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N.C.Solar Power Now Generates $1.6 B in Revenue

A North Carolina sustainable energy group announced solar power capacity in the state has passed 1 gigawatt of power and accounts for $1.6 billion in revenue.

"Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina's clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching 1 gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market," Robin Aldina, manager of energy research at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, said in an emailed statement.

The NCSEA credits a strong climate of support for renewable and energy efficiency with stimulating the low-carbon sector in the state. By its estimates, the solar power industry accounts for roughly 4,000 jobs in North Carolina.

The organization said it would continue pressing state lawmakers to support tax breaks for the industry as they debate next year's budget.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, meanwhile, said it scheduled a task force meeting Oct. 7 in Wilmington to discuss the future for wind energy development off the state's coast.

BOEM said last week a multi-year vetting process concluded there would be no significant environmental impacts associated with developing wind farms off the coast of North Carolina.

The U.S. Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found total installed wind power capacity in the United States is near 66 gigawatts, an 8 percent increase since last year. All of that is onshore as there are no offshore wind farms in commercial operation in the United State


Obamacare has Pushed Deductibles Up 67%

In the last five years, the number of workers with health insurance deductibles, as well as the size of those deductibles, have increased at a much faster rate than increases in workers' wages and general inflation, according to a new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday.

Since the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" was signed into law in 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey, both the growing number of workers with deductibles and the size of those deductibles have resulted in an overall 67 percent increase in health insurance deductibles for workers.

Meanwhile, the increase in single premiums has also been high but less than the deductibles spike, at a 24 percent growth rate.

The rate of increase in health insurance deductibles is also nearly seven times the growth rate of workers' wages, which stand at 10 percent, and general inflation at about 9 percent.

"With deductibles rising so much faster than premiums and wages, it's no surprise that consumers have not felt the slowdown in health spending," said Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman in a release.

Maulik Joshi, president of HRET, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, said, however, that "employees are benefiting from stable employer health benefits coverage and modest premium growth." He further noted that "many employers are tying financial incentives to employee participation in health and wellness programs."

Since 2005, according to the survey, health insurance premiums have grown an average of 5 percent each year, as compared to 11 percent annually between 1999 and 2005.

It was also noted that the average annual premium for single coverage is $6,251 and workers paid an average of $1,071 to that amount. The average family premium, on the other hand, stood at $17,545, and workers on average contributed $4,955


Denver Downs Adds Harvest of Horror to Annual Event

Denver Downs Farm's Giant Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch is always fun, but this year it's also going to be scary.

Beginning Friday, this year's corn maze is finger-licking good, featuring a layout of Col Sanders. The fall family festival will be open every Saturday and Sunday (and some Fridays) through Oct.
 31, and includes activities for all ages including hay rides, farm football, a hay barn with giant hay bale climbing.

In addition to the corn maze and other annual autumn activities at Denver Downs, beginning Oct. 1, this year's even will also feature a haunted "Harvest of Horror." The Harvest of Horror haunted attraction includes a Haunted House, Haunted Hotel, Haunted Hayride and Haunted Trail! Harvest of Horror is located inside Denver Downs, and it’s open after 7:30pm Thursday through Sunday, Oct 1 – Nov 1. The new event is $25 per person.

The annual Corn Maze & Giant Pumpkin Patch is held at Denver Downs Farm, a Century Farm on Hwy. 76 one mile north of Interstate 85 in Anderson. The Garrison family has owned and operated the 900-acre farm since 1872.

Admission to the annual Corn Maze & Giant Pumpkin Patch is $14 per person. Children 24 months and under may enter at no charge. The festival is open Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. until Oct. 31. 

For more information visit here.


S.C. Senate Fast Tracks Medical Marijuana Bill

A Senate panel has advanced a bill legalizing marijuana in South Carolina for patients suffering from an array of ailments recognized by a doctor.

The bipartisan sponsors of the proposal sent to a full Senate committee Thursday wanted suggestions to make the bill better.

It would allow qualified patients and care-givers to possess limited amounts of marijuana and creates a seed-to-sale tracking system.

Law enforcement officials and the South Carolina Baptist Convention oppose the bill.

It makes the state's health agency responsible for licensing marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries.

Marijuana use is illegal under federal law but allowed in some cases in dozens of states.

A South Carolina law approved last year allows people suffering from severe epilepsy to use a non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana to control their seizures.


