Thursday, December 1, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: A guide to great and not-so great Christmas movies

By David Kennard

Christmas in the Kennard house doesn’t begin until the last turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving leftovers has been eaten. That’s usually around the first week of December, but it varies a bit.

Like most families, part of our celebration includes a fair amount of movie watching. So, I’ve compiled a list of the movies that will probably get some play time in our home this year.

“A Christmas Story.” While we may not watch this from start to finish, we’ll certainly catch most of it as we flip through the TV channels. Movie Quote: Father: “He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny. Mother: “He does not. Father: “He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare.”

“Elf.” This has become one of our favorites with just the right amount of charm and humor. Quote: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

“Miracle on 34th Street” The 1947 version is great, but the 1997 does a great job of telling the story of a little girl who has a nearly impossible Christmas wish. Quote: “Maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or ... or some of those men in Washington.”

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” In 1964 movie makers used really bad Claymation to tell the tale of misfit toys, an elf who wants to be a dentist and a gold miner named Yukon Cornelius — oh yeah and also a reindeer with a red nose. Quote: “Didn’t I ever tell you about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce.”

“Home Alone.” We enjoy this one more for the slapstick humor than anything else. I mean how could anyone take their family to Paris for Christmas and leave a child behind? Whatever, it’s fun. Quote: “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish. You better come out and stop me.”

“The Santa Clause.” Starring Tim Allen as a father just trying to help his son enjoy Christmas, this film takes you behind the scenes of Santa’s workshop. Don’t worry, there’s still some Christmas magic involved. Quote: “The Santa Clause: In putting on the suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all right to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus, in perpetuity to which some time the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design. It means: If you put on the suit, you’re the big guy.”

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Watch the animated version, not the horror film with Jim Carrey. Although even in the original, noted scary movie actor Boris Karloff’s baritone voice creates the perfect narrator to the story. Quote: “You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch. You’re the king of sinful sots. Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots. Mr. Gri-inch! You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!” — Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft.

“A Christmas Carol.” This is probably the most remade Christmas tale of all time. From Disney’s Scrooge McDuck to the Muppets with Michael Caine to a horrifying characterization of Ebenezer Scrooge by Jim Carrey (you loved him as Ace Ventura now see him in this Christmas ghost movie) we just can’t get enough of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and those three wacky ghosts, Past, Present and Future. My favorite is the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. Quote: “Humbug!”

Not on my list

Here are few more Christmas-themed movies that didn’t make my favorites list, but are still worth mentioning.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Clark and the rest of the Griswolds stumble through Christmas, chasing squirrels and blowing the city power grid in this spinoff of the original “Vacation” film. Quote: “Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air ... an (expletive) in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer …”

“Scrooged.” Fellow SNL pal and Lowcountry local Bill Murray plays a modern-day Scrooge who learns his lesson thanks to some very “Ghostbuster” looking ghouls. Quote: “Back off big man, that may work with the chicks, but not with me.”

“Bad Santa.” Don’t tell my wife, but I totally enjoy this film about the least likeable shopping mall Santa in the world. He drinks, he smokes, he wets himself and sleeps with loose women, but still manages to find some Christmas spirit. Be warned, this movie is offensive and R-rated. Quote: “You’re an emotional (expletive) cripple. Your soul is dog (expletive). Every single (expletive) thing about you is ugly.”

Christmas movies?

Here is a short list of movies with a Christmas theme, but arguably not Christmas movies.

“Batman Returns.” Michael Keaton wears a bat suit and Michelle Pfeiffer wears (sort of) a cat suit. Quote: “Mistletoe can be deadly, if you eat it.”

“Die Hard.” It’s your typical office Christmas party, but with terrorists. Quote: ““Yippie-ki-yay, (expletive).” Bonus Quote: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

“Lethal Weapon.” It doesn’t snow much in L.A. and the shooting gets in the way of the storytelling, but it’s Christmas time nonetheless. Quote: “What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here!”

Oddball movies

These are oddball Christmas movies that are worth watching once, if you have nothing better to do

“The Muppet Christmas Carol.” Quote: “Belle, you know, I love these annual Christmas parties. I love ’em so much, I think we’ll do it twice a year!”

“Edward Scissorhands.” Quote: “Eddie. The guys and I were talking, we’d like want to invite you to our card game on Friday night. Would you like that? Only thing is, you can’t cut!”

“The Polar Express.” Please, if enough of us don’t watch this horror movie, it might just go away. Quote: “Caribou Crossing?” Sorry, that’s the best one I could come up with.

David Kennard is executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, November 25, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Christmas tree topper a family tradition

By David Kennard

Sitting at the top of our Christmas tree this year will be what my sons and I call Bear Claw Santa. The tree topper first made his appearance about four years ago after a trip to a green house to buy poinsettias for my wife.
While we were there, we took a look inside the Christmas shop, which was known to have almost every kind of Christmas ornament ever made.
They had angels and bells and feathery things and ornaments with every theme you can imagine; traditional crystal snowflakes, gold leafed candy canes, candles of all colors, marching bands, those old-fashioned water-filled lights that bubble when you plug them in. They had fish ornaments and bird ornaments and cats and dogs and giraffes and bunnies, some that made noises and some that just hung there.
So, when the boys and I saw the very mountain man looking Father Christmas, dressed in his fur coat and long beard, we knew it was time to replace that dumb old angel that had been marring the top of our tree each year.
OK, that may be a little harsh, but decorating the tree each year usually turns into a day-long repair project involving duct tape, hot glue and a fair amount of non-profanities.
Over the last few years of its life the once majestic angel that proclaimed the pending arrival of a glorious Christmas morning to all corners of our living room, had turned into a hunk of brittle brown-ish plastic that was more fire hazard than anything.
The sad little angel first made her appearance early in our marriage -- she may have even been there from the beginning (my wife would know) -- and each year as each child grew, a tussle usually broke out over who’s turn it was to put the angel on the top of the tree.
I have three sons and a daughter, so wrestling, hair pulling and screaming are pretty much par for the course when it comes to decorating the tree each year.
I probably shouldn’t say this but, thankfully, we’re down to just one child still at home, so by default the honor of placing the tree topper will fall to Sam this year.
Bear Claw the Christmas tree topper seemed to be the right fit for us, since we’ve done a fair amount of camping and hiking as a family over the years.
Let me explain.
The boys all grew up in Boy Scouts and love rugged mountain man stuff - guns, tomahawks, starting fires with flint and steel. We’ve also skied all over the West, including at Sundance Ski Resort, which is owned by movie star Robert Redford. Redford, as you may recall was in a film titled, “Jeremiah Johnson,” which includes a character named Bear Claw.
So, that’s where the tree topper got its name. I’m pretty sure Suesan still misses that old angel and I’m guessing a more traditional topper will one day take the place of the mountain man. But for now it’s Bear Claw’s domain.
The wife will, however, have a bigger voice in the actual tree that we select this year. The artificial tree we had for the past few Christmases didn’t make the move with us from out West last year. We’ve got a couple of smaller countertop trees that have been used to decorate other parts of the house, but our goal of downsizing has left us without an actual Christmas tree.
My guess is that we’ll go “au naturel” this year and try to support a local Boy Scout troop or service organization.
Suesan will tell you that I’ve got a pretty low bar for Christmas trees. My main objective is usually to find one that will be big enough to hold all the junk we throw on it -- and that’s it. Pretty much as long is it will fit in the door and not block the TV, I’m good with it.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Our veterans are worth remembering, honoring

By David Kennard

Bert Allen Bourne died in 1974 at the age of 82 when I was 11 years old.

