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Thursday
May162019

Duke Says S.C. PSC Treating Utility Unfairly

GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) — An executive at Duke Energy says the company has been unfairly treated by South Carolina regulators angry at other utilities in the state.

Duke Energy Government and Community Relations District Manager Theo Lane says he thinks the Public Service Commission wants to show it will punish utilities after Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas cost ratepayers billions of dollars for two nuclear plants that were never finished.

Regulators earlier this month called a Duke Energy proposal to increase electric bills by about $20 per month "tone deaf" and the company agreed to an increase of less than $5.

The Index Journal of Greenwood reports Lane told a Rotary Club meeting Tuesday that he has never seen regulators act like that in 30 years in South Carolina.

Wednesday
May152019

Greenville Man Wins Wild "Survivor" Finale

The Survivor: Edge of Extinction finale was a wild ride Wednesday and fans have mixed emotions. 27 nights after being voted out, Chris Underwood of Greenville, S.C., won his way back into the game from the Edge of Extinction.

He survived a couple of tribal councils and then won the final immunity challenge. With his spot in the final three secured, Chris then did something nobody saw coming - gave his immunity away to go against Rick Devens in a fire making challenge.

It was a bold move and the first time anyone has given up their immunity to compete in the fire making contest. Devens had been dominating the game, and was the clear favorite to win - that is until Chris took him out.

With Devens out of the way, and Chris's bold move fresh in the minds of the jurors, all that was left was for Jeff Probst to read the votes.

Wednesday
May152019

Independent-Mail Selling Facility on Williamston Road

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

The buidling which has been home to the Independent-Mail newsaper for 45 years is for sale.

The office, located at 1000 Williamston Road in Anderson, houses 54,150 square feet and includes 11.6 acres and is being sold as industrial space.

No word yet on a new location for the newspaper's Anderson office. Multiple attempts to reach the Independent-Mail for comment have been unsuccessful so far.

In March, the company announced the closing of production facilities at the location and began printing the Independent-Mail newspaper at the Knoxville News Sentinel, in Tennessee.

United States President Gerald Ford was on hand for the dedication of the building in 1974, marking a rare visit of a sitting president to Anderson. 

In 1972, Wilton Hall, who had been publisher of the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail for nearly half a century, sold the morning and evening newspapers to the Texas company Harte Hanks Communications, which moved the newspapers from the Market Street location downtown to the new facility on Williamston Road.

Harte Hanks later merged the two newspapers into a single morning edition, the Independent-Mail in the early 1980s. In 1997, The E.W. Scripps Company bought the Independent-Mail, spinning it's newspaper assests into the Journal Media Group in 2015. 

In 2016, Gannett Co. which also owns The Greenville News and is the parent company of USA Today purchased 15 daily newspapers including the Independent-Mail.

The orginal Anderson Daily Mail began publication in 1899. Hall, who had started the morning Anderson Independent, bought the Daily Mail and published both newspapers for nearly 50 years.

Developing Story...

 

Wednesday
May152019

Opinion: Council Wise to Include Vehicle Fee in Budget 

Anderson Observer Opinion

Once again, there’s a big economic pothole facing Anderson County, one which is getting deeper every year. 

In spite of the state lawmakers pledge to do something about the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges, their efforts have done nothing to smooth out the 1,535 miles of county roads in Anderson or the 163 bridges for which the county is responsible. We cannot count on the state to sufficiently maintain state roads, much less our county roads. 

Progress has been made, and the Assistant Anderson County Adminstrator Holt Hopkins as his road crews are paving as many roads as funds permit. But the currently level of funding remains so far behind the need continues to grow to find a sustainable source of revenue for maining our roads and bridges.

Currently, to maintain all roads/bridges infrastructure in the county would require more than $7.5 million per year. Sadly, a sustainable funding source for our roads and bridges is not in sight. County council has pieced together a variety of temporary funding sources, but years of neglect requires more than some paving and putting band aids on many of our our pocked, crumbling roads.

Meanwhile, Anderson County’s population is booming. The population has nearly doubled since 1970, and has grown by nearly 35,000 since 2000. The 2020 Census preliminary numbers suggest the population now tops 200,000. 

This growth has created an accelerated demand for services, but an increase in taxes and fees have not kept pace with the population growth to provide for the growing population. The county’s base millage rate remains among the lowest in the state, and council has been prudent in leading the county out of the 2008 economic downturn by keeping property taxes down. 

When county council meets Tuesday night, as part of the FY 2019-2020 budget, it will consider a $25-per-vehicle fee. The $25 will be used to repair roads. It is the perfect time to consider a vehicle fee in Anderson County and help pave the way for our future.

The fee would include a  one-mil-tax reduction offsetting the cost for most taxpayers in Anderson County.

