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Monday
Jun032019

New Scholarships Available for Tech-To-Clemson Students

CLEMSON — Hundreds of students who transfer from South Carolina technical colleges to Clemson University will soon be eligible for scholarships as part of a new program backed by nearly $5 million from the National Science Foundation.

The plan calls for more than 300 transfer students to receive $3 million in need-based scholarships over the five-year life of the grant, said Christopher Kitchens, the program’s principal investigator and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Clemson.

The scholarships will be open to students who plan to pursue Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering or computing in Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

The rest of the funding will pay for an assortment of programs, many aimed at helping transfer students form a community to support each through some of higher education’s most challenging majors. Researchers will also study the results of the program to learn what leads to success and share their findings with the nation.

Researchers are calling the program Student Pathways in Engineering and Computing for Transfers, or SPECTRA. To apply, go to clemson.edu/cecas/spectra.

The idea behind SPECTRA is to help recruit, retain and graduate transfer students as they begin to make up a bigger share of the Clemson student body, largely because starting at technical colleges can reduce higher education costs.

Some transfer students, though, may unknowingly be putting themselves at a disadvantage, Kitchens said.

“For many, it’s due to financial restrictions,” he said. “Others just don’t know how to make that transition from technical colleges to the university and they get lost in the system. What this program provides are pathways for the students so they can see the roadmap that will help them along the way.”

At stake is who will be eligible for some of the nation’s most lucrative jobs. Fourteen of the 20 bachelor’s degrees that led to the highest pay were in engineering and computer.

Monday
Jun032019

Anderson County Nearing Drought Status

Observer/Wire Reports

With weeks of no measurable rain, Anderson County is nearing drought status. Currently the county is listed as "Abnormally Dry," an official status which slows planting, growth of crops, leads to water deficits and could mean pastures or crops will not fully recover for the growing season.

Currently 24 percent of South Carolina is in drougth conditionis, while 34 percent of the state is classified as abnormally dry. 
Hartwell Lake is curently at 660.43, Feet MSL, 0.43 feet above full pool of 660.
Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for the end of the week, which could break the dry spell.

hot, dry May across South Carolina has the state's drought committee meeting to discuss conditions.

The state Drought Response Committee will discuss the recent weather on a conference call Thursday morning.

The committee last met on May 14 when it put 15 southern counties into an incipient drought , which is the lowest category.

Since then, an unprecedented early season heat wave hit with Columbia, Charleston and Florence seeing their hottest temperatures ever in May, all topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) for multiple days.

Many areas also saw little rain in May.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has a moderate drought along the coast and the lowest level of drought quickly spreading across much of the rest of South Carolina.

Monday
Jun032019

S.C. Budget Includes $32M to Freeze In-State Tuition

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina college students shouldn't have to pay more for in-state tuition next school year after state lawmakers agreed to increase university funding in exchange for a one-year tuition freeze.

The $9 billion budget passed by South Carolina lawmakers last month included a $36 million boost to higher education funding after colleges and universities agreed to keep in-state tuition at the same rate.

College presidents have said they had to keep increasing tuition because their share of the state budget kept going down after the Great Recession.

Governors and state lawmakers have argued that instead of cutting back on spending, universities just raised rates.

Lawmakers considered an even more ambitious proposal to create a $125 million trust fund through sales tax paid on online purchases in exchange for a more strict promise on tuition rates. But that bill didn't pass.

The only exception is colleges can raise rates to cover health insurance and pension costs.

University of South Carolina spokesman Jeff Stensland told The State newspaper this was the best state budget for college students in years.

"We're extremely grateful to the General Assembly as well as the governor for recognizing the importance of higher education investment and the direct impact it has on keeping college affordable," Stensland wrote in an email to the newspaper. "We look forward to continuing the conversation with them about ways to ensure sustainable higher education funding to benefit future generations of South Carolinians."

The university's trustees will meet in June to discuss tuition rates for next year, Stensland said.

Clemson University approved a 1 percent in-state tuition increase Friday under the terms of the deal with lawmakers.

Sunday
Jun022019

Council to Hold Second Reading on Budget Tuesday

Anderson County Council will hold a second reading on the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget as part of Tuesday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown. 

Full agenda here.

At an earlier honors and awards meeting at 6 p.m., council will honor Capt. Rob Dolby and Capt. Heather Dolby of the Anderson Salvation Army, the Crescent Baseball team, Palmetto High School’s Airforce Junior Reserver Officer Training Corps, and Mattison Watson.

