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Friday
Oct242014

Imagine Anderson Honors Smoke-Free Communities, Businesses

Imagine Anderson, the United Way of Anderson County and the South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative have partnered to host a luncheon in support of Smoke Free Communities and to recognize local businesses, municipalities and individuals that are leading the way to ensure clean, healthy, smoke free environments for residents and visitors of communities across Anderson County. 

Keynote speaker Pamela Buffington Redmon, who was born and raised in Belton, graduated from Belton Honea Path High School and Clemson University, has come back to visit her home town in support of smoke free communities.  Ms. Redmon now serves as the Executive Director of the Global Health Institute – China Tobacco Control Partnership and the Administrative Director for the Tobacco Centers for Regulatory Science. 

Those receiving special leadership recognition include:

Smoke Free Towns - Pendleton, West Pelzer and Williamston

59 of the municipalities in South Carolina have already gone smoke-free, including 3 in Anderson County.  Sandra Gantt, Mack Durham and Blake Sanders will be accepting awards. 

Smoke Free Restaurant – Tucker’s Restaurant

Hamid Mohsseni, owner of Tucker’s, has been a leader and advocate for smoke free restaurants and businesses across Anderson County since instituting a ban on smoking in his restaurant in 2011.

Tobacco Free Higher Education – Tri County Technical College

Tri County Tech has stepped up for the health of its students and faculty, not only passing smoke-free and tobaccos-free policies. Effective Aug. 1, 2014, tobacco use is prohibited on all Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) campuses and learning centers, including all buildings, parking lots, automobiles, and outdoor areas. 

Smoke Free Business –  Westminster Company

Showing exemplary leadership in the business realm, this company has set smoke free policies for its local apartment complexes restricting smoking in the apartments.  

Individual Awards –  

Terry Taylor of the South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative 

Beth Connell – resident of one of the Westmister Company apartment complexes that went smoke free.  Ms. Connell, who had smoked for 40 years of her life, has quit smoking since the apartments banned smoking.  This can be tied back to the leadership steps and decisions Westminster Company has made for its residents.

Dr. Becky Campbell, co-chair of the Imagine Anderson Smoke Free Committee and former Director of the Anderson County Health Department stated:  “The Imagine Anderson Board believes one of the greatest positive impacts we can have on the health of our community is to create and sustain smoke-free environments. We know that secondhand smoke kills over 41,000 people in the U.S. every year and is an internationally recognized health hazard.  According to the 2006 Surgeon General’s report, “there is no risk free level of exposure to second hand smoke”.  Keep in mind, approximately 80% of county residents choose not to smoke.  Imagine Anderson aims to protect the health of these individuals and our community, thus, has set a lofty, but doable, goal: To ensure Smoke Free Anderson policies are adopted in every municipality across the County as well as throughout all areas within County jurisdiction.” 

Smoke free environments will not only protect the health of our residents in communities across Anderson County, but also create a clean, enjoyable environment for patrons and employees of local shops, parks, restaurants and other area businesses.  Going smoke free carries health, social and economic benefits.

Friday
Oct242014

News Reflects Character, Education of Where You Live

Last year, the news media reported on 195,000 disasters around the world. The ones you heard about depend crucially on your location.


One interesting question about the nature of news is how well it reflects the pattern of real events around the world. It’s natural to assume that people living in a certain part of the world are more likely to read, see and hear about news from their own region. But what of the international news they get—how does that compare to the international news that people in other parts of the world receive?

Today, we get an answer to these questions thanks to the work Haewoon Kwak and Jisun An at the Qatar Computing Research Institute in Qatar. These guys have analyzed the news agendas in different parts of the world to see how the coverage reflects actual events in other parts of the world. And to visualize the different news agendas, they’ve created cartograms to reflect the coverage. These are maps in which the land area of a country is distorted by the amount of news coverage it receives in a given region (the image above shows how international news is viewed in North America).

Kwak and An begin with a database of 195,000 disasters that occurred between April 2013 and July 2014 and which were reported by more than 10,000 news outlets around the world. They noted the country in which each news outlet was based and then counted the published stories from other parts of the world. Finally, for various regions, they created a map of the world showing where the news was from.

