Our Town


Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer currently writes for Lowcountry Weekly. Her column, Our Town, takes an in-depth look at the people, places and organizations that shape several communities in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, including Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island.

Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

“My style of writing has been described as spirited. My goal is to help people appreciate and celebrate the foundation of community.”



Our Town features below include: Beaufort High School’s Big Green Booster Club | Back to School with Brayden Dinkins, Cynthia Dennis, Abby Mitchell, Angie Barnes, Brooke Bobrowicz and Alison Thomas | We will Never Forget featuring Chris Conefry and the Anniversary of 9/11 | Fall Fun featuring the Public Art Exhibition at the Coastal Discovery Museum, the Farmer’s Market at Pick Pocket Plantation, the annual Fall Book Sale to benefit the Friends of the Library and an Exhibit at the Verdier House featuring an Unsurrendered Civil War Flag | Fandango Productions opens in Beaufort and Cut the Ribbon Cut the Cake is presented  on Tybee Island by Toren Anderson Media, Inc. | Pink in October featuring Colleen Christensen, a Breast Cancer Survivor | Lowcountry Benevolence featuring Malcolm Goodridge and the Wardle Family YMCA | The History and Progress of The Town of Port Royal: “No faurer or fytter place” Part 1 in a 2 Part Series| The Town of Port Royal has reason for Thanks | Local Projects with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources | Let there be Peach on Earth featuring EC Montessori students’ trip to the United Nations | Books Sandwiched In presented by the Friends of Beaufort Count Library | The Junior Service League of Beaufort’s Prom Boutique | Rolling out the Red Carpet at the Beaufort International Film Festival | Awaken the Dragon, a film about strength and survival at the Beaufort International Film Festival | The Annual Beaufort Twilight Run to benefit Riverview Charter School | Bridges Preparatory School to open in Fall 2013 | Don’t be Stupid with your Smart Phone | Vacation Rentals by Owner in Historic Charleston, SC | Crossing Bridges-WHHI-TV comes to Beaufort | Living on the Right Side of the River with Roger Pinckney | Shelley Lowther and Dancing Dogs Yoga on Humanity, Transformation and Community | Silicon Valley mets the Salt Marsh with Jim and Pennie Mead and www.makeyourdealnow.com | Diversity Leadership with the Riley Institute at Furman University | Putting Kids First, an interview with Bernie Schein | A Tribute to Madeleine Pollitzer | A Mermaid’s Song featuring Spartina 449 | Feeling the Music featuring The Jazz Corner | The Pelican Plunge at Hunting Island State Park | Design is a State of Mind featuring Chuck Ferguson and The Meridian Company | Thinking outside of the Box featuring The Learning Center of Beaufort County | A Conversation with Mary Alice Monroe | Giving the Gift of Life: The Blood Alliance is Saving Lives in Beaufort County



Giving the Gift of Life

The Blood Alliance in Beaufort County saves lives everyday

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

Featured in Lowcountry Weekly

June 19, 2013


contribute-to-the-mission-offThis Father’s Day I celebrate one of the endearing qualities of my Dad, one that has always given me inspiration to do the right thing. My Dad, Stewart Nilsen gave blood every chance he could. Every couple months, he’d come home with a bandage on his arm, telling my brothers and I how important the gift of blood was to so many who tragically needed it when they least expected it. The habit started when his company, Pearlstine Distributors, organized blood drives quarterly. Dad, always the giver, asked how often he was able to give. When he learned every 56 days, Dad challenged his fellow employees to commit to giving blood every eight weeks, instead of the required twelve. They listened, and hopefully, the message spread to their families as it did to mine.

I cannot say that I give as often as my Dad did, but I do appreciate the challenge to start now. I am healthy, and I am able. I am one of 60% of the population that qualifies to donate. Sadly, only 5% actually do. I want to help that statistic exponentially increase in Beaufort. And I know that it can. We are a giving community, always have been. But donations don’t always have to be in the form of dollars. It’s time we remember that the most important investment we can collectively make is not through financial bank. It’s through a blood bank.

We’ll never know when an emergency will arise, whether it be a mass catastrophe or an individual calamity. But, we can be prepared. Giving blood can save lives. That’s all there is to it. It can save your neighbor’s life, and it can save yours. And the more we have in Beaufort County, the better.

If donors gave just two times a year, shortages could be prevented. To become a blood donor, you need to be at least 17 years old, over 110 pounds, and in good general health. That’s it.

The need for blood is constant. It does not take a break; in fact, during the summer, donations tend to decrease as donors go on vacation and off their regular work schedules, while the need for blood increases with more people on the roads, and more accidents occur. The most important donation is the next one. Blood cannot be manufactured or harvested making each of us the only resource for life.

Whole blood is made up of three components: plasma, red blood cells and platelets. It only takes about an hour to give blood, and your one donation of whole blood can be broken down into those three components to save three different lives. The most important part of giving the gift of life is taking that first step to donate with The Blood Alliance.

The Blood Alliance has been enriching lives since 1942 providing blood to more than 40 hospitals in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It is the sole provider of blood to the Lowcountry and its area hospitals that include: Beaufort Memorial Health (Beaufort), Hilton Head Hospital (Hilton Head), Coastal Carolina Hospital (Hardeeville) and East Cooper Medical Center (Mt. Pleasant).

Recently, the Florida Association of Blood Banks (FABB) presented the Hospital Professional Advocate of the Year to Dr. Bradford Collins, Pathologist at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Dr. Collins has been the Medical Director at Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) since 1996, and BMH has been affiliated with The Blood Alliance since 2002.

Dr_ Bradford Collins
Dr. Bradford Collins

Dr. Collins was instrumental in the decision to provide blood to BMH. The move to introduce The Blood Alliance (TBA) into South Carolina has since opened more opportunities for TBA, including incorporating additional hospital customers, tapping into blood donors in the South Carolina region and opening a new donor center in Beaufort, locate at 1001-A Boundary Street. Dr. Collins has been an exceptional partner and represents TBA’s need in the community by way of being a spokesperson and champion through numerous media communications that have steadily increased TBA’s visibility. The blood drives at BMH are among the best of hospital clients. In fact, Dr. Collins even has some of the marketing staff working in tandem with TBA to help build the donor base in the Beaufort area.

Dr. Collins has been an active Chairman of TBA’s local Community Advisory Committee since 2002. In this role, he has advocated for blood drives at the hospital, helped TBA obtain access to the community for blood drives, and spearheaded the opening of the donor center in Beaufort. Under his leadership, BMH established a blood management program in 2008. Since the program’s inception, blood usage at the hospital has dropped 27%. This has resulted in improved patient care and the ability of TBA to serve the region effectively.

“Through generous support, the partnership between The Blood Alliance and Beaufort Memorial Hospital has secured a steady and reliable blood supply in our area and also has improved the service we’re able to provide as an organization. We can’t possibly begin to thank the everyday donor enough,” says Dr. Collins.

Recently, a patient had an aggressive bleed and needed multiple units of blood and plasma. Because the donor center was so close to the hospital (and not in Savannah where it once was), doctors were able to provide product much quicker than in previous years. And, the prompt delivery fulfilled the request and bought time for a larger supply. Everyone involved was amazed that the patient survived. And it was thanks to The Blood Alliance and Beaufort’s ambassadors to the cause.

In addition to Dr. Collins’ recognition, Beaufort Memorial Hospital also received the Hospital Partnership Service Award from the Florida Association of Blood Banks.

BMH and TBA have been working together to enrich the lives of people in Beaufort, Jasper, and Colleton counties, which covers a wide area in the Lowcountry. Efforts by BMH to establish a local blood donor base in Beaufort, in partnership with TBA, has shown them to be a model leader.

Their donor center was fully committed and given the important leadership support from its community with the establishment of a Beaufort Community Advisory Committee. As a result of this committee that collaborated as an auxiliary arm for BMH and TBA, the partnership made way for Beaufort’s first local fixed blood donation site, provided to The Blood Alliance rent-free on BMH property.

The hospital’s consistent efforts to promote its relationship with TBA is directly related to its establishment of a Beaufort Community donor base that donates 37% above its community’s blood product needs (in excess of more than 1,400 units a year) – ensuring their community with an adequate supply of blood to treat local patients.

And BMH’s next patient could be you or a loved one. So, it’s time for you to donate, and you’re probably eligible. For a list of possible deferrals, please visit The Blood Alliance’s website at www.igiveblood.com. The Blood Alliance Donor Center is at 1001-A Boundary St. in Beaufort. Donors can give blood from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and from noon to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, go to www.igiveblood.com or call 843-522-0409. Give blood today. It is the gift of life.

Blood Alliance



Did you know?

Giving Intervals for Donating Blood

Whole blood – you can donate every 56 days

Double Reds – you can donate every 112 days

Platelets – you can donate every 2 weeks

Plasma – you can donate every 28 days

Shelf Life of Blood

Red blood cells – will last 42 days

Frozen Plasma – will last 1 year

Platelets – will last 5 days

Whole Blood – will last 21 days



Mary-Alice-MonroeRecently, Mary Alice Monroe invited me to her home to  discuss her newest trilogy, The Lowcountry Summer. Mary Alice, with Buster Brown and Magnolia, in her garden on the Isle of Palms is a personal literary inspiration and mentor.  – Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer





A Lowcountry novelist and conservationist with an inspiring message

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

Featured in Lowcountry Weekly

June 5, 2013

A few years ago, I read a book that changed the cadence of my life. The Beach House, by Mary Alice Monroe, inspired me like nothing I had ever read. In just three short days, I read the story about Caretta Rutledge and her ill mother, and it brought me to tears and to action.

The novel incorporates woven themes of love, sacrifice and forgiveness. It defines the beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry while symbolically relating life’s most precious lessons to Monroe’s true passion for coastal conservancy.

When I read The Beach House, I felt connected to Caretta’s story, not only because Monroe described so many parallels to my own life, but also because she initiated an interest in the protection of the South Caroline state reptile, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta). I lived at Coffin point at the time, only a five-minute drive from Hunting Island State Park. I inquired about The Loggerhead Sea Turtle Protection Program, which was led by the Interpretive Program Manager and organized by the Friends of Hunting Island. Before I knew it, I was on the Tuesday team with my new friends, Lolita Huckaby and Abby Morris. Each week, we watched breathtaking sunrises while shrimp boats dotted the horizon and peacefully strolled the high water line in search of turtle tracks. That summer was magical, and I owed my newfound appreciation for the endemic marine species to Mary Alice Monroe.

Mary-Alice-Monroe-2That’s what is so special about Monroe’s writing. She pens from real experience, and her love of a resource is contagious. Her many years of volunteer work gives her inspiration, and her novels deliver messages of coastal concern while developing characters, themes and dialogue to best represent the setting of the South Carolina coast and the state of mind of its residents.

Her multi-layered love stories not only incorporate Monroe’s conservation ethic, they also maintain Southern customs and valued life lessons. Almost all of her novels feature a generational narrative between a wise, older woman and a younger lost soul and the cherished institution of tradition. As many females in the South understand, we are raised to be strong women, “but we can’t forget our pearls,” laughs Monroe. She continues, “Expectations change as values change, so tradition grounds our Southern values.”

In addition to the well-researched natural aspects of her stories, Monroe’s characters underline various psychological traits, all descriptive of the multi-faceted family. Whether her novels include topics of alcoholism, lack of confidence or terminal illness, the depth of her characters define strength and weakness; and their development in the plot is meticulously thought out and woven strategically to maintain environmental, historical and spiritual integrity.

And this talent can be attributed to Monroe’s years of dedicated volunteer work with SCDNR’s Loggerhead Sea Turtle Protection program and the South Carolina Aquarium.

“It’s the activity that changed my life. Volunteering gave me something to believe in, and the reward is tenfold,” smiles Monroe.

And for every book Monroe writes, she does so from an authentic perspective. She’s had to do the dirtiest and seemingly most monotonous jobs, from cleaning after birds to sweeping walkways to scrubbing decks. But she did it all to gain the trust of the organization for which she volunteered.

“I wouldn’t have known what questions to ask if I didn’t do a little bit of everything. As I worked, I watched. There is nothing I can read or research that can top the power of observation,” explains Monroe.

Four years ago, Monroe began volunteering at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida and started to explore the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin for her newest trilogy, The Lowcountry Summer. The trilogy is inspired by her volunteer work at the center and encouragement from Dr. Patricia Fair, Director of the Marine Mammal Program, NOAA and Philippe Cousteau, explorer and social entrepreneur.

The first book in The Lowcountry Summer trilogy is The Summer Girls, which will be launched at a luncheon in Monroe’s honor as part of the Salt Marsh Author series at Moss Creek Clubhouse on June 25th at Noon.

Mary-Alice-Monroe-BookThe Summer Girls introduces Marietta Muir, “Mamaw”, and her three granddaughters, half-sisters who are scattered across the country and reunited at “Sea Breeze,” their ancestral summer beach home. Fearing the family bond will disappear when she is gone, Mamaw is determined to host one last memorable summer with her granddaughters. During the visit, many surprising truths are revealed, mistakes are forgiven and a friendship with a charismatic dolphin named Delphine is made. Delphine is the thread in the trilogy that will weave the relationships of each granddaughter into a blanket of connections that will endure long beyond one summer, and Monroe purposefully uses her as a theme to raise awareness about major concerns threatening the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, like water quality and biotoxins that contribute to neonatal deaths, and the shocking statistic that 48% of our resident dolphins in South Carolina are sick. Additionally, she addresses rehabilitation and release as well as the harmful consequences of feeding dolphins.

“Hilton Head is the perfect place to launch The Summer Girls because of the area’s concern and love for the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin,” says Monroe.

Like Loggerhead Sea Turtles, the more we are educated on the dolphin, the less strandings we will see on the beach and in our marshes. Dolphins, in particular, are a social species. And as they become more comfortable with people, they are commonly challenged with human objects like fishing lines and boat propellers that can deliver an ill fate.

“There was so much to write about concerning the issues facing the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. I couldn’t fit it all into one book, so a trilogy made sense.”

If I know Monroe’s writing, I know The Lowcountry Summer trilogy will truly engage the reader and possibly initiate a call to action. It will also reflect Monroe’s energy and passion for our beloved dolphins.

Monroe does it best. Her intuitive understanding of people and her surroundings yields sincere script and nurtures her creativity. And her love of the Lowcountry landscape and neighboring ocean is consistent with her love of family. Both are worth fighting for.

“If we don’t take action, we will lose what we value most,” explains Monroe.

I’m taking a four-day weekend on a remote island (surrounded by dolphins) this month to read The Summer Girls, just in time for the launch party. I simply can’t wait.

The launch party for The Summer Girls will be held June 25th at Noon at the Moss Creek Clubhouse. Tickets are $21 and can be purchased by emailing Eileen Hutton at Eileenhutton@att.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information, please call the Moss Creek Clubhouse at (843) 837-2229. Books may be purchased at Barnes and Noble or online at www.barnesandnoble.com.


Thinking Outside of the Box

The Learning Center of Beaufort County to open at multiple locations

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

May 22, 2013

Malcolm and CompanyWebMalcolm Goodridge, Benefactor of The Learning Center of Beaufort County; Kendall Erickson, Chairman of the Beaufort Board of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry; Edna Crews, Regional Vice President of the Coastal Community Foundation; Chris Protz, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Charlie Calvert, Board Chairman of Bridges Preparatory School at the Bill Verity Cup, a golf tournament benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry.

Learning CenterBeaufortA new partnership is forming in Beaufort County, and the unique collaboration has the potential to change the lives of many Lowcountry children. The Learning Center of Beaufort County will soon be opening its doors to students in need of tutoring services and specialized instruction thanks to the alliance between the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry, Bridges Preparatory School, Penn Center, St. Peter’s Catholic School and the Coastal Community Foundation.

The Learning Center of Beaufort will offer students the chance to fully engage in a meaningfullearning process, effectively utilize their distinctive learning styles and productively pursue ongoingacademic achievement. And most importantly, The Learning Center will be available to every child in Beaufort County.

All too often, children who possess an alternative to the verbal learning style get frustrated with mainstream teaching methods and abandon their will to learn. Students become apathetic; but it’s not their fault. They just learn differently than most. The misunderstanding begins when many people can’t figure out why an intelligent person can’t read at their expected level. The mistreating begins when students are simply encouraged to ‘try harder.’

Malcolm Goodridge, founder and benefactor of The Learning Center of Beaufort County, understands this frustration. He is dyslexic. And he says his dyslexia is his greatest asset.

Goodridge remembers growing up and being called a “dummy” all the way through school. He took remedial reading classes to assist him, but they didn’t help much. He fought hard through school to overcome his learning disability, eventually going on to a distinguished career as a senior executive with American Express. Now retired, he thanks his struggle with dyslexia for his continued ambition toward success.

“I think that if I had been a normal kid, I wouldn’t have the drive for success that I have now. I was pushed down so far, I had to figure out a way to survive,” says Goodridge.

Goodridge explains that children with dyslexia seek attention in the classroom in different ways. Some take the right path. Some take the wrong path. Many successful businessmen, athletes, politicians and celebrities are dyslexic. People with dyslexia are highly creative, out of the box thinkers, and use their brains differently, which explains the long list of people of note who have excelled.

In fact, Goodridge was recognized by First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House in 1988 as a successful businessman who overcame dyslexia. He was in the company of Magic Johnson (sports), Governor Thomas Kean (politics) and Cher (entertainment), who also battled learning challenges.

Identifying the problem will usually steer the child in the right direction, and that’s why it is critical for teachers and educators to understand different learning styles in order tooffer alternative methods of teaching.

Malcolm Goodridge is passionate about The Learning Center of Beaufort County. He knows that these children are smart. They just learn differently than most, like he did. Goodridge was fortunate. He became successful with a prestigious business career and attributes his achievements to educators who recognized his learning challenges.

So, Goodridge has decided to give back to his adopted community of Beaufort by providing the same opportunity he had as a child… individual instruction to children in need.

BGCBFTcolorThe Learning Center of Beaufort County will be available at three locations: The Boys and Girls Clubof the Lowcountry at 1100 Boundary Street, also home to Bridges Preparatory School, which will open in August; St. Peter’s Catholic School at 70 Lady’s Island Drive on Lady’s Island; and at Penn Center, located at 16 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on St. Helena Island.

Kendall Erickson, Chairman of the Beaufort Board of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry, is thrilled about the brand new relationship.

“The Learning Center will be a place to get one-on-one instruction, which is what our students need. And it’s open to everyone. You don’t have to be a Boys and Girls Club member or be a student at Bridges,” explains Erickson.

Chris Protz, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry agrees.
“We are very excited about the partnership. We want these kids to achieve academic success, graduate high school on time and be an integral part of society. It’s a win-win for the kids, the parents, the school, the club and the community,” says Protz.

Bridges LogoBridges Preparatory School’s Chairman of the Board, Dr. Charlie Calvert, feels the same way.

“This is a natural partnership. The Learning Center of Beaufort County provides consistency to the missions of Bridges Preparatory School and the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry.”

Bridges Preparatory School is a stem-infused charter school that will utilize the Paideia seminar-based instruction method.

“The Learning Center will be complementary to our teaching methods, giving our students supplemental instruction during school consistent with their learning styles ,” explains Calvert.

Joe Benning, Principal at St. Peter’s Catholic School agrees.

“By having The Learning Center on site, it will allow us to help students who are struggling at a much earlier age and give them the opportunity to be successful as they progress through our school. We are looking forward to being able to provide this service to our students,” says Benning.

And there are many community leaders who support this initiative, including City of Beaufort’s Mayor, Billy Keyserling, former Chairman of Beaufort County School District, Fred Washington and current BCSD Chairman, Bill Evans.

Billy Keyserling, like Goodridge, also has dyslexia and is thankful for the new opportunity.

“Thanks to the Learning Center of Beaufort County and Malcolm Goodridge, a generous man who is also dyslexic, there are now opportunities in Beaufort that were not available when I was coming up. Fortunately, educators now know dyslexia and how to treat it,” explains Keyserling.

Fred Washington, Jr. supports Keyserling’s sentiments.

“The Learning Center will be a positive connection between the formal education system and community partnerships for enhanced learning. It is much needed in Beaufort County,” he says.

Current Chairman Bill Evans explains further.

“Beaufort County School District looks forward to the opening of The Learning Center of Beaufort. Some of our students who don’t qualify for special education will benefit from The Learning Center. We have an unfortunate state funding model, and sadly many students slip through the cracks. The Learning Center of Beaufort will be well-funded to give opportunity to an extended base of students,” explains Evans.

An endowment for The Learning Center of Beaufort County was established at the Coastal Community Foundation in March by its board of directors, Charles Kresch, past chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Education, David House of Spring Island and member of  Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees, and Malcolm Goodridge,
founding benefactor of the Learning Center of Beaufort County.

The donor-advised fund consists of a substantial amount. Grants will be made in partnership with the Foundation to expand The Learning Center concept to other educational institutions in Beaufort County, like St. Peter’s Catholic School and Penn Center.

Walter Mack, Executive Director at Penn Center, understands the benefit that The Learning Center would bring to St. Helena Island.

Mack states, “The partnership between The Learning Center of Beaufort and Penn Center, Inc. will provide one of the few afterschool centers in the county which will focus on and serve as an umbrella for children with a wide range of learning problems. We are pleased to be supported by a benefactor (Goodridge) who has first-hand experience that children like him with learning problems can succeed.”

Mack continues, “St. Helena Island is a rural, underserved community with many needs, and the establishment of The Learning Center partnership with Penn will provide a valuable resource for parents and children with learning disorders who may or may not have been diagnosed.”

The Coastal Community Foundation’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life in Beaufort County by supporting the network of non-profits that serve our community.

Edna Crews, Regional Vice President of the Coastal Community Foundation, supports and encourages the collaboration of non-profits to seek grants.

“Our job is to facilitate relationships in order to evaluate and approve grants. This collaboration is a win-win. Additionally, we have an obligation to continue to provide this fund for The Learning Center of Beaufort in perpetuity. It will always be here,” explains Crews.

And that is thanks to Malcolm Goodridge.

Crews continues, “When Malcolm first approached the Coastal Community Foundation, he wanted to find a way to provide services to all children, regardless of where they lived in Beaufort County. His desire was to see kids get the assistance they deserve in order to have a full life like his.”

That’s what sets Malcolm Goodridge apart from the rest. He suffered. He succeeded. Now, he wants others to get the same opportunity that was afforded to him.


Design is a state of Mind

Chuck Ferguson, designer and craftsman, gets inspired with his wife and daughter at Camp Caroline-a fish camp in the heart of the Lowcountry.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

March 27, 2013


Brays Island HomeGood design is the balanced proportion of function and ingenuity. A good designer takes both and fashions a product or a series of products with themed inspiration. And for Chuck Ferguson, owner of The Meridian Company, that inspiration is the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

For visitors unsure of the term, the Lowcountry is the geographic area located along South Carolina’s coast that includes majestic Sea Islands surrounded and protected by the vast expanse of the salt marsh. The region is known for its agricultural wealth, historic charm, natural beauty and cultured inhabitants.

For residents, the Lowcountry reflects a state of mind. Life in this region is managed at a slower pace, taking the lead of nature to orchestrate a tranquil quality of life, even in the midst of seasonal storms and fluctuating tides. And like the intricate system of winding creeks that encapsulates the essence of salt marsh ecology, sophistication silently reigns over ornate abundance in the Lowcountry.

Ferguson understands this regal sophistication. And, he understands simplicity. He is stimulated by the frequent orange and magenta sunsets that sink below the lime green hues of the salt marsh across the creek of his revered fish camp.

“Nothing can compete with this natural canvas. So why not find a way to accent it?”

That’s the philosophy Ferguson takes with regard to his craftsmanship.

“I want my construction to be timeless. My finished products are designed to function well and accentuate a style. My style is Lowcountry Living…simple and sophisticated,” explains Ferguson

When Chuck Ferguson moved to Beaufort, he quickly resonated with the lifestyle. A craftsman originally from Newport, Rhode Island, Ferguson was accustomed to coastal living. But Beaufort was different. Hardened by Northeast weather, Ferguson came to the Lowcountry and adopted its warmth, in temperature and hospitality.
Home Exterior

While becoming a South Carolina resident, Ferguson still adored New England’s architectural style, it’s masculinity in functional design and it subtlety in natural settings. Ferguson started The Meridian Company in Beaufort, a building construction and contracting business, based on his artisanal enthusiasm for craftsmanship that he’d learned in Rhode Island. And he brought the Ocean State’s style with him.

And soon, he fell in love. Ferguson met Carman Poore, a native of Aiken, SC, and admired her calm demeanor and her love of the outdoors. They married, and Ferguson quickly adapted to her elegant style, which was equestrian-themed. They built the farm of their dreams, equipped with stables, paddocks, an accommodating farmhouse and an inviting guesthouse on acreage in Northern Beaufort County, near many other historic plantations.

Their farm is a balanced combination of New England’s shingle style and lean-to additions, Aiken’s Colonial Revival design and Coastal must-haves like outdoor living areas and oversized porches. The Paddocks, as they call it, is a collaborative effort between husband and wife, huntsman and equestrian. The estate brings the outdoors inside and vice versa. And, it defines the look of The Meridian Company.
Outdoor Area

For more than twenty five years in the Lowcountry, The Meridian Company has applied its uncompromising commitment to quality in building some of the country’s finest residential and commercial properties and earning a reputation in the South for its signature construction.
Upchurch Home

With a lengthy resume of residential developments, original homes and a collection of custom cabinetry under his tool belt, Ferguson has built a legacy of design throughout the Lowcountry.

Ferguson targets a market for quality-made products and custom design distinctive of the Lowcountry style and does so affordably, with a sense of attribution and purpose. And his beloved fish camp continues to give him inspiration.

For many men in the Lowcountry, fish camps are refuges from the daily tasks of professional monotony. Unlike man caves full of delivery of organized sport and games, fish camps are minimalistic and serene. Guys go there to enjoy friends and family, without the noise of pop culture. They go there to appreciate the divine landscape, engage in undisturbed conversation and unwind.
Ferguson’s camp is located on a small island in the middle of the ACE Basin, a nature preserve that encompasses over 350,000 acres in Beaufort and Colleton counties and is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the Atlantic Coast. ACE is an acronym for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers that feed into the St. Helena Sound.

Caroline and Carmen Ferguson
Caroline and Carmen Ferguson

“This place is heaven for me. When my wife and I became pregnant and knew we were having a little girl, we decided on the name, Caroline. So I named it Camp Caroline, immediately, before she was even born. I hoped she would enjoy it as much as I did, and my dream is coming true. She’s now 5 and loves the camp. It’s a child’s paradise…it’s our paradise,” says Ferguson.
Nestled among live oaks, palmettos and southern magnolias, Camp Caroline boasts cedar shake siding and a steep roof pitch indicative of Ferguson’s native New England, yet in the heart of his beloved Lowcountry. The outdoor living area extends beyond the covered porch, fully equipped with an aged brick and oyster mortared fire pit. It is the setting where all the conversations begin, and end; where campers reinvent themselves and solve the world’s problems, one log at a time.

Camp Caroline
Camp Caroline

There are three rules at Camp Caroline, at all fish camps. Respect each other. Respect the land. Respect the water.

Conservation of nature is in man’s hands. When we understand nature’s strength and significance, its patience and seasons, its beauty and design, we will then, and only then, understand ours.
And nature’s strength and beauty is the true inspiration of The Meridian Company. If you are currently seeking a contractor and appreciate the sophisticated and simple style that defines tranquility, contact Chuck Ferguson at The Meridian company at (843) 575-9494 or visit www.themeridiancompany.com.


Let’s take the Plunge

Friends of Hunting Island gear up for 5th Annual Pelican Plunge

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

December 19, 2012


It was January 1st, 2010. I called my neighbor, Amy Matthews, and said, “I don’t want to hear the word ‘no.’ Come on, we’re doing the Pelican Plunge.”

Unfamiliar with the event, she said, “Huh?”

I explained it was Hunting Island State Park’s version of the familiar Polar Bear Plunge, executed across the nation on beaches and shores along hundreds of lakes and two oceans. Yes, thousands, if not millions, of people from year to year take their clothes off in freezing temperatures, run into the water in their summer suits with the most enthusiastic and uninhibited attitude to welcome the New Year.

“Are you in?”

“Well, Hell yeah I’m in,” Amy exclaimed.

As I recall, that phone conversation was a little after 12 Noon on 1-1-10. We lived in downtown Beaufort. As you all know, Hunting Island is at least 30 minutes from town. We scurried to find our bathing suits, jumped in the car and headed out to the beach, without the aid of any sort of liquid courage.

After bustling to find a parking spot near the Lighthouse, we literally ran into the water from the asphalt as the bullhorn sounded.

We told each other it didn’t count unless we went underwater. So, we did… and we stayed in. The temperature of the water was actually warmer than the air. Everyone stayed in the water.


When we retreated to the sand, we were welcomed with warm towels and robes. We walked a shortdistance to the fire at the Lighthouse complex and listened to the sweet soundsof the steel drum band.

We did it! Now, it was time to celebrate at nearby Boondocks, where participants were treated to discounts and camaraderie.

So, 2010 came and went. It was time again for the next Pelican Plunge in 2011. I did it with another friend. This time, we made sure we were out there in plenty of time to register and participate in the fun that preceded the event. The parade of silly costumes, the kazoo recital and the consistent chatter that 2011 was sure to be better than 2010 kept us entertained for nearly an hour before the annual bath in the Atlantic.

Once again, we were thrilled and chilled as we ran into the salt water donning our bikinis and Birdwells. And once again, the water was warmer than the air. It’s a phenomenon many are reluctant to believe, until they do it themselves.

So, it’s almost time to do it again this year. I missed 2009 and 2012; but I won’t miss the Fifth Annual Pelican Plunge, January 1st, 2013 at 1pm. Do it with me Beaufort! I personally charge each of you. No, I dare you. I triple doggy dare you.

The proceeds from personal and team pledges benefit Hunting Island State Park’s Discover Carolina program, a hands-on, curriculum-based instruction model program for 3rd, 5th and 7th grade students.

I know well what this program does for Beaufort County students. In my former career, I taught it as the Interpretive Program Manager for Hunting Island State Park. And, it works. Explaining Marine and Barrier Island Ecology to kids who have never even seen the beach is a task. Showing it to them in a living classroom is a priceless reward and provides an educational opportunity that surpasses the traditional learning experience.

So far, the Pelican Plunge, thanks to the Friends of Hunting Island, has raised over $10,000 for the Discover Carolina program, and Hunting Island is about to surpass the 3000 mark in the number of 3rd, 5th and 7th graders who have participated in the successful educational program on our beloved barrier island.

Join me, Lowcountry. Join me to welcome 2013 at our favorite State Park, in the water or out, dressed up or not. Just come. Let’s have some fun! Let’s celebrate what we love… our home, our children, our future!

Registration forms for the Pelican Plunge are online at www.friendsof huntingisland.org. For more information call 838-2011.


Feeling the Music

My Visit to the Jazz Corner

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

December 4, 2012


The Jazz Corner. For this Beaufortonian, it’s been a hidden treasure. For most islanders on Hilton Head, it’s a venue they wish was still a secret. But it’s no secret anymore. It’s a world-wide phenomenon and one of the top jazz clubs in the country.

Martin McFie and Lydia Inglett recently invited me to the cozy club, located in the Village at Wexford, and I was filled with awe from the moment I stepped in the door of this revered establishment, greeted by the charming Amy O’Leary. The Jazz Corner is a modern day return to the Jazz and Swing Eras, and for my generation, a place to enjoy live music and fully appreciate this charismatic part of American culture.


I’m no musician, but I understand good music when I hear and feel it. Accomplished performers havethe ability to make your feet tap, your mind fantasize and your whole body move to the melody. You can close your eyes and fall back in time or spring forward to your future dreams. Good music creates an experience that yields intrinsic resolve, whether the vibe initiates feelings of joy or pain, happiness or sadness and whether the jazz is swing, hard bop, bebop, Dixieland, smooth, progressive or acid. Jazz isn’t only heard, it is also felt. It comes from the heart.

And the Jazz Corner, managed by Kelli Lesch, produces these experiences every night of the week! That’s right, we have a place in our own back yard that invites local, regional and internationally acclaimed musicians to play seven nights a week, a place that welcomes its patrons to have uninhibited fun and create memories for a lifetime. Lesch and her piano-playing husband, Martin, are driving forces that have helped shape the authentic nightclub atmosphere.

