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Sleep Schedule Important for Students

After a summer of sleeping in and lazy mornings, today is a rude awakening.

Students are getting up before dawn, heading back to class, many of them still hungry for sleep.

Atlanta pediatrician and WebMD medical editor Dr Hansa Bhargava says sleep is a huge issue for children.

“And I think that is one of the issue that we miss,” Dr. Bhargava says. “Because we think everyone is getting sleep, but they don't necessarily get enough sleep. For example, for example kids that are 6 to 11 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night.”

High school students really struggle when it comes to getting enough sleep.

Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep a night. One survey found only 8 percent are getting that much.

Scheduling is a major challenge.

“Because they have a lot of homework,” says Bhargava.  “They have a lot of activities. And they're circadian rhythms actually change so they want to go to bed later. And get up later.”

Setting and sticking with a bedtime routine can help.

Bhargava says teens and younger students need a wind-down period before they go to bed, to signal to their brains it's time to sleep.

This should be quiet time, she says.

“The screens are turned off an hour before, maybe they have a bath, and maybe they do reading," she says.”

And, as parents, Bhargava says you have to practice what you preach.

“So, if you're telling your kids to go to bed on time and put those screens away so they can get a good night's sleep, try to do it yourself,” Dr. Bhargava says.

After school, set up a homework schedule and a routine that includes some down time.

Bhargava says she sees a lot of kids, some of them quite young, who are stressed.  She says many are juggling too many activities.

So, she urges parents to try to avoid over-scheduling kids outside of the classroom.

“I think it's really important to be mindful of how much the child can handle,” she says. “You may have a child who can handle 5 activities and still get straight A's.  But you may have a child that can only handle one activity, or no activities. Because they really need that time to decompress.”


Alligator Walks Out of Ocean at Myrtle Beach

Folks walking along the beach in Myrtle Beach found a companion out enjoying the sun and surf - a 4-foot alligator.

Sharon Martin tells The Sun News ( ) that she and a friend were taking their daily walk along the beach on Monday evening when the gator came walking out of the ocean.

They called 911 and emergency crews were dispatched. But after a short time lounging on the beach, the alligator headed back to the surf on its own.

No one was injured. But Martin says she had never seen anything like it and that it was pretty frightening to see an alligator coming out of the surf.


Dist. 5 Names Barr Teacher of the Year

Danessa Barr was named Anderson County School District 5’s Teacher of the Year during the district's back to school celebration on Monday.

Barr is a fifth grade teacher at Nevitt Forest Elementary School.

As part of the honor, Barr will get to drive a new Toyota from Ralph Hayes Toyota for a year.

All Anderson County school districts begin classes on Tuesday.


DHEC: Limit Eating Largemouth Bass from Hartnell, Keowee

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control is asking people to limit their consumption of bass species from Lake Hartwell and Lake Keowee due to mercury levels in the fish.

According to DHEC’s annual state fish consumption advisory, spotted bass in Lake Keowee and Lake Hartwell, and largemouth bass in Lake Keowee have been added to this year's advisories.

Health officials recommend that people limit eating spotted bass from Lake Hartwell to one meal per month, spotted bass and largemouth bass from Lake Keowee to one meal per week. 

"Fish caught in the state's waters are safe to eat if people follow the fish consumption advisory guidelines," David Baize, chief of DHEC's Bureau of Water. "The advisory helps anglers know what amounts are healthy to eat based on the location and species they are catching."

The agency also provided the following information about fish and its effect on human health:

Fish is a healthy source of protein and nutrients, is low in saturated fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, fish sometimes accumulate minerals and contaminants in their tissue. DHEC monitors fish populations across the state, along with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, to prevent unhealthy levels of mercury or other contaminants being passed on to humans who might eat the fish.

A fish advisory does not mean the water is unsafe for recreational or drinking uses. Pregnant women, women who might become pregnant, infants, and children should not eat any fish with an advisory. 

