Showing posts from 2006
Seeing What's Important
By Tony Bartelme
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Arnold O'Neal is going blind. Right now, inside his eyes, cells are falling apart way too fast, clogging blood vessels that feed the photoreceptors, those tiny detectors on his retina that let him see the light on his wife's face. He figures he has a few years left before everything goes black. * * * When will we untie the dock lines? Arnold, 41, and Bobbi Jo, 36, couldn't seem to leave. Sure, they were committed to their plan — traveling for a year while Arnold still had some sight. They had bought a pokey 36-foot Gulfstar powerboat and named it Imagine. They had sold a car and held three yard sales to help pay for their voyage. They had become masters of eBay. But it was Arnold, the perfectionist, who kept delaying their departure. What about the hurricanes? What about the barnacles on the hull? Comfort can generate its own gravity, and Arnold and Bobbi Jo sometimes felt weighed down by reasons to stay …

The Bridge Builders

Here is the first part of a 10-chapter story about the construction of the new Cooper River bridge in Charleston, the largest cable-stayed bridge in North America. This award-winning story was adapted and released in a new book "The Bridge Builders: And Charleston's Grand New Span," which is available on
By Tony Bartelme And Jessica VanegerenSunday, March 20, 2005
They came from all over to work here, to build an iron and concrete stage in the sky, to build a grand bridge. They rolled in from Maine and Texas and Kentucky, towing campers behind their trucks. They flew in from France and Sweden and Canada with blueprints and PowerPoints and a fondness for espresso. They drove in from Moncks Corner and Santee and Goose Creek with new work gloves and steel-toed boots. They came for the money, mainly, and the challenge, and when they weren't on the job, who knows? Maybe drink a few beers, chase a few women, break a few vows. T…

Yaser Hamdi

Here is the untold story about Yaser Hamdi, the subject of a landmark Supreme Court case.

Born in Louisiana, captured in Afghanistan, jailed in Hanahan
Yaser Hamdi travels long, strange road
By TONY BARTELME Sunday, March 7, 2004
Edition: FINAL, Section: SECTION A, Page A1
Late November 2001. The war in Afghanistan is at full throttle, and 100 or so Taliban fighters huddle in freezing, pitch-dark catacombs under an old fortress near Mazar-i-Sharif.Outside, troops from the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance are doing their best to kill the Taliban holdouts. They drop grenades down air ducts and fire rockets into a passageway. The Taliban stay below, some scared they'll be shot if they surrender, others vowing to fight to the death.Over the next six days, Northern Alliance troops fire rockets and pour burning fuel into the cellars. Finally, they divert an ice-cold stream into the complex, flooding it waist-high and creating a foul stew of fuel, corpses and human waste.Dazed and starving, rou…

Francis Marion National Forest

Below is a story on the Francis Marion National Forest that helped trigger a major regional planning effort.
UNDERFIRE: The Francis Marion National Forest is a place of beauty and mystery, but outside forces threaten to overwhelm this treasure PART 1 of 4
By Tony BartelmeSunday, October 16, 2005
Edition: FINAL, Section: SECTION A, Page A1
The sky cracks and a billion volts shoot toward the Francis Marion National Forest, superheating the air along their jagged path, making the sound of thunder. The bolt strikes a pine tree in the forest, sparking a fire. Three centuries ago, when Seewee Indians roamed here in clothes made of Spanish moss, this fire could have spread and burned for months, maybe from the Cooper River to the Santee, or until a tropical storm doused it. But today, forest fires don't have this freedom, and Bill Twomey must stop this wildfire fast, even though part of him would love to see the forest burn.Twomey runs the Francis Marion's burn program for…

Cougars in South Carolina

Here is a story I did recently for The Post and Courier in Charleston, SC, raising the question: Are cougars still in South Carolina?

The elusive Carolina cougar
By Tony BartelmeSunday, January 29, 2006
Got one. A man is on the phone, and he's excited. "We have our cougar," he says, and he has proof. A photo. Come out and look. And so you speed up Interstate 26 faster than you should, and 45 minutes later you're in Bill Cook's yard near Cross, holding the picture.And there it is: A cougar slinking throughthe woods, about to pounce on a deer. Cook says he got the photo from a neighbor who got it from another neighbor who said the shot was taken behind his property. You think, maybe you're holding the first proof in a hundred years that cougars aren't extinct in South Carolina. Maybe.But the Internet is a useful tool, and later, when you plug the words "cougar deer" into Google, up pops the same darn photo on half a dozen Web sites in Wyoming, Michig…