If President Donald Trump's $5.7 billion border wall ever becomes a reality, a welding and fabrication firm that's setting up shop in the Charleston region might have the inside track on building it.
W International, which is renovating the former Jacobs Engineering site at the Charleston International Manufacturing Center near Goose Creek, is "just working on getting involved with building the wall," company CEO Ed Walker told The Post and Courier.
"The original design was of concrete and now it appears it could be of steel," Walker said. "If the wall is constructed of steel, we would have the ideal facility and experience to manufacture it. We are working hard to bring the project to South Carolina, but it is in its early stages."
Among the buildings W International is renovating is a 225-foot-tall cube-shaped structure — one of South Carolina's largest industrial sites — that's perfect for fabricating oversized metal parts like those needed to build a 1,000-mile barrier between Mexico and the United States.
The building fronts the Cooper River, so completed sections could be barged to their destination.
While the future of the border wall is uncertain as Trump and Congress fight over its funding, the project appears to fit W International's focus on national defense.
The company is hiring 600 welders and other staff to build large tanks, deck structures and other equipment for the Navy’s $90 billion Columbia class submarine project and the new Gerald Ford class of aircraft carriers, which have a price tag of between $10 billion and $13 billion apiece.
Cars are a common site at the Port of Charleston, with Upstate automaker BMW exporting hundreds of thousands of them each year.
But it's not often that vehicles meant to evoke the 1930s bootlegging era in the Blue Ridge Mountains make their way through the port's terminals.
The Carowinds theme park near Charlotte recently imported a "train" of several cars through the Holy City for its new roller coaster called Copperhead Strike, scheduled to make its debut this spring. The new coaster's theme features moonshiners fleeing revenuers through the Carolinas hills.
"You're a bootlegger and you're running from the cops," Steve Jackson, the park's director of construction and maintenance, told the Charlotte Business Journal.
The new coaster is the central element of Blue Ridge Junction, a seven-acre area with rides, restaurants and other attractions all themed around mountain culture.
Lisa Stryker, spokeswoman for the park, said all of the rail sections and other coaster parts arrived via the Charleston port. She said the first set of cars is still at the port going through the customs process. Two more "trains" — each with eight two-passenger cars — will arrive before the ride opens in March.
Copperhead Strike is the 14th roller coaster at the 46-year-old park off Interstate 77 in York County. The coaster was designed and manufactured by Mack Rides of Waldkirch, Germany.
Tip of the cap
The Charleston RiverDogs are getting a tip of the cap for a — cap.
The website MiLB.com cited one of the lids from the local New York Yankees affiliate on Wednesday, along with eight other top sellers, to mark National Hat Day and to spotlight the creative side of minor league baseball.
The snappy RiverDogs variant that was singled out has an interlocking “HC” on the front — for Holy City — with a gold halo wrapped around part of the "H." It’s one of four "on-field" versions that the South Atlantic League franchise sells on its website for $34.
“There's a lot to like about this one,” according to MiLB.com, which went on to explain that Charleston earned the nickname “because it used to be one of the few Southern cities known for its religious tolerance. And if you've ever been to Charleston, you're well aware of the numerous historic churches in the area.”
"A good hat is one that meets two criteria," MiLB.com business reporter Ben Hill added. "It speaks to the place in question, wherever that may be, while also having an appeal beyond that place, sort of a best-of-both-worlds scenario. And that's exactly what this lid accomplishes."
According to the report, the top seller among the team of nine was a white-and-teal version from the San Antonio Missions, a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate. Called the “Flying Chanclas,” the logo is an airborne flip-flop.
A battle erupted during the past week between two low-cost airlines trying to tap into Cleveland's air travel market of more than 9 million passengers a year.
Their destination from the Ohio city: Charleston as a summer travel getaway.
Frontier Airlines offered initial rates as low as $39 while the next day Allegiant upped the offer with fares starting at $38.
Meanwhile, a revered Ohio newspaper is reminding its readers about another battle that broke out in Charleston, one much more historically significant.
As part of its 175th anniversary, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's website shows its front page from April 15, 1861, depicting a drawing of "The Siege of Sumter" as part of its ongoing recognition of bringing news to the masses for the better part of two centuries. The drawing, published three days after Confederate forces opened fire on the federal fortress in Charleston Harbor, shows smoke billowing out of the 50-foot-tall walls, flanked by forts Moultrie and Johnson along with other battle stations.
As part of its anniversary coverage, the newspaper states:
"On April 12, 1861, just hours after the first cannon barrage at Fort Sumter, Page One of The Plain Dealer announced:
'The city of Charleston is now bristling with bayonets, and the harbor blazing with rockets and booming with big guns ... What a glorious spectacle this would be, were it to defend our common country from a common enemy. But as it is, a sectional war, people of the same blood, descendants of that race of heroic men who fought at Bunker Hill, now with guns intended for a foreign foe, turned against one another, it becomes a sad and sickening sight.'"
It turned out to be a sad and sickening sight throughout the nation but especially for the South. But since the upheaval started in Charleston, the silver lining is that the city has become a top tourist destination in America.
The two airlines — Frontier starts in May and Allegiant in June — hope to bring a few of greater Cleveland's 3.5 million residents to the place where the war that divided the nation started 158 years ago.
Besides remembering the Civil War, one other thing the two cities have in common is that both of their original names have changed over time.
Charleston was founded as Charles Town in 1670, named after King Charles II of England. After the American Revolution, it was recognized as Charleston.
Cleveland was named after General Moses Cleaveland, an investor in the Connecticut Land Co. who led the survey of the area in 1796. Because of a spelling error on the original map, the community has always been spelled with just one "a" rather than two.
Another interesting note about the cities: Both had roughly the same population in 1860 just before the war between the states erupted — about 40,000 or so. While the Cleveland-Canton-Akron metro area now touts more than 3.5 million residents, the three counties that make up the Charleston region total about 775,000.