SPA's past board meeting venue had a wild streak

Dozens of stuffed and mounted animals decorate the trophy room at Bob Royall's home at Silk Hope Plantation.

While the wildlife that roams Silk Hope Plantation has had little to fear since its environs were placed into a conservation easement in 2006, there is one spot at this Huger landmark where animals haven't fared so well - Bob Royall's trophy room.

Filled with the stuffed heads - and in some cases bodies - of dozens of animals. the trophy room is where the State Ports Authority voted last week to spend $5 million toward the protection of the Cooper River corridor in an effort to help mitigate the environmental impact of deepening Charleston Harbor.

The board met at Royall's home, where it later announced the collaboration with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust and the Coastal Conservation League, all followed by a barbecue lunch on the Berkeley County plantation's spacious grounds overlooking the east branch of the Cooper River.

Royall, a former SPA board chairman and retired top executive at NBSC, collected some of his trophies while serving as the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush. The room's inhabitants include deer, elk, antelope, a cheetah, a lion and a brown bear that Royall's son-in-law killed while on a hunting trip to Kamchatka in Russia.

All of the stuffed and mounted specimens were shot either by Royall or a family member.

"I am very much a hunting preservationist," said Royall, adding that he worked hard to create wildlife education centers and rein in practices such as ivory poaching that were prevalent in Africa while he was there.

Royall, who also served as South Carolina's commerce secretary from 1994-98 under then-Gov. David Beasley, said he caught the big-game hunting bug in midlife.

"I was about 55 years old and I said, 'You know, I've got some time and I'm going to do something with my family,'" Royall told The Post and Courier last week. "So we started making trips to Africa. It just got in my blood, so I kept going."

Royall, not to be outdone by his son-in-law, also managed to bag a bear on the Russian trip. Royall's bear was smaller, though, so he let the bigger animal take up residence in the trophy room.

"He got the bigger bear, so that's the one that's sitting there," Royall said. "It's a fun room."

The closing bell ceremony at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York will have a Charleston tie-in. The 4 p.m. tolling honors Monday will fall to officials from Carolina Financial Corp., which owns the biggest bank based in the region.

Their agenda also includes a tour of the midtown Manhattan exchange and a trial run of the actual bell ringing.

Charleston-based Carolina Financial owns CresCom Bank, which became the region's largest homegrown lender in 2013, after First Federal was bought out by a SCBT to form Columbia's South State Corp.

The company's stock began trading on the Nasdaq in July. Last month, the American Bankers Association named CARO to its Nasdaq Community Bank Index. Also in December, CresCom doubled its branch network with the acquisition of 13 offices, mostly in eastern North Carolina and around the Grand Strand.

A webcast of the Nasdaq closing bell event will be available at

Motley Rice founding partner Joe Rice has added another golf course to his bag.

The Mount Pleasant attorney recently acquired Northwoods Golf Club, a public layout in northeast Columbia, according to a report in The State newspaper. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Northwoods opened in 1990 and was designed by P.B. Dye, son of famed Ocean Course architect Pete Dye. Like many golf tracts, it has struggled financially since the last economic downturn.

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"The clubhouse and course will get a complete over- haul: cart paths, bunkers, driving range, new carts, everything," said Greg McBride, whose family owned and ran Northwoods for about 25 years.

Rice developed Bulls Bay, a private golf club off Highway 17 in Awendaw.

Generally speaking, most event organizers would try to avoid chaos, but that's not the case for those planning the TEDxCharleston event this year.

TEDx, a locally organized speaker series modeled after the TED Talks conference in California, is returning to the Lowcountry for the third year with the theme, "Embrace chaos."

Organizers announced this week the event will be held April 15 at the Charleston Music Hall on John Street. Tickets go on sale Feb. 24.

The speakers - who are typically experts in fields such as art, technology, health care or education - will lead discussions "with ideas that teach the audience how to use chaos as a construct for creativity and change," according to the organizers' statement.

The list of speakers has not yet been released.

"This year's theme will leave us all inspired to address life's challenges, both big and small, differently, more productively and with an eye to real change," TEDxCharleston curator Edith Howle said in a written statement.

Last year, the conference aimed at sharing inspirational ideas featured talks by National Geographic and Ben Navarro, owner of Sherman Fi-nancial Group and benefac- tor of Meeting Street Academy.