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Thursday
Dec082016

Clemson Ranked Among Top Online Colleges

Clemson Online has been ranked among the top online colleges.

The Community for Accredited Online Schools selected Clemson to its 2016 list for best online colleges.

The scoring methodology included cost, financial aid, number of programs, student-teacher ratio, graduation rate and other factors.

“Clemson University employs highly trained faculty members who are aware of the special circumstances that many online students are working around and are prepared to help all student reach their goals,” according to the website. “Students will be able to interact with their teachers and peers through message board communication and video-chatting, helping to build a productive virtual community.”

The Community for Accredited Online Schools also noted Clemson’s placement and counseling services for online students as additional benefits to the program.

Katherine S. Perkins, interim director of Clemson Online, said, “Clemson Online is devoted to helping meet the needs of our students by providing a means by which student can access coursework from their location. Our online programs are designed with the same level of rigor and are taught by highly trained, qualified faculty meeting the standard of quality Clemson is known for.”

Thursday
Dec082016

Iva Project Among Those Funded by S.C. Commerce Dept.

Eleven communities from across South Carolina, including Iva, willbenefit from public improvement projects supported by more than $4.3 million in funds from the latest round of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The S.C. Department of Commerce is awarding CDBG funds to these communities, representing more than 26,600 residents,

The Town of Iva will receive $323,585 for the E. Front /E. Green Streetscape Improvements.

Other area projects include $500,000 for the City of Greenwood Mineral Court Apartments Demolition, $169,790 for the City of Pickens Pickens Rail Depot Demolitionand $228,670 for Town of Ware Shoals Fairview Avenue Apartments Demolition.

"The CDBG program continues to be a powerful tool in our economic development arsenal, allowing local communities to offer the best quality of life possible," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. "Businesses don't locate to states or regions but, rather, to communities. And, that is why the CDBG program is essential to attracting new investment to communities in all corners of South Carolina."

S.C. Commerce awards CDBG funds in the fall and the spring of each year. Selected through a statewide competitive process, local governments receiving CDBG funds are required to provide at least a 10 percent match in funding to complete the projects. Grant funds are allocated on an annual basis to South Carolina from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and S.C. Commerce administers the CDBG program on the state's behalf. CDBG assists communities in providing housing, a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities. 

All grants awarded through the CDBG program must meet at least one of three objectives:

  • Benefit LMI (low- to moderate-income) persons.
  • Aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blighting conditions.
  • Meet other urgent community development needs where existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to public health and welfare, and where other financial resources are not readily available to meet such needs.

For additional information on South Carolina's CDBG program, including application guidelines and frequently asked questions, please visit www.cdbgsc.com.

Thursday
Dec082016

U.S. Life Expectancy Declining

If only the good die young, Americans are getting better.

U.S. life expectancy dipped by about a month last year from 2014, to 78.8 years, according to a report form the National Center for Health Statistics. And our life expectancy is little changed over four years, which means a trend could be in the works.

“With four years, you’re starting to see some indication of something a little more ominous,” S. Jay Olshansky, a University of Illinois-Chicago public health researcher, told the Associated Press.

Gender matters: For males, life expectancy fell to 76.3 years from 76.5 years. For women, life expectancy decreased to 81.2, about 0.1 year from 2014.

The culprits for our declining years were increases in mortality from heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide. Not surprisingly, that group plus cancer and Alzehimer's disease make up the top 10 causes of U.S. deaths.

Full Story Here

Thursday
Dec082016

Study: Yoga Could Ease High Blood Pressure

Yoga may help reduce blood pressure in people who are at risk for developing hypertension, a new study finds.

"Patients with pre-hypertension [slightly elevated blood pressure] are likely to develop hypertension [high blood pressure] unless they improve their lifestyle," said study author Dr. Ashutosh Angrish. He is a cardiologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India.

"Both pre-hypertension and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure," Angrish added.

The new study included 60 people who had slightly elevated blood pressure but were otherwise healthy. The participants were randomly assigned to either practice hatha yoga while also making conventional lifestyle changes, or to just make the lifestyle changes (the "control" group). The lifestyle changes included moderate aerobic exercise, eating a healthier diet and quitting smoking.

The yoga group, average age 56, received yoga instruction for a month and then did the activity at home. It included stretching, controlled breathing and meditation for one hour a day. The average age of the control group participants was 52, according to the researchers.

