“No one should be assaulted for being gay. No one should die for living an honest life.”

A message from the South Carolina Equality Coalition calling for a letter-writing campaign after the May 16 death of 20-year-old Upstate resident Sean Kennedy in what was an apparent hate crime.

Community Backs Charter School

More than 200 parents and community members met last week to discuss the fate of the Rivers Middle School campus, voicing their support for the proposed Charter School for Math and Science. Shuttered a few years back, the facility is in high demand for special district programs and parent-led charter schools.

The district is considering what changes need to be made at all the peninsula schools, but pushed the Rivers campus considerations out front because of the growing demand for the vacant campus.

The various programs vying for the school space include the district’s proposed High Tech High and Restoration High, focusing on technology and preservation programs, respectively; the Charter School for Math and Science, a parent-led movement to establish a charter high school program on the peninsula; the Gregg Mathis Charter School, a North Charleston program for students with disciplinary problems that is feeling the squeeze at its current facility; and the district’s existing adult education day program.

All sides have all but resolved themselves to the fact that they will have to share the facility, but it can handle two or three programs at the most. Everyone else would have to look elsewhere. The district introduced five proposals with various pairings last week before sending the audience to break-out sessions to debate the merits of each and to pick their two favorites. While there was some support for keeping the facility exclusively for district programs, the consensus of the break-out sessions was that the community supported the charter school having the entire building or sharing the facility with the district’s High Tech High program.

The district has stressed that improvements at Burke High School will be central to any plans at Rivers. Burke programs will include an advanced placement academy, career clusters (as mandated by the state), and dual-credit courses with Trident Technical College. —Greg Hambrick


That’s how many red drum (redfish) fishermen can keep per day, up from two, if House bill H. 3413 passes. Red drum populations were decimated by overfishing in the 1980s but have rebounded due to catch restrictions. 

She’s Homegrown

Both state and federal measures are in the works to boost S.C. agriculture. The S.C. Department of Agriculture launched a campaign last week to place stickers on produce grown in the state. The department found that 90 percent of consumers would prefer to purchase local products when the prices are comparable. The “Certified S.C. Grown” stickers will appear on fruits and vegetables in the next month, expanding to other items like seafood and forestry products. Similar plans in Georgia and Florida have been successful in encouraging consumers to purchase locally. See www.sccertifiedscgrown.com for more.

In Washington, the Rural America Preservation Act of 2007 was introduced to the Senate last week, that would limit federal farm program payments to no more than $250,000 per farm. The act closes loopholes that allow corporate farming operations to use subsidies to force land away from smaller farms by overbidding on sale prices. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and will be pivotal in the bill’s success. —Stratton Lawrence


That’s the potential number of hurricanes for the season, which begins on Friday. Be prepared. Source: National Weather Service


Journey Man Visits Charleston

Michigan’s Justin Sailor, 24, visited Charleston last week — the latest in about 80 stops across 33 states in Sailor’s year-long trek across America. The goal is to visit all 50 states by mid-September, chronicling his drive at hometowninvasion.com.

The trip started with Sailor staying with relatives of friends, then friends of relatives of friends, and then friends of friends of relatives of friends. Now, “I’m basically living with strangers for a year,” Sailor says.

While some may toss the trip aside as a post-graduate attempt to avoid that looming cloud known as the real world, Sailor provides a philosophical perspective to his couch-surfing journey.

“I want to see the thread of American life and where people live,” he says.

He’s watched a drag show in Key West with senior citizens, flew over the Grand Canyon, and visited a drive-in theater for the first time.

Chrysler provided his transportation, a sporty little Jeep, while Sailor’s responsible for his own food and — gulp — gas. It’s largely funded through donations from family and friends and the kindness of strangers.

While in Charleston for the week, Sailor’s staying with Mark Timms, a local entrepreneur with his own internet idea, mybowlad.com. Timms and two buddies are developing their own Super Bowl ad starring internet celebrities, with companies paying for seconds of time on a 30-second spot.

If there was as downside in delaying the real world with a cross-country trip where you’re literally seeing everything there is to see, it’s the impermanence of it all.

“I don’t get lonely because I’m never alone,” Sailor says. “But as soon as I’m familiar with a place, it’s time to leave.”

His dream is to write a book about the journey, “but I always say this is only practice for the next trip.” —Greg Hambrick