Wednesday, November 15, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Thanksgiving means more than turkey and stuffing

Originally published in the Journal Scene on Nov. 15, 2017.

By David Kennard

Is it just me or does anyone else believe that Thanksgiving gets no respect?

I love Christmas and all, but it seems Thanksgiving, you know, the holiday that has both the words “Thanks” and “Giving,” is overshadowed by Christmas. Sure, there is giving that goes on during Christmas, but let’s give Thanksgiving the respect it deserves.

Thanksgiving elicits images of pilgrims, Plymouth Rock and of course turkey, which as history tells us was close to beating out the bald eagle as our national emblem. My guess is that somebody very wise determined that we don’t want to celebrate our nation’s history by eating its national emblem.

I love turkey.

I love my children, too, but now that they are mostly out of the house, it’s means more turkey for me. I had to quickly correct my wife last week when she suggested we get a smaller turkey this year. Can you even believe that?

And, not to discount the turkey, but it’s really the stuffing that makes the turkey, isn’t it? Over the last 30 years of Thanksgiving meals we’ve shared together, we’ve tried several different stuffings.

The best we’ve found is a sauerkraut based stuffing with brown sugar, raisins, bread and a few other secret ingredients.

And don’t get me started on cream cheese mashed potatoes.

Food is such a huge part of Thanksgiving because it was the centerpiece of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in November 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians a few miles up the coast in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts.

A couple of those first arrivals are my ancestors. I learned this many years ago as a young boy when my mother laid out the family genealogy on the kitchen table. Years of her research was written up in finely printed names on a family tree-type chart.

There were many dead end lines, many of which we have since filled in, but I distinctly remember following her finger as she showed me my name and her name and my father’s name and then on back through the generations.

Most of it meant nothing to me; there were lots of Johns and Roberts and even a David. When she got to the early 1700s it started getting interesting again. The stories of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom from a tyrannical king was stuff I knew from school.

Some of the names in the history books were the same as those written on the pages taped together with Scotch tape now spread before me on our kitchen table.

The questions of a young boy to his mother centered on what it was like to live with Indians, and how did my ancestors survive on the ship, and what was it like in England, and why did they leave?

Those are all complicated answers that have been romanticized in third-grade readers. I now have a better understanding of those simple questions.

Religious persecution and the development of governments are things that make headlines even in the modern era. It takes only a little imagination to understand what our earliest American ancestors endured to establish the fledgling colony that gave birth to the greatest nation in the world.

Their search for freedom is a concept that we understand as we learn more about our American heritage. And there is little doubt that their first fall celebration meant a great deal.

Now 396 years later we get to celebrate that first Thanksgiving -- with turkey.

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, November 1, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Take the time to vote for a quality community

By David Kennard

Take time on Tuesday to go to the polls and vote.

A slate of candidates will be elected to represent you in the town council, making this one of the most important Election Days around here.

Local elections historically draw very few voters, which is a shame since local elections are those that have the greatest impact on your life.

Your locally elected town officials make policy decisions on how much you will pay in taxes, what roads will be funded, how much of your money will be spent on public services and a host of other real life issues that may make your life easier or harder.

We normally think of Election Day when we are picking a U.S. President, but there are many, many layers of politics and bureaucracy between you and the White House.

On a local level, the layer between you and the people that impact your life on a regular basis is very thin, maybe a phone call or a visit to the town council meeting.

Everything from flooding issues to neighborhood garbage pickup to traffic lights to local sales taxes are decided by the people you will vote for on Tuesday.

Unlike in some past elections, we’ve seen more candidates seeking public office than there are seats available, meaning we have some passionate people who want to get some things done.

We’ve put some effort into helping you decide who to vote for on Tuesday. You can find out detailed information at We put this simple Q&A together to give you an idea of who may represent you at town council.

Because they will represent you, you should understand what’s important to them.

Here’s a quick list of the top issues that your candidates suggested they would work on in the next four years:

Job growth: To thrive, every community needs a stable or growing economy. A diverse source of jobs of all skill levels is required. Your town council influences the types of jobs that may locate here; this is done through tax rates, zoning laws and annexation, among other things.

Public safety: Effective, appropriately funded police and fire departments are critical to our town’s success. Low crime rates, and quick response times for emergency crews help lower our insurance rates. Town council members should be engaged in this area, providing the resources that enhance our public safety. The town also also has a hand in public health issues by ensuring garbage is collected, water and sewer service is provided, as well as access to quality health services.

