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Utility Sale Could Cost Taxpayers $4 Billion

Selling South Carolina's state-owned utility could force taxpayers to cover its $4 billion debt from a now-abandoned nuclear power project, its chairman told senators Tuesday.

The scuttled expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station accounts for half of Santee Cooper's total debt of $8 billion. Even if the utility can find a buyer, no company would be willing to acquire that debt, meaning the state would have to pay it, said board Chairman Leighton Lord.

He was among utility executives testifying before a Senate panel investigating their July 31 decision to abandon the joint project with South Carolina Electric & Gas. Separately, the privately-owned SCE&G hopes to recoup its $5 billion in debt through customer charges and other sources.

Gov. Henry McMaster has said he's talking with other utilities about the possibility of buying out Santee Cooper's 45 percent share, or even buying the state-owned utility outright, as a way to complete at least one of the two reactors under construction.

Lord said he knows of no utility willing to buy Santee Cooper and complete the project. In theory, he said, a buyer could pay the state enough for the utility's assets to pay off the other debt, but "$4 billion of nuclear debt would stick with the state."

Selling Santee Cooper would require legislative approval.

"Assuming the governor pushes through with this and convinces the Legislature to sell Santee Cooper, right now, the only plan for the debt is to go on the backs of taxpayers?" asked Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet.

Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-West Columbia, said that's a nonstarter.

"We're not talking about putting $4 billion on the backs of South Carolina taxpayers," he said.


Small Area in Homeland Park Under Boil Water Advisory

Homeland Park Water Authority are informing customers on two streets in Anderson to boil their water before using for consumption.

The boil-water advisory was issued this afternoon after crews repairing a water line struck a water main.

Those living onWoodvale Road and Woodmont Circle are advised to boil any water used for consumption for at least two minutes.



Astronomers Without Borders Wants Eclipse Glasses

The 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse is over - but don't toss your eclipse glasses just yet.

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) announced an eclipse glasses distribution program, bringing eclipse viewers to other countries so people across the world have an opportunity to witness similar cosmic events. The organization also launches programs to help bring eclipse glasses to underserved communities in the U.S.

AWB said they are currently working to announce corporate sponsors who will be collecting used glasses for the program.

Until they are announced, you can recycle your glasses by sending them to:

Explore Scientific
1010 S. 48th Street
Springdale, AR 72762

You can also follow the Astronomers Without Borders website and social media pages for updates on which corporations will be receiving glasses donations.


School Dist. 5 Employees to Get $500 Bonus Friday

At yesterday's annual Anderson School District Five Back-to-School Convocation, Superintendent Tom Wilson announced that all full-time employees returning to the school district for the 2017-2018 school year will receive a $500 bonus on Friday. 

The recommendation, approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees, will cost the district approxiamately $800,000. Teachers, custodians, bus drivers, food service personnel and all other full-time support positions will receive the bonus. 

“The Board and I just felt like it was important to reward our employees for their dedication and passion for our school district,” Wilson said. "Our teachers and support staff are deserving of much more, but it was nice to be able to show appreciation for the hard work they do each and every day.”

The funds for the bonus will come from the district’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which was passed in 2016 and included a tax reduction. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget also includes a net decrease in taxes for personal property owners who reside within Anderson Five.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to be good stewards of the public’s money, while at the same time showing our professionals that we value their work in the district,” said Board of Trustee Chairman Rick Bradshaw. “The district has made some great forward strides in recent years, and none of that is possible without the teachers in the classroom and those who work tirelessly to support them."


Post-Courier: Interest, No Offers on Abandoned Nuclear Project

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (AP) — The state-owned utility Santee Cooper in South Carolina says it's heard from two companies interested in its share of a now-abandoned nuclear project, but neither company has made a firm offer.

Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter told The Post and Courier of Charleston he doesn't think either company will join the project.

Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. announced July 31 they were abandoning plans for two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County they had been working on for nearly a decade and spent about $9 billion.

Carter said two interested parties emerged after he sent a letter to dozens of power companies earlier this month. Carter says neither response is viable because neither company has the assets to undertake the multi-billion project. He didn't name the companies.


Information from: The Post and Courier,


President: More Troops, U.S. Victory in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump committed U.S. troops to an open-ended war in Afghanistan, a decision the Afghan government welcomed on Tuesday but which Taliban insurgents warned would make the country a "graveyard for the American empire". 

Trump offered few specifics in a speech on Monday but promised a stepped-up military campaign against the Taliban who have gained ground against U.S.-backed Afghan government forces. He also singled out Pakistan for harboring militants in safe havens on its soil. 

Trump, who had in the past advocated a U.S. withdrawal, acknowledged he was going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers but said he was convinced that leaving posed more risk. 

"The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable," he said. "A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill." 

