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Sunday
Sep162018

Opinion: Fizzled Storm an Opportunity for Generous Gratitude

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

As Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence continues to fall apart as it moves away from the Anderson area, there has been more wind from complaints about the poor forecast than from the actual drizzle event that arrived here. 

Instead of complaining, Anderson should recognize the events as an opportunity to give back and to say thanks to those who were preparing for the worst. 

Reacting to warnings earlier in the week to prepare for the worst, many of our friends and neighbors now have cupboards full of non-perishable snacks that they will likely never eat. This offers an excellent opportunity to fill the cupboards at AIM as fall races toward the holiday season. They feed roughly 800 families every month, and if everyone who stocked up on food expecting to be without electricity for days would bag those groceries and take them to AIM (it’s on South Murray Ave, here’s the map), the effort and money would not be a waste, but instead a blessing for those who need a little extra help.

And while you are boxing and bagging those groceries, take a minute to give thanks to those who spend endless hours this past week preparing for the worst. The team at Anderson County Emergency Management, led by Lt. David Baker (see Friday Observer interview here), was ready to act if the storm had wrought the destruction originally forecast. The offered up-to-date information on social media about the storm, which include lists of emergency supplies and contact numbers. Working with local first responders, Duke Power crews, state agencies and other local groups, Emergency Management had plans in place to shelter, feed and rescue those in need, as well as plans to get things back to normal as soon as possible. Since the storm missed Anderson, their preparations now allow them to assist those in other parts of the state hit hardest by the hurricane/tropical depression. As part of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, we owe them a debt of gratitude, a thank you card, and maybe a dozen or so doughnuts if you really want to show your appreciation. 

Hurricanes are just plain unpredictable, said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at NOAA's National Hurricane Center. “They're still somewhat mysterious," said. Cangialosi. "We can observe them, but we don't actually understand them to a large factor.”

What is more predictable is the way our community prepares and responds when there is a potential threat to the safety of our friends and neighbors. We have excellent people and systems in place, and for that we are blessed. 

The best way to respond is by being a blessing to others. So remember to pack up all that food you bought to weather to storm and take it to AIM this week. It’s too early to start holiday binging anyway. 

Sunday
Sep162018

Wonderettes Sock Hops into Music, Nostalgia

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

The Mill Town Players has enjoyed great success recently with nostalgic jukebox musicals. In July, the irresistible "Beehive" took audiences back to the pop songs of the 1960s.

"The Marvelous Wonderettes," which opened Friday, journeys back further -- to the 1950s -- with charm and feel-good glee.

Terrie West Poore directs a quartet of talented local actresses in this blithe and peppy production that evokes a simpler time, tugging ever-so-lightly at the heartstrings as it puts a smile on your face.

"The Marvelous Wonderettes," written by Roger Bean, focuses on four high school students who are called on to perform at their 1958 senior prom as a last-minute replacement. That setup allows for some cutesy high jinks and comic awkwardness as the girls entertain their "classmates" (the audience, that is) with songs in close four-part harmony.

The story is told through more than two dozen familiar pop tunes from the 1950s and 60s, such as "Lollipop," "Dream Lover," "Stupid Cupid," "It's My Party" and "It's In His Kiss."

Act II finds the girls 10 years later, returning for their class reunion. The easy cares of their teenage years have been replaced by bigger real-life issues, particularly romantic disappointments.

But in this joyful musical, it's a pretty safe bet that love will find a way.

The show makes considerable demands on its four actresses, who never leave the stage -- well, except to interact with the audience.

There were a few rough patches at Friday's opening, but continued performances should tighten things up.

Poore, the director, has assembled a winning cast. As an ensemble, the four produce some lovely sounds. To mention one episode: The shimmering, yearning harmonies of "Dream" which morph into "Dream Lover" are pure magic.

Poore's spirited choreography evokes 1950s and 60s social dances. She elicits vivid performances from her four actresses. Each enjoys a few solo moments in the spotlight.

Amy Blom, as Cindy Lou, is marvelous as the would-be high school princess, perfectly coiffed and with perfect teeth always beaming. She seems to channel Amy Adams from the film "Enchanted." Blom has a ballet dancer's arms, which she puts to graceful use in her pretty "Allegheny Moon." In Act II, she sings a heartfelt "Maybe."

Laura Bennett plays Betty Jean, the delightful cutup of the quartet. Vocally, Bennett soars on "That's When the Tears Start."

Kelsey Crews, as Missy, delivers an assertive "Wedding Bell Blues" and follows that with "You Don't Own Me," knocking it out of the park.

Laura Beth Cannon, as Suzy, closes the revels with a dynamite "RESPECT."

