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Leadership Anderson to Join LOT Project on Tiny House

The twenty-nine members of Leadership Anderson Class 35 have announced its public campaign to build the first “tiny home” in the City of Anderson. The announcement occurred at Toast ‘N Topics, an event sponsored by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and hosted at Anderson University. 

The tiny home will be constructed on a quarter-acre vacant lot at 308 E Street, Anderson, SC purchased by Leadership class members using architectural plans commissioned by the class members and recently approved by the City of Anderson. This new construction will be notable, as it will be the first new construction in the “alphabet streets,” as they are colloquially known, in many decades. Anderson County officials confirmed there has been no new construction in the area since its Building & Codes department was founded in 1985. City officials also confirmed there has been no new construction in recent memory in the area.

The vision for this project, which could eventually lead to an entire subdivision of tiny houses, is the brainchild of The LOT Project Founder Andy Gibson, who has been active in the neighborhood for a decade. An recent interveiw with Gibson includes discussion of the project can be found here.

Class members said the project is one of the most ambitious annual “class projects” Leadership Anderson has taken on since the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce established the leadership development program in 1984. Class members said they hoped tiny home would serve as a model to inspire a community-wide movement towards the adequate, affordable housing desperately needed for the revitalization without gentrification of former mill neighborhoods across Anderson County. City of Anderson Chief Building Official Alan Eklund has signed off on the architectural plans, a general contractor has been secured, and a Memorandum of Understanding with The LOT Project to take over the home has been signed. 

Leadership Anderson is now reaching out to the local community to raise the approximately $75,000 worth of materials & labor needed to complete the project. The class is aiming to raise funds by the end of April and complete construction by June. The class has created a website where interested individuals, organizations, and corporations can learn more and donate online at Checks (made payable to Foothills Community Foundation with “LA35 Tiny Home” in the memo) may also be mailed to Leadership Anderson Tiny Home Fund, c/o Foothills Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1228, Anderson, SC 29622. The class will be facilitating opportunities for permanent recognition for significant contributions.


Raises for All Teachers in Proposed S.C. Budget

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Every teacher in South Carolina would get a raise bigger than nearly all of them have ever seen under the state's new budget being debated next week in the House.

But newer teachers would get a bigger pay bump than those who have been in the profession for a while.

The House budget sets aside $159 million to give all teachers a 4 percent pay raise. Budget writers said Thursday that is the biggest pay increase for teachers in South Carolina in 35 years and will boost the average salary of a teacher in the state above the Southeastern average of $52,830.

"Our main focus was to get more money for good teachers," said Rep. Bill Whitmire, a Republican from Walhalla who leads the subcommittee that looks at education spending.

The budget for the next fiscal year is even better for new teachers. Teachers with less than five years in the classroom would get at least a 6 percent raise, and many of them could end up with a 10 percent raise, under the proposal in the state's $9 billion spending plan.

The bigger raise for newer teachers is critical to keep them in the profession because South Carolina is losing teachers faster than the state can graduate new ones, Whitmire said.

Teacher groups have been thankful for the small raises, but still want a 10 percent raise for all teachers.

Some individual teachers have suggested following the lead of educators in West Virginia, Kentucky and other states who have walked out to demand higher raises.

Teachers can't form unions in South Carolina, but loosely organized groups such as SC For Ed have sprung up in the past year and gathered thousands of teachers together on social media.

SC For Ed has told its members the current raise proposal is disappointing, especially for veteran teachers. But the group is emphasizing the budget still has to pass the House floor and go through the entire Senate process and is asking members to keep pushing their legislators to get the 10 percent.


Study: 60 Percent of Churches have Plateaued or are in Decline

Christian Post

“The primary purpose of this study was to obtain a set of objective measures on churches’ reproduction and multiplication behaviors today as well as to understand their core context of growth,” Todd Wilson, chief executive officer of Exponential, said in a release from LifeWay research. “By combining these measures, we can help churches think about multiplication.”

