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Airport Advisory Committee to Meet Monday

The Anderson County Airport Advisory Committee will meet Monday in the Airport Hangar at the Anderson County Airport at 6 p.m.

The agenda includes a discussion of fuel sales and a report from the airport manager.



Duke Power Gets Ok for 10 Percent Rate Increase

South Carolinians will pay about 10 percent more on their electric bills after the state approved a Duke Energy rate increase.

The Public Service Commission says Duke Energy’s residential customers will see about a 7 percent increase starting later this month with an additional 3 percent increase in 2014.

Duke Energy initially asked for a 15 percent increase, and the Office of Regulatory Staff countered by asking the commission to cut it in half. Officials say the utility needs the additional money to recoup what it has already paid for new power plants and equipment to comply with regulations.

Charlotte-based Duke Energy has 540,000 customers in South Carolina, mostly in the Upstate.

“We believe the settlement reflects a balance between the needs of our company and the needs of our customers,” Duke Energy South Carolina state president Clark Gillespy said in a statement.

The company says its rates in South Carolina are still below the national average.

Under the settlement, Duke will not be able to raise South Carolina rates again until September 2015. STAFF WRITER ANDREW DUNN AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/09/11/4306217/duke-energy-raising-rates-10-percent.html#.UjGC8BahFEw#storylink=cpy

State Newspaper Reassigns Writer Critical of Spurrier 

In case there was any doubt before, it’s official: Steve Spurrier is the capo di tutti cappi in Columbia, S.C.

The city’s biggest newspaper, The State, removed Spurrier’s harshest critic, columnist Ron Morris, from the South Carolina football beat, media site jimromenesko.com reported Wednesday. The State also has hired writer Glenn Snyder, a self-described “superfan” of the program who received a recommendation from his friend, Spurrier.

Morris is now covering Clemson, South Carolina’s bitter rival, and writing about the national college football scene. Romenesko’s sources said the The State’s publisher, Henry Haitz III, made Morris agree in writing earlier this year to stop writing about South Carolina and talking about the Gamecocks on TV and radio.

Spurrier has publicly criticized Morris’ commentary for years as being too negative. The coach once held up the start of a press conference until Morris left the room.

Morris was once forced to apologize for equating Spurrier’s outsize influence on South Carolina to Joe Paterno and Penn State. Haitz is a Penn State graduate, according to Romenesko.

Spurrier denied that he muscled Morris off the beat.

Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are 1-1 so far in 2013. (AP Photo)

“Ron Morris just wrote stuff that wasn’t true about me and I reacted,” Spurrier told Romenesko last week. “I was fine with him the first five or six years here, and then he would write stuff that wasn’t true.” Spurrier did not specify what was untruthful.

“I complained to the world about him,” Spurrier told Romenesko when asked whether he voiced his objections complained directly to Haitz. “I complained to Gamecock Nation on my radio show. But don’t put (The State’s decision) on me. (Morris) is responsible for that.”

Snyder has covered the program for more than three decades for various publications. He told Romenesko that he has attended “343 games in a row” involving the Gamecocks.

Spurrier confirmed that he went to bat for Snyder with The State.

“I did call The State newspaper and put in a good word for him, and they hired him,” the coach told Romenesko.

Spurrier said he spoke with Haitz, who was introduced to Spurrier by longtime USC football analyst Tommy Suggs, a former Gamecock quarterback. The State declined to address the situation directly in its response to Romenesko.


Russian Plan Could Offer "Off Ramp" for Obama

President Barack Obama addressed the nation last night with an assist from an unexpected source, the benefit of additional time, and at least the prospect of an outcome that stops short of military action in Syria.

Whether by good fortune or design, it wasn’t the speech that had been envisioned just 24 hours earlier, thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin seizing on an off-hand comment from Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. might stand down if Syria turned over its chemical weapons.

As such, Obama was able to delay a showdown vote with Congress, where momentum was moving away from him. He also reduced the risk of further erosion in public support that could become a drag on his domestic agenda, including the implementation of his landmark health care law and lifting the federal government’s debt ceiling.

“I know everybody was looking for an off ramp,” said Representative Buck McKeon, a California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, “because they knew they didn’t have the votes.”

