Category Archives: Lifestyles

Upstate Forever honors Chastain for conservation advocacy

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter


Pickens resident Dennis Chastain was recently recognized by Upstate Forever for his decades of dedication to preserving the history and beauty of this area.

Chastain received the Extraordinary Achievement Award at the 2019 ForeverGreen Awards Luncheon held Feb. 19 in Greenville.

The Extraordinary Achievement Award recognizes an individual who, through dedication and leadership, has made an extraordinary contribution to conservation and/or sustainable growth in the Upstate, according to a news release from Upstate Forever.

The award recognizes Chastain for this more than 40 years of work as a writer, historian, botanist, guide and conservation advocate, the release said.

Chastain is an award-winning outdoor writer, historian, tour guide and interpretive naturalist.

“I’ve written about everything from black bears to butterflies,” he said in a video shown at the awards ceremony. “You’d think there were no more topics, but actually there’s always something to write about.”

Chastain is currently the Blue Wall vice president of the Pickens County Historical Society. Among his work for that group is helping to secure funding for a historically accurate reconstruction of the colonial era Fort Prince George.

“I think the best way to describe Dennis is ‘Renaissance Man,” Upstate Forever founder Brad Wyche said in the video. “Dennis has been such a great ally for Upstate Forever and other conservation organizations on so many important initiatives in the Upstate over the last 40 years. He is such a treasure for the Upstate.

Chastain has “helped us learn more about the region in which we live,” he said.

“He’s helped make the Upstate a much better place,” Wyche said.

Chastain’s roots in the area run deep. His ancestors arrived in the region in 1796.

He and his wife, Jane, live on the Chastain family’s homeplace in the shadow of Table Rock.

In the video, Chastain said he spent a lot of his summers growing up at the old homeplace.

“Somewhere along the way, I just developed this enduring love for all things wild and wonderful,” Chastain said.

Speaking with the Courier, Chastain said the award “came out of the blue.”

“It’s honestly just incredible,” he said. “It was an absolute, complete surprise.”

He’s the sixth person to receive the award.

“I have the greatest respect for Upstate Forever as an organization,” Chastain said. “Jane and I have been members since the organization consisted of three people. We’ve been associated with Upstate Forever for a long time. It made the honor even greater.”

Filling out a questionnaire in preparation for the award ceremony sent him on “a journey back through time,” he said.

“One of the questions was ‘what was your greatest environmental or conservational success?’” Chastain said.

One was a battle in the 1980s to keep the waters near Table Rock pristine after a developer proposed a sewage treatment plant.

“They were proposing to discharge the effluent into the Oolenoy River at the very point where the wildlife department stocks trout,” Chastain said.

A concerned group appointed him to “take on the task of fighting this thing,” he said.

“It really was a David vs. Goliath story,” Chastain said. “Just me and my powers of persuasion and the documents.”

Chastain studied the permitting system and “found a way to beat them,” he said.

“You’ll notice there’s no sewage treatment plant on the Oolenoy River,” Chastain said with a laugh.

“Rivers at Risk,” one of his articles for South Carolina Wildlife magazine, led to statewide changes. His research revealed that two-thirds of the state’s lakes, rivers and streams were classified by DHEC as Class B, a classification that permitted fecal coliform bacteria at levels considered “unsafe for swimming and fishing,” he said. That was a direct violation of the Clean Water Act’s “fishable/swimmable” standard, Chastain said.

“The agency charged with protecting our health was allowing discharges to the point where it wasn’t safe to swim or fish,” he said. “This was outrageous.”

The article created “a drumbeat of support” from residents, and six weeks after its publication, Chastain received a call from Mike Jarrett, then the executive director of DHEC.

“He said that he had read my article and made the decision while actually reading the article that they were going to totally eliminate the Class B classification and revamp their entire stream classification system,” he said. “Amazing. It was honestly one of the most gratifying moments of my life.”

Chastain says he’s used a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt as his guiding philosophy in life.

“‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,’” he said. “That says it all.”


Growing outreach helps homeless stay warm

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter


local effort to help the homeless stay warm in the winter is expanding to include more cities.

I Am Not Lost – Upstate S.C. began after Tammy Ferguson met Marline Sexton at a craft fair.

The two women both crocheted and had heard about efforts in Northern cities to provide homeless people with ways to keep warm, by placing homemade scarves in trees for them to pick up.

“We hit it off,” Ferguson said.

Sexton had the idea to try the outreach here in the Upstate, and

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Keckley and Lincoln’s widow

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

In 2018, I wrote a two-part story about Elizabeth Keckley, a slave and dressmaker who became close friends with the Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln families in Washington after buying freedom for herself and her son. She then wrote a tell-all book in 1868, “Behind the Scenes,” which was full of intimate, personal details about President and Mrs. Lincoln. Scholars who have tried to understand the Lincolns and this era in U.S. politics have valued this book. It was very controversial, but riveting, and impregnated with detail. I could not professionally finish my review of the book without adding a third part; here it is.