Saturday
Jun012019

Researchers Map Likely Spots for S.C. Earthquakes

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Scientists at the College of Charleston are getting ready for a project to map cracks deep underground and get a better idea where earthquakes may happen in South Carolina.

The project will fly a plane in a grid pattern from Kingstree to Edisto Beach. An antenna on the tail of the plane will take magnetic sensor readings under the surface, researchers said.

When the deep rock under the low country is cracked it will show up as a line. Where the lines converge is where an earthquake is more likely, Geological Survey research geophysicist Anji Shah told The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Researchers think this type of quake caused the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in 1886 that killed 100 people and leveled nine of every 10 brick buildings in Charleston. It was the strongest earthquake ever recorded on the East Coast.

"We can't predict earthquakes but we can prepare for them," Shah said. "We know there is a risk of earthquakes (in the Charleston area). What we don't have a good handle on is what the risk is. What's the likelihood of that (the 1886 quake) happening again, and where?"

On the West Coast, faults are often seen on the surface and can be easily mapped. West Coast earthquakes of the same magnitude also tend to cause less damage. The earthquakes in South Carolina shake the softer underground sediment longer and can cause more damage, scientists said.

But most seismic building codes are based on the intensity of West Coast earthquakes.

Saturday
Jun012019

Clemson Hikes Tuition, Housing, Meal Fees

COLUMBIA — The Clemson University board of trustees Friday approved a 1 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students for the 2019-2020 academic year, reflecting both the university’s ongoing commitment to providing value to South Carolina students and their families and the state’s commitment to increased funding for higher education. The board also approved a 3.8 percent tuition increase for non-resident students.

“Clemson and our state’s leaders share a commitment to providing an affordable, high-quality educational experience for our students, and we are thankful for our partnership with the governor and the General Assembly,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. 

Under the approved rates, posted tuition for in-state undergraduate students will increase $75 a semester to $7,560. The actual average out-of-pocket cost to in-state freshmen is only 36 percent of the posted tuition rates, due in large part to South Carolina’s generous scholarship program and Clemson’s commitment to providing financial support to its students. More than 99 percent of all incoming freshmen from South Carolina receive scholarship support.The percentage increase for in-state students is half of both the current annual national rate of inflation and the cap that was set by the state legislature in return for providing increased funding for public higher education institutions. Clemson received $5.7 million in new funding from the state to keep tuition increases for in-state students to a minimum and another $1.9 million to partially cover state-mandated increases to health insurance and pension plan costs for its employees.

In addition, Clemson received another $12 million in one-time funding from the state for university priorities, including expansion of its health extension program, campus safety and security upgrades and support for Clemson’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

Clemson, which has been among the nation’s top 25 public universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for more than a decade, graduates its students at rates well beyond the national average. More than 83 percent of students graduate within six years, compared to 59 percent nationally. Additionally, 54 percent of Clemson graduates leave with no student debt, compared to 35 percent nationally.

The board also approved new rates for the university’s housing and dining options for the upcoming year. Housing rates will increase from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent — or from $29 to $215 a semester — depending on the option.

Finally, the board approved a 4.5 percent increase in the cost of all meal plans for the upcoming academic year. Even with the increase, the per-meal cost for students purchasing an unlimited meal plan will remain below $5.50. Approximately one-third of Clemson students participate in a university meal plan.

Friday
May312019

S.C. Senate Rejects Call for Special Education Reform Session

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Education reform is on the minds of South Carolina leaders, but the timetable for dealing with it hangs on a difference of opinion between the governor and Senate president.

Sen. Harvey Peeler, who presides over the Senate, has rejected Gov. Henry McMaster's call to bring senators back for a special session this year to deal with the issue.

McMaster had urged senators to return sometime in 2019 because while they had a successful session, they did not debate a massive education overhaul bill passed by the House. The Republican governor said any delay on education reform could keep businesses from locating in the state.

"There is no reason in the world why we can't take another big step," McMaster said Wednesday as he announced his budget vetoes.

Peeler responded to McMaster on Thursday, leaving little doubt he's not inclined to bring senators back this year.

"Our goal is for the Senate Education Committee to have their version of the Education Reform Bill ready for the Senate to debate when the General Assembly convenes in January," the Republican from Gaffney said in a statement.