Transparency: Residents should feel confident that their elected officials and town employees are operating above board with full transparency. Budgets and other spending should be made available for easy public inspection. Regular audits should be published. The public’s business should be done in public, with opportunities made available for the community to speak or make comment on local issues. Your town council should be responsive to your requests and ensure confidence in the voting public.

Population growth: As more residents flock to our area, we must demand a plan of smart growth from our town council. They must have vision and provide organization to what otherwise could turn into unorganized sprawl. Our town council must ensure that planned communities and housing projects be well thought out with a plan for sidewalks, lighting, sewers, schools and access to other public services. Annexation should be done to benefit our town.

Preserving identity: One of the top priorities our new town council should be concerned with is preserving our identity as a community. We have a rich history here that we should promote as our town grows. Funds must be earmarked for community centers, parks, museums and other assets that help build our community identity. Regular festivals, concerts, parades and other events bring us together. Our town council should encourage this kind of community building.

Finally, we should look for a candidate that demonstrates the ability to work together with others on the council to achieve these goals. Too often we see a candidate with their own agenda and little vision. A functional town council should comprise strong leaders who know how to work together for the benefit of our community.

Likewise, your vote shows your commitment to our community as a resident. Please take a half hour on Tuesday and vote.

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, September 1, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Mighty rivers deserve our respect

By David Kennard

I watched in horror as my teenage son struggled to escape his kayak in the fast moving water. He got sideways going around a bridge piling, and the powerful current folded the wood framed boat in half.

The boat that we spent several weeks building together in the garage was lost in a matter of minutes. For the first few seconds, he worked to free his craft, but it quickly became obvious that if he didn’t get out, the river would swallow both him and his boat together.

Sam pushed himself free of the cockpit and swam to safety just as I landed my own kayak and ran along the rocky river’s edge to help.

Together we saw the brightly painted boat sink deeper against the bridge standard until it became only a red blur under the torrent of the clear mountain water.

We put that frightening moment in the past and quickly vowed to build a new kayak, but school, work and life got in the way and a new boat never got started.

When we moved to South Carolina a little more than a year ago, we decided my surviving kayak would not come with us, but when we discovered the inventory of navigable waterways throughout the Lowcountry, we soon made plans to build two more boats.

Sam left for college last spring; and so the task fell to me to carry out the project we once planned to build together.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to paddle a section of the Edisto River as part of a press junket touting the new web site. More on that in a minute.

After that short paddle, I came home inspired to get going on recreating the kayaks lost out West.

A craftsman I am not, but after spending a week of vacation recently turning a few 2-by-6s and a sheet of canvas into a working kayak, I ended up with a serviceable boat ready to tackle any of the backwater rivers and swamps in the area.

I missed Sam. Working alone this time, I found it a more challenging project -- drawing the canvas tight with my left hand and stapling with my right. I made mistakes that my son would never have made had we been working together.

The plan now is to find a sunny day to put the new boat in the water for its maiden voyage. I’ll likely have a look at the site for some ideas.

If you haven’t been there yet, you really need to have a look. It’s got many, many resources designed to help paddlers enjoy their trip.

One of the best features is a section-by-section description of the Edisto River that provides details important to boaters or floaters. It’s also got an interactive “Report It” section that allows river users to report any river hazards, significant changes or good ideas related to using the waterway.

The site was created in partnership with a number of public and private organizations with the purpose of attracting more visitors to the area. More visitors means more tourist dollars for the region.

The Edisto is a much different river than the mountain stream that ate my son’s kayak; its black water moves along at what seems slow, but its power is deceiving. Boaters that find themselves in the strainers of overhanging branches or the eddies on the river’s edge understand that they are little different than a small stick pushed along by the mighty Edisto’s migration to the sea.

I look forward to putting it in sometime in the next few weeks. And I look forward to getting back on the water with my youngest son soon.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Prepare now for eclipse-ageddon and pack an umbrella

By David Kennard

The eclipse that will darken the sky on the afternoon of Aug. 21 promises to be a spectacular event -- if it’s not raining.

Not to throw a wet blanket on this celestial event that has seen more buildup than Y2K, but there’s a pretty good chance that if you’re reading this column, you’re going to see a cloudy sky when you look up through your cardboard eclipse glasses.

As of Sunday afternoon, The National Weather Forecast for Aug. 21 includes a 40 percent chance of precipitation, which means cloudy weather. But if you recall last October, forecasters were still saying Hurricane Matthew was going to blow out to sea several days before it pounded us here in the Lowcountry.

It’s still just a little too early to say whether or not we’re going to get a good view of this thing.