I don’t remember much about my grandfather, but I learned at an even earlier age that he was well respected in the tiny wheat farming town in the Midwest where he spent nearly his entire life.

He was drafted into the Army in April 1918, about seven months before the Armistice of 11 November 1918 ended World War I.

I have a small collection of the things that he carried with him as he fought in the trenches of France leading up to the day that we now celebrate as Veterans Day.

His compass, a hand mirror, some uniform insignia. But my most cherished possessions are the journals that he kept and the letters that he wrote home to his sister and best friend Louie.

Oct. 9, 1918

“Dear Friend Louie

“Rec'd your letter a few days ago and will try and write a few lines in reply. Have just been eating hazelnuts and sitting around a fire trying to keep warm. It is cold enough here this morning to make a fellow want to hunt a fire but the sun is shining bright outside so I guess it will soon warm up. I hope it will dry up some of the mud too for while the mud is not so very deep it is the stickiest stuff that I ever saw anywhere and sticks to one's shoes so that your feet get so heavy you can't hardly walk….

“Well, I haven't got hit by any whiz bangs or G.I. Cans yet. A G.I. Can is what they call some of those big shells that come sailing along singing "Nearer My God to Thee". G.I. stands for galvanized iron you know and some of those shells sound like a can or something bigger.”

Although Bert’s letters are full of detail, nearly all of them were censored by the Army to prevent intelligence from getting into enemy hands.

His handwritten journal that he carried with him helps fill in the blanks a little.

“On to line, Oct. 18”

“Relieved 1st Btln., Oct. 30”

“Over the top Hallowe’en Night, Nov. 1”

“Eleven days of Hell”

“Along banks of Meuse Canal when armistice news was heard.”

Later, in a letter home he wrote about the end of the war.

“Stenay, France, Nov. 22, 1918: We certainly celebrated Hallowe'en and raised a little h--- with the Kaiser.

“For several days previous the Hun aviators had been flying over our lines and dropping propaganda saying ‘Come on over Americans we will treat you fine’ and the like. Well we come alright. But not the way they meant and we kept right on until they hollered enough.

“On the day of the armistice we had packed up about 2:00 in the morning, marched all the rest of the night, crossed the Meuse and the Canal on pontoon bridges and about 9:00 fell out for a rest along the road. Pretty soon a car came along and one of the men in it called out ‘The war is finished at 11:00 o'clock boys.’ Well we didn't know whether to believe it or not as the guns were still pounding away but we felt a little encouraged. Well we (stayed) there for a few hours and presently the time drew close to 11:00. For some time it seemed as though the artillery fire had been slacking up and at 11:00 it stopped entirely and not a sound could be heard.”

My grandfather stayed in France and Germany for several more months as part of the occupation force after the war. He returned home in the summer of 1919, married a local girl and went on with his life.

Having never served in the military, I can only imagine what it must have been like, not just for my grandfather in World War I, but for all our men and women who have stepped up to join the cause of freedom.

With the approach of Veterans Day, I urge all Americans to pause for a moment to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: When disaster strikes keep Pop Tarts nearby

By David Kennard

I drove down to Jessens Landing twice on Friday just to see how high the Ashley River was in the wake of Hurricane Hermine.

A few days before, when forecasters were calling this the next great storm since the days of Noah, I had the family begin preparing our go bags. By Thursday night, the car had a full tank of gas; we had several days’ worth of water stored on a shelf in the garage; and we had filled the pantry with an ample supply of Dinty Moore Stew and ramen noodles.

My provisions here at the office weren’t quite so high brow. They consisted of a box of strawberry Pop Tarts and a six pack of Cherry Pepsi.We closed the newspaper office on Friday, as did many other businesses, schools and government centers.Then they downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm. Then it rained a little bit.

As a newcomer to the Lowcountry, I was not impressed.Now forecasters are blaming the storm that never happened on faulty equipment and a pattern of recent weather anomalies. I’m pretty sure weather experts can agree that weather is simply unpredictable.I don’t blame them too much, though.

After the floods of last October, it’s really a wise move to prepare for the worst.

I’ve been through plenty of other natural disasters, but never a hurricane, so I was actually a little thrilled when forecasters were talking about Hermine like it was the end of the world.

As a child growing up in Colorado, I had similar feelings when a big snow storm would blow through – because it meant no school and days filled with sledding.

In 1982, when I was still a teen, Denver got walloped by a blizzard that froze the city solid for more than a week. Find pictures here.

I was in high school in 1980, when another disaster struck the country. Up in the Northwest, Mount St. Helens blew its top and sent ash to several states to the east. We saw a little ash fall where we lived out West, but otherwise it had little effect.

Although, nearly 10 years later when I got my first real job at a newspaper in central Washington, I remember cleaning ash out of photo and printing equipment from time to time.

As disasters go, though, I suppose the most frightening experience we had as a family was several tornadoes that blew through the area we lived in near Dayton, Ohio.

The first time it happened, my wife called me at work one day and said, “The tornado sirens are going off, what should we do.”

I said, “Take the kids and go to the basement.”

She did, the children actually had a great time making beds on the floor of our unfinished basement.

The storm passed and everyone was OK.

Several years later, another big storm known as a derecho blew through Ohio knocking down trees and power lines. We suffered more than a week during a very hot July with no power – and since we were on well water, that meant no running water.

My children still give me a hard time for running a hose down the hill so we could steal water from the chicken house, where I had built a rainwater collection system. Find a short video on that event:

Another “disaster” struck when we lived in Boise, Idaho. I was working as an early morning editor and was the first into the office every morning. One day as I sat down in front of my computer to begin uploading stories, I felt a little dizzy. I brushed it off as being tired, but moments later I got a call by my environmental reporter.

“Dave,” he said in an almost panicked voice. “I think we just had an earthquake.” Indeed we did. It was small. A few people reported cracked foundations and broken dishes.

Through all these rather minor disasters, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being prepared and remaining calm.

As I check the weather forecast every week, I’ll be looking for the big one. And in the meantime, I’ll keep my provisions of Pop Tarts and Pepsi well stocked.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: National Parks mark 100 years of amazement

By David Kennard

I knew instantly from the familiar rattling sound that my next move might be my last on that muggy summer day deep in the backcountry of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It was the biggest rattlesnake I had ever seen. Just moments earlier I was walking happily along the familiar path to a small waterfall to rinse off from a long day of trail work.

Back in the early 1980s, I worked as part of a six-person crew rebuilding trails with the Student Conservation Association. We lived 10 miles from the nearest dirt road, armed with shovels, axes and four weeks of provisions.

I had none of those as I stared down the 5-foot timber rattler that was coiled and ready to strike. With a bath towel over my shoulder and a bar of soap in my hand, I could do nothing except stand frozen in the shade of the tall hemlocks.

Last week, without anyone looking, The National Park Service turned 100 years old. A significant event to South Carolina. We have six national parks or historic areas in the state.

Congaree National Park, located just south of Columbia, joined the National Park Service in 2003, preserving the “largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States,” according to the NPS.

