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Thursday
Oct172019

Pendleton Ghost Walks Friday and Saturday

Pendleton is getting ready for Halloween early, with ghost walks downtown Friday and Saturday.

The walk (tours) will begin at 6:40 p.m., and tickets - which include refreshments - are $15.

Tours run every 20 minutes until 9 p.m., with a maximum of 25 people per tour. Participants must pay in advance via cash or check by mail to PO Box 444 in Pendleton, or use a credit/debit card through PayPal on our website https://www.pendletonhistoricfoundation.org/event-calendar/.

Registration is not complete without the assignment of a tour time by the director (via email to pendleton.hf@gmail.com or phone call to (864) 646-7249) and finalized payment. It is suggested that groups arrive at the Dunlap Team Real Estate Office at 107 N. Mechanic Street to check in at least 20 minutes before their tour begins. We do not accept walk-up groups!

The Ghost Walks cover approximately one mile and will take between 60-90 minutes to complete. Comfortable shoes are strongly suggested and a small flashlight is recommended but not required.

Thursday
Oct172019

S.C. Senators Hope to Speed Up Work on Interstate Highways

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — With South Carolina's rapid growth over the past 20 years, a group of senators says it is vital that the state's interstate highways keep up.

The Special Interstate Subcommittee met Wednesday for the first time, getting an overview of more than $1 billion in interstate widening projects in the works, like expanding Interstate 85 near the North Carolina state line and Interstate 20 west of Columbia from four to six lanes.

State Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall threw around bigger numbers than that, saying the state has begun preliminary studies on the biggest road project ever undertaken here — a $1.6 billion untangling of the intersection of I-20, Interstate 26 and Interstate 126 in Columbia.

The DOT is tossing around an even bigger widening project on Interstate 526 in the next few decades, from North Charleston to Mount Pleasant, involving several high bridges. Hall can't say when it will start or how much it will cost because her engineers haven't started the details, but it has all the signs of topping the Columbia project.

The General Assembly's 2017 approval of a 12-cent gas tax increase over six years — passed over Gov. Henry McMaster's veto — and increases in other fees are helping accelerate the pace of work, Hall said.

In all, the DOT has $3.6 billion of road work going on right now in South Carolina. While $1.3 is going toward widening interstates, $1.1 billion is repaving all types of roads in bad condition, $315 million to replacing substandard bridges and $117 million toward small projects like guardrails and paved shoulders to reduce South Carolina's highest in the nation rate of deaths on rural roads, Hall said.

"We've got everything stacked and ready for delivery. It's just pulling them through the pipeline," Hall said.

Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler of West Columbia asked for the committee after yet another trip on I-26 between Charleston to Columbia slowed to a crawl amid truck traffic heading west and north from the ports in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia.

"Ride down 26 and all the sudden you stop, and you start thinking the way it will be 20 years from now — that's a nightmare," said Setzler, the longest serving member in the state Senate.

Expanding all of I-26 is decades away but is on the radar. Hall said widening 14 miles (23 kilometers) east of where the current six-lane stretch ends south of Columbia is in the next wave of projects, along with expanding 8 miles (13 kilometers) of Interstate 95 after the highway enters the state from Georgia — a longtime choke point for travelers all along the East Coast as the road narrows to four lanes.

Hall said the DOT is using the additional money as wisely and creatively as it can. Her agency had only $1 billion to spend on roadwork just 11 years ago. But they are encountering other problems, like competing with large highway projects in other Southeastern states.

"There's a limited pool of larger contractors that are able to come in and work on these big projects," Hall said.

Other lawmakers asked Hall not just to concentrate on interstates. Lancaster County has grown by 50% since 2000, and many of those 30,000 new residents have spilled down U.S. 521 from Charlotte, North Carolina.

The road has stoplights, but it is over capacity too and needs help, said Republican Sen. Greg Gregory, who represents the area.

Setzler asked Hall to return to the next meeting with information about the DOT's bond debt and how much it could potentially borrow.

"Our needs are so great in this state. We can't wait until 2040, 2050 to deal with this," Setzler said. "We as a state have to determine how do we address catastrophic needs we have right now or we are going to be left behind by the rest of the Southeast?"

Wednesday
Oct162019

Trump Food Stamp Proposal Could Impact Free Lunch Program

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly a million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that would reduce the number of people who get food stamps.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an analysis that says as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change. About half would have to pay a reduced price of 40 cents for school lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. Around 40,000 would need to pay the full price, which varies depending on the district.

The rest — 445,000 — would remain eligible for free meals, but their families would have to apply to qualify.

