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Tuesday
Oct162018

Administrator Updates County's Activity in October

Tuesday
Oct162018

Council Approves Sale of Land for TTI Retail Store

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer 

Anderson County Council approved the sale of property to TTI, a new Duke backup battery facility at the civic center, and $28.7 million in special resource bonds to be used to pay for sewer projects at Exit 14 on I-85.

The county will sell four acres to Other World Technologies (TTI) for a retail outlet for some of the the company’s brands, including Milwaukee, Ryobi, Homelite, Hoover, Orek.  

Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns said TTI is paying the county the appraised value for property, and will begin work their retail outlet as soon as details on the sale and final. 

The county also approved giving seven-tenths of an acre to Duke Energy behind the Anderson County Civic Center to be used as a battery backup for the main facility. Duke uses the civic center as a operations site during emergencies, and the building is also used as a shelter by the county during those emergencies. Duke will pay for the construction of the battery backup center. 

Meanwhile, plans to boost economic development at the Exit 14 site got a shot in the arm when council approved the three sewer projects on the property.  

Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson said the projects should have happened “30 years ago.”

“This is important for our county’s economic development,” said Rita Davis, director of finance for Anderson County. 

“It’s a very detailed plan,” Wilson said. 

Council also moved ahead with a plan to restrict the kinds of vehicles which can travel on Ballard Road.  

“Since the county finished improvements on the bridge, 18-wheelers have been using the road as a cut through between U.S. 29 North and S.C. 8,” Burns said. “It’s not appropriate traffic for that road.” 

Wilson agreed. 

“It’s important to keep the 18-wheelers off that road,” she said. 

Finally, on Tuesday night, council moved ahead with a plan to pay members of the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Board of Planning $50 per meeting. Both boards require extensive training and in the past many of the meetings were poorly attended, said Anderson County Councilman Ray Graham.

Tuesday
Oct162018

County Council to Meet at Civic Center Tonight

Anderson County Council is expected to give final approval to the sale of land to TTI, Inc., and to allow Duke Energy to put a energy storage site at the Anderson County Civic Center as part of tonight's meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Anderson County Civic Center. The meeting is being held at the civic center while the elevator in the historic courthouse is being repaired.

Full agenda here.

Tuesday
Oct162018

S.C. Children in Foster Care Up Sharply Since 2012

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A report says the number of South Carolina children in state custody has grown from roughly 3,100 in 2012 to nearly 4,600 today.

The Post and Courier reports the Chronicle of Social Change published the data Monday.

The analysis shows the increase has forced officials to continue relying on congregate care and group homes as the number of foster children sent into a facility or home nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016.

State Department of Social Services' spokeswoman Pam Bryant says the Chronicle's report is nearly three years old.

Bryant provided numbers showing the percent of children placed in congregate care during the 2012 fiscal year decreased roughly 1 percent six years later. She says the department's focus was ending the use of congregate care for children 6 and younger at the time.

Monday
Oct152018

Federal Deficit of $779 Billion Highest Since 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government closed the 2018 fiscal year $779 billion in the red, its highest deficit in six years, as Republican-led tax cuts pinched revenues and expenses rose on a growing national debt, according to data released on Monday by the Treasury Department. 

New government spending also expanded the federal deficit for the 12 months through September, the first full annual budget on the watch of U.S. President Donald Trump. It was the largest deficit since 2012. 

The data also showed a $119 billion budget surplus in September, which was larger than expected and a record for the month. A senior Treasury official said the monthly surplus was smaller when adjusted for calendar shifts. 

Economists generally view the corporate and individual tax cuts passed by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress late last year and an increase in government spending agreed in early February as likely to balloon the nation’s deficit. 

Trump and his fellow Republicans have touted the tax cuts as a boost to growth and jobs. 

“America’s booming economy will create increased government revenues – an important step toward long-term fiscal sustainability,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement accompanying the data. 

