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James Island Board of Zoning and Appeals to discuss KFC drive-thru

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The James Island Board of Zoning and Appeals will meet Tuesday night to discuss bringing a fast-food chain to the area.On the agenda, members are expected to review a request from KFC for a special exception, which will allow them to build a drive-thru in a vacant lot near the intersections of Camp and Folly Roads at 890 Folly Road.This vacant lot sits next to the Chase Bank, Hyams Garden Center and Accent Store near the intersection of Camp and Folly Roads.A recent initiative, “...

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The James Island Board of Zoning and Appeals will meet Tuesday night to discuss bringing a fast-food chain to the area.

On the agenda, members are expected to review a request from KFC for a special exception, which will allow them to build a drive-thru in a vacant lot near the intersections of Camp and Folly Roads at 890 Folly Road.

This vacant lot sits next to the Chase Bank, Hyams Garden Center and Accent Store near the intersection of Camp and Folly Roads.

A recent initiative, “Rethink Folly Road,” aims to make the area less congested and commercial and to have more green space. It appears some locals are concerned about the level of traffic and congestion in the area already and are worried a drive-thru near this intersection could make the problem worse.

One resident, who works at the store next to the vacant lot, said he is less concerned by the traffic and more concerned by the type of business that fills the vacancy. He said he would prefer a locally owned business, rather than a chain restaurant.

“I feel that there should be a local business right there, rather than a fast-food chain, I work right there next to a locally owned business and it’s just kind of seems more appropriate for James Island,” Benjamin Pippins said.

According to the meeting agenda, this lot was once home to a Pizza Hut, Subway, Papa John’s and more. Those locations have since been demolished.

The Mayor of James Island, Mayor Woolsey, said he trusts the Board of Zoning Appeals to determine whether the drive-thru will impact traffic.

“There are over 100 businesses in the Town’s Commercial Core and less than five percent are fast-food restaurants. Consistent with the Rethink Folly Road plan, I strongly support the redevelopment of our older strip malls that do not meet current standards,” Mayor Woolsey said in an email.

KFC said in a statement that the James Island Community historically features a variety of food options, including a KFC that operated until 2011.

“We are excited around plans to open a KFC location in the James Island community. Our commitment is to positively impact every community in which we operate by creating job opportunities and participating in community programs and events. The restaurant we are proposing would be uniquely designed for James Island. We are continuing to work with the local community during the review process,” a KFC Spokesperson said in their statement.

The meeting is Tuesday at 7 p.m. and will be available virtually. For more information about the meeting, click here.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Tuesday headlines: Early voting for S.C. primary runoffs starts tomorrow

Early voting for South Carolina’s primary election runoffs starts tomorrow. Voters will only have three days to cast their ballots for candidates vying for party nomination ahead of midterms in November. Actual voting for the runoff elections is set for June 28. Two statewide races are awaiting a runoff: Republican nominee for state superintendent of education and Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Scott for his seat in the U.S. Senate. More: ...

Early voting for South Carolina’s primary election runoffs starts tomorrow. Voters will only have three days to cast their ballots for candidates vying for party nomination ahead of midterms in November. Actual voting for the runoff elections is set for June 28. Two statewide races are awaiting a runoff: Republican nominee for state superintendent of education and Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Scott for his seat in the U.S. Senate. More: The Post and Courier

In other headlines:

Dorchester County and School District 2 to open joint-venture library. Dorchester County and Dorchester County School district 2 have partnered to build a joint-use library along Patriots Blvd. in North Charleston. The library is expected to cost $5.9 million with a possible opening date of March. The library will be sectioned off for students during school hours, while the other section will be available for public access. More: WCSC

New S.C. law targets wake surfing. A new South Carolina law is targeting an increasingly popular activity on the waters. Wake surfing is defined by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as “operating a vessel that is ballasted in the stern to create a wake that another person can surf.” The law prevents wake surfing in excess of idle speed for 200 feet. Violation of the law is a misdemeanor and will result in fines of $100 to $600. More: The Sun News, WCBD, WCSC