However, I hope we do … and so do all the restaurants, hotels and airlines from Lincoln Beach,Oregon; to Casper, Wyoming; to Mokane, Missouri; to Bonneau, South Carolina. The folks along that path -- and about 35 miles north and south of there -- will witness something most will never see again.

For about 2 minutes and 3 seconds, the view of the sun will be completely blocked by the moon.

Where we are, the moon’s eclipse of the sun will begin at about 1:16 p.m. on that day and last nearly three hours from partial eclipse to total eclipse and then partial eclipse again.

Assuming it’s not raining that day, it should be a pretty cool sight, similar to the twilight hours of each day. The brightest stars will be visible, frogs and crickets will begin chirping. Roosters will crow. Toilets will flush backwards. Democrats will praise Trump. OK, I made those last two things up.

For real, though some things are certainly going to happen during eclipse-agedon when the sun vanishes. It's time you begin preparing for what some are comparing to the Burning Man Festival for the common folk.

Here is a quick list of things you should or should not do.

First, don’t look at the sun. Even during the two-plus minutes of totality, it’s dangerous. Remember the advice of your mother or your fifth-grade science teacher, don’t look at the sun.

For 99 cents you can order a pair of eclipse sunglasses online. You can also stop by your local hardware store and pick up a No. 14 welder’s glass. Do this now, supplies will sell out.

Second, pay attention to a warning from The South Carolina Emergency Management Division: If you are driving during the eclipse, KEEP MOVING. Do not stop your vehicle along interstates or any roadway.

Please follow those instructions. Every police department, fire department and safety official in the county has already been briefed about idiot drivers who will no doubt strain their neck to see the eclipse while driving.

If you miss it, don't worry; the next total solar eclipse will visit the U.S. on April 8, 2024, but you'll have to travel to Arkansas to see it. The next total eclipse to visit the Lowcountry will be come on March 30, 2052 and again on May 11, 2078.

Make a plan now to be in a safe place off the roads during the afternoon hours of Aug. 21. A good place to be is the Old Santee Canal Park, where admission is free all day and plans are in place to help people enjoy this two-minute miracle.

Another good place is the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site on Dorchester Road or Givhans Ferry State Park, both of which have prepared for increased crowds.

When you do go to any of these excellent destinations, prepare of heavy traffic, get there early and bring water - remember this is going to be the middle of the day in August. The sun maybe hidden behind the moon, but it’s still going to be hot.

Finally, bring an umbrella.

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, July 20, 2017

Howard Bridgman, a member of the board of directors of Friends of the 
Edisto, paddles 2 miles of the Edisto River from Givhans Ferry State Park 
to the Edisto River Outfitters base Wednesday. The July 19 trip was part
of the launch of a new website

Paddlers tour Edisto River during debut of

By David Kennard

Paddlers have navigated the gentle current of the Edisto River for centuries, but a new website promises to enhance the experience for modern day canoers and kayakers.

Unveiled Wednesday at Givhans Ferry State Park, the new website includes features to help visitors learn more about the historic river and the countryside around it.

Find the full story and more pictures here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Editor's Notes: Bacons Bridge Road sparks mower memories

By David Kennard

Back in the summer of 1981 I had three best friends, Smokin’ Joe, Slow Moe and Ricky. The first two were commercial-grade lawn mowers that my best friend Ricky and I used as part of our landscaping business.

The business was owned by Ricky’s cousin, but the two of us recent high school graduates did all the hard labor. Every morning we’d load up the mowers, trimmers and edgers and make a stop at the gas station to fuel up the gear and feast on day-old apple fritters and Pepsi. Then, from 7 in the morning until 9 at night we'd mow the yards of the rich homes that we vowed we'd own one day.

These two giant gas guzzling machines cut grass like you wouldn’t believe. Slow Moe was excellent at climbing steep hills and could slice through Kentucky Blue Grass and Tall Fescue like nothing. But he had one speed - slow. Smokin’ Joe, on the other hand, got his name not from boxing fame, but because of the amount of smoke he blew out of the exhaust for hours every day. Ricky and I would have to trade mowers on every other job because the exhaust fumes mixed with the summer heat were too much for one person to handle for 10 hours a day.

Now, every time I drive south on Bacons Bridge Road I am reminded of Ricky and those two old mowers that I came to both love and hate all those summers ago.

As a relative newcomer to Summerville, I’ve had the chance to see the final phase of the Bacons Bridge widening project, which increased the width of the road basically from the Little Ceaser’s all the way south to Dorchester Road and beyond.

Editor’s Note: Most of my directions are given in relation to pizza restaurants.

