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Thursday
Aug212014

Hot Sardines Old School Jazz to Clemson

The Hot Sardines set up shop at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Sept. 4.

This is also a Student Rush the Box Office event, which is free for Clemson students who arrive one hour early with their CUID card and while seats remain. Otherwise, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

Take a blustery brass lineup, layer it over a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso in the Fats Waller vein and tie the whole thing together with a one-of-the-boys frontwoman with a voice from another era and you have the Hot Sardines.

The ensemble’s sound – wartime Paris via New Orleans or the other way around – is steeped in hot jazz, salty stride piano and the kind of music Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt and Fats Waller used to make: straight-up, foot-stomping jazz. (Literally. The band includes a tap dancer whose feet count as part of of the rhythm section.)

The band was born when frontwoman Elizabeth Bougerol met piano player Evan “Bibs” Palazzo at a jam session they found on Craigslist. Above a noodle shop on Manhattan’s 49th Street, they discovered a mutual love for songs from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Tickets and information are available at www.clemson.edu/Brooks or by calling the box office at 864-656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Thursday
Aug212014

Local Governments, Others to Receive $40 Million Windfall

Local governments and technical colleges in South Carolina will get $40 million in one-time money from the state. That money had been contingent on the state finishing its fiscal year that ended June 30 with a large-enough surplus, and it did, S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said Wednesday.

The $25 million keeps the local government fund — money the state gives counties and cities — at the same level as the past two years. The fund will distribute about $213 million to cities and counties.

But that is $74.5 million less than it should give out, based on a formula set in state law. Tim Winslow, assistant general counsel for the S.C. Association of Counties, said not giving local governments the full amount set by that formula puts pressure on local governments to increase taxes.

“They’re really forcing county governments’ hand,” Winslow said.

In addition, because the $25 million is one-time money, it is not guaranteed for next year. “We have to come in and really beg on behalf of county taxpayers for this funding to be recurring,” Winslow said.

S.C. technical colleges also will benefit from the one-time money with $14.7 million going to technical and community colleges statewide.

For example, Midlands Technical College will get $1.5 million for a “Quick Jobs” training program and building space for science, technology, engineering and math classes.

Jimmie Williamson, president of the S.C. Technical College System, said the added money “will assist us in providing the necessary education and training to meet critical workforce needs across the state.”

The Comptroller General’s Office also said the state’s general fund revenues — which come primarily from sales taxes, and personal and corporate income taxes — increased by 2.5 percent in the just-completed fiscal year compared to 9.1 percent growth in the previous year, “indicating that while the state’s economic growth has continued, the rate of growth has slowed.”

However, Frank Rainwater, chief economist for the Board of Economic Advisors, said other factors, besides the economy, can affect revenue growth.

Some of lower growth can be attributed to changes in state law, such as the transfer of about $50 million that previously had gone into the general fund to the Department of Transportation to pay for road repairs, Rainwater said.

He also said the fiscal year just ended was a down year for the purchase of some insurance licenses, which are purchased for a two-year period.

Overall, Rainwater said he expects the state economy to continue its modest growth.

Since state revenues for the fiscal year that ended June 30 exceeded estimates, items in the state budget that were contingent on that surplus will be funded. These programs include:

    Local government fund — $25 million

    S.C. technical colleges — $14.7 million

    County transportation funds — $13.5 million

    African American History Museum — $5 million

    Teacher technology training — $4 million

    State colleges efficency studies and improvements — $3.2 million

    Caregivers of the elderly — $2 million


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/08/20/3631051/sc-local-governments-receive-one.html#storylink=cpy
Thursday
Aug212014

Bank of America to Pay $16.5 M for Mortgage Loan Misdeeds

Bank of America Corp is expected to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities that the bank and its units sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, in a deal that could be announced as early as Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

The bank has been hammering out the final details of the record-breaking accord with the U.S. Department of Justice and is expected to pay around $9 billion in cash and the rest in assistance to struggling homeowners.

A $16.5 billion payout would be the largest in a series of soaring penalties against banks for a range of misconduct, including violating U.S. sanctions and inappropriately marketing mortgage securities.

An agreement in principle was reached earlier this month after a phone call between the bank's chief executive, Brian Moynihan, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

The negotiations have been driven by an investigation into securities sold by Merrill Lynch, which the bank agreed to acquire in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, people familiar with the matter have said.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Watchdog Group Says Suffering from ISIS "Unbelievable"

A field worker with persecution watchdog group Open Doors helping refugees in Iraq has spoken out about the "unbelievable" suffering going on in the country, which is under attack by the Islamic State terrorist group, which is better known as ISIS.

"The suffering we see is unbelievable and it makes me cry every time I see something, either by visiting families or by the horrible pictures we see," the field worker, who wasn't named, said in a news release Open Doors sent Tuesday.