The Jazz Corner was founded by Bob Masteller in 1999. Masteller and his wife Lois moved their family and their collective jazz history to Hilton Head in 1974 when Bob accepted the position as Vice President of Sea Pines Development with Charles Fraser. As the island grew, Masteller saw the potential for a great jazz club with live music and fine dining. And so, one of the top jazz clubs in the country was born.

I met Bob and Lois Masteller at the Jazz Corner earlier this month, and their hospitality was consummate, their verve contagious and their commitment to an art form unwavering.

Masteller, on horns and the vibraphone, performed with his son, David on stand-up base, Billy Hoffman on drums and the great Bill Peterson from Chicago on piano. The songstress Gina Rene´ from Savannah, donning baubles, bangles and beads, belted melodies as she talked her way in and out of songs. They elegantly played beautifully titled standards, East of the Sun, Polka Dots and Moonbeams and Satin Doll in a full rich sound. The flugelbone, the muted trumpet, the vibraphone and the piano were deft and inventive, while the base behind played quiet solos, and the drums carried the beat.

jazz-Bob-MastellerBob Masteller

Masteller learned the vibraphone, also known as the vibraharp or simply the vibes, from his father, who was one of the first vibraphone players in America.

“My Jazz life was gifted to me by my father, Harold F. Masteller. He was born in 1900 and fronted a hot music band at the apex of the Jazz Age. In the Swing era, he led a Big Band, playing hot fiddle violin. Classically trained, he attacked his music with passion…” explained Masteller.

In the 1980’s, Bob Masteller headed up various groups with different styles, including New Orleans, straight ahead jazz and mood music. He has appeared at virtually every mainstream location for swing and jazz in the Lowcountry, including all major hotels, Hannah’s East, The Golden Rose, Self Family Arts Center, USC Performing Arts Center and the Original Old Post Office on Pope Avenue. Included in the highlights of Bob’s career, he has performed for Presidents Clinton, Ford and Bush and Senator Bobby Kennedy. Also in his background was a 26-week stint at Sweet Georgia Brown in Savannah during the key moments that went into the makeup of “The Garden of Good and Evil.”


And now, with skills learned from playing in his father’s Big Band and all of his experiences, Bob Masteller creatively runs his life and his business with an open mind, parallel to the principles of Jazz itself. And he and his wife have a deeper mission. They want to see this music style and culture survive and thrive through future generations.

Bob and Lois Masteller formed the Junior Jazz Foundation in 2004. The Foundation raises funds to buy instruments for kids in schools, pay for their music lessons and bring professional musicians to teach them at Jazz Camps. The Foundation inspires the youth and gives them an opportunity to practice what is very difficult to learn individually . . . the art of improvisation. Through improv, students learn balance and teamwork as well as respect for their fellow musicians and their instruments.


The Jazz Foundation continuously seeks sponsorships. People or businesses can and do step up to sponsor an evening of jazz, and proceeds benefit the Foundation. Other benefactors cover the cost of weekend performances by national musicians, and corporate sponsors can pick up the music costs of one of the great Four Seasons of Jazz series of concerts each year.

These sponsorships enable the Jazz Corner to produce top-quality performances for their guests while helping future prodigies immerse themselves in this American legacy.

Martin McFie recently penned The Jazz Corner Story.Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Junior Jazz Foundation. The book explains the history of The Jazz Corner and Bob Masteller and largely chronicles the timeline of Jazz. The narrative includes facts and enlightenments about Ragtime, Scott Joplin and New Orleans Jazz. It spotlights Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, John Lee Hooker, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, the Dorsey Brothers and the list goes on. And the book recounts all the top clubs from the Cotton Club to Nick’s to Three Deuces.

McFie also describes all the musicians that now call The Jazz Corner home: Bandleaders, Reggie Deas, Bob Masteller, Martin Lesch, Bobby Ryder, Earl Williams, Lavon Stevens with Louise Spencer, John Brackett and Howard Paul; Sidemen, John O’Gorman, Chris Russell, Kenny Alexander, Jimmy Charles, Clarence Williams; and the Master Musicians who visited and played the Jazz Corner when their international schedules allowed, George Shearing, Freddy Cole, Ben Tucker, Bob Alberti, ‘Songbird’ Lynn Roberts, Bob James, Mose Allison, Bucky Pizzarelli and John Pizzarelli, Jr., Chuck Loeb, Allan Vaché, Warren Vaché, Harry Allen, David “Fingers” McKenna, Art Van Damme, Bill Aldred, Buddy de Franco, John Bunch, Russell Malone, Buddy Greco, Scott Hamilton, Robert Redd, Dan Barrett, Chuck Redd, Joe Ascione and Rebecca Kilgore.


When Bob Masteller was dreaming of owning a jazz club, he wrote a list of all the great stars he would invite to play. The dream consisted of all the Master Musician’s names above, and every single performer has played at his Jazz Corner.

And Masteller also recognizes future talent.

“When I was young my father told me, ‘Son, if you want to get experience, play with the old guys.’ Well, some time has gone by now, and I tell people, ‘To stay sharp, I play with the young guys’,” explains Masteller.

For the book, McFie asked Masteller to name the next generation of Jazz greats. International Master Musicians of tomorrow and Jazz Corner favorites include: Noel Friedline, Grace Kelly, Jason Marsalis, Annie Sellick and Christian Tamburr. McFie enthusiastically describes his frequent encounters at the Jazz Club, “Jazz has been covered over by modern derivations, but when you hear the real deal, played really well, the raw energy is still there.”

The Jazz Corner Story is sold at the Jazz Club and pronounced during intermission as the authoritative account of the Jazz Corner’s story and its influences, philosophy and future dreams.

I was with Martin McFie and Lydia Inglett dining at the Bar when Masteller mentioned to the audience that the author of the book and philanthropist to his cause was in attendance. Patrons rushed to get his and all the musicians’ autographs and thanked them for creating this special memory. I was awed by the enthusiasm.

McFie says, “People are excited and rush to get their piece of the place autographed to take home. For a moment, you could be back in the Roaring Twenties when Bob’s father was leading his band.”

And McFie is one of the Jazz Corner’s biggest fans. He raves about the Jazz Corner in an email thanking me for my company and encouraging me to spread these words:

“They don’t over embellish the tune; there is some improvisation that is the essence of jazz, but they show respect for the beauty of those great melodies. It’s sophisticated music. The place is low lit, comforting warmth spread by the candle glows around the room. The service is attentive and impeccably polite and friendly. The food is award winning. Websites like Trip Advisor regularly note it as the best food on Hilton Head. This year, it has again been voted one of the best jazz clubs in the world by the iconic Downbeat jazz magazine.”

jazz-McFie-MartinMartin McFie

The Jazz Corner Story not only serves as a souvenir, but also includes recipes of some of the fabulous dishes at the Jazz Corner.

McFie writes, “The flavors of the South are rich in history to delight and intrigue diners at the Jazz Corner. The Southern twist to the menu is inventive and American. The modern tastes of Southern Cuisine represent exciting discoveries made by people who grew up with rich Southern food as everyday food.”

Yes indeed Martin, the food is incredible! On my first visit, I tasted the Lowcountry Jumbo White Shrimp and Wild Mushroom Carolina Gold Risotto with country ham, mustard greens, butternut squash and sweet onion cream. Oh my . . . it was culinary ecstasy and deep-rooted with Southern flavors, Lowcountry ingredients and Carolina flare.

Lydia Inglett and I then shared the Candied Ginger Carrot cake and the Raspberry & Chocolate Ganache Soufflé Cake. Yes, we were rewarding ourselves. And yes, I know now why foodies describe desserts as heavenly. And these, made homemade daily, are simply luscious in your mouth.

Perhaps the icing on the cake with the purchase of the book is the gift of The Jazz Corner’s music. That’s right. The book contains two cd’s featuring live jazz from the Jazz Corner. Songs include I’ve Got the World on a String, A Foggy Day, Rainy Night in Georgia, Dance with my Father, Swing that Music, Bourbon Street Parade, At Last, Over the Rainbow and so many more.

I listen to the cd’s in my car and think of yesteryear. Some believe it was a simpler time. I do not. Jazz was derived from enslaved people in Praise houses and on the fields of plantations. Jazz comforted people during The Great Depression and World War II. These were not simple times. The decades between the 1880’s and the 1940’s were influential in the birth of many types of Jazz, an art form that is All-American. The current events that shaped our history are, in fact, the true conductors of this music. That is why we feel Jazz, because we understand its roots. It lifts us up during hard times and allows us to rejoice in good times. It is colorless and represents teamwork, civility and grace. Jazz, for many, is salvation; and for me, it represents hope for tomorrow.

If you would like to make a pledge to the Junior Jazz Foundation or become a sponsor, please contact Bob or Lois Masteller at (843) 681-9100 or visit www.thejuniorjazzfoundation.org to donate.

For a calendar of events and more information about The Jazz Corner, please visitwww.thejazzcorner.com or call (843) 842-8620 to make your reservation today!


A Mermaid’s Song

Spartina 449 combines strength, quality and style.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

November 20, 2012


The salt marsh that bounds our habitat, this place we call the Lowcountry, is an unparalleled resource. And the vast expanse here in Beaufort County spoils us daily. The natural green hues that radiate from the blue horizons, border the coffee-colored pluff mud and reflect on the still gray water change from season to season. Every now and again, we witness a magical yellow sunrise or an orange and magenta sunset that accents the grass divinely. But the salt marsh, Spartina alterniflora, is so much more than beautiful, just like the company I write about today, Spartina 449.

When I was the naturalist at Hunting Island State Park, my favorite lesson to teach was Barrier Island Ecology that encompasses four ecosystems: The beach, the sand dunes, the maritime forest and the salt marsh. I always described the salt marsh as the heartbeat of our ecological system. When seen from the air, our creeks look like the arteries they are, pumping life into our precious islands.

The marsh grass feeds the bottom of the food chain. It protects our islands from storms. It gets washed into sea and forms habitats for ocean life. Then it gets recycled back on the beach, creating natural accretions for healthy sand dunes, which consequently, protect the larger maritime forest, its animals, and us. So yes, the physical evolution of Spartina is very much like a steady pulse. And, it surrounds us, giving us life every day.

Pardon the sermon on the significance of this treasured resource. Given the fact that the salt marsh is the inspiration for Spartina 449, I found it necessary to pronounce its glory.

Mermaid-Kay-StanleyKay Stanley and her Creative Team

Spartina 449, founded on Daufuskie Island by Kay Stanley and her husband Curt Seymour, is a handbag and accessory company dedicated to the preservation of natural beauty. The luxurious and durable linen is a feature that sets Spartina 449 apart from others. The complex texture and unique weave of the linen fabric creates a strong foundation for a lasting design, representative of Spartina grass itself. Inundated by tides twice daily, Spartina has to be tough. And given the daily duties of a busy woman, her handbag needs to be tough too.

Fabric-on-BeachAnd Kay Stanley knows that true beauty is the healthy combination of strength, quality and style. Her handbags capture the spirit of every season with intricate patterns, rich colors and creative collections. Like the perennial Spartina grass that blooms seasonally, Stanley’s handbags and accessories change bi-annually with new collections, offering an array of choices guaranteed to ignite the imagination.

Her Fall Collection of stunning handbags and splendid scarves also includes playful jewelry and cheerful iPad sleeves. What is so unique about her 2012 Fall Collectionsis the fact that each is named for one of five extraordinary women whose creative endeavors were fueled by a common denominator, Daufuskie Island. The collections, Callahan, Christina, Lesesne, Ms. Billie and Sallie Ann, were named in honor of these creative women and in tribute to the creative spirit that lives in every woman.


The Callahan is named for Patti Callahan Henry, a southern novelist and New York Times bestselling author who has been coming to Daufuskie for the past 25 years. The landscape and ancient stories of the island have been a continuous source of inspiration for Patti’s novels, many of which describe or are partially set on Daufuskie. A burst of red on a traditional black and cream pattern creates sophisticated style with the perfect amount of “kick.”


Christina Bates is a celebrated artist on Daufuskie Island who is mostly known for her hand-painted etchings of landmarks and representations of the native Gullah lifestyle. She also paints in oils to include her love of horses and hounds. The Christina is a dramatic design painted with autumn hues of orange, brown, mustard yellow, navy blue and cream and highlighted with shocks of turquoise for confident, colorful style.


Sally Lesesne loves anything botanical in nature, and when she moved to Daufuskie twenty years ago, she painted mostly flora and fauna. An adored artist on Daufuskie, Sally now prefers island inhabitants, especially children, as her subjects. The Lesesne combines fall florals dusted with gold, blue-gray, dark blue and cream and punctuated with vibrant magenta blossoms to create an eye-catching combination of graceful style.


A legend on Daufuskie Island was Ms. Billie Burn. There was nothing shcouldn’t do. She was the church pianist, the Community Club secretary, the postmaster, the school bus driver, the registrar and a restaurant owner. Her book, An Island Named Daufuskie, chronicles twenty years of stories and research and sits on a prominent shelf in most Islanders’ homes. The Ms. Billie boasts intriguing motifs in luscious shades of gray and cream and luxurious tan-colored leather accents to create a design that is as fetching as it is fashionable.


Sallie Ann Robinson is a sixth generation Daufuskie Islander. Growing up on an island without any stores meant that if Sallie’s family wanted to eat it, they would have to grow it, raise it or hunt it. Sallie Ann wrote her first cookbook, Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way, when she was encouraged to preserve the authentic Gullah recipes that were handed down from family and friends. Orange, the color of creativity, becomes the Sallie Ann’s picture of style when combined with cream colored patterns inspired by Spartina’s signature logo.

I’m lucky enough to know three of these women, who were all in attendance recently at the 2nd Annual Literary Throwdown at the Freeport Marina compound on Daufuskie, hosted by Roger Pinckney and Wick Scurry. Regional authors Callahan, Mary Alice Monroe, Dorthea Benton Frank and Ben Moise joined our local writers, Janet Garrity, Randy Bazemore, Sallie Ann Robinson, Pinckney and more for a day of cheer and fellowship.

I met Kay and her creative team, Katie Guthrie, Alexis Frankel, Ingrid Osborne and Catherine Tillman that picture perfect Sunday in early October. We sat at the picnic table, enjoyed music by Wendell Matthews, ate delicious food from the Old Daufuskie Crab Company and engaged in honest to goodness girl talk that evoked a sense of empowerment in all of us. In addition to talking about the company, we talked about our careers, our roles as moms, even a little talk about romance and old boyfriends.

As excited as I was to meet Kay and her team, I was blown away with inspiration when we parted. There we were, in the midst of paradise with other successful women, humbled by our experiences and our struggles yet eager to learn more. It was a “Girl Power” day like no other that I remember in recent years.

And it was then that I really understood Kay’s creative genius. She wants the women who purchase Spartina 449 products to appreciate a little bit of Daufuskie, a little bit of feminine strength and a little bit of their own unique flair. The company is truly dedicated to preservation, whether it is historic, traditional or dignified in nature.

And that’s why they’ve succeeded. They are now in over 1000 retail stores throughout the country and in the Bahamas. Locally, Spartina 449 is sold at What’s In Store and Rossignols in Northern Beaufort and Letters, Gigi’s, Currents, Fresh Produce and Island Girl in Southern Beaufort and at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island.

Robbie DeLoach, owner of What’s in Store explains, “Spartina 449 is the #1 bestseller in our Point of Sale System. That speaks for itself. Our customers love it, our employees love it. I love it!”

Connie Hallett, sales associate at Currents agrees. “We sell a ton of it! Our customers like the price points, the patterns, everything.”

Describing Kay’s personality as modest is an understatement. This story explained by Hallett says it all.

“We had a customer in here once who wanted a $30 item that was out of stock. Kay, who happened to be in the store, approached her and explained that she worked for Spartina and would be happy to go the warehouse and get the item for her. And she did. When Kay left, I told the customer… she wasn’t just an employee. She was the owner,” explained Hallett.

Kay Stanley is as sweet as she is successful, as devoted as she is determined. And boy, does she love her team.

“We only hire very talented people,” says Kay. “This company was built on a true team effort.”

Not only does Spartina 449 employ locally, it generates a conversation about the Lowcountry, specifically Daufuskie Island, almost immediately. And that’s what Kay is particularly proud of.

“To know our brand is to know Daufuskie. This island continues to be our inspiration,” explains Kay. “The women who buy Spartina 449 are buying a little bit of Daufuskie, and they’ll always be connected to paradise.”

In fact, on that beautiful Sunday, Kay and her creative team were working, scoping out locations for their upcoming photo shoot for their new Spring line.

If it’s anything like the Fall collection, I’m sure the Spring arrivals will wow and identify with the Spartina 449 brand, its mission and especially its artistry. Spartina is a name that is now recognized internationally, and thanks to Kay Stanley, her faithfully crafted line of handbags and accessories and Spartina’s signature logo will forever represent strength and personify grace on an island we all consider to be… paradise.

For more information about Spartina 449 or to find a participating retailer, please visitwww.spartina449.com. A portion of the proceeds from Spartina 449 is donated to the Daufuskie Island Historic Foundation.


A Tribute to a true Beaufort Inspiration

Madeleine Pollitzer lived life with vitatlity.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

November 6, 2012


My daughters, Abbie and Julia, and their cousin, Madeleine, sleep right now after a long day yesterday saying goodbye to their beloved great-grandmother, Madeleine Paula vonBernuth Pollitzer. I’m certain Madeleine is looking at them from Heaven, smiling contagiously as she always did, and saying, “I am so blessed to know my great-grands!”

Well Madeleine, they are blessed to have known you. You energized a spirit like no one I’ve ever met and tenaciously lived life with no regrets, minimal complaints and modest means. You figured out how to make it work when the world told you that you couldn’t. You, dear Madeleine, are my hero. And I’m pretty certain there are more Beaufortonians out there who feel the same way.

Madeleine’s story begins with wealth and distinction. While working as the Assistant to the Dean of Students at Yale University, madeleine’s father, William “Bill” Steinway vonBernuth, met Alma Baribault, a librarian. Bill, a graduate of the Engineering School at Yale University, and Alma were astute parents, actively encouraging their daughters to pursue worldly ambitions. They wanted to live on the East Coast, as close to New York City as possible, so that their daughters could experience sophistication. And the Steinway family, from New York, adored their granddaughters, Madeleine and Suzanne, and their French-speaking, dignified mother, Alma, who was from New Haven, CT.

Madeleine and her sister, Suzanne, attended Warrenton Country Day School in Warrenton, VA, where French was spoken outside of the classrooms. The school also taught riding, and was where Madeleine first developed her love of horses. Warrenton employed a groom, who paid special attention to Madeleine’s horse, and she loved it. While Madeleine’s sister, Sue, was more of an elegant, poised rider, Madeleine admitted she was more daring and adventurous.

Another love of Madeleine’s was dance. After attending Rye Country Day School in Mamarenek, NY, Madeleine took the train every day into New York City to take master classes with George Balanchine, co-founder and ballet master at New York City Ballet. Balanchine, a Russian immigrant, is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet; so she learned from the best.

It was then when Madeleine’s entrepreneurial spirit began. While living in Mamarenek and taking ballet herself, Madeleine taught eight young girls the foundations of ballet. Madeleine quickly grew fond of teaching dance and choreographing. Her mother even helped by sewing costumes for the girls’ yearly recitals, and Madeleine studied her techniques.


Madeleine was accomplished, yet eager to learn more. Already, as a teenager, Madeleine spoke French, competitively rode horses, was professionally trained as a ballerina and, without thought or intent, became a skillful and creative seamstress.

One night, a friend called Madeleine to accompany her to a dinner dance at the Larchmont Hotel, where twelve midshipmen were eager to meet elegant, young ladies. She wore a haltered crepe dress made of braided strands, and one could only assume she looked stunning. Madeleine preferred tall men, so she scanned the room and spotted Navy Lt. Richard “Dick” Pollitzer immediately. He was handsome and charming and in Navy Officer’s Training School. Given Madeleine’s impressive resume of refined talents and her remarkable presence, Dick was equally attracted.

Madeleine vonBernuth drove into Beaufort in the early 40’s, on the arm of Dick Pollitzer. Henry Chambers recalls her splendid arrival at the Pollitzer home on Port Republic Street in a convertible and described her as, “tall and beautiful with long dark hair and a flashing smile.”

Madeleine and Dick were married on January 31, 1942 in a grand ceremony in New York City and later called Beaufort home. They lived in the Hundred Pines area and also Alberghottie Creek and had three children, Richard Guerard “Ricky” Pollitzer, Jr., Suzanne Meta “Suzy” Pollitzer and William Stratton “Stratty” Pollitzer.

While Dick was stationed in the Pacific, Madeleine stayed in Beaufort with the children. She was great friends with Harriett Keyserling and Elizabeth “Biz” Campbell, both from the North. They encouraged Madeleine to start a dance school in Beaufort, under heavy protest by the extended Pollitzer family. In those days, women did not work, much less begin their own businesses. It was considered an insult to the man of the house. But Madeleine saw it as more of an opportunity to impart her talents to the little girls in Beaufort, rather than an undertaking to make money.

So she did it, and came to the first lesson in an evening gown. The young girls were introduced to cultured dance and grace, and they respected Ms. Madeleine as a sophisticated teacher. The school was held in two locations, on Duke Street and the old Sea Island Hotel. It was a huge success.

Janet Mark recently told me, “She was the best dance teacher a young girl in Beaufort could ever ask for. We all just loved her so much.”

After Dick Pollitzer died in 1973, Madeleine continued to run the school. She and the children lived on The Old Point, and her mother built a smaller home behind the house.

Additionally, Madeleine ran Tidalholm, a winter inn for special Northern guests, located next door to her home on Laurens Street. This is where she developed her passion for cooking, and her recipe collection began.

She later worked for Walt and Edie Rodgers as the restaurant manager at Royal Pines Country Club. Then, for nine years, she was the Manager at Okatee Hunt Club, where ladies were served breakfast in bed and the gentlemen ate in the dining room prior to their hunt. She prepared their lunches in picnic baskets, and upon their return, she cooked formal dinners for the visiting couples.

She continued to pursue her hobby of horseback riding. Her horse, Tidalholm, nicknamed “Rocky,” was her pride and joy. She started the Beaufort Saddle and Bridle Club, and she and Rocky went to shows every weekend.

Madeleine also enjoyed golf and frequently made trips to the NC Mountains and the Georgia Sea Islands to play with friends. She continued this through her eighties, when she resorted to the game of bridge. Active outings with golfing buddies turned into passive lunches with bridge partners. Both were ways to spend time with her friends, whom she adored. Beth Kennedy, Harriett Keyserling, Biz Campbell, Martha Tucker and Marguerite Broz were just a few of her cronies. What an amazing group of women!

Madeleine-grandsMadeleine with three of her great-grands

In the 70’s, Madeleine began her catering career with her assistant, Mary Linnen. “Big Mary,” as she called her and her daughter, Mary Louise helped Madeleine with cocktail parties, receptions and dinner parties. The business earned a colloquial reference as Beaufort’s “Back Door Catering.” Her recipe collection included Ella Simmon’s pickled shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller with a Pollitzer twist, her Apple Danish that served as Beaufort’s welcome gift to out of towners and her celebrated ham biscuits.

Once, Heather Winch’s friends from Chicago tasted the ham biscuits and insisted they get a carton delivered for the Holidays. Heather explained, “I would if I could, but these things are so sought-after and popular in Beaufort, I’ll be lucky to get even one package over the Holidays.” That’s just how popular these delicacies were!

She made the apple Danishes and ham biscuits and sold them on the honor system. She left packages in the fridge on the back porch, and customers (friends) left payment. Charles Aimar, Jr. explained that, recently, Madeleine was upset that someone stole from her after all these years of using the effective system. She had to put a lock on the payment box. Madeleine said to Charles, “I’m pretty sure I know who did it, but I’ll never say. They know what they did wrong.” Of course, she didn’t tattle. That wouldn’t have been tasteful. Charles said, “She pronounced her disappointment, but would never divulge her suspicions. That’s because she was a lady.”

She made ham biscuits until the last three weeks of her life. In fact, a note left on the fridge indicated she was too weak to make them anymore and apologized for the inconvenience.

That was Madeleine Pollitzer, always wanting to give, rarely accepting favors and never condoning hand-outs. She passed away Tuesday, October 30 in her home, where she wanted to die.

A reception was held on The Green at the Old Point, where Beaufortonians gathered and remembered Madeleine. They came together and brought food in exactly the setting that Madeleine would have wanted, on a picture perfect day. I can’t imagine a better tribute than that of food, and boy did it flow in from such a variety of folk, from Old Beaufort to new, from young to aging, from black to white, all from people who adored Madeleine.

And now, tears flow. I think about Madeleine’s life, what she accomplished, where she’s been, who she’s taught and the impression she’s left on so many people in this town.

Several weeks ago, John Trask III told me he wanted to visit some older people in Beaufort, those he admired and respected, those he deemed true Beaufortonians. He visited her home at 5:45pm, just fifteen minutes prior to Madeleine’s toddy time. She insisted he stay long enough for her to finish her preferred bourbon and water. He did and thoroughly enjoyed her old stories of how it used to be and the differences of how it is now. When he acknowledged her accomplishments, she scoffed the way she always did when she was delivered a compliment.

For 92 years, Madeleine set goals and attained them. For over fifty years, she raised a family by herself and still managed to enjoy her life and continue her hobbies. Later in life, she demanded proper social etiquette for the esteemed parties she catered in Beaufort, and she wanted to share her sophistication without arrogance. When she did it, she did it with class, whatever “it” was.

Several generations had the pleasure of knowing Madeleine, even the youngest of them. When my friends began to have babies, Madeleine was knitting sweaters, hats and booties on a daily basis in her comfortable chair as she loyally watched her favorite TV show, Law and Order. She hand delivered Tency Lynn’s sweater, and her mother, Wendi will cherish it forever, always so impressed that Madeleine would remember her young daughter.

She even had a neighborhood full of canine friends. Madeleine was known for leaving biscuits and treats on her fence for all the dogs in the Old Point. Magoo, Rio, Dickens, Edgar, Buster, Rollo, Jezebel and many more will forever remember the spot on the corner of Hancock and Short as their favorite stop on daily walks, as will their loyal owners. In fact Heather Winch, Pat Dudley and Patty Kennedy are determined to keep the Mason jar full so that the dogs can still enjoy their most desired resting spot.

I’m so thankful that my daughters knew Madeleine so well. Often, along with their cousins, Stratton, Madeleine and Charlie, Great-Grandma invited them over to make cookies and learn recipes. While visiting, the great-grand’s learned about her travels, her love of the color purple, her hobbies, and her perseverance. Now, Abbie (9), dreams of attending Juilliard School of Dance and trains locally with Lowcountry School of the Performing Arts. Julia (8) dances as well and also has a love of horses as sincere as Madeleine’s. She begins riding lessons at Bray’s Island this month.

Madeleine became her great grandchildren’s hero sans vanity and conceit. The merit of her life will always motivate these children, and that is her greatest accomplishment.

Madeleine Paula vonBernuth Pollitzer never asked for help. She did what she had to do for her family and still sustained her active and social lifestyle. She worked hard, enjoyed life and laughed out loud. She is my inspiration.

I love you dear Madeleine, and I will always celebrate your vitality. It is a privilege to share your name.

Madeleine Pollitzer is survived by her three children, Ricky Pollitzer and his wife Anne, Suzy Pollitzer, Stratty Pollitzer and his girlfriend Barbara Greco. Also surviving are her five grandsons, Christiaan Pollitzer and his wife Harriett, Ide Pollitzer and his wife Kim, Stratty Pollitzer and his partner Scott, Richard Pollitzer III and his wife Amy and Chuck Pollitzer and his wife Maureen; seven great-grandchildren, Stratton, Madeleine, Abbie, Julia, Charlie, Ben and Sarah and several step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren; her sister, Suzanne Nelson, niece Michele Nelson and her grand niece, Lecian Gardner; and a great-grandson who should be here any day, Edward “Teddy” Pollitzer.

Author’s note: This tribute was written based on a collected biography from Anne Pollitzer.


Bernie Schein putting the Kids First

Lifelong Educator discusses the state of Beaufort County Schools.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

October 23, 2012

Recently I sat down with Bernie Schein to discuss the state of Beaufort County schools. He spoke about his desire to minimize bricks and mortar, top-down leadership and bloated bureaucracy as described in a personal letter regarding his bid for Beaufort County School Board, District 3. He talked about what makes our kids truly smart-smart teachers, smart counselors and social workers, perceptive learning specialists, inspired curricula and instructional programs, and strong, healthy peer and parent-child relationships. He also candidly described his repugnance toward standardized tests and bad teachers.

“Hey folks, it’s simple. We all know who the bad teachers are. If we get rid of them and pay attention to the good ones, we’re on a good start,” explains Schein.

Bernie Schein

That’s what I love about Bernie, as I will refer to him throughout the rest of this article. Bernie is a friend, and he tells it like it is. I’m not sure he knows the term “politically correct.” Because, quite frankly, he doesn’t care as much about pleasing the recipient of a comment as he does about his message to help professionals and parents view the world through the eyes of a child.

Think about it. Children tend to speak freely and openly about their opinions, their concerns, their questions. They aren’t disrespectful. They’re curious for the right answer. And they rely on us to give it to them. When we don’t or when we belittle their interest, they naturally become frustrated. If unsuccessful bids for attention continue throughout their adolescence, frustration turns into anger, whether it be overt or concealed.

Bernie Schein is asking for the right answer. He’s not a child asking his parents or teachers. He’s asking his peers and our elected officials, locally, regionally and nationally. He’s not getting an answer. And he’s frustrated.

To Bernie, it’s black and white. Put the kids first.

He should know. Bernie Schein earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University with an emphasis in educational psychology and taught for 40 years in public and private schools. He was a principal at three schools, including Yemassee Elementary and Junior High School and Port Royal Elementary School. He was named District Teacher of the Year in Metropolitan Atlanta in 1978 and has visited over 1000 classrooms in his lifetime.

Bernie believes that Education does not have to be impersonal, formal and objective.

“Putting students in school for 13 years and giving them four options on multiple choice tests does not teach them to ask questions,” Schein said.

Book Cover

“No Child Left Behind and that whole standardized industry asks the questions for the kids,” he said.

Without the freedom to ask questions students want to ask, Schein said, “Students become passive receptive learners and fodder for any charlatan’s imagination.”

Bernie believes students need to be emotionally open and aware before true learning can take place. He remembers introducing J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye to students and their reaction to the book’s main character, Holden Caulfield.

“Reading literature with cynical and negative characters like Holden acts like a mirror for the students,” said Schein.

“It is so glaring and so accurate that they shy away from it. To face the glare and confront their own truths, students need teachers to help them. Like Holden, students don’t walk up to you and say: I need you. I love you. Can you help me?” Schein explains.

Bernie Schein’s book, If Holden Caulfield Were in my Classroom: Inspiring Love, Creativity and Intelligence in Middle School Kids, published in 2008, illustrates humanity, humor, and compassion in the classroom. Through stories from his students, Bernie describes how true emotion, rather than pure reason, is the key to discovering real relationships and creativity and academic success. His account is psychologically sensitive and socially accurate.

Bernie asked me recently about my memories of teachers from school. He said, “Wendy, what are those stand out moments you recall?”

I remembered a few. But one stood out more than most. And I was in middle school, 7th grade in fact.

Mrs. Bayliss, our guidance counselor asked me to her office. She wanted me to participate in a new group she was forming. It was a peer-counseling group of sorts. There was another girl in the group who was being bullied for her appearance. I assumed I was invited into the group to befriend her and help defend her from the attacks. When we met for the first time, this amazing girl had more confidence than anyone I’d ever met. She scoffed at all the remarks and understood that the kids who were bulling her must have had “issues” at home. She taught me. The pairing of us was intentional, and I learned from that experience. Peg Bayliss was a genius.

After listening to the story, Bernie opened my eyes to his persuasive logic with regards to his definition of good teachers.

He explained to me that when we as adults recall school memories, almost all accounts involve emotional components. They are those “teaching moments.” They are the memories that created stepping stones in our learning processes.