The Senate Education Committee has met about a dozen times so far in 2019, carefully reviewing the bill and cutting it down by about a third.

"The Senate knows the importance of public education," Peeler said. "The Senate is listening to parents, teachers and students."

When the Legislature adjourned for the year May 9, House Speaker Jay Lucas said he wished the Senate had debated the House education bill, but added that he always planned for any overhaul of the state education system to not finish in 2019.

The Republican speaker from Hartsville planned to wait until 2020 to take up changes in the four decade old complex education funding formula, giving members the offseason to read a 100-page report from the state's chief economist, Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office Executive Director Frank Rainwater. He also wants to get teacher salaries up to the national average in five years.

"I always knew education was going to be a multiyear fix," Lucas said.

And the Senate did pass some components of the reform bill as items in South Carolina's $9 billion budget, like $159 million to give every teacher a raise and boost the state's starting teacher salary to at least $35,000 a year.

Other provisions in the budget reduced the number of standardized tests, gave $2 million for more mental health counselors in schools and reinstated class size limits that were suspended in 2008, unless a school district proves that it can't comply.

"Education won in South Carolina," Lucas said. "When you look at the budget, when you look at teacher raises, when you look at resource officers in school, counselors in school — all the things we did in the budget, it is a huge start."

Friday
May312019

Anderson County Update with Rusty Burns

Thursday
May302019

S.C. Elections Director Fired

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina county's elections and voter registration director has been fired.

The State reports the Richland County elections agency's new board voted 5-0 Wednesday to terminate Rokey Suleman's service after it was discovered that the office failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the November midterm elections. Gov. Henry McMaster fired the agency's entire board in February.

Many voters thought Suleman was already out of the job, since he reportedly resigned after the count debacle. But he, in fact, had never resigned, saying he only agreed to leave if the board paid the rest of his contract which expired April 30. McMaster fired the board before it could vote on that payout, so he stayed in the job.

The new board will select Suleman's replacement.

Thursday
May302019

State Fire Officials Issue Red Flag Alert

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina officials are strongly encouraging residents to avoid outdoor burning amid a heightened threat of wildfires.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a statewide Red Flag fire alert on Wednesday. It said low humidity and elevated drought conditions over the next few days combined with dry fuels could cause fires to spread rapidly.

The commission also encouraged crews using heavy equipment near woodlands to be careful about sparks that could start wildfires.

Thursday
May302019

Busy Hurricane Season Starts Saturday

May 30 (UPI) -- After two years of above average activity, forecasters say the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season -- which begins June 1 -- will be pretty close to normal, and include about a dozen named storms.

The 2017 season was particularly brutal -- with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria inflicting billions of dollars worth of damage to the Caribbean and U.S. Gulf Coast. Forecasters say, at least at this point, 2019 will not be a repeat. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center issued its forecast last week. Covering the period between June 1 and Nov. 30, it says conditions and storms this season will most likely be close to normal for the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

"A near-normal season has the highest chance of occurring (40 percent)," it said. The next greatest likelihood, however, is for an above-normal season, at 30 percent.

Near-normal calls for 10 to 15 named storms (a median of 12.5), of which one to four become major hurricanes -- those rated at Category 3 or stronger. Above-normal calls for between 12 and 28 named storms, and three to seven in the Category 3-5 range.

The outlook from Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, one of the United States' top forecast teams, calls for a similar season -- 13 named storms and five hurricanes, two of which will be in the "major" range.

Although both outlooks indicate an average season, that doesn't mean "normal" is without danger. Last year, considered relatively normal, included Hurricane Michael -- which hit the Florida panhandle as a Category 5 storm. It caused about $25 billion in damage and killed dozens of people.

Harvey was a Category 4 storm when it hit Texas; Irma arrived in Florida at Category 3; and Maria hit Puerto Rico at Category 4 -- and the commonwealth still hasn't fully recovered from the storm.

The expectation of a more mild season, the CSU team said, is largely based on the presence of a weak El Niño in the tropical Pacific, which tends to weaken hurricanes before they can build up too much strength. Researcher Jhordanne Jones said the El Niño is forecast to strengthen over time, which would help keep major hurricanes away from U.S. coastlines.

"We tend to have way less hurricanes in the North Atlantic when we have stronger El Niños," she said. "If the El Niño remains weak, then there's a greater potential for hurricanes to form."