As one of the smallest National Parks in the 58-park inventory, Congaree boasts more than 26,000 acres of remote, lush floodplain forests.

The park is one of several nationally designated parks or historic areas that include Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, Cowpens National Battlefield, Fort Sumter National Monument, the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, Ninety Six National Historic Site and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.

Admittedly, I’ve been to none of these since I moved here less than a year ago. But with a track record of visiting many other amazing national parks all across the United States, I have no doubt I will make my way to one of the local parks soon.

As a family we’ve laid on our backs and looked up at the massive trees that scrape the sky in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California.

We’ve taken a photo class at the Grand Canyon in Arizona to capture the array of colors that wash the desert cliffs at sunrise and sunset.

We’ve watched satellites track across the designated dark sky area at Natural Bridges National Monument in southern Utah.

We’ve hiked the loop trail at Mount Rushmore and stared up into the granite nostrils of four U.S. presidents.

We’ve ridden the bike/train trail at Cuyahoga National Park in northeast Ohio.

And, of course, we’ve driven among the buffalo and elk and seen Old Faithful erupt at America’s oldest national park, Yellowstone in Wyoming.

Just before moving my family east from Utah, my sons and I hiked the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park. If you are any kind of national park enthusiast – and aren’t afraid of heights – this has to be on your bucket list.

As you can tell, that early experience with a venomous snake in Tennessee didn’t scare me away from exploring the wonders of our beautiful national parks.

Only somewhat apologetically to all you reptile lovers, I’ll admit that the snake met its demise under a giant rock that day. In an attempt to honor its memory, though, I cut off the rattles with the intent of having proof of the my near-death experience. But the joke was on me.

Seconds after I laid the rattle on a nearby stone to dry, a raven swooped down and stole my prize from me.

I have no desire to collect more rattlesnake rattles on any outdoor adventure, but I do plan to continue visiting our amazing national parks and other sites.

You should, too.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

EDITOR's NOTES: Your local sports coming in HD

By David Kennard

Journal Scene sports reporter Roger Lee and his counterpart in Berkeley County, Rob Gantt – or as I like to call them, “The Talent” were in Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville on Tuesday afternoon.

They were video recording the first of what will become a 10-week(ish) project that previews local high school football games. You can find the video now on our website. Look for future videos to appear every Wednesday.

This is part of our ongoing mission of making The Journal Scene your No. 1 source of local, local news. Between them, Roger and Rob have been covering our local sports teams for nearly 30 years.

Sports fans are used to seeing them in the press boxes and on the sidelines talking to coaches, players and parents. Readers are used to seeing their roundups and previews in the paper and online.

Now for three to four minutes each week, you can watch them online talking about our local sports teams. It’s fun for me to hear their insights on the local teams.

When I first floated the idea of a short preview video, you can imagine their excitement. Actually you’ll have to imagine it because their reaction was more like, “Now what is he making us do?”

The idea was to try and capture their wealth of local sports knowledge and share it in video form. That’s the goal anyway. We’ll see how it works in the weeks to come.

Player of the Week

Also coming up in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be bringing back the Player of the Week game.

This weekly pick’em contest lets you go online and select your favorite football player from among those Roger and Rob feel had exceptional games during the previous week.

Like all sports critiques, it’s pretty subjective – a little like asking who’s the better athlete: Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt. So, please, don’t take it too seriously.

Athlete of the Week

In case that’s not enough, we’re also bringing back the Athlete of the Week feature that began mid-way through the last school year.

Again, it’s up to “The Talent” to select the athletes from all sports who, whether or not they had a stellar performance, deserve recognition for their contributions to their respective teams.

We try to pick a male and female athlete each week, and again it’s highly subjective. Watch for that feature to begin in a couple of weeks as well.

I love the Athlete of the Week because it’s a good way to throw a little love to all those non-superstars like me, who enjoy playing, but often are relegated to the bench.

In elementary school I loved it when they pulled out the parachute because in basketball, I pretty much just got elbowed a lot.

As a father, I got to watch my children play sports quite a bit. In fact my oldest son, Nathan, just missed playing against LeBron James for the 2001 High School Boys Division III Ohio state title.

James was a graduating senior the year Nathan started playing basketball as a high school freshman. Nathan is 6 feet 7 inches tall and did a decent job as a center and power forward. Unfortunately he inherited a lack of speed that ended my basketball dreams in high school as well.

He played football all through high school, though, and even started a few times. Of course my wife and I were loyal sports parents, sitting through the cold Ohio winters huddled under blankets on freezing aluminum benches. It’s a different experience here in the Lowcountry.

By the way, make sure to check out today’s paper for the Football 2016 special pullout section. It’s  just one more fun feature we’re sending your way to get you in the mood for fall sports.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Pokemon, sex offenders; they’re all out there

By David Kennard

More than 80 sex offenders live or work within a 2-mile radius of my office.

There also are about 100 Pokemon Go “stops” in that same area.

Curious, I searched the South Carolina sex offender list, which shows me all the registered sex offenders within a 1-, 2-, or 3-mile radius of any given address. You can find the same list at

Next I went to and searched for all the Pokemon Go “PokeStops” and Pokemon Gym locations.

I took one map and overlaid it on top of the other. Wow.

In case you’ve been living under a log, Pokemon Go is an electronic game that people of all ages, but mostly children and middle-aged men, play on their electronic hand-held devices – smart phones and tablets.

The game brings up a map on your phone that shows local streets and landmarks. As you walk around town you discover electronic images that are superimposed on the map. These cartoon monsters, or Pokemon, are then collected as you play the game. The idea is that as you walk around, you run into other Pokemon players and “battle” with your collected creatures at designated spots on the map labeled “gyms.”

The game has been wildly successful for game-maker Nintendo. It’s creative and has motivated electronic game fans to get off the couch and into the “real-ish world.”

You’ve probably seen people playing the game but didn’t know what you were seeing. They are the zombie-like people staring at their screens as they walk around town. You’ll know you’ve found a Poke player when you see them stop, turn one direction or the other, wait, then celebrate in some way.

What’s happening is they are using their phone’s GPS capabilities to find the many Pokemon characters that appear on their phones’ map. When they locate one they stop to poke it on their phone and then using their thumb toss “Pokeballs” at the creature in an effort to collect them.

The problem is the only way to get more Pokeballs – yes that’s the name – is to wander over to a PokeStop and collect a few. PokeStops are all over the place: parks, businesses, museums, sex offenders’ homes. Wait, what?

That’s right.

Have a look at Journal Scene reporter Jenna-Ley Harrison’s story in today’s edition.

Police are actually warning parents and children to be careful where their Pokemon Go games lead them.

“We are having an influx of people playing…in our parks and making their way into businesses and what not, and that’s fine, but we just need them to be aware of their surroundings, who’s playing,” said Summerville Capt. Doug Wright.

Remember when your parents told you not to play in the street?

Long before the Pokemon and Pokeball phenomenon, my younger brother and I had just as much enthusiasm for whiffle ball. Most of our elaborate games lasted for hours and drew neighborhood kids from all over to our front yard.

We had more than one close call chasing whiffle balls into the street. Luckily no one ever got hurt. The nice thing about whiffle ball was that it kept us relatively close to home and out of the yards of dangerous people.