Chase McAbee is responsible for the fine musical direction -- and he also serves as stage manager and light board technician.

The show makes use of recorded music, which is not as appealing as live music, but it works.

Will Ragland designed the pleasing, heart-themed set.

This crowd-pleasing "Marvelous Wonderettes" continues through Sept. 30: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. For tickets, call 864-947-8000 or visit the website www.milltownplayers.org.

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about everything under the South Carolina sun. Write to him at paulhydeus@yahoo.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

Saturday
Sep152018

Busy Agenda for Tuesday's County Council Meeting

Anderson County Council will vote on an agreement to officially partner with Peach Properties, Inc., to develop the property behind the historic downtown courthouse as part of Tuesday's meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse.

The property, fomer home to the Bailes department store and Woolworth's, will be a key part of downtown development, according to Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns.

Council will also consider the sale of some of the property purchased from TTI adjacent to the old Ryobi facility and hear reports from various commitees on items ranging from parks consolidation to a traffic study.

Full agenda here

Saturday
Sep152018

Tropical Storm Florence to Bring Rain, Wind Tonight, Tomorrow

From Fox21 Reports

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC as of 7:15 AM Friday morning with winds of 90 mph.

Tropical Storm Florence has weakened further, now packing 65 mph winds near the center as it gets close to Myrtle Beach. The storm is moving slowly at only 5 mph, but will pick up speed into this weekend.

A wind advisory is in effect for both the Upstate and mountains on Saturday and Sunday with wind gusts associated with Florence. Gusts could exceed 40 miles per hour and could cause power outages for some.

A flash flood watch has been issued for most of the Upstate and WNC for Saturday morning through Tuesday morning.

Florence is expected to continue to slowly weaken as it moves west to southwest toward South Carolina later today and tonight, further weakening on Sunday to a tropical depression as it pushes toward the Upstate. By Monday, it should be moving north of the area but rain chances will linger.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect as the storm moves into the Upstate:

• Saturday: Gusty wind, especially late. 25-40 mph. Spotty t-storms, isolated severe threat. Small flood concern.

• Sunday: Widespread heavy rain, gusty wind around 30-40 mph, isolated tornado threat.

• Monday: Lingering rain/flood concerns, slightly lower wind 20-30 mph gusts. Low severe threat.

• Storm total rainfall from Sat-Monday looks like 2-5” are very likely in our area overall, but some spots (esp. in the mountains) could see up to 10”.

Friday
Sep142018

Anderson County Prepared for Hurricane Florence

Friday
Sep142018

Nearby World Equestrian Games Has Impact on Anderson

The FEI World Equestrian Games, being held just 80 miles up the road in Mill Springs, N.C., began Tuesday at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, bringing together many of the planet's top horses for 13 days of event. The event, which is held every four years, has impacted the Anderson area as well, with horse owners and their crews staying in Anderson hotels, and volunteers from the county participating in the games.

Billed as one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, the FEI World Equestrian Games bring together eight equestrian World Championship caliber events Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining are all included on the competition schedule, while equestrian-focused demonstrations and exhibitions are also be hosted throughout the duration of the event.

Friday
Sep142018

Anderson in Weekend Path for Remnants of Hurricane Florence

Currently, the projected track of Hurricane Florence finds a diminished version of the storm passing almost directly over Anderson.

Florence made landfall Friday, but the storm has only just begun for the Carolinas. Beyond Friday’s torrential rain, multi-foot storm surge and widespread power outages, Florence will continue to batter the region through early next week. The storm’s winds will slowly weaken, but some of its most devastating effects may be yet to come.

Through the weekend, the massive storm — containing a zone of tropical-storm-force winds nearly 400 miles wide — will drift inland, engulfing much of South Carolina and southern North Carolina.

Thursday
Sep132018

High School Football Scores

T.L. Hanna 65, J.L. Mann 20

Westside 42, Easley 14

BHP 42, Pendleton 28

Walhalla 44, Powdersville 7

Seneca 44, Palmetto 43

Thursday
Sep132018

County to Move to Self-Insured Healthcare Plan for Employees

By Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County Council moved ahead Thursday to evaluate a new plan to provide a new health care plan for the county’s more than 1,000 employees.  

Anderson County employees are currently covered through PEBA, the South Carolina state plan, which carries a price tag of $8.64 million in the current budget. The new, self-insured plan will be presented for implementation Sept. 28. 

“This is something we’ve been talking about for months and really working on for over a year,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “What where’re trying to do is make the healthcare for our employees better, and to make it sustainable for the future.” 

The new plan would be put into place working with Palmetto Insurance of Anderson as the benefits consulting agency and Direct Access, MD, of Anderson as a provider of primary/family  care. 