Romantic history of Mrs. Lincoln

Keckley, the former slave, ironically wrote a chapter on the origin of the rivalry

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How to make Valentine flowers last longer

That would Valentine’s Day be without a beautiful bouquet of flowers? In addition to chocolate, cards and dining out, flowers — particularly roses — are among the most popular gifts. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 58 percent of American men and 16 percent of American women were projected to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day 2016, spending a total of $1.9 billion. Similar spending is predicted in 2019.

Flowers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and aromas can make popular gifts this February. Prolonging the life of beautiful blooms is a priority for those who want their Valentine’s Day arrangements to endure for as long as possible. Florists and other experts differ with regard to the best methods of preserving flowers. Here are some ideas to try.

Trim stems before immersing in water

The natural emollients and sap in the stems of flowers may cause a film to form over the bottom of the stem after it is initially cut. This can reduce the flower’s uptake of water. To alleviate this, cut the stems once the flowers are

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Give the gift of healing this year

The gift of massage treats recipients to relaxation and the healing power of therapy and can serve as an escape from the stresses of daily life.

In their 21st annual consumer survey, the American Massage Therapy Association says 19 percent of consumers reported receiving a massage from a professional therapist in the previous year. Many people rely on massage for medical relief, including to alleviate muscle soreness, stiffness or spasms. Massage can also aid in the recovery from migraines, help prevent injury and assist in general well-being.

Gifting massage is easy when one knows the type of massage a person desires and the place he or she frequently visits for massage therapy. However, those

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Working together to save the oceans

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

The public has an opportunity Saturday to see a fun, educational musical with a timely message.
Student audiences have been enjoying “Something Very Fishy” at the Pickens County Performing Arts Center in Liberty for more than a week, but a public performance of the play will be held at 10 a.m. this Saturday.
More than 2,700 area public and homeschool students will see “Something Very Fishy” during its run, which began Jan. 30 at the center, Pickens County tourism director Jay Pitts said.
Kathy Prosser’s musical tells the story of Sandy Carson, a young science major conducting coral transplant research, and Stu Pidder, a fisherman who treats the ocean as his own personal garbage dump.
The audience sees first-hand the effects of littering, not only on the coral reefs but on the lives of Boss the great white shark and his aquatic friends.
“‘Something Very Fishy’ started as an early education program in Australia, which toured around Australia to many thousands of children,” Prosser said. “It was really

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Clemson plans campus CollabFest to celebrate creativity

By Tara Romanella
Clemson University

CLEMSON — From Wednesday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 2, the CollabFest at Clemson University will celebrate creativity with a slate of art, film, technology and food events that seek to inspire, entertain and educate.

Famed designer Tina Roth Eisenberg will deliver the festival’s keynote at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Watt Family Innovation Center. Jason Levine, Adobe’s principal worldwide evangelist, will give a keynote in the Watt Family Innovation Center at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29, during the Adobe Creative Jam.

CollabFest was created by a collective group of departments across

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Cracking up for a cause

Show to raise money, awareness for needs of those with autism

LIBERTY — Liberty High School’s Walking Shadows improv group will kick off the second half of its regular season on Thursday, Feb. 7,

Broadway actress Kimilee Bryant will join Liberty High School’s Walking Shadows improv troupe for a benefit show Feb. 7.

with “Improv Never Dies,” featuring Broadway actress Kimilee Bryant.

The show will also serve as a benefit to raise money for and awareness of the needs of those on the autism spectrum in the state.

“I’ve been looking for a cause for our group to get involved with, and this seemed like an area where we could make an impact,” LHS improv coach and Accelerate supervisor David Holland said.

The show will start at 7 p.m. in the Liberty High School auditorium.

Before the show, a panel discussion will be held featuring experts in the field who will give insights into the struggles, triumphs and needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition, space will

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Learning more about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Well respected, honored and appreciated for his civil rights activism, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rightfully earned his place as one of the most influential figures in American and world history. Through his religious teachings and social activism, Dr. King played a key role in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

While Dr. King lived a good portion of his life in the public eye, many facts of his life are not widely known. In honor of his birthday and

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Celebration of champions

Thousands of fans lined College Avenue in downtown Clemson and the streets of the Clemson University campus on Saturday morning as a parade led the 2019 College Football Playoff champion Tigers to Memorial Stadium for a celebration of the team’s second national title in three seasons. The Tigers took down top-ranked Alabama 44-16 in the championship game on Jan. 7 to give Clemson its third national crown in program history. Asked about the atmosphere during the parade by an Upstate TV news station, head coach Dabo Swinney responded, “It’s surreal. Can’t wait to do it again.”

Photos courtesy


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