The deficit in the 12 months through September was $113 billion - or 17 percent - bigger than in the same period a year earlier. Adjusting for calendar effects, the gap was even larger, the Treasury official said.

Monday
Oct152018

Clemson, CDC, Working on Obesity Solutions

CLEMSON – With 93.3 million adults tipping the scales as obese, it’s no secret that America has an obesity problem.

In the hardest-hit communities, more than four in 10 adults suffer from obesity. That’s not just a health problem; that’s a health crisis.

“Obesity recently surpassed tobacco use, high blood pressure and high cholesterol to become the leading cause of preventable life-years lost among Americans,” said Sarah Griffin, an associate professor in the public health sciences at Clemson University. “It can lead not only to heart and circulatory diseases, but also to other potentially fatal diseases like cancer. The estimated overall cost of obesity in the United States is $315.8 billion.”

It’s no wonder, then, that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is enlisting the help of land-grant universities like Clemson in 15 states to combat this crisis.

The CDC High-Obesity Program provides grants for locally driven health and nutrition initiatives specifically for counties with a 40 percent or greater obesity rate.

“South Carolina has the 10th highest rate of obesity in the nation, and three counties – Hampton, Lee and Marion – have more than 40 percent adult obesity,” said Michelle Parisi, who leads the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service rural health and nutrition program. Parisi and Griffin will team up to conduct the five-year CDC initiative in the Palmetto State.

For the program’s first year, Clemson has received more than $836,000 to fund the effort, which will help the three counties increase access to healthy foods, create safe places for physical exercise and help guide lifestyle changes in the community.

“There is no silver bullet – no single solution. Obesity is a complex issue,” Griffin said. “For example, look at the paradox of high rates of food insecurity and obesity in rural areas where so much healthy food is grown. To be successful in addressing this issue we need multilevel, community-driven solutions involving individuals, family, work organizations, schools and public policy.”

Multidisciplinary Extension teams consisting of agents who are from the regions or who have a connection to the the local areas will be created in each of the counties.

“The interdisciplinary teams are a unique part of the project. They will be working to create a connection between business, agriculture, education, health care and community planning in these communities,” Parisi said. “We will follow a 100-year-old model of Extension using grassroots efforts that are driven by the communities themselves, meaning that the community members will choose the activities that will be implemented to enhance health in the community.”

Clemson students from these counties will also have the opportunity to go back and work through summer internships and other opportunities, Griffin said.

These teams will encourage healthy environments and policies with activities like helping small vendors in food deserts connect with local farmers to procure, market and promote fresh foods. Agents also will deliver health programming directly to consumers where they will be taught and encouraged to purchase fresh produce which will support the efforts of the the vendors, Parisi said.

During the next five years, Griffin and Parisi are interested in working with local agencies to expand access to fresh foods through policy and environment changes and will partner with state agencies and  programs, such as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Farm to School – a program that promotes the acquisition and use of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools and the community. They will also partner with health care organizations based on a community’s chosen priorities to promote health education and health care delivery related to chronic disease prevention and self-management.

The second part of the project – the physical activity component – is focused on walking. The goal is to make the communities more walkable and to promote walking from both a policy and an individual perspective to help the community plan, use and sustain safe places for exercise and help schools increase physical activity.

While the primary aim of this project is to see a decrease in adult obesity rates in each community, Griffin and Parisi also plan to track changes in community support for healthy eating and physical activity as well as changes in obesity-related health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Monday
Oct152018

War of 1812 Veteran to Be Honored Tuesday at Museum

Col. John Martin, a hero from the War of 1812 will be inducted into the Anderson County Museum's Hall of Fame Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the museum.

“This year’s ceremony will also feature the previous 35 Hall of Fame inductees as we celebrate 15 years of the Hall of Fame,” said Anderson Country Museum Director Beverly Childs. “The ceremony and reception is free and open to the public. We hope many past recipient’s families will attend.”