Charleston councilman pushes for light pollution ordinance. Charleston Councilman Karl Brady and one of his constituents are pushing for a light pollution ordinance to prevent the unnecessary use of outdoor lighting. Improper outdoor lighting can negatively affect the atmosphere, wildlife and people. More: WCBD

James Island to consider KFC drive-thru. The James Island Board of Zoning and Appeals is expected to look at a request from KFC to build a drive-thru at the intersection of Camp and Folly roads. The recent “Rethink Folly Road” initiative was created to find ways to decrease traffic congestion on Folly Road. Some locals are worried the KFC drive-thru would make the problem worse. More: WCSC

Mount Pleasant seeks funds to make shrimping docks safer. The town of Mount Pleasant purchased one of the oldest docks in Shem Creek back in 2019. Now the town is seeking $2.5 million in funds to help restore the old dock and to make shrimping on it a safer venture. More: WCSC

To get dozens of South Carolina news stories every business day, contact the folks at SC Clips.

James Island woman founds housing nonprofit to help single moms going back to school

JAMES ISLAND — Rebekah Lambooy knows the financial burdens single mothers face living in the Charleston region where housing costs have risen dramatically in recent years.Lambooy, a single mom of three — two boys and a girl — struggled after her divorce in 2012 to make ends meet. At the time, she had been paying just under $1,000 in rent. She didn’t qualify for government assistance because her income was just below the federal threshold.Lambooy decided in 2012 to return to college and complete her bache...

JAMES ISLAND — Rebekah Lambooy knows the financial burdens single mothers face living in the Charleston region where housing costs have risen dramatically in recent years.

Lambooy, a single mom of three — two boys and a girl — struggled after her divorce in 2012 to make ends meet. At the time, she had been paying just under $1,000 in rent. She didn’t qualify for government assistance because her income was just below the federal threshold.

Lambooy decided in 2012 to return to college and complete her bachelor’s degree to advance her career. In 2016, she obtained her business degree from the College of Charleston, earning her a raise at her job as a paralegal.

But Lambooy also used her business knowledge to establish a nonprofit that seeks to help other single mothers in similar situations. The James Island resident formed HerIndependence, which provides affordable housing for single mothers obtaining post-secondary education.

Lambooy said she’s grateful to be able to help provide some financial relief for mothers making an effort to advance their education in order to provide for their families.

“I’ve been there, done that,” she said. “I want to help somebody with just a portion of assistance that I can do.”

Lambooy got interested in housing while in college, and the interest inspired her to get a real estate license after graduating. She had also been noticing the rising costs of rent that had taking shape over the years, and she saw affordable housing as a path that could help families in need.

HerIndependence now owns three houses. Two had been abandoned buildings before the nonprofit refurbished them. They house two families where single mothers are heading back to school.

A third home is currently being redone for a new family.

The organization said it has relied mostly on federal housing funds funneled through the city of North Charleston. But as construction costs rise, Lambooy fears it could impact her organization’s ability to provide housing. She eventually wants the group to expand and host multiple projects across the region.

Donations can be made online at herindependence.com.

“This isn’t a handout,” said board member Jennifer Abrusia. “This is a way to help people who want to help themselves.”

Abrusia and Lambooy are friends who initially bonded over shared experiences. Like Lambooy, Abrusia was a single mother who struggled at times financially. The two also share the fact that they each received strong support from relatives.

“We both have kind of walked this path a little bit,” Abrusia said.

Lambooy recalled the difficult journey of balancing classes, children and a full-time job.

She scheduled her college courses at 8 a.m. so she’d be home in time to take her children to school. She’d then go to work, and then pick them up from school in the afternoon. Her day wasn’t complete until she’d finished taking them to their sports and other extracurricular activities.

Lambooy, too, said she’s thankful for those who stepped in and gave her a helping hand.

“I have a lot of supportive friends and family,” she said.

