Monday, November 25, 2013

Affordable healthcare information fair

The City of Charleston and the City of North Charleston are jointly hosting an Affordable Healthcare Information Fair at the Charleston Area Convention Center (5000 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston) on Sunday, December 8, 2013, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

The Fair will offer residents of the Charleston region an opportunity to meet with Certified Agents, Navigators and Application Counselors to ask questions and receive information about the four ways to enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace. No appointments are needed. There will be an informational presentation every 30 minutes starting at 11:00 a.m. For more information about the event call the Palmetto Project at 1-888-998-4646.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said, "Consider this event a one-stop-shop with resources and counselors comprehensively assembled to address any need or question. We hope to eliminate confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act."

City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. added, "Having health insurance protects families from the potential of crippling financial debt caused by expensive medical bills. Charleston and North Charleston have organized this event as an opportunity for our residents to learn more about the Healthcare Marketplace."

The Marketplace is for uninsured people to find health coverage.
Those with job-based health insurance can keep it.
Those with Medicare are already covered and don’t need to make any changes.
Those who are enrolled in Medicaid are not eligible.

To be eligible for the Marketplace in South Carolina, one must have an income between 100-400% of the federal poverty guideline:

Persons in family/household
Eligible Income to use Marketplace
$11,490 – 45,960
15,510 – 62,040
19,530 – 78,120
23,550 – 94,200
27,570 – 110,280
31,590 – 126,360
35,610 – 142,440
39,630 – 158,520

Most people must have health coverage in 2014 or pay a fee. Those who do not have coverage in 2014, will have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1% of their income (whichever is higher). The fee increases every year. Some people may qualify for an exemption from this fee.

Individuals are considered covered if they have Medicare, Medicaid, any job-based plan, any plan they bought themselves, retiree coverage, TRICARE, VA health coverage, or some other kinds of health coverage.

Insurance plans in the Marketplace are offered by private companies, and they cover the same core set of essential health benefits, including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescriptions, and more. Plans can be compared based on price, benefits, quality, and other important features before choosing a plan.

There will also be new protections. Health insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge more due to pre-existing health conditions, and they can’t charge women and men different premiums.

Marketplace open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. If enrolled by December 15, 2013, coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014.

Explore the Marketplace now
Visit now to get answers to questions and sign up for e-mail or text updates about the Marketplace. Or, call the Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clemson dedicates one-of-a-kind energy systems research and testing facility in North Charleston

The South Carolina Lowcountry’s primary provider of electricity, together with the nation’s largest utility, joined Clemson University Thursday to dedicate the world’s most-advanced energy systems testing and research center.

The world-class facility was named the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center during a dedication that marks the beginning of groundbreaking research, education and innovation at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) campus. SCE&G supported the center with a $3.5 million gift.

The center houses the world’s most-advanced wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility capable of full-scale highly accelerated mechanical and electrical testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines. A drivetrain takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.

Duke Energy named the 15-megawatt hardware-in-the-loop grid simulator the Duke Energy eGRID — Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development — center. The eGRID, housed in the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, supports education, research and economic development to speed new electrical technologies to market.

Hardware-in-the-loop is when a device is connected to a system — in this case an electrical device connected to a simulated electrical grid — and the device performs under test as it would under actual conditions. The eGRID can simulate the electrical grid of any country in the world.

Duke Energy is contributing $5 million to help fund laboratory infrastructure and educational program development and fund a Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair. Duke Energy employees also will provide the center with ongoing technical expertise and resources.

Duke Energy’s endowment was matched by the SmartState Program to establish two distinguished professorships. Together, these three positions will form a focused smart-grid technology research team that will lead to new innovations and help educate the workforce of the future.

Speaking to an international audience of more than 1,000 people, including elected representatives, U.S. Department of Energy officials and industry executives from around the world, Clemson University President James F. Barker said the facility places South Carolina at the forefront of energy systems testing and research.

“Clemson University is renowned for groundbreaking research, supercomputing, engineering and workforce development, but the Innovation Center and eGRID take the university to another level,” Barker said. “The fact two such prestigious companies have put their names on this building undoubtedly will help us attract additional industry partners.”

“We will always be grateful for their support and trust, as we are to the many public and private partners that helped the Clemson team make this incredible project a reality,” he said.