"We can still get intense storms no matter what El Niño state we have," she cautioned. "But it's not likely to be as strong as an Eastern Pacific El Niño."

Colder-than-average temperatures in the tropical Atlantic right now also make it less likely tropical cyclones will gain steam and develop into hurricanes. That could change, however, as the weather gets warmer.

"It's actually pretty cold within the tropical North Atlantic, but it remains to be seen how much warmer it gets as we move into summer," Jones said. "If it does get warmer, then we will likely see more intense storms."

The El Niño pattern and the atmosphere of the North Atlantic are most likely to determine the outcome of the 2019 hurricane season, she said.

By contrast, the harsh 2017 season -- which produced 18 named storms and 10 hurricanes, six of which were classified "major" -- arrived during La Niña and neutral conditions and inflicted nearly $300 billion in damage. The last major El Niño event was seen in 2016.

"It was a very slow buildup," Jones said. "We were basically in this neutral El Niño state for a really long time and that sort of helped the spinoff of more hurricane activity and more intense hurricane activity."

She added the presence of an El Niño, even if it remains weak, will differentiate the 2019 season from the previous two.

"We're likely to see probably the same sort of activity as the 2018 hurricane season, but with a larger El Niño event we're also likely to see less activity."

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation has greatly influenced the last few hurricane seasons, and contributed to increased activity and the stronger storms of the past two years.

The team's research predicted a 48 percent chance a major hurricane will hit the United States this year. If one does arrive, the forecasters say there's a 28 percent likelihood the Category 3 to 5 storm will hit somewhere on the East Coast or Florida peninsula; 28 percent it will hit the Gulf Coast; and 39 percent it makes landfall in the Caribbean. All figures are below the 100-year average.

Traditionally, the results of the Atlantic hurricane season pretty closely reflect preseason predictions, but the CSU team warns that just one powerful storm can change everything.

"There's definitely a lot of factors that determine how active or inactive an average season is, but that doesn't necessarily change the level of damage, as only one storm can cause a lot of damage," she said.

The first named storm, sub-tropical storm Andrea, formed May 20 between the Bahamas and Bermuda. Relatively weak, it dissipated two days later

Wednesday
May292019

Farmers Market Vouchers for Seniors Available Next Week

Begining in June, Anderson County senior citizens may apply for produce vouchers as part of the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Seniors. The Anderson County Senior Citizens Program and Anderson County, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and other state agencies, will issue vouchers to eligible senior citizens. Vouchers can be used to purchase produce at participating farmer’s markets through Oct. 15. Each eligible person will receive $25 worth of coupons. Vouchers are issued on a ‘first come-first serve’ basis until the supply is exhausted. EBT is accepted year-round.

“For the past few years, low-income Senior Citizens across Anderson County have been given the opportunity to supplement their diets with fresh, healthy and local produce by means of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program,” said Anderson Council Chairman Tommy Dunn.

“Seniors can apply for these vouchers between June 5-7 at the Iva, Belton and Anderson County Farmers Markets. When residents spend their vouchers at our Farmers Markets, they are supporting our county's farmers and our local economy also gets a healthy boost from those dollars spent. I want to once again, encourage everyone to help us get the word out about this beneficial program and also to remember to support our local farmers at the Anderson County Farmers Market.” 

“Once again, Anderson County Senior Citizens Program is receiving $20,000 worth of vouchers for our seniors & farmers,” said Anderson County Senior Citizens Program Manager Kelly Jo Barnwell. “It is so important that each senior who receives their vouchers, spends their vouchers with our local farmers!! We want everyone in Anderson County to WIN with SFMNP!”

Individuals aged 60 or older, with a low monthly income, or who receive SSI or Food Stamp benefits are eligible for these free coupons. Individuals must apply in person; provide proof of their identity, age and their Anderson County residency. Applicants must also meet household income eligibility limits. Information regarding the income of all household members is required to determine eligibility. Verification of Social Security numbers is also required. 

Individuals wishing to apply for homebound seniors must provide a statement from the senior granting permission to submit an application on their behalf. Proof of identity and proof of income for the homebound senior must be presented at time of application. 

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program’s goal is to supplement the diets of low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious produce while supporting South Carolina’s small farmers. South Carolina is one of several states that receive funds from the USDA to operate this program.