DHEC's website provides a complete listing of fish consumption advisories.


Study: Replace 1 Sugary Drink with Water for Better Health

A new study at Virginia Tech University suggests swapping one sugary drink per day for water has a huge benefit to overall health.

Replacing one sugary drink per day, including "diet" beverages, with water can reduces caloric intake and the risk of obesity and other health conditions, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.

The extra calories of heavily sweetened beverages such as soda, energy drinks, some juices and even sweetened coffee increases the risk of weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Higher consumption of sweetened beverages has also been linked to less healthy diets overall. That is, the more sugary beverages a person drinks each day, the more likely they are to eat unhealthy levels of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets and starches, while lower calorie drinks are linked to diets higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry.

For the study, researchers analyzed health data on 19,718 adults collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2012, finding a shift in drinking patterns has a big effect on health.

The effects of replacing a single 8-ounce sugar-sweetened drink with an 8-ounce serving of water is enough to achieve the shift toward better health, the researchers report.

"We found that among U.S. adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the percent of calories coming from drinks from 17 to 11 percent," Kiyah Duffey, an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech University, said in a press release. "Even those who consumed more sugary drinks per day could still benefit from water replacement, dropping the amount of calories coming from beverages to less than 25 percent of their daily caloric intake."

Although the study was funded by the Drinking Water Research Foundation, which supports research for the drinking water industry, the researcher's evaluations of potential health benefits of switching to water echo suggestions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to get no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugar.

"Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit," Duffey said.


Schools Prepare for New 10-Point Grading System

The school year kicking off Monday across South Carolina brings a new 10-point grading scale for high schoolers, impacting who qualifies for scholarships, sports, or just a passing grade.

That means a 90 becomes an A; 80 is a B; 70 a C; and 60 passes. Previously, the thresholds were 93, 85, 77 and 70, respectively.

All five Anderson County superitendents have said they are working hard to make sure the scale does not diminsh academic standing in the schools.

State schools Superintendent Molly Spearman says the change allows students to fairly compete for college entry and scholarships and provides consistency for transfer students, since other states already use a 10-point scale.

Spearman contends the seven-point scale used statewide since 2000 puts South Carolina students at a disadvantage. Critics, however, argue the change lessens the value of a diploma, since a failing grade lowers from 69 to 59.


Council to Discuss, Vote on Hospitality Tax Tuesday

Anderson County Council will hear a full explanation of the proposed Anderson County Hospitality Tax from Administrator Rusty Burns as part of Tuesday's council meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

Council narrowly approved the tax on first reading Tuesday, by a vote of 4-3.

Full Agenda for Tuesday's meeting here.


Trump Promises Pastors Higher Church Attendance

Christian Post

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump promised a group of pastors Thursday that he will unmuzzle and empower the "silenced" church and increase church attendance by repealing the Johnson Amendment if he is elected president in November.

The Johnson Amendment, which is a piece of legislation prepared by former President Lyndon Johnson and passed by Congress in 1954, is often described as prohibiting charitable organizations (including churches) from endorsing political candidates.

Trump took aim at the legislation while speaking at a two-day event which began Thursday at the Hyatt Regency on International Drive in Orlando, Florida, entitled "Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project."

The New York City billionaire explained in his address that he first became aware of the muzzling effect of the Johnson Amendment on the church when he first met with a group of religious leaders several months ago.

He said he realized that the pastors loved him and supported him but when he asked them for their public support they got silent.

"There was like silence in the room. Silence. I said 'What is this? What's going on? Why is there silence?'"

He claimed that the pastors revealed after a lot of prodding that they didn't want to lose their tax-exempt status for supporting him because of the Johnson Amendment.

Three months after that initial meeting, Trump said he met with a similar group of religious leaders again after doing some homework on the legislation.

"It was Lyndon Johnson, in the 1970s," he stated incorrectly.