The versatility of the facilities will enable Clemson engineers to engage in an array of mechanical and electrical systems testing for a broad range of energy markets. Such a unique environment means Clemson students will experience an education that goes far beyond a traditional classroom environment.

Testing and research at the Innovation Center will encompass many facets of the electrical market to help transform the electrical infrastructure into a more distributed, resilient and efficient system. Focus areas include energy storage; solar energy; wind energy; traditional energy sources, such as natural gas and diesel systems; smart-grid and micro-grid technologies; fuel cells; aerospace systems; electric vehicle charging systems; grid security; and others.

The Innovation Center also will house engineers with two partner companies: Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and FEV Inc. SRNL will conduct research into grid security and resilience. Germany-based FEV, a leading developer of advanced powertrain and vehicle system technologies whose North American headquarters are in Detroit, will establish a research and development center of excellence at CURI.

John Kelly, Clemson University vice president for economic development, also made two important personnel announcements.

Nikolaos Rigas, who helped lead the testing facility grant application, and the facility’s design and implementation, was named executive director of the Restoration Institute. Rigas previously was associate director of the campus.

Curtiss Fox, the former Clemson student who envisioned the groundbreaking grid simulator, was named director of operations for the eGRID center. During a graduate student internship at the Restoration Institute and then as a Ph.D. student, Fox developed his ideas to use the electricity generated by the drivetrain testing facility to create a laboratory that allows electrical equipment testing on a scale unavailable at any other facility.

Kelly said the Innovation campus’ capabilities, and the partnerships it will create, will help generate what lies at the project’s heart: ideas. From its onset, the testing facility’s core mission was to speed innovation to market. Such innovation is borne from collaboration. These projects are indicative of what creates a knowledge economy for the Charleston region, and the state. Both the drivetrain testing facility and the grid simulator are the largest and most-advanced technologies in the world, Kelly said.

“The grid simulator is the perfect example of what can happen when free thinking and creativity is allowed to flourish,” Kelly said. “In this case, we had a Clemson student who worked with senior engineers and researchers and ended up developing a project that could change the world. People like Nick Rigas and Curtiss Fox, and the many others who helped make the facility a reality, are the epitome of what this campus stands for — and why it is such a success.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said, “Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry – helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

North Charleston City Gallery to Exhibit Works by The Village Artists

The City of North Charleston’s Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce that works by The Village Artists, an artist collective based in the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant, will be on exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery from December 2-28, 2013. The group, which includes Margaret Connell-de Ruyter, Jane Hart, Ann Marie McKay, Lorie Merryman, Ryoko Miller, Faye Sullivan and Ginny Versteegen, will host a free public reception at the gallery from 5:00-7:00pm on Thursday, December 5. Musical entertainment for the reception will be provided by pianist Steve Jacobs.

For many years The Village Artists have gathered to paint, critique, organize exhibits and interact as professional artists. In their month-long exhibition, titled Inspired, the group will present a collection of paintings and drawings in a diverse range of styles and media, including representational, abstract, still-life, figurative studies and landscapes in watercolor, oils, pastels and acrylics. In addition to original work, the artists will also have prints and notecard sets available for sales.

The North Charleston City Gallery is situated in the common areas of the Charleston Area Convention Center, located at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Parking and admission are free during regular Convention Center operating hours, 9:00am – 5:00pm daily. The gallery is staffed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. Inquiries regarding the artists or purchase information may be directed to the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854. For information on additional exhibits, programs, and events, visit the Cultural Arts section of the City’s website at

About the Artists
A native of Aruba, Margaret Connell-de Ruyter, is a naturalized citizen educated in Vermont, Boston and Charleston. She has exhibited at the Prince Art Gallery, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the Charleston Artist Gallery, the College of Charleston Salon de Refuse Art Show, and various venues in St. Petersburg, Florida. Margaret is inspired to paint the wonders of the natural world. She uses acrylic on canvas with effects and color to achieve what she sees and feels. Margaret’s series is painted in an impressionist abstract style featuring water, earth, wind and fire. Although her paintings show destructive forces at times, they are always beautiful, conveying the majesty and force of nature.