The study found that 6 in 10 Protestant churches had plateaued or declined in attendance in the past 12 months and more than half saw fewer than 10 people become new Christians.

“Growth is not absent from American churches but rapid growth through conversions is uncommon,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said in the release.

About 8 percent of the 1,000 Protestant pastors polled in the study had no new converts in the last 12 months.

Commenting on the study in a blog post this week, Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, said the study provides a very realistic picture of what is happening in American churches today.

“The accuracy of this research cannot be overstated. LifeWay Research phoned 1,000 Protestant pastors. Quotas were used to maintain the correct population of each church size. Responses were weighed by region to reflect more accurately the total U.S. population. The sample provides a 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%. This information from the statistical nerds assures us the study is very accurate,” he wrote.

A breakdown of the statistics showed that 42 percent of evangelical churches experienced growth over the period studied compared to 34 percent of mainline churches.

Only 23 percent of smaller churches with fewer than 50 persons attending worship services on average said they were growing while 59 percent of churches that average 250 or more worshipers weekly said the same.

“That is the lowest of any of the categories of churches and is an indicator that these churches are at the greatest risk of dying,” Rainier said of the churches with 50 persons attending worship services.

While no major differences were noted between evangelical and mainline churches in terms of new converts, denominational differences emerged showing Pentecostal churches reporting more growth in new converts than any other denomination.

Some 57 percent of Pentecostal pastors reported 10 or more new commitments to Christ in their church last year per 100 attendees.

Lutherans, 39 percent; Holiness churches, 38 percent; and Baptists, 35 percent all followed respectively.

“Much work has been done to go deeper on measuring church health,” McConnell said. “But it is still helpful to look at the observable factors of ‘noses, nickels and new commitments.’ Strategies, programs and rules-of-thumb work differently depending on the trajectory of a church.”


Councilman Wooten to Seek S.C. Senate Dist. 3 Seat

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County Councilman Craig Wooten made it official today that he plans to seek the South Carolina District 3 Senate seat in the 2020 elections. The district stretches across the upper west half of Anderson County (map here)

The seat is currently held by S.C. Sen. Richard Cash, who ran for the seat when former S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant moved into position of lieutenant governor in 2017. Cash was elected after winning a primary runoff in a close race with Anderson County United Way Executive Director Carol Burdette. 

"I feel like I have a lot to offer," Wooten said, "having servers on the federal level as a staffer, having been a party official, and having worked in government affairs for a company." 

He said he's looking forward to a long year of campaigning for the office.

"I love Anderson and I want to see it get the representation it deserves," Wooten said.

This afternoon Wooten posted this on Facebook:

"I am officially declaring my 2020 campaign for Anderson's SC Senate Seat District 3 for Powdersville, Anderson, Pendleton, and Townville. Abby, the boys, Margot and I are excited about engaging the community we love dearly and talking about conservative issues. Look forward to seeing everyone on the campaign trail!"

He said he had been considering running, and after talking to his wife decided to "step up" and take on the challenge.

"People started calling me when they heard I was planning to run, so I decided to go ahead and make it official," Wooten said.


Mill Town Players Chosen Top Group in Southeast

The Mill Town Players "Romeo and Juliet" team was chosen as top group by the Southeastern Theatre Conference Community Theatre Festival in Knoxville. They will now compete in the National Community Theater Festival hosted by the American Association of Community Theatre in Gettysburg, PA, June 18-22. This is the first time a team from South Carolina has gone to Nationals since 1985.

The team was also recognized with the outstanding ensemble acting award as well as individual acting awards.

The Mill Town Players is now raising funds for the trip to the nationals. Contributions are being accepted here. 


Study: Low-Carb Diets Raise A-Fib Risk

(UPI) - Keto, Paleo, Atkins -- there's no shortage of low-carb diets to try, but new research suggests that over time, living low-carb can raise your risk of a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or a-fib.

