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Latest News in Ladson, SC

Groundbreaking Thursday on 'state of the art' mental health facility in Ladson

LADSON, S.C. (WCIV) — Officials with Trident Medical Center are officially breaking ground on a new, standalone behavioral hospital!It will be the first the first freestanding ...

LADSON, S.C. (WCIV) — Officials with Trident Medical Center are officially breaking ground on a new, standalone behavioral hospital!

It will be the first the first freestanding behavioral hospital to open in the Lowcountry in over 30 years.

The nearly 58,790-square-foot facility in Ladson will include a single-story hospital and interior courtyard with space for recreation and therapy. The facility will have “state of the art” inpatient and outpatient services for Lowcountry residents.

The main difference this building will provide in comparison to general hospital care is more of a focus and extended resources for geriatric and adolescent care. The behavioral hospital will continue adult care as well.

The medical director for behavioral health at Trident, Jeffrey Culver, says he starts every day in the emergency room.

Currently, there are only 250 beds for mental health patients in the Lowcountry, and without a dedicated space for them — in most cases — a lot of them must go to the emergency room.

But with the construction of this new facility, Culver hopes it will help provide a safe space for real change and will get more people the help they need.

“I fully expect when this facility opens, that the dialogue both locally and nationally will continue to help chip away at that stigma. I think we're still a long way from where we need to be, where we can talk about mental health and mental illness the same way we talk about things like heart disease and cancer, but we're getting there. And I think being able to open up a brand-new facility and have people see that what we're doing is part of medicine,” Culver said.

ABC News 4's Sean Mahoney spoke with longtime mental health advocate Kelly Troyer, who works with the National Alliance of Mental Illness - Greater Charleston area.

She says the Lowcountry has come a long way in providing mental health services, but that there is still more work to be done and she hopes this will help kickstart that change.

Troyer also says the need for mental health services has drastically increased over the course of the pandemic.

The City of Charleston reported a 78.1 percent increase in the number of suicides from 2020 to 2021.

Troyer also has a personal connection to mental illness, as her son, Alex, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. She says finding resources in the Lowcountry was nearly impossible in the beginning, as she had to go out of state for care.

However, she says the construction of this new facility is a step in the right direction.

“As far as access to service, no, there's not enough in our state, especially in the rural areas. Then also, even here in the Lowcountry, we have great resources and we have people. But look at the Latino community and the African-American community, there's more [of a ] stigma around mental health conditions, so they don't reach out as much to the access that's here,” Troyer said. “So this groundbreaking of this hospital is very good news for us in our community. And we want to celebrate that.”

The hospital is expected to start out with 60 inpatient beds with the ability to expand and also will provide outpatient resources.

Construction started on the $30.4 million facility started in December, but officials with Trident waited until Thursday to hold the ceremony because of the weather.

Work is expected to wrap up in spring of 2023.

The groundbreaking ceremony and celebration is taking place at 11 a.m., at the construction site, which is about two miles from Trident Medical Center and right off highway 17 in Ladson, at 3445 Ingleside Boulevard.

This SC pup beat all odds for survival. Now he’s in the running for national hero dog award

Fire danced on the shed walls, sheltering Jake, his siblings and his mother. His mother and siblings escaped unharmed, but a piece of the inflamed ceiling fell on the 3-week-old puppy.Seven years later, Jake the pit bull from Ladson, S.C., is one of the semifinalists for the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards out of 400 candidates from across the country.“When we got him out of the shed, he wasn’t breathing, wasn’t moving. I started doing mouth-to-snout until we got our pet oxygen mask,” said William L...

Fire danced on the shed walls, sheltering Jake, his siblings and his mother. His mother and siblings escaped unharmed, but a piece of the inflamed ceiling fell on the 3-week-old puppy.

Seven years later, Jake the pit bull from Ladson, S.C., is one of the semifinalists for the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards out of 400 candidates from across the country.

“When we got him out of the shed, he wasn’t breathing, wasn’t moving. I started doing mouth-to-snout until we got our pet oxygen mask,” said William Lindler, Jake’s handler and one of the firefighters on the scene of that shed fire in 2015.

