Confederate Powderworks in danger


The city of Augusta,Ga.,is being asked to either act now to repair the Confederate Powderworks chimney or turn it over to a private organization before it collapses.

“The chimney must be restored at this time, or it will fall,” Lee Herron, the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Brigadier General E. Porter Alexander Camp No. 158, told the Augusta Commission’s Finance Committee last week, according to a story in The Augusta Chronicle.

Herron estimated that it would cost $134,000 repair the 147-year-old landmark, the last remnant of a vast Civil War munitions complex along the Augusta Canal. That’s an especially tall order for the city given the tough economic times.

The total estimated cost of repair is $192,000, and the SCV camp has already raised about $58,000, Herron said.

He said he doubted making up the difference will be a priority for the city this year, given the economy, but that maybe his group could raise the funds.

“It’s hard for someone to give money to something that they do not own,” Herron said, showing he has a solid understanding of human nature.

The Confederate Powder Works, the only permanent edifice constructed by the Confederate States of America, was built in 1862 and continued in operation until April 1865.

During its lifetime, the facility produced approximately 7,000 pounds of gunpowder per day, or 2.75 million pounds total. It produced enough gunpowder to fully meet the needs of the Confederate armies and still retained a surplus of 70,000 pounds at the end of the war.

Here’s hoping that the City of Augusta will take this opportunity to let a private organization take over maintenance of this important part of the region’s history, rather than either divert money needed elsewhere to fund core services or simply letting this one-of-a-kind landmark crumble beyond repair.


Congaree Bancshares to issue corrected financials


Congaree Bancshares will have to correct financial statements issued in the company’s 2007 annual report and quarterly reports for the first three quarters of 2008, it announced Monday.

“After discussion with the SEC staff between January and March 2009 and discussion among our management, accountants and audit committee, we determined it was appropriate to correct the financial statements included in the Original Periodic Reports,” according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. “We had failed to include a valuation allowance that would offset our deferred tax assets recorded during the year ended December 31, 2007, and the three quarters ended March 31, 2008, June 30, 2008 and September 30, 2008.”

Specifically, the Cayce, SC-based parent of Congaree State Bank concluded that it should restate its financial statements to reflect that the company likely would not have realized all its net deferred tax assets within a reasonable period of time for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, and the three quarters ended March 31, 2008, June 30, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2008.

“As a result, we have determined that our financial statements included in the Original Periodic Reports should be restated to reflect a valuation allowance of $1,352,119 for our deferred tax assets that offsets the previously recorded deferred tax benefit of $982,682 for the year ended December 31, 2007,” according to the SEC filing. “The restatement will eliminate the previously recorded deferred tax benefit of $982,682 for the year ended December 31, 2007 and $211,761, $284,878 and $253,705 for the quarters ended March 31, 2008, June 30, 2008 and September 30, 2008, respectively.”

Congaree State Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, Charlie Lovering, who is also interim CEO, had a conference call with the bank’s accounting firm, Elliott Davis, on March 27 to resolve the error and concluded the previously issued financial statements could no longer be relied upon.

The past few months have been trying ones for the young bank, begun in 2006. In January, founder and chief executive Hank Ray left the bank, though no official reason was given for his departure. Earlier this month another founding board member, Dr. Victoria Samuels, stepped down. Samuels left her position with Congaree Bancshares to take a position with an out-of-state hospital, according to the SEC filing.

Congaree State Bank lost $430,533 during the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to earlier information put out by the company. 

Earlier this year, the bank received $3.3 million in federal bailout money. Shares of company stock haven’t traded since early February.

Cotton acreage projections may be bumped up


Cotton plantings this year may not decline as much as originally anticipated, thanks in part to a drought in Texas and lower prices for potential alternative crops, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Farmers may sow slightly more than 8.5 million acres of cotton this year, the Bloomberg survey indicated. That’s up sharply from the 8.1-million-acre estimate released by the National Cotton Council last month, but would still be down sharply from 2008, when nearly 9.5 million acres were planted, Bloomberg reported.

Bloomberg’s survey is in line with US Department of Agriculture projections that 8.5 million acres of cotton will be planted in the US in 2009.

Even if farmers adhere to Bloomberg’s findings, it would be the smallest amoiunt of cotton planted since 1983 and the second lowest acreage-wise since the War Between the States.

Texas, the largest producer of U.S. cotton, is experiencing a “severe drought,” the National Weather Service said on March 19. The dryness reduces the chance farmers will switch more acres to soybeans and corn, which need more water, analysts said.

While soybeans and corn still offer attractive returns, they aren’t high enough to supplant more cotton acreage, said O.A. Cleveland, a Mississippi State University professor emeritus. He projects farmers will plant 8.8 million acres with cotton and expects the USDA’s new estimate to be 8.6 million, Bloomberg reported.

While the Bloomberg story didn’t detail projections by state, the National Cotton Council’s earlier estimate reported significant declines expected for much of the Southeast for the coming year: 

  • South Carolina plans a cutback of 18 percent as growers shift primarily to soybeans.
  • Alabama reports a projected reduction of 33 percent;
  • Virginia anticipates a 23 percent decline;
  • Georgia expects cotton production to be off 17 percent;
  • North Carolina plan a cutback of 12 percent;
  • Florida was the only Southeastern state to indicate an expansion, with an increase of 3 percent expected for 2009.

Cotton is the single most important textile fiber in the world, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total world fiber production, according to the USDA. The United States, while typically ranking second to China in production, is the leading exporter, accounting for over one-third of global trade in raw cotton.