After three months, those in the yoga group had notable decreases in blood pressure, while those in the control group did not, the investigators found.

Thursday
Dec082016

Trump Taps WWE Founder to Lead Small Business Administration

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. co-founder Linda McMahon to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration, his transition team said.

McMahon and her husband, Vince McMahon, founded WWE, which has a market value of about $1.5 billion, more than 30 years ago. She ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut twice, spending nearly $100 million on the campaigns.

While on the campaign trail, McMahon voiced support for a lower corporate tax rate and a reduction in regulations -- a stance Trump took during his presidential campaign.

In a Wednesday statement, Trump said McMahon would work to "bring back our jobs and roll back the burdensome regulations that are hurting our middle class."

McMahon gave $6 million to a Trump-supporting super PAC during the campaign.

Thursday
Dec082016

Congress Passes Bill to Reshape FDA

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to support sweeping legislation that will reshape the way the Food and Drug Administration approves new medicines.

It will also provide funding for cancer and Alzheimer's research, help fight the opioid epidemic, expand access to mental health treatment and advance research into precision medicine.

Two years in the making, the 21st Century Cures Act was passed last week by the House of Representatives and will now go to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Supporters say it will speed access to new drugs and devices, in part by allowing clinical trials to be designed with fewer patients and cheaper, easier-to-achieve goals.

"For the second consecutive year, the Senate is sending the President another Christmas miracle for his signature," Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee said in a statement. "Last year, it was the Every Student Succeeds Act, and this time, it’s the 21st Century Cures Act — a bill that will help virtually every American family."

Critics of the legislation say it gives massive handouts to the pharmaceutical industry and will lower standards for drug and medical device approvals.

"This gift – which 1,300 lobbyists, mostly from pharmaceutical companies, helped sell – comes at the expense of patient safety by undermining requirements for ensuring safe and effective medications and medical devices," consumer watchdog Public Citizen said in a statement.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren was among the handful of senators who voted against the bill, as was independent senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Each decried what they described as big handouts to the pharma industry. Even so the bill passed 94-5. The House passed it by a vote of 392-26.

The $6.3 billion act, sponsored by Republican Representative Fred Upton, authorizes $4.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration.

It also calls for $1 billion over two years to battle the opioid epidemic. On Tuesday the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a report showing that in 2014 about 129 people died every day as a result of drug poisoning. Of those, 61 percent are opioid or heroin related.

More Here

Wednesday
Dec072016

Jurors Chosen for Dylan Roof Death Penalty Trial

Twelve jurors were chosen on Wednesday to decide the death penalty trial of a white man who authorities say wanted to start a race war by killing nine black people in a South Carolina church.

Opening statements were under way in the trial of Dylann Roof in a federal courthouse about a mile away from the church. Roof wore a gray and white striped prison jumpsuit and stared mostly at the table in front of him.

Roof is charged with 33 offenses, including hate crimes leading to the loss of life and murder. He faces the death penalty. The 22-year-old has also been charged in a state murder case, which also carries the death penalty and will follow this trial.

There was a heavy security at US courthouse in downtown Charleston, with local police and federal officers from the Department of Homeland Security positioned outside the the building.

Authorities say Roof sat with 12 people in Bible study and prayer for an hour at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on 17 June 2015, before pulling a gun from his fanny pack, firing dozens of shots and reloading several times.

His trial begins as another racially charged court case ended on Monday in a mistrial. Jurors could not agree on a verdict for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who shot a black man, Walter Scott, in the back as he was running away from a traffic stop.

In contrast to the Slager case, Roof’s lawyers have offered several times to plead guilty if federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. They refused.

Authorities say Roof hurled racial insults during the massacre, telling the parishioners he was killing them because he wanted a war between whites and blacks because black people were raping white women and taking over the country.

Roof left three people alive in the church basement so they could tell the world his reasons for the shooting, police said. Two others, who were in another room, also survived.

The church slayings took place a little more than two months after the Slager shooting, which was shown online and on TV millions of times after a bystander recorded it. Charleston has stayed mostly calm, and the state prosecutor has promised a retrial.

Prosecutors have said it would take six to seven days to make their case against Roof. Defense attorney David Bruck said Roof’s case would take little additional time.

The past week has had its own drama as Roof fired his lawyers to act as his own attorney, then hired them back Monday. But he said he will represent himself if he is found guilty and must fight for his life during the penalty phase.