Pope Talks Income Equality, Climate Change before Congress

Pope Francis spoke about the need to address climate change and income equality Thursday when he became the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Francis addressed Senators and Representatives at the meeting presided by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden, who are both Catholic. The pope arrived in his now-famed Fiat 500L and was greeted by Boehner within the U.S. Capitol, where a crowd of thousands gathered on the building's west lawn.

"I am most grateful for your invitation to address this joint session of Congress in the land of the free and the home of the brave," Francis told the audience, to roaring applause and a standing ovation.

Francis said he believes he was invited to Congress because he was also born on "this great continent" and said the most important "personal and social responsibility" politicians have is to the good of their constituents.

The pope made references to income inequality, talking of men and women who do an honest days' work "to bring home the daily bread and, one step at a time, to build a better life for their families."

"These are men and woman who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way -- sustain the life of society," Francis said.

The pope warned against fundamentalism, whether religious or "any other kind." He said a delicate balance was needed to safeguard religious and individual freedoms while fighting against fundamentalism.

The pontiff said political polarization must be confronted, which can cause divisions that harm instead of help.

"Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We ask to assume the courage and intelligence to resolve today's many geopolitical and economy crises," Francis said. "Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs and maintaining commitments and thus promoting the well-being of individuals."

"Hereto, I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his dream of full civil and political rights for African-Americans," Francis continued. "That dreams continues to inspire us all and I am happy that America continues to be for many a land of dreams."

He said people of this continent do not fear foreigners, as "most of us were once foreigners."

Full text of Pope Francis' speech before Congress


Anderson K-9 Team Finds Missing Teen

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said a K-9 search team located a runaway teen who was considered endangered and without his medication.

Deputies said 13-year-old Jackson Hunter Christensen was reported missing on Monday from his home Ethelise Circle in Anderson. Deputies briefly located Jackson located him on Broadway Lake Road but ran from them and deputies said they lost track of him in the woods nearby.

Lt. Sheila Cole said Thursday that K-9 search teams found the boy hiding near a home on McFalls Circle.



Haley to Visit Upstate to Give Order of Palmetto to Rex Maynard

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will visit the Upstate to honor women philanthropists at a Greenville conference and to present Belton's Rex Maynard with the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, on Thursday. The presentation will take place at 6 p.m. at the Belton Center of the Arts.

Maynard is the director of the Palmetto Championships tennis tournament, which is held each May for boys and girls who hope to advance to national championships. He is also the president of Maynard’s Home Furnishings and is involved in numerous in civic and church organizations.

Earlier, Haley will deliver the keynote address at the annual "Women Make a Difference" luncheon, which will be held at noon at the TD Convention Center.

The 16th annual luncheon, organized by United Way Women's Leadership, recognizes the impact that the more than 900 women philanthropists attending make on their communities.


S.C. Democrats Call for Medicaid Expansion

South Carolina Democrats are calling for legislative action to adopt Medicaid Expansion.

Wednesday, a panel in Orangeburg discussed the importance of expansion to the state.

"We are all so locked in on saying the words expand medicaid; I'm more concerned about access to care and people getting covered," said House Representative, Gilda Cobb-Hunter.

South Carolina is one of more than a dozen states refusing to expand medicaid under the affordable care act, creating a large number of people who are not covered.

Out of the roughly 200,000 people in South Carolina that uninsured and living in poverty, more than 30,000 are living in the Midlands, according to South Carolina Hospital Association spokesperson.

Opponents have argued that spending money to expand what they call a broken medicaid system is not the best way to improve people's health.

Congressman Jim Clyburn said he hopes state lawmakers will take up the issue next legislation session.

"I think it's a fundamental basic right that everyone born in America should have accessibly, affordable quality heath care," Clyburn said.


More than 300 Dead in Mecca Pilgrimage Stampede

At least 310 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a crush at Mina, outside the Saudi holy city of Mecca, where 2 million people are performing the annual hajj pilgrimage.

At least 450 others were injured in the stampede, which took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the hajj.

The pilgrimage, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of deadly disasters in the past, including stampedes, tent fires and riots.

Safety during the pilgrimage is a politically sensitive issue for the kingdom’s ruling dynasty, which presents itself internationally as the guardians of orthodox Islam and custodians of its holiest places in Mecca and Medina.

The government has spent billions of dollars upgrading and expanding hajj infrastructure and crowd control technology in recent years. The last big deadly incident took place in 2006 when at least 346 pilgrims died in a stampede.


