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.