Oil painter and pastelist Jane D. Hart’s work is held by private collectors throughout the U.S. and has been exhibited in both juried and invitational exhibitions, including the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition in Charleston, SC. Born in southern Illinois and having lived in many states, Hart now claims Charleston and its beautiful landscapes as her home. As Hart says, “To me, composition is key to a successful; painting. This is what draws the viewer to an image from across the room, whether the image is representational or abstract. What keeps me excited about painting is that it is a constant learning process. Painting from life contributes to this learning process as it inspires me to try to capture the light and see color accurately – a great challenge, and never boring.” Her paintings can be viewed at

After a career as a college English teacher, Ann Marie McKay became an active member of the Mt. Pleasant and Charleston art communities. She has exhibited her work at Brookgreen Gardens, Mt. Pleasant Town Hall, Old Santee Canal Park Fine Arts Exhibition, and the Lowcountry Senior Arts Festival. She has been featured artist twice at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery at 160 East Bay Street, where her work can currently be viewed. McKay prefers to work in plein air on location, using oil for landscapes. She also uses pastel and watercolor for colorful interpretations of people, places and animals. Collaborating with author Julie McLaughlin, Ann Marie has illustrated three children’s books: Hungry Mr. Gator, Mr. Gator’s Up the Creek and Mr. Gator Hits the Beach.

Drawn to the beauty and architecture of the Charleston area, Lorie Merryman recently arrived on the Lowcountry arts scene from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a member of the Mt. Pleasant and Charleston Artist Guilds. A representational artist, Lorie works in oils and paints plein air landscapes, figures, portraits and still-life. Her work has been in numerous shows and won awards at the Atlanta Artists Center, twice in the Hudson Valley Art Association’s annual exhibitions, and as a solo artist at the Brown Gallery at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her paintings are held in private collections across the U.S. and Australia and can be viewed at

Ryoko Miller, native of Sapporo, Japan, discovered her passion for painting in Charleston. Recently, she studied at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy, and came back inspired to rediscover the beauty she sees in the world and recreate it with her own interpretation. Her skills and talent are shown in representational work such as her Sweetgrass Basket series. Her subjects include portraits, plein air landscapes, still-life and animals. She has received numerous awards from the Mt. Pleasant Artist Guild, the First Federal Bank People’s Choice Art Exhibits, Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Show, the North Charleston Arts Festival, and the Mt. Pleasant Blessing of the Fleet Festival. Her work can be seen at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery or online at

Originally from Virginia, Faye Sullivan moved to the Lowcountry from Massachusetts after a career as an art teacher at middle school and high school levels. Her goal as a landscape and seascape painter is for the viewer to experience the beauty and the open expanses which surround them. In some paintings she tries to express the excitement of a vibrant sunset or in others the peacefulness of an empty beach. The one element all of her paintings seem to have in common is her love of water. Sullivan is inspired by water and finds it to be the ultimate chameleon as it reflects the clouds, time of day, wind, sky and shore. An active member of the Charleston, Ion and Mt. Pleasant Artist Guilds, her paintings can be seen at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery and online at

Ginny Versteegen has painted and taught art in the United States and Europe. In fact, her oil paintings are like anecdotes in her life. They tell the story of what inspires her, from simple to complex. Working in plein air and in her studio in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Versteegen interprets her surroundings using vivid colors as she paints the ever-changing beauty of the Lowcountry. While traveling, she carries a limited palette of paints and her outdoor easel. Around every corner she finds inspiration for another painting. Ginny Versteegen’s award-winning oil paintings may be found in many private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe. To see more paintings, visit or the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery at 160 East Bay Street in Charleston.

Monday, November 18, 2013

North Charleston Presents Holiday Children’s Theatre Performance on Decemeber 6

Don Gruel and Noel Holland of Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth return to North Charleston on Friday, December 6, 2013, to spread Christmas cheer with a performance of Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus. The production, presented as part of the City of North Charleston’s 2013-14 Children’s Theatre Series, is a fun, fast-paced family drama in the style of the classic holiday films of the 1940's.

Offering an imaginative twist to the story inspired by Francis P. Church's famous 1897 newspaper editorial response to an inquisitive little girl, A.C.T. sets their version in 1947. The production takes on the look and feel of the memorable films of post-World War II Hollywood, such as It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. The audience tags along with a reporter who must follow leads to find proof about the existence of Santa Claus, realizing in the end that believing is proof enough. The performance is appropriate for grades K-8.

Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth is an acclaimed professional touring theatre company based in Orlando, FL. Founded in 1995, the company consists of husband and wife team, Don Gruel and Noel Holland. Don and Noel tour throughout the U.S. bringing their creativity and commitment to the art of Theatre for young audiences to performing arts centers, schools, libraries, museums, and festivals. Each season Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth produces five to seven original shows and gives over 250 performances annually for more than 75,000 audience members.

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus will be presented from 10:00am to 11:00am at the Sterett Hall Auditorium on the former Charleston Naval Base, 1530 7th Street, North Charleston, SC, 29405. Tickets are $2 per child; accompanying adults are admitted at no charge. Groups of 10+ are required to reserve space. Seats fill up fast, so reserve early by calling the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at 843.740.5854. For reservation forms, directions, or information on additional programs and events, visit

Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 North Charleston Arts Festival design competition underway

2013 Festival Design Winner
'A' Train  by Linda Elksnin
The City of North Charleston is calling upon South Carolina visual artists to participate in the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival Design Competition. The winning piece will become the official art design of the 2014 Arts Festival, taking place May 2-10, and will be featured on promotional materials and merchandise, including billboards, print ads, television commercials, program booklets, posters, apparel, online and more. The winning artist will receive $500 and be given the opportunity to exhibit other original works at the North Charleston City Gallery during the festival. In addition, the winning piece will become part of the City of North Charleston’s Public Art Collection, which is displayed throughout City Hall.

Applications are available online at Submissions may be delivered in person to the North Charleston City Gallery on January 17 & 18, 2014, or may be submitted via email to with a deadline of 12:00pm on Saturday, January 18, 2014. There is NO entry fee to participate. The competition is open to South Carolina residents ages 18 and older. Categories of work accepted are: acrylic, oil, drawing/pastel, watercolor and 2-D mixed media.

The North Charleston Arts Festival is organized and presented by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. The annual nine-day celebration of arts and culture highlights national, regional and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts and Literature. For over 3o years the festival has made quality arts programming affordable and accessible to the widest spectrum of the public, attracting over 30,000 residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast and beyond to experience 100+ free and modestly priced performances, workshops, exhibitions and activities in a variety of venues, including libraries, community centers, schools, civic auditoriums and parks. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, the event has matured into one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state of South Carolina.

For more information about the North Charleston Arts Festival and other participation opportunities visit, or contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843)740-5854 or

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FEV, Inc., locating within Clemson University’s Energy Systems Innovation Center in North Charleston

FEV, Inc., (FEV) a subsidiary of Germany-based, FEV GmbH, a leading developer of advanced powertrain and vehicle system technologies, is one of the first companies to establish operations within the Energy Systems Innovation Center at theClemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) in North Charleston. The undisclosed investment is expected to generate at least seven new jobs, which will support FEV’s traditional capabilities, including design, analysis, prototyping, and system development. FEV also plans to leverage its expertise in the development and testing of in-vehicle systems and vehicle connectivity technologies, including infotainment and telematics systems.

“The North Charleston facility will provide a great deal of exposure to a wide variety of industries,” said FEV, Inc.’s acting CEO Dr. Patrick Hupperich. “We believe this is a strategic location that creates an FEV engineering center of excellence in the Southeast to serve our customers in the region. It will also provide a launch point for business development and relationship building activities with both current and potential customers, including those beyond our traditional service areas, such as aerospace, manufacturing, and advanced materials.”

“FEV, Inc.’s decision to locate its operations in North Charleston proves once again that South Carolinians know how to make quality and advanced products that are used around the globe,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “This research and development center not only provides a boost to the region’s innovation sector, but also solidifies South Carolina’s place in the nation’s manufacturing renaissance.”

“FEV’s state-of-the-art technology is being used by automotive leaders throughout the world. The company’s presence at Clemson University’s new innovation center is a great step toward growing South Carolina’s knowledge-based economy with high tech and high-paying jobs,” said Secretary Bobby Hitt.

FEV’s presence in the Charleston region will allow it to be in proximity to customers in South Carolina specifically, and in the Southeast generally, which is a rapidly expanding hub of automotive, energy, and defense-related companies that FEV has supported for many years. It also creates opportunities to explore partnerships with other technology companies that have located in the area. Operations are expected to commence in late November, following the dedication of the world’s most advanced wind turbine drivetrain testing facility and smart grid simulator at the Restoration Institute on November 21.