Most drivers probably have never looked at a map of Summerville to know that they are going in and out of the county as they drive along Bacons Bridge Road. And, like much of Summerville, it’s sometimes hard to figure out if you are in the county or the city, a problem that local leaders keep assuring me that they are working on.

If you own property in the area, you probably consider yourself a Summerville resident even if you pay your taxes and vote in Dorchester County. You might also care any time you drive Bacons Bridge Road, which was built by the county, finished by the state, but is monitored by the town. I'm still not certain who is responsible for mowing the tall grass that lines the roadway.

My daily drive into work takes me along this section, which for me begins at Dorchester Road. Bacons Bridge runs into town through Dorchester County until it reaches the Sawmill Branch Canal; it then enters the Town of Summerville and for several blocks traverses through the town before passing back into Dorchester County at about Jimbo Road. 

The speed limit is 35 miles per hour close to town, but changes to 45 as you travel south toward the canal. It is five lanes wide including its center turn lane. Appropriate signage is in place, as are sidewalks on one side or the other - sometimes both sides.

Fancy it is not, although the unmowed grass and weeds do add some contrast to this otherwise utilitarian stretch of blacktop. This drive through the jungle of tall grass brings me back to Smokin Joe and Slow Moe.

Just like Smokin’ Joe the boxer, that old mower was fast. I am certain that if I had that machine today, with its twin offset blades and belt-drive transmission, I could rip through those tall weeds along Bacons Bridge Road in 20 minutes, tops.

I have no idea whatever became of those two old behemoth mowers, but every time I drive home from work I’m reminded of that summer with my three best friends.

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: A few films to prepare you for Flowertown Festival

By David Kennard
March 29, 2017

SUMMERVILLE, SC -- The annual Flowertown Festival is upon us, and with it comes the 200,000-plus bouquet of people that will bloom onto Main Street on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

See how I did that?

Next to the Bridge Run in Charleston, this is the biggest event in the Lowcountry. If you prefer a smaller crowd head over the St. Stephen for the annual Catfish Festival, which also takes place this weekend.

But it’s the Flowertown Festival which will be the blockbuster event. And, like any major motion picture release, has been highly anticipated, previewed and teased.

In an effort to get you in the Flowertown mood for this fabulous event, I’ve thrown together a quick list of movies with flower themes.

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,” 1991 or 2017. Disney’s formula for telling classic tales is once again exercised in its most recent release. The rose plays an integral role in the story. The prince must find true love before the last petal falls or he will forever be transformed as the “hideous beast.” This movie had such an impact on my young son that now, 25 years later he can still recite the entire opening scene by memory. “It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and thinking.” -- Gaston

“DRIVING MISS DAISY,” 1989: As an Academy Award winner starring Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd, this wonderful film tells the story of a wealthy Jewish socialite and her black driver, Hoke. Most movie charts list this as a comedy-drama, which isn’t entirely accurate, considering every copy of this film comes with a box of tissues. QUOTE: “I had the air-conditioning checked. I don't know what for. You never allow me to turn it on.” -- Hoke Colburn.

“BROKEN FLOWERS,” 2005: The Lowcountry’s own Bill Murray stars as the introverted Don Johnston (that’s with a “t”), a man in search of the anonymous woman claiming to be the mother of a son he never knew existed. As always, Murray delivers his trademark quirky performance on a quest to solve the riddle. Hilarity ensues. Quote: “I, uh- I ran into somebody. Somebody's fist.” -- Don Johnston

“WIZARD OF OZ,” 1939: You probably recall the near failure of Dorothy Gale and her merry men, and dog - almost failing to reach the Emerald City because of a field of poisonous ruby poppies, which threatened to put them to sleep until their dying day. I’ll skip the symbolism of the poppie that many have attached to the book/film. Spoiler alert: Dorothy and Toto survive, but in 1939 the film barely did. While it was nominated for six Academy Awards, it lost to “Gone With the Wind” for Best Picture. It also was a financial box office bust, barely covering production expenses. However, since that time it has become one of the most loved films in American cinematic history. Quote: “Poppies... Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they'll sleeeeep!” -- Wicked Witch of the West.

“BIG FISH,” 2003: This is a great story that will likely make you cry. OK, it made me cry, but I cried when Luke got his arm cut off by Darth Vader after learning that (spoiler alert) Darth was Luke’s father. Also, it stars Ewan McGregor, who also played Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episodes 1-3. The Star Wars films have very few flowers in it so rent Big Fish if you are looking for flowers, specifically thousands and thousands of daffodils. Quote: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” -- Will Bloom

“THE WAR OF THE ROSES,” 1989: This is a very disturbing film about two people, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, who love each other, then hate each other. Dani Devito plays the slimy attorney and delivers an excellent performance as the narrator of sorts. Don’t watch this movie unless you are in a foul mood. If you want to see a happier movie starring Douglas and Turner, rent “Romancing the Stone,” which also stars Devito, coincidentally. Quote: “There is no winning. Only degrees of losing.” -- Gavin.

