Estate Planning Attorney inGramling, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Gramling, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Gramling that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Gramling. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Gramling, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Gramling, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Gramling, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Gramling, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Gramling, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Gramling, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Gramling, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Gramling, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Gramling, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Gramling, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Gramling, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Gramling, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Gramling, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Gramling, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Gramling, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Gramling, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Gramling, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

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Latest News in Gramling, SC

Olde Colony Bakery’s new chapter

For Sheila and Peter Rix, the longtime owners of Mount Pleasant’s Olde Colony Bakery, a career spanning 31 years has recently come to a close. After decades at the Olde Colony helm, the couple announced their retirement in October. Local business partners — and self-proclaimed devotees of the bakery — Ben Gramling and Mikell Harper took over ownership of the Lowcountry institution.The venture represents an independent project, the new owners said, and it’s not their first foray into the food and beverage space....

For Sheila and Peter Rix, the longtime owners of Mount Pleasant’s Olde Colony Bakery, a career spanning 31 years has recently come to a close. After decades at the Olde Colony helm, the couple announced their retirement in October. Local business partners — and self-proclaimed devotees of the bakery — Ben Gramling and Mikell Harper took over ownership of the Lowcountry institution.

The venture represents an independent project, the new owners said, and it’s not their first foray into the food and beverage space. Also owners of Water’s Edge restaurant on Shem Creek, Gramling and Harper view the acquisition as another meaningful investment, and a rare chance to sustain a local legacy.

The Rix family visionAt the bakery, business was always a family affair. “I was 11 when we took over,” said Phil Rix, son of the former owners. “It was slightly by accident, and slightly my dad’s good business sense.”

At the urging of a family member in 1990, Peter traveled from Pittsburgh to Charleston to explore possible business opportunities. He first encountered the Olde Colony Bakery’s benne wafer — a crisp, sesame-studded staple of the Lowcountry. While savory iterations are also common, the bakery claimed the oldest known recipe for the sweet wafer, dating back more than 100 years. To Peter’s delight, the bakery was for sale.

“He bought the bakery for the benne wafers, essentially,” Phil said. At the time, his father already boasted a robust food and beverage background, formerly heading up the dining programs at Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh. By 1990, Olde Colony, which had changed hands several times since its opening in the late 1940s (the Rix family is unsure of the exact date), was struggling.

“Our vision was to change it from a traditional mom-and-pop shop to more of a factory operation,” Phil said. Meanwhile, Charleston was growing rapidly with transplants and travelers flooding in by the year.

“As the city got more popular, so did the benne wafer,” Phil added. “Consequently, so did we.”

Olde Colony linked to benne wafersIt wasn’t long before the reinvigorated Olde Colony became synonymous with the product. The thin, coin-like wafers, packaged with the bakery’s signature gold label, could be found across the region and beyond, including on grocery store shelves, such as Harris Teeter and Publix.

The Rix family had all hands on deck in the bakery’s former downtown Charleston location.“I’ve done everything from scrubbing dishes, replacing toilets and mopping floors to developing recipes,” Phil said. “That’s how it goes in a family business — at the end of the day, it’s all up to you.

“My dad is a fantastic cook, so I learned a lot from him, as well as the professional folks who were in the kitchen when we bought the bakery,” Phil said. “Sometimes it was like having 20 parents. Eartha Keith, who decorated our cakes, must have worked at the bakery for 40 years. She was like my mom when my mom was busy in the store.”

Through it all, the bakery’s simple benne wafer recipe has remained unchanged.

Looking for new ownersFor the Rix family, preserving the wafer’s integrity — and the bakery’s enduring spirit — has always been paramount. The value held true when, earlier this year, the family decided it was time to sell the beloved business.

Despite interest in expanding to North Carolina and Georgia, the family was adamant that the business remain headquartered in the Lowcountry.

“It seemed silly for a Charleston cookie to be made anywhere else,” Phil said. Earlier this year, an offer arrived from Gramling and Harper, partners in Gramling Brothers Real Estate and Development, a multigenerational Charleston firm.

Drawn to the bakery’s success, the duo had a personal angle, too. Avid patrons Harper and his wife had family members who had visited the bakery during its early days at its former King Street location (it’s now located off of Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant).

“When our family bought it, the goal was to get it back to its glory days,” Phil said. “We took that seriously, and so do they. They want to keep the tradition alive.”

