•  By John Nelson

    Here’s my former student, Bill Stangler, standing next to a very tall plant we found growing in great abundance on a big sandbar along our beautiful Congaree River, not too far from Columbia. Now, Bill is the official “RiverKeeper” in Columbia: his very capable outfit does a terrific job in protecting the natural aspects of the three-river complex that dominates our urban center here in the geographic center of South Carolina.

  • For nearly 23 years, Mike Sapp has quietly served as manager of Odell Williamson Auditorium, lining up an annual concert series, special events and assorted name-drop-worthy artists like Willie Nelson.

    For all the spotlights surrounding him, Sapp has always preferred to remain behind the scenes for these ongoing stage acts regularly entertaining local audiences at Brunswick Community College in Bolivia.

    But a special concert lined up this Sunday will be a little different.

  • Big Daddy Weave, one of Christian music’s biggest headlining artists, is making a return visit to Brunswick County this Saturday night, Oct. 10.

    The gospel-hit band is bringing its “My Story Tour” to the stage of Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.

  • UPDATE: Because of the weekend's deluge of heavy rain and possible flooding, the seasonal opening the haunted trail had been postponed until Oct. 9-10.

    GRISSETTOWN — This isn’t your average kiddie-kindergarten Casper the Friendly Ghost trail. This is the real deal. Only the older and braver dare enter.

    Every year, the award-winning Station 31 Haunted Trailed hosted by Grissettown Longwood Fire & Rescue gets better and scarier, with thousands of people stopping by to brave it.

  • UPDATE: Due to last weekend's rain, these events were rescheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 10.

    It’s the season for autumnal goings-on. Following is a roundup of what’s in store in coming days.Get set for Sunset at Sunset on Saturday

    Vendors and music will once again collide when the ninth annual Sunset at Sunset celebrates the fall season in Sunset Beach in the Village at Sunset Beach next to Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.

  •  I’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks in ICU units, tending to my brother who is critically ill. Talk about a perspective change! Remind me never to complain again about traffic jams or lines at the grocery checkout.

    Waiting can be the hardest part, and I’ve had plenty of time to observe myself — and others — in this scenario. I know many of you are going through similar situations, so I thought I’d share some life lessons learned along the way. And it turns out they all start with Cs!


  •  The dog couldn’t move.

    Every concerned veterinarian’s darkest fear is to treat a patient that not only doesn’t get better, but gets worse. I was living that nightmare and it was breaking my heart.

  •  By John Nelson

    One of my pet peeves as a plant taxonomist comes up again when we look at this little plant. Its common name suggests that it is a grass, but it is not a grass. Not even close.


    Nevertheless, it looks at little bit like grass, with elongated, slender grass-like leaves, and a long stalk. Each stalk makes a seedpod-looking thing, which might resemble a grass, but the individual flowers, of course, aren’t grass-like at all.

  •  By Linda Arnold

    It’s back-to-school season. Maybe it’s been years since you’ve been in school. Trust me, though. You’re still getting graded.

    Not by teachers, mind you. If you’re like most of us, you’re grading yourself. And you’re probably not even aware of it.

  •  That annoying buzzing in your ear? It’s the sound of the deadliest animal on the planet –– the mosquito.

    To most of us, mosquitoes are merely a nuisance; to approximately two million people and untold millions of dogs, cats and other animals, it’s the harbinger of death. I’m not talking 1800s death in the Amazon, I’m talking 2015 death globally. At least 700 million people are infected with life-threatening diseases each year by this critter not much bigger than a grain of rice.

  •  By John Nelson

    “The average American’s simplest and commonest form of breakfast consists of coffee and beefsteak.” –– attributed to Mark Twain

    This week’s mystery plant is sometimes called “beefsteak plant,” so the common name is not a mystery. But what a really interesting plant it is, in part because of its common name. I’m not sure really why, except that the leaves on some plants, in various circumstances, are reddish, like meat.

  •  Last week, I shared five of my top 10 doggie dental questions. This week, let’s look at the rest of the most common queries I get concerning a dog’s oral cavity.

    6) Do small or large dogs have more problems with their teeth?

  • By Linda Arnold 

    Would you be surprised to learn only 7 percent of your communication comes from the words you speak?

    The other 93 percent is picked up by the tone of your voice, your eye contact and whether your arms are crossed, not to mention your handshake, the tilt of your head or those hands on your hips.

    According to author and management consultant Peter Drucker, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”


    Poker face


    What: The Malpass Brothers

    When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22

    Where: Odell Williamson Auditorium, Brunswick Community College

    Cost: $29 adults; $27 seniors and students; $10 ages 12 and younger

    Info: bccowa.com or call the box office, 755-7416

    In the hip, high-tech 21st century, they’re a rarity, a throwback to the mid-century years of early Elvis, Johnny C., Merle and Marty and the boys.

  • By John Nelson

     “If I was on some foggy mountain top,

    I’d sail away to the West …” (Traditional bluegrass lyrics)

  • Rourk Library Book Club will be reading local writer Anne Barnhill’s short story collection, “What You Long For,” for its September selection.

    The session, which is open to the public, will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in the conference room of the library at 5068 Main St. in Shallotte.

    Barnhill’s short story, “Produce,” which is included in the collection, was recently produced by the North Carolina Touring Troupe in Greensboro.

    Readers can find a copy of the book in the library or at Amazon.com.

  • The Brunswick County Branch of the NAACP is hosting its annual Freedom Fund Banquet, “Redeem the Dream,” on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Brunswick Community College’s South Brunswick Islands Center, 9400 U.S. 17 W. in Carolina Shores.

    The event begins with dinner at 6 p.m.

    Keynote speaker will be Kristi Hyman-Jones, chief of staff for the North Carolina Department of Justice.

    Master of Ceremonies will be the Rev. Dr. Terry L. Henry, senior pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Wilmington.

  •  IF YOU GO

    What: SBI Rotary Club Chilled & Grilled Food and Wine Celebration

    When: 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16

    Where: Dinah E. Gore Fitness and Aquatics Center, Brunswick Community College

    Cost: $5 at door, plus additional amount for food tickets

    Get ready to get chilled and grilled next Wednesday night.

  •  When things happen in your life, do you react by creating a story in your head about those events?

    You may not realize it. Like most of us, though, you probably do this automatically. And everything takes off from there. Ask me how I know. 


    What’s your story?

  •  Dogs are remarkable creatures. From the tip of their cold noses to the ends of their wagging tails, canine anatomy is as beautiful and graceful as it is unique and fascinating. The mouth, teeth and skull of dogs are incredibly well adapted to meet the needs of one of nature’s most perfectly designed scavengers. The oral cavity of the dog is also the source of many myths and misunderstandings that lead to some potentially serious problems.

    Here are some of the most common, interesting and important dental questions I’m regularly asked in my practice: