- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Dec. 14

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach:

Hurricane Matthew is history in the minds of many Grand Strand residents, but hundreds are still trying to recover from the impact of the early October storm. The area chapter of the American Red Cross faces a financial crisis from the costs of bringing in trained volunteers. This week, at least two dozen volunteers from other areas are continuing to assist hurricane victims.

Nanci Conley, executive director of the Eastern Carolina Chapter, spoke with The Sun News Editorial Board about her concerns in raising money - perhaps $350,000 - to pay for operating shelters and lodging, meals and transportation for trained Red Cross volunteers from other areas. Conley has appealed to members of Horry County Council and is asking for help from the public.

The Eastern Carolina Chapter does not have enough trained volunteers to staff shelters and assist storm victims. So volunteers are brought in to help, and “it costs the Red Cross $1,650 to deploy a volunteer for 11 days.” Conley notes that since early October, the chapter has paid for 3,148 nights in hotels, “contributing to the local economy $255,214 plus taxes.”

Of the total nights, 2,869 were in Horry County and 279 in Florence County. The volunteers drive rented vehicles, also paid for by donated dollars, as well as the fuel. For three weeks, more than 80 rented vehicles were in use.

The chapter has distributed 1,127 home cleanup kits (mop, broom, bleach, gloves, face mask, scrub brush), costing $30 for a total expense of $35,370.

Many area residents may not understand that the $255,214 for hotel rooms, restaurant meals and rental cars are paid by area contributions. Many people apparently have the mis-impression that the national American Red Cross, or the federal government through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), funds these costs. Conley points out that the chapter she leads, and other ARC chapters, are on their own for raising money.

One the biggest bills, $90,000, is from Horry County Schools, for the costs (janitorial services, utilities, supplies) related to 16 shelters. The Red Cross has a contract with HCS, so the $90,000 is what it is.

“It’s the reality of what the Red Cross does every day,” Conley says. “The Red Cross is a network; there’s no trickle down (of money to cover the costs of disasters).”

There is also “no more trickle up” of area contributions going to the national organization. “We no longer get assessments, and 91 cents of every dollar” goes to cover services.

Since July 1,160 Horry County residents’ lives have changed “because they have suffered the devastation of a disaster and are trying to rebuilt their lives” after Hurricane Matthew or a home fire. Since July, 123 residents have had home fires, nearly double the 66 last year at this time, and “1,037 local residents have sought out assistance due to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.”

The cost of lodging and meals highlights the critical need for more trained volunteers, but raising additional money over and above the Red Cross chapter’s $1.1 million annual operating budget is the pressing need now.




Dec. 12

The Island Packet of Hilton Head Island on Beaufort County and the history of Reconstruction:

Beaufort County has a remarkable story to tell about American history, and the nation is on the cusp of recognizing that fact.

We join others throughout this county - in both the public and private sectors - in urging the federal government to establish a new unit of the National Park Service here to tell the story of Reconstruction following the Civil War.

It is our hope that President Barack Obama will use the Antiquities Act to designate a Reconstruction Era National Monument here.

Historians nationwide have long recognized the gold mine Beaufort County is in this complicated story that many fear has been misrepresented over the years, or ignored.

More than 100 historians, governments, individuals, churches, nonprofits and advocacy groups have expressed support for Beaufort County to be the site of the new national monument, says Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, who has been working with others for years to get to this point.

In addition, Beaufort City Council member Stephen Murray started an online petition signed by more than 1,200 people urging the president and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to establish a multi-site monument in Beaufort County.

A national monument is not a monolithic stone, but land or buildings that help the public understand and protect landmarks of historic or scientific significance.

Beaufort County was ground zero for freedom when America painfully turned its back on slavery. The enslaved were free here first, practically if not legally, from the outset of the Civil War. We then became the earliest testing ground for how “liberty and justice for all” could actually happen. The Port Royal Experiment is considered the “rehearsal for Reconstruction.” And it resulted in ex-slaves having the vote, going to school, buying property, establishing community and electing Robert Smalls of Beaufort to five terms in Congress. Historians tell us that Reconstruction started here and lasted longer here than anywhere else. It should be a source of pride and study for locals, as well as the nation.

More than 100 sites have been identified throughout the county as significant to the Reconstruction story.