Like any new game or technology, parents would be wise to exercise some discretion when allowing their youngsters to wander around with their faces buried in their phones looking for Pokemon monsters – because real life monsters aren’t too far away.

David Kennard, a Level 8 Pokemon Go player, is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, July 29, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: It’s hot out there, but at least it’s not 1986

By David Kennard

Fun facts about the weather...

When people say it is hotter than Hell, most scientists – and by that I mean the first Google result I found – estimate hell cooks at about 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

They derive that figure by assuming that Hell is located “down below,” equidistant from all points on the planet – or the center of the Earth.

Since no one has actually been to the center of the planet, it’s really hard to qualify that.

My grandmother, who spent the last two years of her life in a nursing home – but regularly made hikes around her small Midwest town until the day she died – was fond of the saying that she’d been to “hell and back” for one reason or another.

I don’t think she ever ventured to the center of the earth, but I’m certain Grandma Dorothy knew more about living through the heat of the summer than most of us.

While the question of the temperature in Hell may be more theological than geological, I would offer that it is not nearly as hot as the temperature in my car when I make my Cherry Pepsi run in the middle of the day.Even escaping to the cool waters of South Carolina’s beaches don’t offer too much relief.

I took the family to Folly Beach on Saturday and learned the water was 85 degrees. How do you cool down in 85-degree water? Our friends across the country in California are enjoying water temperatures at Newport Beach of 72 degrees – and they’re wearing wetsuits.

Here is Summerville, we’ve had a hot July. As a newcomer, I can only echo what others are telling me. It’s hot out there, for sure, but it’s not nearly as hot as it has been in past years.

I spent a little time this week digging through the archives here at the Journal Scene and discovered some fun information.

Summerville saw its hottest July on record exactly 30 years ago in 1986. Do you remember 1986?

That was the year Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in flames shortly after lifting off.

It was the year that the Chernobyl Nuclear plant in Russia irradiated much of Europe in the worst nuclear disaster in history.

And it was the year that mad cow disease was first identified. Not a good year.

Closer to home, 1986’s headlines were almost as gloomy.

As I was digging though the pages of Journal Scene from 1986, I found a headline over a story by reporter Barbara Hill – yes that Barbara Hill – that declared, “North Charleston is Getting closer.”

“It used to be you had to drive quite a distance to reach North Charleston. Now two miles of Dorchester Road and a quarter-of-a-mile of Ladson Road are all that separate the municipal boundaries of that city from the Town of Summerville.

“Summerville recently annexed the Ladson Farms area along the Miles-Jamison Road, and that land extends back to the railroad tract crossing Ladson Road. This brought North Charleston to within that quarter of a mile of Summerville.

“ ‘Someday we’ll surely touch along Dorchester,’ said Berlin G. Myers, Summerville’s mayor. “I don’t know who’ll be going in what direction out there, but we’ll touch.’ ”

Now, 30 years later, Berlin G. Myers’ prophetic words have been realized.

Temperature-wise, July in Summerville in 1986 saw at least 10 days of 100-degree weather. This year, we’ve had two.

According to the National Weather Service, the average high temperature in 1986 was 100.25 degrees. Now, 30 years later, the average high temperature is 95.11 degrees.

But don’t go putting your sweater on yet, 95 degrees is still plenty warm, so warm that we’ve seen several heat advisories this month.

Another Journal Scene story from 1986 warned residents to take precautions during excessively hot days.

The story urged local residents to modify outdoor activities and do strenuous work during the coolest parts of the day.

“Also, dressing in loose fitting clothing, taking frequent breaks and drinking water often during periods of increased activity can help avoid possible injury,” the story stated.

That’s good advice even if it is 30 years old. Stay cool out there.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, July 22, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: A good car is a bonus in stormy weather

Let’s talk about the weather for a minute. It’s hot. It’s rainy. It’s humid. It’s cool – well not really cool. And that’s all in one minute.

Since moving to South Carolina in December, I’ve noticed that people love to talk about the weather. I’ve also noticed that folks around here talk about the heat as sort of a badge of honor. What I really think is that it’s one of those “what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger” kind of things.

All I heard in December was, “Just wait until summer.” Or “You’ll love South Carolina except for three months during the summer.” Or, “You think it gets hot in Utah? You don’t even know.”

I can’t even imagine what it was like before the modern era of air conditioning.

I can still remember our first car with air conditioning. It was a 1974 gold Chevy Vega. I know what you’re thinking; I thought the same thing when I saw my father pull up in that pathetic little, uh, car.

Thankfully it died a horrible death, oddly enough during a thunderstorm when a giant tree limb fell on it. The insurance wouldn’t cover it because they said it was an “act of God.” I still chuckle at that. I mean, even God hated that car.

Although, that was the car that my father first let me drive, despite the fact that it would be several more years before I was actually old enough to get a driver’s license.

It was the car in which I learned to drive a standard transmission. Many years later, it proved its worth when I took a driving test to become a UPS driver and was told I was the best driver the supervisor had ever seen – mostly because I never popped the clutch on the big brown delivery truck.

After the limb incident, Dad bought an old Chevy Impala as an interim vehicle until he could afford to buy a new car. Dad hated buying used cars, but this was a red ’59 model year hardtop; that was the year the Impala had those really cool rear wings.

I loved it, even though it didn’t have air conditioning.

In the mid-’70s, small cars were all the rage because of the gas shortage. That Impala was not a small car. It had a huge engine compartment and a huge trunk and huge rear seat that you could jump around in. In the driveway, when I sat in the driver’s seat and pumped the brake pedal pretending I was driving, the windshield wipers started up. I have no idea why.

By the time I was finally old enough to drive Dad had bought a new car – a dark brown Ford Fairmont with gold trim. Are you beginning to see a trend? The Fairmont was to Ford what the Vega was to Chevy – a no-frills disposable vehicle meant to sip gas.

I’m pretty sure he bought the cheapest car on the lot because he knew he had a teenage son who was going to be driving it.

The jokes on him, though. I never crashed it – he drove that embarrassment for years until it finally died ... or rusted away. I can’t remember what ever happened to it, but I am sure it was something unremarkable.

My wife’s father had the opposite attitude toward car buying. She tells me that he never owned a new car. In fact I still hear stories about the jalopies that he hauled his family around in.

In fact nearly every time it rains, she thanks me for buying a car with windshield wipers, and repeats the story of how her father rigged up a string running out the car window so he could pull the wipers back and forth instead of fixing the wiper motor.

That was in Seattle. It rains in Seattle – almost as much as here.

Which brings me back to the weather; I’m a little worried that all this wet, steamy weather combined with the salt air from the coast will do damage to my current vehicle – which does have air conditioning and power windows and working windshield wipers – all of which I really like.

But if this keeps up, I may go back to looking for something a little more disposable. Can you even buy a Chevy Vega anymore?

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, July 15, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Watch for familiar faces at Olympics in August

David Kennard

I love the Olympics. I love the pageantry, the drama, the underdog stories, the rivalries and the camaraderie between nations that this world sporting event fosters.

The Summer Olympics Games are just three weeks away, and I was excited to learn this week that we’ve got at least two local athletes planning on competing in Rio.

Summerville High School graduate Carvin Nkanata will participate on the Kenyan track and field team. His skill in the 200-meter dash earned him not only the recognition of his father’s home country, but also an ACC championship with the University of Pittsburgh and before that a Class AAAA state championship with Summerville High School in the 400.

