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Thursday
Mar162017

Shiloh Church Road Bridge Replacement to Close Road April 4

The Anderson County Roads and Bridges Department will close a portion of Shiloh Church Road near Highway 17 in the Wren community on April 4  to replace the west bridge near Shiloh Creek Subdivision. The roadway will be closed between Highway 17 and Cane Hill Drive, C-01-0307, for approximately one year. The new bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by April 4, 2018.

Until then, the posted detour will follow Highway 17 north to Hurricane Creek Road. 

The existing road and bridge near Highway 17 is too narrow for the volume of trucks using the road.  The new bridge will be a 30-feet-long precast concrete hallow-cored slab, 33-feet wide with concrete parapets on each side. Approximately 1,000 feet of roadway near intersection of Highway 17 will be reconstructed. Estimated construction cost of $240,000 funded through the county’s general fund with Roads and Bridges providing labor and equipment.

The posted detour will follow Highway 17 north to Hurricane Creek Road.

Thursday
Mar162017

Trump Budget Cuts Arts, EPA. Eliminates 19 Agencies

President Donald Trump on Thursday released a proposed budget that could cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent and the State Department by 29 percent while boosting military funds.

Stacks of the blueprint -- titled "America First" -- were delivered to the Government Printing Office bookstore and a 62-page document was posted on the White House website early Thursday.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday told reporters the White House proposal will cut the EPA's budget down from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. About 3,200 positions -- or more than 20 percent -- in the EPA's workforce of 15,000 would be cut.

The proposed budget would end funding to former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan -- his signature effort to combat climate change by regulating power plants' carbon dioxide emissions. EPA programs such as the $73 million-a-year Chesapeake Bay cleanup project and the Energy Star program, designed to improve energy efficiency and save consumers money, would lose all funding.

"You can't drain the swamp and leave all the people in it. So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency," Mulvaney told reporters. "The president wants a smaller EPA. He thinks they overreach, and the budget reflects that."

In a Gallup poll released Wednesday, 59 percent of Americans said protecting the environment is more important than continuing use of traditional energy, such as fossil fuels. In the poll, 71 percent of people said the United States should focus on alternative energy to solve U.S. energy problems, while 23 percent said the country should emphasize the production of oil, gas and coal.

The State Department's core programs face a $10 billion cut. The budget proposal would eliminate climate-change initiatives and slash foreign aid funding, United Nations contributions and cultural exchanges. The proposal also calls for cuts to State Department operations in war-torn areas such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Overall, the State Department's budget would shrink from $52.8 billion to $37.6 billion.

Trump's proposal would eliminate funding to 19 agencies including the African Development Foundation, the Chemical Safety Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Institute on Peace and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The winners in Trump's proposed budget are the Defense Department which would see a $52.3 billion increase, the Department of Veteran's Affairs which would see a $4.4 billion increase and the Department of HomelandSsecurity which will see a $2.8 billion increase.

Thursday
Mar162017

Andersonian Among 3 Seeking to Lead S.C. Democrats

Three candidates are vying to replace outgoing Chairman Jaime Harrison as the next leader of South Carolina's Democratic Party.

Local media outlets report Anderson native Trav Robertson has been making the rounds speaking to political groups across South Carolina. The former state deputy treasurer was Barack Obama's South Carolina campaign manager in 2008 and ran state Sen. Vincent Sheheen's gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

Robertson left South Carolina for several years to serve as executive director of Oklahoma Democratic Party from 2011 to 2015. He returned last year and worked on efforts to recruit Democratic candidates.

Pawley's Island party activist Susan Smith and Horry County executive committeeman Cedric Blain-Spain are also running. Both Robertson and Blain-Spain were delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Cheerios Giving Away Wildflower Seeds to Save the Bees

Bees are in trouble but Cheerios is creating a lot of buzz with a campaign to help these pollinators.

A federal task force created in 2014, seeks to protect honey bees and other pollinators who play an essential role in food production. These creatures are responsible for making one in ever three bites of food possible for humans, according to officials.

The rate at which they're disappearing is shocking.

In 2015, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported the deaths of 42 percent of the United State's honeybee colonies. The NRDC attributed the plummet to a dramatic spike in toxic pesticides.

Cheerios announced a partnership with Veseys Seeds to spread bee-friendly habitats across the country. General Mills, which relies on pollination for 30 percent of its ingredients, said by 2020, they plan to have more than 3,000 acres of wildflowers on their oat farms.

"As a General Mills cereal built around nutrition, helping pollinators get the key nutrition they need through fun, family-friendly activities like planting wildflowers is a natural fit,” said Susanne Prucha, director of marketing for Cheerios. “Our commitment to increasing the habitat for pollinators is one way we are continuously striving to be a company that not only makes products people love, but a company that pursues creative solutions to make our world a better place for all families.”

The public is invited to get in on the action to help the bees by requesting a free wildflower seed packet from Cheerios.

Click here to request free wildflower seeds.

According to the Cheerios website, as of Wednesday the company had already met its 100 million seed goal.

