• Friday, May 10, 2013

The sign on Mathis Ferry says “Scenic Highway” but regular tree butchering and development have adversely transformed this historic roadway.

Instead of planting live oaks along this roadway which in time will be massacred to protect utility lines, plant decorative trees – oleander and crepe myrtles. Place azaleas in the buffer area similar to what was done in front of Queens Row near Anna Knapp.

In 20 years we could have a thoroughfare that rivals Summerville’s park area.

Pamela Gabriel

Mount Pleasant

Foreign Students vs. Illegal Acts

During the pre-personal computer age of the mid-1980s, I was asked to serve as Foreign Student Advisor at a college in South Carolina. The position carried the authority to issue U.S. I-20 Student Visa Forms based on a pre-deposit of $10,000 (US) via check, a certified high school transcript verifying completion of studies with a grade average of “C” or better, and a completed standard admissions form.

I was under a penalty of $10,000 or 10 years in jail or both should I commit fraud.

One day, I received a visit from the FBI and Bell South Security. Both agents were investigating phone credit card fraud amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars thought to emanate from some of my international students representing 40 different countries.

Upon thorough investigation, we were amazed to learn the problem was not with just a few but virtually all of my students and linked to every college in South Carolina, spilling over into neighboring states.But, the plot thickened.

The problem was traceable to two of my Middle Eastern students who used the phone system to post restricted numbers ranging from U.S. national security organizations to the White House on what the agents called a “blackboard” accessible through the phone system.

The two could not be charged, however, since they had diplomatic immunity.

I was not privy to the source of their immunity.

Later, a church and a board member requested that the college house a Mariel Boat Lift refugee who spoke no English.

I was against the idea since he did not qualify as a prospective college student, but the college approved his stay in a dorm room. A pastor found a job for him where everyone spoke Spanish.

One day the office manager gave him keys to her new Honda Accord asking him to pick up lunch for the crew. Instead, he headed straight for the college, kicked in an almost solid wood door, collected his belongings and left.

The car was found abandoned in Miami at an airport with numerous cigarette burns on the seats and empty beer cans on the floor.

He melted into the population never to be seen again. The office manager could not claim theft since she willingly gave him her keys.

Dwight ives


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