Currently 27 counties in South Carolina have vehicle fees. Horry County has the highest fees at $50 per year, while Abbeville County boasts the lowest - and oddest - at $13.99. The statewide average is roughly $24 per year per vehicle. 

I have talked to leadership in almost all of Anderson’s charitable organizations, and most agreed that even the working poor and those on fixed incomes could absorb such modest fees if it meant better roads. 

A number of national studies also suggest that well-maintained roads more than offset the cost of vehicle fees in savings on tires and other mechanical repairs. 

So there is little reason not to act now, and council is to be commended for taking this big step to improve the county's infrastructure.

If Anderson County approved the $25 annual vehicle fee, with a provision that the money can never be used for any purpose other than road and bridge maintenance and repair, it would generate more than $5.3 million annually. The math works out to just over $2 per month for the owner of a vehicle.

Essentially, the fee means that every owner of a vehicle - those who use the roads - would be providing a sustainable source of funding Anderson County roads and bridges at a cost of pennies per day both for today and for the future. 

There are those who protest any increase in taxes and fees, no matter the efficacy of the financial decision.

Such protests are just short of silly. Any Anderson County citizen who can afford a vehicle is should recognize fuding county roads is likely to save them more than the annual fee in tires and alignement costs. 

Anderson County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Wages are up, new jobs are everywhere and more on the way. The county has more international investment than any other in South Carolina, with more than 51 companies representing 23 nations calling Anderson home. 

The new Arthrex facility in Sandy Springs and continued growth of TTI and Michelin, have kept Anderson at the forefront in economic development, in spite of our roads. But quality of life and other issues, which are crucial to economic development, include such things as maintence of our transportation pathways. Anderson cannot afford to forever allow our roads funding to lag and struggle and play catch up just to patch and repair and expect outside investment to continue to grow.

But that is exactly what could happen if a sustainable funding source is not found soon. 

Council has shown great wisdom in moving forward on paving the way to a bright future by making the vehicle fee a part of the FY budget now being hammered out. The next meeting is Tuesday night, and the public is always invlted, but you can contact your council representative anytime here.

Tuesday
May142019

Celebrate Anderson to Feature Joe Nichols, Canaan Smith

On Sept. 1, Celebrate Anderson, the county's annual Labor Day event, will feature country music singer and songwriter Canaan Smith, and award-winning country music artist Joe Nichols and the Andreson Civic Center Amphlitheater.

The public is invited to bring a picnic when the gates open at 5:30 p.m. for the night of free concerts, which will conclude with a patriotic-themed fireworks display.

“Celebrate Anderson is a way of thanking our community, military and first-responders for making Anderson County the best place to live in South Carolina," said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. "We are very appreciative to the local businesses and industries for joining Anderson County in funding and hosting this free community event.” 

The event will also feature a "Celebrate Fun Zone," which opens at 1 p.m., a large inflatables and activities brings together families and youth in the afternoon. “Celebrate-Fun-Zone gives our families and visitors a fun afternoon prior to the concerts, said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. 

Celebrate Anderson’s entertainment evening lineup will also include the T.L. Hanna Jazz Band.

Tuesday
May142019

Thursday Farmers Market Starts at 6 a.m. with Live Broadcast

The Anderson County Farmers Market will have a special edition of the Spring Market Thursday from 6-9 a.m. featuring 21 vendors, breakfast from Sadler's Creek BBQ, live music and a special guest from Fox 21.

Joe Gagnon with Fox Carolina will be at the Anderson County Farmers Market Thursday doing live spots during the morning show. 

The pubic is invited.

Monday
May132019

Dist. 2 School Board Tables Motion on Superintendent Contract

Anderson Observer

Anderson County School District 2 Board of Trustees tabled a vote on the contract of Superintendent Richard Rosenberger with a 4-2 vote Monday night.

Public support for Rosenberger was manifest in the board meeting, which had to be moved to Belton-Honea Path High School due to the crowd, which was in excess of 300.

Social media support for Rosenberger, who was hired in 2013, and the crowd was loud in their support.  

The board returned from an executive session which lasted nearly three hours, to announce their decision to table. It was met by disapproval from many of those in attendence.

A special called meeting will now be scheduled to decide the board’s next move.

Monday
May132019

AU to Offer Tuition Grants to Upstate Law Enforcement

The Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration is providing tuition grants to law enforcement personnel serving five Upstate South Carolina counties who are looking to advance their careers while continuing to serve their communities. 

“We are pleased to offer this grant to our local law enforcement personnel,” said Dr. Damon Camp, interim dean of the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration. “Our criminal justice programs are designed to lead and promote progressive solutions for today’s law enforcement issues. This grant program re-affirms the University’s commitment to supporting those that make significant contributions to our community.”