Wednesday
Mar152017

$8B House Bill Includes Money for School Buses in S.C.

The House's roughly $8 billion plan for state taxes spends $100 million on upgrading K-12 schools, puts an additional $38 million into a per-student payment, and buys $10 million worth of school buses.

The House voted 115-3 early Wednesday to send its budget proposal to the Senate. A 115-0 vote sent the accompanying "capital reserve" bill, which spends $139 million from this year's rainy-day fund.

Most of that goes toward Hurricane Matthew cleanup costs incurred by state agencies and local governments. Legislators voted late Tuesday to set aside $700,000 for Nichols. Most homes remain vacant five months after floodwaters consumed the Marion County hamlet.

The so-called "base student cost" for K-12 schools increases by $50. The $100 million will help refurbish dilapidated schools in high-poverty districts.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Freezing Weather Could Destroy S.C. Peach Crop

Winter weather in South Carolina is threatening the state's peach crop, affecting the second leading peach producer in the country.

The peach trees at Belue Farms Natural Food Market in Boiling Springs are in bloom, but before the peaches make can make it to markets throughout the country, they have to survive the cold.

However, Clemson Agriculture Agent Andy Rollins says during this time period, the peaches are the most fragile.

“At that period of time that little peach is very susceptible to just about any cold and so if the temperature drops between 28 and 26 degrees, it’s gonna suffer some degree loss because of those temperatures."

Rollins said Monday’s cold, damaged some of the peach blooms, but he remains optimistic, saying he only needs about two peaches per limb.

Most of the concern lies in the forecast for the rest of the week, when more freezing temperatures are expected.

“It looks like Thursday morning around 6 a.m. is the predicted low from the National Weather Service so we are very concerned about that. 24° and the stage that we're at would be very difficult for producers to handle at this point."

The National Weather Service released the following statement on freezing temperatures affecting peach crops, adding apple crops may be affected as well:

"A very cold night as cold advection brings temps down well below normal and well down into the hard freeze category, which threatens to wipe out the rest of the peach crop and might also impact the apple crop. We will all feel sorry later this summer when we have no local peaches or apples."

The SC Dept. of Agriculture says blueberries and strawberries may also be affected by the dropping temperatures, however, many factors will affect the amount of damage, if any, sustained by the crops. Some of the variables include: stage of bloom, wind, moisture and the length of time the temperature stays below freezing.

Farmers will not be able to made accurate assessments until the cold weather has moved through the area.

"For now, all we can do is wait,” said Hugh Weathers, SC Commissioner of Agriculture. “These specialty crops are very important to our farm economy and we are all saying a prayer for the farmers ahead of the potential freeze.”

Tuesday
Mar142017

Analysis: 7 S.C. Senate Dist. 3 Candidates Debate at Forum

Greg Wilson/News Analysis

Election season is open again and while April 11 kickoffs the voting, Tuesday night kicked off the candidate forums.

Seven of the eight Republican candidates seeking to fill the South Carolina Senate seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, faced their first crowd as a group Tuesday night, and there were few, if any surprises.

During the forum, sponsored by the Progressive Women of Anderson County, each of the candidates vowed their commitment to party values such as greater accountability from government, fiscal responsibility, better education, better roads and pro-life issues.  

The candidates seeking the seat in the April 11 primary who participated in the event were Corey Bott, Don Bowen, Carol Burdette, Richard Cash, James Gaylean, Brad Johnson and John Tucker. Only Dean Allen was absent.

The eventual winner of the primary will likely be the winner in the May 30 special election. Democrat has filed for the seat.

The candidates' opening statements can be watched here. 

District 3 includes more than 100,000 residents and encompasses most of Anderson, as well as Pendleton and Townville, stretching north to Powdersville and south across Lake Hartwell to the Anderson County line near Fair Play. Voters can confirm eligibility to vote in this election at scvotes.org

With so many candidates in the mix, it is highly likely that a runoff will be scheduled April 25, two weeks after the April 11 primary. The special election is scheduled for May 30.

Forums, such as the one Tuesday night, are an important part of getting the word out in hopes of getting folks out to vote. Historically, special elections attract around 5 percent of the eligible voters in any given district. 

For more information on each of the candidates who attended Tuesday night’s event, visit here for information:

Corey Bott 

Don Bowen 

Carol Burdette

Richard Cash 

James Gaylean 

Brad Johnson (unavailable)

John Tucker

Tuesday
Mar142017

Senate Advancing $800 Million Road Bill

Senators are advancing a bill that would eventually raise nearly $800 million more for South Carolina's roadways.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-7 Tuesday on a proposal that would increase the state's gas tax by 12 cents over the next six years, to 28 cents per gallon. That's two pennies more than the road-funding plan approved by the House earlier this month.

An updated estimate shows the House plan would eventually generate $530 million additional yearly.

The Senate plan raises more by also increasing the sales tax cap on vehicles from $300 to $600 instead of $500.

Its chances on the floor remain uncertain. Opponents want the bill to include government restructuring and tax relief.

Democratic Sen. John Matthews says if tax cuts are inserted, the bill will die.

