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Council to Consider Non-Emergency Ambulance Contracts

Anderson County Council will consider contracts for non-emergency ambulance service, zoning requests and hear a report from the finance committee as part of Tuesday's regular meeting at 6 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

Full Agenda Here


200 Million Eggs Recalled, Including Those Sold in S.C.

More than 200 million eggs under a farm's numerous brand names have been recalled because of fears of salmonella fears, the Food and Drug Administration announced.

The FDA in a release Friday said 22 illnesses have linked to the eggs distributed from Rose Acre Farms' facility in North Carolina.

Rose Acre Farms, with headquarters in Seymour, Ind., distributed the eggs to retail stores and restaurants in nine states -- Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

They were sold under the brands Country Daybreak, Crystal Farms, Coburn Farms, Sunshine Farms, Glenview, Great Value as well as at Walmart and Food Lion stores. The plant number is P-105, with the Julian date range of 011 through 012 printed on either side of the carton or package.

It's the largest egg recall in the United States since 2010, according to Food Safety News.

Consumers are urged to immediately discontinue use of the recalled eggs and to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers may contact the company at (855) 215-5730 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.

The FDA said some illnesses were reported on the U.S. East Coast. The agency inspected the farm, which produces 2.3 million eggs a day from 3 million laying hens.

The FDA said the eggs can potentially be contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup, which is an organism that could cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Also, healthy individuals infected with Salmonella Braenderup can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.


Byrnes Team Wins High School Bassmaster Event

Nearly one month after the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods was held on Lake Hartwell, a youthful generation of anglers launched from Green Pond Landing for a chance to compete in a championship of their own. The two anglers who exceeded that challenge were South Carolina freshmen Marshall Robinson and Mason Fulmer of Byrnes High School.  
The Byrnes Rebel bass club caught five bass Saturday that weighed 17 pounds, 12 ounces to win the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. After their first game plan of targeting shallow-water, herring-related bass did not pan out, the team took to fishing for spawning bass that they found in practice.
“We marked over 20 beds in practice,” Robinson said. “The three fish that we set the hook on in practice were all under 3 pounds. Anything bigger, we made sure to save.”
Planning for the herring spawn that they thought could happen positioned them around quality bass in the lower part of Lake Hartwell, in the same area where Jordan Lee defended his Classic title.
“We took two trips during spring break and caught limits in the mid-teens,” Fulmer said. “That clued us in to the areas we needed to look, with it being a week before.”
The two employed typical bed-fishing tactics, but fooled some shallow roaming fish into biting as well.
“While one of us was fishing for the fish on the bed, the other would throw in front of the boat hoping to get one of the big cruising fish to bite,” Robinson said. “We had a couple of key fish come fishing that way.”
The key baits to their success were a Texas-rigged creature-style bait, a drop shot with a Zoom shaky head worm and a Zoom Fluke.

The Rebels were awarded first-place plaques and a $1,500 payout for their school’s fishing team, who is coached by Iris Robinson, wife of Elite Series angler and high school boat captain Marty Robinson.
Robinson and Fulmer finished 11 ounces in front of B.J. Collins and Garrett Holder of the Chatuge Anglers who finished second with 17-1. Lake Chatuge is only a few hours away, and the highland reservoir in North Georgia has some similarities to Hartwell.
“The similarities of fishing a (bait bite) in windy conditions in clear water helped a lot,” Collins said.
Though the dock talk of herring-related fish was apparent, the Chatuge Anglers took another route and focused on shad-fed fish.
“We fished down the lake and threw a Megabass jerkbait and a frog in the back of pockets,” Holder said.

Collins and Holder won second-place plaques and a $1,000 check for their fishing club.
The Big Bass award was won by the third-place team of James Gibbons and Piercen Lynch of South Florence High School. The 4-15 largemouth was worth two Abu Garcia REVO Reels in addition to the third-place prize of $750.
The Eastern Regional featured 157 teams, and the Top 16 earned a spot in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods scheduled for Kentucky Lake in August. It took 12-2 to make the cut.


Study: More Frequent Droughts Threaten Bee Populations

April 13 (UPI) -- As the planet warms and droughts grow longer and more frequent, as predicted by climate scientists, bees are likely to find fewer flowers to get nectar.

When researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Manchester analyzed the impact of droughts on flower blooms, they found drought conditions halved the number of flowers available to pollinators. 

"The plants we examined responded to drought in various ways, from producing fewer flowers to producing flowers that contained no nectar," Exeter ecologist Ben Phillips said in a news release. "But overall there was a very clear reduction in the number of flowers that were available -- and obviously this means less food for flower-visiting insects such as bees."