The watchdog group reported that most of the displaced people who have found their way to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, have fled from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other towns and villages on the Nineveh plain.

Islamic State terrorists have forced thousands of Christians, Yezidis and other minority groups to flee their homes or face death.

Last week, the U.N. declared the highest level of humanitarian emergency in Iraq, and accused ISIS of carrying out "barbaric" acts of sexual violence against women and teenage boys and girls belonging to Iraqi minorities.

U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov said that the declaration by the UN of a "Level 3 Emergency" in Iraq would "facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements."

ISIS has captured significant territory in Iraq and Syria and declared the creation of an "Islamic State."

Wednesday
Aug202014

Saudi's Top Cleric Calls ISIS "Enemy Number One"

Saudi Arabia's top religious official has recently denounced the Islamic State terrorist organization, better known as ISIS.

Following the words of other Muslim leaders, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh issued a statement Tuesday that was released by the Saudi Press Agency.

"Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on earth, destroying human civilization," said al-Sheikh, "are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims."

The Saudi Grand Mufti's comments were the latest of several Muslim leaders both religious and secular, from Indonesia to Egypt, condemning the actions and views of ISIS.

Formed out of al-Qaida in Iraq last year and led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS has garnered international attention for its military victories and horrid atrocities.

Occupying large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, ISIS has been known for its violent treatment of religious minorities, Muslims, and others.

Their atrocities have prompted Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq, with the aid of U.S. airstrikes, to fight the organization.

In a video posted online earlier this week, an ISIS terrorist was shown beheading American journalist James Foley.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Sheheen Says Haley's Welfare to Work Numbers Misleading

Gov. Nikki Haley's Democratic opponent says her administration hasn't moved more than 20,000 people from welfare to work as claimed, since many of those people still earn so little, they continue to receive government assistance.

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen accused Haley on Wednesday of being dishonest when touting the program's success. The Camden Democrat says she implies that more than 20,000 people secured a job that took them off assistance rolls.

Beyond including meager jobs that don't pay a living wage, he says, the numbers also include people who temporarily get off welfare but then lose a job and re-enroll.

Department of Social Services officials say even a part-time job still results in less assistance.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Opinion: Post & Courier Slams S.C. Domestic Violence Rate

Tuesday evening, the Charleston Post and Courier released a massive seven-part series on South Carolina’s failure to take domestic violence seriously—a failure that has resulted in the state leading the nation in the murder rate of women at the hands of men (currently the best measure we have for domestic homicide). The series, titled “Till Death Do Us Part,” is the result of interviewing “more than 100 victims, counselors, police, prosecutors and judges” to create a multimedia story chronicling the failures of legislators, law enforcement, social services, and even churches to do enough to fight the problem of domestic violence.

Journalists Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes, and Natalie Caula Hauff unflinchingly place much of the blame on South Carolina culture: heavily conservative values about marriage and gender roles, as well as an enthusiasm for guns that makes it nearly impossible to get them out of the hands of men who want to kill women.

Amanda Marcotte/Slate

South Carolina, they write, is a state “where men have long dominated the halls of power, setting an agenda that clings to tradition and conservative Christian tenets about the subservient role of women,” leading to “a tolerance of domestic violence.” Even though research shows that the murder rate from domestic violence “declines three months” after a couple has been kept apart and “drops sharply after a year’s time,” power players in the state frequently prioritize keeping couples together over victims’ safety.

Full Story at Slate

Wednesday
Aug202014

State Finishes Year with Surprising Surplus

South Carolina has again ended the fiscal year with a higher-than-expected surplus, handing legislators an additional $32 million to distribute next year.

The fiscal-year closing report issued Wednesday by the state’s chief accountant shows South Carolina’s coffers collected more than enough to fund every item on the Legislature’s priority list for surplus revenue. That $235 million list includes $6.5 million to cover what some school districts otherwise would have lost due to education funding formula changes.

It is the second consecutive year that the surplus exceeded estimates.

State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom says state revenue grew by 2.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30. He says that means the state’s economy grew slower than in 2012-13, when the rate was a more robust 9.1 percent.

Wednesday
Aug202014

S.C. Teacher Shortage Looming

Public schools have about 4,000 teachers who leave the classroom each year – and only about 2,000 new teachers are available to replace them, a state Senate panel was told Tuesday.

“That can’t sustain itself for long,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, a member of the new panel charged with recommending legislation to improve the state’s teaching profession.

Finding ways to attract talented teachers to public schools and keeping them there – and removing ineffective teachers more quickly – will be the panel’s focus, chairman Wes Hayes, R-York, said Tuesday at its first meeting. The panel, which will meet again in September, heard Tuesday from education groups who said lawmakers should raise teacher salaries and improve existing teacher recruitment programs.