‘Kind of unheard of:’ Margaritaville Hilton Head pup takes on 146th Westminster Kennel Club dog show

When James Brady and his wife Suzanne Reynolds-Brady were looking to add to their household in Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, a Jimmy Buffett-themed community in Hardeeville, all they were looking for was a pet.Instead, they unknowingly brought home a champion.“He comes alive when in the ring,” James Brady said of the couple’s 4-year-old flat-coated retriever, Ruger, who has been competing in the dog show circuit for mere months.Though the 67-pound dog has not competed for long, he’s already...

When James Brady and his wife Suzanne Reynolds-Brady were looking to add to their household in Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, a Jimmy Buffett-themed community in Hardeeville, all they were looking for was a pet.

Instead, they unknowingly brought home a champion.

“He comes alive when in the ring,” James Brady said of the couple’s 4-year-old flat-coated retriever, Ruger, who has been competing in the dog show circuit for mere months.

Though the 67-pound dog has not competed for long, he’s already achieved at least 109 championship points, something that takes other dogs at least a year if not more to achieve, he said. Their previous dog, a beloved pet named Finn, “couldn’t even get one point.” To become a champion, the American Kennel Club requires dogs have 15 points plus two “major wins,” an accolade worth three or more championship points under at least three different judges.

“Show dogs are evaluated on how close they come to the breed standard,” Brady said. “Never having had a show dog, we knew nothing about how close Ruger’s general appearance - head, neck, topline, body, etc. came to the breed standard.”

Ruger’s competition days started shortly after the Kentucky breeder that the Bradys got him from asked to make him a champion to “improve the gene pool,” he said. With a mother that lived to be 10 years old and a grandmother who was still alive, Ruger’s pedigree, which would attract other potential breeders, was already excellent.

At his first competition at the American Kennel Club’s National Championship presented by Royal Canin in December, Ruger earned enough points in four days to become a champion. Their work seemingly done, the Bradys went home to begin their new life with Ruger.

“There was definitely a different energy and vibe in the house, a good one,” James Brady said. “Suzanne and I loved having him around and being with him and taking care of him was something positive for us to do together.”

The two got to know Ruger as a playful pup who loves to swim and can be so focused when horsing around that he doesn’t give other dogs at the park a chance with the ball. Though he’s almost 5 years old, Ruger “still acts like a puppy,” Reynolds-Brady said.

All their friends and advisors in the dog show circuit were baffled by the speed of Ruger’s wins. Some even told them that they didn’t think “the Brady’s know what they’ve got here,” they said.

“He did four days in a row and won, that’s kind of unheard of,” Reynolds-Brady said.

Despite the days spent on long walks, and playing in the dog park, the two felt like Ruger could do more.

When the Bradys took Ruger to compete for his Grand Championship, meaning he would be competing against other dogs who had become champions, in Clemson, South Carolina, the two were nervous. On the first day of the competition, Ruger took home a second-place ribbon. The next day, he won Best in Breed. From there, the wins continued piling in.

“It’s more than we could imagine,” James Brady said. “I doubted him before, but not anymore.”

Ruger went on to compete in Brooksville, Florida where he won Best in Breed the last three days. After that, he competed in Lakeland, Florida where he again won Best in Breed and, with points accumulated from both contests in Clemson and Brooksville, became a Grand Champion.

“He had no idea what he had accomplished and didn’t care,” he said. “He just wanted to play.”

Now, with those wins under his belt — or leash — Ruger’s next stop is the 146th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, a competition that brings thousands of pooches from all over the country to compete in categories such as Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. All dogs must first compete for Best in Breed, then those winners will move up to Best in Group before competing for the coveted Best in Show.

When asked about the upcoming Westminster competition in New York, James Brady said: “Win or lose, he’s our boy, he’s our pet.”

Following the Kentucky Derby , the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is America’s second-oldest continuous sporting event. It was established in 1877 and is the oldest organization dedicated to dogs and is also the longest televised dog show in the country.

Typically, the show is held at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 146th installment of the competition had been relocated to the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York because of the pandemic.