People who regularly got fewer than 45 percent of their calories from carbohydrates were 18 percent more likely to develop a-fib than people who ate a moderate amount of carbohydrates (about 45 percent to 52 percent of their calories). 

The Chinese researchers said the risk of a-fib was raised no matter what types of protein or fat were used to replace carbohydrates.

"Extremes of anything aren't good. Too much carbohydrate is bad and too little is also bad," explained Dr. Laurence Epstein, system director of electrophysiology at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y. Epstein wasn't involved with the new study.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder. Instead of the usual heartbeat, the heart sometimes quivers in people with a-fib. Because the heart isn't pumping properly, blood pools in the heart and can form clots. If a blood clot breaks free, it can reach the brain and cause a stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Although the current study was only designed to find an association, and not a cause-and-effect relationship, Epstein pointed to several reasons a low-carb diet could have negative consequences.

He said that one way low-carb diets cause such fast weight loss is by flushing fluids out of the body, and dehydration can cause a-fib. Low-carb diets can also cause electrolyte abnormalities, which can affect the heart rhythm.

The researchers pointed out that people eating low-carbohydrate diets also tend to eat fewer vegetables, fruits and grains -- foods linked to lower levels of inflammation. People on low-carb diets may experience more inflammation, which has been linked to a-fib.

Epstein said the reason someone is on a low-carb diet may matter, too. "If you're diabetic and trying to control your blood sugar, you may be on a very low-carb diet. Diabetes is a risk factor for a-fib," he pointed out.

For the study, researchers reviewed data from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study that included almost 14,000 people. At the study's start, none of them had a-fib.

Over an average of 22 years of follow-up, about 1,900 participants developed the heart rhythm disorder. All of the study participants filled out detailed diet surveys, and researchers divided them into three groups: low-, moderate-, and high-carbohydrate intake. The low-carb group got fewer than 45 percent of their daily calories from carbs. Moderates consumed between about 45 percent and 52 percent of calories from carbs, and the high-carb group included people who got more than 52 percent of their calories from carbs.

The researchers said their findings complement other studies suggesting that both low- and high-carbohydrate diets are linked with a higher risk of premature death.

Samantha Heller, a nutritionist with NYU Langone Health in New York City, said any extremes may lead to serious health consequences.

"There are many iterations of low-carb diets. On some, people don't eat a lot of bread, pasta or desserts, and that's good. But sometimes fad diets eliminate healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and legumes, and you don't get enough nutrients and fiber," she said.

Everyone needs a more balanced dietary pattern that includes fruits, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, Heller said.

"A more plant-based diet decreases the risk for many chronic diseases," she added.

The researchers, along with Epstein and Heller, all said more research is needed to tease out the exact reasons a lower-carb diet is linked to a-fib.

Dr. Xiaodong Zhuang, the study's lead author and a cardiologist at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, is scheduled to present the findings at the American College of Cardiology meeting March 16, in New Orleans.

Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.


S.C. House Passes Revamped Education Bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina House on Wednesday approved a massive bill overhauling education in the state. But any revamping of the education system stills has a long road in the General Assembly.

Earlier Wednesday, a group of senators made their first changes to the proposal, indicating there will be plenty of back-and-forth even if the bill makes it to Gov. Henry McMaster's desk before the end of the session in May.

The House voted 113-4 to approve the bill after six hours of debate Wednesday.

The House's lengthy bill raises the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000, gives the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts and creates a $100 million fund to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling.

A proposal to put $159 million toward raises for almost all teachers is in the proposed budget the House will soon debate.

Some Democrats proposed several changes in the House during Wednesday's debate, but almost all were rejected. They included providing free school lunches for all students in the state and requiring a teaching assistant to be added to any class in kindergarten through third grade with more than 15 students in a low performing school. Republicans said the class size issue would be taken up in the budget.