Other members of the panel are state Sens. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, Larry Martin, R-Pickens, and Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston.

"We are alarmed that we are not producing enough teachers each year to fill the vacancies that are available each year," said Jane Turner, executive director of the Center for Recruitment, Retention and Advancement at Winthrop University.

To fill vacancies, school districts now depend on less reliable sources for teachers, including recruiting out-of-state and alternative-certification teachers, Turner said. Roughly one in 10 teachers leave the classroom in their first year, Turner said, urging lawmakers to look at ways to keep new teachers in the profession.

Kathy Maness, executive director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, said lawmakers should spend more taxpayer money on state-funded college fellowships that go to high-school seniors who commit to teaching in S.C. public schools after college. Reserving some fellowships for would-be math and science teachers could help fill those difficult-to-staff subject areas, she said.

The teaching fellows get up to $6,000 a year for four years to pay for college. Each year they teach in S.C. public schools after graduating is one year of financial aid they do not have to repay. And, supporters note, 72 percent of graduates from the teaching fellows program continue working in public schools. More than half of those work in low-preforming districts or districts with high levels of poverty or teacher turnover.

Turner hopes to award 200 fellowships next year. But expanding the program further will take more than money, she added. College teaching programs also would need to expand to accept more fellows.

S.C. Department of Education officials recommended offering teachers more competitive salaries and benefits for working in high-need subject areas and schools, and giving administrators an easier path to eliminating ineffective teachers.

The current process for removing under-performing teachers often results in costly, drawn-out appeals, said Thurmond, who hopes to push legislation to change that system.

“We should be paying teachers more,” Thurmond said. “But I want to feel confident that we have a system in place that expedites the process” of removing weak teachers.

Wednesday
Aug202014

State Has Landed 54,000 Aerospace Jobs

Led by Boeing Co., the aerospace industry in South Carolina helped lead the state out of the recession and now employs nearly 54,000 people with a $17 billion economic impact, a new study says.

"If it continues at the current rate, it will become a major pillar for South Carolina's economy," said Joey Von Nessen, a research economist at the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business.

Von Nessen's study of the state's aerospace industry, released Tuesday during the state's first Aerospace Industry Day in Columbia, measured civilian and military aircraft-related jobs.

The Palmetto State's aerospace cluster includes core firms, such as Boeing, operating directly within the industry, four military installations in the state and smaller private companies supporting the aviation and aerospace sector.

The study found that 466 core aerospace firms employ more than 17,000 people. The single biggest chunk, about 6,500, work at Boeing in North Charleston. The rest are scattered across the state.

Aerospace core firms by region

Aiken/Augusta: 44

Charleston: 86

Grand Strand: 14

Lowcountry (South of Charleston region): 31

Midlands: 89

Pee Dee: 24

Rock Hill: 22

Upstate: 156

Total: 466

Tuesday
Aug192014

County Approves $877,000 to Buy Land for Spec Building

Anderson County Council emerged from executive session on Tuesday night to approve the purchase of 24 acres to build a spec building for $877,00. The land is located on the frontage road at Alliance Park off S.C. 81 near I-85. Council voted 5-1 to ok the purchase, with Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson abstaining.

Anderson County currently has $415,000 on hand for the purchase of land and the building of a spec building, said Anderson Councy Councilman Francis Crowder.

"We already have $265,000 from the private sector and a pledge to tranfer another $150,000 as a zero interest loan with no payments untill we sell the building," Crowder said. He said another request had been made for an additional $55,000 from another private sector source.

"Technically we have run out of industrial inventory," Crowder, who added the South Carolina Department of Commerce said they weren't going to send potential businesses to Anderson unless we have facilities.

"I have some concerns about a spec building," said Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd. "But I am hoping for the best." Floyd voted for the purchase.

"Our job is to get people jobs," said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn, arguing for the importance of the spec building.

Council also approved paying $110,000 to McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture for design of the spec building. Crowder said the firm designed part of I-Car and Hubble Lighting in Greenville, as well as AnMed's newest campus.

Council also approved $40,000 to the Huntersville, N.C., graphic design firm Granite Sky to redesign the Anderson County Website. Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen said the actual cost of the website will be cloeser to $23,000.

Additionally, council voted to fund the hiring a third litter officer for the county.

Earlier, council delayed the final vote on the rezoning of a parcel of land on Reed Road near Greenville Street, to allow for the reported construction of a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Council is continuing meeting with the developers and the South Carolina Department of Transportation on traffic issues surrounding the proposals and expects a final vote on the project during the first council meeting in September.

Meanwhile, council approved tax incentives for Viva Recycling of South Carolina, a company which recycles tires, bringing a $6.5 investment and 14 new jobs with an average wage of $17.54 per hour.

