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High School Graduation Season Kicks Off This Week

Powdersville: Friday9 a.m., Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson 

Palmetto: Friday, noon, Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson

Wren: Friday, 3 p.m. Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson 

BHP: Friday, 6 p.m., Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson

Crescent: May 30, 11 a.m. Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson

Pendleton:  May 30, 3 p.m. Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson 

T.L. Hanna: June 6, 3:30 p.m., Bon Secours Wellness Area, Greenville

Westside: June 6, 7 p.m., Bon Secours Wellness Area, Greenville


Clemson Professor to Chair Newberry Award Committee

Jonda C. McNair, professor in Clemson’s College of Education, had just come off of a rewarding—and educational—stint on the 2019 Randolph Caldecott Award Selection Committee, and as the semester wound down she found out she had been appointed to another, similarly prestigious position.

McNair will serve as chair of the 2021 John Newbery Medal Award Selection Committee. The Association for Library Service to Children awards the Newbery Medal annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She says using a word like “shock” about the news would be an understatement.

“I could not believe it,” said McNair. “I was at a children’s literature conference and happened to check my email. I’m still floored and humbled by this appointment. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so of course I said ‘yes!’”

McNair has long admired and respected many titles that have been honored by the Newbery committee, and she specifically cites “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred Taylor, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White and “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander as examples.

McNair says she will approach her role as chair on the committee as the facilitator of book selections published in 2020 that make the most distinguished contribution to writing for children. Although she will be reading the books alongside other committee members, she understands chairs act as organizers of the process who oftentimes maintain a more neutral role. She has already reached out to previous chairs of the committee to get their advice.

“The Newbery is given for writing; it can go to titles across many genres such as fiction, poetry and nonfiction as well as a variety of formats including novels, picture books and graphic novels,” said McNair. “The entire committee will have to keep in mind that there are many titles that should be considered for the Newbery Award.”


S.C. Seeking More Road Construction Workers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Asphalt suppliers and paving contractors are working together to find more workers as South Carolina goes through a road construction boom.

The South Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association says it currently has 350 jobs to fill and expects around 1,000 more will be created in the next five years.

The road paving boom comes after South Carolina approved a gas tax hike two years ago that the state Department of Transpiration says has generated $172 million in revenue for roads. The DOT has nearly $1 billion of projects it plans in the next five years.

The State newspaper reports the asphalt association is running TV and radio ads and advertising on billboards. It also has jobs listed at


Council to Consider Vehicle Fee, Summer Sewer Adjustments

Updated May 20

Anderson County Council has a full agenda for Tuesday's meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

In executive session council has scheduled discussions on contractual issues related to the courthouse square property development, the donation of land adjacent to the Civic Center, and the lease on the property which currently houses the Anderson County Voter Registration and Elections offices at 301 N. Main Street.

Council will follow up on the Planning and Public Works Committee meeting which discussed the potential for a $25 vehicle fee to provide funding for road paving/maintenance of the county's 1,5535 miles of roads. The fee would raise $5.3 millon annually and would be used exclusively for roads. The fee would also be packaged with a one-mill tax reduction for Anderson County taxpayers.

Council will also consider deleting summer adjustments from the county's sewer ordinance which provides special rate considerations in the summer months to compensate for watering lawns, filling swimming pools, etc.

They will also cast a final vote on tax incentives for Bluebird Solar on a solar array project involving 40 acres in Council District 4 as part of Tuesday's meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

“It’s a great investment and return on the dollar for Anderson County.” said Anderson County Economic Director Burriss Nelson of the project. The current annual tax bill on the property is $61. Nelson said  the new investment by the solar company is slated to generate $17,500 per year for the county for at least 25 years.

Full Agenda Here


Public Hearing Set for June 4 of County FY 2019-2020 Budget

Anderson County Council has scheduled a public hearing on discussion of the county's FY 2019-2020 budget June 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

The total proposed budget for the upcoming year - which includes all items in the General Fund, Special Revenue and Enterprise Funds - is $209 million, an increase of $9 million from the current year's budget. 