“STEEL MAGNOLIAS,” 1989: This is a wonderful film starring Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field. Again, bring tissues. My favorite scene is when the neighbor uses a shotgun to clear the trees of birds threatening to interrupt a wedding reception - classic guy move. Quote: “I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!.” -- Ouiser Boudreaux

“WALL-E,” 2008: Here’s one for the kids. There are actually no flowers in this film, but I’m counting it anyway. A lonely robot saves Earth and humankind by teaming up with other machines in space to prove life can exist on the planet. The tomatoes sprouting in my windowsill made be think of this one. Quote: “Dirrrrr-ect-tivvve?” WALL-E.

There are a few more, that I’d love to include, “Little Shop of Horrors” because of Audry II; “The Princess Bride” because of Princess Buttercup and of course “Vertigo” because of the prominent role the flowershop plays.

Friday, January 27, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTES: Take your Scene on vacation and share your pictures

I was looking through some back editions of the paper this week and stumbled across a fun little feature that ran several years ago.

The series of articles featured local folks holding up an edition of the paper at exotic locations all around the world.

It was fun to see the community paper in places like Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Africa; or spread out across the Great Wall of China. One picture showed a woman holding up news from the Lowcountry in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background. Another reader carried her edition to the wilds of Asheville, North Carolina.

I got a kick out that.

I’d love to start that feature up again. So if you’re planning on taking a trip anywhere in the next little while, throw your Journal Scene in your bag and snap a picture once you get there. Email me a copy at and I’ll find a place for you in the next edition of “Scene on Vacation.”

Speaking of vacations, it’s about time to start planning for summer travel. I’ve been lucky enough to explore some fun places around our great country so here is a my short list of recommended stops that you can drive to this spring or summer if you have a day or a week.

Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. Drive time: 3 hours. 843-272-5467. We loved this place. After gorging yourself on any of the 100 or so seafood buffets in Myrtle Beach, head on over to Professor Hackers for a fun train ride to the top of a small mountain -- you can see the beach from there. Work your down the path of miniature golf holes that take you over streams, around waterfalls and through scary mining caverns.

Jungle Jim's - River Safari Water Park. Drive time: 9.5 hours. 302-227-8444. Go for the golf, stay for the water park. This is a great destination for anyone afraid of swimming in the Atlantic Ocean at nearby Rehoboth Beach. Your journey will take you through the congested metropolis of Washington, D.C. Be alert for gangs of protest marchers and discarded political placards.

Boondocks Grill, Draft House and Miniature Golf. Drivetime: 10.5 hours. 305-872-4094. This is one I’ve not actually been to, however I have visited other Boondocks locations so I can’t imagine it’s much different -- I mean other than you are in Key West, Florida. And since you are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by convertible sports cars and marinas, you might as play a round or two on the really miniature, miniature golf course. (It’s a small course.)

Dinosaur Adventure Golf. Drive time: 13 hours. +1-905-358-3676. Bring your passport if you want to get home. This excellent course is located on the banks of the Niagara River in Canada. A nearby waterfall is a serious distraction and you may need a rain poncho if the wind is blowing the mist your direction.

Cody City Park Miniature Golf Course. Drive time: 31 hours. 307-587-3685. This is actually a pretty crappy little golf course, so you’re better off skipping this tourist attraction and taking a short drive into Yellowstone National Park. You are guaranteed to see some Rocky Mountain bison and perhaps a moose if you are quiet. Old Faithful, which isn’t all that faithful anymore erupts about every hour or so depending on how big the last eruption was.

Zion Ponderosa Mini Golf Course. Drive time: 32 hours.800-293-5444. This course is built on the slope of a Ponderosa Pine populated hillside in southern Utah. If you plan to stay the night, book ahead to bed down in one of the many log cabins, which range in size from covered wagon to multi-room western ranch house. We stayed in one of the Cowboy cabins and loved it. It was just a short drive to nearby Zion National Park, one of the most popular parks in the country. You are guaranteed to see herds of deer, bighorn sheep and flocks of smelly hippies hitchhiking across the West, all of which make great photo memories.

If you’re not a miniature golf fan, there are other fun things do in or around most of these great destinations.

And remember, if you make to these or other fun places bring along your Journal Scene and earn a spot in the “Scene on Vacation.”

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.