Conway notebook | Annual Salute to Veterans set for Nov. 13

Rod Gragg says he visited more swamps this year than at any other time to produce a documentary film about Francis Marion – South Carolina’s famous Swamp Fox – that’s to be screened at an event honoring veterans that was started and still partly sponsored by Conway’s Goldfinch Funeral Home.

The event, now in its eighth year, is known as the Salute to American Veterans and will be staged Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Wheelwright Auditorium on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.

The Salute is free and the public is invited, but you’ll need to get a ticket from the Wheelwright ticket office because so many people want to attend that the school has to open overflow space where the ceremonies can be broadcast to those who didn’t get a seat.

Gragg said the event debuted in 2005 as a way to celebrate Goldfinch’s 100th anniversary and to honor George Goldfinch’s father, who served in World War II. Goldfinch couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but Gragg said Goldfinch wanted to do something celebrate the community. The first year also included a history seminar, but now all attention is given to the Salute.

Gragg said the annual Salute includes a documentary film, and this year’s offering, titled “Swamp Fox: Francis Marion & the American Revolution,” is the first that has had a local figure as its subject.

For those who don’t know, Francis Marion formed a band of guerilla fighters after the British took South Carolina in the Revolutionary War and waged a campaign across the state that is thought to have been a significant step in the victory of the Colonies over their imperial masters. The Swamp Fox, as Marion came to be known, led the only serious opposition to the British occupation of the Low Country.

“Some of Marion’s battles and skirmishes occurred at locations that are unmarked and generally forgotten today,” Gragg said of his multi-swamp tour. “One of the challenges of the documentary was finding those sites and getting footage.”

Gragg is the director of the Center for Military and Veteran Studies at CCU and has been working for a year or so on a project to record oral histories from the area’s veterans.

All area veterans and their families are invited to the Salute, where veterans will be recognized by service branch – Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. – and the era in which they served.

Besides the film and veterans recognition, the ceremony includes patriotic music performances and a color guard presentation.

Other than Goldfinch, the Salute’s sponsors are HTC, J. Joseph Sanders Dentistry and CCU.

Even prettier

Conwayites, or is that Conwaynians, are justly proud of the beauty of their town, and each year the city undertakes a project to enhance it even more.

Funded through a grant from Palmetto Pride, the projects have aimed to make beauty of spots and spaces that may be less than.

This year, said Foster Hughes, the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism, he has five things he wants to tackle with the $4,000. He’ll present them to the City Council on Monday, and the seven board members will stamp their approval or voice their disapproval of his suggestions.

The projects he’ll present, Hughes said Friday, are:

•  A flower bed in front of the brick sign at Collins Park.

•  A flower and shrub bed at Sherwood Forest Park, a small neighborhood park at the corner of Sherwood and Sixteenth Avenue.

•  Mulch and ornamental grass to replace the grass in a traffic triangle at Third Avenue and Wright Boulevard.

•  A new welcome sign on S.C. 544. The city already has two on U.S. 501 and a third on S.C. 378.

•  Beautification of the area behind the guardrails on the S.C. 378 side of U.S. 501/701 opposite Lake Busbee.

If the city gets a grant, it will mark the third in Hughes’ three-year tenure.

The 2011 grant funded the mulch, shrubbery, sod and benches that will help make a small park at Fourth Avenue and Main Street into an outdoor performance area.

The 2010 grant bought trees and ornamental shrubbery for a grassy area in the 501/701 bridge area and at several places along Mill Pond Road.

Get healthy, be happy

Conway’s annual Community Health Fair is set from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the new recreation center on Mill Pond Road.

Local businesses and health organizations are to be at the fair to give information about their services. Flu shots will be available for $20.

Door prizes are to be awarded throughout the day.