Still, McKeon said he’s skeptical about whether Russia will prove a fair partner in the mission ahead, particularly when Putin began imposing early demands on Russia’s cooperation.

“Putin dangled the hook and they bit,” he said. “Now that they’re on the hook he started pulling.”

Full Story Here


New Yorker: New iPhones Mundane, but Ok


The new iPhones look like the old iPhones. They sound like the old iPhones. They do the same things as the old iPhones. Just slightly better, more colorfully, and less expensively than the old iPhones. This might seem disappointing: even Apple’s phones are boring now. But this is an ideal state of affairs.

The original iPhone, released in June, 2007, gave birth to the modern smartphone era: browsing restaurant menus on a sidewalk, watching a movie on a bus, tweeting from the subway and posting photos of a newborn to Facebook the second it opens its eyes. What we can do now, six years later, has not fundamentally changed since then. It’s easier or faster—forty times faster, according to Apple—or higher resolution, or all of the above. To wit, the iPhone 5S has few genuinely new features, and those that it does have are nearly invisible. In order of importance, they are: a built-in fingerprint scanner to replace passwords, faster chips, a higher-quality camera, and a gold body. The iPhone 5C is essentially the exact same as the current iPhone 5, but shoved into a brightly colored plastic, rather than aluminum, shell and sold for a hundred dollars less than before.

Fundamental technology, like manufacturing processes for processors and imaging sensors and displays, have evolved to the point that the basic shape and sense of a phone—a thin rectangle with a four-to-five-inch high-resolution touch screen stuffed with a variety of sensors—is determined now largely based on its merits rather than its outright technical limitations, much the same way that the basic shape of a knife is defined by its function rather than our ability to produce it. (The biggest technical limitation for mobile devices now is battery technology, which has not seen a true breakthrough in decades.)

The result is twofold: phones have matured to the point that, until a truly radical breakthrough in computing technology occurs, there is not much left to improve on, and even the baseline phones are relatively high quality now. The iPhone 5, the writer Ben Thompson points out, is the “first iPhone that Apple believes is ‘good enough,’ ” which is why Apple was finally comfortable using it as the basis of a brand-new, lower-cost phone. (This same process has occurred with laptops as well: the MacBook Air, arguably the gold standard in laptops, has not fundamentally changed in years, while even lower-cost machines from P.C. manufacturers are generally good now.)

The march of progress here is not as plodding as it might seem, however: technology companies have, in the span of just a half dozen years for the smartphone, and just a couple of years for tablets, refined radical reductions of computing as we knew it into experiences that both increasingly approach common appliances in their simplicity and traditional computers in their full-blown utility. Despite being hopelessly complex to manufacture, for users, smartphones are closer to a toaster than they are to a room-sized mainframe computer of yore in nearly every conceivable way; this is the basis of Apple’s initially bewildering ad campaign that essentially highlighted how delightfully mundane using an iPhone is.

And, for the next few years, advances in smartphones and tablets will continue to be subtle and iterative, driven by the twin processes of simplification and connection. The advanced Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the 5S’s home button, while a seemingly basic technology (it replaces your password with your thumbprint in a handful of very specific applications) is a perfectly representative feature. Today, it’s merely a convenience, since putting your thumb where it goes a hundred times a day anyway is less annoying than typing in a password. But it’s also a step closer to the day when we no longer have to remember or store dozens of passwords—a fundamental reinvention of the way we approach identity and computer security on a daily, even hourly, basis. It breaks down one of the barriers between humans and our machines.

The general completion of the grander project of transforming phones into fully functional, easy-to-use computers has a more remarkable upside, in that technology companies can focus on inventing something else. One obvious future for computers is toward something like Google Glass or that’s wrapped around our wrists. Oddly, even before it’s arrived, the notion of an era of wearable computers already seems a little boring—remarkably like tiny iPhones bolted to our heads and fastened to our wrists. But there may be no better sign of progress than when the future feels mundane: it grants you the license to invent a new one.



State Likely to Add New Area Code in 2015

South Carolina will likely gain a fourth area code by the end of 2015.