The maps make for interesting viewing. They clearly show how the news agenda differs across the planet. Unsurprisingly, people in south Asia consume far more news about disasters in that region than people in North America, for example. And people in Latin America consume far more news from Argentina than Europe.

More interesting are the anomalies. For example, people everywhere consumed relatively large amounts of news from Egypt and Syria, mainly about the unrest in these countries and the accompanying humanitarian crises.

Kwak and An go on to investigate the factors that determine why people in one part of the world view disaster news from another. They found, for example, that population size is significant. People in all regions are more likely to see disaster news from other large countries, probably because there are more likely to be immigrants from those large countries who provide demand for that kind of coverage.

But by far the biggest factor that determines news coverage is whether an international news agency, such as Reuters, or Associated Press, covers the disaster. That’s unsurprising given that most news outlets have subscriptions to one or more agencies and are therefore able to use their stories easily. This is the primary mechanism behind the way news stories sometime snowball around the world.

Interesting work that reveals the way patterns of news coverage change around the globe.

Ref: http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3710: Understanding News Geography and Major Determinants of Global News Coverage of Disasters

Friday
Oct242014

Harrell Pleads Guilty to Illegal Use of Campaign Funds

House Speaker Robert W. Harrell Jr. of South Carolina pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally using campaign funds, resigned his elective office and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a potentially wider investigation into statehouse corruption.

Mr. Harrell, 58, a Republican from Charleston and one of the most powerful figures in state government, was elected to the House in 1992 and elected speaker in 2005. At a hearing Thursday morning in Columbia, the state capital, he was sentenced to six one-year prison terms for his guilty pleas on six misdemeanor charges of using campaign funds for personal expenses.

But the sentence was suspended in exchange for cooperation with federal prosecutors and South Carolina’s First Circuit Solicitor’s Office. In a five-page plea agreement, Mr. Harrell agreed to give “thorough and complete debriefings” of his knowledge of “unlawful activities.” Mr. Harrell was also placed on three years’ probation.

“There’s some nervousness around town that several folks are in jeopardy,” said Mark E. Tompkins, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina.

Full Story Here

Thursday
Oct232014

Cancer Society to Host Relay for Life Craft Fair Nov. 8

The American Cancer Society will sponsor a Relay For Life Craft Fair Nov.8 at North Anderson Baptist Church. Participating vendor will display more than 31 products including Tupperware, baked goods, jewelry designers, and much much more. If you are interested in becoming a vendor please contact Cynthia Brewer at 314-6271 or email pncbrewer@yahoo.com.

Thursday
Oct232014

Zombie Crawl to Benefit Foothills Alliance

For the third year in a row, zombies will invade downtown Anderson to benefit a local charity. 

Pints for the People, the group that started the Electric City Zombie Pub Crawl in 2012, will once again organize zombies into a charity-donating horde. 

On Saturday, starting at 6 p.m., small groups of zombies will follow live bait from bar to bar in downtown Anderson. Starting at Club 134 and ending at Uptown Lounge participants will find food and drink specials at participating establishments. Zombies will also be entered into costume contests where they can win prizes. All of proceeds from the event will go to Foothills Alliance. 

“Our goal this year was to expand the make the event better for everyone involved, from the zombies, to the restaurants and bars, as well as for Foothills Alliance. We've reorganized it somewhat and will be working hard to bring in a few surprises throughout the night," said Mason Carey, president of for Pints for the People. “We want to ensure that each year it's different and fun for our return zombies and our newly undead."

Pints for the People was created by a group of several concerned residents and business owners in Anderson who wanted to see fun events downtown that raised money for local charities. So far the group has raised more than $7,500 in the past year to benefit Foothills Alliance, the Anderson Free Clinic and Good Neighbor Cupboard, among others. 