Also expected to go to Brazil is Fort Dorchester High School grad Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who will compete for Puerto Rico because her mother is Puerto Rican. Like Nkanata, she’s collected many trophies in track and field including an NCAA title with the University of Kentucky as a redshirt freshman.

Read more about these outstanding local athletes in Roger Lee’s story today on page 1B.

I think my love for the Olympics comes from the Saturday and Sunday mornings I spent as a young boy hanging out with my father watching Wild World of Sports, as well as the Olympics and other televised events. Dad loved boxing, and growing up in the Muhammad Ali era only fed my love of the sport as well.

For some reason, I gravitated toward swimming – mostly because my parents had all us kids take swimming lessons every summer.

In junior high school, I joined the swim club because there was no actual team at the inner city school I attended. I practiced laps, but never got any real competition until I entered a high school open meet when I was still in the eighth grade. It was a 200-meter medley. I lost horribly behind all the much older high school boys, but finished the race all the same. My father was there to watch and cheer me on. He told me he was proud that I finished.

Later in life, my swimming prowess landed me a job as a college lifeguard, which helped pay for tuition and other expenses.

Getting the job was no small feat. I was one of 50 candidates trying out for eight positions. The first elimination event was at 400 meter freestyle.

They lined us all up in heats along the edge of the Olympic-sized pool, boys and girls together.

When the gun sounded, I began swimming my guts out, the whole way thinking I should pace myself and remembering the shouts of my father all those years ago. But every time I turned my head to take a breath, I saw this girl who entered the water right next to me. I did my best to stay ahead of her, but for the life of me I could not lose her.

I finished only a second or so in front of her but fast enough to realize that we both were well ahead of everyone else in our heat. After we stopped gasping for air, she said, “Thanks, you set a real good pace.”

We ended up working together that summer and became good friends. I still swim once in awhile, but nothing on a competitive level anymore.

As you can imagine, the Olympic swimming events are one of my favorites and, despite his notorious history, Michael Phelps’ races will be recorded as we watch the Olympics in August.

As a community paper, we won’t be covering the Olympics like other news outlets will, but we’ll be sure to cover our local athletes with news of their accomplishments.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, July 8, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Reuse, recycle or pitch

By David Kennard  @davidbkennard

I am drowning in cardboard boxes. It’s a good thing cardboard is a recyclable product here.

I’m also awash in packing peanuts, Styrofoam, and plastic stretch wrap – all of which is unfortunately going right into a landfill.

With our recent move from out West, we packed everything from picture frames to winter coats in packing supplies. (Why did we bring all those coats and snow boots, anyway?)

I’ve got plastic packing tape, plastic bags, plastic bubble wrap, plastic everything that helped keep my snow boots and wool socks safe in the cross country move.

I’ve filled my garbage can – and my neighbor’s garbage can (he’s out of town) – full of non-recyclable plastics, Styrofoam and a bunch of other stuff that makes me feel really guilty about sending to a landfill.

With only limited recycling options locally, I’m not sure what else to do.

Not too long ago, we owned a home in a rural area, where recycling to everyone in the county meant carrying your garbage out to the back of your lot and dumping it on the burn pile.

Everything got burned. Everything. Household garbage, home siding, old furniture, dirty diapers, insulation, construction materials. It all went up in smoke.

Once a month or so we’d send the kids out and let them rake out the glass and metal that didn’t burn. The glass was taken to the local transfer station and eventually the dump. The metal went to a commercial recycler not too far away. I hauled it in the pickup, and the children got to keep whatever cash reward they earned for their help.

As a child growing up in Denver, we had a home with an incinerator in the back yard. Those were the days when people burned their garbage right in town. It was a normal practice until someone figured out that thousands of home incinerators was a major health concern for a metropolitan area.

Laws were passed and people soon stopped burning their garbage.

My father caught onto the recycling craze early on. I’m convinced he was a closet environmentalist – until that is, the solar panels appeared on our house. Dad got us all on board the environmental bandwagon. We used low flow faucets. We had timers and motion detectors on all our lights. We had a trailer in the driveway where all the neighbors could come dump their newspapers, Montgomery Wards catalogs and paper grocery bags.

The money from the recycled newsprint went to the local Boy Scout Troop.

I can still remember as a child selecting the soft drinks I would buy based on their return value. You could take some bottles back to the store and get a nickle back. Five bottles paid the price of a Snickers bar. Snickers and pop, how did I survive childhood?

All that recycling at an early age has stayed with me. Making me feel a little guilty every time I pitch an empty peanut butter jar or milk container into the kitchen garbage can.

There’s not a lot of options, though.

With no commercial recyclers around, most of everything we use up will find its way either into someone’s burn pile or into a landfill – or as I have seen in some areas of the Lowcountry, pitched on the side of the road. If you do this, please stop. That’s just gross.

With our most recent move, we made a point not to buy any new cardboard boxes. Instead we scoured the dumpsters behind shopping malls and big box stores to find and reuse as many boxes as we could find.

The positive side to that plan was that at least we felt good that we could reuse – if not recycle – some of the cardboard. The downside is that I can’t figure out where I put my bedroom lamp, but I’m pretty sure it’s in one of the 12 vacuum cleaner boxes that are stacked in the corner of my new garage.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Independence Day has special meaning here in Summerville

I knew something wasn’t right last year on the Fourth of July when my daughter quietly walked into the living room and interrupted me to say, “Um, Dad, there’s been an incident.”

She and her college-aged friends were out on the street in front of the house celebrating with fireworks. I know this because the TV show I was trying to watch was interrupted every few seconds by artillery fire that she and everyone else in the neighborhood were blasting well into the night.

No blood was drawn, but the neighbor’s cedar fence had a sulfur burn, as did the neighbor’s garage door across the street, as did the neighbor’s rose bushes around the corner. In fact the errant aerial sent blasts everywhere except into the air.

Everyone was a little shook up, but otherwise OK.

My garden hose put a quick end to the fireworks for the night. Friends went home and my daughter reluctantly went to each neighbor to apologize for “the incident.”

The Fourth of July has been a day to celebrate since the earliest days of our nation, but like many of our holidays, the reason we celebrate has been diluted amongst the many celebrations.

Here in the Lowcountry, we have a connection to the Revolutionary War and the cause of independence that many of our fellow Americans enjoy only by proxy.

As one of the 13 original colonies that united to fight against tyranny, South Carolina and its earliest residents will forever hold a place of honor to all who still today call themselves South Carolinians.

As a recent arrival, I’ve come to understand the significant role of South Carolina in the formation of our nation.

Just last weekend I found myself on a guided tour of Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

What a treasure we have just minutes from downtown Summerville.

As most longtime residents know, the town of Dorchester was one of the earliest settlements in the area, providing a center for commerce and civilization in the wilderness that still surrounds much of the area.

Little remains of the original settlement – a brick bell tower and a tabby-walled fort protecting the remains of a brick powder magazine. The fort was built during the late 1750s and fortified in 1775 to provide protection from invading British forces.

Several archaeological digs as well as remaining maps have provided clues about what Revolutionary War-era life was like for our earliest residents. The solid brick homes and walled fortress tell us that defending against invading forces was always on their mind.