All law enforcement employees of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg Counties may receive:

  • $400 semester tuition grant for all eligible graduate programs;
  • $550 semester tuition grant for all eligible undergraduate programs;
  • early access to any Anderson University Continuous Learning opportunities, including professional development workshops, certificate programs and K12 student camp information; and
  • dedicated enrollment counselors and Journey Coaches to provide guidance from application to graduation. 

The Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration offers the following Criminal Justice programs:

  • The Bachelor of Criminal Justice is offered fully online, which permits students to achieve their academic and career goals on their schedule.
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security/Emergency Services provides graduates with a basic understanding of various aspects of the homeland security and emergency services systems and the systems’ component parts.
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security/Emergency Services, which is designed to prepare managers and leaders in the EMS field.
  • The Master of Criminal Justice program is specifically designed to prepare graduates to move up to middle management or senior executive positions with criminal justice entities. To enroll in this program, students must have at least five years of experience in law enforcement.

Request more information or apply now to get started in one of AU's programs and earn the tuition grant this summer. Contact AUOnline@andersonuniversity.edu with any questions. 

Monday
May132019

DHEC Concerned by S.C. Hepatitis Outbreak

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating a statewide outbreak of Hepatitis A cases in South Carolina. To date, only one case has been reported in Anderson County.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus that is typically transmitted through person-to-person contact with someone who has the infection or through eating or drinking food or water contaminated by an infected person. 

Most who contract Hepatitis A can be ill for several weeks, but usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Symptoms usually begin within two-six weeks after exposure and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or yellowing of the eyes and skin.   

“Given the steady increase in cases, we determined that South Carolina is experiencing an outbreak,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist and director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control in a news release. “As a result, DHEC is intensifying efforts to control the spread of hepatitis A to avoid a severe outbreak that could threaten the general population.” 

There have been 86 reported cases if the disease between November 1-May 10, more than four times the 19 reported cases South Carolina has seen on average each year over the past decade. Those 86 cases led to 59 hospitalizations and one death.  

Most cases have occurred in Aiken County, and almost half of all cases involve individuals who report drug use. 

The following groups may be at higher risk for Hepatitis A include:

  • People who use injection or non-injection drugs
  • People who are homeless
  • People who are or recently were incarcerated
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People with chronic liver disease like cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C
  • People who are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People with chronic liver disease like cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C as they have an increased risk of complications if infected with hepatitis A 

The following steps can be taken to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A:

  • Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A
  • Washing their hands after using the restroom and before eating or preparing meals
  • Refraining from sex with someone who has a hepatitis A infection
  • Immediately seeking medical care if a hepatitis A infection is suspected 

For more information, visit the DHEC website 

Sunday
May122019

Guys Pizza to Open May 20 in Anderson

Guys Pizza, a longtime favorite of those who frequent the Sandy Springs pizzeria, will open their new location on S.C. 81 North (near Carolina Fresh Farms and Fiesta Mexican) May 20.

See their menu and more here.

Sunday
May122019

Mother's Day Started as Protest, Ended Up Day of Tribute

Mother's Day honors “the best mother who ever lived — your mother,” according to Anna Jarvis, who is widely credited with making the holiday an institution in the U.S. and across the globe.

The idea dates back to the 1850s when women in West Virginia organized into Mother’s Day work clubs that worked to reduce infant mortality and improve sanitary conditions for mothers and families. During the Civil War, these groups also cared for wounded soldiers from both sides.

After the war ended in 1865, women planned Mother’s Friendship Day picnics in an effort to bring Union and Confederate loyalists together, urging them to promote peace. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” writer Julia Ward Howe started a “Mother’s Peace Day" around this time, which encouraged mothers to support antiwar efforts on behalf of their sons' wellbeing.

Many of the Mother's Day work club events were organized by Ann Jarvis, Anna's mother, who lost nine of her 13 children before they reached adulthood. After her death, Anna, held the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908 to honor her. Cities across the country adopted the trend, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson named the second Sunday in May a national holiday.

Mother’s Day Gifts

While it began as a political antiwar effort and a celebration of moms, Mother’s Day quickly became a “Hallmark Holiday” — the company released its first Mother’s Day cards in the 1920s.

According to a New York Times article from 1923, Anna Jarvis resented that the day she had intended to devote to mothers became “a means of profiteering.” Though she initially worked with the floral industry to help raise the holiday's profile, she denounced its commercialization, urging people not to buy flowers, cards, and candies.

She went so far as to protest a confectioner’s convention in 1925 and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

Jarvis fought for full credit for founding Mother’s Day, a battle that consumed much of her time and money and eventually left her poor, blind, and living in a sanitarium at the end of her life. She died in 1948 at 84 years old.