Foothills Alliance is a nonprofit agency that encompasses three programs: Sexual Trauma Center, Child Advocacy Center, and Prevent Child Abuse. Foothills Alliance was formed when three agencies were merged in July 2001. Prior to the merger, the Sexual Trauma Center operated for 11 years as an independent non -profit agency providing 24-hour crisis intervention services to residents of Anderson and Oconee counties. Before merging with the Alliance, Prevent Child Abuse had been in existence since 1990, run solely by volunteers in the community. The Child Advocacy Center was a new program that was developed in 2001 and became part of the Alliance that same year.

The mission of Foothills Alliance is to provide child abuse prevention initiatives in Anderson County and crisis intervention services to child and adult victims of sexual assault in Anderson and Oconee counties and to serve as their advocates in the community. Today, Foothills Alliance offers multiple FREE services to the community. Not only does the Alliance focus on helping children and adults heal from their abuse but also in preventing abuse from ever taking place.

Thursday
Oct232014

Legal Pad: Domestic Violence and Orders of Protection

By M. J. Goodwin

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  In my 23 years as a practicing attorney in Anderson, South Carolina, I have seen numerous cases of terrible domestic violence.  Sadly, I have also seen cases of false allegations and even fabricated situations.  All these situations are bad.  In any similar situation, both parties benefit from experienced legal counsel.  In short, whether you are the victim or the accused,  it’s time to call MJ Goodwina divorce lawyer.

Orders of Protection are governed by statute and are very serious.  The relevant law can be found here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t20c004.php  One of the many consequences of an Order of Protection is that is prevents the possession of firearms and therefore has Second Amendment implications.   A benefit of an Order of Protection that doesn’t exist with a “regular” restraining order is that the order of protection provides for an offender to be arrested on sight in case of a violation of the order.  This distinction is not readily understood by most litigants and therefore, having a divorce attorney to explain it can be helpful in removing some of the mystery of what is going on.  Orders of Protection expire after a year, at most.  Restraining Orders in court orders such as Divorce Decrees do not expire.  This distinctions are all important.  Particular considerations vary depending on the specific situation.

Having an Order of Protection is not the same thing as being charged with Criminal Domestic Violence in criminal court.   A criminal court can impose certain bond restrictions, such as not being around the alleged victim.  But that is not the same thing as an order of protection.  This recently came up in the context of a child’s emergency room visit.  The mother alleged that she had an order of protection against the father and therefore sought to deny him seeing their child who had been injured while the child was in the ER.  The criminal charges had been dismissed and no order of protection actually existed.  But due to the high visibility and publicity of domestic violence, and due to well-meaning but ignorant hospital staff, the father was denied contact with the child.   It took an attorney to sort this out and to obtain an order prohibiting the mother from any such further fabrications (father’s point of view) or misunderstandings (mother’s point of view).

If you are victim of domestic violence, or if you are falsely accused of domestic violence, or even if you are an abuser, you will benefit from having an experienced family law attorney with you in Court.

Contact M. J. Goodwin, a divorce lawyer in Anderson, SC with 23 years of experience at:  mj@mjgoodwin.com

Wednesday
Oct222014

Sheheen Struggling to Gain Support

Democrat Vincent Sheheen is running as hard as he can for governor in the final few weeks before the election, trying to make up the 60,000-vote margin in his race with Gov. Nikki Haley in 2010.

But perhaps his fate was sealed as soon as he decided to take on Haley a second time. Sheheen is struggling to get traction from voters who already know him. While Haley has weathered several small scandals, there is no big issue to hang on her as she runs for a second term.

Sheheen also faces independent candidate in Tom Ervin. Their campaign war chests are similar - each has about $3.5 million - although Ervin is using his own money, while Sheheen had to raise his. Both offer a lighter brand of conservative than the governor, and both want South Carolina to take money for Medicaid expansion, want to increase teacher pay and think Haley is a poor manager who only reacts when there is a crisis.

Ervin gives voters that don't like Haley, especially those who lean a bit conservative, a fresh choice, said Scott Buchanan, a political scientist at The Citadel.

"Once you get the nomination for an office one time, it's not that common to come back four years later and get it again. Sheheen is showing why that can be a struggle," Buchanan said.