Roof’s attorneys said they don’t know why he wants to be his own lawyer but said in other cases, defendants have been trying to avoid having their lawyers introduce embarrassing evidence that could sway jurors.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Time Magazine's Person of the Year: Donald Trump

Time Magazine has named U.S. President-elect Donald Trump Person of the Year, citing the upheaval in American politics brought about by the election campaign and victory of the New York businessman.

"It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption," Time said in its announcement on Wednesday, noting Trump's eclectic career as real estate magnate and reality television star before winning the highest office in the land.

"For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class," it said.

The magazine said its short list included Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton, as well as Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan and singer Beyonce.

"It's a great honor, it means a lot," Trump told NBC's "Today" show in an interview shortly after the announcement.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Pearl Harbor Remembered 75 Years Later

Sometimes, sorrow and reverence only whisper. 

As the Navy shuttle pulled near the sunken USS Arizona battleship at Pearl Harbor, National Park Service rangers requested quiet on that May day of my visit.

This landmark of American tragedy and resilience marks its 75th milestone  on Wednesday.

The USS Arizona is the centerpiece of Hawaii’s part of the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which has an encyclopedic story to tell: the world before Dec. 7, 1941, and the world after.

The monument brings to life the attack on Oahu through film, artifacts, eyewitness histories and the legendary ships.

Some of the fleet float tall in the water, including “Mighty Mo,” the battleship Missouri. Others seem poised to dive, such as the USS Bowfin submarine.

And one stands mute like the military grave it is. More than 900 are entombed in the USS Arizona.

The numbers tell the story, and they are staggering: More than 2,390 Americans, including 49 civilians, were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

For many, the keystone of the monument is the crumpled Arizona, 40 feet down just off Ford Island.

The attack began just after 7:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes later,  a Japanese bomber dropped a 1,760-pound naval projectile on the Arizona’s forward deck.

The explosion ignited aviation fuel and powder magazines, instantly killing 1,177 sailors and Marines. Of the crew of 1,511, 334 survived.

Honoring the dead

One hundred and fifty visitors, ready to pay their respects, left the Honolulu sunshine and entered the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater.

Here, the 23-minute documentary put the prelude to war in context.

In the late 1930s, the Japanese expanded into east Asia as tensions simmered between the U.S. and the Land of the Rising Sun.

In September 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, creating the Axis powers that would battle the U.S. and its allies in World War II.

After the attack, Roosevelt branded Dec. 7, 1941, a "date which will live in infamy," and the U.S. was at war.

‘Black tears’ 

After the film, we took the shuttle to the Arizona. The sun was still blazing, this time off the white  memorial, perched above the ruined battleship.

A  half-million gallons of oil remain trapped in the stern of the vessel. Droplets still leak into the harbor about every 20 seconds or so. Some call them “black tears.”

We stepped into the memorial’s long entry room, then through to the assembly room, where openings allow in the Hawaiian breezes and a view out to the wreckage breaking the water line.

Visitors, some bearing flowers, headed to the Shrine Room at the far end of the memorial where the names of the lost crew members are inscribed on the great marble wall.

A smaller marble wall commemorates the survivors of the Arizona blast who have chosen to be interred with their shipmates.

A display board discusses the interment of survivors who have rejoined their crew mates.

One young boy read the story on the board, illustrated with images of park service divers who place the cremation urns inside gun turret No. 4, which took the first bomb that hit the vessel. 

The second bomb found the store of fuel and powder, igniting the explosion and fire that burned for two days.

An older boy — maybe a brother — wandered over to read too. Soon a woman — perhaps their mother — joined them. They whispered together.

The silence resonated with me.

As I boarded the Navy boat for the return, I felt relief after this, my second visit to the Arizona. I had been dreading this afternoon for weeks.

In the 1990s, as a friend and I rode the shuttle to the ship, the pilot slowed the craft so several Japanese visitors could float floral wreaths in the water. All was quiet until some passengers grumbled, none too softly, that the Japanese had no business being here.

A somber moment soon turned tense.

On this day, though, I was grateful for the quiet reflection born of a collective spirit.

A tri-state monument

The memorials at Pearl Harbor,  24 miles west of Honolulu, have been evolving for nearly 60 years.

President Eisenhower approved creation of the USS Arizona Memorial in 1958 to commemorate military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The memorial, constructed over the hull of the sunken ship, was dedicated in 1962. The Navy managed visitation until 1980, when operations were turned over to the National Park Service.