Children automatically qualify for free lunches if their families receive food stamps, but the Trump administration has proposed tightening eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was once known as food stamps. The USDA is not proposing changes to the income rules for the program. It says it is addressing a loophole that gives eligibility to people who would not have otherwise qualified.

The agency said the vast majority of affected children would still be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals.

But Lisa Davis of the advocacy group No Kid Hungry said the application to qualify could be a barrier.

"We hear from schools all the time about the challenge they have with getting families to understand the paperwork or to get it back," Davis said.

The National School Lunch Program serves roughly 30 million students, including about 20 million free meals daily. For those who don't qualify for free or reduced price meals, the average price of lunch was $2.48 for elementary school students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the School Nutrition Association, which represents cafeteria employees and vendors.

The group says about three-quarters of school districts have students with unpaid meal charges.

The prevalence of school lunch debt shows even small amounts of money can add up over time and become a burden to struggling families, said Giridhar Mallya, senior policy officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Wednesday
Oct162019

Oct. 24 Belton Ghost Walk to Add Six News Haunts

Observer Reports

The Belton Area Museum Association’s third annual Halloween Ghost Walk is scheduled for Oct. 24, with tours beginning at 6 p.m., and continuing every 15 minutes until 8 p.m., from the historic Belton train depot.  

Six all-new historic properties are on the tour. The Belton Bank (a present-day lawyer’s office), the J. P. Cox House, the Belton Standpipe, the Willard Horton House, the Fred Black House, and the Enoch Gambrell House.  Exteriors of homes and businesses will be accessible and spooky stories attached to each property will be shared by costumed presenters.

Advanced tickets for the tour are $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under, and includes light refreshments at the depot, guided tours of historic properties, and other entertainment. Purchasing advanced tickets is encouraged as slots fill up quickly.  Tickets are $15 if purchased the day of the event.

All tours will be family-friendly.

For more information, contact Abigail Burden at 864-338-7400 or beltonmuseum@bellsouth.net.

Wednesday
Oct162019

Student Fishing Tournament Set for Saturday at Green Pond

The 2019-20 Palmetto Boat Center High School Tournament Trail will visit Anderson for their high school/middle school tournament.  Launch is scheduled for 7:20 a.m. at Green Pond Landing. The weigh in for middle school teams will begin at 1:30 p.m., and high school teams weigh in at 3 p.m.  T

“We are expecting 200 boats for this weekend’s tournament, which equates to 400 students and 200 volunteer adult captains” said Marty Walker, Tournament Director and owner of Palmetto Boat Center. “This is the second tournament of the new season for our student anglers, and the growth of our trail has simply been unimaginable." 

The student anglers will be awarded prizes for the heaviest five bass limit, including a $2,000 scholarship to the winning team, sponsored by the Lake Hartwell Outdoor Center. 

For more information on the tournament trail, contact Marty Walker at 864-561-2026, martyw@palmettoboatcenter.com.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Anderson County Council Recap, Oct. 15, 2019

A recap of the Anderson County Council meeting for Oct. 15, 2019 with Councilman Craig Wooten.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Duke, County Partner for Energy Storage Project at Civic Center

Observer Reports

Duke Energy Carolinas is partnering with Anderson County, S.C., to build an energy storage project at the Anderson Civic Center that will be part of the company’s long-term strategy to integrate battery technology into the smart-thinking grid it is building in the Carolinas. 

Anderson County citizens and others will benefit from the battery project since will also provide power to a facility that is critical during emergency situations, such as being the site of a hurricane evacuation shelter or emergency shelter during weather events.

“Anderson County depends greatly on reliable power at the Civic Center; especially, while it’s operating as an emergency shelter,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “Power is critical at the Civic Center when our facility is being utilized as a command post for service providers and shelter to citizens who have been displaced. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Duke Energy on this project that will benefit our community during times of disaster.”

The battery storage project – the first of its kind for Duke Energy in the state – will be located on land adjacent to the Anderson Civic Center and will also serve as back-up power for the facility. The battery will be able to power the Civic Center in the event of an outage for at least 30 hours based on the facility’s normal usage.

This project is part of the company’s ongoing plans to invest $500 million in battery storage projects across the Carolinas over the next 15 years.

“Through projects like this, we’re transforming the state’s energy infrastructure to support the two-way flow of electricity and significantly improve reliability for our customers,” said Michael Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “The added benefit of this project is that – in the case of a power outage – the storage system can be dedicated to the Anderson Civic Center so this critical emergency facility will be able to support residents and evacuees in time of crisis.”

The 5-megawatt lithium ion battery will be grid-tied and available for use by Duke Energy Carolinas grid operators. The battery storage system will benefit all Duke Energy Carolinas customers by helping grid operators more efficiently manage the grid, providing additional energy options and improving grid stability during periods of peak customer demand.

