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.