Do we actually recall those times when we aced the quiz on Capitals of the U.S.? Probably not. But I sure do remember the time when I asked Mrs. Morton in front of our third grade class why learning these Capitals was important. Her response was priceless.

“I’m not testing you on remembering the names Wendy. I’m preparing you for your travels,” she stated.

Wow. Talk about giving kids hope. Talk about creating imagination. Talk about wanting to learn more.

That’s exactly what Bernie is talking about. Good teachers want to educate students, not test prep them for job security. Teachers should be preparing our children to be productive learners and members of society. Instead, we live in an era where teacher job status is based upon standardized test scores. Good teachers, through no fault of their own, are worrying more about evaluations based upon their students’ test scores than about their healthy relationships with each of their students.

Bernie and I agree. This needs to change. Kids learn when they have a desire to learn. No standardized test can evaluate a true measure of progress. But a good teacher certainly can. And they’re all over Beaufort County. To all of you, from Bernie and me, thank you for making a difference in each of your students’ lives. They will remember you, I promise.


Diversity Leadership Initiative

On being part of the Fall 2012 Lowcountry Class…

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

October 9, 2012


There are times in life when we must revel… not because we’re singing our own praises, but because we are honored and thankful. I am in the midst of one of my proudest achievements, and I want to rejoice. Because, quite frankly, I’ve worked hard to deserve it. Some might say I’m being pretentious, but I know better about myself. I do not have a pompous personality. My disposition is more modest, and I know the difference between being proud and ostentatious. And I want my daughters to understand the distinction as well. Confidence in women is attractive, admirable and necessary.

Back in June, I was humbled by a nomination from Mayor Billy Keyserling to be part of South Carolina’s Diversity Leaders Initiative presented by The Riley Institute at Furman University. The Mayor and I met with Don Gordon, Executive Director of The Riley Institute and Benny Walker, a Senior Associate with The Riley Institute. I didn’t realize I was being interviewed over dinner, but indeed I was. They chose class participants with diverse backgrounds based on leadership, active community participation and professionalism. A few days later, I was accepted into the program. And that’s why I‘m proud today.

Our first meeting of the Lowcountry Class was held in August at the South Carolina Research Authority. All forty of us introduced ourselves with our names, our professions and our hometowns, and discussed reasons why diversity is important to us and what we hope to accomplish from this class.

In less than an hour, we knew each other on a personal level; because we weren’t afraid to express our struggles, impose our beliefs and acknowledge divisions in our state that continue to challenge progress.

And we’re about as diverse a group as could be. However, we all have one thing in common. We recognize and respect that we differ. And that’s why we’re all there.

I’m different from the norm, because I am a single, working mom. My personal diversity issues stem from gender and marital status inequalities. There are others that face daily disparity because of their age, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, race, religion, sexual orientation and weight. Then there are other issues that relate to diversity based on personal hobbies and habits, language skills, geographic location and income level. The focus of this introductory exercise was to emphasize our differences, no matter the foundation. And the focus of the entire class is to educate our peers and colleagues to understand differences in order to promote fairness and equality.

Diversity-GovRiley-JuanJohnsonGov. Dick Riley and Juan Johnson

In our September class, we discussed the definition of diversity, prioritizing levels of diversity and case studies relating to diversity in the workplace and at home. We were also assigned teams to initiate our community action projects, which we’ll present in December.

My group includes Stuart Barber, Project Architect with McMillan Pazdan Smith; Faith Polkey, Chief of Pediatrics at Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services; Sandra Chavez, Former Chair of United Way of the Lowcountry; Sam Murray, Mayor of Port Royal; Paul Sommerville, Vice Chair of Beaufort County Council; Andy Patrick, SC State House District 123 Representative; and Lisa Sulka, Mayor of Bluffton.

We met recently to complete a homework assignment. We watched the award-winning movie,Crash. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it without children present. It delivers an amazing portrait of diversity issues that plague our society and invites stimulating conversation for those who view the movie together. And that’s what we did. We discussed the movie for an hour and a half and recognized that each and every one of us holds some form of prejudice, whether we admit it or not. It’s just the realistic truth. We, as humans, discriminate on a daily basis. So, if we all do it, then how do we move forward, especially in this state?

There is no one solution. But there are methods to acknowledge and recognize. And that’s why class participants are charged with creating community action projects to advocate diverse acceptance. Each team will have the opportunity to create a project that will give back to the community.

And, more importantly, we will keep exercising the practice of recognition. If we don’t acknowledge the problem, it won’t go away. We must train our minds to understand that diversity is broad, dynamic and complex. Some challenges do not lend themselves to a right-wrong model. But giving attention to all diversity dimensions will impact the achievement of the common purpose.

I am so appreciative to be a participant in this incredible program. Thank you, Mayor Keyserling, for the honor of the nomination. Again, I am humbled to be part of such a distinguished group, and I can’t wait to write about our community action project when it is completed in December. To Don Gordon and Benny Walker, thank you for including me. In recognizing differences, I hope to be able to make one too.

What is Diversity Leadership Initiative?

South Carolina has always been a highly diverse state. Yet, for many of its citizens, being part of that diversity has been a considerable disadvantage. Historical racial divisions and cultural legacies have created deep divides that continue to challenge social and economic progress in South Carolina. In addition, over the last two decades, South Carolina has rapidly become an even more diverse state. Marked especially by in-migration of people from Central and South America, particularly in the rural and inner city urban areas of our state, and by retirees moving to the coast, lakes, and mountains, these new South Carolinians contribute to a much more complex demographic matrix.

Recognizing an urgent need for diversity-related programming, the Riley Institute, then in cooperation with the American Institute for Managing Diversity (AIMD), launched a unique program that encouraged community leaders to consider the challenges and opportunities presented by the many facets of diversity in our state, including among others, differences in cultural background, language, gender, and physical ability.

Since its inception in 2003 in the upstate of South Carolina, the Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) has operated statewide, with classes in the South Carolina Lowcountry (2005) and Midlands (2006). Over 1,000 CEOs of corporations, mayors, city and county council members, legislators, school superintendents, pastors and rabbis, non-profit heads, chamber of commerce directors, and community leaders have graduated from the program.

Participants in Riley Institute diversity programs hold leadership positions in business, government, and community organizations and are chosen from nominees who have been asked to apply. Classes, limited to around 40 participants, are shaped to reflect the diverse demographic characteristics of South Carolina.

Classes meet four times in monthly sessions during which participants acquire frames of reference and skills to be effective leaders in South Carolina’s increasingly diverse social environment. During the class, participants work in groups to create and carry out community action projects. Throughout the implementation of their projects, participants acquire diversity leadership skills absolutely invaluable for addressing diversity efforts in the workplace and in the greater community.

The facilitator of Diversity Leaders initiative is Juan Johnson, Senior Distinguished Fellow in Diversity Leadership with the Riley Institute. After an illustrious career of 21 years with Coca-Cola, Inc., where he served as the company’s first ever Vice President for Diversity Strategy, Johnson recently launched his own business, Juan Johnson Consulting and Facilitation.

The Riley Institute was founded by Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education and Governor of South Carolina. For more information about The Riley Institute and Diversity Leaders Initiative, please visit www.riley.furman.edu/diversity.

Diversity Leaders Initiative Alumni from Beaufort County:

Emory Campbell, Former Executive Director of Penn Center; Matthew Clancy, City of Beaufort Chief of Police; Roland Gardner, CEO of Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health; Billy Keyserling, Mayor of Beaufort; Tim Scott, U.S. House Representative for the 1st District of South Carolina that includes portions of Beaufort County; Marlena Smalls, Musical and Cultural Historian and Entertainer; Duffie Stone, Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor for the State of South Carolina; Rick Toomey, President and CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital; Valerie Truesdale, Former Superintendent of Beaufort County School District; and Fred Washington, Jr., Chairman of Beaufort County Board of Education.

Sponsors of the Program: The Diversity Leaders Initiative, a program of the Riley Institute at Furman, is made possible with generous support from the following organizations: Total Wine, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Elliott Davis, Michelin, N.A., Spartanburg Regional, TD Bank, AnMed Health, BMW, The South Carolina Research Authority and SCBIZ.



Silicon Valley meets the Salt Marsh

Beaufort couple creates website that will revolutionize online shopping

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

September 25, 2012

mainJim-and-Pennie-on-LawnI’m always intrigued by the myriad of stories of how people got to Beaufort. It’s a relatively small town, full of more vibrant personalities than any town I’ve ever known. Sometimes I think it’s a pre-requisite to be labeled as Type-A in order to claim Beaufort as home. We come from all walks of life, each with our own captivating narrative of yesteryear. But, when we begin to talk about our histories elsewhere, we all end up in a place that we collectively agree is “Over the Rainbow…” Beaufort, SC. Sometimes it’s a fairy tale. Most times it’s not.

And then you meet those people who make you realize that dreams really can come true, like Jim and Pennie Mead.

The couple from Las Vegas came into town quietly, but have the potential to leave a giant footprint, both on the elite list of Beaufort’s prominent legacies and on the universal map of innovative, e-commerce enterprise.

Jim and Pennie Mead have created a website that will revolutionize the way consumers shop. It’s called MakeYourDealNow.com. Similar to a very popular online travel website, this site allows a browser to shop and negotiate prices immediately with its proprietary, “Name My Price.”

Their story involves the fundamentals of capitalism and free enterprise, personal tragedy, hard work and persistence and the divine introduction of a family across the Atlantic, culturally distinct but equally dedicated to the Mead’s core values.

This is their story.

How the Journey Began

Jim, Penny and Marin Mead

In 1995 Jim sold his manufacturing plant of concrete products that he built from the ground up at age 32. Prior to that, from the age of 22, he maintained the helm of a family manufacturing business that his grandfather, Fred Jerome Mead, started in 1908 with his invention of the concrete burial vault. Inherently, Jim had a knack for innovation. After years of running the businesses from their New Jersey headquarters, and going through a divorce, Jim was eager to try something different and decided to sell his business and move with his 7 year old daughter, Sidney, to where he spent his summers growing up, Cape Cod. From there he began his journey to develop ideas for a new company.

While renovating an old Cape home built in the 1850’s, Jim began to foster an interest in the Internet. After decades of manufacturing a finished product from brick and mortar operations, he was conceptualizing a business plan that could sell products online… what we now refer to as e-commerce. The only problem was that he couldn’t visualize the right product.

Jim’s friend, owner of the Black Cat in Hyannis, MA, where Jim would eat nightly while his home renovations continued, introduced Jim to the love (and business partner) of his life, Pennie Martell. In 1996, Pennie was singing at the Black Cat with her ex-husband. They were a pop duo, untouched professionally by the divorce, who sang all over the country.   In fact, they were local celebrities on Cape Cod and also performed from Boston to New York to Las Vegas to Florida, headlining at many popular clubs and corporate events.

When the future Meads met, Pennie was also involved in helping to nationally expand a Nevada based distributor of water and air purification systems at a time when trends were shifting to green and clean.


The new duo developed an Internet-based business called PuriTec, which launched in 1997. They worked from an 8’x10’ office in the Cape house and began their innovative e-commerce career.

During that time, the Internet was slowly gaining momentum. Consumers were beginning to understand its allure and convenience, but still conservative about making purchases online. Virtual terminals gradually became more user friendly and secure; but, in 1997, the Internet was still somewhat alien to the mainstream shopper.

So Jim and Pennie supplemented their virtual company with a more tangible non-Internet marketing strategy. They approached the general manager of a local Sheraton Hotel. They initiated the concept of a “Breathe & Bathe Free” upgrade. Essentially, guests opted to pay more for a room that provided cleaner air and a shower that dispensed chlorine free water. The response was great. So they, the Meads, decided to upgrade too.

They got a test trial with The Pierre Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, a Four Seasons luxury Five-Star hotel, most notably one of the premier properties in the country. Again, the response was positive. So they took their clean air concept to The Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. They too liked the idea and upgraded all smoking floors.

They even got the attention of the MGM Grand, where the Sr. VP of Operations was considering an investment to upgrade all of their smoking guestrooms. They shipped 50 units to the loading dock as a test pilot program. When the units arrived, they were denied delivery. As it turned out, the Sr. VP was let go and all of his negotiations were rescinded. It was a tough break, but it didn’t deter the Meads from succeeding in Las Vegas.

During the initial promotions with various Las Vegas hotels, they found themselves regularly commuting from Cape Cod to Vegas marketing their products at all the relevant trade shows. They even received an award at a Cigar trade show for Best in Show, thanks to a creative and sexy life-sized cut-out that Jim concocted to lure people into their booth. It’s probably best to defer inquiring minds to Jim about his award-winning photo.

As they were testing their hotel program and growing their Internet business, Pennie convinced Jim to move to Las Vegas. After all, there were more hotel rooms in Las Vegas than New York City and Chicago combined!

They focused on Vegas, while trying to nurture the slow-developing Internet business. They had lots going on, but little to show for it yet. The dot.com bubble bust didn’t help, and monetarily, they were struggling trying to develop and promote their Internet business. Still, they were professionally striving with The Four Seasons properties in Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Palm Beach, Bangkok and elsewhere, one hotel at a time.

They were down to the nitty gritty in 2001, having sold two properties on Cape Cod and now renting in Vegas. And they were tired. They devoted more time, energy and dwindling funds to the website, as they were determined to see it succeed.

Pennie began to research Yahoo and Google advertising. That’s when she discovered an emerging advertising technique called “pay per click,” an Internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, where advertisers pay when the ad is clicked bringing visitors into their websites.

She had $1800 available on her credit card. So she took a risk, and it paid off. Literally overnight, their business skyrocketed! The Meads found themselves (sometimes still in their underwear) fielding online inquiries and sales from all over the United States from 4am – 9pm, 7 days a week.

That was 2002. They put the company on cruise control, keeping it manageable and employing only a few people. Finally, they were able to enjoy life, travel and appreciate their marriage for the first time in a long time.

Meanwhile, PuriTec was positioning itself globally. The e-commerce business sold air purification systems for hospital projects in Dubai and outfitted thousands of hotel rooms on the Island of Guam. They provided water filtration systems worldwide. During the SARS epidemic, their business helped develop and promote a technologically advanced air purification system using ultraviolet light that compelled even The Four Seasons in Bangkok to quickly spread the word about PuriTec to their competitors. The epidemic put a strain on the tourism industry, and businesses united to pull visitors back to Bangkok. PuriTec’s business subsequently expanded in this region.

Everything was going as planned. Life was good, and finally Jim saw his dream coming true.

Tragedy Strikes

In 2005, Pennie became pregnant. While delivering, Pennie suffered respiratory arrest. She was hemorrhaging. She was “Code Blue!” She came very close to losing her life delivering the love of her life, Marin. That wasn’t the end. Due to complications, Pennie had 4 subsequent surgeries over the course of the next year and a half, three scheduled, one emergency, involving another critical life-threatening experience. During the final scheduled surgery in July 2007, in the same hospital in Las Vegas, Jim’s mother suffered a massive stroke and died. Then in August of 2007, a construction crane out of control ran into the Mead’s PuriTec business office and all occupants had to be emergency evacuated from the unstable and unsafe building. This caused disruption in their lives and business. Then in September 2007, Jim’s first wife and mother to his oldest daughter, Sidney, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm at age 49. Jim had to console Sidney, age 16 at the time, and they traveled that night on a red eye flight to Florida to be with the family and plan the funeral. Pennie and Marin, 21 months at the time, joined them the next day. Chaos trumped any sign of normality.

The emotional distress of tragedy consumed their lives for over a year. Then Jim and Pennie realized they were survivors. Pennie looked at Jim one day and said, “We don’t give up.”

Always humble people, they now added thankful grace every day for the simple opportunity to be alive. Through nurtured upbringing and positive surroundings, the Meads were appreciative of all the people that helped shape their lives. Now, they wanted to enjoy what mattered most… each other, friends and family.

How the Meads arrived in Beaufort

Jim and Pennie sold PuriTec in June of 2008 for a comfortable sum and decided to travel with Marin to visit family and friends around the country. After a 35th reunion at Jim’s alma mater, Tabor Academy in Marion, MA, Jim and Pennie realized they wanted to move back to the East Coast. They wanted to move to a community that would be a great place to raise a family.

Jim’s cousin, Suzanne Thomas, lives on Hilton Head. They stayed for two weeks and were interested in moving to the Lowcountry. One day in July, they decided to visit Charleston. En route back to Hilton Head, they stopped through Beaufort. It was opening day of the Water Festival 2010, the 55th annual celebrated festival that defines Beaufort’s personality. They were hooked on Beaufort. And little did they know then, Beaufort would be hooked on them.

They thought to themselves, “Wow, what a beautiful town. Let’s settle in and enjoy the small town quaintness and southern hospitality.” By late August, 2010 the Meads were settled in Beaufort.

Then they met Chilton Grace Simmons. I can say this, because Chilton and I are friends, “Chilton knows everybody!” By Christmas they had nearly 60 people at their house for a Christmas party.

Pennie laughs, “I think I know maybe two people from living in Las Vegas. Chilton introduced us to everyone in Beaufort, and we couldn’t be happier.”

And that’s Beaufort. We all know it well. We (Hilton Head and Bluffton included) are probably the most hospitable bunch in the Southeast!

Jim explains, “People know how to live here!”

The Next Internet Sensation

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 10.50.16 PM

The last few years were relaxing for Jim and Pennie, but they were eager to start something new again. Jim envisioned another e-commerce business, but something that was cutting edge… the next Internet sensation. He and Pennie started a conversation about a website that would deliver negotiating leverage for the consumer. They weren’t interested in bid wars or penny auctions. Nor were they interested in selling overstock or discontinued items. They wanted a website that was engaging and yielded instant gratification for the shopper.

They thought, “Why not develop a website where shoppers can shop for hundreds of thousands of brand new, brand name products and be able to bargain the price online in real time and get an instant deal on the spot.”

Bingo! The development for MakeYourDealNow.com had begun.

Two IT teams in the U.S. and one in Madagascar began writing custom code, the technology behind the unique shopping and checkout experience. In a matter of months, the site developed into a tangible website that the Meads could begin to manipulate into their desired end product with design critique, user friendly suggestions and more marketing strategies that would ultimately define their website.

The website was beta tested, and the site just wasn’t fast enough to handle the number of products on the website and the anticipated traffic. So, Jim and Pennie realized they needed to bring on board senior experienced code writers in ColdFusion, or CFML, the language from which their website was developed. ColdFusion is the name of a commercial rapid web application development platform designed to make it easier to connect simple HTML pages to a database.

The IT team in Madagascar had been a big asset to the company, but was not enough to take it to the next level; and the U.S. teams they were using were expensive, slow-producing, and inexperienced for a website of this magnitude. So, Jim posted the job on an international online outsourcing service provider, not telling Pennie that he’d done so that day. That Sunday morning when they awoke, Pennie remembers saying a prayer for the right help to complete this project quickly and competently. They’d spent the better part of a year developing the site, and they were at a standstill. Jim says to Pennie, “Come look at this.”

A Virtual Meeting of the Minds

They both looked at the resume from Sarah Kahn on Jim’s computer screen. It was a match. It was a perfect match.

Sarah and her husband, Harris, live in London. Harris is a senior code writer, who will eventually, with the help of their team, write thousands of lines of custom code for the Mead’s website. Sarah works on the back ends of websites, organizing and directing every component of service functionalities and design.

Sarah saw the posting on the online website Jim used seeking help, a site she now admits she rarely used for reasons of inconsistency and rare need for ColdFusion, the development language in which Harris and their team were both fluent.

She recalls taking her children, Aayan (9), Maha (6) and Ibrahim (2) to a friend’s birthday party and seeing the email from Pennie. She loved the details of the website. They conducted a Skype interview in late February of this year. On March 8, Sarah and Harris joined the MakeYourDealNow.com team, largely based on mutual instincts, trust and faith.

About Sarah Kahn

Sarah-&-Maha2Sarah’s company normally builds custom websites from scratch. And neither she, nor her husband, believe in picking up on other peoples’ website work. Jim and Pennie’s website was 60-70% complete, so this was a project that was new to both of the Kahns. But they were willing to give it a shot, simply because they believed in the website. And Sarah has the ability to bring the whole package together, a business manager of sorts, while she relies on Harris’ skills.

A lot of the design work and front end was complete; however, a spreadsheet of issues relating to bug fixes piled up, and the task list on the back end side of the work grew fast. Building on a foundation that is not yours is always hard to do. Imagine if you’re an electrician trying to wire a home with the sheet rock already nailed in place. Do you tear the sheet rock down and start over? Or do you use trial and error to determine alternative methods of wiring the home? Whichever is the most cost effective, right? In this case, it was to keep the foundation and move forward, though it became difficult and time consuming. What was initially supposed to be 1 to 2 hours per week became a full time job for Sarah.

And she is a perfectionist, like Pennie. They have a similar work ethic. Pennie and Sarah stay calm in most situations, and are always communicating via email or Skype, considerate of the five hour time difference. And they also have a maternal connection that both describe as “indescribable.”

Pennie adds, “Meeting Sarah was serendipitous. We are so fortunate and blessed to have found her. It was meant to be.”

Originally from London, Sarah was sent to Pakistan when she was ten and attended government-funded schools. While she lived in what we Americans consider poverty, she also excelled in school amidst daily struggles. For five years, she was persistent at learning, no matter the adversity. When she returned to London at sixteen, she was learning on an 8th grade level. Despite this, she did very well in school, graduated from high school, and instead of going to college, she went straight to work, more determined to succeed than any of her peers.

And her resolve speaks for itself. What should have been a two year project with MakeYourDeal.com took Sarah five months. The website went live on July 5th of this year.

About MakeYourDealNow.com

The number one priority for the Meads was to make the site user friendly. After tens of thousands of products now added, the site is fast, functions well and maintains the edge that Jim once envisioned.

Jim smiles and agrees with Pennie, “It’s about as ready as it can be.”

The site is straightforward and secure, easy to navigate and very welcoming to the consumer. Best of all, MakeYourDealNow.com, where you can “Name the Price” on thousands of factory-direct products for your home, your children, pets and everyday life, offers the most legitimate deals on the market. Forget registering with daily deal sites and waiting to be emailed random deals, this site lets you make a deal immediately, for any product you can imagine! And hundreds to thousands of new products are being uploaded every week so it is constantly growing and evolving.

International Appeal & Bargaining

Eastern and European cultures learn from an early age that negotiating price is part of the shopping experience routine. Americans tend to politely agree on any advertised price, simply because it’s labeled with a dollar amount. What if manufacturers agreed on a non-advertised price to which the public is oblivious? Wouldn’t it be fun to negotiate that price online, without ever talking to a salesperson? That’s exactly the service this site offers. Finally, East meets West on capitalism and the art of bargaining for the best deal.

And want even more? Let’s say it’s Christmas or Hanukkah. You have a $500 budget to spend on the kiddos. You fill your virtual shopping cart up with all the things that little Johnny and Suzy want. You can name one price for the entire cart. Immediately, the website accepts or denies. The site calculates price differences of all products in order to give you the best possible value. It’s called “Bulk Price.”


There is so much to the website that you can only appreciate through your own navigation. Give it a shot. Got a birthday approaching and want to develop a wish list? Go to the site! Got the perfect idea for a home decorating project on a budget? Go to the site! Want to encourage your children to shop responsibly? Go to the site! Want to buy that special someone the perfect gift? Go to the site! Want to pamper yourself with a little extra? Go to the site!

Future Plans for the Meads

Jim and Pennie Mead have found a home in the Lowcountry. More than anything, they want to see their e-commerce business develop and grow, right here in Beaufort. They’ve made great strides in developing the site. Now, they must market it.

The Meads are in negotiations with several celebrities to help promote the website in addition to implementing a complete and aggressive marketing plan both in print and online.

The Mead’s still have the Madagascar team that assists with spreadsheet uploads and database management.

And they eagerly want Sarah and Harris Kahn and family to move to the States as they further develop and maintain the website.

The Kahn’s currently live in East London, in close proximity to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Sarah describes it as congested, with small houses, narrow roads and crowded schools. She loves the U.S. for its open spaces and education. When she first visited in 2006, she says, “I should have applied for citizenship then.”

It takes six to eight years for acceptance of citizenship when family sponsors you. Sarah and Harris are four years in, thanks to Harris’ family living in Virginia who immigrated from Pakistan fifteen years ago.

Pennie resonates with Sarah’s desire to live here, “She has proven her dedication, her skills, her passion, her commitment. We have a great working relationship, and I want her here yesterday!”

I got to meet Sarah and her middle daughter, Maha (6) when she was recently here for a visit. Maha had never seen the beach. They went to Hunting Island State Park, where Maha boogie boarded in the waves, collected sea shells and frolicked in the sand, amidst the warm ocean breeze.

Sarah and Pennie then realized, Maha will soon have a home in the United States. And maybe it will be right here in Beaufort.

A company built from dreams, desire and will reside along the same salt marsh that we all call home. Congratulations to the Meads and sincere wishes for a continued rising tide of success. It is, in fact, the ebb and flow of life that dictates our destinies.


Shelley Lowther Extends Herself

Owner of Dancing Dogs Yoga (and Lowcountry Weekly columnist) becomes a Certified Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Instructor

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

August 15, 2012


When I first met Shelly Lowther in 2010, she was opening her first yoga studio in the Lowcountry in Beaufort Town Center. I was intrigued from the moment I met her. She exudes all things feminine… grace, poise, gentleness and beauty. And when it’s time to talk business, she’s all business. Her confidence is admirable, and her success story is one that every little girl needs to hear.

She started small. Dancing Dogs Yoga was located at 1600 Burnside Street. She offered yoga to everyone. Seriously, her propaganda for getting people in the doors was simple and smart. Students only had to pay what they could afford. If you only had $5, you could pay that. If you had $20, you could offer that. And if you were flat broke that week, but needed a mental and physical pick me up… no problem. Shelley welcomed everyone with open arms, regardless of wealth.

And still today, her daily mantra centers on embracing the community. “I am, because you are” is the secret to Shelley’s success.

Each and every one of us has potential, whether we are petite or obese, social or introverted, employed or seeking employment, healthy or unhealthy. If you have goals, Shelley understands that yoga helps you put them into action. And truthfully, I believe it’s why she’s been placed on Earth, and here in Beaufort. She is a leader, and she is empowering this community to take care of themselves and strive to reach their potential, one class at a time.

Now with three studios in Augusta, Bluffton and at 1211 Newcastle Street in Uptown Beaufort, Shelley has multiplied her enrollment by doing what she loves. And now, Shelley is certified as a Level I and II Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga instructor. She is one of only two certified instructors in the entire State of South Carolina and one of two certified in the State of Georgia.

Shelley traveled to New York City and Austin, TX to train with Baron Baptiste, inspirational yoga teacher, author and leader in the realm of transformation for over 20 years. She completed two-week boot camps with Baptiste, who founded the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga practice in the 1980s and has influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and across many cultures. Born into a lineage and heritage of health, yoga and spiritual educators, Baron was bred to teach and educate.


Baptiste Yoga provides transformational learning and growth environments for individuals seeking to deepen their personal yoga practice, alongside with those who are walking the teachers and leaders path. Participants and teachers are known for their powerful teaching, authentic expression, commitment to empowering and transforming others, and fostering dynamic communities.

That’s why Shelley chose Baron as her mentor and teacher. Last year, she began feeling stale with her practice. She wanted to find a teacher, a yoga guru of sorts. What she found was someone who took exception to the title of guru.

She signed up for a three day class in Boston, taught by Baptiste, and 350 people filled the room.

“I had an immediate feeling of welcome within the community. Baron was far from an intimidating guru. He was down to earth,” explains Shelley.

Baptiste teaches foundations of yoga in action. What each of us needs is not another quick fix, but rather a rebirth – a whole life revolution. And that’s what Shelley learned from Baptiste… how to empower the community by explaining that we all have potential.

While finishing her certification, Shelley and some of her dedicated instructors in Beaufort taught a class entitled, “40 Days to Personal Revolution,” a program designed to radically change your body and awaken the sacred within your soul. I signed up in January. I loved it… until I quit. Yes, I’m eating crow. I was so determined, like many others in the class. We were needing that push into action. And I, more than ever in my life, needed spiritual direction. It was awesome. We went to a class every day, beginner classes, power yoga classes, all of them. We were given a book by Baron Baptiste and were charged with meditating every day. I felt so good, better than ever in my life in fact.

shelley-Baron-BaptisteBaron Baptiste

So why did I quit? I guess I simply ignored my potential. I let the demands of life dictate priority, not my intrinsic yearning for peace. And what happened? I fell and fell hard, because I closed my eyes to my potential. But they’re wide open again. And I’m more determined than ever to finish this class!

That is thanks to Shelley. And Baptiste.

Since Shelley has been certified as a Baptiste instructor, her business has grown 30% in Beaufort. Her enrollment jumped from 1500 students per month to 2600. We love the transformation!

In all three locations, Shelley offers classes and workshops for all levels, something I was happy to hear. I’m not the most coordinated of students, and I never feel intimidated. The sense of community is so great and contagious at Dancing Dogs Yoga, and the level of service is individualized so that everyone feels at home.

In Bluffton, Shelley now offers over 20 classes per week. And with the expansion, she is now able to extend programming to include classes for mothers-to-be and children.


Shelley wants to emphasize that yoga is not just exercise. Yes, you are sweating when you leave. But, it’s more than exercise. It’s a shift in your vision of your body and mind. Yoga offers a new outlet to look at things differently, to understand the possibilities and inquire about yourself, to meditate and release all of those crazy things in our heads, to awaken your soul.

Baptiste has created a ripple effect with his instruction. We don’t have to travel to all parts of the country to experience his teachings. We can just go to Dancing Dogs. And, Shelley makes it even easier than that. She offers 30, 60 and 90 minute podcasts for students on the go or out of town.

And she’s excited to announce an upcoming event that was organized to bring yogis together for a wonderful cause. The Yoga Aid for Africa Yoga Project will be held September 9 at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park from 12 Noon until 4pm.

Yoga practitioners and studios around the world will gather together in karma yoga. This is part of a worldwide effort as 20,000 yogis from 20 countries come together to raise $1 million for charity. Join regional yoga teacher Brent Martin, Carol Morrissey, Kelley Boyd and Kim Cech throughout the day for inspiration, asana and community, and cap off the afternoon with Karma Yoga in action!

There will be a screening of Practice Change, the Africa Yoga Project documentary, followed by a live DJ Yoga Party with certified Baptiste teachers Beth Thomas of Charleston Power Yoga, Kate Taylor of Savannah Power Yoga and Shelley Lowther of Dancing Dogs Yoga. Join a team or register to become a challenger and raise $108 or more at YogaAid.com. Please choose Africa Yoga Project as your charity of choice, followed by a live DJ yoga party with certified Baptiste teachers, Beth Thomas of Charleston Power Yoga, Kate Taylor of Savannah Power Yoga and our own Shelley Lowther of Dancing Dogs Yoga. The group will also be joined by Awakening Yoga Studio in Richmod Hill, GA and The Art of Yoga from Hilton Head Island!Awakening Yoga Studio in Richmond Hill, GA and The Art of Yoga on Hilton Head Island.


To join a team or to register to become a challenger and raise $108 or more, please visit www.yogaaid.com. Please choose Africa Yoga Project as your charity of choice. For more information about this amazing event, please email karma@dancingdogsyoga.com.

Last Saturday, Shelley opened her third studio in Augusta. She’s only getting bigger, and it’s better for this entire Southeast community. Shelley does great things, and I’m thankful to have her as a friend and my own personal mentor.

The quote I mentioned earlier in the article is Shelley’s favorite. “Ubunto -I am, because you are.” And to conclude this piece, I want to describe its meaning and Shelley’s vision for Dancing Dogs Yoga.

Ubuntu is an African philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. Ubunto literally translated is, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

In 1999 Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered this definition:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.


Living on the Right Side of the River

Roger Pinckney, Reefer Moon and Life on Daufuskie Island

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

July 17, 2012


Several years ago in 2005, I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Pinckney XI. The Beaufort Book Store hosted the two of us for a book signing. I was signing copies of my book, Port Royal; and Roger was embossing his signature on his debut collection of essays, The Right Side of the River.