Also on Tuesday night, Wilson expressed concerns of budget transfers in the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Wilson called for a number of possibilities, including moving some parts of the Sheriff’s budget under council control.

Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn said it was worth noting that over the past 12 years, the Emergency Services Department had come in more than $3 million dollars in the black. Dunn said that despite Wilson's suggestions to the contrary, that the current system of reporting is perfectly legal.

And on a odd note, after approving the hiring of Lynn Sopolosky, currently the clerk in Abbeville County Council, as clerk for Anderson County Council, Sopolosky was offered more money by Abbeville to stay in her current position. Anderson will now renew the search for a new clerk.

On Tuesday night, Council also:

Approved on first reading tax incentives for the business, code-named "Project Bridge," which would bring a $16 million investment and 10 jobs to the county, with an average salary of $16 per hour.

Gave final approval to an ordinance calling on Anderson County Council to provide a published agenda no more than 24 hours before a meeting, except in cases of emergencies determined by a super majority, or two-thirds, vote of council.

Gave final approval tax incentives for Project Wolf, and existing Anderson company which will 14 jobs, average salary of $14.50 per hour, and a $2.5 million investment, to the existing business which employs 16.

Gave final approval to rezoning for a new grocery store proposed for the corner of Belton-Honea Path Highway at Johnson Road just outside of Honea Path.

Approved the firm Goodwin and Mill for update sewer design work.

Gave final approval to a wastewater/sewer agreement with Pendleton.

Gave final approval on an ordinance to prohibit through-truck traffic in Nevitt Forest Subdivision.

Approved on second reading an ordinance moving the Anderson County Civic Center back into County Council District 1.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Viva Recycling to Build Facility in Anderson

Viva Recycling of South Carolina, a tire recycler and rubber manufacturer, announced today its decision to establish a new facility in Anderson County. The $6.9 million investment is expected to create 14 new jobs in the area over the next five years.   

Established in 2011 and headquartered in Moncks Corner, Viva Recycling of South Carolina processes scrap tires to produce environmentally responsible recycled rubber products for home, business and recreation. These tires are collected from a variety of sources throughout the Southeast, including cars, light and heavy trucks, landfills, municipalities and tire retailers.  

Utilizing state-of-the-art recycling processes, the company separates the scrap tires and other selected industrial rubber scrap into their component parts - rubber, steel and fiber. While the steel and fiber are recycled, the rubber is sized, shaped, colored and molded into a wide range of sustainable products for various industrial, commercial and residential applications.

Viva Recycling of South Carolina's products include landscape mulch, playground safety flooring, artificial field in-fill, rubber sidewalks, rubber pavers, equestrian flooring, rubberized asphalt and many more items.

The company's new facility, located at 3520 Abbeville Highway in Anderson, is expected to be operational by December 2014 and will implement the same recycling model used at the Moncks Corner operation, where it has recycled over four million tires per year.  

Viva Recycling of South Carolina will start hiring for new positions in September 2014. Those interested in applying should contact Toni Everett at 843-761-7955.  

FAST FACTS

  •     Viva Recycling of South Carolina will establish a new facility in Anderson County.
  •     $6.9 million investment to create 14 jobs.
  •     The company processes scrap tires to produce environmentally responsible recycled rubber products for home, business and recreation.
  •     Viva Recycling of South Carolina products include landscape mulch, playground safety flooring, artificial field in-fill, rubber sidewalks, rubber pavers, equestrian flooring, rubberized asphalt and many more items.
  •     Operations are expected to begin in December 2014 with hiring for the new positions starting in September 2014.
Tuesday
Aug192014

Meals on Wheels in Serious Need of Drivers

Meals on Wheels-Anderson needs drivers immediately to help deliver hot, nutritious meals to our elderly neighbors. Due to a shortage of drivers, there are elderly, homebound and disabled seniors that the organization is unable to serve because there is simply no one available to deliver a meal to them.
 
There are now waiting lists in some outlying areas where the organization provides service. Specifically, the Belton and Pelzer areas face the greatest challenge at this time. However, the city of Anderson also has delivery routes that also need regular drivers.
 
Meals on Wheels-Anderson typically serves more than 600 people each weekday. Meals are prepared and packaged at the Meals on Wheels center at 105 S. Fant Street, and volunteer drivers pick up the meals from either the center or a specified location closer to the delivery area. The drivers are given a route to follow which guides them to each home in a certain area. Delivery of meals usually takes one to two hours of time.
 
Volunteer drivers not only provide one-third of the daily nutrition required for the program’s recipients, but they are also a source of human contact and compassion that many of them may not otherwise receive each day.
 
Please consider helping the hungry senior citizens of Anderson County. To volunteer, please call 864-225-6800 or email jcampbell@acmow.org.