It is part of the larger World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, created in 2008, which tells stories in three states.

♦ In Hawaii, the site includes the  Arizona, the USS Utah, whose hull is visible and honors 58 dead; and the USS  Oklahoma, which commemorates 429 sailors who died when the ship capsized.

♦ In Alaska, the monument includes sites in the state’s Aleutian Islands, near the northern limit of Imperial Japan's expansion in the Pacific.

♦ In California, Tule Lake explores the incarceration and segregation of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry. 

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversarypearlharbor75thanniversary.com/home

Tuesday
Dec062016

Council Oks Animal Ordinance Revision, Asks for Pipeline Cleanup

Anderson County Council tweaked the countywide animal ordinance on Tuesday night to deal with feral cats.  Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen, who has been working on revisions to the animal ordinance for more than three years, said the purpose of the new language was to address the overlooked area of how to deal with stray cats.

The recommendations are, in part, based on recommendations of the non-profit group Target Zero, which resented reviewed the Anderson shelter and offered some ideas.

“We looked at their recommendations, and came up with some additions to the ordinance.” Allen said. “About 90 percent of this deals with feral cats, which had been overlooked in the ordinance. The recommendations are good ones, and at this time the best way to go.”

The feral cats would be captured, vaccinated, spayed, neutered, tagged and returned to environment from which they were captured or alternative area.

Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd opposed releasing the cats after being returned to neighbors and create issues for pets and children.

“In situations in which you are describing, the cats will not be returned to those ares,” said Dr. Kim Sanders, the new full-time veterinarian at the Animal County Animal Shelter, Pets Are Worth Saving.

“These are feral cats, very similar to wildlife, like raccoons,” said Sanders who is also serving as  interim director while the current director is on maternity leave. “We would rehome them to a new location if their was a problem.”

“I agree there are some other issues with feral cats, but I am all for finding a happy medium,” said Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. “The feral cats are also reducing the population of our songbirds.”

“With more cats being spayed and neutered, hopefully it will reduce the number of feral cats in the future,” Allen said.

Also on Tuesday night, approved a resolution from Wilson calling for the timely clean up of the petroleum spill of more than 300,000 gallons from the Kinder Morgan Plantation Pipeline in Anderson County

The resolution called for Kinder Morgan to: “Fully, completely and in a timely fashion, clean up the 2014 spill of more than 300,000 gallons of gasoline, to protect the environment of Anderson County and the property rights of the owners of land in the vicinity of Lewis Drive near the junction of West Calhoun Road in Belton.” She also said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control needs to support the effort, proposed a more efficient way for DHEC to post public notices concerning this issue.

In summary, on Tuesday night, Anderson County Council:

Gave final approval to tax incentives for Ortec, a leading biomaterial and polymer technology company, is building new operations in Anderson County at the old Westinghouse Plant in Pendleton. Complementing recent growth at its facilities in both Pickens and Greenville Counties, the company intends to invest $20 million and create 60 new jobs in Anderson County. The company, which makes custom polymers, tentatively plans to be in operation in Pendleton by early 2018.

Gave final approval an ordinance to prohibit advertisement, possession, use, purchase or distribution of synthetic opioids in Anderson County and amended it to clarify “without a prescription.”

Approved, on second reading, an ordinance imposing a prohibition on certain motor vehicles - trucks in excess of six wheels - traffic on Hobson Road. Crowder said the intersection of Hobson Road and the East-West Parkway, will eventually provide a park and new parking area for the connector, and limiting traffic would make the area safer for a park.

Approved a resolution to create a new zoning designation, with the purpose of giving council more flexibility in protecting citizens from designations which are not intended for the district.

Proclaimed December Arbor Day Month in Anderson County.

Presented Dr. Kim Sanders as the full-time veterinarian at the Animal County Animal Shelter. Pets Are Worth Saving. She will also serve as interim director while the current director is on maternity leave.


Approved Anderson County ATAX Committee Requests & Recommendation Summary for
   Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
   Total ATAX Funds Requested: $569,224 ($746,263 last year).
   Total ATAX Funds Available: $329,746.58 ($279,188 last year)
   A complete list of ATAX fundings can be found in the agenda packet here

Tuesday
Dec062016

Leatherman Doesn't Want Lt. Government Post

South Carolina's top senator is keeping his powerful leadership post, even though he's refused to take the job of lieutenant governor if the U.S. Senate confirms Gov. Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador.