As a wealth of research has shown, bees are facing a deadly combination of threats, including exposure to pesticides, invasive species and disease.

Bees provide essential ecological services, including the pollination of crops and native plants. They also provide food for a variety of birds and mammals.

Scientists tracked three flower varieties in a meadow -- vetchling, common sainfoin and selfheal. The team of researchers used transparent rain shields to replicate severe drought conditions.

"The level of drought that we looked at was calculated to be a rare event, but with climate change such droughts are expected to become much more common," said lead researcher Ellen Fry, an ecologist at the University of Manchester.

One recent study found climate change could leave as much as a quarter of the planet's landmass in permanent drought.

While the most recent experiment was conducted on chalk grasslands, an ecosystem found in Europe, researchers believe their findings -- published Friday in the journal Global Change Biology -- are broadly applicable.


Appeals Court to Allow Suit in Belton Pipeline Spill

A federal appeals court says a lawsuit stemming from a pipeline rupture in South Carolina in 2014 can be tried in court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday said the lawsuit by Upstate Forever and the Savannah Riverkeeper can proceed against Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

The spill near Belton leaked hundreds of thousands of gallons.

The two environmental groups contend Kinder Morgan of violating the federal Clean Water Act. The lawsuit contends that groundwater polluted by the spill seeped into two nearby creeks that flow into several lakes and the Savannah River.

A lawyer for the groups, Frank Holleman, said the decision is a win for the Belton community.


S.C. Senate Approves $8 Billion Budget

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Senate has passed the state's $8 billion budget for next fiscal year.

Senators voted 37-4 on Thursday to approve the spending plan .

The bill will likely go to a committee of House and Senate members to work out the differences between the chambers unless the House agrees with the Senate's proposal.

One big difference is $250,000 for raises for South Carolina's nine constitutional statewide offices. Gov. Henry McMaster said on Twitter he will veto that proposal because he wants more money for police officers in schools.

The Senate also put in the budget a proposal requiring cities and counties to file an annual report to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division showing they had followed immigration laws and were not so-called "sanctuary cities."


Bassmaster High School Event at Green Pond Saturday

On Saturday, B.A.S.S., the world’s largest fishing organization, will host 86 different schools from 13 states with more than 170 teams for the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series Eastern Open at Green Pond Landing on Lake Hartwell. Green Pond will be closed to public fishing during the tournament.

Hosted by Visit Anderson, the boats will launch at 7 a.m. and the final weigh-in is scheduled for 3 p.m. The pubic is invited.

The High School Series pits teams of high school anglers against one another for scholarship money, prizes, bragging rights and the holy grail of high school fishing: an invitation to compete in an exhibition tournament in conjunction with the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The 2018 Bassmaster Classic was just held on Lake Hartwell in March. 

The High School Series consists of four national opens (Western, Eastern, Central and Southern), in addition to 30 state championships and more than 15 sanctioned team trails. 

Throughout tournament two-person teams will try to catch the heaviest five-bass limits. New this year to the High School Series are up-to-the-minute competition updates on through the popular BASSTrakk feature, which we see in the Elite Series and other B.A.S.S. events.

With more than 7,000 student athletes representing 700 clubs in 45 states, the Bassmaster High School and Junior programs are one of the fastest-growing initiatives within B.A.S.S.


S.C. Senate Bill Limits Local Bans of Plastic Bags

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers are closer to passing a bill that would prevent local governments from passing their own plastic bag bans.

A Senate committee sent the bill to the Senate floor Thursday. It comes after several towns along the South Carolina coast like Folly Beach and Mount Pleasant banned stores from using plastic bags.

Supporters of the bill said a patchwork of bag bans would be hard on businesses following one set of rules in Columbia and another in Mount Pleasant.

Critics say state lawmakers aren't allowing local governments to make their own decisions if they think the bags are bad for the environment.

The bill allows towns who impose bans before Jan. 31 to keep them.

The bill passed the House in February.


S.C. Gets Poor Marks in "Nation's Report Card"

South Carolina received poor marks in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which issues the research every two years, published its latest report Tuesday. It examines academic performance for fourth and eighth graders, which are considered key benchmark points in student education. 

According to the report card, eighth-graders' math scores remained flat but the group gained 1 point in reading, for an average score of 267 out of a possible 500, according to the data.

South Carolina scored poorly on the report card, with reading and math scores down. South Caroina Fourth Graders are 47th in the country in reading, down from 39th in 2015. 

The National Center for Education Statistics has issued the report card every two years in every state since 2003, with the goal of comparing states' educational systems.