I was intrigued from the moment I met Roger. He was truthful, funny and real. And his love for Daufuskie Island was contagious. I remember he came to the signing with a flannel shirt and duck boots on, muddy from his travels that morning. I’d gotten in my car fifteen minutes prior, all dolled up with my hair curled, sporting my professional blazer. But Roger? He’d been in the boat and car for at least two hours before his arrival at the K-Mart Shopping Center, typical travel time to make appointments for the permanent resident of Daufuskie Island.

I quickly resonated with the cadence of his life and his appetite for rural living. At the time, I was living out at Coffin Point on a dirt road, which doubled as a giant sandbox for my young daughters; and, the only traffic we were regularly concerned about was horses and golf carts.

My business-like demeanor that day quickly transformed back into the real Wendy as soon as Roger started speaking about the nuances of pastoral lifestyles and why he considered Daufuskie to be heaven itself.

His personal message to me on the title page of his book about romance, rage and wonder was, “Wendy-come see us on the Right Side. Roger Pinckney XI.”

It took many years, but I finally accepted Roger’s invitation a few weeks ago and visited him on one of the last undeveloped Sea Islands on the South Carolina coast, just southwest of Hilton Head on Calibogue Sound, the beautiful and spiritual Daufuskie Island.

It seems a bit oxymoronic to even mention Facebook in this profile dedicated to an author and cultural icon inspired by all things opposite of technical and modern. But Facebook is exactly how we reconnected. Bonita Wreden, a longtime friend and famed local musician, messaged me one evening and said, “Wendy I’m hosting a book club in September, and we’re reviewing Reefer Moon by Roger Pinckney. Would you like to write a story?”


As quickly as she hit send to me, I was writing Roger to take him up on his 7-year-old offer to visit him on Daufuskie. If I was going to help review the book, I wanted to experience Pinckney’s true life on Daufuskie; and, thankfully, the offer still stood, which I found out via Facebook instant message.

Though casually direct in appearance and speech, Roger is the epitome of a southern gentleman. He followed up his Facebook summons with a phone call and offered my daughters and me a behind-the-scenes tour of Daufuskie. We kindly accepted, and our journey to understand Roger’s passion for the island only approachable by boat began.

Roger coordinated the ferry ride for us. Bonita accompanied Abbie (9), Julia (7) and me on The Calibogue, captained by Scott Hammet and owned by Wick Scurry who operates Calibogue Cruises.

As we departed the dock at Broad Creek Marina, we marveled at the Bottlenose Dolphins playfully jumping along the port side of the beautifully restored 1919 motor ferry. Bonita and I recognized Delbert Felix on the boat ride, a bass player with Whitley Deputy and the B-Town Project. We spoke to the rest of the band, Whitley Deputy, James Smith and Will Snyder on the way to Freeport Marina, where they would play for day-trippers relaxing waterside until the ferry came again at dusk.

When we arrived at Freeport, Roger was waiting for us, patiently perched on a picnic table with his signature pipe in mouth.

“Hey, Darlin’. Ya’ll must be hungry. Get yourself something to eat,” as he hugged Bonita and me and introduced himself to Abbie and Julia, who immediately took comfort in his calm approach.

Abbie and Julia spent about 30 seconds devouring cheeseburgers made dockside by Old Daufuskie Crab Company, managed by Don Stanchak. One day I will write an entire additional article about the food there! I had the Chili Thai skewered shrimp, and I think they were, without a doubt, the best shrimp I’ve ever had anywhere in the Lowcountry, and I’ve lived here my entire life. Point made?

Roger then made some personal introductions of islanders who make Daufuskie home, and I was humbled and honored that they made time to see me. Future visits to the island will definitely include more time with these entertaining men, each with a unique story of his own but all equally engaged with the physical environment and multi-dimensional spirituality that defines Daufuskie.

I met Patrick Ford, the Golf Pro and hero who saved Melrose Golf Course from financial ruin and is now trying to do the same thing at Bloody Point; Wendell Matthews, musician who composed the CD, Beneath the Reefer Moon to accompany Pinckney’s book; and Wick Scurry, entrepreneur who owns and operates Freeport Marina while maintaining close relationships with natives of the island and even gives tours himself.

For each of these men, and Roger too, Daufuskie brings intrinsic peacefulness and enables them to continue their professions while preserving the island’s culture.

Roger describes most of the 300 permanent residents of the island as “fiercely independent,” a narrative that explains why 64 of those residents are artisans. That’s right. Almost a quarter of the residents are woodworkers, painters, potters, jewelry designers and more. And most sell right out of their houses on the island.

And Roger is obviously included in this category of folk. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Roger earned an MFA through the Iowa Writers Workshop. He wrote award-winning features for both Minnesota and North Dakota newspapers. His first successful book was Blue Roots, a history of voodoo in South Carolina. In addition to Blue Roots, he’s written several collections of essays, beginning with Right Side of the River. And, a Hollywood independent filmmaker has purchased his novel, Little Glory.

Roger is also a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and Orion Writing Circle Award. He’s devoted to his craft, and he’s emerging as the Lowcountry literary expert on hunting, fishing… and voodoo. And he’s catching the attention of southern writers everywhere for his straightforward, masculine descriptions of natural beauty, property ethics and cultural preservation. For example, this is what John Lane, author of Chattooga and Circling Home, had to say about Roger Pinckney:

“Coastal activist, novelist and give ‘em hell writer of environmental essays, Roger Pinckney is our Tom Paine of the tides, and this time he’s really done it – Midnight in the Garden of Kiss My Ass.”

Roger gave Bonita, Abbie, Julia and me a private tour around Daufuskie in his personal vehicle. The girls were innocently delighted when they were told, “Seatbelts are not required.”

Historic Restoration


Our travels around the island included visits to cemeteries, churches, schools, art galleries, farms, plantations, historic landmarks and multiple testimonies of the African magic belief system…voodoo.

We learned about the Webb tract and the controversial development plan from Halliburton, the violence and threats that arose from it and the voodoo that was prelude to the ultimate demise of the contract.

And that was the beginning of the discussion of voodoo and African rituals. Abbie and Julia were curious now. They began to understand haunts and hags, the significance of Haint Blue and why some graves faced the native land and others faced the opposite direction.


Without going into too much detail about specific acts of voodoo, Roger explained to my young daughters that the Gullah heritage strongly believes in another dimension, one that includes their ancestors who distinctly know the difference between good and evil.

We also understood burial societies, the separation between males and females during worship services and final acts of community approvals or disapprovals of a person when they die.

Iron Fish

We visited Chase Allen’s art studio and gallery, called Iron Fish, where it’s acceptable to choose your art and slip payment under the door when Chase is unavailable. We were able to take some Palmetto Honey and leave a few bucks, because we missed meeting Chase. His art is amazing, and there is a mermaid on the porch with my name on it. Just a subtle hint if anyone is interested.

Abbie and Julia learning about Indigo

Abbie and Julia were also very interested in a plant we found on the island, one that Roger knows a great deal about. Why? Because, he’s a descendant of a pretty famous woman who developed this plant into one of South Carolina’s most important cash crops. That’s right, it’s indigo, and Eliza Lucas Pinckney realized that the growing textile industry was creating world markets for new dyes; so starting in 1739, she began cultivating and creating improved strains of the indigo plant from which a blue dye can be obtained.

There is so much history on the island, and Roger knows it backwards and forwards. I could go on and on in this article about what we learned, but there’s no comparison to an actual tour that the public is welcome to attend. Just visit www.daufuskiefreeport.com and sign up for a guided bus tour or rent a golf cart and explore yourself.

We were fortunate to take another tour while on the island with another Daufuskie preservationist, Wick Scurry. Wick’s tales of life on the island or so extensive, I’ll have to save his story for another issue. But I will describe a meeting that Wick arranged between me, the girls and Flossie Washington, an 87 year-old woman who was born and raised on Daufuskie.


Flossie has fifteen children and no idea as to how many grandchildren she has. She was married to Jake Washington, Wick’s best friend before he passed a few years ago. Flossie is notorious for her deviled crab and cooking that only includes gathered produce that’s farmed on the island, meat from animals that graze the island or seafood that swims around the island.

Flossie loves her life on Daufuskie… always has. She’s been quoted as saying, “I didn’t know I was poor until I read it in the paper.” And that written quote lacks Gullah dialect that would probably sound more like this: “Didn’t no I’s po’ til I read it da pappa.”

Flossie was an angel. Her wisdom resonated with my girls. They had an immediate respect for Flossie, as did she for my daughters. Their minds were not segregated, not in the least. Flossie’s societal innocence and Abbie and Julia’s youthful blindness to race created a peaceful interaction void of economic, age, cultural or racial prejudice. I was moved; but Wick knew that’s exactly what would happen if he brought us to her house. And I’m so glad he did. I will always remember our visit with Flossie.

Roger and Amy Pinckney
Roger and Amy Pinckney

Our meeting with Flossie was close to the end of our day on Daufuskie. After our tour, we picked up Roger’s wife Amy and headed back to Freeport Marina, where we listened to music, played corn hole and listened to the locals tell about their adventures and life on Daufuskie. It’s certainly a different way of living, but one that I wanted to understand so I could read Roger’s new book, Reefer Moon, with a better idea of the real Roger Pinckney…what makes him tick, what boils his blood, what is it that he prays for and why he a vigilant supporter of Daufuskie preservation.

Now I will read Reefer Moon, just in time for Bonita’s book club meeting in September, and know just what Roger is writing about. Dorothea Benton Frank says:

“Nobody knows the South Carolina Lowcountry like Roger Pinckney, hunter, fisher and voodoo man. He’s the real thing. When Pinckney writes about love on a moonlit beach, you know he’s been there. Facing down a wild boar in a briar patch, you know he’s been there too. Reefer Moon is a cry for wild places, on the Earth and in your heart. Unforgettable! Roars with Life!”

So my suggestion now? Go to Daufuskie! There’s plenty of time this summer to take your boat or catch a ferry from Calibogue Cruises. And look out for a piece by our very own Backyard Tourist, Mark Shaffer, for an in depth look at Daufuskie, its landmarks and more of its history.

After you visit Daufuskie and maybe even meet Roger Pinckney, get your copy of Reefer Moon at the General Store on the island or at any bookstore in Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head.

Between now and September, we will all read Reefer Moon and talk about it on the Lowcountry’s first virtual book club. Look for Lowcountry Book Club on Facebook and like the page. Our first book to review is Reefer Moon. My second piece on Roger Pinckney, after Bonita’s book club meeting, will focus on the book and the Lowcountry’s review.

Again, I suggest before you read the book, travel to Daufuskie! Get your copy of Wendell Matthews’ CD while you’re there as well. We’ve got a long summer ahead of us. Why not get in the hammock under a live oak, listen to some original tunes like “The Ballad of Alice Flagg” and “Mean Ole Gator” and open your minds to literary magic? Reefer Moon seems like the perfect summer read, and I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with you.

Thank you Roger Pinckney for a delightful visit, an educational tour and, most importantly, an experience my daughters and I will remember for a lifetime.


WHHI-TV, Crossing the Bridges of Beaufort County

The local television station will offer The Beaufort News, The Bluffton News and The Hilton Head News daily

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

June 18, 2012


On December 18, 2005 Beaufort lost its only newscast when WJWJ-TV pulled the plug on its evening news report. A few years later in 2008, the Beaufort Gazette moved from its building on Salem Road to Bluffton, a move the publication still maintains was not a “merger” of the Gazette and The Island Packet. But we in Beaufort quickly realized the shift in priority. The dynamics between municipalities north and south of the Broad became more divided than ever after the move, to no one’s fault or benefit.

So here we are in 2012, all 162,000 of us in Beaufort County. We all know the nuances that make Hilton Head, Bluffton and Beaufort (not to mention the barrier islands that surround us) different. And there hasn’t been a daily publication of record, nor a newscast, that have been able to report effectively, deliver news and please everyone in the County…until now.

WHHI-TV, on the air on Hilton Head Island since 1992, has recently expanded coverage to Beaufort. On March 1, Hargray moved the station from Channel 200 to Channel 8 on the tier people in the industry call, “Broadcast Row.” Overnight, Hargray customers who’d never been exposed to the station, also seen on Hilton Head on Time Warner Channel 3, were pleasantly surprised when they turned on the tube and saw local faces, local news and local businesses.

Shortly after the channel move, Hargray announced it would purchase Charter Cable, propelling WHHI-TV into even more households across the Lowcountry. At this point, WHHI-TV saw opportunity and quickly realized it needed to offer appropriate programming to all of the station’s viewership, including Bluffton and Beaufort.

For many years, WHHI-TV produced The Lowcountry Report, which recently changed its name to The Hilton Head News. Hosted by Ali McNair, it offers a glimpse at the news across the Lowcountry, but focusing on Hilton Head. After WHHI-TV’s move to Channel 8, the station understood the need to brand a separate newscast for the folks living across the bridge and began The Bluffton News.

You can imagine its popularity. Partnering with The Bluffton Sun, the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and the Old Town Bluffton Association, The Bluffton News has become an instant hit with the community.

So guess what WHHI-TV quickly realized? That’s right… there was another bridge in our divided county, one that crossed the Broad River into Beaufort. And yes, WHHI-TV will be producing The Beaufort News, which will air for the first time on Thursday, July 12 at 7pm.

Hosted by Jessa Jeremiah, The Beaufort News will air twice daily at 7pm and 11pm. Partnering with The Island News, The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Lowcountry Weekly, The Beaufort News will deliver weekly headlines, a “Hot off the Press” report, a business report and an arts and entertainment report. The Beaufort News will also host two members of the community per week who are making significant news in the Beaufort area.

In addition to The Beaufort News, WHHI-TV will produce a talk show, hosted by Mayor Billy Keyserling, called Straight Talk with Billy K. Each week, Mayor Keyserling will ask influential leaders in the community to talk about real issues facing the City of Beaufort. Formatted “Charlie Rose-style,” Mayor Keyserling hopes to have candid and civil conversations about current local, regional and national events that directly relate to the City of Beaufort. His first guests are Patty Kennedy, director of the Beaufort County Open Land Trust, to discuss land preservation, and Col. John Payne and Jon Rembold, representing the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, discussing sequestration. Straight Talk with Billy K. will air on Wednesdays at 4:30pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm.

Another show that will be added to the WHHI-TV line-up in July will be (843) TV. The format of the show will be a panel discussion between members of the Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head and Jasper County communities. Each week, three members of the respective municipalities will discuss topics relative to their organizations and their communities. WHHI-TV will air (843) TV twice daily.

WHHI-TV, already very popular with the locals on Hilton Head, turns 20 this year, and the station couldn’t be more excited to be starting its third decade in the Lowcountry.

Byrne Acquisition Group purchased the station in 2006, and since then has made steady improvements to its programming. Dedicated to producing quality local programming, WHHI-TV is proud of its long-running shows like Talk of the Town, Healthy Living and Lynes on Design. And its newer shows are becoming instant hits in the community. Hip Yoga, Hilton Head News, Bluffton News, Money Matters, Golf Weekly, RETV and Girl Talk, about to celebrate its 200th episode, are all popular with residents and visitors interested in what’s happening right here. Not in Savannah, not in Charleston, but here, in the tidal heart of the Lowcountry. These signature programs are regularly updated, giving the viewers fresh content each week, and the station’s Internet presence via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube helps promote the station and specific show segments to its fan base on a regular basis.

You probably know someone who’s been on one of the station’s shows, and that’s what sets WHHI-TV apart from the rest. In this day and age of shopping local and dining local, it’s also important to be entertained and served local news by familiar faces about things we all care about, whether it be real estate, golf, new economic opportunities, or special events. Those familiar faces you see hosting the various programs are your neighbors and friends. They care about the message they are bringing to the Lowcountry, and they play an active role in planning out the show content. What’s going on in our own backyard is truly what residents and tourists alike want to know about.

The station has paid close attention to the needs of the community, and in addition to the new programs that have been created, two main projects have blossomed forth within the past five years. The partnership with The Heritage Classic Foundation was formed in 2008 and has utilized the station’s production talents for off-air projects like the DVD that plays in all of the shuttle buses used to transport tournament-goers during the week of The Heritage as well as on-air programming including The Heritage Golf Report and Inside the Ropes. One of the largest and most successful undertakings has been the High School Football Zone, bringing the excitement of local high school football to the airways with the High School Game of the Week for 10 weeks during the fall.

This year, WHHI-TV will also be partnering with the Beaufort Water Festival. The station will produce a video welcoming patrons that will run consecutively on an outdoor Jumbotron LED video screen in Henry C. Chamber Waterfront Park all 10 days of Water Festival, July 13-22, 2012.

Wayne Morris, WHHI-TV’s General Manager, reiterated the station’s commitment to the Lowcountry, saying, “It’s been our goal since we purchased the station in 2006 to build a bridge between the station and the community; and we’ve done that through quality programming that is 100 percent local.”

John Byrne, President of the Byrne Acquisition Group, explained, “The momentum and progress we’ve built in the last six years on Hilton Head is indicative of what you should expect to see in the next five years throughout the rest of Beaufort County. We are very proud to be an integral part of this community.”

So watch out Beaufort, here comes the News! Yours truly (Wendy Pollitzer) will be helping with program content and sales. If you have any news to contribute to The Beaufort News, please emailnews@whhitv.com, and if you’d like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please emailwendy@whhitv.com or call the station at (843) 785-4545.

It’s never been a more exciting time for the area’s only local television station, and Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties have never been more excited to tune in. Welcome home, from WHHI-TV.



Traveling this Summer?

Vacation Rentals by Owner is the way to go….

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

May 8, 2012


If I were ever going to be a backyard tourist, I’d choose Charleston as my destination any day. Yes, I am partial to the Holy City. It is my birthplace and the town that raised me. But most southerners would agree that it is truly one of the most magical cities in the country. And it’s only an hour and a half away!

When I go home to visit my parents and friends, I usually stay in Mount Pleasant. Sure Mt. P is fun and entertaining, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the distinct charm of cobblestones, earthquake bolts and cathedrals across the Cooper River. So this piece was especially fun to do, because I traveled over the Ravenel Bridge into the heart and soul of downtown Charleston to explore options of vacation rentals for the summer traveler. I could write a list a mile long about all the fun things to do in Charleston, but you already know how to have fun. The question is, do you know where to stay?

vrbo-king-streetKing Street in Downtown Charleston

My new favorite alternative to hotels and bed and breakfasts are homes leased short term on VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner). If you haven’t gone to this website yet and are traveling this summer, you need to do so now. It is the best ticket for choosing the right place for you and your family. It’s easy, affordable and can be tailored to fit your needs. Need to accommodate 8? Need handicap accessibility? Need proximity to restaurants and shopping? Whatever your desires, you can find it pretty easily on VRBO.

My friend Trey and I stayed in a couple VRBO’s in early March in different parts of downtown Charleston and had two experiences far removed from each other. And each was thoroughly enjoyable.

194 Rutledge Avenue


First, we stayed at 194 Rutledge Avenue. This 2-bedroom cottage was perfect for a girls’ getaway, a young family and especially tourists without a car. Personally, I thought it was the ideal rental for the romantic retreat. We arrived to a nice bottle of white wine, toured the space with the owner and made ourselves at home within a matter of minutes.

The decor was chic and Charleston themed. Modern conveniences coupled with comfortable design made this cottage unique. And the proximity to Hominy Grill, Fuel and Lana made our stay even more fun!


The following are two reviews on VRBO about this cottage:

–         Many times when you rent a property it doesn’t quite match the pictures you viewed and the information you saw on-line. This is not the case with this rental. It exceeded our expectations in every way. It is a well-appointed, clean, comfortable rental in a great location of Charleston. Three very good restaurants are just steps away and downtown Charleston is only blocks further. Don’t miss going to the Fuel restaurant across the street and get the fresh Ahi Tuna Tacos … unbelievable!

–        We loved the cottage! It was perfect for us. We loved the off-street parking and the newly refurbished and well-maintained house. It is nicely decorated and comfortable for four. It is a short drive to downtown and is quiet at night. We enjoyed Hominy Grill (on the corner up from the cottage) with an award-winning chef/owner. The chocolate pudding was great. We also enjoyed Magnolia’s and 82 Queen downtown. Thanks for a great weekend. We would definitely stay there again!

Society House on King Street

Next, we stayed at the Society House on King Street. Girls, planning a shopping getaway soon? This is the place to stay for certain! Right outside your front door, on King Street, within steps are fantastic retail stores like the NEW Louis Vuitton store, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, Williams and Sonoma, J Crew, Starbucks, New Juicy Couture, Banana Republic, Lacoste, multiple Antique stores, specialty boutiques and, of course, Bob Ellis. Market Street and The Charleston Place Hotel are just down the street as well.


The location is key, no doubt about it, but this condo is luxurious!

Completely renovated with all new construction inside, it boasts hardwood flooring throughout, an elegant kitchen appointed with GE Stainless and Monogram appliances, beautiful custom handmade cabinetry and Granite counter tops. With a convenient and secure entrance from King Street, this quiet and spacious condo is all about the details.


We spent a wonderful evening dining at Hall’s Chophouse and strolled King the following day. This is what another guest had to say about the Society House:

–      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We just returned home from an incredible girl’s weekend in Charleston . This unit was the perfect choice for our stay. The unit was impeccably clean and the condo was elegant yet comfortable. Talk about location! WOW! We spent our days shopping and dining with everything at our doorstep. We ate at Chai’s, Basil, FIG, Magnolia’s and had bottomless Mimosas at Virginia ‘s! (S.N.O.B is still our favorite)! Everything was in walking distance. The condo was even better than the pictures. We have stayed in many Charleston hotels, but these condominiums far surpass any of those. We will never stay in Charleston again unless it is here! Thank you again for making our moms’ weekend truly special.

VRBO’s are truly the way to go this summer. They are in cities all over the country, so finding your home shouldn’t be hard. And, you can type in your price range from the get-go to weed out the unaffordable options. Privacy is the best attribute of a VRBO. It’s a home away from home; and, whether you’re staying for a week or a night, VRBO will have the right spot for you. Go towww.vrbo.com to begin your search. You’ll be thankful!


Don’t be stupid with your Smartphone

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

May 8, 2012


Most of my articles are upbeat, positive and for the improvement ofthe community. Rarely, if ever, have I written an article to create fear. And I won’t do so now. I will, however, write about ways to protect yourself… for the overall safety of our hometown. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.

We live in a day and age that demands instant communication, whether it be via text, email, phone or Facebook. So what do most of us have now that accomplishes all of this? You guessed it. Smartphones. They certainly are sexy, aren’t they? They’re fast, smart… dangerous.

Think about it. One phone has the capability of storing all of our bank account information, our passwords, every contact we’ve ever had, and performing all the tasks we’re able to do on a secure computer network… but on a mobile connection.   Our phones are now more powerful than our desktops. As always, when one utility gets increased power, it also suffers from vulnerability. When you have so much information stored on a mobile phone, it becomes a target for a variety of reasons.

There is not one psychological make-up of a hacker. They come in all shapes and sizes. So that makes us all targets, even if we’re average joes or janes. Who knows what information someone wants from us? But if they want it bad enough, they will get it.

As you read further, you will be shocked at how easy it is to hack into any smartphone like an Android, Palm Pre, Blackberry and the infamous iPhone… the phone that changed our security forever.

It could be a jealous boyfriend, divorcée or unfaithful spouse who wants to find out where you are… and where you are not. It could be Law Enforcement seeking details… not about you, but possibly someone you know. Or, even scarier, it could be a criminal seeking details from Law Enforcement. The initiative to deceive, rather than the reason for it, is enough to make you question someone’s character – morally, ethically and legally

Threats to mobile security can be very simple to very complex, involving Trojan horses, viruses and third party apps. If you’re close to someone, it can be as easy as obtaining your phone and quickly getting a few bits of information, then manipulating phone specifics to track your location, forward phone messages or check emails and Facebook messages.

More sophisticated hackers place spyware applications on your phone that are undetected by antivirus software. And the most dangerous hackers use Wi-Fi capability to attack phones within the vicinity without the user ever knowing.

The following two scenarios are examples that describe the ease of hacking texts within a smartphone:

How to Hack a Smartphone, Part 1

A ‘hacker tool kit’ includes a laptop with Wi-Fi connectivity (or any device with Wi-Fi capability) and two phones. One phone acts as a GSM modem for the laptop and the other phone is the hacker’s personal phone, which is used to receive information. A third phone, which is a target device, becomes the phone ‘under attack.’


What is commonly known as a ‘Midnight Raid’ is often pulled off during the night when the phone’s user is asleep and the device is still turned on as it is charged, or simply left on the nightstand.

The hacker sends a simple SMS, which invokes Internet Explorer on the attack device. Then the hacker runs an application on the attacked phone that retrieves data. The SMS comes back to the hacker’s phone with the attack phone’s INSI number; the phone’s unique ID. In this scenario, a hacker can also steal contact lists, push viruses to the device under attack, and even initiate a denial of service attack.

How to Hack a Smartphone, Part 2

In a controlled message attack, a criminal can change the control settings of a device without the user having any knowledge. A hacker can easily uncheck SSL (Secure Sockets Layer-the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser), leaving the device vulnerable with no encryption. By delivering a wipe command, a hacker can remove all stored information from the device. Wipes like this can also be pushed to all devices contained in a hacked phone’s contact list.

These two examples of attacks prove that texts can no longer be considered safe. And these kinds of hacks are unique to smartphones, because PCs don’t have SMS capabilities.

Unfortunately, a hacker can do so much more than retrieve texts. They can hack satellite dishes into Wi-Fi signal boosters, giving access to multiple smartphones at one time. They can listen to phone conversations, retrieve confidential data relating to bank accounts and manipulate friendly apps to spy on your every move. Basically, they can become you in an instant.

And don’t think all of the stored information is on a hacker’s desktop. External hardrives can be hidden in personal vehicles, undetectable phones and remote controlled devices, among other secretive spots. If a hacker is investigated, you can be assured they’ve taken the necessary precautions to avoid getting caught. And that’s what makes this crime (or disgusting habit) even scarier. If they’re smart enough to hack, they’re indeed smart enough to hide their tracks.

So what can you do to protect your privacy and identity?

Precautions to take to stay safe from hackers:

• Stay current. Make sure your laptop, smartphone and tablet is up to date. Don’t use old versions of your operating system and Web browsers.

• Use a VPN on your phone. Virtual private networks can be set up for personal, as well as corporate, use.

• Bank at home. Avoid conducting financial transactions at a hot spot.

• Name your home network. For your home network, don’t use the generic name, called the SSID that came with the wireless router. Hackers will often create Wi-Fi networks with names like “wireless,” “default” or “linksys” (named after a router manufacturer), because most wireless devices are configured to automatically connect to networks that they’ve used in the past.

• Give Wi-Fi a rest. Turn off your Wi-Fi capabilities when you don’t need to connect to the Internet.

• Set your phone to lock, or time out, after a certain period of inactivity, requiring a password to get back in. Always use a password to get into your phone!

• Set a password for your voicemail and use it…every time you check a message.

• Install a wipe application. Remote wipe means that if your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely clear all of your data–including e-mail, contacts, texts, and documents–off of the handset, thus keeping that information out of the wrong hands.

•You can only get iPhone apps from the App Store, but Android apps are available outside the Android Market. Only install apps from trusted sources.

• Every time you install an Android app, you have to approve a list of permissions. Don’t just click to allow them all. Read the entire list. If you find something illogical, like a flashlight app asking for access to your email contacts, cancel the installation.

• When your smartphone’s operating system gets an update, it almost always includes patches for security flaws. Don’t delay; always install updates as soon as they’re available.

• Turn off your location settings while not using GPS features.

• Take necessary precautions on all your devices, especially your children’s. Phones, laptops, tablets, iPods, Wii’s, cameras, Xbox’s…anything that can connect to the internet wirelessly is a potential target. www.kids.gov is a wonderful government website that explains internet and cyber safety.

• Lastly, talk to your provider. If you have any suspicions of strange activity or privacy violations, go to the nearest store and ask for help. Even if you don’t have suspicions, it might be a good idea to get your phone up to date. Take as many precautions as possible to avoid social or criminal hacking.

A person may want to get into your phone for a variety of reasons. As mentioned before, the cyber stalker could be a pervert, an investigator, a gossip, a cheater, a thief or just plainly… a creep who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Beware, protect yourself and safeguard your identity. The world is a much better place when we don’t have to fear it.


Building Bridges

Bridges Preparatory School to open in 2013

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

March 26, 2012


Charter schools in South Carolina are growing, in enrollment numbers, in popularity and with support fromstate legislators.

On Wednesday, March 21, the South Carolina Senate approved a bill that Superintendent Mick Zais called his top legislative priority, a bill designed to boost the growth of charter schools statewide.

The Senate voted 39-2 on H. 3241, which gives more options for charter schools to form, including sponsorship by a university, and allows for boys-only and girls-only schools. It also requires traditional schools to give charter students access to sports and other extracurricular activities that their schools don’t offer.

South Carolina has 17,000 students in 47 charter schools, which are public schools overseen by a board of parents, teachers and community members, rather than a district board. They’re also subject to fewer government regulations than traditional public schools.

And Beaufort County is about to welcome its second charter school, which will open in the Fall of 2013. Bridges Preparatory School will operate under the South Carolina Public Charter School District. Its involvement with the Beaufort County School District will be limited, but the school is striving to have a positive working relationship with BCSD.

Given the overwhelming interest in Riverview Charter School (679 applicants for 2012-2013 school year) and the need for increased school choice in Beaufort County, the planning committee of Bridges Preparatory School (BPS) understands the community’s desire for classes that are smaller and more nurturing than those of traditional public schools in Beaufort County. BPS will be a tuition-free public school and intends to start with classes for Kindergarten – 6th grades. Each year thereafter, one grade will be added to BPS, which will ultimately offer grades Kindergarten – 12th, with 4 classes per grade.

Conceived as an alternative choice to protect families from rezoning and grade reconfigurations, Bridges Preparatory School will be open to any child in South Carolina under the umbrella of the state district. So, no matter where you live in Beaufort County, or the state for that matter, families are welcome to apply. And the planning committee for Bridges wants to stress diversity with regards to race, color, sex, ability and socio-economic status and offer a school that is safe, nurturing and open to all students.

Planning committee member Amy Painton explains, “We want to offer a smaller public school setting that offers whole child, student centered, character based education. Within those parameters, we want to promote citizenship and diversity. Our main goal is to offer high quality education for all.”

So what will make Bridges different from other schools in Beaufort County? BPS will offer a curriculum that is both academic and social.  It will also utilize inquiry-based methods and project-based instruction using the Paideia Program.

The BPS faculty, who will be state certified and trained by Paideia, will be charged with affording children the opportunity to ask their own questions, study their answers and revise their thinking.  This approach will increase student investment, responsibility, and learning.  Teachers will know their children individually and create individualized learning plans to reflect each child’s learning style.

Committee Chairwoman Ivie Szalai explains, “We’re excited about our new school. With the teaching methodologies BPS has chosen, our teachers will develop individual learning plans and teach the children that it’s okay to learn differently. Our teachers will develop more self confidence in the classroom.”

In addition to the Paideia National Organization School and the SC Public Charter School District, BPS will also have alliances and partnerships with The First Tee National School Program and the Youth Leadership Institute of Clemson University. The school will function as a non-profit organization through the order of the following entities: South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina Public Charter School District, BPS Board of Directors, BPS Head of School, school faculty, students, parents and community. By creating these partnerships and developing support through community governance, organizers insist that Student achievement will be expected to meet or exceed goals outlined in the SC State curriculum standards based on state and federal funding of $5130 per pupil.

The South Carolina Public Charter School District (SCPCSD) was created by the South Carolina General Assembly. As of the 2011-2012 academic year, there were thirteen schools in the SCPCSD, seven of which are “brick and mortar” schools, while six are “virtual schools.”

Some of the brick and mortar schools are adding grades each year as they ramp up their enrollment. There are approximately 1,500 students in these seven brick and mortar schools. The six virtual schools all serve students from all across the state, with approximately 8,500 students in total.

Seven more schools will open during the 2012-2013 year. Bridges Preparatory School, scheduled to open in the Fall of 2013, was modeled after Spartanburg Charter School and Youth Leadership Academy in Pickens, based on similarities of community needs, by the BPS Charter planning committee.