The state Public Service Commission announced Tuesday that the group responsible for coordinating area codes in the U.S. has filed a petition calling for relief in the state's fast-growing 843 region. The petition doesn't specify what the new number would be.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator expects numbers to run out for the area code in the state's coastal and Pee Dee regions in the fourth quarter of 2015. It recommends creating an additional area code for new customers in the 843 region. Existing customers would keep their current numbers. But everyone within the region would have to start using all 10 digits to place local phone calls, rather than seven.

The petition recommends a 13-month implementation schedule.

The plan goes before the commission for approval. A public hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 3.

South Carolina last added an area code 15 years ago.

The state's 803 area code first split in December 1995, when 864 went into service for numbers in the state's northwestern corner, which includes Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson. It split again in March 1998, when 843 became the area code for all or parts of 21 counties that include the cities of Beaufort, Charleston, Florence and Myrtle Beach.


Atlantic: GOP Wants to Cut Food Stamps for Millions of Americans

Congress is back in Washington, meaning that the House of Representatives will soon be able to resume its cherished function in our democracy: casting symbolic votes to slash federal spending on the poor. In particular, Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pushing a Republican plan to cleave at least $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—aka food stamps—over the next ten years, a reduction the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says would push some 4 to 6 million Americans off its rolls. 

As The New York Times noted in a weekend editorial, the GOP is making this crusade at a time when some 14.5 percent of U.S. households are having trouble putting meals on the table due to their finances. That's according to a new report this month from the Department of Agriculture, which found the rate of food insecurity last year was essentially unchanged from 2011. About 5.7 percent of households suffered from "very low food security," meaning among other things that they were actually forced to cut portion sizes or entire meals for lack of cash. 

Households dealing with food insecurity don't necessarily suffer day in and day out. Rather, they might be dealing with these issues intermittently, or a few days out of every month. 

But the bottom line is that some 49 million Americans live in a situation where getting fed isn't necessarily a guarantee. 

There are just two observations I'd like to make here. First, it's notable that,much like the poverty rate, the hunger quotient in this country has barely budged since the economy supposedly began to heal (at least so far as the government's most up-to-date statistics can tell us). Much has been made about how the benefits of the recovery have gone disproportionately to top earners. But this is also a reminder that, for the least fortunate strata of the country, there hasn't really be a recovery to speak of at all. 

Second: This is the state of hunger in the United States with the food stamp program in tact. Already, Washington doesn't do enough to totally mitigate the problem (remember, in 2012, the maximum benefit for a family of three worked out to $5.75 per person per day.) The USDA estimates that about half of the households that received federal nutrition assistance still suffered some amount of food insecurity. And yet, one of our major political parties wants to yank the dinner plate away from 6 million more Americans. 

But hey, at least there's still plenty of money in the budget to doll out to wealthy farmers.


Emergency Services "Operation School Bell" Exercise Wednesday

Anderson County Emergency Services, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, SC Department of Education, State & Local EMA, Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS will join all five Anderson County School Districts in a Senior Officials Table Top Exercise “Operation School Bell”Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Civic Center of Anderson.

Operation School Bell is a Tabletop Exercise designed as a K-12 initiative with objectives:

  • To enhance coordination, collaboration and capacity building between school officials, local first responders and community emergency operations
  • To develop, review and/or test multiple Emergency Operating Plans for a local response to a School Threat of Violence including the overarching prevention, protection, response, recovery and mitigation of those threats
  • To develop the foundation for an overarching comprehensive emergency operation plan for school-based incidents while expanding core capabilities based on the ‘whole of community’ concept of resilience

This exercise is an opportunity to unite as a community and solidify mitigation, response and recovery practices. For more information: Taylor Jones, Deputy Chief, Anderson County Emergency Services tjones@andersoncountysc.org


PSC Meeting on Potential Increase in Some Water Rates

On October 1, the South Carolina Public Service Commission will conduct a hearing in regard to a Utilities, Inc. proposal that would increase water rates 47% for residents in their service district. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the North Pointe Elementary School Auditorium located at 3325 Highway 81 North, Anderson, South Carolina.  

South Carolina House Members Brian White, Michael W. Gambrell, Anne Thayer and Don C. Bowen sincerely encourage all residents involved with Utilities, Inc. to attend this hearing. Should you have any questions or need to speak with members of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation, call the Delegation Office at 864-260-4025. 


