

The Day After Mother Emanuel AME:  On the Thursday morning after the Mother Emanuel shooting, I went to the Battery to watch the sunrise and clear my head, allowing time to process what had transpired just a few hours earlier.  It was ten minutes after six in the morning, the sky was clear, early humidity filled the air with a thick warmth and all was quiet.  I said hello to some passing joggers and then sat on a bench at White Point Garden.  A wonderfully sweet local walked by with her dog and sat next to me.  Her companion, an older canine pressed up against my leg, laid down and nestled by me.  The woman began to talk, not about the shooting, but the morning, her love of dogs and the neighborhood.  After she departed, two other ladies came by asking about my faith and gave me information pamphlets.  They smile and walked away.  I don’t know if they knew and weren’t ready to talk about it, but I took comfort in those very early conversations with the backdrop of the rising sun over the harbor to symbolize a new beginning.

A Fallen Baby Bird:  On a spring morning, I met a friend for an early morning walk and coffee at White Point Garden.  We were saddened to see that a baby bird had fallen from its nest and injured itself.  A local area doctor, while walking his dog, saw the wounded bird as well and offered to get a box and mesh to transport it.  He went home a few blocks away and returned with the transport material.  We carefully put the frightened bird in the box and I offered to take it to a Vet in West Ashley that we were fortunate to find open.  This incredibly selfless doctor who had a scheduled surgery did everything he could to help us until he was forced to the hospital.  I received a call later that day from the veterinarian’s office that they had to put the bird down.  All I could do was think about the sound of the scared bird as I drove to West Ashley and knowing it was its last moments.  Then I remembered the kindness of three people who put their lives aside to try and save this newborn bird.

A Moment of Humanity for a Homeless Man – It was a Sunday morning in December, 2017 and I will on King Street at 8:45 AM awaiting the City Church Service at the Charleston Music Farm.  A homeless man, bundled up and pushing a grocery cart, was on the sidewalk heading South.  As he slowly moved in front of the Glazed Doughnut Shop and took a rest, a student noticed him.  He quickly bought a doughnut and cup of coffee and walked outside to present to the homeless man.  They shook hands, exchanged a few kind words and then the student went back inside as the homeless man warmed up and put food in his tummy.  It was a heartwarming moment amount two strangers at very different places in life.

A Surfer’s Smile Can Change Your Day – Just a few weeks ago, I had just had Turkish Coffee a Center Street Coffee on Folly Beach and then walked to the beach to watch the waves and do some meditative activities.  A young surfer, about 5’2″, curly red hair and a smile that could move all the clouds that morning, asked me for assistance taking her board out of her bag (chalk had made it stick).  I helped her and she smiled.  About 10 minutes later, she entered the sand with her board over her head and as she walked near me she smiled and said hey.  That exchange gave me such a fulfilling feeling.  I later went into The Tides, got a paper and pen, and wrote that surfer a thank you note for making my day with just a simple smile.

A Baby Sea Turtle Rescue StoryIt was last summer, on an early morning sunrise walk on Folly Beach that we discovered a baby sea turtle with a limp front leg.  Nelson (our name for him), had hatched just a few hours earlier, but with the injury did not have the strength to make it into the ocean with the tide coming in.  We contacted Animal Control and the Aquarium and were instructed to assist Nelson into the ocean.  We did and later found out he was the only survivor of all the eggs that were laid in that spot.  Click the link for the entire story.

These are just a few of the hundreds of Charleston stories.  The country witnessed our unwavering resolve during the Mother Emanuel Shooting, Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma and the 1000 Year Rains, but it is the very personal individual stories and acts of kindness that go without credit that illuminates this city.

Take some time to sit down with the locals and listen to their stories.  You will understand truly how much this award means to us.

We would love to hear your stories.

Charleston Solar Eclipse Two Year Later – A Look Back

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Two years ago today, August 21, 2017, the country got swept up in a rare celestial event and at the heart was Charleston South Carolina.? The total solar eclipse that had all of us staring at the sky just after 2:00 PM was a life time event for many.

Businesses closed, couples got married, we rallied in parks and beaches with neighbors and friends and frantically looked for the right glasses.

Even up to the event day, the weather was uncertain, but the gift from the angels made it possible to be part of this rare event.

It truly was a day we will never forget.