The BPS Charter Planning Committee consists of a diverse group of concerned parents, citizens, educators and professionals. Once the Charter is approved, these committee chairs will become active board chairs. Once the school year begins in 2013, a new Board will be elected, and community members are encouraged to apply.

The application for the charter is due May 1, 2012. In addition to curriculum proposals, enrollment projections, a 5-year budget and a calendar, the application will also include letters of support. If you are interested in writing a letter to show your support for Bridges Preparatory School and/or want more information, please visit www.bridgespreparatoryschool.com.

Beaufort County is excited to welcome another charter school to our ever-growing area. We look forward to welcoming Bridges Preparatory School as another school of choice for all residents.


4th Annual Beaufort Twilight Run

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

February 28, 2012


Ah, spring! The season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. And the urge to be outdoors increases with every turning page on the March calendar.

So I say to my friends in the Lowcountry, it’s time to get outside and get in shape!

What better event to welcome Spring than the 4thAnnual Beaufort Twilight Run (BTR) to benefit Riverview Charter School? The time of year is perfect, the setting spectacular, the audience dedicated and the cause… benevolent.

BTR will be held Saturday, March 24, with a variety of events starting at 4:30pm. The USATF sanctioned running festival will host a competitive 8K Run and 5K Run, a 5K Fun Walk and a 1/4 mile Kid’s Fun Run throughout the village of Habersham at dusk. And, a traditional Lowcountry Oyster Roast, enjoyable for the entire family, will cap off the evening.

And that’s just what organizers have aimed to do since BTR’s inception in 2009. They’ve created a pleasurable event for every member of your clan: the competitor, the leisurely stroller, the naturalist, and the foodie. There’s a little something for everyone. The BTR is unique, because it’s held at night. But, it’s open invitation for the entire family sets the running festival apart from others and welcomes the family unit as opposed to individual members. That’s what makes it distinctive and intriguing, even to out-of-staters.


In fact, two families traveling from Indiana will be participating this year. They’ve planned their Spring Breaks around the seasonal run and have booked campsites at Hunting Island State Park. The Sewards and Colvins from Marion, Indiana are devout runners and chose Beaufort as their Spring Break destination, thanks to the Beaufort Twilight Run.

Eric Seward explains, “In my search of races, I came across the Twilight Run and Oyster Roast.  The run looked cool, and the Oyster roast just seemed like a perfect spring break thing to do.”

The Seward’s and Colvin’s are families not unlike many in Beaufort. They are health-conscience, fun loving and appreciative of the natural environment. So the BTR was a no-brainer for them.


Three years ago Seward started a summer training group called ENER-G (Eastbrook Neighborhood Exercise and Running Group). The group was organized to augment Josh Colvin’s undertaking as Coach for a variety of area school teams.

The group often travels to runs around the country, in addition to hosting cookouts, bike rides, triathlons and mud runs of their own. In fact, they’ve taken a large group to Frankenmuth, Michigan to run the annual Fourth of July races the last three summers and have run races in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

Seward explains, “A big part of our group is running with purpose.  We don’t tell kids what that purpose should be.  For some, it’s about winning.  For others, it’s about team.  Others want to lose weight.  Others have the purpose to be a better person or to run for religious reasons.  Whatever the purpose, in helping them accomplish those goals, we are making better, stronger young people.”

Eric Seward and Josh Colvin are the patriarchs of their athletic families. Seward, an obstetrician/gynecologist physician, is 42. He’s the veteran of 10 marathons. Josh Colvin, 37, is a teacher and coach at Eastbrook Junior High School and holds the county record in the 5K. Both dads are steadily improving and training for the Bayshore Marathon in Michigan at the end of May.

Seward’s wife Jaimie and Colvin’s wife Leah will be running the BTR, as well as their combined five children. Jaimie ran her first Marathon in Cape Cod last year, and Leah is training for her first 1/2 Marathon in Bayshore this year. All the kids have a running background, and some are a bit more competitive than others.

Fifteen-year-old Sophie Seward, for example, won All-State in Cross Country, and her 5K times are mid-18’s. She’s actually someone to watch as a medal contender in the 8K at the BTR.

Hannah Seward, a 14-year-old Honor Society inductee, and Sierra Colvin, also 14 and the number one middle distance runner on the cross-country team, are classmates and friends. They’ve traded number one spots in long distances and are used to running 3Ks. They’re both anxious to run the 8K at this year’s BTR.

Eli Seward is not the typical runner. He’s a football and baseball player, but also ran cross-country this year as a 5th grader, the only one to do so. He’s currently training for a 1/2 Marathon in Indianapolis. He’s eleven and also running the 8K!

And then there’s Zoe Seward, only 7, with two full 5Ks under her belt. Never pressured to run, her parents sign her up when she wants to. She’s “excited, but a little nervous” to run the BTR.

Don’t worry Zoe…there will be plenty of 1st graders running with you. It’s all about having fun at your age!


One of the Sewards will be present, but probably not able to participate this year. Abe Seward, born February 17th, may be a little young and too small (8lbs. 11oz.) for this race. But watch out, mama Jaimie is back! The BTR will be her first race since August 2011 and her first since delivery. Make sure to give this recent birthing mother a pat on the back when you see her!

The Sewards and Colvins have never traveled to the Lowcountry before, and they are thrilled to come for their inaugural visit. While camping at Hunting Island, they plan go biking, fishing and all things outdoors. They’re even running another 5K on Tybee while they’re here.

Additionally, Colvin, who teaches Social Studies, wants to learn more about the history of our area, specifically the Lowcountry’s Native American and Colonial history. And, as we all know, there’s an abundance of resources here to fulfill his quest.

Most of all, they’re looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends.

And they’re also excited about the Oyster Roast.

“I had a mean bowl of clam chowder at the Cape Cod Marathon, but I have a feeling the roasted Oysters at the Twilight run might be even better,” says Seward.

Colvin adds, “ Indiana is not known for its seafood, so this will be a treat for me.  My wife and daughter are not so enthused, but they are willing to try them.”

The Sewards and Colvins should be commended for taking charge of their health and training as families. The seed is planted in their children; and, for a lifetime, these kids will understand the benefits of exercise and core family values.

Colvin explains, “Running as a family promotes a healthy lifestyle for us.  I want to instill this belief in our children, so they will have the knowledge to live a healthy life.”

When asked about the benefit of youth exercise, Seward replied, “Sports in general are a fun way for kids to learn to be fit, to socialize and work towards common goals.  Whether it’s basketball, soccer, football, baseball, etc. or running. Individual sports take out the excuses.  You win or lose on your own legs.”

“…And let’s not forget, most healthy kids go on to be healthy adults!”

Colvin agrees. “I think (youth exercise) is important, because it keeps kids busy and focused.  I seem to accomplish more when I have lots going on.”

They couldn’t have chosen a better race to accentuate their commitment to family and the healthy child.

The Beaufort Twilight Run benefits Riverview Charter School, dedicated to nurturing the whole child and preparing each student for a global society by emphasizing “learning by doing,” family and community involvement and engaged citizenship.

On the heels of overcoming political adversity, Riverview Charter School is proud to hold its head up high and continue in its stride toward quality education. The school didn’t give up, and the kids benefited. By staying on track, the school taught by example, just as their mission says.

Even though Eric Seward is from Indiana and knows little about Riverview’s recent history, his opinion about adversity can be identified by many, both attending Riverview and on the sidelines.

“I suppose in the case of adversity, it’s important to remember that it’s the ‘long run’ that counts.  Consistent effort and determination and belief in yourself will get you across the finish line. There’s a point in every race where the going gets tough. Your brain and muscles crave oxygen, and you want to slow down and quit.  But if you find a way to fight through that, you have a great sense of accomplishment.”

The Beaufort community welcomes our visitors, the Sewards and the Colvins and congratulates Riverview Charter School for building this annual race into a popular, fun event for the entire family.

Thank you for giving our community something to believe in and giving us an event that allows us to believe in ourselves.

Additional Information about The Beaufort Twilight Run:

Endurance Imaging will be taking race photos. They are located out of Jacksonville, FL and have taken photos at the Boston, London and Miami Marathons. Be sure to get your photos!


All races start and end in the Habersham Marketplace. For registration, race descriptions, the course map and more, please visit www.beauforttwilightrun.com.

Cash awards will be given for the 8K and 5K. Following the runs, participants will enjoy oysters from Sea Eagle Market and food from Habersham merchants, including Piace Pizza. The post race party will also feature live music from The Brewer Band, self-described as, “ a little bit country, a little bit blues and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.

• Funds raised from the Beaufort Twilight Run will go toward the purchase of iPads, Apple TV systems in the middle school classrooms, additional book titles for classroom libraries and our school-wide guided reading library, replacement science lab kits, replacement art supplies, and instruments, costumes and props for the Music and Creative Arts programs, in addition to Tidewatch (after school program) scholarships for students who need financial assistance, scholarships for students who need support in participating on field trips and ongoing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.


Awaken the Dragon

An inspiring film about strength and survival… and a personal reminder of what matters most in life

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

February 14, 2012


Timing has a way of working out doesn’t it? Personally,I’ve been faced with many obstacles lately, trying to figure out what’s best for me, my daughters, and our future. In these trying economic times, we’re all at crossroads in our lives. Recently I’ve felt pain and knew that time would heal the psychological wounds. So I’ve been trucking on, day to day, with somewhat of a “woe is me” attitude, not fully appreciating all the positives in my life. Needless to say, the last few weeks, well years, have been a bit depressing.

Last week, I got a phone call from my sister-like cousin. I answered her call, and she was crying. The words that subsequently came out of her mouth were shocking. Her best friend, and mine, was just diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer. She’s a 35- year-old pharmacist with FOUR children! And also the sweetest wife and loyal friend a woman could possibly be! She is about to endure months, maybe years of treatment.

I was speechless. I kept thinking, “Of anyone on this planet, Ashley does not deserve this!” Then I immediately got up out of the chair and looked at my little girls’ photo in my office and wept. There is nothing in my life that could possibly be more important than seeing those two smiles every day. And now, one of my dearest friends is facing that possibility. Everything stopped, at least for a day, and I picked the girls up from school early just to say, “I love you.”

Then a few days later, I got a call from my mother. One of her dearest friends, who’s been suffering from Colon Cancer for five years, was now in need of Hospice care. She passed away a few days later.

Suddenly, my life was just fine. How could I be so selfish to think my world was crumbling? I am healthy. My daughters are healthy. For goodness sake, my mom, who is a breast cancer survivor of nine years now, is healthy.

On the same day I got the news of my mom’s friend’s passing, I got my assignment for the next issue of Lowcountry Weekly. I was forwarded contact information for Liz Oakley, Director of Awaken the Dragon, a feature film in this year’s Beaufort International Film Festival. So I emailed her, and she sent a clip of the film.


I sat in City Java & News, watched the trailer, and publicly wept… again. But these tears weren’t falling with emotions of sadness. They were energetic, happy tears filled with optimism and strength. This is a movie for all of us to see, whether we’ve been diagnosed or not. We all need a reason to wake up, get energized about life and find our inner peace.

With Awaken The Dragon, Oakley, an award-winning writer/producer living in Charleston, challenges traditional thinking about illness and recovery.

The film followed a group of cancer survivors through their journey with an ancient Chinese sport that empowered them to compete as a team, challenged their own ideas of what it means to be “sick” and how live more fully than they ever thought possible. Moving beyond survival, the crew learned to thrive in their chosen moments, transforming into a single force of power and beauty.

Oakley explains, “We shouldn’t have to hear the words “you have cancer” to start living our best lives. I hope, through this film, I can share at least some small part of what I have learned. I hope it will inspire others to stir their own slumbering powers. Already Awaken the Dragon has done just that for me. I feel like I’ve been sleeping for years. After I saw the clip, I realized my potential and simultaneously understood that any day could be my last. This is my one life, and it’s time to live it!

biff-dragon-liz-oakleyLiz Oakley

Think about that someone you know who’s been diagnosed. Or is that person you? How have you embraced the news? Is it time to awaken your dragon? This film will encourage positive momentum, whether you’re struggling with the disease or not.

Awaken the Dragon is a film that will stir emotions, for the better. Its message is moving, and the topic hits so close to home for many of us. We walk tracks to raise awareness. We donate money for research. We pray for a cure, which will be found one day. But if we don’t have Cancer, it’s often difficult to understand its physical and psychological effects.

This film illustrates individual struggles and the encouraging result of teamwork. The “Just do it” attitude is prevalent, and the absence of self-pity is remarkable. Don’t we all need a reminder of that every now and again? If yes is your answer, then mark your calendar for Saturday, February 18 at 1:40pm at USCB’s Center for the Arts for the screening of Awaken the Dragon at the 2012 Beaufort International Film Festival.

Most of Awaken the Dragon was filmed in neighboring Charleston, the hub of the Lowcountry. Its beautiful photography showcases the picturesque rivers and iconic landmarks. But even better, the film features real people, just like you and me, from our sister city. And many of these courageous warriors will be in Beaufort for the screening. What an opportunity to meet real heroes and thank them and Oakley for giving us such a film of inspiration.

Awaken the Dragon is a must-see at this year’s festival. I know I’m anxious to see it, with me, myself and I. It’s the spark I need to light my fire. How high is your flame burning these days?

About Awaken the Dragon:

As the sun rises over the Ashley River, the voice of a coxswain travels on water broken by the blades of twenty paddles. The paddlers sit side by side, striking in unison, propelling the sleek 48-foot vessel toward a destination that resides, not on a map, but within each soul. Awaken the Dragon, a new film by Liz Oakley, explores how an ancient Chinese sport is empowering cancer survivors to redefine what it means to be “sick” and the role a cancer diagnosis can play. Their journey to reclaim life has led to revelations they never dreamed of and to a life they never thought possible. The changes are so striking they inspire researchers and a National Cancer Institute study, the results could hold hope for the future of all survivors.

Against the backdrop of the life of a fledgling dragon boat team, the film profiles individual stories of strength, courage and survival. Awaken the Dragon follows the members of Dragon Boat Charleston through three years of competition, beginning with an international competition in Victoria, British Columbia and culminating at the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival in 2007. While engaged in the unfolding fates of the characters and the team, viewers will be drawn into the sport’s feast for the senses — brilliant colors, pounding drums, splashing water. They will witness the transformation of twenty solitary paddlers into a single force of power and beauty. Awaken the Dragon is a story beyond survival. . . a story of reclaiming life. . . a story of awakening the dragon within.


Dragon boating, which originated in 4th Century B.C. China, has been recognized as the fastest growing sport in the world. Its status in Asia is legendary and it has a devout following in Canada and the Pacific Northwest. But until recently, it was virtually unheard of in the Southeast and a complete novelty for the historic city of Charleston, SC.

Yet six years ago, dragon boating made its way to the waterways of the South Carolina Lowcountry and into the hearts of an unsuspecting and unlikely crew. Many who joined Dragon Boat Charleston had never paddled so much as a canoe, let alone adragon boat. Nevertheless, they began paddling a boat of ancient Chinese heritage down a river bordered by pre-Revolutionary War homes and plantation rice fields.


A scant six months later the team found themselves traveling across North America to compete in an international competition against well seasoned and decorated competitors. They were, to put it simply, the Bad News Bears of the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival.

Filmmaker Oakley was drawn to the courage and strength of these cancer survivors and began to follow them in 2004 as they prepared to journey to Victoria. “The first time I observed practice, they made me get into the boat and paddle,” she says. “It was incredible — men and women from all walks of life, with all types of cancer, paddling together and giving strength to each other.   I thought, ‘People have to know about this. We can all learn from this.’”

Awaken the Dragon is filled with a remarkable group of survivors. There’s Michelle, 38 years old and a successful attorney, recovering from a brain tumor. Real estate appraiser Ira, 70 years old, used to play a bit of golf and tennis before having a portion of his stomach removed. Barbie, 25 and newly married, lost an eye to cancer at the age of two and has no memory of life any other way. At 69, Cay has been battling stage IV ovarian cancer for three years and continues to paddle and compete through her treatment. Margaret is 37, a wife, mother and career woman recovering from a mastectomy. Mark is 45 and four years into his battle against stage IV colon cancer. He tells us there are no statistics for life beyond five years. These amazing people teach us what it truly means to live life — even if it’s on a deadline.

Little did Oakley know when she started that she and her crew would continue to follow the team — on camera and off — through eight festival competitions, endless early morning practices, and several lifetimes worth of laughter and tears. Some of the team didn’t make it to the finish line, but their incredible strength and spirit will live on through the legacy of Awaken the Dragon.

Awaken The Dragon will screen on Saturday, February 18 at 1:40pm at USCB’s Center for the Arts as part of the 2012 Beaufort International Film Festival.


Rolling out the Red Carpet

Fandango Productions South and the Beaufort Film Society are bringing Hollywood glamour to this year’s Beaufort International Film Festival.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

January 31, 2012


The Beaufort International Film Festival is approaching, and this year the anticipated event is sure to wow! Beginning with the Opening Ceremony to be held on Wednesday, February 15 on the rooftop of Old Bay Marketplace, 917 Bay Street, the 2012 festival is sure to be hailed as the most enchanting yet.

The Beaufort Film Society presents the four-day event each year. Its President, Ron Tucker wanted to deliver the 2012 festival with all the bells and whistles of true Hollywood glamour. So this year, the Beaufort International Film Festival signed on help from Fandango Productions South to deliver stunning and memorable décor to the festival.

fandango-fripp-friendJodie Miller and Fripp Langford

Fandango Productions South, a national event-planning firm, is headquartered in Beaufort and catersto the southeastern market. Their creative capability is immeasurable. They have access to a myriad of props and the manpower to install large-scale décor, which is what you’ll see at this year’s festival at USCB’s Center for the Arts.

The Opening Ceremony atop the Old Bay Marketplace will include one-of-a-kind centerpieces and the essential tabletops and bar for the classic Lowcountry cocktail party, but with a West Coast influence. Emily’s, SuZara’s, Griffin Market, Port Royal Pasta Company, Breakwater and Saltus will offer food stations throughout the reception.

Original Lighting will be a large part of the night – colorblaster lights will be placed every few feet along the walls, both inside and out, to create an original ambiance throughout the evening. Additionally, Fandango Productions will project the Beaufort International Film Festival’s logo in bright clean light onto the façade of the brick wall, making a dramatic statement while keeping the beautiful view unobstructed. Each of the glass skylights will be lit from below with red uplights, creating a visual centerpiece of the entire space. And surrounding the glass skylight structures will be white leather lounge furniture. There will be 24 flags hung from a tent structure and around the perimeter to represent the countries with submissions in the film festival.

The Opening Ceremony is sure to impress even the active socialite who’s seen all the best parties! But that’s just the beginning. The actual festival begins Thursday, February 16 at a new venue, USCB’s Center for the Arts.


As guests arrive to film screenings, they will notice the large light projection of the Beaufort International Film Festival logo onto the façade of the USCB building in bright white light. It will even be visible from the street, which will be attractive to both locals and visitors. For an added touch of Hollywood, red carpet will be placed on the sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the front door.

The lobby area of the Center for the Arts will be completely draped from floor to ceiling to achieve a total transformation. The draping will be blue janus pipe and drape – dramatic, but not too flashy – and will allow a complete color changeover for the awards ceremony to stand out noticeably.

The ticket booth will be housed in the offices of the lobby of the Arts Center at USCB. This area will be draped in Silver Satin to continue the look of the exterior curved wall, but will have a large 2’x6’ custom sign to identify its purpose in style. Blue and silver stanchions and ropes will guide the crowd and add an extra “movie theater” touch.


Fandango is even creating a Green Room for this year’s festival! This space will provide a tongue-in-cheek nod to the movie industry’s most famous (or infamous…) space. This room will be lit from floor to ceiling in green saturated light and house white leather lounge furniture. It will be a relaxing space for VIPs, press, and Film Festival volunteers to blog, rest, and network. Seating on bench style lounge furniture and a centralized square bench will anchor the space.

At the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, February 18, the lobby area of the Center for the Arts will be transformed – the walls will be covered in floor to ceiling gold double-layered pipe and drape. Accent colors for the night will be black and ivory, to resemble the clapboard of a movie production.

Guests will enjoy an Awards Ceremony cocktail hour with champagne and appetizers in the beautifully decorated lobby space before the Awards presentations begin at 8pm.

There is no holding back at this year’s festival, which is bringing the needed look and feel of Hollywood to Beaufort. Organizers work tirelessly year-round to choose films, solicit sponsors and memberships, plan this unforgettable event and promote the Beaufort Film Society. This event is becoming recognized as THE authoritative film festival in the southeast. And this year, its décor will complement all of the coordinators’ hard work. Tucker and his volunteers deserve the Red Carpet treatment, and they will get it in 2012.


Be a Fairy Godmother

The Junior Service League of Beaufort is creating aProm Boutique for high school girls… and they need your gently used dresses!

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

January 17, 2012

prom-boutique-committeeJSLB’s Prom Boutique Committee

It may only be January, but that doesn’t mean area girls aren’t beginning to think about Prom. That’s right… Prom will be here before you know it; and Juniors and Seniors all over Beaufort County are starting to think about the perfect dress to compliment the most anticipated night of their high school career.

For some, it is also a very stressful time of year. Imagine peers chatting about current trends, girlfriends shopping around for the perfect style. You’ve dreamed about Prom since the first time you watched Cinderella. Now, it’s finally time to enjoy the magical evening, and you want the dress that’s going to catch every eye in the gymnasium. But wait. You look at the price tags. These dresses are simply unaffordable, and there’s no way you’re ever going to be able to make enough money this Spring to pay for your dream gown.

It can be depressing, especially if you’ve worked hard through high school. You’ve made good grades. You’re a good girl. It’s just hard to find the money.

Well, there’s a group of women who understand just how you feel. The Junior Service League of Beaufort, a network of women who assist the community through acts of volunteerism, have organized the JSLB Prom Boutique, to be held March 3, 2012 at Studio B Dance Centre, 915 Greene Street in downtown Beaufort.

The mission of the JSLB Prom Boutique is to promote the confidence and self-esteem of the young women of Beaufort whose families have been affected by these hard economic times. The purpose of the project is to provide a gown and coordinating accessories for these young women to wear to the prom.

They are collecting gently used dresses from now until March, anticipating 300 gowns for area high school-aged girls to choose from.

JSLB has partnered with the Beaufort County School District, relying on social workers and guidance counselors to assist with choosing deserving girls to preview the gowns first. After this select group is invited to preview the dresses, the boutique will be open to all Beaufort County Juniors and Seniors.


Elizabeth Klosterman, JSLB’s Prom Boutique chair, explains, “Prom is a milestone in every girl’s life, a time when they should feel a tremendous amount of confidence. This project is a good fit for JSLB, because it fulfills every component of our mission.”

Emily Harris, this year’s President, agrees. “We are truly a service league, and The JSLB Prom Boutique is a direct way we can impact young women in Beaufort County. It clearly meets our mission of enriching the lives of women, children and families in our area.”

Through the talents of JSLB’s diverse membership, the Junior Service League of Beaufort has offered service and raised money for the Boys and Girls Club, AMIkids, CAPA, Choices, Friends of Caroline Hospice, Thumbs Up, Hope Haven, the Little Red Dog Foundation, United Way and St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry.

The Prom Boutique is just another way JSLB is giving back. And it needs your help!

Calling all women of Beaufort County: JSLB wants your dresses-cocktail, semi-formal, formal, long, short, maternity and all seasons welcome! All sizes are needed! And don’t forget about the accessories. Prom Boutique is accepting jewelry, shoes, scarves, handbags and tiaras as well. It’s time to clean out those closets and donate to this worthwhile cause.

The Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Valentine Ball is approaching. Do you have a dress from last year that is taking up space? Or, do you know that this year’s gown will only be worn once? Or, have you been in five weddings this year, wondering what to do with all those bridesmaids dresses? Have you lost weight recently? Perhaps gained a few pounds? If so, sorry for the frank reminder; but, don’t keep those gowns for sentimental reasons! There’s no need for them to hang and collect dust. And you know that’s just what they’re doing.

Think about that 17-year-old girl, who has dreamed of that enchanted May evening. She’s just your size, has your exact style and could wear your dress with grace and poise like a model off the runway. She’s out there, and she’s depending on you.

Donating is easy. There are two drop-off locations in Northern Beaufort County: Palmetto Smiles of Beaufort, 40 Kemmerlin Lane on Lady’s Island and Sea Island Ophthalmology, 111 High Tide Drive in Beaufort. Additionally, if you live in Savannah, Hilton Head, Bluffton, Walterboro or Charleston and want to donate, a member of JSLB will pick it up from you. Just call (843) 566-4686.

If you don’t have a dress, JSLB is also accepting donations via PAYPAL on their website,www.jslbeaufort.org. Funds collected will allow a lucky young woman to actually go out and purchase the gown of her dreams.

In addition to Palmetto Smiles of Beaufort, Sea Island Ophthalmology, Studio B Dance Centre and Beaufort Memorial Hospital (JSLB’s 2011/12 lead sponsor), the organization would also like to thank Patrick Harris and Harris Pillow Supply for storing the dresses until the big day in March.

Members of the Prom Boutique committee include Elizabeth Klosterman (Chair), Carson Bruce (JSLB Service Chair), Emily Harris (President), Gloria Duryea (Past President), Lorin Siegel, Ashley Hutchison, Anna Edwards, Jen Pearce, Delene Miller and Jessica Rhodes. These women have been working on this project for a year and are looking forward to March 3, when their hard work will pay off and they’ll be able to witness the sincere gratitude of all the Juniors and Seniors trying on their dream gowns.

Imagine a room full of grins, looking through the four walls of mirrors at Studio B, perhaps not at their dresses, but what’s inside…beautiful, confident, deserving young women who’ve now been afforded their Cinderella moment.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for area high school girls. And, with the beautiful and giving women in this community, the inaugural year of the JSLB Prom Boutique is sure to be a glamorous success. Please, donate your dresses today!

If your salon would like to donate a hairstyle, manicure or pedicure to Prom Boutique, please call Elizabeth Klosterman at (843) 566-4686.


2012 Books Sandwiched In

The popular book review series returns with an exciting roster of local personalities and a modern, high-techtwist –  podcasts. 

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

January 4, 2012

Beaufort is an ever-emerging Arts town, known nationally as a small southern city populated with smart,  interesting people. It’s been that way for decades. Visitors from all over the world come to Beaufort and are awed first by its beauty and second by its residents. We are truly blessed with a myriad of personalities… retirees, military, young professionals, working class and descendants of “Old Beaufort.” And we blend together pretty well. Why? Because we all appreciate the value of our inspiring town.

As Southern Literature becomes increasingly more popular, Beaufort continues to be reputed as the classic model town of the New South. One popular event held annually in our celebrated town illustrates this progressive trend like no other. It’s Books Sandwiched In, and it’s back this year… better than ever!

Books Sandwiched In, sponsored by Friends of the Beaufort County Library (FOL), returns for its 26th year on Monday, January 9, and continues every Monday through February 27. The eight-week program will be held at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Performing Arts Center, 801 Carteret Street, Beaufort, from Noon to 1 p.m. Local personalities review best-selling books, and the program is free and open to everyone. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch or, as an alternative, purchase it from the Outtakes Café take-out table in the Performing Arts Center.

The concept is brilliant: taking a break from our hectic lives with a bagged lunch and an open ear to listen to one of our own talk about something we all love – books. Our minds escape, if only for an hour, to a simple, yet intellectual conversation about literature.

This year, Burton Sauls, owner of CityTrex, a virtual company that specializes in multimedia tourism products for mobile devices, will again be developing podcasts of each presentation. Friends of the Library has put a modern spin on the traditional book review. And the initiative has been a huge success.

Podcasts from the 2011 Books Sandwiched In got over 2,000 weekly “complete listens” during the months of January and February. “Complete Listens” means a user played and stayed with the podcast until completion. The number of unique page views was over 3,000 per week. This is higher than the number of attendees. Of these, over 700 listeners each week were from Los Angeles. So the global impact is real. Cyber podcasts from Beaufort are reaching a vast audience, thanks to Sauls’ ingenuity and clever online promotion at at http://www.citytrex.com/books-sandwiched-in/.

“Skilled use of new media is affordable, effective, and rewarding,” says Sauls, CityTrex founder.

CityTrex has produced and distributed modern mobile media for municipalities, museums, medicine, politics, PR, tourism, events, and resorts. 2d QR codes, podcasts, mobile apps, iPhone purchases through iTunes or Android in-app purchases are avenues for the mobile publishing platform. And CityTrex has become very good at what it does.

As an official sponsor of Books Sandwiched In, CityTrex will include a “donation button” on its website for visitors to make a contribution to Friends of the Library – a great source for fund raising to help FOL support unfunded library programs, materials, and projects.

The Friends of the Beaufort County Library (FOL) is a South Carolina not-for-profit organization, which for three decades, has provided financial and other support to Beaufort County libraries. In these tough economic times, our libraries’ budgets were reduced significantly, which resulted in reduced hours of operation, staffing, books and other materials. Through generous donations and membership fees, FOL has continued to provide financial support to the county’s libraries. Today, FOL has over 400 members.

Co–chairs for the 2012 Books Sandwiched In are Sherry Hirsch and Gretchen Blickleand they are assisted by Jane and Lloyd Sidwell, who will be next year’s co–chairs. The task of putting this program together is great, and members of FOL and the greater Beaufort community are especially thankful to these volunteers who have put countless hours towards this popular event.

Books Sandwiched In is sure to please an eager audience again this year. Don’t forget to bring your lunch, and remember doors open at 11:30am. Come early to get a good seat!


January 9The Big Short by Michael Lewis presented by Kenneth Hirsch

The Big Short: This book chronicles the march of the sub– prime bond market from money–making machine for Wall Street and mortgage originators to financial catastrophe, through the eyes of the few traders who understood what was happening and bet against the market. The book is essential reading for understanding not only the madness of the housing and mortgage bubble but the underlying sickness of our financial system that has resulted in our current grim economic situation. It is also entertainingly told.

books-ken-hirschKenneth Hirsch

Kenneth H. Hirsch became a resident of Beaufort County after retiring as an attorney negotiating IT outsourcing deals for Siemens Corporation in 2007. After a stint in a New York law firm practicing corporate and securities law, Ken was a business executive and attorney for an educational multimedia

publisher, a scheduled airline, Equitable Life and a medical technology start–up. He is a graduate of NYU and Columbia University School of Law. Ken has been the President of the Eastchester, NY Board of Education and an active member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York State Bar Association. He currently is a member of the Dataw Historic Foundation, Beaufort Sail and Power Squadron and the American Bar Association. In his spare time you can find him on the water — sailing the coast of New England or boating on the ICW in the Lowcountry.

January 23: That Used to be US by Thomas Friedman, presented by Dr. Valerie Truesdale

That Used to Be US: America has a huge problem. It faces four major challenges, on which its future depends, and it is failing to meet them. Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, analyze those challenges — globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption — and spell out what we need to do now to rediscover America and rise to this moment.

books-valerie-truesdaleValerie Truesdale

Valerie Truesdale has served as superintendent of the Beaufort County School District since 2007. Prior to her move to Beaufort County, she was district superintendent for Oconee County schools for four years and served as Chief Instructional Services Officer for School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties for almost a decade. She also served as senior executive assistant for the SC Department of Education, supervising areas of policy, teacher licensure, technology, and student assessment. Dr. Truesdale is a former high school principal, assistant principal, personnel administrator and teacher. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in Educational Leadership in 1988, an M. B. A. from Georgia State University in 1978, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from Clemson University in 1974.

January 30: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson, presented by Deanna Bowdish

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel. Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over 40 years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

books-deanna-bowdishDeanna Bowdish

Deanna Bowdish is an Artist and owner of The Gallery in historic Beaufort. She attended the University of Minnesota Bachelor of Fine Arts Program and developed her own unique voice and creative style. She moved to the Lowcountry of South Carolina in 2002. Completely immersing herself in the local arts community, Deanna has been welcomed with open arms. She purchased The Gallery in 2004 fulfilling a long–held dream and creating one of the most dynamic and eclectic assemblies of art in the region She is currently the President of the Boards of Directors for the Arts Council of Beaufort County and a member of the Design Committee for Main Street Beaufort. Deanna has made a commitment to educate the community about the importance and necessity of the arts in all aspects of life.