Martin was chosen from the 20 applications for the honor by the Anderson County Museum Advisory Hall of Fame Committee. Nominees must be deceased at least 10 years before they are eligible to be nominated. Martin was nominated by committee member Dr. Julia Barnes.

“Anderson County gave a significant contribution to South Carolina’s effort in the war of 1812," said Barns. "Unfortunately in 2018, our county’s participation is nearly forgotten. Colonel John Martin was a continuation of the tradition of Anderson County citizens making a significant personal sacrifice to preserve and protect our freedom.”

More information here.

Monday
Oct152018

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Set for Saturday

AnMed Health is teaming up with the City of Anderson Police Department and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office for Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday from 10 a.m. 2 p.m. The event will take place at two locations:  the AnMed Health North Campus and the Anderson Mall in the front parking lot beside the Lifeway Christian Store. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will provide safe disposal of unused or expired medication. Shred-A-Way will also be on site to ensure secure disposal of unwanted documents.

Only pills will be accepted. Both sites will collect documents for shredding. 

AnMed Health has received the Impact Award for its Prescription Drug Take-Back Day program from the Society for Healthcare Volunteer Leaders (SHVL). The award recognizes volunteer services programs that have made a positive impact on the healthcare organization or the local communities it serves. 

AnMed Health surpassed last year's haul in the April 28, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and Shred Day. The total weight of pills collected was 150 pounds, 25 pounds more than in 2017. 

Monday
Oct152018

Market Theatre "Addams Family" October Gust of Ghoulish Fun

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

They're creepy and they're kooky -- but mostly kooky.

The Market Theatre Company's "Addams Family" is an October gust of ghoulish fun.

This Halloween treat, which opened Friday, asks very little of an audience except to sit back and bask in the daffiness of the famously macabre Addams clan, familiar to mostly everyone through Charles Addams' classic Dalton Cole, center, stars as Gomez in the musical "Addams Family," continuing through Oct. 28 at The Market Theatre Company in Anderson - Escobar PhotographyNew Yorker cartoons and decades of TV and film adaptations.

Director/choreographer Mary Nickles gives us a peppy production of the 2010 musical, which features an appealing score of uptempo numbers and ballads by Andrew Lippa.

The show, written by the "Jersey Boys" team of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, centers on a crisis in the Addams family involving Wednesday, the daughter. She's been raised to be a black-clad princess of darkness with a drop-dead stare and a penchant for torturing her little brother Pugsley. 

But, oh the horror, Wednesday has fallen in love with a nice, ordinary young man from a painfully normal Midwestern family. It's even suggested that they're (gasp!) Republicans.

Both families take a dim view of the budding relationship. Cultures clash when the Addams family invites the young man and his parents over to dinner.

The story of mismatched families locking horns over youthful romance is an old one (think "La Cage aux Folles," "Abie's Irish Rose" and "Romeo and Juliet"), but sometimes the star-crossed lovers prevail.

The show tosses in plenty of jokes about death, torture and other dark topics.

Nickles brings clarity and a giddy, playful spirit to the show. I liked Friday's opening performance most when it was most extravagant. I've always thought these Addams characters should be played one step below the campy hams of "Rocky Horror."

Nickles elicits fine performances from her cast.

Leading the revels is Dalton Cole as Gomez, the sword-wielding paterfamilias. Cole opts for understatement in a usually flamboyant role (John Astin on TV, Nathan Lane on Broadway), but his suave approach often pays off handsomely, particularly when Cole applies honeyed vocals to his ballad "Happy Sad," about life's contradictions. It's a tear-jerking moment.

DeAnna Gregory is a bewitching Morticia, cool and poised, with the expected rigor mortis posture, and she brings some strong pipes to her big number, "Just Around the Corner," a blithe song about death. 

Sarah Greene's winning Wednesday is a petite tornado of teenage self-assertion. Greene offers a dynamic account of the song "Pulled," about Wednesday's tumultuous feelings of love.