Here is a look back in pictures and video

Header Image Photo Credit:?

2018 U.S. News Report on State Rankings Released – South Carolina #42

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The latest U.S. News Report on United States Rankings for 2018 has been released.? Here is how South Carolina faired.

Some telling statistics:

  • South Carolina is ranked #48 in the United States in Education
  • Ranked #41 in Healthcare
  • Ranked #41 in Crime and Corrections
  • South Carolina is #39 in Opportunity
  • $25,751 – Median State Salary
  • 37% college educated
  • Overall Ranking:? #42
  • Very healthy economy ranking #15 in the country
  • 80.3% of our high school students graduate
  • Increased from #45 in 2017 to #42 in 2018
  • Energy from renewable sources:? 8.6% (National Average:? 9.5%)
  • Major roadways in poor condition – 18.6% (National Average – 22%)
  • Commute time:? 24.7 Minutes (National Average – 26.6 Minutes)

Full Detailed Report

Overall Ranking

Healthcare Ranking

Economy Ranking

Report Card – Overall


7 Must See Historic Videos of Charleston, S.C and South Carolina (1930’s – 1970’s)

De Gullah Singers natives of Wadmalaw Island, SC provide an in depth picture of the evolution of their ancestor; West Africans enslaved on rice, cotton and indigo plantations of coastal South Carolina. The isolation they were subjected to on these sea islands served as mechanism for them retain more of their Afican culture than any other enslaved African population n the United States. We invite to experience their story through music(children songs and games, work songs, Praise House & plantation Spirituals, stories(Cuumyah and Been yah tales) demonstrations of antebellum work skills, crafts, open fire cooking and recipes and so much more. We invite to visit the Gullah Islands southwest of Charleston, SC.

South Carolina – 1950’s Tourism Video

North Charleston Christmas Parade, Early 1970’s

South Carolina Highway Department Video – Highways of Tomorrow (1960’s)

Charleston, SC Stroll – 1930’s

The Citadel – 1969

Charleston, SC – 1930’s

SCANA and SCE&G Settle Class Action Lawsuit with Attorney General and Plaintiffs Related to V.C. Summer Nuclear Costs

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Cayce, SC, November 24, 2018… Plaintiffs Richard Lightsey, LeBrian Cleckley, and Phillip Cooper have reached an agreement with SCANA Corporation and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company to settle a lawsuit filed in the state Court of Common Pleas in Hampton County on behalf of themselves and current and former SCE&G electric customers. The settlement addresses these customers’ claims and the Attorney General’s arguments related to the Base Load Review Act (“BLRA”). SCANA and SCE&G deny the allegations made in the lawsuit, but have agreed to resolve this matter.

SCANA and SCE&G have agreed to a Common Benefit Fund comprised of the following amounts, to be distributed to the class members:

1) A credit of up to $2,000,000,000.00 in future electric rate relief will inure to the benefit of the Common Benefit Fund in favor of class members over a period of time established in the proceeding pending before the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (the PSC); and

2) A cash payment of $115,000,000.00, which will include the full value of the SCANA rabbi trust funded in January 2018 that was created in whole or in part for executive change-in-control payments; and

3) Transfer of SCE&G owned real estate or sales proceeds from the sale of real properties, including among others, the Ramsey Grove Plantation; the original Charleston Gas & Light Building at 141 Meeting Street in Charleston; and certain Otarre properties in Cayce.

Distribution of any settlement funds is subject to court approval, as well as a final order

by the PSC approving a merger between SCANA Corporation and Dominion Energy, and a closing of the proposed merger between the parties.

Affected current and former SCE&G customers will receive information regarding their rights under the settlement. Eligible settlement class members will receive compensation in the form of a bill credit or a payment of an amount to be distributed by a court-approved class action administrator. Upon the approval of the settlement announced today, the lawsuit will be dismissed by agreement and the claims of SCE&G ratepayers will be resolved.

Former United States Attorney, and lead counsel for the certified class, J. Preston Strom, Jr., had the following to say about the terms of this settlement: “In reaching this agreement, we have been able to secure more than $ 2 billion in relief and accountability for the people of South Carolina. We thank the Attorney General’s office for their hard work throughout this case and particularly in securing the return of funds set aside for executive bonus payments to the ratepayers.”