The sale, which closed in August, seemed a perfect fit, Harper said. “We’ve been customers for a long time — we’ve personally consumed a lot of their profits,” he laughed.

Intent on continuing the Olde Colony legacy, the new owners said they plan to stay the course, while continuing to thoughtfully grow the brand’s national presence.

“The bakery is very closely associated with Charleston, and folks around here know it well. We don’t intend to change much,” Harper said. “Our goal would be to carefully grow and expand, but we plan to keep the team in place, and be very deliberate in what we’re doing.”

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Mascot Homes operations grind to halt

What happened to Mascot Homes Inc.? That is the question baffling clients of the Gramling-based modular homebuilder these days.Mascot, a company once touted as a national leader in high-end manufactured homebuilding, with 270 employees at its 200,000-square-foot production facility and home office off Highway 176, has all but vanished from the rolling foothills landscape."They disappeared like a thief in the night," said Rickie Gardner, a Gramling resident. "It was like one day they were here thriv...

What happened to Mascot Homes Inc.? That is the question baffling clients of the Gramling-based modular homebuilder these days.

Mascot, a company once touted as a national leader in high-end manufactured homebuilding, with 270 employees at its 200,000-square-foot production facility and home office off Highway 176, has all but vanished from the rolling foothills landscape.

"They disappeared like a thief in the night," said Rickie Gardner, a Gramling resident. "It was like one day they were here thriving, and the next day they were gone. Their parking lot used to be full of cars, and now it's empty."

A spokesman at the company's headquarters could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but manufacturing operations have ceased.

Only a handful of office personnel and a small team of service employees are still working out of the plant.

"Right now, they're going through some changes," said Joe Douglas of Mascot Homes' sales center on Asheville Highway in Spartanburg.

Mascot was founded in 1965 by local businessman Ed Mitchell.

At its peak in the late 1990s, the plant produced about 12 multi-family homes per week.

Jerry Dotson, owner of Alternative Housing Solutions in Fletcher, N.C., said he has bought homes from Mascot since his business opened in 2000.

In December, he heard the company was scaling back its work force and grinding production to a halt, so he decided to end his relationship with Mascot.

"Unfortunately, we saw this coming and got set up to do business with another company," Dotson said. "It's upsetting to us. We know some good people that were hurt by this."

Dotson said he has lost thousands of dollars, as several of the homes he purchased were on order. He stands to lose more money if Mascot goes out of business completely.

"All of their homes have a one-year warranty," Dotson said. "If something goes wrong, we'll have to pay for the repairs. They told me they were going to continue to do that though."

Diane Taylor, a spokeswoman for Palm Harbor Village of Marble, N.C., said her company also was hurt by Mascot's decline.

"We've done business with them for over 11 years, and they have been excellent," Taylor said. "We absolutely hate to see them go because Mascot models were some of our top sellers. Several of our customers, who already had their homes on the market, are very upset."

Terry Landingham, owner of Landingham Mobile Homes in Winston-Salem, N.C., who is also a Mascot dealer, said he did not know why the company made the decision to cease production, but suspected it was because of decreased sales in the modular homes industry.

"I'm sure they've been going through a lot of the same problems that we have been going through," Landingham said. "The industry is going through a rough time. People aren't seeking out manufactured homes as a viable option."

In the past, manufactured homes, which are assembled on a production line and shipped to home sites, have filled a need for affordable housing.

The average price per square foot for a manufactured home is between $26 and $31, while the average price per square foot for a site-built home is close to $63, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute.

Spartanburg painter’s bold style praised in Charleston art circles

Susannah Gramling likes to view Charleston best from its highest peaks.It’s here, from the quiet solitary tops of church steeples, where she can look down upon the city. The painter draws her inspiration from the intricate and varied rooftops. The rich hues, dramatic dips and asymmetrical designs never cease to inspire her. The city is simply her muse.“I love to photograph (and then paint) the city’s rooftops,” she said. “These rooftops run the full gamut.”From rooftop s...

Susannah Gramling likes to view Charleston best from its highest peaks.

It’s here, from the quiet solitary tops of church steeples, where she can look down upon the city. The painter draws her inspiration from the intricate and varied rooftops. The rich hues, dramatic dips and asymmetrical designs never cease to inspire her. The city is simply her muse.