The war that granted America its freedom – as well as the changing economy and improvements in transportation – ushered in the end of the settlement of Dorchester and beginning of the town of Summerville.

Although Summerville didn’t become an official town until 1847, we owe our development to the settlers that moved to this area to find freedom, prosperity and opportunity.

Now more than ever we should honor the vision and sacrifices of our town’s earliest forefathers. To them celebrating the cause of freedom was much more than an incident.

Enjoy a safe Fourth of July holiday.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, June 17, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Fathers day gifts come in various packages

David Kennard

Fathers Day is upon us.

That means a new tie, perhaps some new socks and maybe a card from the kids – perhaps a phone call, or a mention in a Facebook post.

Despite what Home Depot would like you to think, Father’s Day isn’t really the same holiday as Mother’s Day. It’s really more along the lines of Secretary’s Day – worth a mention but otherwise it’s just another day, with perhaps an excuse to grill some steak and watch some baseball on TV.

At least that’s the way it is in our house.

I’m not complaining. I’ve received some pretty nice things over the years – lawn equipment, electronics, most of the socks in my drawer – but some of the best gifts have been more subtle.

As a father of four, now mostly grown children, I’ve prepared a list of the Best Father’s Day gifts – both given and received.

No. 1 on my list: A game of catch with my oldest son, Nate. He played Little League baseball growing up, which meant we often spent time in the back yard throwing a baseball back and forth. Working on form, aim, distance, whatever. There’s something really satisfying to a father about the sound of a fast ball thrown by his son as the ball smacks the sweet spot of a leather mitt.

No. 2: Bamboo pole fishing with your children. Any lazy Saturday afternoon is a Father’s Day gift if you can catch a ton of sunfish on a bamboo pole baited with a simple red worm.

I’ve got some pretty cool fishing gear that has mostly not caught much, but the most enjoyment I’ve had is watching the excitement on my children’s faces when they latch onto a wriggling blue gill.

No. 3: Eating burned hot dogs. My children will tell you that I am a hot dog snob. They must be all beef; they must be cooked until they plump and they must be topped only with ketchup and mustard, maybe some sauerkraut. My children, on the other hand, all like them blackened. The blacker, the better. I don’t get it, but at least they’re easy to cook that way.

No 4: Packing for your first Boy Scout trip. One of the fondest memories of my own father was the days and days he spent gathering all the equipment I needed for my first 5-mile back-packing trip with my Boy Scouts troop. I had a brand new 6-pound external frame pack, a new 4-pound folding trench shovel, a new 2-pound aluminum mess kit, A 13-pound two-man tent with rain fly, a new 3-pound D-cell flashlight, at least 5 pounds of canned beans, sardines and beef jerky. A sleeping bag, sleeping pad rain poncho and assorting clothing, fishing gear, and miscellaneous other odds and ends.

When I showed up to the church parking lot to load up with the other boys, I could barely lift the pack, which weighed something close to 60 pounds. At 11 years old, I think I may have weighed 90 pounds.

Most of the gear that Dad had gone to great lengths to shove into that new pack was left in the back of my scoutmaster’s pickup truck. Dad was great, and I believe I still have that old folding shovel somewhere.

No. 5-10: Riding roller coasters together with your children, watching Ohio State play for the National Championship, reading the Sunday Funnies together, daddy-daughter dates that include Peanut Buster Parfaits, building tree forts and blanket forts.

Father’s Day Life Hack: Finally here’s a secret tip for fathers that my father-in-law shared with me sometime around the birth of my only daughter. When she becomes a teenager and wants you drive her and her friends all over town, but doesn’t want you butting into their conversations, just adjust the car’s speakers so the sound fades only to the rear seat. It makes it a lot easier to eavesdrop.

Happy Father’s Day.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter

Friday, June 10, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Sweet tea world record a good way to celebrate big move

By David Kennard

A new world record is expected to be broken today in Summerville when thousands will sample sweet tea from a 2,400 gallon “mason jar.”

The tea will be brewed using 210 pounds of local tea and 1,600 pounds of sugar. The newly constructed tea container - which is made from an industrial sized water tank – will be filled using a fire hydrant to dwarf last year’s batch of just 1,425 gallons.

The record will be set in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of “World’s Largest Iced Tea” because there is no category for sweet tea. But because the event will take place in Summerville, birthplace of sweet tea – and the fact that it will be made with 1,600 pounds of sugar – there is little doubt that anyone will mistake it for anything other than sweet tea.

Tea will begin to be served at 5 p.m. Friday outside Summerville Town Hall.
This is the second year Summerville has brewed the world record-setting tea, but it will be my first time attending. Since I arrived in town in December, I’ve heard lots of build-up to the event and I am certain it won’t disappoint.

Last week, as I moved my family across the country to South Carolina, I got to see a few other “world’s record” things.

We began our tour at the southern Utah ghost town of Sego. The only thing that remains of the town now are a few roofless stone buildings and an old rusted car. In its day it was a coal-mining boom town, but the lack of a reliable water source doomed the settlement to be reclaimed by the arid southern Utah desert and red rock.

On the way to the ghost town, which is only about 10 minutes off of Interstate 70 just past the almost ghost town of Thompson, Utah – there is still a gas station there – we discovered some of the world’s oldest graffiti drawn on sandstone cliffs. Created by the Fremont culture sometime between AD 1 and 1300, these rock drawings included both petroglyphs and pictographs. Dozens of images of bighorn sheep and hunters with bows adorned the cliffs. The images also contained drawings of weird alien looking figures that no one has been able to figure out.

Further west as we traveled through Colorado, we drove through the world’s longest and highest elevation road tunnels. The Eisenhower tunnel was constructed in the early 1970s to allow traffic to travel under the Continental Divide rather than over the treacherous Loveland Pass, which also holds a record as the highest mountain pass in the world, (11,990 feet) that is maintained year-round for passenger travel.

For what it’s worth, Loveland Pass also is home to Loveland Ski Area where, at 16 years old, I taught my father how to ski when he was in his 50s. That’s not a world record of any kind, but still impressive in my mind.

As we moved into Kansas, however, well that’s where the world records began to really shine. We first stumbled upon the world’s largest artist’s easel in Goodland, Kansas. Because Kansas is the Sunflower state the painting on the easel is a version of “Three Sunflowers In A Vase” by Van Gogh.

This man-made wonder stands 80 feet tall and is the centerpiece of a local city park maintained by the local Rotary Club. Further east in Kansas is another obscure world record - the world’s largest ball of bailing twine sits majestically in a small roadside park under its own covered structure. I am not sure why, but like Goodland, the fine residents of Cawker City, Kansas, have latched onto this oddity, giving the house-sized ball of twine its own annual festival where visitors can add to the ball each year.

Our trip took us through St. Louis, world’s largest man-made monument, 630-foot Gateway Arch; Nashville, world’s longest-running radio broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry; Atlanta, world’s most aggressive drivers (my opinion), and finally Summerville.

Finally home in South Carolina, we were able to enjoy a rest from our weeklong road trip across the country. I’m now looking forward to settling in a bit and I can’t think of a better way to start than enjoying tonight’s festivities in Summerville. See you there.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Editorial: Enough; Town uses council form of government

The Town of Summerville uses a “Council Form of Government.” We urge our town leaders to accept it and get on with doing the business of Summerville.