Sean Johnson plays a cheerfully wacky Uncle Fester, in love with the moon.

Eli Stone is terrific as the spunky young Pugsley.

Libby Riggins does a nice turn as the scratchy-voiced Grandma.

Bill Griffith, wonderful as the undead Lurch, towers above the scene with a world-weary snarl. 

Noah Austin offers a sympathetic portrayal of Wednesday's love interest, Lucas.

Becca Payne plays Lucas' mother Alice, given to nervous laughter and spontaneous rhymes. Late in Act I, Payne's Alice unleashes a powerful voice in her frustrated wife's lament, "Waiting."

Mark Cawood strikes the right note as Alice's stuffy husband (and secret rock fan) Mal.

The ghostly chorus of 10 shakes the Market Theatre rafters with vocal heft.

Sarah Greene's dark-hued and spooky costumes are marvelous.

Julie Florin is responsible for the tight music direction.

Makeup (Kat Bates) and set design (Noah Taylor) also are excellent.

One caveat: On opening night, some of the song lyrics were not as crisply articulated as they might be. Ongoing performances should iron things out.

Theater-goers should note: The show contains a few instances of strong language and sexual innuendo. 

This zany "Addams Family" continues through Oct. 28. For tickets, call 864-729-2999 or visit the website www.themarketanderson.org.

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Anderson Observer. Write to him at paulhydeus@yahoo.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

Monday
Oct152018

"Gullah Gullah Island" Star to Perform at Library Tuesday

Storyteller Natalie Daise will be performing “Comeyah Tales” for a special Family Night Tuesday at the Anderson County Library, as part of this week's Starburst Storytellers Festival. Admission is free and the event open to all ages.

Well known to television audiences via Nick Jr. and Noggin TV’s “Gullah Gullah Island,”  Daise is master storyteller and visual artist. Her Comeyah Tales highlight the rich culture and history of coastal South Carolina. Along with numerous other awards and honors, Natalie Daise has received the South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award.

The Starburst Storytellers’ Festival is presented by the Friends of the Anderson County Library.

Monday
Oct152018

Tuesday Final Day to Register to Vote for November Elections

Tomorrow is the final day to register to vote in the upcoming midterm elections in November.

Anderson County has seen an uptick in voter registration for this year's election, and there's still time to sign In Anderson voter registrations are up by 2,800, a 51 percent increase from 2014. Meanwhile the state saw the voter rolls swell to more than 3 million early this year.

South Carolina residents were given an extra 10 days to register to vote this due to the impact of Hurricane Florence in some parts of the state.

You can vote at the Anderson County Office of Voter Resistration and Elections office at 301 N. Main St., Anderson. Or you can register at scvotes.org.

Eligible voters must:

  • Be a United States citizen -be at least eighteen years old on or before the next electio
  • Be a resident of South Carolina, this county and precinct
  • Not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent
  • Not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime
  • Have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served the entire sentence, including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction. 

There is no length of residency requirement in South Carolina in order to register to vote.

Registered voters can check their registration information at scvotes.org When checking your voter registration information, you must provide your name, county and date of birth as it appears on your voter registration card in order to view your information.

Sunday
Oct142018

Study: Post-Partum Depression More Likely in Winter

SUNDAY, Oct. 14, 2018 -- Women whose final stages of pregnancy occur during the short, dark days of winter may be at increased risk for postpartum depression, a new study suggests.

It has to do with reduced exposure to sunlight -- the same culprit that contributes to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. That's a type of depression that usually starts in fall and winter and disappears in spring and summer. 

The study authors said their findings should prompt doctors to encourage pregnant women who are at high risk for postpartum depression to increase their exposure to daylight and boost their levels of vitamin D.

The study was led by Deepika Goyal, a professor of nursing at San Jose StateUniversity. She and her team reviewed data on nearly 300 first-time mothers who took part in randomized controlled sleep trials before and after pregnancy. 