February 6: Hidden in Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard presented by Charles D. Frost

Hidden in Plain View: Historian Jacqueline Tobin and scholar Raymond Dobard offer the first proof that certain quilt patterns, including a prominent one called the Charleston Code, were, in fact, essential tools for escape along the Underground Railroad. In 1993, historian Jacqueline Tobin met African American quilter Ozella Williams amid piles of beautiful handmade quilts in the Old Market Building of Charleston, South Carolina. With the admonition to “write this down,” Williams began to describe how slaves made coded quilts and used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad. But just as quickly as she started, Williams stopped, informing Tobin that she would learn the rest when she was “ready.”


Charles D. Frost has been Minister of Music at Sea Island Presbyterian Church, Beaufort, SC, since 2001. He is a native of Red Bank, NJ, and attended Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ, where he received both the Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Church Music. Mr. Frost has served churches in New Jersey, New York, California, Washington, and Michigan. He has appeared in recitals in many churches across the country. In addition to his work at the church, Mr. Frost serves on the Executive Committee of the Lowcountry Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Beaufort Orchestra, as well as Keyboardist for the orchestra. He is also Music Director for the Charleston Spoleto Festival.

February 13 Bleak House by Charles Dickens, presented by Robert R. Googins

Bleak House: A masterpiece of Victorian literature wherein the author pummels his audience with the social ills and inequities of the period with particular emphasis on the need for reform of the judicial system and the legal practitioners within it. Its overriding theme of our social interconnectedness is as current today as it was in the mid 19th century and could prove to be required reading for our 21st Century Congressmen. The novel is replete with vivid major and minor characters as only Dickens could paint them from the Dedlocks of elite society to poor Jo the sidewalk sweep.

Robert R. Googins served as general counsel of the Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company and Insurance Commissioner of the State of Connecticut. He was founding director of the University of Connecticut Insurance Law Center, and taught insurance law at the Law School for over 25 years and was executive director of the Insurance Marketing StandardsAssociation. He is a member Dickens International Fellowship and teaches a course on Charles Dickens and the Law at OLLI. He and his wife Sonny have been residents of Beaufort County for 10 years. Robert is currently the president of the Dataw Island Golf Association.

February 20Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, presented by Gary Kubic

Unbroken: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, Louis Zamperini, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand tells an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity.Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit

books-gary-kubicGary Kubic

Gary Kubic was appointed County Administrator by Beaufort County Council in November 2003. He has more than 36 years of experience in government administration and finance. Mr. Kubic holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Akron, Ohio, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ohio State University. He served as Administrator of Mahoning County, Ohio from 1993 to 2003. Prior to his tenure with Mahoning County, Mr. Kubic served the City of Youngstown for 18 years, including eight years as Finance Director (1985–1993). He is a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) and International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Finance and Legislative Committees.

February 27: Flying: A Novel by Paula Helfrich and Rebecca Sprecher, presented by Rebecca Sprecher

Flying: A Novel: An unprecedented, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the airline world, Flying: A Novel traces the lives of two young women: Zoe Longfield, raised in exotic Southeast Asian cities and jungles, and Sally Wilder, from the tobacco lands of the American South. Together they “fly the line” for the world’s premier airline beginning in 1970, where they learn that history is not always what it seems, and that living, like flying, takes more courage than they ever imagined. Flying is set in the 1970s, after the passionate idealism of the 1960s had radically altered America’s landscape. Spanning locations around the globe, Flying takes the reader along for the ride.

books-rebecca-sprecherRebecca Sprecher

Rebecca Sprecher hails from Kentucky, and joined Pan Am after graduating from Chapel Hill. She flew for Pan Am for six years out of New York and Honolulu. After leaving Pan Am in the late 70’s she lived in Hawaii for thirty years, where she had a ten-year career as a sales representative and Manager with Xerox

Corporation. She was also on the Board of the Hawaii Opera theatre, a founding member of The Friends of the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu and a docent at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu. Rebecca moved to Beaufort County 10 years ago with her husband Greg. In addition to writing, playing the piano, and playing golf, Rebecca volunteers with Historic Beaufort Foundation and is the Chair of the Dataw Island Club Food and Beverage Committee. She is the co-author of Flying: A Novel.


Let there be Peace on Earth

EC Montessori students will travel to New York City in April to participate in the Montessori Model United Nations.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

December 21, 2011



No matter your religious views, no one can deny that this time of year brings out the best in people. Acts of kindness, appreciative gifts and donations to those in need are abundant throughout the joyous month of December. And yes, children can be a bit materialistic this time of year; but, for the most part, we do our part in reminding them of those less fortunate and the true meanings of Christmas, Hanukkah and other celebrations of faith.

Natural stewards of good messages, children seem to spread the joy more than anyone if given proper direction from home, school and “the village.”

And though most children don’t know the reality of war, many understand the desire for peace. Their innocence is admirable even though the task of world peace is, in all probability, unattainable. But the challenge of creating global harmony is certainly worth the struggle, because, in essence, it’s just the right thing to do.

Regardless of your political beliefs, I like to think that most want to help, whether by government assistance, missionary work or charitable donations for those around the world needing assistance for disaster relief and defense of unjust humanitarian affairs. And who better to broaden our innate sense of compassion and open our minds to “what could be” than our children?

The upper elementary students (4th-6th Grades) at EC Montessori and Grade School are all members of an eleven-student delegation traveling to New York City to participate in the Montessori Model United Nations in April 2012.

The Montessori Model United Nations is a unique program. It is patterned after the traditional Model United Nations but allows the inclusion of upper elementary and middle school aged Montessori students. There are over 1,200 delegates from all over the world participating this year. As with the traditional Model UN, each delegate will research and write a position paper detailing a chosen country’s views on real world issues. The students must be knowledgeable, not only about current issues, but also about their delegated country. This year, EC students will be representing two countries, Mexico and Cuba.


Taking on their ambassadorial roles in a Model UN simulation, teacher Elizabeth Wells’ students will research the issue that their UN committees will address.   Model UN participants learn how the international community acts on its concerns about topics including peace and security, human rights, the rights of the child, child labor, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization. Model UN delegates also look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they will represent at the event. The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation.         When the students arrive at the MMUN Conference, they will transform themselves into UN Ambassadors and assume the rights and responsibilities of world leaders. They will combine their imaginations to collaboratively create resolutions to our world’s most pressing problems.          Students from every region of the world will role play as foreign diplomats and participate in simulated sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and other multilateral bodies in the UN system. While preparing for the conference, students develop leadership skills and research, writing, public speaking and problem solving skills that they will use throughout their lives. In addition, participation also encourages consensus building, conflict resolution and cooperation and the enhancement of leadership skills.

This will be the second time that EC Montessori has participated in the Montessori United Nations.

Elizabeth Wells, teacher of the Live Oak room at EC Montessori explains, “Having attended the first conference, I can confidently say that this experience is life changing not only for the students but for the adult participants as well. We all recognized that our students really can make a difference!”

The students at EC Montessori will be raising money through the Spring for this trip. They need a total of $15,000 and will be fundraising in a variety of ways. If you would like to donate money for this important journey, please call EC Montessori Director Terri Powell at 525-1141.

Congratulations to these students for taking an active role in supporting peace, development and human rights around the world.

The Montessori Model United Nations in many ways is structured to meet the following needs for the elementary student.


1.    Elementary students need a curriculum that educates the “whole child.”

Taking part in the MMUN engages elementary students in many different ways.  The intellectual element, which is so crucial for this age, is present as the students research a country, write an issue paper, and prepare to debate other students on serious global issues.  The social need for this age is also fulfilled by the interaction of the students from different countries, schools, and cultures.  During the debate stage of the MMUN, the students’ physical needs are met, as they are encouraged to meet in small groups and move around the meeting rooms as they try to align their interests with other countries.

2.    Elementary students need exposure to real-world problem solving.

The MMUN allows elementary students to explore the real problems of the world and encourages them to discuss and negotiate possible solutions for issues that people face around the world such as contaminated water, the plight of the child soldier, and human-rights violations.

3.    Elementary students need a curriculum that incorporates the three-period lesson.

The objectives of the MMUN—research, writing, debate, negotiation, and presentation—are specifically constructed to give the students short classroom demonstrations or lessons before allowing them the freedom to research and discuss the information they have learned with their peers and then using this information in a presentational format before student delegates of other countries.

4.    Elementary students need to be responsible for their own learning.

Throughout the preparation and even during the conference, the students are responsible for the project.  They are the ones who complete the research and decide the best resolution for the issue, and while meeting, they conduct the caucuses, negotiate with other student delegates, and write the resolution for each issue without their teachers’ interference.

5.    Elementary students need continued practice in respect and civility.

The MMUN requires students to conduct themselves in a respectful manner towards the other delegates.  Students quickly learn through role-playing that more success is achieved through civility in caucuses when important issues are at stake rather than discord.

6.    Elementary students need discussion of important topics to formulate thoughts and develop critical-thinking skills.

Elementary classrooms are where the bulk of critical-thinking skills are developed.  The exchange of ideas, the discussion of issues from all different aspects, and the resolution of problems, all which the MMUN requires, help elementary-age students think carefully about all the issues that surround them.

7.    Elementary students need the continued use of narratives to keep them engaged in their education.

The Great Lessons are still very evident in the upper elementary classrooms.  Students enjoy listening to narratives as new lessons are introduced.  While studying the histories of their represented countries, students learn many narratives about different countries and are able to remember and share these and even use historical narratives in their issue papers to support their resolutions.

8.    Elementary students need to be involved with justice from an individual aspect.

Elementary-age students seek justice from an individual standpoint.  They instantly view situations as fair or unfair, not necessarily from a social perspective but from an individual one.  The MMUN allows students to role-play a citizen from a different culture, which gives them a one-on-one perspective and understanding of any injustices suffered by the citizens of that country.  This role-playing helps them see how other people endure injustices and what they do to end them.

9.    Elementary students need to be challenged by multi-age groupings.

As in their classrooms, elementary students enjoy and are challenged by multiple ages.  The MMUN continues this tradition by having elementary students of different ages working side by side, some with past experience from which the “rookie” students can caucus and learn.


South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

A closer look at South Carolina’s principal advocate for our coastal environment

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

December 7, 2011


In a previous career, I was the Naturalist at Hunting Island State Park, one of 47 State parks in SC. I was awed daily with the environment of the ever-changing barrier island and the many species that called it home. I became intrigued with the dynamics of the salt marsh, the varying habitats of the maritime forest, the fragility of the sand dunes, and the impact of the human element that influenced the island’s ecology on a daily basis. It was truly amazing to understand how everything was interconnected, how the different ecosystems affected each other, how the life cycle of plants and animals continue to evolve and how we, as a species, help and hinder nature’s progress.

I worked with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR or DNR) on a weekly basis, assisting with resource management, delivering educational programs to students and visitors and keeping proper records for various research projects. DNR’s mission is to serve as the principal advocate for and steward of South Carolina’s natural resources. South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s (SCPRT or PRT) mission is to Grow South Carolina’s economy by fostering sustainable tourism economic development and effectively market our state to increase visitation and improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians. So, the purpose of each department differs; yet the vision of both equally promotes quality of life in South Carolina for present and future generations.

So it was important that both agencies work together to improve understanding of the wise use and safe enjoyment of healthy, diverse, sustainable and accessible natural resources.

Recently, Dr. Al Segars, DNR’s steward of the ACE Basin, invited me to participate in a few research projects currently underway in coastal SC. Of course, I obliged, eager to get my hands dirty and reminisce with my previous career.

The three projects I’ll discuss in this article are just a few of the many, many tasks assigned to a multitude of departments within SCDNR. To understand the full magnitude of DNR’s responsibilities, just visit their website, www.dnr.sc.gov. It’s not just a group giving marine tickets for unsafe boating practices. Oh no… South Carolina’s premier agency for protecting our coastal, midland and mountain regions diligently operates a variety of conservation initiatives. Their commitment to land, water and wildlife in South Carolina is admirable and worth your attention.


Part I: A Fish Tale


A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in a DNR research project in the ACE Basin with Bill Roumillat, a biologist with the Inshore Fisheries Research Section of the Marine Resources Research Institute. Roumillat’s research emphasis includes biology of fishes, histologically verified fish reproductive ecology and fish behavioral ecology. His current research projects include life history investigations of estuarine fishes, red drum fisheries dynamics and autochthonous fish sounds as related to fishery dynamics.

It was a picture perfect November day in the ACE Basin. ACE is an acronym for the Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto rivers that make up one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the United States. Roumillat, myself, Weatherly Meadors, a graduate student in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston and Mitch Helms, Interpretive Program Manager at Hunting Island State Park left the research facility at Bennett’s Point early to begin sampling at the start of the ebbing tide. We cruised out in a “Florida mullet boat” and approached the first station while Roumillat and Meadors gave instructions on how to operate the trammel net.

Helms and Meadors set the 200 yard long, 8 foot deep net in an arc against the marsh to seal off the area. They artificially disturbed the water with large poles to imitate predatory activity and then hauled the net to retrieve the sample. The first set was typical: spots, flounder, spotted trout, black drum and even a blue crab. We counted and identified the species and measured fork and total lengths, then released them back in the water.

The second set was the money hole. Any fisherman would have loved to be casting the rod in this spot. In addition to the species mentioned above, we netted seven red drum, each measuring 40 inches and above. We measured and tagged them and also took a couple scales from the pectoral fins to determine age and released them back into the water.

We sampled a total of nine stations that day. The process became laborious, and I figured out quickly how Roumillat stayed in shape. He’s been sampling estuaries along the coast from the ACE Basin to Winyah Bay since 1991. His research helps other biologists at the lab conduct studies on various species with relationship to abundance, reproduction and eating habits and migratory patterns, among other interests.


The Red Drum or Spottail Bass, the most highly prized inshore gamefish in the state, is strictly regulated. Since designation as a gamefish in 1985, the regulations applied to the harvest of this species have been altered eight times by the legislature. Depending on research findings, some years show major decline in juvenile and/or adult fish. With the advent of bag (creel) and size limits, there has been a gradual increase in the estimated number of red drum caught and released alive in the fishery.

And, with the help of cooperating anglers, close to 45,000 red drum have been tagged since 1989. Approximately 7,000 of these fish have been recaptured. The angling public has provided biologists with valuable information on movement, seasonality trends, growth rates and general population dynamics of this highly sought after gamefish.

Redfish Tips: Captain Dan Utley reports the incoming tide is best to fish since the water has started to cool. Also, the winds have calmed a bit making the water start to clear; so artificial baits like Gulp Shrimp in the New Penny color are working great. Fish the grass edges on the rising water and also back in the grass as the water gets higher. On low tide, Redfish are also starting their schooling pattern and can be caught with 1/4 ounce jigs and a Gulp Shrimp or Gold Spoons. The best time of the year for sight fishing Redfish is right around the corner.

dnr-the-releaseRed Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)

General Description – Iridescent silver-gray with a copper cast, darker above; one or more oscillated spots on upper sides from below soft portion of dorsal fin to base of caudal fin. Mouth inferior and horizontal, teeth set in bands on both jaws. Chin without barbels, smooth pre-opercular margin.

Average Size – 18 inches, 2.6 pounds; South Carolina State Record: 75 pounds (1965); maximum age: approx. 38 years (a few individuals as old as 60 have been reported in other states).


Adults: Utilize nearshore and inshore bottom habitats, such as tidal creeks, oyster reefs, and beaches, typically over sandy or sandy-mud bottoms; may also congregate in nearshore groups.

Juveniles: Inhabit estuaries near shallow tidal creeks and salt marshes, commonly at marsh grass edges or in the vicinity of oyster reefs; reside in deeper river channels during winter. Subadults inhabit larger tidal creeks, rivers, and the front beaches of barrier islands.

Reproductive Cycle

• Adults mature by 3 – 5 years of age; approximate length at maturity: males – 28 inches, females – 33 inches.

• Spawn during late summer and fall. Spawning aggregations occur near estuary inlets and passes along barrier island beaches. Males produce drumming sounds using muscular contractions to vibrate the swimbladder, to attract females.

• Larval red drum use vertical migrations to ride high salinity tidal currents into tidal creeks and shallow salt marsh nursery habitats.

Foraging Habits

• All sizes of red drum are predatory foragers on or near the bottom; inshore foraging (juveniles) typically occurs at marsh grass edges.

• Adults: Feed primarily on menhaden, spot, anchovies, blue crab, and speckled crab.

• Juveniles: Feed on opossum shrimp, grass shrimp, juvenile spot, and mud minnows, mud crabs, and fiddler crabs. Subadult diet is similar to adult fish. Larvae feed primarily on zooplankton and small invertebrates.

Availability/Vulnerability to Harvest

• Present in South Carolina waters year-round. Distribution is predominantly temperature dependent: juvenile fish progress from marshes and tidal creeks to overwinter in deeper inshore waters; larger adults overwinter offshore and return to nearshore waters during spring.

• No commercial red drum fishery currently exists in South Carolina; potential for recreational harvest is significant since legal size fish inhabit inshore and nearshore waters during a large portion of the year.

• Conservation concerns: degradation and loss of estuarine habitats; lack of information on South Carolina spawning locations; maintenance of optimal numbers of subadult and spawning size fish.

Abundance of Species

Most red drum caught in the SCDNR trammel net survey are between 9 and 30 inches (the current slot is 15-23 inches) and are younger than 4 years old. Therefore, abundance presented here is heavily influenced by successful recruitment. Bigger fish become mature and move into deeper waters, where they might live for 20 or 30 years. A separate long-line survey is used to study these older fish.

Fishery Status

Red drum is a highly prized recreational species. It acquired game fish status in 1987, making it illegal to harvest commercially. Over the years, changes in regulations and conservation ethic have led to a fishery in which the majority of fish are released alive.

The recreational catch data is provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which conducts phone and angler-intercept surveys to monitor angler activities and catches. For more information, see www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st1/recreational.

Part II: The Migration of the Red Knot

Soon after being hired as the Naturalist at Hunting Island, I became a birder. Not knowing anything about birds before my career, it wasn’t long before I understood the fascination. The misconception about “birders” is that they immediately know a species upon sight or sound. Well, the professional birders may; but most people who enjoy the hobby simply sight birds through binoculars and identify unfamiliar varieties with a bird book. I do it all the time with my Sibley’s, the bible of bird identification!


So I was especially grateful when Dr. Segars invited me to Harbor Island, along with Felicia Sanders and Janet Thibault of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Debrah Cramer, author of Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our Ocean and Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage and John and Diane Fisk, Harbor Island residents and Lowcountry Master Naturalists. It was the Fisks that alerted state and federal officials of the Red Knot sightings on Harbor Island in late October.

The Red Knot is the largest of the “peeps” in North America, and one of the most colorful. It makes one of the longest yearly migrations of any bird, traveling 15,000 km (9,300 mi) from its Arctic breeding grounds to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. And more Red Knots, preferring sandy beaches and mud flats, are wintering on Harbor Island every year.

We spotted about 400-500 Red Knots, feeding and roosting among sanderlings, terns, skimmers and plovers. Sanders and Thibault took note of the coveted species. They, along with biologists from other agencies, are studying the Red Knots, which have recently experienced a steep population decline.

This decline is due in large part to the overharvesting of Horseshoe Crabs in the New Jersey and Delaware areas. Red Knots depend on the nesting congregations of Horseshoe crabs to provide a feast of crab eggs during a critical part of the Red Knots’ migration. The birds arrive from South America with low fat reserves and without the bounty of crab eggs in spring, the birds are much less able to arrive on the breeding grounds in good health.

Research indicates that a small portion of the Red Knot population is wintering along the South Carolina coast, rather than traveling all the way to South America or joining a few thousand other east coast migrants at their winter destination in west Florida. It is not completely known whether the Knots’ wintering in SC is a recent development or whether a portion of the population has always done this.


In order to better understand the migrating and wintering patterns of Red Knots, biologists like Sanders and Thibault have captured small numbers of Red Knots and fastened numbered tags to their legs. These birds have been captured at sites along the east coast of North America, as well as at South American Sites. Researchers are desperately seeking information and photographic evidence regarding the resightings of these ‘marked’ shorebirds.

Volunteers, such as the Fisks, are key to finding and documenting marked Red Knots and other shorebirds and reporting sightings to authorities.

Cramer, a celebrated environmental author, is currently writing a book about the Red Knot and is accompanying biologists around the globe studying the species. She was especially excited to see so many Red Knots on the southernmost tip of the island, which has been accreting at a rapid rate in recent years.

About the Red Knot:

Red knots raise only one brood per year. Nests are constructed near water on shallow depressions lined with leaves and lichens. Both adults incubate 3-4 olive-buff eggs for about 3 weeks. Young red knots fledge 18-20 days after hatching. This species feeds on mollusks, marine worms, and horseshoe crab eggs. During migration, knots gather in huge flocks, stopping along coastal areas to recharge their energy reserves for their flight to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Near Delaware Bay, their migration stopover coincides with the horseshoe crab’s annual spawning. The abundance of horseshoe crab eggs provides ample protein for the migrating knots. In recent times, however, habitat alteration and human activities have threatened populations of horseshoe crabs thus indirectly putting migrating birds such as the red knot, at risk.

Part III: The S.C.O.R.E. Project


Another important task assigned to SCDNR is managing our oyster population.   The S.C.O.R.E Project, which stands for South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement, is a community-based habitat restoration project. Oysters play a significant ecologic and economic role in South Carolina; however, oyster populations are declining.

Volunteers, area restaurants and SCDNR officials work together every season in an effort to plant recycled oyster shells in the intertidal environment to form new, self-sustaining oyster reefs. Thousands of bushels of oysters are shucked every year, and it takes a coordinated effort to get those shells back in the water, where they belong. You see, new oysters grow from existing shells. The more shells, the larger the beds, which improve water quality, control erosion and provide habitat for other commercially-important shellfish and fish species. Not to mention, they are simply delicious and South Carolina’s favorite salty treat!

There are four locations in Beaufort County to recycle your shells: the Beaufort Bin on Shanklin Road, the Port Royal Bin at The Sands, the Hunting Island Bin at Russ Point Boat Landing and the Bluffton Bin at Trask Boat Landing. When the season is over, volunteers bag those shells and arduously take them to the water along the marsh to make new oyster beds.

After the reefs are constructed, volunteers are trained to monitor water quality, reef development, and reef/shoreline interactions. The overall goal of the S.C.O.R.E. program is to protect this natural resource by increasing citizen awareness of the ecological importance of oyster habitats and the potential negative effects of human activities on these fragile systems.

Since S.C.O.R.E.’s inception, 188 oyster reefs have been constructed at 35 sites spanning 200 miles of coastline from Murrell’s Inlet to Hilton Head.

Why Do Oyster Habitats Need to Be Restored?

Human activities, in concert with natural phenomena, have greatly affected the distribution andabundance of oysters in the United States. In many areas, oyster habitats have declined precipitously in recent years due to many causes, including overharvesting, destruction of habitat, water pollution, and other effects related to coastal development. The loss may be most severe in the Chesapeake Bay, where only 1 percent of the historical oyster resources still remain.


While the intertidal oysters of South Carolina may still appear to be abundant there is increasing evidence of negative effects from anthropogenic (man-made) stressors such as nonpoint source runoff and wakes from increasing recreational boat traffic. In fact, in many of the more heavily utilized creek systems, essentially no oysters remain.

South Carolina oyster resources also suffer from a lack of husbandry (conservation), particularly in the common property grounds managed by the state. Appropriate husbandry includes replanting of oyster shell to provide substrate for subsequent generations. If removal of oysters by harvesting is not offset by replanting, the resource declines due to reduced sufficient substrate.

How Can We Restore Oyster Habitat?

Oysters will readily recruit to planted shell substrate in areas that otherwise have little or no recruitment due to lack of suitable attachment sites. In South Carolina there are adequate breeding populations (adult stocks) but recruitment is limited by substrate. Although a fully functional reef requires 3 to 5 years to develop, an impressive suite of invertebrates (over 85 species) quickly colonizes the oyster reefs, providing food sources for larger invertebrates and finfish and beginning the natural process of stabilizing the reef.

Planting of bare shell can also help to trap sediments and absorb wave energy, reducing erosion of adjacent salt marshes. With careful site selection, replanting of shell can restore oyster habitat by providing substrate for juvenile oysters, which grow to form a self-sustaining reef.

Recycling Do’s and Don’ts

• DO separate shell from trash. Shell mixed with trash is not suitable for recycling. Provide separate containers for shell and trash.

• DO dump shells from bags or containers and leave only shells in the bins.

• DO bring your shell to the nearest shell recycling center. Maps are provided below. If a center is not shown near you, please call 843-953-9397.

• DON’T put live oysters in South Carolina waters. If the oysters you purchased were harvested outside South Carolina, it is illegal to place them in SC waters. Placing imported oysters in our waters can create environmental problems and may harm local oysters or other animals.

• DON’T put freshly shucked oysters shell in SC waters. To avoid contamination, shell should be recycled to DNR and properly quarantined for 6 months.

Your license recycles!

Many SCDNR projects are funded by the revenue generated by Saltwater Recreational Fishing License sales.   You can buy them online at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html or call 1-866-714-3611. An annual South Carolina resident license is $10.


The Town of Port Royal has reason for Thanks

Part Two in a Series

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

November 23, 2011


As I mentioned in the last issue, Port Royal is in the midstof making significant history…again. The first part of this series took a look at the town’s various eras of prosperity as well as its many instances of untimely fate. By understanding the town’s history, readers can now share in the contagious excitement surrounding the current slate of events that will put 2011/2012 on the town’s perpetual timeline of monumental feats.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all congratulate the Town of Port Royal and give thanks to its residents and leaders for not giving up. There have been many opportunities to throw in the towel. But, instead, the town has continuously strived for economic success and, in recent years, coupled smart growth with environmentally conscious and historic preservation decisions.   And all the while, the townspeople, staff and politicians have propelled themselves with positive enthusiasm.



In fact, Van Willis, the Town’s Manager, described working with developers, business people and residents by commenting, “As we read a code, we try to find an answer of yes, rather than no.”

That says it all. In this time of economic turmoil, Willis’ attitude is pivotal for reviving a stagnant market. And now the Town has a respectful relationship and open dialogue with groups like the Coastal Conservation League. The Town wants to deliver a product that works for the majority, and in doing so, remain protective of the fragile environment that is and surrounds the Port Royal Sound.

The second part of this series explains three key events currently taking place within the Town of Port Royal that are sure to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Beaufort County: approval of the redevelopment plan for the Port of Port Royal, a proposal to house the Port Royal Sound Foundation at the Lemon Island Marina and the completion of the Cypress Wetlands Project on Paris Avenue.

Town of Port Royal approves redevelopment plan

The Port of Port Royal to be a commercial and residential destination



It’s been eight years since Gov. Mark Sanford signed legislation to sell the Port Of Port Royal, valuable waterfront acreage on Battery Creek owned by the State. After three failed plans, Port Royal Town Council voted 4-1 on Wednesday, November 9 to approve a commercial and residential destination, which will put the property back into the hands of the municipality. The Town of Port Royal, its residents and visitors will soon be able to enjoy the property as their own once more, and they couldn’t be happier.

The Port Royal Redevelopment Group has proposed a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that incorporates design principles from traditional neighborhood design practice, the State of South Carolina State Ports Authority Redevelopment Study by Wood+Partners Inc., the Town of Port Royal’s A New Vision for the Port study by Design Collective, Inc., and the Traditional Town Overlay District within the Town of Port Royal Code of Ordinances. The overall redevelopment plan includes 52 acres of upland area and 266 acres of critical wetlands

The Port Royal Redevelopment Group has a vision for preserving and extending the Town’s traditional character into the Port site through promoting a mix of land uses and residential types to support a variety of choices in lifestyles and needs of the citizens of Port Royal. Within the PUD, five zoning districts with different development standards have been established: Ribaut Village (residential mixed use village), Bluff Neighborhood (residential mixed use), Marina Village (marina mixed use), Port Village (hotel mixed use) and Civic Open Space.

The PUD may include up to 425 dwelling units, 250,000 square feet of commercial, retail, office, light industrial and hotel space and a 225-slip marina. Civic Open Space will include an acre on Paris Avenue, almost 10 acres on London Avenue and 3 acres of a pedestrian waterfront boardwalk, promenade and trail.

The plan is well liked by townspeople, and residents are eager to begin construction. They have lived on the outside of an uninviting chain-linked fence for years, waiting patiently for the opportunity to enjoy the waterfront property. And now, the time has finally come. Port Royal’s destiny is unfolding, and Beaufort County is about to be awed.

For more information about the redevelopment plan, please visit www.portroyal.org.

Port Royal Sound Foundation

Connecting people with the waters and lands of the Port Royal Sound



The Port Royal Sound Foundation, a newly formed non-profit dedicated to advancing awareness of the Port Royal Sound, announced Saturday, November 19 plans to occupy the Lemon Island Marina, located at the southern foot of the Chechessee Bridge and owned by 303 Associates. Lemon Island was annexed into the Town of Port Royal in 2006, giving the municipality 105 acres of more prime real estate.

After many battles, failed plans and a weak economy, the fate of the Lemon Island Marina was uncertain. And now, many see this proposal as one that will work for the site, and the Port Royal Sound Foundation is equally pleased with the selection.

The Port Royal Sound Foundation provides people with opportunities to experience and connect with the Port Royal Sound system; and there is probably no better site in the middle of drivable Beaufort County and so close to Port Royal Sound than the Lemon Island Marina. The educational and ecological research opportunities available to the residents of Beaufort County are endless at this location.


The Port Royal Sound Foundation is an organization dedicated to the betterment and conservation of the waters and lands of the unique salt marsh ecosystem that is the Port Royal Sound Estuary system. Its mission is to advance the awareness of Port Royal Sound and its contributions to the environmental, cultural, and economic well-being of the area, the region, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Kathryn Madden is the Execuitive Director of the Foundation.

Madden explains, “The Port Royal Sound Foundation is a new name but we will continue to focus on raising public awareness of the uniqueness of the Port Royal Sound, the surrounding waterways and lands, and the people tied to our waters. We seek to educate the public on how to best preserve and conserve our resources for generations by celebrating in smart water practices. We believe people want to be good stewards of our lands and waters surrounding Port Royal Sound. We also know, people can and will influence the dynamic stability of our unique ecosystem.”

One of Port Royal Sound Foundation’s outreach programs is Riversmart, which collaborates with individuals, organizations, grassroots groups, land trusts, scientists, government agencies and municipalities to act as a guide and connector ensuring that conservation efforts within the region are coordinated and effective. Programs include Kids in Kayaks and Anti-litter art projects.

Another unique project currently endorsed by the Port Royal Sound Foundation is David Harter’s fisheries research, specifically on Cobia and Red Drum in our area. More information about this important and popular subject will be provided in an in-depth feature about South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources in the December 7th issue.

For additional information on membership opportunities and upcoming programs, please visit portroyalsoundfoundation.org or email kmadden.prsf@gmail.com.

Cypress Wetlands Project Almost Complete

Diverse wildlife habitat will also offer outdoor recreational opportunities


Overgrown weeds once covered a hidden area of Port Royal that will soon be a preferred destination for walkers, a venue for outdoor gatherings and a refuge for wildlife. The Cypress Wetlands Project, constructed adjacent to Paris Avenue, is nearing completion and will offer an opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy marsh, lake, duck pond and Bald Cypress swamp habitats while participating in a variety of outdoor activities.

The project, expected to cost $400,000, includes a trail around the diverse habitats for birds, an amphitheater and stage and signage to identify plants and wildlife. Drainage improvements will help restore the critical wetlands to their original state and manage millions of gallons of stormwater runoff before it reaches Battery Creek and Beaufort River, making the project favorable for the environment.


Port Royal: No Faurer or Fytter place” Part One

Excerpts from the book Images of America: Port Royal, by Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

November 8, 2011


he Town of Port Royal is in the midst of making significant history… again. The incorporated town has seen its ups and downs for over a century; and now, Port Royal is on the brink of prosperity. Many believe the current slate of events will the propeller that finally puts the quaint coastal village on the map. With the sale of the port property, the completion of the Cypress Wetlands project and surprises planned for The Shed and Lemon Island Marina, the Town of Port Royal is prepared to stand tall and distinguished once more.