Jake was rushed to a local emergency vet’s office by a firetruck in Ladson. Jake began breathing on his own on the trip, but burns marred 75% of his tiny body.

His recovery took about three or four months, and on top of that, the young pit bull’s family abandoned him at the veterinarian’s office.

The office manager of the veterinarian clinic told Lindler that the family had been given options to proceed with Jake’s treatment and were left in the waiting room to fill out some forms.

“About five minutes later, they looked into the waiting room and they were gone,” Lindler said. “And they had just left the clipboard blank with the paperwork on it in the chair in the waiting room.”

After finding out what happened, Lindler automatically decided to adopt the puppy.

Jake followed Lindler to the fire station each day and was eventually sworn in as an Honorary Firefighter and the official mascot. The dog usually went with the team for truck rides and visited schools for fire prevention weeks with his dad.

When Jake wasn’t allowed to ride with the team to calls, things got a little messy. The first year Lindler had him, his wife bought Jake a TempurPedic dog bed for the station. Lindler and his team went out on a call and left Jake at the station because Lindler thought it was too late at night to take the dog along.

When Lindler got back, Jake was found standing on top of the kitchen table, staring at the firefighters with stuffing littered around him.

“It looked like it had snowed in the kitchen because he had totally destroyed that bed,” Lindler laughed. “He was accustomed to going with us on the trucks, but it was about 9 o’clock at night so I just decided to leave him at the station. Well, obviously, he did not like that very much.”

Jake was the star of Ladson’s City Hall and the schools during his three years as an ambassador. Although he had been burned badly, he was always happy to promote the positives and help out with demonstrations.

“The (students) absolutely loved him. I guess they thought it was the neatest thing that there was a puppy that wore a firefighter coat just like us and had a little helmet,” Lindler said.

Jake still carries fame today on social media, which led the American Humane Society to reach out to Lindler about entering Jake into the hero dog contest. His Instagram, “jakethefirepibble,” has more than 23,000 followers as of June 7.

“A couple of his canine buddies have competed in it in years past, and I always thought it was cool when they were doing it, but I never thought about, ‘Could I enter Jake? Should I enter Jake?” Lindler said.

Lindler said he hopes Jake’s story has a positive impact on everyone who’s heard it or has met Jake.

“Everyone has some form of scars, but you shouldn’t let those scars define you,” Lindler said. “(Jake’s injuries) do not slow him down one bit.”

Voting is open to choose the seven finalists in the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards and will close July 22 at 3 p.m.

If you’d like to vote for Jake in the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards and see the other nominees, visit www.herodogawards.org.

Staffing woes could be over for Charleston County’s 911 Call Center

LADSON, S.C. (WCBD)- Over 100 people are going through the process to become 911 telecommunicators in Charleston County after a month-long hiring event took place because of a staffing shortage.“We’ve had a lot of questions from the 911 floor about how open interviews have been going so I’m excited to get these numbers to them as well. Hopefully we can keep all these people and have them be able to fill staff on the floor and help our community and staff as well,” said Kaitlin Jordan, the Public Education Speci...

LADSON, S.C. (WCBD)- Over 100 people are going through the process to become 911 telecommunicators in Charleston County after a month-long hiring event took place because of a staffing shortage.

“We’ve had a lot of questions from the 911 floor about how open interviews have been going so I’m excited to get these numbers to them as well. Hopefully we can keep all these people and have them be able to fill staff on the floor and help our community and staff as well,” said Kaitlin Jordan, the Public Education Specialist at the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Call Center.

The 47 vacancies in the center that have contributed to short staffing are still open because none of the new hires have completed training, but that will change in the next couple months.

One of the new hires is Jess Gongaware, who is new to Charleston.

“It’s more about the passion and the purpose for me working in support of our first responders on the road and being able to help serve and give back to our community,” said Gongaware.

Once applicants like Gongaware receive their offers they undergo training to learn about geography and CPR certification.