Full Story Here


Clemson Welcome Back Festival Monday

The annual Welcome Back Festival will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday in downtown Clemson.

Sponsored by the Clemson Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council, it will feature more than 85 local vendors. College Avenue will be shut down so students and community members can wander through the various attractions.

Entry to the festival is free. Food can be purchased with tickets, which are 50 cents apiece. The money raised will go to the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Clemson University President James P. Clements and Clemson Mayor J.C. Cook will speak and the Tiger mascot will be there along with a Clemson Spirit Squad to pump up the crowd.


S.C. Rules Change for School Resource Officer

A video of a Spring Valley school resource officer shocked the nation and the world watched as the officer pulled a female student out of her desk and to the ground. 

"That was something that was taken from a level of 1 to 10 in a matter of seconds," said Dexter Reeves. 

Reeves used to serve as a school resource officer in many schools across Greenville County and now is the Executive Director of Pleasant Valley Connection.  He said school resource officers are there to handle situations that take a 180 in an instant. 

"Many police officers and school resource officers are trained to alleviate the threat and to minimize that level," said Reeves.

He said a lot of attention has been put on school resource officers since the Spring Valley incident, and not long after it happened, the South Carolina Department of Education created the Safe Schools Task force.

"I'm telling everyone I'm going to be praying for them that they have a smooth year," said Molly Spearman.

She serves as the State Superintendent of Education and created the task force.

In the report released this year, they're recommending the adoption of the federal definition of a school resource officer in the state statute, which is defined as a sworn law enforcement officer that has completed the basic course of instruction. The task force also wants to make other changes to their roles. 

"They're trying to specify certain crimes in which the school resource officer can respond to a certain situation where a student is involved in something criminal," said Reeves.

As a former school resource officer himself, Reeves said he sees some reason for concern regarding these recommendations. "There's some crimes that are left off or some incidents that are left off that could create a problem for teachers and also administrators, if they do not have the support of a school resource officer," he said.

Reeves said one of those crimes is disturbing school, which can involve a number of circumstances like a student  using fowl language or being excessive in their actions. 

"With that crime or that charge being left off, that leaves very tough situations for administrators and teachers to handle," he said.


S.C. Farmers Flood Aid Deadline Monday

Farmers who suffered crop loss due to last year's flood have fifteen days remaining to apply for South Carolina Farm Aid grants through the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA). Applications must be postmarked or delivered to an SCDA office on August 15, 2016.

To be eligible for the grant, farmers must have:

-experienced a verifiable loss of affected agricultural commodities of at least 40-percent as a result of the October 2015 flooding,

-a farm located in a USDA flood disaster declared South Carolina county and

-a United Stated Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency issued farm number.

Applicants will also be required to sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, certifying that loss information is accurate. Acceptable documentation of loss varies based on each crop.

"I encourage farmers still trying to recover from last year's devastating flood to apply for this one-time assistance," said Commissioner Hugh Weathers. "There's still time to get your applications in and our partners continue to provide assistance with the application process."

For complete application instructions and to access the application PDF form, visit


County Wins Award for Airline Road Bridge Initiative

Anderson County has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Project of the Year award for the newly constructed Airline Road Bridge by the South Carolina American Public Works Association (SCAPWA).

The bridge is the first of its kind in South Carolina to use a GRS-IBS foundation, a new technology which is part of the FHWA’s “Every Day Counts” initiative. GRS-IBS is short for Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System.  The bridge foundation consists of layers of specialty fabric and small stone, with a concrete block façade which blends the roadway into the superstructure.

With no local expertise or local construction history, Anderson County pursued and supported the new technology. FHWA experts assisted the county’s bridge engineer, Thulasi Vinayagam, in developing the plans and material quality specifications.  All of the bridge and roadway work was completed by Roads & Bridges crews at a cost of $418,325.  The estimated cost using a traditional steel pile and hollow cored slab type bridge would have cost close to one million dollars.  Along with the cost savings on this type bridge, other benefits included reduced construction time, flexible design and easier maintenance. 