Much debate has surrounded the various forms of government used in municipalities around the state – Council, Mayor-Council, Council-Manager.

With the Local Government Act of 1975, also known as the Home Rule Act, Summerville selected the “council” form of government. Since that time, the town has made modifications to fit its needs over time.

The difference in each form of government is defined by where the executive and administrative powers of the local leadership are vested.

In all cases, however, the legislative function – the lawmaking/ordinance creation – remains with council members.

The actual “form of government” is determined by the roles and responsibilities of each local entity – mayor, council and chief administrator

Summerville adjusted its council form of government when it allowed former Mayor Bill Collins to take on the bulk of the administrative responsibilities. At the end of his term he then gave up his expanded administrative duties, which allowed the council to put the town back in line with the council form of government it selected in the mid-1970s.

The motives behind that move were obvious. Council members and the seated mayor did not want to give administrative power to a new mayor – a new mayor who they suspected would use his powers to wrest control of the town and appoint anyone he saw fit to any number of positions of under him.

From the tone of the rhetoric that we’ve seen go back and forth for the last six months, their suspicions appear to be valid.

A referendum petition that would restore the administrative powers of the mayor and give Wiley Johnson increased power continues to move forward. The petition has been circulating at various venues.

Reverting back to a modified form of government is not what the town needs right now. Instead, we urge voters to support the pure form of government that was established years ago.

Further we ask those who continue to fan the flames of discontent to instead rise above the bickering and find ways to build unity in our community. We continue to hear derogatory monikers such as the “Gang of Four” and “Good Ol’ Boys” assigned to some members of the town council.

But shifting the power from a council of seven to one man is not wise – especially in Summerville’s charged political climate. We have great respect for Mayor Wiley Johnson and his desire to guide Summerville into prosperity through managed growth.

He is passionate about many of his desires. Voters saw that and elected him to execute his vision.

Much like a business that has a board of trustees with a board chairman and chief executive officers, we see our town council as a board with the mayor at its helm and our newly hired town administrator as the city’s CEO.

Any operation is doomed to fail if the chairman of the board demands all the power in order to be effective. Likewise if this is the only way Mayor Johnson and his supporters feels he can be successful, then he and our town are doomed to fail.

The petition for a referendum restoring the enhanced powers of mayor is dividing this town. Now, more than ever, we need unity with our city, not name-calling and political posturing.

We urge Johnson to use his position as Summerville’s leader to build alliances on council and find common ground. He should use statesmanship and decorum to push his agenda forward. Likewise, we expect town council members to work toward compromise and agreement to move Summerville forward. We have seen some evidence that this is possible.

There may be a time when Summerville needs a different form of government, but that time is not now. Now is the time to set differences aside and work to benefit all residents.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Flower tunes for Flowertown Festival

David Kennard

The Flowertown Festival begins Friday in Summerville, but there’s no reason not to get in the flower spirit now. Here are 10 songs – some classic, some obscure – that will help you prepare for – or take your mind off – the 200,000-plus people expected to visit our area in the next few days.

A good share of these favorites feature roses, but in this musical bouquet you’ll also find buttercups, orange blossoms and tulips.

1. “Kiss From a Rose,” Seal: We’ll lead off the list with this tune timely for its connection to 1995’s “Batman Forever.” Now 20 years later, the film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opened in theaters Friday. Seal’s “Kiss” made it to No. 1 on U.S. charts in August 1995.

2. “Daisy Bell,” Harry Dacre. Also known as “A Bicycle Built for Two,” this is a tune you may have heard your grandparents whistling as they worked in the garden or hung laundry on the line. It was written in 1892 and became popular because of its scandalous lyrics that contain several double entendres and sexual innuendos, such as the name Daisy, which was selected to poke fun at a royal affair by King Edward II.

3. “Flowers in Your Hair,” The Lumineers. Here’s one for the kids. Still relatively new to the music scene, this Americana folk rock band has seen huge success and is currently on tour -- although most of its 2016 venues are sold out. “Flowers in Your Hair” is the first track on the band’s first album, but it was “Ho, Hey” that’s seen the most traction.

4. “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” Lynn Anderson: This gem from 1971 peaked at No. 3 on the US Hot 100, and remains a standard on many country stations. Anderson’s cover of this Joe South written tune from 1969 helped Anderson collect a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Country music superstar Martina McBride performed the song at the Grand Ole Opry in September 2015 in tribute the Anderson, who died a few months earlier in July 2015. The two performed the song together on the same stage in 2005.

5. “Build Me Up Buttercup,” The Foundations: Originally released in 1968, this tribute to the buttercup flower was written by Mike D’Abo and Tony Macaulay, both of whom went on to become musical legends with connections to many hits and groups such as The Hollies and Andy Williams. Regarding the flower known as the buttercup, the plant Ranunculus translates from Latin as “little frog,” because of its tendency to be found near bodies of water.

6. “Tip Toe Through the Tulips,” Tiny Tim: This song should serve as a reminder that your parents didn’t understand your taste in music just as much as you don’t understand your children’s. Tiny Tim’s most famous song also was his last as he collapsed of an apparent heart attack on stage in 1996 at the age of 64. Tulips, often known as the flower of love – take that, rose – originated in Persia and Turkey, according to the website “Tulips were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where they got their common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with which turbans were wrapped) - reflecting the turban-like appearance of a tulip in full bloom.”

7. “Run For The Roses,” Dan Fogelberg. This is a song about a horse. Specifically, it’s about a horse growing up to run in the Kentucky Derby, also known as the “Run for the Roses” because of the wreath of flowers draped over the winning horse. The Kentucky Derby, by the way, will take place almost a month from now on May 6 in Louisville, Kentucky. Dan Fogelberg’s sappy horse song debuted at the 1980 Kentucky Derby in apparent move to get free tickets. “I always wanted to come to the derby,” Foglerberg said, in quote attributed to him by the website,

8. “Sugar Magnolia,” Grateful Dead. The Magnolia trees around Summerville originate from the ancient genus that some believe appeared even before bees, instead relying on pollination by beetles that could not damage the resilient petals on the blossom. One variety of the tree has been found in fossil remains more than 20 million years old, even older than members of the Grateful Dead, which first sang about magnolia’s in June 1970. The song, which carries the name magnolia in the title, actually make reference to several other plants and flowers. Listen for the following phrases: “under the willow,” “rolling in the rushes,” “through rays of violet,” “ringing that bluebell,” “A breeze in the pines,” and “walking in the tall trees.”

9. “The Orange Blossom Special,” Johnny Cash. A list of music wouldn’t be legit without a Johnny Cash tune. Sometimes just known as “The Special,” this classic fiddle tune made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Country Album chart with Johnny Cash’s lyrics and a seemingly-out-of-place saxophone solo. If you don’t get enough with that song, there’s another version of just the instrumental from the “best there’s ever been,” Charlie Daniels.

10. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand (live at the Grammy Awards). “Flowers” began as a solo project by Diamond in 1977, but it reached No. 1 of Billboard’s Top 100 twice in 1978 after he sang it with Streisand. The other song that reached No. 1 twice that year? “Le Freak” by the band Chic. That same year saw a No. 1 hit by Barry Gibb and sung by Frankie Valli, thanks in large part to the movie “Greese,” which featured another power duo – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, who never sang about flowers as far as I can tell.