United Way Donates Funds to Azalea Fire Victims

United Way of Anderson County Board Chair, Pat Patrick and President, Carol Burdette presented checks for $2,500 each to The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army to benefit residents of the Azalea Apartment complex who lost their homes in a fire in August. 

“For over 60 years United Way has been supporting non-profit agencies in this community”, stated Carol Burdette, Chief Professional Officer of United Way.  “Recently two of our non-profits went over and above in their service to the nearly 70 residents displaced by the Azalea apartment fire.  They spent countless man-hours and thousands of dollars to assist these Anderson County citizens, and the board of directors of United Way of Anderson County wanted to help with some additional funding in the amount of $2,500 for each agency.  Our hats off to the staff and volunteers of these agencies along with the other non-profits, churches, Anderson County Emergency Preparedness, other government agencies and individuals who stepped up to help.


State Nursing Homes First in Reducing Antipsychotic Drugs

Nursing homes are using antipsychotics less and instead pursuing more person-centered care for residents with dementia, according to new data released on Nursing Home Compare in July by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Nationally, use of antipsychotic medications in treating long-term nursing home residents dropped by more than 9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the last quarter of 2011. South Carolina facilities showed a drop of 16 percent, putting them at fifth highest in reduction of antipsychotic drug use. North Carolina nursing homes had the largest reduction of antipsychotic drug use with more than 23 percent.

Unnecessary antipsychotic drug use is a significant challenge in dementia care. The level of use in nursing homes has been a concern for decades. In 2012, CMS launched the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care. The Partnership aims to reduce unnecessary antipsychotic medications in several ways. These include:

  • Enhancing training for nursing home providers and state surveyors
  • Increasing transparency by making antipsychotic use data available online at Nursing Home Compare
  • Highlighting alternate strategies to improve dementia care

Today, there are approximately 30,000 fewer nursing home residents on these medications now than if the prevalence had remained at the pre-National Partnership level. The Partnership’s goal is to reduce antipsychotic drug usage by 15 percent by the end of 2013. Both North and South Carolina has already exceeded the national goal.

“Through a statewide effort, nursing homes have been provided with tools and resources for a person-centered approach that focuses on protecting residents by limiting antipsychotic medication use to those with a clinical indication,” said Theresa Seaberg, RHIT, CCS, CCME program manager for patient safety and care transitions. “Safety measures include implementing a systematic process to evaluate the needs of each individual and using non-pharmacological alternatives.”

The success in the Carolinas is in large part a result of the work of The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME). Currently, South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation for the lowest use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications by long-stay residents.

CCME, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for North and South Carolina, and its partnersThe South Carolina Health Care Association and The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control—have worked collectively on a statewide effort to assist nursing homes by providing educational programs, tools, and resources focusing on a person-centered approach to reduce unnecessary antipsychotic medication use.

Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, said efforts to improve dementia care in nursing homes are yielding results. “We will continue to work with clinicians, caregivers, and communities to improve care and eliminate harm for people living with dementia,” he said.

For more information on the Partnership’s efforts to reduce use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, please visit Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes. 


Sheheen to Visit Anderson for Fundraiser Sept. 19

Democratic guberatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen will be in Anderson Sept. 19 for a fundraising event at the Tavern Under the Bridge in Anderson. For more information or to RSVP by calling 803-712-3768 or info@sheheenforsouthcarolina.com

Pumpkin Festival Set for Oct. 12

The 35th annual Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 12 will be giving away a quilt depicting the Oolenoy Community Building.

The building was originally the Oolenoy Schoolhouse and was built in 1918. In 1957, when rural schools were consolidated, the building became a community center. It now hosts the annual Pumpkin Festival and many other community events, such as weddings and reunions.

The quilt was designed by Susie Flowers and quilted by Ann Stowe. Tickets for this year’s quilt will be available at various locations in the Pumpkintown area for the next few weeks, and will also be available in the Community Center the day of the festival. The tickets are $1 each, and the drawing will be held at 4 p.m. on Oct. 12 during the festival. You do not have to be present to win the quilt.

The Pumpkintown Community Club, which sponsors the festival, meets the second Monday of January, April, June, August, September, October and November, and anyone is invited to join if interested in helping prepare for the festival or help with other community projects.

For more information on the Community Club please contact Club President Bob Flowers at 898-0261 or 884-2671.