Capital projects, many of which have been delayed in recent years, total $45 million and account for the largest increase, up from $32 million in the current budget. This includes such projects as a new roof for the Anderson County Sheriff's office, multiple repairs to the historic courthouse, funds to provide steady revenue for fleet services and other pressing needs.

The following shows the breakdown of the proposed budget, which is still a work in progress. The final budget must be approved by full council before July 1. 


Outdoor Dream Foundation Fishing Event Draws Crowd


S.C. Bans Electric Cooperatives from Nepotism

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law a proposal that bans board members of electric cooperatives from hiring family members.

The bill signed Friday also prohibits boards of the state's 20 co-ops from filling vacancies on their boards themselves and requires them to post notice of meetings 10 days in advance and report what happened during the meetings for customers to review.

The law was spurred by problems with Tri-County Electric Cooperative, south of Columbia.

The State newspaper reported last year the co-op held a number of unnecessary meetings to collect $450 payments and pressured employees into doing personal work.

The newspaper also reported board members gave themselves health insurance and retirement benefits without letting their 13,600 customers know. 


Council: Vehicle Tax Fee Needs More Discussion

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

The Anderson County Council Planning and Public Works Committee agreed the proposed $25 vehicle fee, which would raise $5.3 million annually and be used exclusively for road maintenance and repair, needs more public input before approval from the full county council. 

“We recognize the need,” said Committee Chairwoman Cindy Wilson, “but we feel it requires more public discourse. We want council to give general consideration of general funds to make sure taxpayers know we’ve done our job.”

The proposed fee, which would be applied to the county’s 215,000 vehicles, and would be paired with a one-mil tax reduction to offset the costs. 

Currently, a combination of paving funds and C-Funds provides approximately $2 million annually for paving in Anderson County. With most roads more than 20 years old, the cost of repairs/maintenance of all roads would require between $8-$10 million per year, according to Anderson County Assistant Administrator Holt Hopkins, who manages the roads and bridges department. 

“We need to pave 100-150 miles of road per year,” Hopkins said. “Most of our roads need full-depth reclamation at a cost of about half a million dollars per mile.”

“Whether or not we have time to do this or not, I don’t know,” said Anderson County Council Councilman Jimmie Davis. “People don’t understand it, there’s a lot of misconception out there. We have to get out there and explain it. I want to see paving happen, because that is the number one complaint. 

Davis said a discussion of exemptions should also be part of the discussions on the vehicle tax fee. 

Meanwhile, the committee agreed to send a number of capital projects for vote to full council, including a new roof on the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, which total $860,000.

The committee also agreed to consider a using digital filing for finance/payroll and potentially other departments as part of the new budget. 

Other items which will be sent to full council for consideration in the FY 2019-2020 budget from Friday’s meeting include:

Funds for flooring and safety doors for the Anderson County Animal Shelter and exploration of the costs of commercial washer/dryer for the facility.

Fleet services requests of $14,000.

Funding of $2.25 million for replacement/precurement of county-owned vehicles.

Reinstating the ramp fee for the Anderson Regional Airport, with exemptions for those who purchase fuel at the airport.


Element Materials Opens $4 Million Facility in Piedmont

Element Materials Technology (Element), officially opened a new $4 million aerospace testing facility in Piedmont on Thursday. 

The 30,000 square foot laboratory houses one of the an independent non-destructive testing (NDT) facility and operates as an extension to Element’s Hartford, Connecticut, laboratory which currently services Aerospace and Power Generation clients worldwide. 

“On behalf of Anderson County, I would like to welcome Element to the area," said Anderson County Councilman Jimmy Davis. "I am delighted that the company has invested in the county’s Northern region and that we now have a world-leading presence in materials and product qualification testing, significantly enhancing the diversity of the county’s technical offering.”

According to a news release, the location of the Piedmont site in Anderson County, better facilitates both future and current demand, initially from Element’s main customer in the area, GE. The site’s position significantly reduces this key client’s lead time and supply chain logistics challenges, which played a key factor in the location decision.