The company recently submitted a request to the Public Service Commission of South Carolina to approve a provision of the lease agreement for the land from Anderson County, which has aready been approved by Anderson County. Once the final engineering study for connection to the power grid is complete later this year, the project will go through a competitive bidding process for construction and is expected to be in service in early 2021.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Danny Ford to Speak at TD Club Friday

The Anderson Area Touchdown Club welcomes former Clemson University Head Football Coach Danny Ford as the guest speaker on Friday at the Anderson County Library.  Coach Ford, who currently works his farm, planting and growing legalized hemp, will share his coaching and farming stories.

The TD Club meets at the main branch of the library, and the food line begins at 11:30 a.m. The cost of lunch is $15.00 for visitors, and is catered by Mama Penns.

The weekly high school players and coaches to be honored on Friday will be announced on Thursday. 

For more information, call 864-934-2423 or 864-616-6471.

Monday
Oct142019

Nearly Half of Americans Affected by Substance Abuse

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Nearly half of all adults living in the United States have been affected by substance abuse in their families, a new survey said Monday.

Gallup said 46 percent of respondents said they have dealt with substance abuse, involving drugs or alcohol, in their family at some point. 

Eighteen percent said they've dealt only with alcohol abuse, while 10 percent said only drugs. Another eighteen percent said they have dealt with abuses of both.

"Both questions are lifetime measures, asking Americans if drinking or drug abuse has ever been a problem in their family," researcher Lydia Saad said. "It might be expected that the rates of reported problems would increase by age, given that older Americans have had more time to accumulate life experiences, but that is not the case."

Persons in the West are more likely to see family substance abuse, Gallup said, while women are slightly more likely than men to experience it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in July more than half of 4.2 million Americans who's abused prescription opioids also were binge drinkers.

Gallup first reported alcohol-related family problems in 1947, when 15 percent acknowledged having seen it. The figure increased in the 1970s and reached 36 percent in the late 1990s.

Gallup surveyed 2,500 adults for the poll, which has a margin of error of 2 points.

Monday
Oct142019

Belton Hosts S.C. Pistol Championship This Weekend

The Belton Gun Club will host the Battle of Belton, the South Carolina State Championship International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Match on Friday and Saturday. The IDPA State Championship Match, sponsored locally by Sportsman’s Warehouse, will feature 200 participants from 16 states and three countries.

IDPA is the use of practical equipment in simulated real-world self-defense scenarios using everyday carry handguns and holsters that are suitable for self-defense use. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual shooter.

The Battle of Belton is the South Carolina IDPA State Championship and is a Tier Level 3 IDPA match. The event will feature 10 stages and each stage simulates a different real-world scenario. Using walls and barrels for cover, shooters will engage both moving and non-moving paper targets and scored on time and accuracy.

Shooters are divided into divisions based on type of firearm and class based on skill level with that firearm. Trophies are awarded by division and class.

Belton Gun Club holds an IDPA match every month on the third Saturday and Matches are open to anyone who can legally own a handgun.

Monday
Oct142019

Experts: Drought a Major Threat to S.C. Forests

CLEMSON — Abnormally dry conditions like those experienced across three-quarters of South Carolina recently are a double whammy for the state’s valuable forest resources: Drought puts stress on trees and, in turn, stress makes trees more vulnerable to threats such as native and invasive insects.

Most of Anderson County is in exception drought conditions.

With 63 percent of the state in a moderate to exceptional drought and 37 percent experiencing at least severe drought conditions, according to the latest update from United States Drought Monitor, Clemson University experts say it could have both short- and long-term impacts on tree health.

“A lot of studies have looked at the impacts of drought on young and old trees and found that drought reduces radial growth and, in some cases, can lead to tree mortality,” said Clemson assistant professor David Coyle, a forest health and invasive species specialist.

But Coyle said repeated cycles of drought over multiple years, such as those South Carolina and other Southeastern states have experienced recently, can be particularly bad news for trees.

“There are lasting impacts from drought. It takes a tree a while to regrow roots it might’ve lost, reflush leaves it might’ve lost; it just takes time to get a tree back to full health after a drought,” Coyle said. “And we don’t really have a good answer for how long is long enough to get a tree back to where it was. In the Southeast in the last few years we’ve had pretty common droughts, especially in the late summer or fall — it seems like every year we go through this — and I don’t think there’s evidence that some of these trees ever fully recover.”

Coyle said repeated droughts can cause a gradual depletion of a tree’s energy and resources, impacts that are exacerbated by the sandier soils common throughout much of South Carolina.

