Sunflowers and Hope in Newberry County

This field of sunflowers is within spitting distance of old Hope Station, in Newberry County.

Hope Station began as a stopping point on the old Greenville and Columbia Railroad, built around 1850. The line also included stops in Peak, Pomaria, Prosperity, Newberry and Silverstreet.

It’s unclear when the station was abandoned, but not only is there no trace of the structure left, the rails have long since been removed. The town itself has ceased to exist, as well.

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FNSC hired gun: Facts be damned

In the year leading up to the collapse of First National Bank of the South there were several things you could count on: Parent company First National Bancshares was going to lose money hand over fist; First National’s stock price was going to continue its long downward spiral; and company spokesman Reed Byrum was going to spout off feel-good quotes that had little bearing on reality.

First National Bank of the South was finally seized by regulators on July 16. Its Spartanburg-based parent had lost nearly $94 million during the previous nine quarters.

But you would have been hard pressed to get an accurate reading of the bank’s situation from the comments made on behalf of the company by Byrum, an outside public relations professional who operates Byrum Innovation Group.

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Famously wasteful. Surprisingly profligate

Another brand may be in the offing for the city of Columbia, the Free Times reports.

The city needs a more positive brand and image, according to two of the eight transition committees charged by Mayor Steve Benjamin with generating ideas for Columbia’s future, the publication reported.

“The current brand — “Famously Hot, Surprisingly Cool” — is “inferior for the capital city of South Carolina” and should be replaced, wrote the Government Operations and Efficiency committee in its report to the new mayor,” according to the Free Times.

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Arctic archeologists find long-lost wreck

Archaeologists have found a ship lost in the Arctic Ocean more than 150 years ago.

The HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, has been found in shallow water along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada’s western Arctic, the Globe and Mail reported.

The ship is standing upright in very good condition, said Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada’s head of underwater archaeology, adding that it sits in about 40 feet of water.

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Beware of politicians bearing bibles

Tammy of the blog Seeding Spartanburg recently penned an intriguing post that posited the questions “What is a good Christian man?” and, just as interestingly, “Why do so many politicians feel the need to use that term as an identifying label?”

“I keep hearing that term tossed around in political circles and I remain baffled because I’m not sure I know one,” she writes. “Or at least, I should say, the ones I do know don’t feel the need to go out and declare it in the way some politicos do. I do know of a handful who walk the walk and for those few … I have great respect. They aren’t always ‘christians’ though … they just walk that walk.”

Tammy writes, correctly, that religion and spirituality are very personal, something one lives by example, not by declaration.

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Woodrow Wilson: A regular laugh riot

Looking back on American history, there don’t appear to have been many presidents who could be described as a “barrel of laughs.”

But among the most dour has to be Woodrow Wilson. Described as being humorless, immodest and self-righteous, Wilson was far better suited for one of his prior job, president of Princeton University – even if he apparently wasn’t very good at that, either – than leading the United States.

Not surprisingly, other world leaders found him difficult to stomach.

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Westbrook appointed Peoples’ CEO

Andrew Westbrook III has been named to replace longtime Peoples Bancorporation Chief Executive R. Riggie Ridgeway, the company announced Tuesday.

The move was approved by Peoples’ board of directors on July 21, and came upon the recommendation of Ridgeway, who took over as CEO of Peoples in 2004 when founder Robert Dye Sr. died.

Westbrook, who was the president and chief operating officer of the Anderson-based bank holding company, assumes the positions of both CEO and president with the move, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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‘New’ Caravaggio doesn’t pan out

The Vatican’s top art historian has nixed a report that suggested a recently discovered painting was the work of Renaissance master Caravaggio.

Antonio Paolucci, head of the Vatican Museums, wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano Monday that the work was most likely a copy of an original by a Caravaggio-influenced artist, according to The Associated Press.

L’Osservatore set the art world aflutter last week with a front-page article headlined “A New Caravaggio,” detailing the artistry behind the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence,” which had been discovered in the sacristy of a Jesuit church in Rome, the wire service reported.

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FFCH registers $12 million quarterly loss

As expected, First Financial Holdings recorded significant loan-loss provisions during the three months ended June 30 and ended up posting a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.

For the quarter, the company showed a net loss to common shareholders of $12 million, compared with a gain of $34 million during the same period in 2009. Earnings were hampered by loan-loss provisions of $36.4 million, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The per-share loss was 73 cents, up sharply from analysts’ expectations of 53 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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Antarctic trek reveals new octopus species

Researchers working in Antarctica in 2007 discovered four new species of octopus with venom that works at sub-zero temperatures, according to Reuters.

The discovery, made during a six-week expedition to Antarctica three years ago, may translate into medical uses, according to one of the researchers, Bryan Fry, of the University of Melbourne.

The study, conducted by an international team of researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Norwegian University of Technology and Science and the University of Hamburg, provides the first insight into the properties of Antarctic octopus venom, according to ScienceDaily.

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