The researchers looked at the amount of daylight during the women's last trimester of pregnancy and other risk factors for postpartum depression, such as medical history, age, socioeconomic status and sleep quality.

Overall, participants had a 30 percent risk for depression. Their odds were strongly influenced by the number of daylight hours during the last month of pregnancy and immediately after delivery.

Women who were in the late stages of pregnancy during winter had a 35 percent risk -- the highest scores -- for postpartum depression. And their symptoms were more severe, the study found.

Women whose third trimester coincided with longer hours of daylight had a 26 percent risk for depression, the study showed.

"Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity," Goyal said.

The study was published recently in a special issue of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine focused on postpartum health.

Sunday
Oct142018

Social Security Changes Announced for 2019

Motley Fool

We recently learned that Social Security beneficiaries are getting a 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2019. However, that's just one of several Social Security changes that were just announced that are tied to rising prices.

For workers, Social Security's maximum taxable earnings are increasing, and more income will be required to earn a Social Security "credit." Beneficiaries who claimed Social Security early and still work will be happy to learn they'll be able to earn more without a benefit reduction in 2019, and for high earners, the maximum possible Social Security benefit is also on the rise.

With all of that in mind, here are the recently released details of these five 2019 Social Security changes.

Beneficiaries are getting a raise

As I mentioned, Social Security beneficiaries are getting a 2.8% COLA starting with their January 2019 benefit payment. The Social Security Administration, or SSA, estimates that the average benefit paid to all retired workers will increase from $1,422 to $1,461 as a result.

It's worth noting that Medicare hasn't yet released its Part B premium changes for 2019 as of this writing, and this will be an important factor in determining the effective COLA. In other words, if your Social Security benefit rises by $50 per month but your Medicare premiums increase by $40, your effective increase is just $10.

Social Security's maximum taxable earnings are rising

Each year, Social Security tax is assessed at a rate of 6.2% for employers and employees, but only on earnings up to a certain threshold. This is known as the Social Security maximum taxable earnings.

For 2019, the maximum taxable earnings will increase by $4,500 -- from $128,400 to $132,900. In other words, if you earn $150,000 in Social Security-covered employment in 2019, $132,900 of those earnings will be subject to Social Security tax, while the other $17,100 will not be.

This increases the maximum Social Security tax an employee could pay from $7,960.80 in 2018 to $8,239.80 in 2019.

One Social Security credit will require more earnings

In order to qualify for Social Security benefits, you'll need to earn 40 Social Security "quarters of coverage," which are also known as Social Security credits.

For 2019, one credit translates to $1,360 in earnings, an increase of $40 from 2018. This may not sound like a lot of money (and it isn't, for most workers), but it's important to note that you can only earn four credits per year.

The earnings test limits are increasing

If you receive Social Security (or plan to) and you haven't reached full retirement age yet, you can now earn more money from a job without affecting your Social Security benefits. For 2019, the Social Security earnings test limits are increasing as follows:

DATA SOURCE: SSA.

If you'll reach full retirement age after 2019, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $2 in excess earnings. If you'll attain full retirement age during 2019, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $3 in excess earnings, and only earnings in the months before your birth month will be considered. As always, if you've already reached full retirement age, the earnings test doesn't apply to you at all.

The maximum Social Security benefit will be $73 higher

Finally, because Social Security benefits are limited by the maximum taxable earnings from each year (which rises over time), the maximum possible Social Security benefit is increasing for 2019, as well.

For 2019, the most someone claiming Social Security at full retirement age can get is $2,861 per month. Of course, this could become even higher if workers entitled to the maximum decide to wait longer to claim. If they claim in 2019, a beneficiary's full retirement age is still 66 years old (born in 1953), so if they were to wait until they turn 70 in 2023, their benefit would start at $3,776.52 plus any additional COLAs that are given between now and then.