John Kelly, Clemson University vice president for economic development, said “FEV’s partnership with Clemson and the Energy Systems Innovation Center underscores the value of public-private partnerships, particularly those between higher education institutions and innovative technology firms. We both believe strongly in research and collaboration. This partnership has the potential to grow far beyond this initial commitment. It isn’t just about companies coming here, it’s also about ideas coming here. FEV will bring talented engineers to the Charleston region, and we hope this initial step is just the beginning.”

“I am honored to welcome FEV to the City of North Charleston,” said Mayor Keith Summey. “It is our pledge to maintain an environment that is business friendly to foster creativity and growth in the marketplace. FEV continues to push the envelope of technology and innovation in automotive and drivetrain research and fit perfectly within CURI’s Energy Systems Innovation Center. We look forward to FEV’s future developments and extension of their capabilities and applications into additional industry fields in the Charleston region.”

“Congratulations to FEV as they establish their new office in North Charleston,” said Teddie Pryor, chairman of Charleston County Council. “Our hats are also off to Clemson University for their hard work to bring their research partner FEV to the Energy Systems Innovation Center. The discoveries they make together in the coming years at this state-of-the-art facility will pave the way for energy systems advancements that will benefit a host of industries and other power users. Charleston County feels very privileged to host FEV, and will do everything possible to partner with them and with Clemson throughout the years to come.”

“This is an historic and exciting time for our region,” said Bob Whitten, Charleston Regional Development Alliance board chairman. “We’ve been talking with FEV for some time about the competitive advantages the Charleston region offers. The presence of the world’s most advanced drivetrain testing facility in our market, coupled with our educational assets, customized training programs, and our supply of highly-skilled workers were critical factors in FEV’s decision to be one of the first companies to locate on Clemson’s Energy Systems Campus. The company will be a tremendous asset to our community for many years to come.”

About FEV

The FEV Group is an internationally recognized powertrain and vehicle engineering company that supplies the global transportation industry. FEV offers a complete range of engineering services, providing support across the globe to customers in the design, analysis, prototyping, powertrain and transmission development, as well as vehicle integration, calibration and homologation for advanced internal combustion gasoline-, diesel-, and alternative-fueled powertrains. FEV also designs, develops and prototypes advanced vehicle / powertrain electronic control systems and hybrid-electric engine concepts that address future emission and fuel economy standards. The FEV Test Systems division is a global supplier of advanced test cell, instrumentation and test equipment. The FEV Group employs a staff of over 2,600 highly skilled specialists at advanced technical centers on three continents. FEV, Inc. employs over 450 personnel in its North American Technical Center in Auburn Hills, MI.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Visual, Performing, Media & Literary Artists Sought for 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is seeking applications from artists in music, theatre, dance, visual art, crafts, photography, media arts and literature for participation in the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival to be held May 2-10. National, regional and local artists, ethnic and cultural groups, community based groups and individuals are encouraged to apply. Artists may apply for inclusion in the Main Event, held May 3 and 4 at the Charleston Area Convention Center Complex, or may submit proposals for one of the festival’s stand-alone Individual Events, which take place at various locations throughout the festival week. Visual artists should note that this application is for events and presentations such as installations, solo or group exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and lectures, and not for participation in the Festival’s Juried Art Competitions. Applications may be downloaded at The deadline to apply is 5:00pm on Monday, January 6, 2014.

The North Charleston Arts Festival is one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state, drawing over 30,000 residents and visitors annually to participate in a fabulous array of performances, exhibitions and activities in all arts disciplines. The Main Event Weekend at the North Charleston Performing Arts and Charleston Area Convention Center on Sat., May 3, and Sun., May 4, offers free admission and parking to over 40 performances on four themed stage stages; General Audience, Cultural Heritage, Bands and Youth Entertainment. Other Main Event activities include judged art and photography shows, the SC Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibit, a gem & mineral show, an antique show, children's activities, art and craft booths and a food courtyard. The Arts Festival continues with over sixty events and exhibitions throughout the week at various locations. An array of free and ticketed offerings include street dances, concerts, theatre presentations, film screenings, an art walk, children’s programs, workshops and demonstrations, a National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition and much more. The festival concludes with the Grand Finale at North Charleston Riverfront Park featuring performances, children's activities and fireworks over the Cooper River.

For more information about the North Charleston Arts Festival and other participation opportunities visit, or contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843)740-5854 or