“This will be a game-changer to help our employees,” Dunn said.  

The new plan will include dental, vision and life insurance options, as well as continued insurance for retirees, and it expected to save the county between $1.2-1.5 million annually. A self-insured plan will also provide the county with more flexibility in enhancing benefits. Employees will also have the option or keeping their current physicians as part of the plan. 

“This is not driven by cost,” said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. “Council asked us to explore how we can improve our current healthcare plan to provide better coverage for our employees.” 

“Our main desire is to offer a better benefit to our employees,” agreed Anderson County Councilman Ray Graham. “Costs are increasing each and every year and we have not passed the increases on to our employees. It is our desire to improve our benefits so they can better serve our community and our taxpayers.”

Anderson County employees are currently covered through PEBA, the South Carolina state plan.  

“It looks like the (new) model provides better preventative care,” said Anderson County Council Member Cindy Wilson. “I am greatly hoping this will be the answer for what our employees are needing.” 

Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen said the proposed plan will offer much better access to healthcare as well through Direct Access, which provides same-day visits,  reduced prescriptions/lab tests and direct contact with patients. 

We’re about the preventative and building a relationship with our patients,” said Dr. Amy Cianciolo, who founded Direct Access with Dr. Shane Purcell. “We’re about the preventative and building a relationship with our patients. We are family doctors and we want to be their doctors for life."

Thursday
Sep132018

Nike Brand Selling Well in Anderson

From Observer and Wire Reports

Many Andersonians are apparently onboard with the latest "Just Do It" campaign as local sales of Nike shoes, clothing and other gear seem to be following the national trend, with merchandise moving faster than before.

In an informal survey of Anderson's sporting goods (and discount stores which sell Nike-branded items), there has been a sharp increase in both purchases and questions about Nike items in the past week or so. Without exception, managers referred me to nation offices for sales figures (which, in turn, all refused comment on specific sales). But salespeople said they had seen a substantial increase in Nike sales.

At least two stores were short on Nike merchandise, and one was sold out.

Nike sales jumped by 31 percent nationally after debuting quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick as a new company spokesman — and market observers say the president’s public displays of anger may have backfired by drawing more attention to Nike.

Stock prices just before noon today are within 10 cents of the level before the new campaign was launched.

“Controversial endorsements tend to generate a lot of hype,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for retail at The NPD Group, a market research firm. “These kinds of statements and brand partnerships make for a big impact on brand selling.”

According to data from Edison Trends, online sales of Nike products jumped 31 percent between the Sunday before and the Tuesday after Labor Day, nearly double last year’s 17 percent increase over the same time period. Kaepernick is part of Nike’s 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” tagline. A TV ad narrated by Kaepernick debuted Thursday on the opening night of the regular NFL season.

“Nike is a company that is focused on younger generations and expanding their market. This ad did that for them,” said Hetal Pandya, co-founder of Edison Trends.

But if Trump is no stranger to controversy, neither is Nike. The company’s decision to use Kaepernick, who is currently claiming the league colluded against his employment in a lawsuit, isn’t the first time the athletic apparel company has used its brand platform to advocate for a cause or push for social change. Previous ad campaigns have taken on AIDS, gender inequality, disabilities, religion, and other cultural flashpoints.

“The brand has a rich history of positioning itself as a progressive company that connects with its customers through conflict constructive conflict,” Pandya told NBC News.

Experts say that by continuing to insert himself into the ongoing debate regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, Trump may have inadvertently helped out Nike by criticizing the brand on Twitter.

“Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” Trump wrote last week, and video clips of people destroying Nike products quickly went viral. But contrary to Trump’s assertion, while calls for a boycott across social media dragged down the company’s stock immediately after the news broke, share prices have since recovered.

Market research shows that 46 percent of Nike customers have a positive view of Kaepernick, compared to 34 percent of all Americans.

Drafting Kaepernick as a spokesman has more upside than downside risk for Nike, analysts say, because the company knows its customer base well. Market research from YouGov Plan and Track shows that 46 percent of Nike customers have a positive view of Kaepernick, compared to 34 percent of all Americans. YouGov also found a 10 percentage point increase in the number of Nike customers versus the general public who say a company should take a stand on social issues and have a “moral message.”

“The company understands societal trends and its customer demographics better than most,” Edison Trends’ Pandya said. “It’s a calculated risk, but one that our data shows has had a positive impact so far in terms of online sales.”

“In this case, controversy is a good thing to their target market,” NPD’s Cohen said. “Consumers who are most likely to shop online, and shop athletic apparel and footwear, are very much in tune with the movement and the willingness for a mega-brand to stand up against the establishment.”