"This new facility is a great addition to our Aerospace operations in the US and is a real win-win for Element, our customers and the local community in Anderson County," said Charles Noall, President & CEO at Element. "The investment will significantly strengthen our footprint, capacity and capabilities and enable us to deliver cost savings for our clients, while boosting the local economy and creating new job opportunities in the area.”

Element is one of the world’s leading independent providers of materials and product qualification testing, inspection and certification services to the global Aerospace; Transportation & Industrials; Fire & Building Products; and Oil & Gas and Infrastructure sectors, where failure in service is simply not an option.


McMaster Veto Blocks Sea Wall Plan for Beachfront Property

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has blocked a last-minute plan to let wealthy oceanfront property owners rebuild a seawall on an eroding public beach in Georgetown County.

McMaster on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have exempted several dozen homes at Debordieu Beach from the state's ban on seawalls, The State reported.

Lawmakers had amended a bill to accommodate the Debordieu property owners who for years have fought to reconstruct a battered seawall. Rep. Davy Hiott, a Pickens Republican who chairs the House agriculture committee, pushed for the amendment.

In his veto message, McMaster said it was wrong for the Legislature to "hastily enact" a special exception to South Carolina's beachfront management law adopted more than 30 years ago and includes a ban on construction of new seawalls.

"The provision in question was a late hour amendment added to a bill that was debated and considered through the normal Legislative process," McMaster wrote. "The better course is for the General Assembly — in consultation with homeowners, civic leaders and environmental experts — to debate and decide legitimate policy issues involving our unique shoreline .... through open public processes."

McMaster's veto follows years of efforts by property owners at Debordieu to protect a handful of oceanfront homes on the gated community's southern shoreline. They say they need help because the ocean threatens their homes.

The concern over seawalls is simple: Waves bouncing off of seawalls speed up erosion on public beaches, giving less beach for the public to walk on. In some cases, like at Debordieu, seawalls actually extend onto the public beach, blocking people from walking along the seashore. Through the years, waves have routinely crashed against the Debordieu seawall.

"When we allow structures to be built close to the ocean, they threaten the existence of the public beach itself," said environmental lawyer Amy Armstrong, who said the Republican governor made the right decision.

Jim Christian, a Debordieu resident who does not live behind the seawall but supports the property owners, said McMaster shouldn't have vetoed the bill.

"I look forward to hearing what the governor has to say when a house floats out into the water and down into North Inlet," said Christian, a former president of the Debordieu Colony Community Association.

Hiott said no one approached him about amending the bill. The Legislature had approved a similar but temporary measure as part of the state budget in recent years, he said. All he was doing was trying to make the exemption permanent, he said.

Hiott said he's glad to help Debordieu because oceanfront homes provide tax revenue for Georgetown County and rebuilding a seawall only protects that.

"They are wanting to build their seawall back right where it was," Hiott said. "It's at their own expense and wasn't costing the state a dime. I don't have a problem with that. I've never had a problem with it."

In the past decade, the property owners have made other attempts to rebuild the seawall. They've also widened the beach through renourishment projects, but erosion rates are so high that the sand disappears in a matter of years.

Located south of Myrtle Beach, Debordieu is an exclusive, gated community with a thriving summer tourism business.

The Debordieu saga is sad for individual property owners, but it is a classic example of unwise coastal development practices, said Armstrong, an attorney with the nonprofit South Carolina Environmental Law Project.

The property owners built the seawall on an eroding beach before the state adopted a seawall ban in 1988. Now, Armstrong said, they want a bailout from the government.

"The policy decisions that the state makes need to account for the fact that there are rising sea levels, and we are experiencing erosion," she said. "We need to stop giving the OK to put people in harm's way. By allowing another seawall, we are saying you are safe to have a house here. Everybody knows it's not safe."


Saturday The City Color Run to Help Those in Need

Anderson's Color The City Color Run, set for Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (check-in 7:45 a.m.) at a tent in the parking lot of Anderson Mall, offers a charity running event to benefit Rejuvenate Church's Discovery Center which helps those with clothing and other needs in our community.

