Local fiction

Horse carriage tours go down my street every few minutes on Saturdays and Sundays. As I sit on my porch grading papers, I often learn something new.

On Sunday, May 4, I learned how misinformed some tour guides are:

The tour guide stopped the carriage just past my house and explained the process for getting your house painted in Charleston.

A homeowner picks about five colors from the 75 colors pre-approved by the "Preservation Society." Then the homeowner paints small "swatches" of them on his house to let his neighbors know he is going to paint.

The neighbors then vote on the colors, with the "Preservation Society" having final approval. The homeowner must leave the "swatches" on his house for several months because many of the homeowners are out-of-towners and they must get a chance to vote.

Jay T. Gouldon

Savage Street

Charleston

Alternative plan

In the late 1990s, before the announcement of a huge African-American Museum, the city had another plan to interpret black history in Charleston. This plan included the Aiken-Rhett House, Avery Institute, McLeod Plantation, and the Slave Mart Museum - to experience history not in a big, modern building, but to visit relevant authentic sites.

In the last 10 years, historical attractions in Charleston (and the surrounding area) have developed black history programs to tell the story of the African slave trade.

Boone Hall has converted its slave row cabins into a timeline of black history. Charleston County has recently renovated buildings at McLeod Plantation - a site that could tell not only the story of enslaved Africans, but also of the Freedman's Society after the Civil War. Numerous tourist destinations in the area are currently interpreting the African-American story.

As an alternative to a $75 million price tag and the cost of yearly maintenance on a 43,500-square-foot building, why not link the existing sites to tell a more diverse and complete story?

Destinations in other parts of the peninsula, over the bridges and outside of town would spread the economic benefit from increased visitation, and more traffic would not be added to the already congested area of Concord, Calhoun and East Bay streets.

To be honest, Charleston cannot compete with the Smithsonian's $500 million National Museum of African American History scheduled to open in two years.

What Charleston does have is an abundance of authentic sites relevant to the African-American experience. With $25 million from city and county councils and a concerted effort amongst historical sites, existing black history programs could be greatly enhanced and new educational programs developed.

Carol Ezell-Gilson

Broad Street

Charleston

Blatant waste

When it comes to dubious federal spending it is hard to beat the "Bridge to Nowhere," yet the MUSC BRAVO research project might win for squandering our tax dollars on the useless.

Omega-3 fatty acids eaten by merely 150 vets for six months provides nothing scientifically valid. It is impossible to manage the extenuating factors for suicide. And where is the science linking diet to suicide?

Most of our vets were recruited as poor teenagers with promises of an education and a brighter future. We neglected to tell them of the nightmare of war that would maim them for life.

To cope as soldiers and survivors of war, many vets have turned to alcohol and drugs and are addicted. We would expect a higher than average suicide rate in such a population.

Although we would all very much like to help vets, it is a disservice to them to spend $9.8 million on such a cockamamy project.

David Batchelder

Seagrass Lane

Isle of Palms

Who pays?

If I damaged something while driving my vehicle, I'd be on the hook to pay for repairs. I hope the same principle holds for the train that took out the Cypress Gardens Bridge. We taxpayers didn't do it, so we shouldn't be stuck with the bill.

How does this work in a train wreck?

Worth looking into.

Doc Ardrey

Oyster Bay Drive

Summerville

Friends to animals

I love my job at the red barn. I grew up with the mules and horses. They are my family. I'd like to thank the people who notice the care and health of our animals.

We work hard and hearing that it shows means a lot. I'd also like to applaud the media sources that are exposing the lies and manipulation spread by animal rights extremists.

Anne-Marie Klatt

Sterrett Street

North Charleston