Saturday, September 14, 2019

V.P. Pence attends S.C. Faith and Freedom Rally

Vice President Mike Pence in Anderson
with host Jeff Duncan
United Sates Congressman Jeff Duncan hosts the Faith and Freedom Barbecue in the city of Anderson each fall. The attendance at the 2019 event was pumped up by the presence of keynote speaker Vice-President Mike Pence. With an election year on the horizon, it is no surprise that a few other politicians decided to gather at the Anderson Civic Center. Patriotic music set the tone, while each successive speaker praised President Trump and set the stage for the keynote address.  When Mike Pence spoke, the crowd was cheering and waving Trump signs, making it clear that South Carolina is home to conservative values.
A packed house enjoys a conservative republican tour de force
Congressman Jeff Duncan is serving his fifth term in Washington D.C. representing the upstate counties of Anderson, Pickens and Greenville. Before that, Duncan served ten years in the South Carolina General Assembly, representing conservative politics and professing a love for the outdoors. Duncan’s favorite attire back then was cowboy boots, jeans, a button down shirt and a sport coat. As a Washington insider he now wears proper business suits, but he has never changed in regards to understanding the voters he represents.

Vice President Mike Pence brings 'the whole load' to S.C. voters
Congressman Jim Jordan from Ohio is good friends with Duncan in D.C. and he was slated to speak at the Faith and Freedom Barbecue before the Vice President announced he would come. Jordan is a capable speaker and a leader among conservative republicans, but when the Vice President agreed to come to Anderson, it changed the entire dynamic of the event. Senator Lindsey Graham decided to fly into town with Pence and speak. Governor Henry McMaster decided to drive up and speak, along with the Lt. Governor. And three other S.C. Congressmen also joined them on the stage to speak, surrounded by the watchful secret security detail assigned to protect the Vice President.

Mark Sanford announces a presidential run in pro-Trump territory
When Mike Pence stood at the podium, he showed the polished demeanor of a career politician, while conveying a message for the future. “I love barbecue, and I love conservatives, but I am here for one reason only. South Carolina and America need four more years of President Trump in the White House. It’s time for Round Two everybody.” At this point the appreciative crowd became effusive in their vocalization supporting President Trump. This same crowd was pro-Clemson and with the opening home game of the season just three days away, the crowd was All-In. Pence told the audience that he intended to ‘bring the whole load’ regarding the accomplishments from the past three years. Conservative judges being appointed to the bench in all areas of government, a stronger presence at the southern border with Mexico and a robust economy were just some of the highlights.

The next day Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted that "To Keep America Great we have to re-elect Lindsey Graham and Jeff Duncan back to Washington." 
President Donald Trump re-tweeted those words and added "100% Confirmed!"

To view the entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019 Record Nest Total for Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol

A sea turtle hatchling crawls to the sea from Kiawah
The good vibrations coming from the sand dunes on Kiawah Island in 2019 were decades in the making. Loggerhead sea turtle conservation really got going strong 25 to 30 years ago, and the record nesting activity in 2019 all along the South Carolina coast could be a direct result from those efforts. No matter what may happen next year, the fact is that the beach on Kiawah Island welcomed a new record of 575 sea turtle nests this year, keeping the 400 volunteers on the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol happy in their work.

Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol nest inventory results
Lynne Sager of Kiawah is the island’s SCDNR permit holder for the sea turtle nesting program.  Sager has many years of experience as a turtle lady, but in 2017 she assumed the top leadership role on Kiawah, and the record year in 2019 makes her glad. “It’s encouraging that we are doing the right thing by loggerhead sea turtles,” said Sager. “It takes them 25 to 30-years of life for a female to mature and begin nesting, and it was about that long ago when Turtle Excluder Devices became standard on shrimp boats, and barrier island turtle nesting teams got organized. We are hopeful that higher nest totals will be a trend in future years too.”

Over the Labor Day weekend I was able to visit the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol in the field for several nest inventories. After a sea turtle nest hatches, the turtle patrol waits three days and then carefully digs out the nest to gather data. They are counting the number of eggshells that produces a hatchling, and also the number of eggs that did not incubate. More scientific information is recorded such as the number of days it took the nest to hatch, and just one eggshell can provide the DNA for any nesting turtle.
Nest Inventory at #456

Jane Pannone and Lindy Michael are assigned to Zone Three of the beach on Kiawah and I joined them at dawn for the nest inventory procedure. Walking down the beach I could not help but notice that another nearby sea turtle nest had hatched overnight, as evidenced by about one hundred baby sea turtle tracks leading to the ocean. When I met the turtle ladies at the first nest to be inventoried they shared that they also saw the same nesting activity and reported it to Sager.

Another sea turtle hatchling encounter took place later in the day while checking other nests that are nearing their expected hatch date. A lone loggerhead hatchling was floundering just below the surface of the sand, and appeared to be laboring. Turtle Patrol’s Ally Frey donned a plastic glove and then picked up the baby turtle and escorted it to the water’s edge. She took a minute to educate a curious young girl about the physical features of the sea turtle, thus planting the seed for a future turtle volunteer.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.