“I love to photograph (and then paint) the city’s rooftops,” she said. “These rooftops run the full gamut.”

From rooftop scapes to figurative pieces and portraits, Gramling’s oil paintings have attracted quite a following. Her style is impressionist, and she is known for incorporating rich colors and bold strokes.

“I have a fairly bold palette,” she said. “It’s a lot of jewel tones, thick paint … always in oils.”

Though she has lived in Charleston most of her adult life, Gramling’s roots are firmly planted in Spartanburg County, in the tiny town of Gramling. Her family still lives in Gramling, and she frequently returns with husband Matthew Hubbell and their two young children to visit her parents, John and Ellen Gramling, as well as extended family.

As far back as she can remember, art was part of her life. As a child, she took lessons in Inman from Pamela Brown. She enjoyed the classes but didn’t realize how deeply she was drawn to art until it was time to apply to colleges.

“She was the best teacher; I was just too involved with other things in high school to really concentrate on art,” said the Chapman High graduate. “On some level, I guess I knew that I wanted to do something in art. I only looked at colleges with strong art programs.”

Gramling chose Converse College, where she thrived and grew as an artist. She credits the school with helping to develop her unique style of underpaint. She first covers her canvas in a rough clay or rust color. In the finished work, little hints and pieces of the color pop through. It helps to give her painting distinct depth and makes the images that much deeper.

“I can’t even tell you how I do this; it’s something you don’t think about … it’s like putting on your makeup; it’s just something you do,” Gramling said.

After graduating from Converse in 1992, Gramling found her way to Charleston, where she worked as an interior design assistant. Soon the pull to be a professional artist took over.

The city’s annual Piccolo Spoleto outdoor arts festival would be was her first big test. Gramling, who signs works under her maiden name (and incorporates her married name Hubbell as her middle initial), painted a body of work and joined other artists at the world-renowned event.

“It gave me so much confidence,” she said. “Just being out there in the park, under the tent with the other artists and being able to talk to people and see their reaction to my work. I got to see how they responded to it, which was so important to me.”

A few years later, at the 2000 Piccolo Spoleto, Gramling received one of Charleston’s top art awards — Best in Show, The Mayor’s Purchase Award. At the time she was nine months pregnant with her first child.

“I literally had to waddle up and receive my award,” she said. “I had my baby two days later.”

For many years Gramling showed her work in Charleston’s Unity Gallery and has had shows in New York City. She’s also continued her studies in Italy, first in Cortana with the University of Georgia, and later under Master Painter Ray Gary in Umbria. Most recently, she studied in Idaho under Ovanes Berberian, a Russian impressionist.

Gramling has found Charleston, however, with its vibrant arts scene most nurturing. She has witnessed the art scene there grow each year. The city has become a destination spot for people buying art, much like Santa Fe.

“There are lots of great artists in Charleston,” Gramling said. “That is good for everyone.”

Her studio on Broad Street in downtown Charleston is a former Confederate hospital built in the 1700s. The building is a classic Charleston structure complete with a charming courtyard. Here she paints and nothing else. The cell phone is turned off, she doesn’t bring her children and she can concentrate 100 percent on her work.

“It’s a beautiful old home, with a real shabby chic style,” she said. “It’s full of light and has lots of off spaces. There are writers and sculptors and painters all tucked in there. It’s just a wonderful Charleston setting.”

And the perfect place for Gramling to use her canvas to reflect on the city.

One Last Look UPSTATE AGRICULTURE Peaches no longer the apple of county's eye

The Upstate's most fruitful period in agricultural history appears to be withering as the new century approaches.The peach was king in Spartanburg in the early 1900s, one of the most productive times in the Upstate's agricultural history. But the crop's impact on the area has changed drastically. "Peaches don't have the same impact as they used to," said Clemson Extension Service agent Edmund Taylor, who works with peach growers in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Greenville counties. In the early 1900s, the area's a...

The Upstate's most fruitful period in agricultural history appears to be withering as the new century approaches.