While Anderson Couinty has several high-performing public schools, the state's overall school system often ranks among the nation's worst.

Last year,  U.S. News & World Report ranked South Carolina last among all 50 states. 

When it comes to financial commitment South Carolina ranks 33rd in per-pupil spending on education and ranks 47th in average starting salary for teachers.


McMaster Names Ex-Lobbyist to Head DHEC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has chosen a former lobbyist for Boeing to head the state's health and environmental agency.

McMaster said Wednesday that Mark Elam of Charleston will chair the board at the Department of Health and Environmental Control, one of the largest state agencies in South Carolina.

Elam replaces Allen Amsler as chairman. Amsler resigned in February after seven years on the board.

The nomination requires Senate approval.

DHEC oversees hospital expansions, issues birth certificates, considers pollution permits for industries, and tests water and air for contamination.

The governor's news release says McMaster is confident Elam can strike the balance between protecting the state's natural resources and allowing businesses to grow.

Elam was one of Boeing's chief lobbyists at the General Assembly from 2012 through last year.


The State: Top S.C. Officials Could Get Pay Raise in 2019

All nine of South Carolina's constitutional officers — including the governor — would get a pay raise next year under the S.C. Senate's budget proposal, debated Wednesday.

Those state officials, elected statewide every four years, need those raises to bring them in line with their peers in other states, said state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington. 

Malloy's proposal was tacked onto the state's $8.2 billion general fund budget Wednesday, adding nearly $250,000 for those pay raises.

The state's nine constitutional officers are the governor, lieutenant governor, superintendent of education, commissioner of agriculture, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller general, state treasurer and adjutant general.

The S.C. governor — paid about $106,000 a year — would get an added $41,863 under the Senate's proposed budget. The state superintendent and attorney general — each paid $92,007 a year — would get another $68,333 and $24,276, respectively. 

But efforts to increase pay for the state's constitutional officers could fall apart before the budget takes effect July 1, particularly as advocates for state workers argue there's no money in the proposed budget to give state employees a raise.

"I wasn't happy," state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said late Wednesday of the Senate's decision to OK raises for constitutional officers. "What disturbs me more than anything is, not that constitutional officers don't deserve better pay, but it's kind of ironic that in the second consecutive year there's no pay increase for janitors who work in state government."


Trump Considering Drug Testing for SNAP Benefits

The Trump administration is considering a plan that would allow states to require certain food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing, handing a win to conservatives who've long sought ways to curb the safety net program.

The proposal under review would be narrowly targeted, applying mostly to people who are able-bodied, without dependents and applying for some specialized jobs, according to an administration official briefed on the plan. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said roughly 5 percent of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could be affected.

The drug testing proposal is another step in the Trump administration's push to allow states more flexibility in how they implement federal programs that serve the poor, unemployed or uninsured. It also wants to allow states to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients and has found support among GOP governors who argue greater state control saves money and reduces dependency.


Internal emails obtained by The Associated Press indicated that Agriculture Department officials in February were awaiting word from the White House about the timing of a possible drug testing announcement.

"I think we just have to be ready because my guess is we may get an hour's notice instead of a day's notice," wrote Jessica Shahin, associate administrator of SNAP.

Conservative policymakers have pushed for years to tie food assistance programs to drug testing.Concannon, the former USDA undersecretary, said the Trump administration "is keen on weakening the programs developed to strengthen the health or fairness or access to programs and imposing populist requirements that aren't evidence-based, but often stigmatize people."

The USDA in recent months has been under fire for its controversial plan to replace a portion of millions of food stamp recipients' benefits with a pre-assembled package of shelf-stable goods dubbed "America's Harvest Box." The food box plan was tucked into the Trump administration's proposed 2019 budget, which included cutting the SNAP program by $213 billion over the next 10 years. SNAP provides food assistance to roughly 42 million Americans.


Lawmakers Want Referendum on Daylight Savings Time

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Fall back or spring forward, that's the decision some South Carolina lawmakers want to leave in the hands of their voters.

Members of a House subcommittee question Wednesday whether the Palmetto State should continue adjusting their clocks twice a year to observe daylight saving time.

The bill calls for an advisory referendum which would be added to the ballots asking voters if they want to do away with the current time changing model.

The bill's sponsor, Myrtle Beach Rep. Alan Clemmons, says he thinks the committee can pass a bill or resolution for Congress to observe the wishes of South Carolinians.

South Carolina is not the only state considering the time sensitive issue. Florida has approved a measure to keep Daylight Savings Time all year.