The bridge was opened to the public on May 22, 2014. Two years after its completion, Anderson County is proud to have received this State-level award early this week.

For additional information, contact Thulasi Vinayagam, or 260-4190.


Opinion: Hospitality Tax One Key to County's Economic Future

Greg Wilson

Publisher/Anderson Observer 

Anderson County Council took the first step toward a countywide hospitality tax Tuesday night in a meeting where emotions almost managed to override one crucial, important fact: Anderson County is in serious need of a hospitality tax.

Almost every large county, and many of the smaller ones, in the South Carolina already has a hospitality tax, including most of Anderson’s neighboring counties.  

The reason is, a hospitality tax brings in millions of dollars each year. This is true of cities as well. According to a S.C. Municipal Association fiscal year 2014-2015, those in the state with hospitality taxes received $125.4 million in added revenue.

The City of Anderson generated nearly $2.5 million in revenue from it’s own hospitality tax in 2015.

Anderson County leadership has worked hard to dig out from the economic collapse of 2008 and managed to rebuild the county’s infrastructure and job base in a remarkable fashion with very few increases to the taxpayers. 

The current council has shown prudence before implementing any increases to local taxpayers, and have generally found more creative ways to continue to help the county grow and prosper without adding to the tax burden on its citizens. 

At the core of this strategy has been the county’s continued success in economic development. Not enough has been said about the fact that Anderson County has the most international investment of any county in South Carolina, with more than 50 companies representing 23 different nations. It is an sterling accomplishment and something to brag about.

Anderson County Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson and Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns have done amazing work keeping the county at or near the top of the list of companies, both domestic and international, looking for a new location.

Anderson County’s natural assists have helped in this endeavor. With a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, access to major interstate arteries and Hartwell Lake, it would be hard to ignore our county when looking for a place to work and live. 

Great as they are, natural assets are not enough in the competitive world of recruiting companies with good jobs and good pay. Working with council, Nelson and Burns have worked hard to find incentives and other things to distinguish Anderson from other parts of the world, giving the companies few reasons to look elsewhere. And it has worked - so far.

The competition is fierce. And while financial incentives and a great natural location are important, one of the key factors in recruiting industry today, especially international companies, is being able to offer the amenities which lead to the best quality of life. 

Schools are part of this. The current council has done more than any in memory to work in conjunction with public schools, technical schools and local colleges and universities to make Anderson a work friendly location.

But it takes more than good schools, an interstate and a lake. It takes a commitment to improving quality of life issues, through recreation opportunities for potential businesses and their employees who might eventually call Anderson home. 

And while the county has made progress, when compared to our neighboring counties - those with hospitality taxes - we are still lagging in recreation opportunities and those things which improve quality of life for our current citizens and for those companies evaluating communities which are committed to providing such opportunities. 

Working with money from a settlement, Green Pond Landing has quickly risen to national prominence as one of the top fishing lakes in America. However, even though phase one of the project has been completed, there is much yet to be done at the site, which now is essentially a great boat launch and parking lot. With the national spotlight on the site, Anderson could miss a huge opportunity to make it a jewel of the South without the proper funding to complete the complete plans for the property, making it something not only imminently usable for the citizens of the county, but making it a signature recreation site the entire lake and region. The window to do this will not remain open forever. 

The new county industrial park in Sandy Springs is another key part of the future of economic development in the county, and quality of life issues will play a major role in the kind of companies that site will attract. 

Other Anderson County facilities and parks are also in need of major upgrades and maintenance. As the folks in the parks department continue to create free, accessible facilities for all of our citizens, they are working on shoestring budgets which often leaves much undone. 

There are so many visions for recreation facilities in all parts of the county, from trails to upgrades at the Civic Center, Broadway Lake, Dolly Cooper Park, Green Pond and more, all aimed and improving the quality of life for those who live and work here now, and improving our competitive edge in recruiting future industry to Anderson County. 