The peach was king in Spartanburg in the early 1900s, one of the most productive times in the Upstate's agricultural history. But the crop's impact on the area has changed drastically. "Peaches don't have the same impact as they used to," said Clemson Extension Service agent Edmund Taylor, who works with peach growers in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Greenville counties. In the early 1900s, the area's agricultural market was composed of a variety of crops such as cotton, peaches, eggs and soybeans. It also included milk production. The peach, however, was the major crop in South Carolina's economy. Although peach trees were planted in the area at least 150 years ago, an early Clemson University publication credited J. Verne Smith with planting "the first commercial peach orchard of any importance to the Piedmont section of South Carolina" in 1901. Smith's original orchards on Mount Vernon Farm were located east of downtown Greer, according to the book, "Family Trees: The Peach Culture of the Piedmont." About 70 acres of peaches were planted on the original 100-acre farm. Another family whose peach farming is deeply rooted in Spartanburg County is the Gramlings. Although the late Ben Gramling started out with cotton and corn crops and a dairy business, it was his peach crops that are most remembered. Gramling planted his first commercial orchard on 10 acres in the Gramling community about 1918, according to his grandson, Ben Gramling II. He planted his first peach trees after a friend from Georgia convinced him that his land would be perfect for the fruit. Three years later, Gramling harvested his first crop from the trees. Since the trees were still growing, the crop was small. So he and his friends combined their harvests, pulling together just enough to send out the first carload grown in the Gramling area. It wasn't long before the trees matured, giving the small farming company a big boost in fruit production. "It grew from that to be a major industry in agriculture in the Upstate, particularly Spartanburg County," Gramling said. At one time, the Gramling estate included 1,000 acres in the Gramling community and a 1,000-acre plantation in southern Spartanburg County, where the family conducted its general farm operations. The company blossomed as decades passed, and the late Ben Gramling's son, Henry Gramling, started his own peach farming business separate from his siblings. At one time, Henry Gramling's business grew up to 25 varieties, including elberta, mayflower, redbird and golden jubilee. In addition to growing peaches, Henry Gramling also installed farm equipment inside packing houses throughout Spartanburg County. "At one time, I would say in the late '40s, my daddy put in equipment for 30 small packing houses," Ben Gramling II said. Henry Gramling also packed fruit for 20 other growers. He said the family eventually had to hire additional migrant farmers to help harvest the crop because there were not enough local people to work the orchards. Today, the family business, Gramling Brothers Inc., has evolved into real estate, real estate development, contracting, land surveying and fertilizing. A large portion of the business, however, still is devoted to agriculture. In addition to growing peaches commercially, the family grows strawberries and two varieties of apples and raises beef cattle. The family had such an impact on Spartanburg County that the small community was named after them. Gramling said he thinks the reason his family clings to its roots in agriculture is because "we grew up in it, and it's just part of us." Today about 3,000 acres in Spartanburg County are devoted to peaches, Taylor said, down from about 13,000 in 1981, which is when Taylor began work with the Extension Service. Taylor cites several factors, most importantly weather patterns and the loss of acreage, for the decline of peaches. He said many area peach farmers left the business in the 1980s because of terrible growing seasons. In 1982, 1983 and 1985, freezing temperatures almost wiped out the peach crop. In 1984, peach farmers faced a national surplus of peaches. "Those four bad years had a tremendous negative impact on the industry," Taylor said. The number of commercial peach growers in South Carolina dropped from 1,410 in 1950 to 899 in 1962 and to 367 in 1972. The latest statistics from the S.C. Agricultural Statistics Service show that in 1996 the state had 153 growers. Currently, about 40 commercial peach growers remain in Spartanburg County. Peaches aren't the only crop to take a hit. Soybean farming has been more than cut in half since 1988. In 1988, 3,000 acres in Spartanburg County were used for soybean farming. This year, it's down to 1,200 acres. Beef cattle production also has been important to the area's history. Beef cattle production has fluctuated in the area, said Extension Service agent Joe Guthrie. "It kind of goes in cycles," he said. "We actually now have quite a few more beef cattle than we had in the mid-1980s." Guthrie said Spartanburg County has a handful of large beef cattle producers, but most of them aren't full-time operations as many of the farmers also have other jobs. Nearly 200 beef cattle owners are in the area, he said. Most of those cattle were obtained or traded at the market in Chesnee. Guthrie said he fears that at some point cattle farmers will be faced with whether to sell their land for development. Farms in general also are on the decline across the country. For example, in 1900, 13.9 million acres of farmland existed in South Carolina, according to the federal census that year. In 1906, Spartanburg County farmlands had the largest assessed land valuation of any county in the state. Census figures from 1910 show that 2,657 of the farms were owned, while 5,076 were rented by tenant farms. The sizes of the farms ranged from less than three acres to more than 1,000 acres. As the decades rolled by, the county lost thousands of acres of farmland as farmers downsized or got out of the business. By 1984, the county had 1,350 farms with an average size of 106 acres. In 1997, that number had decreased to 1,080 farms with an average size of 111 acres. Taylor said he thinks right now the county has stable farmers who have no plans to sell their land. But if weather patterns continue to devastate farms, the county may see more acres once filled with fruit turned into spaces for homes or other development.

