Southcoast Financial COO resigns

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Paul D. Hollen, director and chief operating officer for Southcoast Financial Corp., has resigned, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.

Mt. Pleasant, SC-based Southcoast earned $217,000 last year, down from $3.4 million in 2007 and $4.8 million in 2006.  For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company lost $409,000.

Hollen, a director and chief operating officer of both the holding company and Southcoast Community Bank since 1998, was earning $214,160, according to the company’s most recent proxy filing.

According to the April 17 SEC filing, Southcoast will “provide  payments and benefits to Mr. Hollen of approximately  $309,000,” while Hollen will “refrain from certain competitive activities through 2009.”

Southcoast shares have lost approximately two-thirds of their value over the past year, falling to $5.10 Friday.

Failed stock not worth paper printed on

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On the Yahoo! Finance message board of Cape Fear Bank Corp., parent of recently failed Cape Fear Bank, the question is asked about what happens to the company’s stock after the bank was seized by federal regulators and, essentially, taken over by another institution.

Quite simply, it’s worthless. According to an April 14 Securities and Exchange Commission filing: “As a result of the closure and pursuant to the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, the Registrant has lost all rights with respect to the issued and outstanding shares of the Bank’s common stock and such shares now have no value.”

According to Cape Fear’s 2008 proxy filing, there were more than 3.8 million shares of common stock outstanding. Late last year, the company amended its articles of incorporation, creating “a new class of our authorized capital stock consisting of 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock.”

Unfortunately for shareholders, that Cape Fear Bank stock now has about the same value as Zimbabwean dollars.

USC archeologist to explore 1865 wreckage

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A University of South Carolina archaeologist says he plans to explore the wreckage of a War Between the States-era ship submerged in the Charleston Harbor.

James Spirek, the deputy state underwater archaeologist, will led a team in search for the remains of the USS Patapsco, a Union ironclad that was torpedoed and sank in 1865, according to an Associated Press report.

Spirek says he wants to record the artifacts, but there will be no attempt to raise them.

In March, Spirek searched for torpedoes used by Confederates to block the entrance to waterways feeding the harbor, according to The Associated Press.

The search is part of Spirek’s efforts to create the first comprehensive historical map of the Charleston harbor bottom. The University of South Carolina archaeologist hopes to record everything from fortifications to sunken ships.

There are dozens of wrecks in the harbor and the waters near Charleston, including the Monitor-class ironclad Weehawken, the Passaic-class ironclad Patapsco and blockade runners with names such as the Raccoon and the Georgiana, according to The Charleston Post and Courier.

A forgotten memorial to a forgotten war

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In recent years, the US has paid great attention to its declining numbers of World War II veterans, and rightly so. But those who served in the First World War, however, have gone largely unnoticed.

Today, just a single American veteran of The Great War remains, Frank Buckles, a 108-year-old Army veteran who lives in West Virginia. He is one of fewer than a dozen World War I veterans alive in the world, more than 90 years after the end of the war to end all wars.

Nearly 117,000 American servicemen and women died in World War I, out of more than 4.7 million who served.

Sadly, there are relatively few national monuments in the US to honor those who served during the 1914-18 conflict. That caught the attention of Pamela Wills, a public affairs specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs. She writes in The Torrance Daily Breeze:

“Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., on a work assignment for my agency and, when I had time after work, I went to see some of the museums and monuments.

“I wanted to see the National World War II Memorial and, because one of my first assignments for the VA involved World War I veterans, I wanted to see any national monument to World War I.

“Only a few steps from the magnificent World War II memorial, I saw the District of Columbia World War I Memorial, partially hidden by a grove of trees. I only found it because I actually looked for it.

“I learned then that there is no national memorial to World War I anywhere in Washington.”

The DC monument honors the 499 individuals from the District of Columbia who died during the war. It was completed in 1931 and dedicated by President Herbert Hoover.

In 2003 and 2006, the memorial was named as one of the most endangered places in Washington, DC, by the District Preservation League, a nonprofit organization that promotes historic preservation in the capital, according to Wills.

Help may be on the way, however.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, recently introduced the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act to renovate the D.C. Memorial and rededicate it as a national shrine in 2018, when America observes the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.