News Blips 

Updates and Statistics from around the region

"The arm, surprisingly, was not chewed up like you would think it would be."
Bill Salisbury, Berkeley County Rescue Squad captain, after an alligator ripped off Bill Hedden's arm as the man swam in Lake Moultrie. Nurses picnicking nearby cared for Hedden until medics arrived. Source: The Post and Courier

That's the potential fine for a Mt. Pleasant man after he removed 44 grand trees on Wadmalaw Island without county approval. Source: The Post and Courier

Downtown Bomb Scare
Police detonated a suspicious package Friday at the BellSouth building downtown. The package, identified by Starbucks patrons around 9 a.m., snarled traffic downtown while it closed several blocks of Calhoun and surrounding side streets. The Post and Courier reports that "the package was described as a small bag attached by wires to a cell phone with its antenna raised." Here are our five favorite quotes overheard at the scene:

  • "Oh my God! Oh my God!" said an overly dramatic onlooker when police announced they were exploding the device.
  • "I just want to see it," said a College of Charleston student who was too interested in the bomb scare.
  • "I'm never going to get to class on time with this detour," said another student totally disinterested in the bomb scare.
  • "The cop telling me to get as far away as possible scared the crap out of me," said the "Oh my God!" lady after she calmed down.
  • "Come on, don't make me start pushing," said Officer "Softy" as he told us to get around the corner as they detonated the package.

It's Fun to Stay at the YMCA
We were going through some local archives recently and stumbled on a 1979 News and Courier story about the closing of the old YMCA downtown. It was a serious piece noting the loss of an institution that had brought many a man together for intellectual exchanges. But even that can be sullied by a dirty mind. Here are our favorite outtakes from the story:

  • "Some of Charleston's knottiest problems were resolved in the health club's steam room, shower stalls and exercise room. Politicians, businessmen, ministers, educators, tradesmen, salesmen, artists, media people and physicians joined together for a close-knit brotherhood of sweaty exercise both physical and verbal."
  • "Several years ago Sen. Strom Thurmond showed up at the health club one Saturday afternoon. Members of the club marveled at his physique."
  • "A long-time member of the Health Club once remarked that, 'It is much easier to dislike a man who has clothes on than it is to dislike a man who is naked.'"
  • "Many a wife in the Charleston area is indebted to the health club for that 'attitude adjustment' hour that changed her husband from a man who was mentally and physically tired at the end of the workday into a man who came home with a smile on his face, ready for a lively evening with her and the family."

Violations in Sofa Store Fire
The state's Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation cited the City of Charleston's Fire Department and the Sofa Super Store for serious and willful violations stemming from the June 18 Sofa Super Store fire that killed nine firefighters.
The more than $9,000 in citations for the department included:

  • Failure to inform fire brigade members about special hazards regarding flammable liquids and other chemicals.
  • Not requiring body protection to be worn by nine firemen in interior structural fire fighting at the super store.
  • Neglecting to wear self-contained breathing apparatus by four firemen exposed to smoke and toxic substances while fighting the fire.
  • "Employer knew or should have known that the command system does not provide for the overall safety of emergency personnel and their activities." The Sofa Store was cited for three fire doors that were not operating and for not implementing an emergency action plan for employees. The store also padlocked exit doors or locked them with sliding bars that make it more difficult for a quick emergency exit. Fines for the store were nearly $34,000.
Though Councilman Henry Fishburne called for Chief Rusty Thomas' exit, Mayor Joe Riley continued last week to support the embattled chief. In the days and weeks following the fire, Thomas had said the city would make no changes in how it fights fires. But as criticism mounted and a independent review team provided a list of more than two dozen immediate recommended changes, Thomas changed his tune.


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