Application for vouchers will be at the following locations & available first come, first served:

June 5 at 8 a.m.: Iva Farmers Market

June 6 at 8 a.m.: Belton Farmers Market

June 7 at 8 a.m.: Anderson County Farmers Market

For more information about the Senior Voucher program, please contact Anderson County Seniors Program Manager, Kelly Jo Barnwell at 231-2237.

Wednesday
May292019

St. Paul's Church to Mark 200 Years with June 8 Event

Anderson Observer

Pendleton - St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Pendleton, one of the Upstate’s celebrated historic locations is marking 200 years of service to the community on June 8, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with tours of the church and churchyard, live music, ice cream, cookies and lemonade. Admission is free and the public is invited.Photo Anderson Observer

Established on June 17, 1819, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Pendleton is the “mother church” of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Clemson, having long been a part of the local ministry of the Episcopal Church in the upper region of South Carolina.

Pendleton, the original county seat of Old Pendleton District (now Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties) is one of South Carolina’s earliest upcountry towns. The town was laid out in 1790 and is basically unchanged. The village green remains the focal point. Dogwoods line many streets; massive cedars and oaks are dominant throughout the area. St. Paul’s is one of the oldest buildings still in use. 

During the early 1800s, Charleston residents seeking a more healthful climate built plantation homes in the countryside around Pendleton. Many were Episcopalians.  In 1820, a committee comprised of Mr. Benjamin Dupre, Col. John E. Calhoun, and Col. James Grishaw formed a committee to build a church and procured a plot of land lot from the Pendleton Circulating Library for $39.00.

Despite abundant supplies of native timber, lumber for the building was hauled in ox carts from Savannah, Georgia. The original structure was completed in the fall of 1822 and consecrated by Bishop Nathaniel Bowen in 1823. The bell tower added later contains a bell from the ship, Seabrook, which sailed many years ago from Charleston to Edisto Island; the original bell was given to the cause of the Confederacy during the war. Notably, the church includes a winding stairway, opening off the vestibule, which leads to the balcony where slaves were allowed to congregate during worship services.

Floride Bonneau Calhoun, wife of John C. Calhoun, was active in raising the funds to purchase the organ in 1848, which is still in use today.  In 1854 a rectory was acquired at a cost of $1,100. In 1860, the churchyard was enlarged and fenced in front in 1890.

Many of the State’s most celebrated men and women are buried in the churchyard. Among them are: Thomas G. Clemson and his wife, Anna Maria Calhoun; Mrs. John C. Calhoun, a lifelong member of St. Paul’s (husband John C. Calhoun is buried at St. Philip’s in Charleston); General Barnard E. Bee, who gave the name “Stonewall” to Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson; William Henry Trescot, historian and U. S. diplomat; the Rev. Jasper Adams, first president of Hobart College; and the Rev. Paul Earle Sloan, St. Paul’s only postulant for Holy Orders.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, many parishioners began to migrate their church attendance from St. Paul’s to Holy Trinity in Clemson. Eventually Holy Trinity took over custodial care of the St. Paul’s building and grounds. It remains a consecrated space today and worship leaders from Holy Trinity hold two regular services per month at St. Paul’s (on first and third Sundays). St. Paul’s is also used for weddings and other special services.

“St. Paul’s is a treasure in the Pendleton Community,” said Rev. Suz Cate, rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Clemson, which started as a mission of St. Paul’s in 1901.  “Its rich history, beauty, and sacred space are truly unique.  This historic anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate this special place.”

Established June 17, 1819, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Pendleton remains an active house of worship.  Currently, Holy Trinity Clemson holds twice-monthly services, as well as other special events throughout the year.

“St. Paul’s is our ‘mother church,’ and it is our privilege and duty to preserve it for generations to come,” said Cate. “It’s awe-inspiring to know that we still are able to love, cherish, and worship in the same building as our forefathers two centuries ago.”

The anniversary celebration is being planned and hosted by a committee of Holy Trinity parishioners who have a great fondness for the small historic church. 

“We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time to maintaining the structure and property, including the churchyard and historic cemetery,” said Cate.  “Without their efforts, the building would have long ago fallen into disrepair. It’s a true labor of love.” 

“We hope the entire community will come out and celebrate with us on June 8. St. Paul’s a house of worship and landmark for all to cherish,” added Cate. 

Featured musicians are local artists Tony Tidwell & Jennifer Goree. The duo is well known in the region for their blend of folk, blues, and jazz music.

Historic St. Paul’s is located at 328 E. Queen St., Pendleton, SC 29670.