"This woman, who died penniless in a sanitarium in a state of dementia, was a woman who could have profited from Mother's Day if she wanted to," according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

"But she railed against those who did, and it cost her everything, financially and physically."

Today, about 133 million Mother’s Day cards are exchanged each year (more than any holiday besides Christmas and Valentine’s Day) and the day generates more than $20 billion in consumer spending in the U.S. alone, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation.

Spread of Mother's Day

The celebration of mothers can be found in ancient Greek and Roman cultures in which mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele were honored with festivals.

In England and other parts of Europe, the tradition of "Mothering Sunday" became popular during the 16th century. On the fourth Sunday of Lent people went back to their "mother" church and gave presents, normally flowers, to their mothers. For many low income people, many of whom worked as servants, it was often the only time entire families could gather together.

By the 1920s, this custom fell out of practice, and the celebrations associated with it were eventually absorbed into the modern Mother's Day.

In Panama the celebration also falls on a church holiday, Dec. 8, when the Catholic Church honors the Virgin Mary. Much of the Arab world recognizes Mother's Day on March 21, and in Thailand the day falls on Aug. 12, the birthday of Queen Sirikit, who many consider a mother to all Thai people.

In the U.S. and around the world, many are beginning to make Mother's Day more inclusive in order to honor various family structures, LGBTQ parents, and the adopted "moms" who often go unacknowledged.

Saturday
May112019

S.C. Considers More Locations to Train New Law Enforcement

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — In South Carolina, all police officers are certified and trained at one central academy. But with the demand for officers on the rise, the academy is changing how it operates to get new officers into squad cars and in the community faster.

Police departments across the state send their new officers to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. They spend 12 weeks at the Columbia campus for a basic training program, learning about the law, firearms, tactics to remain safe, strategies for keeping the peace and order and deescalating problems.

About 75 candidates can start the more than 400 hours of training every three weeks, limiting the number of people who can become officers in the state to around 1,000 a year.

"Every police officer in this state gets the same level of training, so it doesn't matter if you're at the poorest one-man department in this state or the largest," said Jackie Swindler, director of the academy.

To get more officers trained, the academy is launching in June a program to allow potential candidates to watch four weeks of training videos made by the academy's instructors before heading to Columbia, supervised by the agency that hired them. That will allow more officers to train at the academy and may weed out some candidates before they make the trip, officials said.

"You could hire somebody today, and start them viewing that on Monday," said Swindler, who has been in law enforcement for 44 years.

It could open up jobs for new officers in smaller agencies, which now often prefer to hire an officer who is already certified because they pay an officer's salary while they are training and don't have them on patrol, Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said.

Taylor has about 25 officers for his town of about 4,100 people in Anderson County. He has only sent one hire to the academy for training in six years as chief.

One proposed idea to get more officers trained is to let more places do the training. Georgia, for example, has eight regional academies across the state and even allows some police departments to train their own officers.

In April, Trident Technical College in North Charleston proposed holding basic police training at its 16 technical schools across the state. But the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council rejected the idea after the state Attorney General's Office said that only the academy could provide basic law enforcement training.

"Of course any institution, such as a technical college, is generally free to offer whatever educational or training resources it chooses to develop, but unless the education and training is conducted under the auspices of the Director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy . such education and training cannot claim any authorization or legitimacy," the Attorney General's Office said in a letter to academy director Swindler.

There also is an issue of how technical colleges would get paid. South Carolina police agencies pay nothing for the training at the academy.

"If you go to tech school, the agency would have to figure out how to pay them," said Ray Saxon, a training director with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Saxon said. "This is pretty much a pretty good deal for most agencies."

Some lawmakers said allowing training at other places could put uncertainty into a system that appears to be operating well.

"I think it needs to be under a single umbrella," Democratic state Sen. Gerald Malloy of Hartsville said. Swindler agreed.

"That's why it's so important that we control the training that we the instructors provide," Swindler said, "because then we're doing a consistent model."

Friday
May102019

Legislature Ends Session with Bills Still on Table

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The regular session of the 2019 South Carolina Legislature which started Jan. 8 has ended.

Leaders in both the House and Senate gaveled the legislative session to a close Thursday at 5 p.m.

Legislators passed dozens of bills including legislation that would require ridesharing services to display their license plate numbers on the front of their vehicles and an expansion of the solar energy industry.

Other matters remain unresolved including legislation set to reform the state's education system as well as a proposal that would outline how the state should proceed with allowing private companies to make bids to buy or manage state owned utility Santee Cooper.

Lawmakers will return to Columbia for a special session May 20 to continue negotiations including deciding the future of the utility.