Color The City is open to all ages capable of completing the course with no issues. The two-mile course will include Anderson Mall's perimeter road, continuing around Old County Farm Blvd and finishing in the fields where the Lights of Hope are held. At the finish line of the event will be, games, inflatables, hot-air balloon ride, food trucks and music.

The cost is $25 per runner, which includes the race entry fee, a participants' kit, and a white Color The City t-shirt. Participants can enter for $10 if they bring a bag of hygiene products (see examples below) and/or new undergarments (underwear, socks) for the Discovery Center.

Event sponsors include United Way of Anderson County, Coca-Cola, Cancer Association of Anderson, Foothills Alliance, AIM: Accept. Inspire. Minister., Habitat for Humanity Anderson, Palmetto Screen Print & Embroidery and more.

For more information, contact Rejuvenate Church at 864-401-8060, or email or on our website,

The following items are needed for the project's work to help those in need:

-Dental Floss
-Shampoo & Conditioner
-Baby Shampoo
-Shaving Cream
-Electric Razors
-Wash Cloths


Clemson Chosen for Teacher Recruitment, Retention Program

The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) has selected Clemson University to participate in its teaching fellows program beginning in fall 2020. The mission of the program is to recruit talented high school seniors into the teaching profession and help them develop leadership qualities.

Fellows in the program receive up to $6,000 per year for four years from the South Carolina General Assembly in forgivable student loans while they complete coursework leading to a teacher license in Clemson’s College of Education. Fellows agree to teach in South Carolina public schools one year for every year they are fellows.

When the center recently put out a call for new participating institutions, leaders from the college saw an ideal opportunity to attract highly qualified students to its programs. George J. Petersen, founding dean of Clemson’s College of Education, said teaching fellows will enjoy many additional benefits throughout their time as undergraduates in the college.

“This is certainly a recruitment tool for our college, but more importantly it will positively affect teacher retention in our state,” Petersen said. “They’re going to be better prepared as teachers and leaders and that preparation will make them more likely to stay in the profession.”

Michelle Cook, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the college, said the aim is to recruit fellow cohorts of 25 students per year starting in fall 2020 for a total of 100 teaching fellows after four years and beyond. According to CERRA, 71.2 percent of graduates (1,392 fellows) are employed in 72 of 82 South Carolina public school districts, as well as the Charter Institute at Erskine and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The college plans to engage fellows in a Teaching Fellow Living-Learning Community, which will provide additional support and help students connect and build relationships outside of the academic environment. Co-curricular experiences exclusive to teaching fellows will include seminars, professional development opportunities, service learning opportunities, additional school placements, advocacy experiences, field trips and social gatherings.

Cook said the program will emphasize understanding and respect for diversity by focusing seminars on teaching in schools characterized by racial and economic disparities. An enrichment experience planned for fellows in their junior years will see them visit schools where district and school leaders and community members are working to address such challenges.

“Fellows will emerge from Clemson with a full picture of education across the state,” Cook said. “A focus on inclusion and equity in the program will hopefully lead students to apply their understanding of diversity to their teaching, their teaching-fellow community and their lives.”

Although the first cohort of teaching fellows will not arrive until fall 2020, the college will spend the 2019-2020 academic year preparing the program. Cook said a big piece of this puzzle was the selection of a teaching fellows campus director who will work to manage the program, coordinate its activities with CERRA and advise teaching fellows.


Walmart Says China Tariffs Will Push Prices Up

(Reuters) - Walmart Inc said on Thursday that prices for shoppers will go up due to higher tariffs on imports from China as the world’s largest retailer reported its best comparable sales growth for the first quarter in nine years. 

Walmart shares, which have gained 7% so far this year, rose 2.4% to $102.30 in premarket trade. 

U.S. President Donald Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% last week. The move is widely expected to raise prices on thousands of products including clothing, furniture and electronics. China retaliated on Monday, though on a smaller scale. 

Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told Reuters that higher tariffs will result in increased prices for consumers. He said the company will seek to ease the pain, in part by trying to obtain products from different countries and by working with suppliers’ “costs structures to manage higher tariffs.”