Attorney General Alan Wilson issued the following statement: “The settlement reached today is the result of countless hours of work by our office seeking to make SCE&G customers whole for the abandonment of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project. I am proud of the hard work of my entire team in bringing about this result, starting with the aggressive posture of Solicitor General Bob Cook regarding constitutional issues related to the Base Load Review Act, and continuing through tough settlement negotiations to bring resolution to civil matters related to these issues.”

“At all times, our goal has been to look out for the ratepayer and see that justice is done. We believe that this settlement, which encompasses over $2 billion in benefits, is the largest of its kind in the history of South Carolina. The settlement resolves the injury that SCE&G customers suffered under the Base Load Review Act by refunding revised rates previously collected. We also required that the entirety of the SCANA rabbi trust, which had a number of financial benefits for senior managers of SCE&G, be made available for the payment of obligations of the company.”

“This milestone ends our pursuit for restitution to ratepayers, but does not end our inquiry into the individual actors that may have contributed to the project’s failure. We want to acknowledge the hard work of the private lawyers who zealously fought for the interests of ratepayers as well through various lawsuits filed on the behalf of SCE&G ratepayers.”

“Additionally, we want to thank Dominion Energy for its willingness to provide the financial resources necessary to make this restitution. It is important to note that Dominion Energy was not involved in the creation of this situation, and we appreciate its role in finding a resolution that serves the best interests of SCE&G ratepayers.”

Jim Stuckey, SCANA’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, issued the following statement: “We are pleased that we were able to achieve a mutually

acceptable resolution of this matter so that we can keep our focus on moving forward with the merger with Dominion Energy.”

The State of South Carolina was represented in this matter by Attorney General Alan Wilson. Class Counsel are J. Preston Strom, Jr.; John R. Alphin, Jessica L. Fickling, Mario A. Pacella; and Bakari T. Sellers, of Strom Law Firm, LLC; Terry Richardson, Edward Westbrook, and Daniel S. Haltiwanger, of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC in Barnwell; Dan Speights and A.G. Solomons, III of Speights and Solomons in Hampton; J. Edward Bell of the Bell Legal Group, LLC in Georgetown; James L. Ward, Jr., and Whitney B. Harrison of McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC; Vincent Sheheen of Savage, Royall, & Sheheen, L.LP.; and Gregory Galvin of the Galvin Law Group. SCE&G and SCANA are represented by David Balser and Jon Chally of King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, GA; Leah B. Moody of the Moody Law Firm in Rock Hill, SC; and Jamie Becker and Bob Knowlton of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd in Columbia, SC.


SCANA Corporation, headquartered in Cayce, SC, is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. Information about SCANA and its businesses is available on the Company’s website at

Media Contact: Analyst Contact:
Public Affairs Bryant Potter
(800) 562-9308 (803) 217-6916

The Charleston Mantra is Simple: Spread Love

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By Mark A. Leon

As I walked the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park pier last evening, I began to think about science and the truth seekers that lead the revolution of knowledge gathering.? Their framework is very simple: seek answers to life’s most complex and challenging questions.? The goliath of all questions that has riddled us all is the meaning of life and existence.

Where did we come from?? Why are we here?? What lies ahead after our organic body expires?? We most likely will never know the absolute truth of what force led to this thing we know as the universe and our tiny piece of real estate, but we continue to search.

Over the millions of years of evolution, our bodies, our ability to think, our every-day tools have developed and adjusted, but one core value has remained with humanity; the ability to feel empathy and love.

What makes love so powerful and so unexplainable?? It brings us to extreme levels of happiness and sadness.? It makes us laugh and cry.? It penetrates our bodies to the point of actual pain and ecstasy.? Yet, it is completely unpredictable.? Perhaps, you need to look at love as not an answer to be sought, but a guiding force in our journey.

As I walked the pier, with the final glimmer of sunlight reflecting off the harbor on onto my back, I saw couples holding hands, taking selfies, sitting on the rocking bench together, mothers and daughters holding hands, fathers giving son’s piggy back rides and all had the same common attributes of laughter, happiness and joy.

Just then, it hit me, the glue that keeps the wheels spinning on Charleston is the aphrodisiac in the air of love.? It is the roots of our garden, the fuel that keeps this Southern flame alive.

