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"It's a high-class problem to have."

Sen. Barack Obama on the large crowds showing up for events that the campaign had planned to be small, intimate conversations for the presidential candidate. Source: Time.com

The Fleecing Continues!

Much like STDs and projectile vomiting, a towed car can ruin a great night out. Well, next time your car is towed (and there's always a next time), your wallet will be a little lighter once the ordeal is over, thanks to the City of Charleston's planned hikes in towing fees.

As it stands, the nasty ordeal is $107.50 plus $6 a day storage fee. The proposed change would more than double the storage fee to $15 a day and allow a $10 charge "for expenses incurred if the towing company notifies the owner," which is a fine thing to do, but we're not sure it's worth $10.

On the good side, the changes will require businesses towing cars to display signs provided by the city that outline maximum fees and the method of payment. The current ordinance requires only that the signs be approved by the city, and that they include contact information for the tow company. Many a driver has complained that some tow companies have refused credit cards, even though it's required by the city.

Here's the other need-to-know information for drivers (or, I guess if your car's been towed we'll call you walkers or ride-bummers):

• The tow company must have an annual permit.

• The tow company has to provide a detailed towing invoice.

• The tow company must contact the police within 30 minutes with information about the tow.

• If the owner comes back while the car is in the process of being towed, they can request the car be dropped and be charged only a maximum of half of the tow rate, or $53.75. —Greg Hambrick

1.6 degrees

That's how much warmer 2006 was in S.C. than the historic average. Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)

Certified Platinum

Half Moon Outfitters got the platinum certification they were hoping for last week from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Their new, 9,600-square-foot Park Circle warehouse in North Charleston, built in an old Piggly Wiggly, became just the 25th building nationwide (and the only one in the state) to receive the certification, and the first since LEED adopted more stringent standards. Half Moon transformed the concrete structure into an attractive, model building using solar panels on the roof, rainwater collection tanks in back (for use in the facilities), extensive native vegetation, and a brightly-lit interior almost entirely of locally-harvested wood, salvaged materials, and rapidly renewable agrifiber boards. Kudos to Half Moon for successfully completing what may be the "greenest" renovation in the country. —Stratton Lawrence

6

That's the number of hurricanes expected for the season, down from the eight forecasted earlier this year, by WSI Corp. Source: Reuters

City Saves Trolley Barn From Further Decline

Having just taken over the building from the state late last year, the City of Charleston hasn't had much time to firm up plans for the old Trolley Barn on Meeting Street just north of the Interstate 26 overpass. But the building is undergoing serious salvage and stabilization in preparation for the city's decision on how to use the large, historic structure.

"The building has just been unoccupied for so long, it needed work," says city preservationist Eddie Bello.

Paid for with a lot of city money and a little help from the state Historic Preservation Office, the stabilization effort will include securing the building from weather and vagrants. Those two, along with time, have damaged the non-historic parts of the building that now threaten those historic parts that can't be replaced. For example, roofs put on years after the barn was built are now holed, leaking water on historic masonry, Bello says.

The city has held workshops on the potential uses of the building, with suggestions including a marketplace, affordable housing, a museum, a recreation center, retail space, and a transit hub.

"We want it to be reused and if you don't take care of it now, it will be much worse," Bello says. —Greg Hambrick

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