Despite new employees still being in the pipeline, Jordan is optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We definitely have enough people and enough applicants to fill those positions. We just have to get them into the training class,” said Jordan. “We’re moving through the application process way faster than we normally are which is great because we had groups of people coming in to do multiple things at once.”

Charleston County saw a total of 142 applications received last month which is over a 260% increase from last year. 105 of those applications are moving along.

A calling to help law enforcement, emergency medical works and firefighters is what compelled Gongaware to apply.

“Training can be a lot. It’s overwhelming at first. I’m not from here either so as far as geography goes it’s been a little bit tough. I’m excited to be here and happy to see where it goes from here,” said Gongaware.

Telecommunicator Qualifications and Job Details

No prior experience needed. High school diploma or equivalent required.

Training occurs within the department. The training program was recently re-accredited by Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials. (APCO)

Open 8 hour shifts: 5:45am – 2:00pm, 1:45pm – 10:00pm and 9:45pm – 6:00am

Shifts for new employees are issued based on staffing needs.

Applications are still open and you can visit WorkFor911.com to apply.

Lowcountry Rapid Transit project cost now $625M; feds approve crucial next step

The planned high-speed bus system from Charleston to Ladson known as Lowcountry Rapid Transit has received federal approval to move into the engineering phase, a crucial next step.Meanwhile, the cost estimate for the project has climbed from $360 million just two years ago to $625 million.“I think we’ve all seen prices rise across the board in this inflationary environment,” said Daniel Brock, spokesman for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments. “As the project progressed, things chan...

The planned high-speed bus system from Charleston to Ladson known as Lowcountry Rapid Transit has received federal approval to move into the engineering phase, a crucial next step.

Meanwhile, the cost estimate for the project has climbed from $360 million just two years ago to $625 million.

“I think we’ve all seen prices rise across the board in this inflationary environment,” said Daniel Brock, spokesman for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments. “As the project progressed, things changed.”

He said the $625 million estimate includes inflation projected out to 2030 and $145 million for contingencies, and BCD-COG doesn’t think the project will end up costing that much.

The new Federal Transit Administration approval means the council and partners can work on hiring an engineering design company, and have federal authority to pay for engineering work and buy vehicles. The new cost estimate was part of the plan and studies the FTA approved, Brock said.

The transit plan is aimed at relieving commuter traffic on Interstate 26 and is expected to spur development along Rivers Avenue in North Charleston where bus-only lanes would be created.

The more than 21-mile rapid bus system would add needed transit options, particularly in North Charleston, where more than 8 percent of households don’t have a vehicle.

The federal government, it is hoped, would eventually contribute the maximum allowable 60 percent of the project cost, or $375,060,506. The local funding would come from Charleston County’s half-cent sales tax.

“This is the state’s first mass transit infrastructure project, and it is now one important step closer to reality,” Mike Seekings, chairman of the Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority, said in a statement from BCDCOG.

Bus rapid transit systems exist in several other states and are seen as a way to get many of the benefits of a commuter train line without the cost. A BRT line typically involves bus-only lanes, passenger platforms somewhat similar to train stations, and higher speeds and fewer stops than typical city buses.

“The innovative Lowcountry Bus Rapid Transit project has the potential to improve the quality of life and reduce congestion for Charleston and North Charleston,” S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christie Hall said in BCDCOG’s announcement.

The process of creating the system has not been rapid and there are still years to go. Studies of transit alternatives to I-26 date back to the mid-2000s when passenger rail was thought to be an option.

Following a two-year engineering phase, and assuming federal approval of full funding, the Lowcountry Rapid Transit system could move to construction and open in 2028, according to BCDCOG.

The engineering phase would complete the final design of the transit system.

Closing of area’s last roller rink sends skaters into spins

It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.As word spread th...

It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.

Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.

As word spread the rink would close permanently, skaters unabashedly filmed one another to document their joy and camaraderie as they zoomed around in circles grooving to the beat.

The closing of Music in Motion is a major cultural loss for the area, many say, especially since the only other rinks in the area, Hot Wheels Skate Center and Stardust Skate Center, closed in 2014.

