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Showing posts by author Willard Strong  Show all posts >

"Valkommen, y'all"

June 10, 2015   By Willard Strong in Economic Development
I distinctly remember the first time I rode in a Volvo, and thinking how exotic it seemed.

It was 1972 when I was 17, working on a presidential election campaign from an abandoned storefront in my hometown. Every week for about a month or so, a man named Jeff would come from out of town and check up on how us volunteers were doing with our grassroots campaigning.

Jeff drove a dark green Volvo four door, a 144 model I think. It was one of the first Volvos I remember. I rode in it one time and knew it was a pretty rare ride for a small South Carolina town. And I knew it was made in Sweden, a faraway place across the Atlantic. It had a four-speed manual transmission and was boxy, of course, as all Volvos were back then.

Except for the one Leonard drove to school. Leonard was the local banker's son and a year younger than I. He and his sister, Marge, often drove into the student parking in a red Volvo P1800 , a late 1960s model. It reminded me... Continue Reading >>

When convenience is costly

April 29, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use
Santee Cooper routinely communicates to customers how to use electricity more efficiently.

There are so many ways to conserve energy, from buying energy-efficient appliances to installing CFL or LED light bulbs, or by simply telling your kids to turn off the lights when leaving a room.

Then there are the more subtle ways that may require you to drill down a little deeper to realize savings. For example, unplugging electronic devices when not in regular use is an effective way to attack "phantom power" robbers — things that are in "stand-by" mode but still use electricity. Usage can add up over the year, costing you in the pocketbook.

One example I've run across is the now widespread popularity of single-serve coffee or hot-beverage makers. They're all the rage, but as is the case with many things in modern life, convenience comes with a price that may be a lot more than you think.

The single server is like the... Continue Reading >>

Remembering John Rainey

March 18, 2015   By Willard Strong in Santee Cooper History
The major printed news outlets in the state noted the March 14 passing of John Stringer Rainey, who served as chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors from 1990 to 2000.

I had the privilege of getting to know Chairman Rainey during his service as chairman, and the more time I got to spend around him the more I grew to admire and respect him. He was a man of character and principle — and those principles would sometimes put him on a collision course with the status quo. In many ways, he was a rebel. I've long viewed him as such and wondered what he would think of that characterization.

Rainey was an Anderson native, the son of a physician. He attended McCallie School, an exclusive prep school in Chattanooga, Tenn. He told me his roommate was Carroll Campbell, the future South Carolina governor.

The young Rainey attended the University of Virginia and then the University of South Carolina School of Law. He later served as an... Continue Reading >>

Your guide to Santee Cooper Country

February 02, 2015   By Willard Strong in Santee Cooper Lakes
If you ever get the urge to pack up and "head to Santee" for day trip, weekend or week-long vacation, one basic question might come to mind: How to begin planning a trip to enjoy the many recreational opportunities on lakes Marion and Moultrie?

You're in luck because if you don't know already about it, there's a tremendous resource available that offers a lot about the five counties (Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Sumter) surrounding the lakes. It's the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission , one of 11 regional tourism commissions statewide. They're commonly known as "Santee Cooper Country."

Every year they publish the "Santee Cooper Country Visitors' Guide," and the 54-page 2015 version was recently released in booklet form (free) or online at . It's packed with information including 45 destinations or businesses on or near the Santee Cooper Lakes.

Topics include fishing, golfing, hunting,... Continue Reading >>

Give Your Heat Pump a Helping Hand

January 02, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use
By the time you read this, we will have endured another cold snap.

For us genteel southerners of the Southeast, this meant morning temperatures in the upper teens and a day when it barely got above freezing.

I'm fond of saying we really don't know what cold is, a position heartily affirmed by co-workers who grew up far north of the Lowcountry. We live in the "heat pump belt." Since the heat pump was perfected in the mid-1960s, it largely replaced window air-conditioning units, a lifestyle-altering development that made Southern summers less brutal and bearable. In the winter, it magically heated our homes with the flip of a switch.

While some window units feature an electric heat option, most just offer relief from oppressive high temperatures and humidity. In the pre-heat pump era, I lived in a house that had oil heat, and back in the early 1960s a gallon of heating oil was in the 25-cents-a-gallon range, or even less.

I... Continue Reading >>