11. “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” Poison. Written after a failed love affair, lead singer Bret Michaels is said to have filled a yellow legal pad full of verses in a carthetic attempt to deal with his emotions. The song was No. 1 for three weeks in a row in late 1988. More than 20 years later in 2010, Miley Cyrus covered the song, but nobody cares about that.
A couple more “rose” songs before we get to my top pick: “Delta Dawn,” Helen Reddy. You loved her in “Pete’s Dragon,” the delightful Disney tale about human trafficking, and her voice became the battle cry of women’s rights in the mid-1970s with “I am woman, hear me roar.” Also, “The Rose,” Bette Midler. This powerful ballad found its way into the 1979 movie “The Rose” which is based on the life of Janis Joplin, who also recorded a song titled “Flower in the Sun,” which, aside from its historical significance, is very forgettable.

12. “Edelweiss,” This iconic lullaby is often mistakenly thought to be the national anthem of Austria or an Austrian folk song. In reality, it was written by composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for their 1959 musical “The Sound of Music.” In the 1965 movie by the same name, actor Christopher Plummer sang the song twice. Found in the high Alps, the flower is protected by law in Austria, France, Germany, India, Slovenia and Switzerland. The plant can be grown in your garden as an annual if you have a place that receives lots of sun.

OK, so my top 10 list had 12 songs about flowers. There are many more tunes about flora that I’m sure you can think of – “Yellow Rose of Texas” for instance, or “Scarborough Fair (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)” or Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee (Honeysuckle).”

We’ll save some of those for next year’s list.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Editor’s Notes: Make voting a family tradition

Summerville Journal Scene

Mothers teach us lots of things. Mine taught me to vote.

From my earliest memories, I recall my mother serving as a volunteer election judge. The voting precinct for my neighborhood was my elementary school. So, on every Election Day, I could count on seeing my mother sitting behind a desk outside the principal’s office helping people cast their vote.

Election Day will be forever tied to memories of my mother and the lessons of civic responsibility that she taught me.

With primary elections upon us, I can hear my mother again reminding me to get out and vote.

Likewise, my father was the example that taught me the sacred nature of voting. Dad took a keen interest in elections and made sure I was a part of the voting process, often taking me with him as he marked his ballot.

His process of preparing for an election was almost ritualistic. He read newspapers, listened to the debates on the radio and television.

Dad almost always voted Republican, but he told me that I should understand the issues before I cast my vote for either party.

By the time I turned 18, voting had become almost second nature. It was a proud moment for both my parents to see me walk into the voting booth and pull that lever for the first time.

In today’s paper you’ll find a story by Lindsay Street about voters preparing to vote. The goal of the story was to find undecided voters and explore their thought process.

Berkeley County resident Aldo Napoli’s method seemed to be exercise of elimination.

“I’ve never not voted so I’m not going to start here,” he said. “I guess I’ll see whose left because they seem to be dropping out one by one.”

Napoli, like many of us here in the Lowcountry, has been bombarded with election rhetoric for the past few weeks.

That rhetoric will only escalate in the coming days.

The Republican primary election is Saturday and the Democratic primary is a week later on the following Saturday.

Results for each race should be available by late Saturday night.

Here at the paper, we’ll be watching the elections closely and we’ll be reporting throughout the day. Lindsay Street will be reporting from Berkeley County and Jenna-Ley Harrison will be reporting from Dorchester County.

Their coverage, of course will include statewide data as it comes in from Columbia.

You can follow their coverage all day Saturday online, by following both reporters on Twitter. Find Jenna on Twitter at @jlharrison_news. Find Lindsay at @LindsStreet.

Of course we’ll have a roundup of state and local results online late Saturday night once all precincts have reported.

South Carolina’s primaries are just the third to take place so far. As other states stage their primary elections, we’ll be watching closely to see who we’ll be voting for in November.

The nice thing about voting early in the process is that South Carolinians’ vote still matters. Of course every vote matters, but those states voting later in the primary process may feel less motivation as the races narrow.

Already we’ll see on the ballot the names of some candidates who have dropped out of the race. It’s important to understand that and know who you’re voting for before you go to vote. (Do you see how I am channeling my father there?)

Mother would say the same thing. She’s gone now and my old elementary school where she helped so many people fulfill their civic responsibility is now a Jewish community center. But last I checked, the voting booths still appear every Election Day.

If you’re a registered voter, now’s the time to show your children how to participate in the upcoming elections.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Editor's Notes: Zika virus is nothing to sneeze at

Summerville Journal Scene

The Zika virus has the media abuzz.

That was probably a poor pun. It’s not my intention to make light of this serious, sometimes fatal disease. Instead, I have to poke at the virus-like panic that has spread through major media outlets.

As a “member of the media” myself, I have a unique perspective when it comes to news coverage. Most regular news consumers also are well aware of the panic that can follow poor or incomplete reporting.

The word “pandemic” fits nicely in a headline and it has a shock value that sells papers. And, regardless of what any purist may tell you, journalists are in the business of selling papers — or websites, or mobile device apps.

Last week the Post and Courier ran an editorial headlined, “Don’t let Zika induce panic.”

“Zika is exactly the kind of epidemic that tends to cause people to panic — and generates plenty of sensational headlines to boot,” the paper’s editorial board acknowledged. In conclusion, though, they warned, “Panicking is the worst thing we can do.”

As reporter Lindsay Street states in today’s edition, the Zika virus can have little to no effect on most people, although there is a higher risk of birth defects in women who are pregnant.

Because the virus is spread mostly through mosquitoes, Lowcountry residents have perhaps taken a greater interest in the story. After all, mosquitoes are something we know a little about.

Arguably South Carolina could claim the pesky insect as its state bird. Luckily, Louisiana and Minnesota already have dibs on that claim.

Mosquitoes, however, have continued to be the bearer of horrible diseases throughout time.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism — over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.”

A million is a big number, but most of those deaths occur in places with poor access to health care, consequently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to get educated on this latest virus of note.

The medical world first identified Zika virus in the 1950s, and it has occurred primarily in equatorial regions in Africa, Asia and most recently Central America.

Like its cousins, yellow fever, West Nile virus and other horrible sounding diseases, Zika exhibits itself through flu-like symptoms. In fact many people who contract it don’t even know they have it.

In today’s front page news story, Sarah Hearn with Carolina Women’s Care in Summerville said the best thing people can do is learn about the Zika virus.

“Information is power. I want my patients to be informed,” Hearn said.

She said the best place to find up-to-date information is at the CDC’s website at

The other thing that people can do is to keep their properties clean and free of standing water, use bug spray, see a doctor if you think you may be sick, and don’t panic.

Of course if you want to panic think about this, some of those million people who die every year from mosquito bites contracted many other more ominous diseases: malaria, dengue, encephalitis and yellow fever. Remember West Nile virus? Mosquitoes. Heartworm? Mosquitoes.

As someone who spends quite a bit of time outside, I’ve come to accept that mosquitoes are just one of those annoyances like sunburn and wet socks. OK, wet socks aren’t quite as bad as yellow fever and they don’t cause birth defects in pregnant women.

So perhaps I’m not giving this disease proper respect. But here’s the thing, there are many things out there that can kill you. A little preparation and a moderate amount of education will make you feel more at ease the next time you go outside.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.