Democrats also wanted to add language to the bill saying the state had to require a high-quality education possible instead of the minimally adequate education the state Supreme Court ruled is guaranteed in South Carolina's constitution. They lost that vote too.

"We may not entirely agree on this legislation, but we need to get on with it for the students and the teachers of this state," said Rep. Rita Allison, a Republican from Lyman and chairwoman of the House Education Committee.

Democrats did get one teacher-backed proposal into the bill. A guaranteed 30-minute break away from students each day was put in the proposal after Republicans initially rejected it. House members also added a proposal to give an income tax break worth the value of the property taxes of their homes to teachers who live and work in the state's 12 poorest and most rural counties.

Rep. Wendy Brawley said the state needed to take this rare opportunity where everyone agreed something needed to be done to do more for students from the poorest families.

"This bill not only touches this generation, but future generations," the Democrat from Hopkins said.

Rep. Neal Collins opened the debate asking members to stand and then sit down as he recounted South Carolina's poor education performance. Just two-thirds of children are ready for kindergarten when they start. Only 55 percent of third graders are reading on grade level. And ACT scores in South Carolina are 18th of the 19 states whose juniors almost all take the test, the Republican from Easley said.

The Senate introduced its own bill, identical to the House version until Wednesday's vote by a subcommittee that removed both a proposed Student Bill of Rights and the Zero to Twenty Committee, which was meant to oversee education from pre-kindergarten to technical colleges. The House bill kept the committee, but renamed it the Special Council on Revitalizing Education, pointing out the acronym was SCORE.

The bill of rights is a good idea, but could open officials to lawsuits by calling them rights, said Sen. Greg Hembree, the subcommittee chairman.

The Zero to Twenty Committee is unnecessary because it duplicates other things being done in the education system, the Republican from Little River said.

The Senate subcommittee will hold three more hearings on the bill in Georgetown, Hartsville and Gaffney before likely sending its version of the bill to the full Senate Education Committee.

Several Republicans said the House bill isn't perfect, but South Carolina needs to do something soon before businesses begin to shun the state because of its poor schools.

"I believe in what we are about to do — or could do," said Rep. Jay West, a Republican from Belton


S.C. Senate Makes Changes to Education Bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A group of senators has made some significant changes to a proposal to overhaul South Carolina's education system.

The Senate subcommittee that has spent months reviewing the bill voted Wednesday to remove a proposed Student Bill of Rights and the Zero to Twenty Committee meant to oversee education from pre-kindergarten to technical colleges.

Senate Education Subcommittee Chairman Greg Hembree of Little River says the bill of rights is a good idea, but could open officials to lawsuits by calling them rights.

The items remain in the House version of the bill expected to be debated and approved Wednesday.

The different bills mean if any education overhaul proposal is sent to the governor it likely won't come until late spring.


Georgia Bass Pro Shop Fishing Event Saturday at Green Pond

The Georgia Division of the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Open Series presented by American Bass Anglers will host the second event Saturday at Green Pond on Hartwell Lake.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. Friday at the ABA stage trailer located at Green Pond Park with the tournament briefing to begin at 7 p.m.. 

Competitors will may begin fishing at 6:45 a.m. or first safe light. The weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass, each at least 12 inches and Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass of the same length limits. 

Payout for all events will be based on number of entries, for one-day divisional events $5000 will go the wining boater based on a minimum of 60 boats, for each 2-day Area Championship $10,000 for boaters and $5,000 for co-anglers based on 100 boats. Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass and Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass. 

In addition to cash and prizes for top finishers, boater and co-angler competitors may also win contingency bonuses from such sponsors as Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, MotorGuide, T-H Marine, Power Pole, Berkley and ABU Garcia. See the manufacturer web sites for specific details on how to qualify for these bonuses.