“The worst this year has been around the Edgefield/Aiken area and also on the north side of Columbia,” he said. “Those soils are so sandy and they tend to get dry almost every summer.”

Perhaps just as problematically, drought-stressed trees are an open invitation to insect species such as pine bark beetles, especially those in the Ips genus.

“In 2016 there was a really bad drought — it was the year of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfire — and it didn’t rain for about six weeks in Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, and there were tree mortality spots from Ips beetles all over the place,” he said. “So there is evidence that drought is really going to increase the trees’ susceptibility to some of these common things, as well as having a negative impact on growth.”

And that’s a significant concern in a state where forestry ranks No. 1 among manufacturing industries in both jobs (90,624) and payroll ($4.1 billion) and contributes around $17 billion annually to the economy.

Extension assistant professor and state wildlife specialist Cory Heaton agreed with Coyle that the timber industry suffered during droughts.

“Forest health is a serious issue during drought periods,” Heaton said. “Drought stresses trees and makes them vulnerable to insect and disease issues. Pine beetles are a good example where we see high tree mortality that under normal conditions would not happen, or at least not on a large scale.”

Forestry is also part of the state’s $41.7 billion agribusiness industry, and negative impacts from the drought could affect agricultural crop yields across the state. But the impact of drought on natural resources also has a significant impact on the state’s wildlife, as well.

“Wildlife species are subject to limited availability of palatable food sources,” Heaton said. “We can see body weights decrease severely during drought periods for many species. Additionally, there may be losses in the juvenile populations due to malnutrition. When we experience high mortality in juveniles, recruitment rates drop and the population may start the following year with below-normal adult population numbers.”

And because Southeastern ecosystems evolved under a paradigm where water was abundant and seasonal precipitation patterns tended to be predictable, ecosystems have to respond to those patterns being disrupted, according to Daniel Hanks, postdoctorate fellow in Clemson’s department of forestry and environmental conservation.

“Whether that is a period of intense or prolonged precipitation events or, as we are now experiencing, prolonged drought and extreme heat, if events are extreme enough, either in intensity or longevity, they can be outside of the abilities of ecosystems or parts of ecosystems to respond, thereby potentially disrupt ecosystem services and create additional vulnerabilities,” he said.

Hanks also noted the timing of prolonged weather events is important. For example, periods of drought have been shown to reduce trout population numbers and affect the condition of those surviving fish.

“Oftentimes, and understandably so, we welcome extended periods of rain after droughts; however, periods of high stream flows during periods when fish are not accustomed to such flows can also have detrimental effects,” Hanks said. “Brook trout, for example, reproduce during the fall when stream flow is typically low and their eggs need adequate winter flows to mature and allow the young to hatch in the late winter/early spring when adequate food resources are available. However, unseasonal heavy rains during the winter can cause scouring of the stream bed, thus killing the developing young fish.”

While groundwater issues related to drought are having a widespread impact on South Carolina, dry weather also has an impact on municipal water that residents use for things like watering their lawns.

Clemson assistant professor Amy Scaroni said practicing water conservation at home — using less water for your daily needs — reduces the stress on municipal water supplies during droughts. And while it is too late for the current drought, Scaroni recommended planning ahead for future droughts during wetter periods to protect the water supply during dry times.

“Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. Plants actually prefer rainwater to treated water, so it’s a win-win for your landscape and our water resources,” she said.

To learn more about rain barrel maintenance and construction, download a free copy of the “Rainwater Harvesting for Homeowners Guide” produced by Clemson Extension Carolina Clear.

In terms of other things residents can do to proactively help alleviate the impacts of drought, Scaroni said there are many simple practices, such as disconnecting downspouts to let water drain into a landscaped bed or grassy area instead of routing it directly to a storm drain, creating a rain garden to help water infiltrate during storms and planting a low-maintenance landscape with native plants adapted to the South Carolina climate that require less watering and fare better during drought.

Scaroni also said turfgrass is the most irrigated “crop” in the U.S. and can require a great deal of water to remain healthy during dry periods. Thus, another drought defense option is to replace some areas of turfgrass with native plants, a pollinator garden or permeable hardscaping.

“By reducing impervious (hard) surfaces on your property, you will allow water to soak into the ground, which recharges the groundwater when rain is plentiful,” she said. “These seem like small actions, but with widespread adoption across our communities, we can recharge the groundwater during wet conditions and reduce the strain on our water supply during dry conditions.”

Saturday
Oct122019

County Council to Meet Tuesday

Anderson County Council will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

The full agenda is here.

at 6 p.m., council will honor the Iva 10 & Under State Softball champions.

 

Saturday
Oct122019

Iva Celebrates Depot Day and Car Show