This article is the first in a two part series. To understand Port Royal’s many circumstances of untimely fate, this first article will explain the history of the town to include information about the area’s wealth of forts, the Port Royal Railroad, the phosphate industry, the Port Royal Navy Yard and US Marine Corps, the shrimping industry and finally, the Port of Port Royal. In the next issue, the second article will introduce the Town of Port Royal as it exists today… what’s scheduled to ensue with the sale of the port property, how the Cypress Wetlands project and the Port Royal Sound Foundation will enhance quality of life and what the town is doing to create opportunity for economic success.


The Town of Port Royal was incorporated in 1874; the history of the Port Royal area, however, dates back to 1562, when Capt. Jean Ribaut, a French Huguenot, led an expedition with two vessels from Havre De Grâce, France, to prey on Spanish treasure fleets returning to Spain from Central and South America. Ribaut discovered a large harbor with marshes, rivers and inlets surrounding its entrance. He named the area Port Royal, the settlement Charlesfort, and the region Carolus in honor of King Charles IX of France. Ribaut wrote that he had found, “…no faurer or fytter place…than Port Royal.” He returned to France and left several men behind to defend the fort, but after several months, the men mutinied and sailed back to Europe. The Spanish destroyed Charlesfort to erase any claim the French had on the land and eventually established a permanent settlement in St. Augustine, FL. The Orista and Escamacu Indians, inhabitants before Ribaut’s discovery, were once again the area’s only dwellers. But, in 1669, the English settled the region, colonized present-day Beaufort, and later relocated to Albermarle Point in Charleston, where it was deemed safer by explorer Henry Woodward.


port-royal-3In 1727, the British built a fort they named Fort Frederick to protect South Carolina against French, Indian, and Spanish threats. By 1758, Fort Lyttleton was built at Spanish Point and Fort Frederick abandoned. Fort Frederick and the surrounding land was absorbed into Old Fort Plantation, owned by John Joyner Smith. When Union troops captured Beaufort and Port Royal during the Civil War, Smith’s Plantation became headquarters to the first regiment of freed slaves recruited for Federal service. The site was renamed Camp Saxton. After the Civil War, the land was sold at a direct tax sale to the United States government. The Port Royal Railroad Company petitioned the state of South Carolina to construct a railroad from Augusta, GA to Port Royal Island, South Carolina, and also build a city at its terminus. Investors began speculating land to become the City of Port Royal. Hilton Head, though naturally located for a commercial port, was too exposed to storms, according to railroad experts. The editor of the New South newspaper described Land’s End on St. Helena as the “only proper site for a New City of the South.” As late as 1867, Land’s End was expected to be the terminal of the railroad.

Port Royal Railroad Company ultimately chose acreage surrounding the Old Fort Plantation for the site of its terminus. In 1869, Stephen Caldwell Millett began construction on the railroad that spanned all of Port Royal Island, from the Coosaw River to the Battery River. It was completed in 1874, the same year a charter was issued for the Town of Port Royal. The town was laid out with wide streets, 25×100-foot lots and 200×500-foot blocks, with commercial and industrial development in mind. Port Royal grew quickly, boasting a cotton compress, reputed to be the largest in the world, numerous train elevators and warehouses, and a thriving port. Merchants took advantage of the natural depth and width of the Port Royal Harbor, which could accommodate the largest ships in the world. In fact, the entire U.S. Fleet assembled in Port Royal Harbor in 1874. Vessels loaded coal, phosphate and lumber brought in by rail. The Phosphate industry in the Port Royal area alone employed 2,500-3,000 people and shipped out more than Charleston and Savannah combined. Port Royal’s economy was booming!


In 1876, a coaling station and naval storehouse at neighboring Parris Island was set up followed by the construction of the largest wooden dry dock on the East Coast. The U.S. Naval Station at Port Royal welcomed great battleships. In fact, the USSMaine was stocked with provisions from the Scheper Store in Port Royal before departing for Cuba on what became its final voyage. The loss of the battleship in the harbor at Havana triggered the Spanish-American War.

During the 1800s, many homes were built by prospering merchants. The town enjoyed mercantile establishments, grocery stores, drug stores, a hotel, a bakery, a blacksmith and 17 bars. The town even supported its own newspaper, the Palmetto Post. In 1882, S.H. Rodgers, editor and publisher of the newspaper wrote, “Recognizing the Town of Port Royal as the great seaport of the State, we believe that in fostering and encouraging its commercial interests, we will thereby advance the material wealth of South Carolina and add to the happiness of the people of this section.”


In August 1893, a great hurricane struck the area. Railroad tracks were washed out and much of the machinery of the phosphate industry was destroyed. The catastrophe was followed by political conflict of Upstate and Lowcountry interests. Gov. “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman raised the state tax on each ton of phosphate from $1 to $2. Subsequently, merchants obtained phosphate in Florida at a cheaper price. The two phosphate mines in Port Royal-Baldwin and Wilson-eventually closed. Another calamity occurred when a visiting schooner brought in a deadly yellow fever epidemic, causing a large loss of life. It is believed that the dead on board were buried somewhere on the banks of the wharf, presumably at the end of 14th Street, beyond the railroad tracks. As a final blow, the Secretary of the Navy ordered that the Port Royal Navy Yard be moved to Charleston in 1902. Business with the Port Royal Railroad began to decline as railroad interests moved to Augusta. The cotton compress and the train elevators were removed; discriminatory tariff rates diverted railroad business to Charleston and Savannah; and the advent of the automobile and trucking took away much of what was left of the railroad business in Port Royal. In an article written by Martha Ann Tyree Moussatos in Sandlappermagazine, she described the final blow, “This, with all that preceded it, finally brought the little boomtown with the great and historic harbor to her knees, and she has never risen to her full height since.”

Small industry saved the town from total economic and social demise. In 1922, Capt. Charles Vecchio brought commercial shrimping to Port Royal. Local entrepreneurs invested in boats, and large scale shrimping soon followed. In 1937, Blue Channel Corporation, packers of Atlantic Seafood, moved into town, providing good jobs and opportunity to the area. The Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot expanded during WWII, also providing civilian jobs to residents of Port Royal and a small, but stable economy for the town. And, in 1958, the Port of Port Royal was dedicated, which created hope that Port Royal would once again enjoy great wealth.


In October 1997, the Town of Port Royal adopted the Traditional Town Overlay District. It put restrictions on material, size, and placement of new structures on Paris Avenue and other streets in the heart of town. Though it upset many residents, the ordinance was intended to control growth, create pedestrian-friendly streets, encourage newcomers, and generally beautify the town, and that it did. Real Estate speculation soared in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In fact, dirt in Port Royal was the most expensive in the county. But, in 2008, when the recession began, prices plummeted and Port Royal once again experienced economic decline.


Today, Port Royal is in the midst of making significant history. In 2004, Gov. Mark Sanford signed legislation to sell the Port of Port Royal, owned by the State. The valuable waterfront acreage is scheduled to be sold to developers this month, which will put the property back on the town’s tax rolls. An announcement of the intent for use of the Lemon Island Marina will be November 19th, and completion of the Cypress Wetland beautification project will be early December.

Martha Ann Moussatos once wrote, “I dream of her sleeping harbor someday awakening and making the little village stand tall and distinguished once more. Until then, Port Royal remains small, quiet, retrospective, and still good to call home.”

I believe that many share Ms. Moussatos’ sentiments. And the Town of Port Royal may soon be able to exhale and enjoy a break. They’ve certainly worked hard for one.


Lowcountry Benevolence

In Beaufort, fall is the giving season… 

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

October 25, 2011

lowcountry-malcolm-goodridgeMalcolm Goodridge 

There is no doubt that the people of the Lowcountry of South Carolina are generous. During the fall, weekends are filled with benefits raising money for a variety of non-profit organizations. There are cocktail parties, wine tastings, read-a-thons, tours, oyster roasts, fashion shows…you name it; volunteers have come up with creative ideas to gather people together and collect money for many deserving organizations.

And the work that goes into these fundraisers is noteworthy. For months, volunteers plan the perfect event for the non-profit that means the most to them. And attendees reciprocate the offer of an invitation with donations and kind words supporting the cause. It works, and it works well!

There are two facilities in the Lowcountry benefiting from the hard work of dedicated volunteers. The Wardle Family YMCA in Port Royal and The Learning Center at Beaufort Academy are thankful for some benevolent members of the community, residents who want to see all of their neighbors enjoy a better quality of life.


The Learning Center at Beaufort Academy

A facility dedicated to alternative methods of teaching available to all students in Beaufort County thanks to the generosity and vision of Malcolm Goodridge.

Malcolm Goodridge, a familiar name in the Beaufort community, is dyslexic. He remembers growing up and being called a “dummy” all the way through school. He took remedial reading classes to assist him, but they didn’t help much. He fought hard through school to overcome his learning disability, eventually going on to a distinguished career as a senior executive with American Express. Now retired, he thanks his struggle with dislexia for his continued ambition toward success.

lowcountry-fred-malcolmFred Washington and Malcolm Goodridge

“I think that if I was a normal kid, I wouldn’t have the drive for success that I have now. I was pushed down so far, I had to figure out a way to survive,” says Goodridge.

Goodridge explains that children with dyslexia seek attention in the classroom in other ways. Some take the right path. Some take the wrong path. Many inmates in the prison system are, in fact, dyslexic. Also, many successful businessmen, athletes and celebrities are dyslexic. Recognizing the problem will usually steer the child in the right direction. That’s why it is critical for teachers and educators to understand such learning disabilities and tackle them with alternative methods of teaching quickly.

A few years ago, members of the Beaufort Academy Board of Directors talked to Goodridge about donating money for the needed tennis courts at Beaufort Academy. He pondered for a while and wanted to help, but was on the fence. Then a member mentioned the words “special ed” in conversation. And Goodridge replied, “Now that’s something I can get on board with.”

Goodridge solicited donations from local members of the community and successfully raised enough to fund The Learning Center, located at Beaufort Academy, but open to all children in Beaufort County seeking tutoring services, specialized instruction and/or consulting.

Nancy Kessler and Carol Ann Richards are learning specialists at the Learning Center, and Susan DiFabio is the director of teaching and learning. They offer programs to all college bound students of all ages.

The Learning Center brochure explains, “Some students may need a few additional services in order to fully engage in a meaningful learning process, effectively utilize the best components of their distinctive learning styles, and productively pursue ongoing academic achievement. Through the use of multi-sensory teaching methods and strategy-based instruction, the goals of The Learning Center are to increase academic success, expand self knowledge and cultivate resilient minds.”

There is an admissions process, and financial assistance is offered to those in need. Once a psychological-educational evaluation report is received and reviewed by a Learning Specialist, the admissions process continues with meeting with the student and family members, completing a classroom observation, assessing the student’s potential for success and conducting additional testing if necessary.

Again, this is offered to all students in Beaufort County, and financial assistance is available. If you are interested in applying, please contact The Learning Center at (843) 524-3393


Recently, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor and Convention Bureau hosted its Business After Hours event at The Learning Center to raise awareness of the facility and introduce Beaufort Academy’s Interim Headmaster, Julie Corners to the extended community. In addition to many door prizes, The Learning Center and the Chamber gave four $2500 scholarships away in a random drawing. Members of the Chamber of Commerce, Everett Ballenger (owner of Ballenger Realty), Steve Curless (owner of Ramblin Coastal DJ Service), Susan Stott-Smith (owner of Captured Moments Photography) and Candace Brasseur (Public Relations Director at USCB) won the scholarships and will give them to deserving students on behalf of their businesses and organizations.

The event was well attended, and with more people aware of The Learning Center, hopefully its mission will spread across Beaufort County. Our children will benefit, and the community will be better for it.

Thank you Malcolm Goodridge for your vision and dedication to this cause. And the kids thank you too!


Boots and Bling to benefit the Wardle Family YMCA

Annual party helps after school programs and capital improvements at the YMCA facility in Port Royal


Boots and Bling, a party where women don leather footwear and their favorite jewels, will be held November 5th from 6:30pm-11pm at Butler Marine to benefit the Wardle Family YMCA in Port Royal. It’s a fun event for a worthy cause, and community members are looking forward to dancing the night away to the tunes of Mix Master Milner knowing their dollars will be well spent providing after school opportunities to Beaufort County youth.


Of the YMCA’s five thousand members, 55% of its youth are on scholarship. More than $150,000 was used for scholarships in 2010. Money raised from Boots and Bling will fund these scholarships as well as capital improvements for the after school program. This Pre-K program will use Beaufort County School District’s curriculum.

In addition to the after school programs, the YMCA offers youth sports, an aquatics program, health and fitness opportunities, youth development and massage therapy. The facility has a fitness and aerobic room, an indoor and outdoor pool, a gymnasium, multiple classrooms, a child care room and shower and locker rooms.


Mike Bostwick, the CEO of the YMCA, explains, “We want to serve more kids. And we need space to do that.”

Structural work is under way, and necessary supplies are soon to be purchased for more programs to benefit more children. A grand opening of the new childcare center will be held December 6th.

In addition to DJ entertainment, Boots and Bling will feature five food stations, beer, frozen drinks and a silent auction.

Tickets are $60 for individuals and $100 for couples. You can purchase your tickets at the Y front desk at 1801 Richmond Ave. in Port Royal or online at www.ymcabeaufortcounty.com. For additional information please contact Kelly Collins atkellymelvincollins@gmail.com.


Again, this a fun party, organized by a spirited group of volunteers. Why not have fun and support a good cause? The children of Beaufort will appreciate your help.

Thank you to Eric Smith, owner of Captured Moments Photography, for the photos that accompany this featured article. Captured Moments Photography is a new portrait studio located in downtown Beaufort. They specialize in professional studio lighting and posing and have 25 years of experience photographing families, high school seniors and babies. Images are available immediately after the session to view and choose, and all images are completely enhanced to remove imperfections. Eric Smith also teaches photography classes at TCL, and does artistic photography, which is displayed in their reception room.



Surviving Breast Cancer

Colleen  Christensen, a woman who consistently gives back, takes a look at her own life and finds inner peace

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

October 12, 2011

 wendy-colleen-christensenColleen Christensen

She is a girl, and she fights like one! Her name is Colleen Christensen, and she is a breast cancer survivor. She is also a relative, so her story is especially cherished.

Dr. Patricia Thompson at Beaufort OBGYN diagnosed Christensen with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 52. While examining an inverted nipple, Dr. Thompson explained to Christensen, “You have cancer.”

Shocked, Christensen could not comprehend what she’d just heard. She was healthy, ate raw vegetables every day and exercised. She’d been helping both of her sisters fight breast cancer. One endured a double mastectomy while the other battled a lumpectomy. Christensen was not supposed to have this dreaded disease as well.

But, she did. Richard Horton, her son-in-law, was the first family member to hear the news. He’d just happened to come to her office at Lifefit that day. He pulled her out of shock by repeating, “You’re going to be fine. You can beat this.”

Dr. Burrus confirmed the cancer with a biopsy, and Dr. Newberry recommended a portacath be installed under the skin to deliver the chemotherapy directly to her veins. Thankfully, surgery to remove the cancer went well, and Dr. Burrus couldn’t wait until Monday to tell Colleen. He called her Sunday morning and said, “We got it all.” Christensen received radiation as well to ensure the cancer’s removal. She and her husband, Rhett, who had already lost three family members to cancer, could finally breath a sigh of relief.

Yes, she beat cancer. But, it would be months before Christensen would feel better. Psychologically, breast cancer was defeating her. She thought she had it all under control. She went to work daily, hid her depression from her family and co-workers and maintained what she thought was her since of dignity. She was losing a battle, and she didn’t even know it.

One day, she called in sick to work, because she was crying uncontrollably. Her boss, Mark Senn said, “Well, it’s about time. Take some time off and get some rest.”

She confronted childhood issues that had been mentally blocked long ago and finally said, “Enough! I’ve beaten what could’ve killed me. Now it’s time to start living.”

She began to climb a ladder of emotional strength, and now she’s at the top rung. She’s determined to help those in need and find a cure for this deadly disease that is estimated to kill 39, 520 people in the U.S. in 2011.

She recently organized Pink Night Out at Charles & Company to benefit her team, the Beaufort Belles, at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Daniel Island this weekend. A huge success, the event not only raised money, but also raised awareness in Beaufort.

For a woman who consistently gives back, she is appreciative of all those people who gave to her.

“I have so many people to thank for helping me in my struggle with breast cancer. Drs. Burrus, Newberry and Thompson, who physically helped me tackle this disease; my wonderful colleagues at Lifefit at Beaufort Memorial for their unwavering support during my illness; Milbry Gnann, my mentor who would explain everything to me; and, of course, my family, who stood by me through it all,” explains Christensen.

Now at peace with life, Christensen hopes to educate and counsel those women who need spiritual guidance and reassurance that everything’s going to be okay. Her gift of compassion is her greatest attribute, and she’ll stop at nothing to give back. That’s just what she does.

I’m proud to call Colleen Christensen my aunt, for she is a woman of character, strength and grace. And, she fights like a girl!

Pink Night Out at Charles & Company


On Friday, October 7, more than seventy-five men and women of all ages came out to Charles & Company for Pink Night Out, a benefit to raise money for breast cancer awareness and celebrate life. Colleen Christensen, a breast cancer survivor, organized the event that raised hundreds of dollars.  Pink strands of hair were sold for $10, and the money generated helped a local team, the Beaufort Belles, in their total collection of donations for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to be held on October 15th on Daniel Island. In addition, supporters bought raffle tickets for over twenty items donated from area merchants. That money will be used to help a local woman currently battling breast cancer in need of financial assistance.



Christensen, a well-known caterer and longtime cook, and the Beaufort Belles team made sweets and hors d’oeuvres for the party. Christensen also solicited all the raffle items and promoted the event.  An advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation,  Christensen survived breast cancer and now is a steadfast supporter and fundraiser to help find a cure. Her daughter, Tara Horton, works at Charles & Company. Horton and owners, Charles and Linda Lamendoza, offered the venue; and all of the stylists volunteered to add the pink strands, promote awareness and again, celebrate life in the name of Colleen Christensen: wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and friend to many.

If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend Pink Night Out and want a pink strand of hair, you can still go to Charles & Company, located at 1613 North Street in downtown Beaufort. Proceeds will benefit the Beaufort Belles.

Why I wear Pink in October

wendy-abbie-and-juliaMy daughters, Julia and Abbie

When my mother told me she had breast cancer, I became numb with fear. Her mother, my grandmother, passed away from the horrible disease at the young age of 56. My mother was 52, and I was pregnant with my first baby, a daughter.

What had taken the life of my doting Granny had now found its way into Mama’s body. For nearly two years, Mama struggled with the harsh physical effects of chemotherapy and breast reconstruction without a single tear. She gracefully donned wigs and scarves to mask the hair loss, but was also comfortable wearing nothing. Breast cancer might have attacked her body, but it was not going to control her mind and spirit. She faced this disease with absolute resolution of survival. There was no way she would leave this earth without getting to know her first grandchild.

When my daughter Abbie was born, I saw Mama cry for the first time since she’d learned of the diagnosis. And I rest assured that Mama was not crying because of weakness. She was crying because she’d been strong for too long. She was now a grandmother and wanted to be one for a very long time.

I was happy to bring Abbie and Julia, my youngest daughter, to Pink Night Out at Charles & Company last Friday. Stylists added pink strands of hair to their platinum blonde locks. Even at ages 7 and 8, they know the significance of the strands-to raise awareness of breast cancer, a disease that plagues their mother’s family.

I look at these two beautiful girls every day, hoping and praying that there will be a cure for breast cancer by the time they reach adulthood. This month, I wear pink for them, for my Mama and my Granny. I also honor all those who have passed on and all those who have survived this disease.

Together, we will find a cure!


Beaufort Embraces Fandango Productions South

The national event-planning firm makes its home on Charles Street

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

September 27, 2011

 fandango-fripp-friendJodie Miller and Fripp Langford of Fandango Productions South

Have you been curious about the colorful new sign on Charles Street that announces Fandango Productions South? Wondering what it is that Fandango is all about? Well, Fandango, in one word, is a marvel. They are a company that is bringing extraordinary ideas to Beaufort and the Southeast.

Fandango Productions South is an event design, production, marketing and management firm that focuses on conference and staged productions, trade shows and exhibits, cause awareness, celebrations, festivals and gatherings and branding events. Hubbed in Baltimore, Maryland, Fandango Productions specializes in events for the education, corporate, non-profit, entertainment, government and private-sector arenas.

And, as the population in the South continues to grow, Fandango wants to capture an audience of clients from this emerging market. And they are starting in Beaufort. As we all know, Beaufort is adorned with many types. It’s a hodgepodge of scholastics, political figures, authors, entertainers, military ranks, corporate professionals, etc. It seems every time you walk around the corner, you meet another interesting figure in the community.


Well, Jodie Miller, Regional Director for the South, and Fripp Langford, Sales and Operations Director for the South, are beginning to seize this uncaptured market. Miller and Langford, both Beaufort natives, have a wealth of knowledge of the region and many years of experience designing events.

After graduating from college, Miller attended Baltimore International College for Culinary Arts to study menu design and wine pairings. Shortly after graduating, she and a partner opened Union Three Events, where she planned a wide variety of celebrations and also worked with Fandango Productions. Fandango approached Miller about working for them; she said she’d love to, but she was moving home to Beaufort to raise her two small children. After months of market research, Fandango concluded that a niche existed in the South that had not been discovered. So they hired Miller, who quickly called Langford.

Langford, who holds a B.A. from the University of South Carolina in Marketing and Business and a minor in Retail and Sales, is also very plugged in to the social scene in Beaufort. Miller pitched the position to Langford, and within two weeks, Langford trained in Baltimore and became part of Fandango’s growing staff.

Miller and Langford are starting with social events and celebrations in Beaufort, Hilton Head, Charleston and Savannah. Within 18 months, their objective is to tackle the southeast corporate market, beginning with Charlotte and Atlanta.

The presence of a national firm in Beaufort is a valuable resource. Fandango’s creative capability is immeasurable. They have access to a myriad of props, both purchased and built to clients’ needs, capability to hand-paint dance floors to event-specific inspirations, and the manpower to install large-scale decor. Their warehouse is 53,000 square feet in size. Their staff includes a carpentry department, fabric designers, welding professionals, painters and centerpiece designers. They even have a graphic design team that creates scaled floor plans of the event.

Fandango has positioned itself as a resource for local wedding and event planners. They have no desire to compete with established professionals in the area. To the contrary, Fandango wants to integrate its abundance of inventory and staff with the needs and desires of local planners, with no direct cost to their clients.

In fact, Fandango surprised 10 Charleston event professionals with hand painted benches, branded with each company’s logo. The gifts were well received, and the gesture indicated partnership. Fandango wanted these planners to know, “If you can dream it, we can make it happen.”

And that they have done. They have put a new spin on an old classic, recreating spaces with imaginative and innovative effort. For example, last year, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore honored Pat Conroy with the 2010 Pratt Lifetime Literary Achievement Award. Fandango transformed the Library into a scaled version of Broad Street and Rainbow Row, to welcome the Author of the recently published South of Broad. Additionally, they constructed a building within the Library to resemble an old juke joint and called it Conrack’s Backwater Bar. And, they nailed it! Conroy was moved by the significant renovation.


Fandango has already captured the attention of several non-profits. This year, Fandango will produce the 2012 Beaufort Memorial Hospital Valentine Ball, Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Annual Oyster Roast and Lafayette Soiree and the Beaufort Film Society’s International Film Festival. Noted as four of the most attended events in Beaufort, these gatherings are sure to impress this year with Fandango’s influence.

From a business perspective, Andy Burris of Amazing Event Rentals anticipates a strong partnership with Fandango and realizes its benefit to the local economy.


“Amazing Event Rentals is excited about Fandango’s willingness to invest in and open an office in Beaufort SC. This investment is another confirmation of how special this area is and how the Lowcountry has become a nationally recognized wedding and special event destination. Beaufort and the surrounding areas are truly blessed to have some phenomenal caterers and event planners that will be able to utilize Fandango South; and with Jodie Miller’s experience, resources and talents, together we can make every event AMAZING!”

Recently, I was invited to Fandango’s initial event on Tybee Island, titled Cut the Ribbon, Cut the Cake, the grand opening of Tybee’s signature wedding chapel that was showcased in Miley Cyrus’ movie, The Last Song. David Tutera of WE-TV’s My Fair Wedding hosted the event. It was phenomenal!

About Cut the Ribbon, Cut the Cake


Originally built by prized artisans to reflect the look of a turn-of-the-century Baptist chapel for The Last Song, a film featuring Miley Cyrus, the structure was slated for demolition after filming wrapped. At the last minute, the new owner Stacye Jarrell, saved the Chapel and lovingly repurposed it as a unique, beautiful wedding venue. The renewed Chapel has elevated Tybee Island to a premiere wedding destination where brides and grooms from across the country will come to take their vows.

Cut the Ribbon, Cut the Cake was the Grand Opening of the Chapel to the trade and to the public, held on August 11 and 12, 2011. Co-sponsored by Fandango Productions South and presented by Toren Anderson Media, Inc., the event showcased the talents and wares of the regional wedding industry stand outs in vignettes envisioned by the celebrity wedding planner.

Elite members of the special event trade designed vignette motifs conceptualized by David Tutera to reflect the spirit of the Chapel. Ashley Rhodes of Ashley Rhodes Events designed a Lowcountry vignette and set a table fit for local distinguished authors. Sweetgrass Restaurant from Dataw Island catered and Nancy Dennis, local calligrapher, showcased her art. Lowcountry Originals donated the Chandelier, and EWW Floral Design provided the arrangements as well.


Additionally, Amazing Rentals provided the tent and Lowcountry Photo Booth supplied some old-fashioned fun with a variety of costumes to accompany the self-managed booth at the cocktail party that preceded the grand opening.

David Tutera called the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel, “a wonderful, important venue full of charm and character” and wants to bring people from all over the country to this beachside haven, known for its egalitarian society, rare ecological systems and fun-loving attitude.


fandango-cut-ribbonFripp Langford, David Tutera and Jodie Miller

Tutera’s exceptional eye for perfection was pronounced at the event; yet, there wasn’t a sign of pretension. He was charming and polite, comical and real. He did not portray celebrity status, but definitely exuded engaging professionalism.

My parent’s 40th Wedding Anniversary was the following Saturday. I asked Tutera what I could do, if anything for a party that had been planned for months, to make the celebration forever memorable. His advice?


“Since you are the oldest, you should be the last to give your toast. At its conclusion, have your mother’s favorite song played and ask the immediate family to join in to dance in a circle, symbolizing strength and unity. It’s the people at an event that make it memorable, more than anything else. Remember that,” explained Tutera. So I followed his advice and we all danced to Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.”



What a humble response for a person who makes his living designing events. His message was great and has propelled him into the elite status of celebrity planners, because he designs not only from client inspiration, but also through the positive energy of the client’s surroundings, including friends and family.

Tybee’s hospitality was extraordinary, and I certainly wish the coastal wedding chapel the best of luck with future events. Fandango helped the chapel start off with a bang, indeed!

Congratulations to Fandango Productions South for introducing your talent and class to the Southern Coast. You are a welcomed addition to Beaufort, and we wish you much success!


Upcoming events produced by Fandango Productions South:

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Annual Oyster Roast, January 13, 2012 at Marshlands

Beaufort International Film Festival, February 15-19, 2012 at various locations

Beaufort Memorial Hospital Valentine Ball, February 11, 2012 at Parris Island Lyceum

Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Lafayette Soiree, April 28, 2012 at Tidewater


What’s Going on this Fall

Fall brings all sorts of fun and festivity to the Lowcountry. Here are some highlights…

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

September 19, 2011


You’re Invited to a Public Art Exhibition at Honey Horn

The Lowcountry is blessed with breathtaking natural landscapes and a myriad of majestic creatures. We relish the expansive salt marsh and are continually grateful for the sight of Bottlenose Dolphins and Great White Egrets. We are stewards of our environment, because we appreciate all that is beautiful in our backyard.

Our outdoor canvas is impressive. And thankfully, our community is rich with residents eager to make our surroundings even more magnificent through the creation of public art. The Lowcountry is about to be awed by a unique event coming to Hilton Head Island, which is sure to inspire thousands and complement our innate appreciation for our native soil.

Presented by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and bestowed upon residents and tourists through its Public Art Fund, the inaugural Public Art Exhibition will be held at the picturesque Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn September through December, 2011, and will showcase large-scale, outdoor sculptures amidst the natural beauty of Honey Horn.


A nationally-recognized jury of five was selected to review over 300 pieces from all over the world. The sculptures were required to meld with the look and feel of Hilton Head Island and integrate well with the natural environment. In addition, artists were reminded of the outdoor elements associated with the Lowcountry while creating their pieces of work.

Twenty sculptures were chosen, which include a variety of abstract, literal and modern works.   They will be placed along the scenic path surrounding the main house at Honey Horn. The Coastal Discovery Museum, which teaches the public about the natural history and cultural heritage of the location, is the ideal setting for this notable public display of art.

The exhibition will begin Sunday, September 25 and continue through the month of December. Docent-led tours and educational outreach events by the artists will be offered in conjunction with the event. And best, a sculpture-based curriculum is being offered to the Beaufort County School District and other local youth programs.

Carolyn Torgersen, Vice President for Marketing and Communications for the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, explains, “We want groups of people and students who have never seen large-scale art before to enjoy this exhibition.”

The event is free and open to the public during the Coastal Discovery Museum’s hours of operation, Monday through Saturday 9am-4:30pm and Sunday 11am-3pm. Additionally, the exhibition will run in conjunction with annual events like the Chili Cook-Off and the Concours d’Elegance.


The Public Art Exhibition is not only a juried show of fine art, but it is also a competition. On Thursday, November 10, the public art committee of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry will announce one piece as the winner. The Community Foundation will purchase the sculpture and place it at a site pre-approved by the Town of Hilton Head Island, making it public art for generations to come.

There will also be a Gold, Silver and Bronze People’s Choice award, chosen by the public via voting mechanisms on the website, www.hhipublicart.org or on-site at Honey Horn and sponsored by Alston + Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm.

There are many people to thank for bringing this opportunity to the Lowcountry. In addition to Alson + Bird, the Coastal Discovery Museum and Concours d’Elegance, the Community Foundation would like to acknowledge The Greenery, Beaufort County and the Town of Hilton Head Island as its Platinum level sponsors; CareCore National, Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Spinnaker Resorts as its Gold level sponsors; Morris & Whiteside Galleries, Hilton Head Monthly and Hudson’s Restaurant as Silver level sponsors; and Sea Pines Resort, Wood + Partners and World Design Marketing as Bronze level sponsors.


The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry established the Public Art Fund in 2006 with a goal to bring art into the public realm and introduce it into the lives of the community, engage and uplift the viewer, add to civic pride and enhance the unique place that is Hilton Head Island.

Many residents are familiar with the Charles Fraser “Walking the Alligator” piece installed at Compass Rose Park, which was the first piece commissioned and purchased through the Public Art Fund.

The Public Art Exhibition is sure to be an event remembered for years to come. Its mission is to be a significant, internationally-recognized platform for outdoor sculpture, while educating and inspiring community members and visitors to Hilton Head Island. The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry encourages you to attend this once in a lifetime event. You’ll be glad you came.

About the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry:

The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry was founded in 1994 with the proceeds of the sale of the nonprofit Hilton Head Hospital.

Since that time, they have expanded to cover a four-county area of the Lowcountry – Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties.

CEO and President of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is Denise K. Spencer, who reports to a Board of Trustees, currently chaired by Ernst Bruderer.

More than 200 individuals, families, groups, businesses, and nonprofits have established funds at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, which has given more than $30 million back into the community and beyond.

They provide personalized philanthropic services through a culture of openness and accessibility that makes it easy and comfortable for all segments of the community to feel connected to their community foundation.

The focus is local. They closely monitor community needs, opportunities, and resources and connect them to create positive results in the community. The Community Foundation is a local organization staffed by people from the community and led by a local Board of Trustees with an in-depth knowledge of the issues that shape the community.

As a community leader, they have the ability to make connections and work with others, donors, community organizations, government, other local funders, etc., to augment resources to effectively address community issues.

At the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, the mission is strengthening community by connecting people, resources, and needs. They strive to fulfill this mission every day.