Still, he promised an end to "nation-building" by U.S. forces in what has become American's longest war and stressed that ultimately Afghanistan's struggling police and army must defeat the Taliban. 

"The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed." 

Most of the approximately 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan work with a NATO-led training and advising mission, with the rest part of a counter-terrorism force that mostly targets pockets of al Qaeda and Islamic State fighters. 

While Trump said he would not discuss troop levels or details of the new strategy, U.S. officials said on Monday he had signed off on Defense Secretary James Mattis' plans to send about 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in welcoming the strategy, said it would increase the capacity of the training mission for Afghan forces, including enhancing its fledgling air force and doubling the size of the Afghan special forces. 

"I am grateful to President Trump and the American people for this affirmation of support ... for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism," Ghani said in a statement. 


Clemson Welcomes Freshman, Transfer, Graduate Students

Littlejohn Coliseum was filled with first-year, transfer and graduate students; university faculty and staff; and community members Monday morning  to officially start the new academic year. It is the first time all incoming students were brought together for the annual Victor Hurst Convocation.

President James P. Clements addressed the crowd, welcoming all to the Clemson family. “Your journey as a Clemson student really beings right here, right now,” he said.

The president also bestowed words of wisdom to the class.

“To be successful in life, it really does take teamwork,” he said. “I would like to share a few tips with you that are very simple: Go to class! Remember why you are here and that is to get a world-class education. Get to know your professors. They are here for you and they care about you. If you need help – ask for it. Get involved with activities on campus. Seek out opportunities to get to know people who are from different backgrounds. Manage your time wisely. And please remember to stay in touch with your parents and family members back home. I am sure they miss you already.”


Blackout at Green Pond Draws International Crowd

People from around the world sign the side of a truck parked at the Blackout at Green Pond Eclipse Event. Monday


How to Check Safety of Solar Eclipse Glasses

It’s been about 40 years since Dan Pappas last saw a solar eclipse. He's gearing up for the next one expected to cross over the Upstate in just one month.

"We're really excited! We talked to our kids about it,” said Pappas. “We talk to our friends and neighbors."

He'll need special viewing glasses to do so. It's why he stopped by the Greenville Health System's Eye Institute in Spartanburg to pick up some for his family.

Grant Brown, the senior optician with the institute says people need to properly protect their eyes when viewing the eclipse.

"These filters filter out 99.9999 percent of the light,” said Brown. “That's why NASA approves these."

NASA approved the following brands for eclipse glasses and handheld viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard:

  • American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / /
  • APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note 1]
  • Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
  • DayStar (Solar Glasses)
  • Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
  • Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles
  • Jaxy Optical Instrument Co., Ltd.* [see note 2]
  • Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
  • Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
  • Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
  • Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
  • Solar Eclipse International / Cangnan County Qiwei Craft Co.*
  • Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
  • TSE 17 / (Solar Filter Foil)*

However, if you go online you'll find that there are more than just those to choose from.

So, how do you know which ones are safe?

Brown says staring at the sun can be dangerous for your health.

"It can literally burn, scar, or destroy your retina,” said Brown.

According to Brown, there are three things that need to be on alternative brand glasses to truly protect your eyes:

  • The International Organization for Standardization or "ISO"
  • The European Commissions’ mark of approval or "CE"
  • These numbers: 12312-2

If they have those indicators, you're all set to view the solar eclipse.


Today's the Big Day


Stories About Humans Better Moral Lessons for Kids

(UPI) - Anthropomorphic, or human-like, animals are often the protagonists of children's books. But new research suggests parents who want their kids to pick up on a story's moral lessons should choose books featuring humans, not animals.

Researchers in Canada found four to six-year-olds were more likely to share with their peers after being read a story with human characters.

"Many people believe children find stories with human-like animals captivating and relatable, but what we're finding is that this is not the case," Dr. Patricia Ganea, associate professor of early cognitive development at the University of Toronto, said in a news release. "Overall, children were more likely to act on the moral of the story when it featured a human character."

Researchers read stories about sharing to a group of young children. Some children were read books featuring humans and others listened to stories featuring anthropomorphic animals. Afterwards, children were asked questions about the story they were read and offered the chance to share stickers with other children.

Though books featured animal characters who spoke and wore clothes, children still didn't view them as entirely human. Many children claimed the animal characters lacked human characteristics.

Those who viewed the animal characters as human were more likely to share with their peers. Children didn't express a preference for one type of book over another.

Researchers published their findings in a new paper, published this week in the journal Developmental Science.

"Books that children can easily relate to increase their ability to apply the story's lesson to their daily lives," Ganea said. "It is important for educators and parents to choose carefully when the goal is to teach real-world knowledge and social behaviours through storybooks."

Whether a book features animals or humans, researchers say parents can't improve comprehension and lesson-learning by encouraging their kids to connect the story their own lives.


August 20, 2017 Podcast: Back to School, Eclipse, Remembering Townville, More