County to Smoke Test Gilmer Estates Sewer Lines

Anderson County Wastewater Management will be performing a smoke test on sewer lines throughout the Gilmer Estates Subdivision Friday-Monday, March. Smoke may be seen escaping from the sewer lines, manholes, service lines and plumbing roof vents on structures during the test. 

The smoke is harmless. It is being applied to determine the need for preventative maintenance. The smoke testing will take place between the hours of 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

For more information call (864) 260-4023 between the hours of 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday – Friday.


Anderson County Council Meeting Recap, March 5, 2019


Bill Would Make Vaping, Cigarette Laws Statewide

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - Tobacco and vape products are everywhere we turn and now they're making their way into schools. The organization Just Say Something in Greenville said they get concerned calls from parents on a daily basis. Many of them saying their kids can't stop, they're becoming addicted to using e-cigs.

"They're seeing too many flavors advertised and that does have an impact and of course when the e-cigs came out it was all about the flavors,” said Executive Director Carol Reeves. “Now that the Juul is out there, they're advertised as the most trendy, cool things that you can get your hands on."

There's been a push to fight back. Reeves said they are doing everything they can to help the problem at a local level, but a new proposed bill would take that all away. Leaving only the state to regulate and govern tobacco and vaping products.

"It's a preempt latent bill that will stop us from locally protecting our kids," she said.

Its already flown through the house and is now making its way through the Senate. Sponsors of the bill, like Jay West said to him it comes down to two big points.

"A municipality or a taxing district could actually tax a particular flavor,” West said. “We don't want the grape cigars, we want the cherry cigars and when you get to those minute details I think it's better for that to happen at a statewide level."

His other concern is the local economics of the issue.

"For instance, you may have one side of the street within a city limits and one without and so what happens to those businesses that are divided by that lineation concerning who gets taxed what and who doesn't have to,” West argued.

Those who voted against the bill, like Representative Josiah Magnuson, said plain and simple it came down to the bill infringing on home rule.

"The idea of liberty involves decentralizing the idea of decision-making unless fundamental rights are involved there's really no fundamental right to vape and smoke in public places so I see this as a local government issue,” Magnuson said. “If they want to make a decision that they think is best for their own citizens the state doesn't need to step in and add more controls."


Council To Look at Drone Regulations; Moves Ahead on Solar, Industrial Projects

By Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County Council on Tuesday night agreed to form a subcommittee of the Public Safety Committee to explore the use of drones in Anderson County.  

Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson asked fellow council members to craft a resolution restricting the use of drones. Wilson said drones are a threat to helicopters and low-flying aircraft, especially at night. She also said the resolution should also address issues of trespassing, voyeurism, invasion of privacy and criminal activity. 

“The are flying over our farm at three in the morning and waking my mother,” said Wilson, who wants a registration requirement and a prohibition of night flying.  

Meanwhile, council suggested taking a more measured approach. 

“This is a very complex issue,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “I’d like to find out what we can and cannot do, talk to the Sheriff, and get some public input before we move ahead.”

Anderson County Council Vice Chairman Ray Graham said he wants to make sure any new regulations do not interfere with businesses that use drones.

“And knowing our sheriff’s department is already stretched thin, asking them to enforce drone should not be done without studying this more.” 

Graham also suggested evaluating what other counties had done and what other information on the legal status of drones has already been collected.

Council also approved, on first reading, additional solar project in Anderson County. Three parcels of land, approximately 25-30 acres at locations across the county, would be used for solar energy collection, raising the annual county taxes on the property from $668 in 2018, to $29,043 in 2021.

“Over 30 years, these projects would generate $800,000 in property taxes,” said Anderson County Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson. “This improved tax income on agricultural land will have not impact on the community (in the form of increased traffic, pollution, burden on schools, odors). 

Council also moved forward in tax incentives for a development company to create a new, 200,000 sq. ft. industrial park. The incentives will offset sewer and water costs. Nelson said the property of the proposed park paid $111 property taxes in 2018, but would generate $21,000 by 2021 for just the building and land.