As Keyserling says, “We’re saying let’s get a toehold on this thing, and we’ll build on it over time. The country is ready for it now.”

That toehold could include historic sites at Penn Center, the Brick Baptist Church, the Robert Smalls house, the site at the Naval Hospital in Port Royal where the Emancipation Proclamation was read publicly to great fanfare on New Year’s Day 1863, and the old firehouse in downtown Beaufort.

Cultural and historic tourism is important here, and this could help force our community to have more to show visitors. Some sites of major significance, such as the Mitchelville village for freedmen on Hilton Head Island, are long gone physically but prime for new construction to tell their important stories.

The public will have a chance to hear details about this national monument opportunity at a hearing from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Brick Baptist Church, 85 Martin Luther King Drive, on St. Helena Island. National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis, and Capt. Jeffrey Korsnes, commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Support Facility Beaufort, are to participate.

This has been a long time coming. For more than 16 years, the concept has been percolating as documentation has been nailed down and more people came to understand the significance of Beaufort County. The Reconstruction story has many voices, and they must now be heard. This is not a Southern story or a Northern story, a white story or a black story. It is an American story.

We take pride that it also is a Beaufort County story - one that took historians Stephen Wise and Larry Rowland almost 1,000 pages to tell in their recently released second volume of Beaufort County’s history.

The cast of characters - including the celebrated Harriet Tubman, cameo appearances by Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, missionary teachers, Cabinet members, and lesser-known heroes like Rufus Saxton - sweep across our muggy stage like a Broadway musical. But the heart of the story is how a nation came to terms with its own ideals and coped with harsh realities.

We have the goods to tell that story. Now is the time.




Dec. 10

The Post and Courier of Charleston on the Dylann Roof trial:

“We don’t disagree with any of this,” was how the lawyer for Dylann Roof responded Wednesday to the facts of the federal case against his client, who is charged with hate crimes in connection with the murder of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. Defense attorney David Bruck said his goal is to keep Roof from getting the death penalty.

That issue was overwhelmed this week by the pure horror of this brutal crime. It’s as if a painful shared wound has been reopened as gruesome details of the atrocity were presented in testimony.

During Roof’s trial at Charleston’s federal courthouse, surviving witnesses described the methodical manner in which the murders were committed.

Felicia Sanders took the stand as the trial opened Wednesday to give her heart-wrenching account. As reported in Thursday’s Post and Courier:

“Sanders said her 26-year-old son, a young poet of great kindness and promise, had stood up, wounded, and pleaded with Roof to stop, saying they meant him no harm. Roof replied that he had to do this because, ‘You all are raping our women and you all are taking over the world,’ referring to black people. Roof then pumped five more rounds into her son, she said.

“She watched as Tywanza crawled across the floor to touch his elderly Aunt Susie, who lay fatally wounded. He said he needed some water, that he couldn’t breathe.

” ‘I love you Tywanza,’ she said. ‘I love you too, Momma,’ he answered. Then he died, she said.”

Other witnesses also delivered harrowing painful testimony.

And a video shown Friday of Roof’s confession, recorded on the day of his capture in North Carolina, was grotesquely chilling. The avowed white supremacist tried to justify the slaughter by telling FBI agents that “black people are killing white people every day on the street.”

When pressed to say what he had done to his victims, Roof replied with a chuckle: “Well, I killed them, I guess.”

Later in the video, when asked how his victims reacted to him being in the church, Roof said, again with a chuckle: “I mean, they reacted after I shot, right.”

Nearly a year and a half ago, the news of this atrocity induced widespread shock, horror and disgust. So does the trial’s revisiting of the vicious carnage induced by race hatred.

The trial is a jarring reminder of the human capacity for depravity, barbarity and treachery.

Consider the scene: Bible Study worshipers invite a stranger into their church. Then he slaughters nine of them, spouting loathsome venom in the savage process.

No courtroom verdict can change that.

Yet the elevating grace of the victims, their families and their friends still represents a spiritual triumph over this abomination against decency and humanity. The stunning expressions of forgiveness expressed by grieving loved ones at Roof’s bond hearing, just two days after the murders, remain an inspiration around the world.

Survivors and victims’ loved ones sat stoically in court Friday as the Roof video was shown.

Their example of strength and amazing grace continues to sustain a community again faced with the reality of the monstrous crime committed against those good people in that good church on Calhoun Street.



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