Thursday
Sep132018

Experts Say Storm May Ding the Economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ports are closing. Farmers are moving hogs to high ground. Dealers are parking cars in service bays for refuge. And up to 3 million energy customers in North and South Carolina could lose power for weeks.

Across the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia, businesses are bracing for the economic damage Hurricane Florence is expected to inflict on the area. Industries like tourism and agriculture will likely suffer, and the losses won't be easily or quickly overcome.

Once it makes landfall, Florence is expected to lash coastal communities with high winds and dump several feet of water. Flooding could prove devastating. The storm will likely damage homes and businesses, kill crops, drown livestock, wash away cars and suspend much of the area's economic activity.

"These storms can be very disruptive to regional economies, and it takes time for them to recover," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics.

Sweet said he thinks Hurricane Florence could cause the U.S. economy's growth to slow a few tenths of a percentage point, on an annual basis, in the July-September quarter. Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, calculates that Florence will deduct about $200 million of output a day from North Carolina's $550 billion-a-year economy until business returns to something close to normal.

It could have been worse. Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways. There are now fewer tourists to send away.

In fact, as with the aftermath of previous hurricanes, the region could eventually receive an economic boost once construction crews come out to rebuild and repair damage and as insurance payments and federal disaster aid flow in.

"The ironic thing is, when there's a rebuilding effort, that can energize local economies," Walden said.

"Typically, we see a stimulus effect that creates jobs and raises incomes for South Carolinians," said Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist at the University of South Carolina. Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies.

Hurricane Florence is slamming a region that is economically diverse as well as sizable. Combined, North and South Carolina boast an economy bigger than Saudi Arabia's. High-tech auto plants co-exist with beachfront bed-and-breakfast inns and peanut farms. North Carolina's Duplin and Sampson counties, just inland, sell more hogs and pigs than anywhere else in America.

Duke Energy warned that Florence could cut off power to anywhere from 1 million to 3 million customers in North and South Carolina, potentially leaving them without electricity for several weeks, said spokeswoman Grace Rountree.

Two big fuel pipelines stand in the hurricane's path, but analysts say they think the storm is unlikely to disrupt the flow of gasoline or other products. Still, analysts for S&P Global Platts say it's possible the Colonial and Plantation pipelines could be affected by power outages or damage to pump stations. Those pipelines carry fuel from the Gulf Coast to much of the eastern United States.

Analysts expect a temporary boost in gasoline demand as people flee Florence, followed by weaker demand during and immediately after the storm. But the damage to energy facilities is likely to be far milder than the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, which last year battered Houston, the heart of the U.S. energy industry. Flooding closed refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and caused gasoline prices to spike.

More Here

Wednesday
Sep122018

AU Cancels Friday, Monday Classes

Due to the forecast impact of Hurricane Florence, Anderson University has cancelled all classes for Friday and Monday. 

This decision was made, accordign to a university spokesperson, to ensure that members of the campus community and its families can make timely decisions regarding their personal preparations, including travel, ahead of the hurricane’s arrival.


AU is securing additional resources including, but not limited to, extra food and water for the 26,000-square foot G. Ross Anderson Jr. Student Center, which is equipped with generators to maintain electricity in the event of a power outage.

Should the Student Center be needed on Monday to provide shelter for students, in addition to ample supplies of food and water, the facility will be open and fully staffed throughout the duration of any emergency.

Administrative and staff offices will remain open Friday.

Wednesday
Sep122018

Farmers Asked to Use Online Form for Faster Storm Relief Funds

CLEMSON — The storm will pass. Then comes the work of assessing the deluge of damage.

A single damage assessment form for farmers — available online now — will help gather information that state and federal officials can use to speed relief.

“We will need to know what problems we face so that resources can be allocated to meet the need,” said Charlotte Krugler, emergency preparedness veterinarian for Clemson University Livestock-Poultry Health (LPH), a regulatory agency that oversees animal health issues. “These damage estimates also will help the state submit federal disaster applications promptly and accurately.”

The Emergency Support Function 17, or ESF-17, form has been updated for Hurricane Florence. It is posted on the LPH Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery page at www.clemson.edu/public/lph/ahp/emergency-prep.

The form can be filled out and submitted online after the storm, but farmers can access the page now to prepare for the post-storm assessment process.

Clemson Extension agents will assist in collecting the data as part of their roles in helping farmers after a weather disaster, said Clemson Extension Director Tom Dobbins.

“Our agents will be ready to assist our farmers in any role needed to ensure they receive the maximum disaster relief benefits,” Dobbins said. “For generations they’ve been helping South Carolina farmers in situations like this. While we hope for the best, we’re prepared for whatever comes.”