Take away the mansions, the fancy restaurants, the church steeples, the scenic waterways and you are still left with a simple philosophy: “Be guided by the simplicity of love, find those that fulfill your need of community and embrace the nature wonders of home and there you are”.? Charleston’s core mantra is love.

What brings couples from all over to pledge their eternal love on our beaches and churches?

What leads flocks to seek warmth under our sun?

What plants the idea to step back over two hundred years and let a horse guide you through the cobblestone roads?

What presence sends subliminal messages to kiss under the palmetto and frolic through Philadelphia Alley?

Why do you feel the need to dance on the sidewalk as a street performer serenades you or dine as the moon reflects off the harbor waters?


We shower you with our Southern kindness, greetings of acceptance and acts of respect.

That is the pillar that can never be broken in Charleston.? That is the life that we have chosen.

When I think of a word to best describe the Charleston experience, it is simple, “Love”.

Embrace the idea of love.? Be kind, generous and hopeful.



South Carolina’s unemployment rate drops to 3.4 percent

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s unemployment rate again dropped slightly last month.

The Department of Employment and Workforce said Friday that the jobless rate in South Carolina in August was 3.4 percent. That’s down from 3.6 percent in July.

The agency says South Carolina also set a record with more than 2.2 million people working.

Officials say professional and business services added 4,000 jobs, while manufacturing lost 1,500 jobs.

The agency said in a news release that Bamberg County had the highest August unemployment rate at 7.7 percent. Charleston and Lexington counties had the lowest jobless rates at 3.0 percent.

The national unemployment rate was unchanged in August at 3.9 percent.

10 Worst States for Healthcare: South Carolina #8

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New research out from personal finance site Wallethub, has compared the 50 U.S.states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions — health costs, access and outcomes — consisting of 40 relevant metrics.

The study looked at with metrics ranging from “average monthly insurance premium” to “number of physicians per capita” and “percentage of adults and children with health insurance coverage.”

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best health care at the most reasonable cost. The study determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

According to those findings, these 10 states have the worst healthcare in the country.

10.? Florida

Overall score: 47.04
Costs ranking: 39
Access ranking: 47
Outcomes ranking: 39

9.? Georgia

Overall score: 46.51
Costs ranking: 30
Access ranking: 50
Outcomes ranking: 42

8.? South Carolina

Overall score: 46.14
Costs ranking: 49
Access ranking: 32
Outcomes ranking: 41

7.? Oklahoma

Overall score: 45.59
Costs ranking: 41
Access ranking: 33
Outcomes ranking: 46

6.? Alabama

Overall score: 44.03
Costs ranking: 44
Access ranking: 44
Outcomes ranking: 44

5.? North Carolina

Overall score: 43.98
Costs ranking: 50
Access ranking: 46
Outcomes ranking: 30

4.? Arkansas

Overall score: 43.22
Costs ranking: 37
Access ranking: 31
Outcomes ranking: 50

3.? Alaska

Overall score: 41.78
Costs ranking: 51
Access ranking: 37
Outcomes ranking: 22

2.? Mississippi

Overall score: 41.53
Costs ranking: 42
Access ranking: 26
Outcomes ranking: 51

1.? Louisiana

Overall score: 41.14
Costs ranking: 48
Access ranking: 39
Outcomes ranking: 49

10 Reasons to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

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By Mark A. Leon

There are many reasons to come to Charleston, South Carolina.  From family vacations to weddings, to a little tinkling of Southern Charm.  Charleston is a city rich in history, culture, exquisite dining, family friendly attractions, watersports and just a relaxing escape under the sun.

For some, it is the spiritual connection with the ocean as they surf the waves, the historic setting of the first shots of the American Civil War fired, award winning dining, festivals, boating, golf or just a few days away to enjoy carriage rides or a beautiful sunset.

We have compiled ten wonderful reasons to visit Charleston, S.C. for those that have not yet made the decision to experience Southern Living at its finest and friendliest.

