“I’ve never had anyone ask me to leave a party because I was overdressed. Everyone appreciates glamour.”

Former Project Runway finalist Laura Bennett, offering a morsel of fashion advice during her recent stop in the Lowcountry for Charleston Fashion Week.

School Board Trades Up

The lack of vocational training was at center stage last week at the Charleston County School Board meeting as the board suggested they would soon be changing course and bringing vocational programs back to the district’s high schools.

The conversation began as parents and community members begged for a vocational program at the empty Rivers Middle School campus. That request competes with the district’s preferred plans for the school site (a preservation program and a high tech program) and the proposed charter school for math and science, which continues to lobby board members for support.

But a presentation on state-mandated career tracks that will begin next year, preparing high-schoolers for either college or employment, brought sharp criticism from school board members because of its exclusion of trade skills.

Board member Arthur Ravenel said that the career tracks should include mechanics, welding, culinary, and other trade skills. Robert Olson, interim director of the career programs, said he has recognized the deficiency, but that past boards intentionally left vocational training out of most district schools.

“You realize we got a new board, don’t you?” Ravenel asked him.

Hillery Douglas and Ruth Jordan also called for the inclusion of these programs at the county’s high schools.

“We need to put some of the hardcore vocational training back in our schools,” Jordan said.

Olson said that he is encouraged by the board’s response. But will they remember him come budget time? —Greg Hambrick

2

That’s the number of law enforcement officers that would be assigned to guard the Hunley around the clock, according to a proviso included in the state budget approved by the House earlier this month. A separate proviso would make North Charleston the permanent home of the Hunley.


Solid “NO” to nuclear landfill

The House Agriculture Committee killed bill H.3545 last week, voting 16-0 against allowing more nuclear waste to be dumped at the Barnwell site near Aiken. The bill’s proponents worry about the lost income from other states using the landfill and will probably try to push it through again in a bill next year. The opposing legislators felt that the nation took the site for granted, and that the $12 million in annual revenue can be made up elsewhere. “They want to stomp us in the ground and beat us up and say, ‘You bunch of country hicks.’ I’m just getting tired of it,” says Rep. David Umphlett (R-Berkeley). Closing the site to the nation will also assure space for S.C.’s own nuclear waste. –Stratton Lawrence

100

That’s the number of feet one should park away from South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal. For the second time in six years, Toal accidentally hit a car and then left the scene. This time she backed into a car at the Columbia airport. In 2001, she sideswiped a car heading home. Source: The State


“Green? I don’t even use that word anymore.”

New Urbanism advertising exec Jackie Benson at a land-use forum downtown last week hosted by Gov. Mark Sanford. Benson said words like “green,” “new urbanism,” and “smart growth” have been compromised.


Saturday is all right for Skating

It may have been the shove seen ’round the world (thanks to the web), but the debate over skateboarding downtown is heading beyond a confrontation between a boarder and a frustrated cop.

Morgan Hallman knows skateboarding on streets and sidewalks in the city of Charleston is illegal, and he avoided getting caught doing it for more than 11 years. Just recently, though, he pleaded not guilty to a $465 trespassing citation he received from two bike cops who spied him skateboarding through the Visitor’s Center. The police officers took away his $165 Pilot skateboard he was riding around on to burn off the calories he ingested at Juanita Greenberg’s. He expects to get his board back at his next court appearance.

Hallman doesn’t think the anti-skateboarding ordinance makes any sense, and he says hopefully around 100 skaters are going to meet at 1 p.m. on Sat., April 7, at 225 Meeting St. to host a “Taking Back the Streets” group skate down the busy roads of Charleston. Hallman thinks it’s preposterous that bike riders can have free rein of the streets but skateboarders are continuously harassed. He wants the law changed, a revolution, or at least a state-of-the-art skating facility somewhere downtown. —Lindsay Sainlar


Hell in a Hambasket, Part 2

At Smithfield Foods’ Tar Heel, N.C., packing plant, 5,500 workers slaughter and disassemble 32,000 hogs every day — 33 animals a minute. The publicity about Smithfield Foods’ practice of cramming hundreds of thousands of pigs in a building is growing, but their human rights abuses have been more overlooked. On Sat., March 31, a crowd of about 15 concerned citizens gathered outside the downtown Harris Teeter to peacefully protest the store’s purchase of Smithfield pork for their house brands. Smithfield has the market cornered at every nongourmet grocery store in the South, but the protesters, led by Rev. Alonza Washington, singled out Harris Teeter because they “promote wellness and fairness.” A recent report found that injuries on the slaughter line at Smithfield had increased 200 percent since 2003, but efforts by the primarily Latino and African-American work force to unionize have been unsuccessful. Although the bridge run likely dampened the turn-out in Charleston, 16 similar protests occurred last week at Harris Teeters throughout the Carolinas, many with hundreds in attendance. –Stratton Lawrence


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