Tuesday
Mar142017

S.C. Seeks to Fire Safety Chief Through Budget

Legislators voted Tuesday to fire the director of South Carolina's Department of Public Safety through the state budget, saying his micromanaging is decimating trooper ranks.

The House voted 76-20 to eliminate the director's position and reduce the agency's funding. If the clause remains in the 2017-18 budget, which is still being debated, it would effectively fire Leroy Smith, who's been at the helm since November 2011.

Smith "has destroyed the morale at the highway patrol," said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, who proposed the budget amendment.

Smith is one of three black Cabinet leaders. Rutherford, who is black, said Smith told the Legislative Black Caucus earlier this year complaints about his leadership were due to racism. A House Oversight panel has been investigating the Department of Public Safety.

"As I delved down into the details and the data, it was clear he is the problem," Rutherford said. "The reality is nobody wants to work for him, so they're quitting. The reality is that the people he hires, he fires. It's a total waste of state resources because we're training these troopers for him to fire them for the silliest of reasons."

A spokesman for Smith didn't immediately respond to questions.

Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, said Smith's employment is a decision for the governor.

"Let the governor, who wants that responsibility and power, own it," he said.

But Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, said the move represents legislators' only recourse. Both former Gov. Nikki Haley, who appointed Smith, and Gov. Henry McMaster, who ascended to the office in January, have rejected calls to fire the Cabinet director, he said.

"The budget process is the only way we have to speak our mind about what's going on," said Pitts, a retired Greenville police officer who leads a Ways and Means panel that writes state law enforcement sections of the budget.

Monday
Mar132017

GOP Health Bill Puts Coverage for 24 Million Americans at Risk

As many as 24 million Americans risk losing health coverage over the next decade under the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported.

By 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured if Congress enacts the healthcare proposal, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law, according to the report. President Donald Trump, who supports the legislation, vowed that the plan would provide “insurance for everybody”.

The congressional analysts estimate that the Republican healthcare proposal could reduce the federal budget by $337bn over 10 years, with largest savings would come from cuts to the federal Medicaid program and “Obamacare” tax credits for people who buy insurance individually.

The bill, called the American Health Care Act, faces intensifying opposition from conservatives, Democrats, consumer interest groups and nearly every sector of the US healthcare industry.

The ACHA seeks to radically transform and cut Medicaid, one of America’s largest social safety nets; end requirements for Americans to purchase healthcare; allow insurance companies to charge the old five times more than the young; expand tax-free health savings accounts; cut taxes that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy; and shrink subsidies that benefit the middle class.

At the same time, it allows insurance companies to levy a 30% surcharge to anyone who does not have insurance for more than two months, meant to incentivize people to keep insurance.

Monday
Mar132017

McGee's to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Music, Food

The Upstate’s Oldest Irish Pub, Anderson's McGee's Scot-Irish Pub, is celebrating 20 years in downtown Anderson this month and boy are they celebrating.

On Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, Friday March the pub will open for lunch at 10 a.m. serving up their famous corned beef and cabbage and fish and chips while welcomeing musical guest Stephen Hardy. 

The afternoon’s entertainment will feature the Celtic quartet "Six Chickens and a Beer" from 4-6 p.m., followed by Celtic Artists "Emerald Road" on the backyard stage.  Local favorites "Penny Whistle" will close out the holiday’s festivities.

On Saturday, McGee's will host outdoor party showcasing Anderson’s favorite 80s band, "The Deloreans" starting at 8 p.m.   Sunday’s Annual St. Pat’s Hangover Brunch will cap off the three-days of festivities.

Monday
Mar132017

Anderson County Launches 2nd ADA Kayak Area

Anderson County dedicated its second Americans with Disabilites Act accessible kayak launch site Monday on the Saluda River at 15 Capers Road in Pelzer.

"Anderson County is working hard to make sure all of our facilities are accessible," said Anderson County Adminstrator Rusty Burns. "We are grateful for our partners, including Duke Energy, Upstate Forever and Touch the Future, who have joined us in this effort to provide accessible recreational activities.

The first such launch site was dedicated at Dolly Cooper Park last year. Anderson County is continuing to expand the blue waterways recreational and kayak trails along the Saluda.

Pelzer Mayor prepares to cut the ribbon with other Anderson County dignitaries during the dedication of the new ADA kayak launch in Pelzer on Monday.

Monday
Mar132017

S.C. House Begins Debate on $8 Billion Spending Plan

It's budget week in the South Carolina House.

Debate opens Monday on the Ways and Means Committee's roughly $8 billion spending plan for state taxes.

It includes $150 million to begin shoring up the state's pension system for public workers and $82 million to cover Hurricane Matthew cleanup costs.

The budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 includes $25 million to cover state employees' rising health insurance premiums.

It puts $100 million toward upgrading deteriorating K-12 schools. That proposal comes three years after the state Supreme Court ordered legislators to improve opportunities for students in poor, rural districts.

Districts eligible for that money include those that initially sued the state in 1993 and any other district where at least 80 percent of students live in poverty.