Saturday’s events concluded at 9 p.m. and will pick back up again Monday starting at 8 a.m. for the Masters Obedience Championship. Also being judged Monday morning is the Hound and Herding of Breeds contest. Both competitions will end at 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, viewers can watch kids get in the ring for the Junior Showmanship Preliminaries, which shows kids acting as the dogs’ handlers starting at 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups judging will take place and end at 11 p.m.

Wednesday, the final day of contests, will begin at 8 a.m. with Sporting and Working breeds and the Junior Showmanship Preliminaries. Both contests will last until 4:30 p.m. The 30-minute final round for the Junior Showmanship competition will take place at 7 p.m. Judgment for the Sporting, Working and Terrier groups takes place from 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Closing out the festivities Wednesday will be Best in Show, which sees the winners from each of the seven groups compete.

Viewers can tune in on the FOX Sports App, the WKC App or at westminsterkennelclub.org.

This story was originally published June 19, 2022 12:11 PM.

Area Briefly: Body found on Camano beach; Health District names top official; blood donors needed

A man was found dead on a beach in the Elger Bay on June 14.Island County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a report of a body at about 10 a.m. near Elger Park Road.There were no obvious signs of foul play but deputies are still investigating and awaiting results from an examination by the Island County Coroner's Office, sheriff’s office spokesperson Ed Wallace said.There was a partially submerged kayak found nearby and a sailboat anchored offshore, Wallace said. Positive identification of the man is p...

A man was found dead on a beach in the Elger Bay on June 14.

Island County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a report of a body at about 10 a.m. near Elger Park Road.

There were no obvious signs of foul play but deputies are still investigating and awaiting results from an examination by the Island County Coroner's Office, sheriff’s office spokesperson Ed Wallace said.

There was a partially submerged kayak found nearby and a sailboat anchored offshore, Wallace said. Positive identification of the man is pending the results of the coroner’s investigation.

Snohomish Health District names new top official

The Snohomish Health District announced Dr. James Lewis as the county's next health officer. He is replacing Dr. Chris Spitters, who is stepping down after over 20 years in the field.

Lewis has worked in public health at the state and local levels. He is currently a medical epidemiologist with Public Health Seattle & King County as well as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Washington. He starts Aug. 1.

Speaker series coming to Stanwood

The Community Resource Center of Stanwood-Camano and the Stanwood Library are hosting a five-part speaker series collaborating with the help of the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. Presentations will be in person at the CRC across the street from the Stanwood Library at 2 p.m. on the fourth Saturday each month from June through October.

Register for presentations at the Stanwood Library’s event calendar: sno-isle.bibliocommons.com/v2/events. More information at: crc-sc.org

Blood donors urgently needed amid shortage

The American Red Cross announced a blood crisis earlier this year, citing its worst blood shortage in over a decade. With summer approaching, the state Department of Health, in partnership with the Washington State Blood Coalition, is encouraging eligible donors to give blood. All types are needed. A donation usually takes less than an hour and includes a screening process.

Uncertain future for Mount Vernon golf course

After being closed for two years, Eaglemont Golf Course has been sold, though it is unclear if or when it will reopen. The golf course closed in April 2020. The property is 216 acres and includes an 18-hole golf course and the Eaglemont clubhouse. The 20,000-square-foot clubhouse houses a pro shop, banquet hall, conference rooms, fitness center, restaurant and administrative offices.

A representative of Beacon Hill International Ministries, which closed the sale May 19, confirmed that organization bought the course, but has not made himself available for comment.

Skagit River railroad bridge permit denied

The railroad bridge east of the Interstate 5 and Riverside Drive bridges, built in 1910, needs to be replaced.

However, the permit was denied, and the Department of Ecology said in a letter to owner BNSF that it needs to see plans concerning water quality protection, debris management and construction methodology.

BNSF may reapply for the permit, according to the letter written by Joe Burcar, section manager for Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program in the Northwest Regional Office.