As the days to the election dwindle, Sheheen isn't slowing down. He makes two to three campaign stops most days, hammering home a message that the Republican governor ignored education, chases poor paying jobs that do nothing to improve people's lives, inflates those job announcement numbers and is too ethically challenged to lead South Carolina for four more years.

"If people who want honest government show up at the polls, I'll win the election," Sheheen said.

Polls aren't too friendly to that idea. A survey of likely voters by Winthrop University at the end of September had Haley at 44 percent with Sheheen about 10 percentage points behind. Recent polls have looked worse.

Full Story Here

Tuesday
Oct212014

Council Drops "Interim" from Administrator Burns' Title

Anderson County Council voted to drop “Interim” from the title of Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns Tuesday night, following a unanimous recommendation from the personnel committee earlier in the month. The vote was delayed in the Oct. 7 county council meeting because the proposal did not make it on the agenda for that meeting.

The proposal passed by a a vote of 5-0, with  Anderson County Councilman Eddie Moore and Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson abstaining.

Anderson County Councilman Francis Crowder, who chairs the committee, said that Burns' salary would remain the same, and that there would be no contract and “everything will continue as it is.”

Wilson praised Burns’ record during his tenure, but said because she believed the timing of the vote recalled 2009 she would abstain from the vote.

Council also approved a resolution asking the South Carolina General Assembly in the local government fund to provide tax relief for Anderson County property owners. 

“We are supposed to be getting $9 million, and we are getting less than $7 million,” said Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen. “They are not following the law that they themselves passed.”

Earlier, council approved on second reading tax incentives for Stanco Metal Product, Inc., creating 10 new jobs at an average $18.35 wage. The company has been in Anderson for more than 30 years, and the new investment totals $5.9 million.  

On Tuesday night, council:

Crowder allocated an additional $14,000 from his paving account, in addition to an earlier allocation of $8,000 from his recreation funds, for a parking and a possible park and playground. The $8,000 were for plans in phase one of the project, and the $14,000 will be used to pave the lot. 

Approved on first reading tax incentives for a company from the West Coast, Project East, a 15-year-old organic agribusiness, which will create 27 new jobs at an average salary of $18.74 and a $6.9 million total capital investment.  

Honored Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lee Luff for his “outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the  Anderson community; his involvement with local governments and businesses; and for showcasing our community and welcoming visitors. 

Recognized Andersonville Baptist Church on their 175th anniversary.

Proclaimed Oct. 19-24 “Starburst Storytellers Festival Week.”

Tuesday
Oct212014

Anderson Jobless Rate Drops; S.C. Adjusted Rate Rises

Anderson County's unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September, after a jump to 6.3 percent in August. It is the first drop in unemployment since April in Anderson County, which boasts the fifth lowest jobless rate in the South Carolina.

Jobless rates either went down or were unchanged in all of South Carolina's 46 counties, according to state officials. But those numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so they can't be directly compared with the state unemployment rate.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 6.6 percent in September from a revised August level of 6.3 percent. The number of unemployed persons was 144,388, an increase of 6,437 over  the month. The number of South Carolinians working ticked up by 2,527 people to 2,038,393. Over the month, the labor force increased by 8,964 people to a level of 2,182,781. 
Tuesday
Oct212014

Obamacare Not Curbing Charity Care at S.C. Hospitals

Hospitals in South Carolina are providing the same amount of charity care, if not more, than they were before the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace launched last year, a South Carolina Hospital Association executive said this week.

"There are some hospitals where it's worse, some hospitals where it's the same. It's not going down - I know that," said Rozalynn Goodwin, the hospital association's vice president for community engagement.

"I wouldn't surprise me to see minimal or no impact (from the Affordable Care Act)," said Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of Medical University Hospital. "We haven't seen any big change in the numbers at MUSC."

South Carolina hospitals provided more than $1 billion worth of uncompensated care last year to low-income patients who were uninsured and ineligible for Medicaid. The state and federal governments reimbursed them $471 million for it during the 2014 fiscal year.

"I think we forget - someone not having insurance doesn't mean that hospitals aren't being paid to care for that person," said S.C. Medicaid Director Tony Keck. He noted that hospitals across the state still made a $1.1 billion profit last year. "I don't know what data the (hospital association) has to back up their statement."