10 Great Reasons to Visit Charleston, South CarolinaThe beautiful

  • Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge (Cooper River Bridge) – Why would a bridge be a reason to visit a tourist destination? This 2 ? mile suspension bridge is a work of architectural majesty.? Its design, views of the Charleston Harbor and haven for runners, bikers and walkers have helped it become an attraction all its own.? With the addition of the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park which offers musical and movie events, fishing and romantic walks and swings, the Cooper River Bridge is a full day event and truly picturesque.
  • Three waterfront area attractions in one pass:S.S Yorktown, South Carolina Aquarium and Water Taxi. With the introduction of this new single pass for three of our biggest harbor based attractions, families can enjoy oceanic life, a deep understanding of our military history and feel the cool breeze of being on the water in the Charleston Harbor.? This convenient pass with make Mom, Dad and the kids happy all day long.

  • Craft Beer Fan Dreamland – The Lowcountry is now home to over 30 unique craft beer breweries and has quickly become one of the top beer producers in the Southeast. With careful craftsmanship and dedicated passion, the brew masters have helped to create a culture of fine beer.? Partnering with local area restaurants, the ability to get a taste of the Lowcountry is right at your fingertips.

  • Mouthwatering Dining – From Southern Living to Conde Nast to The Washington Post, the reputation of Charleston dining has been an area of spotlight for several years and continues to gain in credibility as more and more flock to experience a truly eloquent dining experience. Make sure you bring an appetite with your visit and do your research as we have so many great restaurants to choose from.? If you need another reason, check out the Brunch Guide with 114 options.

  • Four Area Beaches – How many cities can boast 4 area beaches with each having its own personality and breathing ecosystem. Charleston offers Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach all within 45 minutes of historic downtown Charleston.? It is hard to turn down city and beach life all in one visit.
  • Nature Photographer’s Paradise – If you are a nature photographer, a sunrise/sunset chaser or bird photographer, you will not find a better place to beef up your portfolio. From Birds of Prey to the most spectacular sunrise and sunsets you will find, Charleston offers photographers a place of magic to capture and remember.

  • Embrace History – Charleston has built a wonderful set of attractions celebrating the history of the Lowcountry and the United States. Some of the most beautiful and educational attractions include. From Charlestowne Landing to Magnolia Cemetery, the Lowcountry is so rich in history and the emphasis on remembering and celebrating it.

  • Nature Walks and Parks – Charleston has put a tremendous amount of funding and effort to develop and maintain a strong system of trails and parks for exercise, picnics, walks or working. All Charleston County Parks now offer free Wi-Fi (Great for remote workers).? There are many short and long nature trails to see wildlife and get some outdoor exercise (Ex:? West Ashley Greenway, Caw Caw Interpretation Center, Wannamaker Park).

  • Festivals Galore – Not only is Charleston known for some of the largest festivals in the Southeast and the nation including Spoleto, Festival of Lights, Annual Oyster Festival, and SEWE Festival, but festivals are just a part of who we are. This area loves to celebrate by gathering together, having fun and enjoying the great outdoors.? We also understand the importance of helping others.? So many festivals are aligned to fund raising activities to help those in need.? Come on out for a few festivals and let us keep you company.

  • Genuine Friendly Culture – Some places preach its friendliness, but we live it every day. When you walk the streets, we wave and say hello (to everyone).? If you are lost, we help you find your way.? If a dog needs a home, we adopt it.? If your car is stuck in flooded waters, we help you push it.? That is just the way we do things.

Best Middle Schools in South Carolina (3 Charleston, 1 Berkeley, 1 Dorchester make Top 10)

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303 schools were evaluated for this study and 5 area schools made the Top 10 for 2018 for the districts of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester including Buist Academy (#2), Montessori Community School (#3), Charleston School of Arts (#4), Rollings Middle School of the Arts (#5) and Daniel Island School (#6).

Here is a listing of the Top 10 and a link to the complete study results.

Top Middle Schools in South Carolina

  1. Sterling School – Greenville (18.1 Student / Teacher Ratio)
  2. Buist Academy – Charleston (16.8)
  3. Montessori Community School – Charleston (14.6)
  4. Charleston School of Arts – Charleston (15.8)
  5. Rollings Middle School of the Arts – Charleston (17.7)
  6. Daniel Island School – Berkeley (18.1)
  7. Langston Charter Middle – Greenville (16.6)
  8. Green Charter School – School Public Charter School District (16.6)
  9. Palmetto Scholars Academy – School Public Charter School District (16)
  10. Gold Hill Middle – York (16.1)

Complete Study Results of 303 Schools in South Carolina