According to initial project documentation from 2021, BNSF plans to build a new, modern bridge about 30 feet downstream of the current bridge, then demolish the old one. It would also install 2,270 feet of new rail to connect existing tracks to the new bridge.

BNSF also must complete a required environmental review that would evaluate possible impacts of the project.

The railway plans to give Ecology the requested information and resubmit the application, said Lena Kent, spokesperson for BNSF.

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James Island community seeks Charleston County Historical Designation

Residents of Beefield on James Island want their community placed on the Charleston County Historic District.JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Beefield community on James Island is small, but the people make up a tight-knit and passionate neighborhood with a lot of stories.Community president George Richardson says between the military events, a sense of community and peaceful nature, it’s more important than ever to preserve Beefield’s history. To that end, he and his neighbors came out to a county meeting Tuesday ni...

Residents of Beefield on James Island want their community placed on the Charleston County Historic District.

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Beefield community on James Island is small, but the people make up a tight-knit and passionate neighborhood with a lot of stories.

Community president George Richardson says between the military events, a sense of community and peaceful nature, it’s more important than ever to preserve Beefield’s history. To that end, he and his neighbors came out to a county meeting Tuesday night to make their voice heard.

“Because when you start walking the dirt road, we’re all in the woods or the trees. It’s almost like you’re in another world. And just beyond that, the Folly Road we’re all in traffic running up and down Folly Beach, you forget all about that is like stepping into another time is peaceful. And that’s what my community loves,” Richardson says.

The “Bee Tract” is almost 60 acres of land on James Island off Folly Road at Battery Island Drive. Richardson says it is the site of important Civil War history including the 1862 Battle of Secessionville and an 1864 third Assault on James Island.

It is also part of an African American remnant freedman community.

“You drive down battery Island drive, which is along the stream, you’ll notice that every house has at least two oak trees in the front yard, and they’re draped in one straight line from one end to the other end,” he says. “You know, and we like that. We sit on our porch and we yell over to each other and that kind of thing.”

The South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust says the archeological significance from battles is there and has been well preserved so far. Most of the land has been passed down to family members since they bought it in 1872.

Justin Schwebler, property manager for the Historic Charleston Foundation, says the status is an extra layer of protection and recognition for the people and their land.

“Basically, what that does is creating a process properties boundary around these original parcels of the historic district gives them an extra layer of protection against inappropriate development, things like that. So if anybody wants to come into the community change uses build a highway or something or build a hotel or restaurants,” Schwebler says.

The planning and public works committee will have a meeting about the Beefield land on April 21 and a proposal will come back for Charleston County Council to consider on April 26.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

James Island’s Garner headlines honorees by SC Baseball Coaches

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - James Island Pitcher/Catcher Hogan Garner was named the 4-A player of the year in South Carolina by the state’s coaches association on Friday.Garner has hit .463 this season with 6 homers and 38 RBI while also going 6-0 with 1 save and 45 K’s in 36.1 innings of work on the mound.Berkeley’s Miller McGuire and Summerville’s PJ Morlando were among the Lowcountry players honored as Region Players of the year as well.The complete list of All-State teams are listed below....

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - James Island Pitcher/Catcher Hogan Garner was named the 4-A player of the year in South Carolina by the state’s coaches association on Friday.

Garner has hit .463 this season with 6 homers and 38 RBI while also going 6-0 with 1 save and 45 K’s in 36.1 innings of work on the mound.

Berkeley’s Miller McGuire and Summerville’s PJ Morlando were among the Lowcountry players honored as Region Players of the year as well.

The complete list of All-State teams are listed below.