District 1 announces Teachers of the Year

District 1 Schools recently announced its 2012-13 Teachers of the Year for each school and the Teacher of the Year.Teacher of the Year for District One Schools and Chapman High School Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Erin Gramling, English/ language arts. Gramling is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Upstate, has a master's degree in education and has been teaching for seven years, all at Chapman High.Gramling teaches ninth and 10th grades and serves as cheerleading coach for the Chapman Competitive Cheer...

District 1 Schools recently announced its 2012-13 Teachers of the Year for each school and the Teacher of the Year.

Teacher of the Year for District One Schools and Chapman High School Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Erin Gramling, English/ language arts. Gramling is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Upstate, has a master's degree in education and has been teaching for seven years, all at Chapman High.

Gramling teaches ninth and 10th grades and serves as cheerleading coach for the Chapman Competitive Cheer Squad. She is married to Trey Gramling.

Mrs. Gramling says, “With support, a student can be successful. I want to teach because I have an opportunity to give, selflessly, every day. Teaching is rewarding because my heart almost bursts with happiness when I am able to help children believe in themselves. Since I am only one person, the reality that I am expected to be the teacher, parent, mentor and counselor for each child is overwhelming. Since I rely on prayer to guide me through life, I am able to achieve a sense of peace as I begin each day.”

Mrs. Anna Hodge is the Campobello-Gramling School Teacher of the Year. She has been the art teacher at Campobello-Gramling School for 12 years and holds a master's degree in education.

The Teacher of the Year for Holly Springs-Motlow Elementary School is Mrs. Melissa Lark, who teaches third grade. Lark has been teaching for 20 years, all at Holly Springs Motlow Elementary. She holds a master's-plus-30 degree.

Mrs. Mary Somers, special education teacher, is Inman Elementary School's Teacher of the Year. She has taught for 32 years, 17 of those at Inman Elementary. She has a master'splus- 30 degree.

Media specialist Amber Keeran is the Teacher of the Year for Inman Intermediate School. She has taught for 26 years as a media specialist, special- education teacher and public library media specialist.

Col. Robert Sanders is the Landrum High School Teacher of the Year. Sanders holds a B.S. in engineering from West Point and a master's degree in counseling from Auburn University. He spent 28 years in the Army and has been an ROTC instructor for eight years.

Landrum Middle School's Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Jackie Putman. Putman has been teaching for 28 years and for six years at Landrum Middle School. She has a master's-plus-30 degree.

Mrs. Tammy Starosto is the Teacher of the Year for Mabry Middle School. Starosto has taught for 28 years and has been a math teacher at Mabry Middle for four years. She holds a master's degree.

O.P. Earle Elementary Teacher of the Year is Ms. Anna Mathis, who teaches fourth grade at O.P. Earle. Mathis holds a B.A. in elementary education and is elementary and middle level math-certified.

Mrs. Gayle Elrod serves as guidance counselor for New Prospect Elementary School and represents the school as Teacher of the Year. Elrod has taught special education for nine years and has been school counselor at New Prospect for five years. She has a master's degree in guidance and counseling.

Teacher of the Year for Swofford Career Center is Mrs. Tracy Thornton, who teaches graphics and printing at the school. She has been in that position for 11 years. She has degrees from Spartanburg Community College and career certification from Clemson University.

The Teachers of the Year were honored by the District 1 Board of Trustees at a dinner in their honor on Aug. 13. Each teacher received a name plaque to be placed outside the classroom door identifying him or her as Teacher of the Year. They were also recognized at the annual District 1 Convocation of all staff on Aug. 16.

Call, email or mail Ashley Dill at:

-- 864-562-7272

-- ashley.dill@shj.com

-- Town Square, Herald-Journal, P.O. Box 1657, Spartanburg, SC 29304

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