Senators re-elected Hugh Leatherman as the chamber's president pro tem 36-9 during Tuesday's postelection organizational session. No senator publicly challenged him.

Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster would replace Haley if she's confirmed as President-elect Donald Trump's U.N. pick.

The state constitution has called for the pro tem to become lieutenant governor.

But Leatherman has no intention of leaving the Senate and giving up his job as South Carolina's most powerful politician for a largely ceremonial position. And he didn't want another senator to even temporarily take the pro tem's role.

Tuesday
Dec062016

Clemson to Host "Men of Color" Summit in April

Clemson University is launching a major initiative to foster a more inclusive, supportive, and diverse South Carolina. On April 27-28, 2017, Clemson’s Office of Inclusion and Equity will present its inaugural Men of Color National Summit to help close the achievement gap for young men of color with the promise of new opportunities through higher education. The goal of the summit is to attract and retain a highly talented and diverse group of students, faculty, and staff at the University, and especially to open up educational and career opportunities for young men of color, most of whom will be first-generation college students who often face an unusually challenging path to higher education. The result of this challenge is an “achievement gap” — lower high school graduation rates compared with other demographic groups, leading to reduced economic and personal prospects.

The summit emphasizes two critical messages: “Stay focused,” and “Never give up.”  More than 1,600 college students, government officials, community activists, educators, and industry leaders are expected to attend.  Joining them will be a special cohort of 400 African-American and Hispanic male 9th-11th graders from South Carolina that Clemson intends to help prepare to become college-ready high school graduates, regardless of what institution they choose to attend. During the two-day summit, attendees will hear insights from more than 20 national thought leaders on personal and professional development, from cradle to career success. Additionally, the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” with 8 million listeners across 105 markets, will broadcast live from the summit.

The 2017 inaugural summit also kicks off Clemson’s “Tiger Alliance” program.  Partnering with Greenville County Schools’ Superintendent Burke Royster, Anderson District 5’s Superintendent Tom Wilson, and schools from the I-95 corridor, Clemson University will mentor the 400-member cohort through a revolving, multi-year initiative.  The young men will receive guidance and enrichment opportunities to make them college-ready, and their progress will be tracked from the summit through high school graduation.

“Clemson is committed to creating best practices for inclusive excellence, and the Men of Color National Summit reinforces that commitment by preparing these young men to succeed in college, whether at Clemson or anywhere that fits their goals,” said Clemson President Jim Clements. “This summit is just one part of Clemson’s long-term vision to prepare a broader mix of students for college and future career success.”

“The heart of the summit is the young men in the Tiger Alliance,” said Lee Gill, Clemson University’s Chief Diversity Officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. “The global perspective that a college education provides will not just help them excel in life, but will also contribute to the talent dividend that benefits the State of South Carolina and the nation.”

The Men of Color National Summit, open to everyone and committed to the success of all, will be held at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, S.C. on April 27-28, 2017.  More information, including event registration and sponsorship, can be found at www.clemson.edu/inclusion/summit.

Tuesday
Dec062016

Dobbins Re-Elected to S.C. School Boards Association

Dr. Thomas R. Dobbins, a member of the Anderson County School District 4 Board, was re-elected to the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) Board of Directors as the Region 16 Director for a second four-year term during the association’s annual business meeting held on December 3.  Region16 represents Anderson 4, Anderson 5, Oconee, and Pickens.

The association’s annual business meeting, which was held during the association’s Legislative Advocacy Conference, included voting delegates from most of the state’s 81 school boards. In addition to electing association officers, delegates adopted resolutions to guide the association during the 2017 legislative session.

Dobbins has served on the Anderson 4 board for 12 years.  He currently serves as the chair.  He also served as Anderson 4 chair from 2002-2008.  He was elected to the SCSBA board in 2012.

He serves as the Director of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.  He was recognized as the 2015 ACTE Southern Region Teacher of the Year.  In 2015, he received the John Parris Agriculture Leadership Award.

He is a member of the SC County Agents Association, SC 4-H Agents Association, SC Ag Teachers Association, and SCACTE and National ACTE.  He is an active memer of Oakdale Baptist Church.

The South Carolina School Boards Association is a non-profit organization serving as a source of information and a statewide voice for boards governing the 81 school districts.