*Bolded names were Region Players of the Year

*Classification Players of the Year listed at the bottom

AAAAA All-State

Zac Cowan-Blythewood

Jay Dillard-TL Hanna

Braeden Harrison-Dorman

Tristan Smith-Boiling Springs

Beau Hollins-River Bluff

Luke Janack-Carolina Forest

Miller McGuire-Berkeley

PJ Morlando-Summerville

Ben Lumsden-JL Mann

Garrett Fulmer-Spartanburg

Adams Faucett-Dorman

Connnor Rasmussen-Fort Mill

Mathieu Curtis-Fort Mill

Caleb McCants-Blythewood

John Rollings-Blythewood

Davis Wright-Blythewood

Alex Nevils-Blythewood

Walker Mitchell-River Bluff

Todd Hudson-River Bluff

Nathan Hall-Lexington

Cole Long-Lexington

Kevin Samonsky-Dutch Fork

Josh McCusker-Carolina Forest

Nolan Alexander-Carolina Forest

Ryder Manale-Wando

Jackson Proctor-Berkeley

Chase Stryker-Ashley Ridge

Thayer Tavormina-Summerville

AAAA All-State Team

Noah Robinson-Westside

Mavis Graves-Eastside

Harrison Wilson-Catawba Ridge

Shane Keup-Dreher

Grant Loggins-AC Flora

John Allen Forrester-Airport

Cam Canarella-Hartsville

Hogan Garner-James Island

Jake McCoy-Catawba Ridge

David Mershon-Eastside

Chance Hall-North Myrtle Beach

Keillor Osbon-James Island

Jake Sears-AC Flora

Aydin Palmer-South Florence

Trevor Testerman-Catawba Ridge

Max Branham-Lugoff Elgin

Owen French-James Island

Ellijah Tiller-Greenwood

Julian Scott-Irmo

Brody Fowler-Eastside

AAA All-State Team

Jacob McGovern-Seneca

Eli Hudgins-Powdersville

Wilson Wages-Clinton

Michael Lindler-Mid-Carolina

Skyler King-Brookland-Cayce

Landon DeLavan-Lakewood

T.J. Anderson-Aynor

Jackson Sobel-Oceanside Collegiate

Harrison Crawford-Belton-Honaea Path

Brody Conn-Daniel

Gavin Troyer-Powdersville

AJ Cammarota-Blue Ridge

Ricky Montalvo-Chapman

Jeb Dawson-Broome

Jace Martin-Mid-Carolina

BJ Etheridge-Brookland-Cayce

Ty Marshall-Brookland-Cayce

Drew Johnson-Strom Thurmond

Trey Bright-Lake City

Michael Norris-Marlboro County

Carson Krasula-Aynor

Hampton Spires-Aynor

Andrew Bowers-Oceanside Collegiate

Aryan Patel-Hanahan

AA All- State Team

Ty Price-Abbeville

Jesse Bowers-Landrum

Peyton Starkey-Gray Collegiate

Kyle Percival-Andrew Jackson

Jerry Sanders-Barnwell

Jake Herndon-Woodland

Jakobe Sims-Marion High School

Payne Davis-Ninety Six

Cade LInker-Crescent

Trent Delgado-Abbeville

Jacky Murphy-St. Joseph’s

Kolby Capps-Blacksburg

Brent Stukes-Gray Collegiate

Cade Bouknight-B-L

Ashton Phillips-Andrew Jackson

Landon Peavy-Andrew Jackson

Brody Sanders-Buford

Toby Troutman-Woodland

Grayson Mitchell-Philip Simmons

Surarian Harrison-Woodland

Tripp Williams-Philip Simmons

Coton Starling-Chesterfield

Collin Minshew-Latta

Dylan Shelley-Latta

A All-State Team

Khalil Tolson-Southside Christian

Seth Morrow-Lewisville

Jarrett Wooten-Williston-Elko

Kyler Odom-East Clarendon

Colby Thorndyke-Green Sea-Floyds

Logan King-Charleston Math & Science

Van Herrington-Low Country Leadership

Bubba Lytle-Branchville

Carson Boleman-Southside Christian

Dalton Stroud-Green Sea-Floyds

Jace Avant-Johnsonville

Zack Hunt-Lake View

Wes Ard-East Clarendon

Jordan Gibson-Ridge Spring-Monetta

Jonathan Looper-Branchville

Nelson Vaughan-Southside Christian

Zander Poston-Hannah-Pamplico

Ben Coyle-Lewisville

Brandon Hershberger-Dixie

Cason English-Whitmire

All Classifications POY - Tristan Smith-Boiling Springs

5A POY-Zac Coward-Blythewood

4A POY-Hogan Garner-James Island

3A POY-Jacob McGovern-Seneca

2A-POY-Kyle Percival-Andrew Jackson

1A POY-Colby Thorndyke-Green Sea-Floyds

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Charleston honey company’s growth could help more regional beekeepers