Summerville native Demont Teneil said he has skated at Music in Motion for 14 years. For him, roller skating is therapy to help navigate career and relationships changes.

“I needed something that no one could take from me — and it was skating,” Teneil said. “It’s been my outlet. I just kept going and just kept trying new tricks and it rolled me out of depression.”

Teneil said he heard from his fellow skaters that Music in Motion, which opened in 2001, would not be a roller rink much longer.

“I’m sad that it’s been sold but it will definitely still always be a part of me, because I’ve learned so many of my tricks at the skating rink,” Teneil said. He plans to start traveling to Savannah, Ga., and Columbia to rink skate, and will hit the outdoor skate areas, such The Bridge Spot off of Poinsett Street in downtown Charleston.

The dynamic of teaching and learning is a big part of the roller skating experience at Music in Motion, others said.

“Everybody’s really nice and supportive,” said Nick Velez, who’s been skating regularly at Music in Motion since February. He has roller skated for about 16 years and used to be an instructor in Southern California before he moved to Goose Creek.

“Everybody’s really cool and down to help out,” he said. “If you’re struggling, don’t fear. They’ll help you up. If you have any questions, if you want to learn something, they’re more than happy to show you how to do it. If you’re trying to pop off and be yourself, they’re all about it.”

Shmeika Hall from Goose Creek said she worked at Music in Motion for almost a year before she left her position as a rink floor guard last June.

“Working here was important to me because I was able to teach people how to skate,” she said. “I was able to interact and make skating friends. When I first started skating here, maybe five years ago, it was a very small crowd of adults, but over time it has grown. [The rink] was like a safe place for adults to come and have fun, and I don’t know how we’re going to do that now.”

A few months ago, Auburn Fiore, who lives in Knightsville, visited Music in Motion for the first time in 10 years. As a child, she said she visited frequently.

“When I came here for adult skate night, I realized how joyous and amazing the community is here,” Fiore said. “While we’re here, we’re all one big community that loves to come together, dance and have a great time. I’m definitely scared of losing a place for us all to gather and bond over roller skating.”

Roller skating is just as much about congregating as a group as it is the privilege to have a space to skate, she said. Outdoor roller skating isn’t an ideal option for beginner skaters, she added, because of uneven concrete, blistering heat and rules that prohibit skating at sports courts around the area.

“It’s definitely devastating,” Fiore said. “Now all the people that have bonded over this super-interesting talent and hobby, there’s nowhere for us to congregate.”

While the future of roller skating in the area is unclear, one option exists for women skaters: Lowcountry Highrollers Derby, a local women’s roller derby team. It’s offering a meet-and-greet Thursday.

Highrollers president Traci Doutaz of Ladson remembers going to Music in Motion often between 2015 and 2017 after Hot Wheels Skate Center closed.

“For beginners, it’s super important to have a roller rink to learn not only because the floor is amazing, but [it] also has skates to borrow,” she said. “Roller skating is not the easiest hobby to just pick up and not having a local roller rink and its community just takes that option away for a lot of people.”

Doutaz joined Highrollers in 2010, and she said it was popular up until about 2015 when the group lost its bouting venue at The Citadel. Then Covid-19 hit and roller skating blew up, Doutaz said, so there was renewed interest in Highrollers. After more than a year of searching, North Charleston Coliseum offered the group a space to practice and hold bouts currently. The closest roller derby club for men is in Columbia, she said.

Doutaz has been roller skating for almost 30 years. She worked her first job as a carhop on skates at a Sonic in Kentucky.

“Emotionally it’s my escape,” she said. “It’s how I deal with things. It’s my happy place. I’m more comfortable with wheels on my feet than anything else.”

The Highrollers group offers a haven for women skaters who need to be shown the ropes.

“We will teach you everything: how to skate and how to fall,” Doutaz said. “You can show up even if you have never put skates on before.”

Lowcountry Highrollers Derby is hosting a meet-and-greet 6-9 p.m. Aug. 25 at Rusty Bull in North Charleston.

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