AU to Dedicate Sculpture Honoring Bernard Baruch Today

Anderson University will dedicate a new sculpture on campus Thursday, Sept. 24 at 4 pm honoring South Carolina native Bernard Baruch and great American statesman, philanthropist, and advisor to six presidents from Woodrow Wilson to John F. Kennedy.

The bronze sculpture of Baruch is a gift to Anderson University from the late John Rainey, who commissioned it not long before he passed away last spring, and his wife Anne Edens Rainey.  The larger Rainey family, including Robert Rainey, Nancy Crowley, and Mary Belser, along with their late parents, has been a valuable partner with AU in adorning the already beautiful campus with original artwork in the form of sculptures. It was the Raineys who commissioned the stunning sculpture by renowned artist Marc Mellon that is the centerpiece of the fountain in front of The Thrift Library on campus.

The bronze likeness of Baruch sits in a plaza in one of three park benches across the street from the Rainey Fine Arts Center and the South Carolina School of the Arts.  It was cast by Maria Kirby-Smith of Camden.

Bernard Baruch was born in Camden, South Carolina on August 19, 1870 to Jewish immigrant Dr. Simon and Isabelle Baruch.  His early years were spent in Camden, the city that he claimed as his home all his life, although his family moved to New York when he was ten.

At age fourteen, Baruch entered the College of the City of New York where he excelled at economics and languages. After college he worked various jobs, eventually becoming a Wall Street broker. In 1897, he married Annie Griffen of New York. As Baruch amassed a fortune, he also became a philanthropist. Extremely modest about his good deeds, he insisted that his charitable endeavors be shared by all races and religions. In his native Camden, his gift to help establish the Camden Hospital in 1913 was given with the condition that the hospital provide an adequate number of beds for black patients.

Baruch was an independent thinker whose opinions were not determined by political partisanship. Advisor to six presidents, Baruch’s opinion was sought by Wilson, Hoover Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. Baruch influenced national policy and international negotiations from World War I through World War II and into the Cold War era. Because he often sat on park benches in New York’s Central Park and Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park to converse with citizens about the affairs of the day, he earned the sobriquet “the Park Bench Statesman.” He died in 1965 at age ninety-four and is buried in Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York.

"John Rainey was passionate about nurturing the cause of racial reconciliation in his native South Carolina," said Dr. Evans Whitaker, president of the university.  "He was a key source of support to Anderson University as we have made diversity a major priority in our strategic plan.  He chose Bernard Baruch because he is one of South Carolina's most noted early leaders of racial reconciliation.  He felt that students would benefit and be inspired by the subtle visual reminder of Baruch's leadership and his example.  Later this fall, we will dedicate another bronze statue on campus of an African American South Carolinian provided by the Rainey Family.  These gifts are going to be an invaluable source of inspiration to our campus and the Upstate," he added.


photo courtesy MJ Goodwin PhotographyA convoy of antique military vehicles paraded through dowtown Anderson Wednesday. Anyone know who sponsored this event?




Clemson to Go Tobacco Free Jan. 1

Clemson University will become tobacco-free on Jan. 1. The new policy was approved earlier this year by the university’s administrative council based on recommendations of a task force comprised of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students.

All forms of tobacco and smoke-related products will be prohibited under the policy. Along with cigarettes, the ban includes chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

The policy applies to all university faculty, staff, students and campus visitors and will be in place for all Clemson campuses, as well as university-owned and leased facilities.

Nearly 1,600 colleges and universities have tobacco-free policies, including Tri-County Technical College, Anderson University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Arkansas, the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky.


Hackers Steal Fingerprints of 1.1 Million Federal Workders

Just a day before the arrival of President Xi Jinping of China for a meeting with President Obama that will be focused heavily on limiting cyberespionage, the Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday that the hackers who stole security dossiers from the agency also got the fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees.

The attack on the agency, which is the main custodian of the government’s most important personnel records, has been attributed to China by American intelligence agencies, but it is unclear exactly what group or organization engineered it. Before Wednesday, the agency had said that it lost only 1.1 million sets of fingerprints among the 22.5 million individuals whose records were compromised.

“Federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited,” the agency said in a written statement that came out just as Washington was focused on the arrival of Pope Francis on the South Lawn of the White House. But clearly, the uses are growing as biometrics are used more frequently to assure identity in secure government facilities and even on personal iPhones.

Full Story Here