Six local beekeepers supply Charleston-based Apis Mercantile with honey that is bottled on James Island and shipped to consumers and retail stores throughout the Southeast.One of them is Farrin Tucker of Horsecreek Honey Farms.Tucker has been making honey for over half a century. Based in Holly Hill, he sells about 2,500 pounds of honey per month to Apis Mercantile, the small business Tucker has been working with for five years.&...

Six local beekeepers supply Charleston-based Apis Mercantile with honey that is bottled on James Island and shipped to consumers and retail stores throughout the Southeast.

One of them is Farrin Tucker of Horsecreek Honey Farms.

Tucker has been making honey for over half a century. Based in Holly Hill, he sells about 2,500 pounds of honey per month to Apis Mercantile, the small business Tucker has been working with for five years.

“Of course, it gives us more business and the service they provide is how you want your honey to be treated and done,” he said. “They don’t add things to it that’s bad for honey or bad for people.”

Apis Mercantile partners with small apiaries like Horsecreek Honey Farms throughout the state to source honey that’s bottled in the company’s James Island space. Founded in 2017 by College of Charleston graduates Liam Becker and John Berdux, the company strives to provide access for small and mid-sized producers like Tucker, helping them get into markets that are too-often dominated by imported honey.

“We try to be as transparent as possible with where all the honey is coming from,” Berdux said. “We make no illusions that we are the beekeepers ourselves.”

Apis initially launched as a hemp-infused honey company — products it still offers — but Becker and Berdux have since placed an emphasis on selling raw honey. Tupelo, Orange Blossom and Southern Wildflower honey are all available on the company’s website, along with infused honey.

Apis partnered with High Wire Distilling Co. to create its line of bourbon barrel-aged honey and recently launched a fermented garlic honey, made by soaking garlic in apple cider vinegar and straining it into the honey.

“It’s probably the product that we’re most excited about,” Berdux said.

On its website, Apis shares facts about bees and honey (Did you know that a single honeybee only produces about one-twelfth of a teaspoon in their life?) along with information about how the honey is cared for when it reaches the business. Moving forward, they plan to provide more details on the actual beekeepers themselves.

“We have six partner beekeepers in the Southeast,” Becker said. “We really want to start showcasing them as well … to make it very personal for the end customer.”

According to Tucker — one of the six — Apis makes a concerted effort to do business with the community.

“They keep the local guys involved in their product,” Tucker said. “They want local honey (and) they want good honey.”

Berdux says the mission of Apis Mercantile goes beyond just turning a profit. The proliferation of centralized agribusinesses means consumers are detached from their food sources.

Apis is aiming to change that.

“Apis Mercantile firmly believes that the food systems of the future are regional, regenerative and decentralized,” Berdux said. “In order to address climate change, help the pollinator population and ensure greater regional food security, we need to, as a society, reexamine how food manufacturers operate in the world.”

By partnering with regional farmers, Apis Mercantile reduces the “food miles” between the honey source and the end consumer. Moving forward, Berdux and Becker are planning to scale the business while staying true to their mission. They are currently looking for another production facility that has a bigger footprint to meet their growth.

Eventually, they want to open bottling facilities in different regions across the country.

“Apis Mercantile works exclusively with beekeepers in the Southeast, and when we expand outside of this region, we will open subsequent bottling facilities and grow our network of partner-beekeepers to reduce food miles and to serve the communities we expand to,” Berdux said.

To an outsider, the honey industry might seem like a small piece of the climate change puzzle. Berdux and Becker instead view bees and honey as agents of change.

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