It is pennywise and dollar foolish to suggest a two percent hospitality tax needs more study at this point. I made calls to seven counties that are relatively comparable to Anderson which have a hospitality tax, and every single county said that the impact had been overwhelmingly positive. Each of these counties also far exceeded expectations in hospitality tax revenue in the first year.  

Despite some rambling discussion during Tuesday night’s county council meeting, putting a hospitality tax into place is not complicated. The hospitality tax is a uniform tax of 2 percent on the gross proceeds derived from the sales of prepared meals, food, and beverages sold in or by establishments, or those licensed for on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages, beer, or wine in Anderson County.

That definition is not confusing. If you have a business which serves food on site, your customers will pay two extra pennies per dollar spent. It is a stretch to suggest those who can afford to dine out cannot absorb an extra two percent tax which will be directly invested back into the community in concrete ways profitable to all, without adding to the tax burden of property owners.

Arguments against the tax are vague and emotion based. And it was surprising that council members, most of whom have been discussing this issue for several years would suddenly feel the need to ask for more feedback from constituents. It seems a few loud barking voices, the same ones which oppose any increase in anything for any reason (and progress in general), have gotten more attention than they deserve. 

Remember, an elected official is a steward, not a proxy. While they represent the interests of voters in their districts, they are also responsible for the current and future health of all citizens and the county they represent. Citizen input is important, but sometimes there is a greater good than voter opinion, and that is why we have elected representatives in Anderson County who are stewards of the county, not proxy votes for those in their districts. 

And unlike the recent issue of the change in council member terms from two to four years, this is not something suited for referendum. Elected officials primary duty is to do what’s best for all citizens of Anderson County, with an eye toward the present and the future.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that continued success in economic recruitment will be far more difficult if the county does not do something about the long underfunded recreation opportunities and those other things which impact our quality of life.  

The county was short-sighted years ago when it built a civic center that did not follow the lead of the $50,000 county-funded study suggesting the building of a 12,500-seat arena instead of a concrete trade center floor. The arena was projected to turn a profit withing five years. Projecting 15 years out, there was no suggestion what was built would ever be profitable. Had Anderson built an arena, Greenville would have never built the Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Bi-Lo Center), and our county would have been the major stop between Atlanta and Charlotte.

Only the creative minds who later added the amphitheater, the Kid Venture Playground and walking track salvaged something from that poorly conceived decision. 

We cannot afford to be short-sighted today.

The hospitality tax offers the opportunity to be visionary and to make progress in finding funds which will offer significant benefits for the future of the county. 

No doubt, there is so little money, and so many needs. But the county council is faced with either maintaining status quo, and risk losing some major economic development partners, or to continue improving Anderson County and the quality of life for its present and potential citizens. 

Such new initiatives take money, and the options for funding are mostly limited at this time to a hospitality tax (which will be funded by every person who vists Anderson County or eats out, in other words a lot of folks who don’t live here will fund our projects), or a property tax increase (paid by residents and property owners only)

County council members should allow cooler heads to prevail and investigate the long-term advantages of instituting the hospitality tax and not allow the loudest voice of uninformed protest to influence the future of recreation and economic development in the county. 

Again, an elected official is a steward, not a proxy.  

There are two readings left. Call your council member and tell them you support progress in Anderson County through a revenue stream that will be paid largely by visitors to the county.

Here are their phone numbers:

Dist. 1 Francis Crowder  864-958-1470

Dist. 2 Gracie Floyd 864-226-3491

Dist. 3 J. Mitchell Cole 864-940-2307 

Dist. 4 Tom Allen, 864-964-9976

Dist. 5 Tommy Dunn 864-844-3765 

Dist. 6 Ken Waters 864-430-0123

Dist. 7 Cindy Wilson  864-261-3980