One of the main objectives of the federal health care law is to reduce the percentage of residents across the country without insurance. But South Carolina is one of about half of all states that will not participate in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, so hospitals here are still treating many low-income, uninsured patients, Goodwin said.

The Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion an optional provision of the law in 2012. Most conservative states, including South Carolina, opted out.

"We didn't have the type of enrollment that a lot of other states had," said Goodwin. The South Carolina Hospital Association supports Medicaid expansion. Keck, a member of Gov. Nikki Haley's Cabinet, does not.

Still, Medicaid enrollment is growing here, he said. More than 85,000 people have newly enrolled in the low-income health insurance program since Jan. 1, bringing total enrollment in the state to about 1.1 million residents.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Sheriff's Association Kicks Off Membership Drive

Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper announced today the beginning of the 2014 Fall Membership Drive for the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.  Skipper is an active member of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and invited the citizens of Anderson County to join the Association as Honorary Members.

The South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association provides advocacy using the strong unified voice of South Carolina’s 46 elected Sheriffs.  The Association is a key player in shaping state policy on public safety and crime prevention, as well as providing critical training to Sheriffs’ teams. “With government funding becoming increasingly difficult to secure, the membership drive has taken on greater importance than ever before”, said Sheriff Skipper.  “The funding is vital to help us carry out our mission of making our communities safer places to live, work, and play.”

Membership appeals will be sent out through a direct mail piece over the coming days. Individuals choosing to join the voluntary program can do so for as little as $25, while businesses can show their support for a $50 contribution.  The funding provides critically important technical resources, training, and legislative support on key criminal justice issues.  It is important to note that contributions are tax deductible.

“I realize that everyone does not have the ability or desire to become an Honorary Member of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association”, said Sheriff Skipper.   He went on to say, “But, rest assured that your inability to join this reputable organization will not impact the level of service you receive from my office.  I would simply ask you to consider joining the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association as an Honorary Member if you have the means and are so inclined.”

Individuals that do not receive a membership appeal and would like more information can contact the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association by phone at (803) 772-1101 or online at www.sheriffsc.com. The association can also be reached by mail at 112 Westpark Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210.

Sheriff Skipper would like to remind everyone that the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association does not solicit via telemarketing.  If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, know that it is a fraudulent call and hang up.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Bill Would Stop Social Security Benefits for Nazis

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is furious some former Nazis are still collecting US social security benefits and she intends to introduce a bill to take them away.

"It's deeply disturbing and I'm deeply disturbed that these individuals continue to receive Social Security benefits even after the Justice Department identified them as Nazi war criminals," Maloney told Business Insider on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals have collected millions in benefits over the years after they were expelled from the US. The AP investigation found US officials had used Social Security payments as a negotiating tool when securing agreements for the Nazis to voluntarily give up their US citizenship and leave the country.

"My legislation would close that loophole," the veteran Upper East Side lawmaker vowed. "If you're a Nazi war criminal, you're a Nazi war criminal. You should not be receiving Social Security benefits. Period."

Maloney said there are some promising signs for her bill, including support in the Senate from Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). The White House said Monday it agrees that these suspected war criminals should not be receiving the benefits.

However, the fact alleged Nazi war criminals are about as unsympathetic a target as one could find, Maloney said the bill's passage is not a foregone conclusion.

"You never know. I have a great deal of respect for anything that passes the United States Congress. I think this should be a slam dunk," she said.

Maloney has also called for an investigation into the matter at the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration. The Justice Department told Yahoo News it was reviewing the request.

As far as cutting off benefits to other people accused of serious crimes, Maloney cited terrorists as another group that should not be collecting taxpayer dollars as they enter their elderly years.

"Then I'll look at cutting off benefits to terrorists that are deported," she said.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Grace Episcopal BBQ to Benefit AIM

Grace Episcopal Church is hosting a BBQ fundraiser Nov.1 from 5-8 pm at the Anderson County Famers Market, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Anderson Interfaith Ministries.  For more information, call 864-225-8011 or visit aimcharity.org or here.