The Farmers Market at Pick Pocket Plantation

wendy-pickpocket-john-keithJohn Keith

Farmers Markets are more than a venue to purchase fresh produce and locally made crafts.   To me, a Farmers Market needs to have heart and soul. It needs a likeable ambiance with friendly faces. It needs to fulfill a purpose.

And the Farmers Market at Pick Pocket Plantation has all of these! Held every Tuesday from 2pm-7pm, this Farmers Market is jam packed with all sorts of neat items. It’s got everything from veggies, fruits, southern spicy treats, fried peanuts, baked goods, breads, fresh pasta and fish. There are also vendors who provide prepared and catered foods as well as local crafts and handmade products.

Located at 93 Trask Farm Road, Pick Pocket Plantation, owned by John Keith, is just minutes from downtown Beaufort and has all the charm of an historic, working-class farm.

Pick Pocket Plantation was the first acreage owned by the Trask family, which began a truck farming empire of thousands of acres across Beaufort County. The historic plantation home and surrounding grounds now comprise more than 15 acres, located in the center of Burton between the intersections of US 21 and SC 170.

The property now boasts nine historical buildings, including the beautifully restored plantation home. Period antiques bought in Ohio, Tennessee and Georgia from major dealers can be found throughout the home and property, making the venue an attractive spot for vendors and consumers alike.

The farmhouse is noted for its distinctive architectural style, unusual exterior board siding, wrap-around porches and cupola or widow’s watch. Guests of the Farmers Market can also enjoy a tour of the home for only $7.

I spent the last two weeks perusing and tasting a myriad of items at Pick Pocket’s Famers Market, most of which is all organic or chemical-free. I met the owners of Lee Bees who sell all natural honey and herbal skin care products made from the bees wax. I spoke with Theresa Green and Cleveland Brown of Joseph Fields Organic Produce based on John’s Island. I sampled some of Lee Lambert’s Blackeyed Pea Dip and Red Heat Relish from his Great Food Co-op out of Lobeco. And I tasted delicious Gourmet Comfort Cookies by Tara Noberini.

Additionally, I smelled the unique flavors of Healin’ Treasures’ natural hair and skin products and admired the owner’s original ethnic art and bottle trees. I laughed with Adriano Rota, who owns Castra Rota Gourmet Foods based out of Hampton and makes historically authentic breads and cheeses; he also sells goat milk for those who are lactose intolerant. I chatted with Mike Gibson of Early Branch who makes savory boiled peanuts and offers them in a green tobasco sauce. I met Alfonso Tyler and Gene Mouzon, farmers from Jasper County and Debbie Alexander who makes candles and bath products with over 50 fragrances.

I was in heaven. Everyone was so friendly, and the aura was a pure delight. Pick Pocket Plantation is simply a magnificent venue for a Farmers Market. Children can ride horses and get their faces painted while parents shop and chat with neighbors and friends. For an enjoyable Tuesday afternoon while running errands across town, take a minute to stop by Pick Pocket for an experience you won’t forget.


John Keith, owner of Pick Pocket Plantation, has a special recipe for his homemade ice cream. He invited me to the warming house on the property. There, with his granddaughter, Tiffany, I watched him prepare the batch that would be churned by a refurbished John Deer engine. It was old-fashioned, and it was fun!

He started with a mix purchased from Amish country in Holmes County, Ohio. He poured 6 cups of sugar, 2 1/2 gallons of milk, 5 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 cans condensed milk and 3 tbsp. vanilla into an old-fashioned stainless steel milk jug and stirred it. He let the batch settle overnight. And, the next morning, I came back to watch Keith churn his ice cream.

I have never tasted something so yummy! It is a must-buy at the Farmers Market. When you ask for a cup, tell Mr. Keith Wendy sent you!

The Annual Fall Book Sale is Here


Beaufort is eager to welcome back one of its favorite events Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25, the popular Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale. Held annually under the pavilion at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, the sale benefits the Beaufort, Lobeco and St. Helena branches of the Beaufort County Library, hit terribly this year with budget cuts.

Chaired by Geni Flowers, the book sale is a labor intensive event. Last year, the sale raised $24,000 thanks to the hard work of the Friends of the Library, area Boy Scouts and numerous volunteers.

Fred Wilson and Dave Peterson organize volunteers year-round to collect the books. The sale begins with just one box in the Library lobby. As books are collected, volunteers take them to the Friends of the Library room upstairs and categorize the books into 28 genres. Then, they price the books and pack them in boxes.

Over 550 boxes with an average of 30 books per box have been collected, and the Friends of the Library want to thank the community for their donations throughout the year. The Friends are very proud of the quantity (and quality) of the books collected.

Beaufort residents will be pleased to know that the sale is a three-day event. Though the Friends have put set hours on the sale, Boy Scouts will be monitoring the books overnight. So, you can literally come any time of day or night to peruse the various hardbacks, paperbacks and other media.

And this year, the sale is sure to be better than ever. The event will include a silent auction, which will feature several dozen books of distinguished rarity, value and condition. Dave Peterson, chair of the silent auction, researched the market value and determined a reasonable minimum bid for the books, most starting at $15. The auction will begin at 10am Friday, September 23, and end at 3:30pm on Saturday, September 24. You need not be present to win.

Additionally, the Friends of the Library would like to emphasize the non-profit and educators give-away at the conclusion of the sale at 4pm on Sunday, September 25. Anything left over will be given to those in need. They simply ask that interested parties bring their own boxes to pack their books.

The Friends of the Library would like to thank the City of Beaufort, a joint partner of the event, and general Warehouse Company for their continued support. They would also like to thank Palm and Moon and Common Ground for donating bagels and coffee to the volunteers helping with the sale.

Of course, there are many people to thank for this wonderful community event. Flowers explains, “It really takes a village to pull this together.”

If you are interested in volunteering for the sale, namely helping move books from one location to another, please email Flowers at geniflowers@gmail.com.

Flowers has been the Chairwoman of the event for 9 years, and Wilson and Stevenson have worked together on the sale for at least 20 years. They have seen the sale grow immensely since its early days and are very proud that the sale has become such a popular event.

From 10am to 12 Noon on Friday, members of the Friends of the Library will get a sneak preview of the books. For a mere $10, visitors may become members and gain access to the preview as well. Public Hours are: Friday, 12 Noon-6pm, Saturday, 10am-6pm and Sunday, 12pm-4pm.

Please come and support the Beaufort County Library by attending the Fall Book Sale. Who knows, you may find that classic you’ve been waiting for!

New Verdier House Exhibit Features Unsurrendered Civil War Flag from Beaufort


The “unsurrendered flag” carried by Beaufort’s Civil War militia will be the showpiece of a new exhibit opening at the Verdier House, 801 Bay Street, September 16th, in observation of Beaufort’s tricentennial and the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

The exhibit, “The Beaufort Artillery: Guardians of the Lowcountry Since 1776,” was developed by Historic Beaufort Foundation and curated by Ron Roth. Artifacts and memorabilia owned by HBF, the former Beaufort Museum and the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum will illustrate the history of the unit which was called to fight in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and World Wars I and II. It was eventually absorbed into the S.C. National Guard and is the antecedent of the Beaufort unit.

The BVA flag, which hasn’t been seen in Beaufort for 115 years, was badly damaged and deteriorated when it was given to the Relic Room in Columbia in 1896 by the unit’s second Civil War captain, Dr. Henry Middleton Stuart. It has been in storage since then.

The flag, designed and sewn by the women of Beaufort, was presented to the local militia on George Washington’s Birthday in 1858. War clouds were gathering and the women used the occasion to present the BVA with its “colors” for use in anticipated battles with the North.

Sacred to the troops, “colors” were carried as rallying points and inspiration to follow into battle. Seriously damaged during the Battle of Port Royal Sound, the flag was mended by BVA soldiers who carried it through the rest of the war. At the surrender of BVA troops in 1865, one of the soldiers wrapped himself with it instead of giving it to Union forces, thereby claiming it was unsurrendered.

Restoration of the flag was sponsored by HBF and Gen. Richard H. Anderson Camp #47 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Many of its members trace ancestral ties to the BVA. The Gen. Stephen Elliott Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and private individuals also contributed to the restoration.

Among numerous other items to be displayed are a presentation sword that honored Dr. Stuart’s successful reorganization of the unit in 1878 and a portrait of Gen. Stephen Elliott that also left Beaufort to be housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA, until it was returned by Beaufort Museum volunteers in 1971.

The exhibit will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is $10 per person and includes a tour of the Verdier House if desired. Admittance for schoolchildren is free. For additional information or to arrange a group tour, call 843-379-6335.

A special lecture and gallery tour will be presented by Ron Roth, curator of the exhibit, Monday, September 26th as part of HBF’s Dinner & A Lecture series.

Roth’s talk, Undaunted Valor: Stephen Elliott and the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, will examine the BVA’s role in the Civil War under the leadership of its legendary captain, Elliott.

Roth was director and CEO of the Reading (PA) Public Museum and director of the Museum of Nebraska Art before moving to Bluffton. He was a seasonal historian for the Gettysburg National Military Park, and a licensed battlefield guide. He is currently vice president of the Civil War Roundtable of the Lowcountry.

For more information, please call Maxine Lutz at the Historic Beaufort Foundation at 379-3331.


We Will Never Forget

Beaufort Resident Christopher Conefry, a former equities trader who lost 17 friends on September 11, 2001, tells his story.

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

August 30, 2011

Chris-1September 11, 2001. It was a day we will never forget. Most Americans seem to remember each and every detail about that day; I was on an airplane en route to Costa Rica when I heard the news from a passenger in front of me. My two-day old husband and I were two of 60,000 people who were grounded at Miami International Airport, where T.V. monitors were intentionally disconnected. It wasn’t until 5:30 that afternoon when I saw the towers fall. My eyes filled with tears, and my body became numb as I watched coverage of the sequence of events that took place that awful Tuesday.

Today, as I write this piece, the tears flow again as I recall the range of emotions I felt that day. It’s been 10 years since the attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Do you remember that day? Of course you do, and so does Christopher Conefry, a former equities trader on Wall Street who now calls Beaufort home. This is his story.

Conefry worked at Salomon Smith Barney as a NASDAQ trader. From 1995 until 2001, he was a successful bachelor enjoying the lavish lifestyle of fine dinners at the best restaurants and golf outings all over the country. He had an upscale condo with a skyline view in trendy Hoboken, New Jersey at the height of the market in March of 2000. As he knew it then, life was good.

“It was like Candyland, probably not unlike Beaufort. Everyone was making money if you were aggressive and capable,” says Conefry.

That was before September 11, when priorities were askew and values were trumped by climbing an ambitious ladder to desired wealth. Things were about to change.

“That Tuesday was a perfect day,” explains Conefry. It was 85 degrees and no cloud in the sky. When I got off the ferry, I walked 6 blocks to work at 390 Greenwich Avenue. I met with a customer, who now happens to be my partner, Tommy Marich. I went back to my desk when I got the news.”

A colleague walked into Conefry’s office and announced that a plane had just hit one of the towers. Assuming it was an accident involving an inexperienced pilot flying a Cessna, the young traders turned on CNBC and watched as Mark Haines calmy described the incident of American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46am.

It wasn’t registering. Conefry thought of his friend’s father, Jeff LeVeen, Sr. who was a senior vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald, located between the 101stand 105th floors of the World Trade Center. He wondered if everything was all right over there.


The traders at Salomon Smith Barney continued to watch CNBC, and over 1000 traders collectively witnessed United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:02am.

Within 10 minutes, their building on Greenwich Avenue was ordered to evacuate. Conefry immediately called his parents’ home and left a message. They were vacationing in Ireland. He simply said, “I’m okay, and I’m leaving the city.”

Chris’ friend, Jeff LeVeen, Jr. evacuated the building with Conefry and Tommy Marich. He split from Conefry and Marich and headed toward the towers, knowing his dad was in there.

Conefry and Marich walked toward the Holland Tunnel when they reconsidered. They thought they were in the midst of World War III. Not knowing what to do or where to go, they ditched the Holland Tunnel route in fear that terrorists were plotting to blow it up.

Conefry went to the ATM and withdrew $1000 in cash. He and Tommy walked to the marina, hoping to find a boat to take them across the Hudson to New Jersey. They saw the towers on fire for the first time with their own eyes.

No one could pay for the ferry to Hoboken. Everyone left wallets and purses behind when they evacuated; thankfully, the operator realized that and continued with his route after Conefry insisted. Conefry was on the ferry watching the towers burn when he first started crying.

“There was a girl next to me in hysterics. She was the first person to tell me she saw bodies jumping out of windows.”

The ferry brought the passengers to Weehawken, just north of Hoboken. As Conefry walked the two miles to his apartment, he watched as the two towers fell. The physical effects began. Conefry threw up and was so wired with adrenaline. He couldn’t call anyone, because the phone lines were jammed.

There are 120 bars in one square mile in Hoboken. Every one was packed with people watching the coverage on all major networks. The stereo of the news echoed out of every house. That’s when Conefry saw his girlfriend, Stacy. Stacy, who worked south of the towers, was covered in soot. They went back to her place, but Conefry couldn’t sit still. He walked around Hoboken three times.

There was a thunderstorm that night. Along with the bang of thunder, sirens resonated throughout the streets. And, on this night, Conefry would have his first panic attack, the first of many to come in the next several years.


Conefry woke and began his trek around Hoboken again, when he ran into his buddy, Jeff LeVeen, Jr. and his sister, Betsy. He was so thankful that LeVeen, Jr. had decided to return to New Jersey, knowing there was nothing he could do around the World Trade Center.

Conefry had friends in Boston. They invited him to come to Newport, RI to get away from the chaos. Upon his arrival, he began feeling guilty for leaving New York City. He had another breakdown in the shower and drove back to New Jersey the next day.

On September 17, the Stock Market reopened. There were ferry stations set up all over the place, since the subway was closed. At 6:30am, when thousands of people boarded the ferry in New Jersey, there wasn’t a single smile in sight. Everyone carried the same, blank look on their faces. But, the first genuine smile that came across Conefry’s face in over a week came when he saw the ferry that was to take him across the Hudson for the first time in six days. It was a lobster boat.

Conefry got to his office at Salomon Smith Barney after walking through blocks of debris. At this point, people were still hanging on to hope. Hundreds of people were buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center, and family and friends were looking every day for any sort of proof of survival of their loved ones.

In the weeks that followed September 11, Conefry would learn that he lost a total of seventeen friends in the World Trade Center attacks, including Jeff Leveen, Sr. He had to miss memorial services in order to attend others. He was devastated and powerless, and physically depressed for years.

He once compared his experience on September 11 to that of his dad’s in Vietnam. He asked his dad how he coped with losing so many friends. His dad simply said, “Son, I had 6 months to psychologically prepare for War. You just got up and went to work one day and lost seventeen friends. It’s not the same”

Conefry toured Ground Zero about a month following the attacks. “There was nothing but steel everywhere, and the American flag.”

sept-chris-erikaChris and Erika Conefry

He began to realize, as did most of his colleagues, that each day was another opportunity to tell someone how much you loved them or how much they were appreciated. Relationships, no matter what level of love or respect was entailed, were priority now.

“We weren’t asking where you went to dinner last night anymore. We were asking about your son’s soccer game. Conversation was much more family oriented,” says Conefry.

In the years that followed, Conefry began to reflect on each friend who perished, one memory at a time. Therapy helped him confront his fears and also allowed him to comfort friends, like Jeff LeVeen, Jr., who lost loved ones in the attacks.

He reconnected with his college sweetheart shortly after September 11. They married, and in 2008, she agreed to a slower pace of life in Beaufort. Erika and Chris have a son, Cole, and live in Habersham.

Conefry is a member at Secession Golf Club. His association with the Club is what brought him to Beaufort and the laid back lifestyle of the South Carolina coast.

In 2002, members of Secession Golf Club started a college Scholarship in the name of the late Jeff LeVeen, Sr. and Steve Roach, a brother of a friend who also perished on September 11. In conjunction with the golf club, over $1 million has been raised for the LeVeen-Roach Scholarship Fund for local Beaufort students who might not otherwise have the means to attend college. So far, 25 young men and women have graduated.


Conefry is featured in a new book, written by Wendy Healy, titled Life is Too Short, Stories of Transformation and Renewal After 9/11. It tells the story of people—pastors, disaster response staff, mental health counselors, case managers, and those who worked in and around the Wall Street area—who survived horrific events and have gone on to change their lives after 9/11 for the better. Today many, including Conefry, are working in new careers, living in new locations, and being guided by new mindsets and philosophies. As they look back on their lives since 9/11, they see how God was at work.

Christopher Conefry now calls Beaufort home, but the New York native will always keep a special place in his heart for the city that is and always will be America’s favorite destination. It is the home of our Statue of Liberty, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants set foot on U.S. soil for the first time seeking freedom and love of country.

We will never forget September 11, 2001. We will always remember those who died. And, on the 10th Anniversary of the attacks, we will hold hands, united as one as we did on that Tuesday; because, each and every one of us are Americans in these United States. May God bless us all.


Back to School

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

August 16, 2011

Back to SchoolIt’s that time of year again. The heat index is well over 100 degrees, and the humidity is the only topic of conversation. Unpicked tomatoes are rotting on the ground, inviting thousands of flies into our homes and favorite restaurants. And baby Loggerhead sea turtles are hatching by the thousands along South Carolina’s coast. Yep, it’s August. We are in the midst of everything we either love or hate about living in the Lowcountry.

But August means so much more to thousands of area youth and teachers. That’s right. It’s Back to School time. It’s time to buy supplies and choose new outfits. It’s time to check bus schedules and plan for extra curricular activities. It’s time for mamas, daddies and kiddos to get back into a routine. Some say, “Finally,” while others reminisce about the lost days of summer.

Regardless of back to school emotion, many people in town are preparing for another scholastic year. Administrators, teachers, nurses, coaches, students and parents have spent the last week getting ready for the beginning of school.

We are fortunate to have so many great schools in our small town. And I am definitely one to appreciate school choice. Each of our students deserves unique attention, and it’s up to parents to decide which school is a better fit for their children. Recently, I got a phone call from an old college friend. He and his wife were thinking about moving to Beaufort, but they were concerned about the schools in the area and wanted advice.


As I began my conversation, I quickly insisted there were an abundance of quality schools. I talked about private and public school options, Montessori and charter school alternatives, home school and parochial school preferences. As I spoke about all of the choices, I overwhelmed even myself with all Beaufort’s wonderful schools.

Of course, residential preferences, age of children, educational background and ideology are factors involved in choosing the right school. We juggled a few scenarios, and they made their decision. And their decision to move to Beaufort was based on the great diversity of schools. Beaufort should feel proud.

The wealth of knowledgeable teachers in this town is remarkable. We have educators with Master’s degrees and PhD’s and skill sets from all walks of life. No matter what the subject matter, all of them are intrinsically motivated to help children.

school-brayden-dinkinsBrayden Dinkins

I asked Brayden Dinkins, a 3rd grade teacher at Beaufort Academy, why she loved teaching. She replied, “Nothing makes me happier than taking a child’s weakness and transforming it into a strength. You don’t like to read? Oh really. But have you read…?”

“If I could give any advice to the next generation of teachers, it would be to teach like no one is watching. The days I really let myself go and let the ‘nerd’ inside of me shine are the times my students are most enthusiastic about learning.”

Cynthia Dennis, a 3rd and 4th grade Literacy teacher at Lady’s Island Elementary, agrees and adds, “You could probably make a lot more money doing something else, but stick with it. The payoff is in knowing that you have made a difference in a child’s life, and that’s a paycheck you get every day.”

Abby Mitchell is a 3rd grade teacher at Coosa Elementary. About her role as an educator, she explains, “I’m proud when the kids

succeed academically. That’s a no-brainer. It makes me just as proud to see kids telling the truth, helping each other and making good life choices; laughing and enjoying themselves in my class; or seeing them participate in a play, dance recital, or soccer/basketball game. It’s also great to see students succeed once they’ve left your class. You can’t help but act ‘selfish’ for a moment and think ‘I had a small part in that.’”

school-abby-mitchellAbby Mitchell

Brooke Bobrowicz, toddler teacher (18 months-3 years) at EC Montessori and her assistant, Angie Barnes, enlightened me about the benefit of early age learning. Barnes said, “What children absorb in the cerebral cortex at two years of age will be retained longer than at any other time in their lives.”

school-angie-barnes-brooke-bobrowiczAngie Barnes and Brooke Bobrowicz

Bobrowicz concurs. “The environment in which a toddler learns is important and keeps them interested and wanting to learn more. We emphasize respect, and respect coupled with freedom within limits fosters a child’s love of learning.”

Alison Thomas, Director at Riverview Charter School, described her school’s commitment to incorporating 21st Century skills into everyday learning. “All of our 6th and 7th grade students (72 of them) will be receiving iPads this year. We are very excited about that!”

And Thomas shares my sentiment about school choice. “I understand each parent’s commitment to their child. I am all about choices, choices that are right for you and your family,” says Thomas, who also describes teaching as “creative, fun and exhausting in all the best ways!”

school-allison-thomas Alison Thomas

She’s right. Teaching is just about the most selfless profession out there. Each time a child answers a question correctly, a teacher is rewarded, but with no public recognition or accolades. It’s the look of confidence, the smile of accomplishment or the offer of thanks from a student that keeps teachers in the classroom.


I will be teaching, as well, for the second time in my professional career. After Labor Day, I begin as a high school Biology and Marine Biology teacher at Trinity Classical Academy. And I couldn’t be more excited… and nervous!

Eyes that are glued to you and ears that listen to your every instruction daily can be a little intimidating. My first day will go down in the books as one filled with butterflies in the stomach. But, the first day is the hardest. Each day after that will only get better.

school-cynthia-dennisCynthis Dennis

And proud moments occur when you least expect them. Cynthia Dennis, who once taught an At-Risk program at Lady’s Island Middle, saw a former student years later in his ARMY uniform, as proud of himself as she was of him.

Brayden Dinkins received a surprise one day too. “I was reading aloud to my new class, and two former students, who were now seniors, announced to my class that I was the best teacher they ever had; and, I taught them so much to make them the ‘extremely fabulous’ people they are today.  Other than feeling proud, I also felt a lesson in modesty might have been a good idea!”

And the funny things kids will say are always worth the price of teaching. Comedic relief occurs on a daily basis, thankfully. Some kids are witty; others are practical jokesters. But most of children’s humor is pure, unadulterated, innocent fun.

Abby Mitchell remembers this funny story:

“During a classroom Christmas party one year, I had a student who was causing complete chaos and insanity.  So, of course, he had to be excluded from some of the ‘fun’ things that were going on. So he called me a ‘big, fat meany.’ Later, we were leaving school, and he saw all the other kids with some treat bags a parent had packed for the class. He was mad, but I told him there was one in his book bag too.  He then looked at me with the sweetest face, hugged me, and told me he was sorry for calling me a ‘big, fat meany.’  I was a ‘big, fat nicey.’  What he didn’t realize was the fact that it wasn’t the ‘meany’ part that offended me.”

Administrators, teachers and students are very proud of their schools in Beaufort. Ask many where they work or attend, and most brag about their future alma mater.

Cynthia Dennis explains, “I teach at Lady’s Island Elementary School.  There’s so much to love about this wonderful school. We integrate the Arts with every academic subject. Our faculty and staff are completely dedicated to what is best for each and every child; and most of all, our students are the most enthusiastic, creative, and adorable children in Beaufort County!  I admit to being a bit biased.”

Brayden Dinkins differs in opinion. She says, “I love the family atmosphere at Beaufort Academy. Parents are always on campus, and everyone contributes to various campus activities. Seniors hug pre-schoolers as they walk through campus. I also love that my two babies are there and my husband is the basketball coach. Family, family, family!”

And Robin Bridgers, a 6th grader at Riverview Charter School offers her sentiments, “I love Riverview, because it creates a small community where everyone fits in and cares for one another. Also, Riverview has a different way of teaching things through hands-on learning.  We do projects and experiments in class that help all the students understand the concept of what is being taught. This method really works.”

School pride resonates in the halls and around campuses all over Northern Beaufort County. And this week, Lowcountry schoolchildren will look forward to one more year of fun and learning with their peers and teachers. Yes, that’s right. It’s August, and it’s time to go back to school.

I asked a few students what they were looking forward to this year at school. This is what they said:


school-court-martinCourt Martin, a 3rd grader at Mossy Oaks Elementary says, “I’m excited to learn and read. Science is my favorite subject.”

school-robin-bridgersRobin Bridgers, a 6th grader at Riverview Charter School:  I am looking forward to meeting new people, getting ipads and having a different teacher for each subject. However, the thing I am looking forward to most of all is having another great year at a school that I love.

school-davis-martinDavis Martin, a 1st Grader at Mossy Oaks Elementary, says “I’m going to have a lot more homework in 1st Grade!”

school-avery-thomasAvery Thomas, a 4th grader at Riverview Charter School: Well, this year I am looking forward to learning new things. My favorite thing to do at school is social studies.

school-griffin-siegelGriffin Siegel, a 2nd Grader at Coosa Elementary says, “I’m excited about seeing my friends and learning new math questions. 2nd grade is going to be harder than 1st.”


BHS’s Big Green Booster Club

Where tradition begins with community

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

August 1, 2011

My style of writing was recently described as “spirited.” I guess once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader. But now, instead of rooting for my athletic peers, I choose to cheer for my adopted town of Beaufort and its neighboringislands. I communicate my thoughts and aspirations, my will to win and my acceptance of loss through writing now, as opposed to chanting to crowded stadiums and gymnasiums. But the goal is still the same. I hope to make people appreciate the institution of community.

As a new contributor to Lowcountry Weekly, I am thrilled to begin my new column, an in-depth look at the people, businesses and organizations that shape our community with a group who embodies unity, tradition and everything positive about making our town a hometown: the Big Green Booster Club at Beaufort High School (BGBC).

For a few weeks now, a small group of Beaufort residents, both parents and non-parents of BHSstudents, have been diligently working to make significant improvements to Eagle Field, home to the high schools’ football, soccer, track and field and cheerleading teams. But Eagle Field is just the start. This Booster Club is determined to put Beaufort High School’s entire athletic complex and boisterous pride on the Region-AAAA map. They want to encourage all teams, including baseball, basketball, volleyball, softball, wresting, swimming, golf and tennis as well as those previously mentioned to succeed and feel appreciated by their biggest fans…the people of Beaufort!

Mike Ingram, Scott Dennis and Trey Ambrose have taken the reins and called in favors from many volunteers and businesses to improve the look of Eagle Field. In fact, there are many “Type-A’s” involved. In a matter of a few short weeks, corporate, individual and even student leadership has transformed an average-looking facility into a preferred destination for Friday Night Lights.

Trees have been pruned and shaped in the parking lot and along the corridor between the school and the stadium. The Press Box has been painted and will don a prominent, “Welcome to Eagle Field.” The goal posts have been painted a sick (high school lingo) DayGlo Saturn yellow and marked with neon orange wind flags, conveying the eminence of professional, NFL status. Ample landscaping in front of and behind the grandstand, around the scoreboard and flagpole and throughout the parking lot has been installed. New light poles have been mounted in the gallery of the stadium for safety. Trashcan receptacles have been placed around the entirety of the field. And, a new picnic area has been constructed, designed for family-style seating.

bhs-varsity-boys-landscaping2All of this work is suggesting a great sense of pride among parents of athletes at the school, the athletes themselves and the community at large.   The physical improvements represent a greater purpose to the “Friends of the Program,” a name this group has dubbed themselves to attract a variety of boosters.

The Friends of the Program want to initiate a buzz around Beaufort every Friday night. They want Beaufort High’s intrinsic school spirit to resonate throughout town. And I can attest, this coastal high school has some good old fashioned, raise the roof kind of vibe! So why not get the rest of the community on board? Hey, it’s high school sports we’re talking about… the best kind of competition out there!

In addition to the sweat equity these volunteers are pouring into Eagle Field, BGBC will also be starting new traditions around town and encouraging elementary and middle school parents to take the torch when they’re gone. They want Lady’s Island businesses to show their support for the Eagles by wearing team jerseys and flying Beaufort Eagle flags (both provided by BGBC) and displaying words of encouragement on marquees on home football games.

BGBC will initiate the “Eagle Walk” this year, along the corridor from the school to the stadium before each home game. Fans are encouraged to surround the path, which will be lined with Eagle flags, and cheer for the 2011 Varsity football team as announcements are made that the team is approaching.

In addition, BGBC has created a “Home Run Club,” “Touchdown Club,” “Goal Club,” etc, etc. to encourage fans to pledge a dollar amount for the particular sport they would like to sponsor. In a given year, the number of home runs, touchdowns, goals, etc. will indicate the total amount due to the team. It’s a great way to donate to a team of your choice and enhance the program, i.e. make them want to score more.

The new picnic area is a terrific location for families to enjoy food from a variety of vendors. Sure, the booster club will make money from concessions of their own; but they’ve also invited area restaurant owners to capitalize in order to create a “food court” atmosphere, so that the entire family can enjoy together time as well as individual preferences. As a mother of two arguing daughters, that appeals to me! And it should also appeal to visiting fans. They’ve spent the better part of a Friday afternoon traveling, and BGBC wants them to choose the stadium as their dinner spot.

I haven’t even mentioned all the good food that will be there. We’re talking pizza, barbeque, seafood, hamburgers and hot dogs the way you like ‘em… fast, inexpensive and from reliable, familiar vendors.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about what BGBC is doing, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. Recently, the group hosted a fundraiser at the new Port Royal Pasta Company, located at 1430 Ribaut Road and owned by Steve Leverton and Keith Potts. BGBC invited alumni, area business owners and future “Friends of the Program” to elicit funds. Cooter Ramsey of Allison & Ramsey Architects presented renderings of the prospective master plan of Eagle Field, including a proposed Hall of Fame Park.

Impressive as the renderings look, the progress is certainly not going to happen overnight. And neither the present budget, nor the current leadership of BGBC will be around in the next few years to complete the vision. So this cocktail party and presentation was important to get the word out and start the buzz. And that it did. The event raised $3295, which is an impressive start on a long financial journey.

Kudos to Jonolyn Ferreri, Jessica Brown, Scott Dennis, Kathy Clark, Emlee Pylant, Trish Caulder, all officers of the Big Green Booster Club and corporate sponsors, NBM Builders, Pro-Slab, AMIkids Beaufort, D&S Heating & Cooling, Easy Rentals, Serve-Pro, Mazanna’s Landscaping, SCE&G, Sea Island Tree Care, Martin and Lindsey Landscaping, Valley Crest Landscaping, Gasque and Associates, Allison & Ramsey Architects, Palmetto Site Prep, Port Royal Pasta Company, Beaufort Glass and Stokes Honda for building the foundation and momentum of this project. Forthcoming leaders and imminent supporters should take note and extend thanks.



Beyond the dollars raised and the needed funds to come, outside of man-hours and labor, the Big Green Booster Club represents an innate concern and appreciation for Beaufort High School Athletics. In the grand scheme of things, we’re all teachers. BGBC is teaching the youth at BHS pride and ownership of working hard, regardless of the outcome. It’s a lesson we can all relate to in these economic times. Perseverance and maintenance of individual and community dignity trumps monetary wealth any day.

The football team’s motto is, “One Team, One Family.” Coach Mark Clifford’s words inspired me to come up with the title my new column, “Our Town.” If I can only begin to communicate via Lowcountry Weekly the same sense of pride of community that this football team has demonstrated under Coach Clifford’s guidance, I will have done my job.

I look forward to working with you, my Lowcountry friends. This is Our Town.

What can you do to help?

Donate to the Big Green Booster Club and become a Friend of the Program. Simply visitwww.bhsbgbc.org or call Jonolyn Ferreri at (843) 986-4093 or Jessica Brown at (843) 379-1776 for more information.

Show your support by wearing BHS football jerseys and flying Eagle flags on home football games. If you’d like more information about your business taking part in this spirited activity, please call the Jersey Girl at (843) 263-3216.

Participate in BGBC’s Banner Program. Have a banner hung at eagle Field in the fall and at the baseball and softball fields during the spring. Your name will also appear in the program and will be announced at all home games. There are different levels, MVP, All-Star, VIP and Teammate. For more information, please call Scott Dennis at (843) 321-0944.

Go to Beaufort High School Athletic games and show your support for the Eagles.

For schedules of all Beaufort High School Fall Sports, please visit www.bhsbgbc.org

About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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