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School Dist. 1 Voters Approve $109M Bond for New Schools

Observer Reports

Anderson County School District 1 voters overwhelmingly approved a $109 million bond referendum Tuesday to allow the district to build two new middle schools and make other improvements. More than 75 percent voted for the bond, though turnout was only slightly over 12 percent.

The district will use almost $90 million to build two new schools to replace Palmetto Middle School and Wren Middle School, which were were both more than 60 years old.

Distict 1 is located in the fastest growing part of Anderson County and the student population has grown by more than 25 percent in the past 10 years to well over 10,000 students. 

Taxes will also go up for homeowners, busninesses and vehicle owners to pay for the bond. Owners of a $150,000 home will see an annual tax hike of just under $100, businesses just under $150 and vehicle owners whose car/truck is taxed at $20,000 will pay about $20 more per year.


S.C. Senate Rejects Two McMaster Appointees

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators have rejected two of Gov. Henry McMaster's suggested appointees to state offices.

The Senate rarely rejects governor appointments, and two in one day is almost unheard of.

The full Senate voted 41-2 on Tuesday to reject Steven Morris' appointment to the state Department of Aging. Morris is a friend of McMaster, but faced sharp questions about whether he was qualified and if he treated women and minorities fairly as the agency's interim director.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-4 to not recommend Charlie Condon's appointment as chairman of the board that oversees state utility Santee Cooper.

The nomination still goes to the full Senate, but is unlikely to pass even if Condon doesn't withdraw his name.


Annual Art on the Town Set for Friday

The annual Art on the Town in downtown Anderson, sponsored by the City of Anderson and the Anderson Arts Center, is set for Friday, with festivities including the traditional art crawl along with a number of special art, music and entertainment activities. 

At 6 p.m. in Carolina Wren Park, City of Anderson officials and representatives from the Anderson Disabilities Board will reveal the “Creative Cornhole Project,” who will reveal five sets of the popular cornhole game which were designed by local artists Scott Foster and Lauren James and painted by Disabilities Board clients. The games will be placed at the park and other locations downtown during special events.

Wren Pavilion, adjacent to the park, will be transformed into a pop-up art gallery at 6:30 p.m. featuring the work of artist Ruth Hopkins with graphic reproductions designed to adhere to the walls. Anderson University officials will join the city in honoring Hopkins and her contributions to the community. Mrs. Hopkins served as the university’s first lady during the tenure of her husband, former Anderson College President Mark Hopkins.

Also in Carolina Wren Park, as part of the “Sounds in the Park” series, the Market Theatre will present “Broadway in the Park” a musical review of favorite show tunes at 7:00 p.m.

In addition to these events, new sculptures will be in place on Main Street as part of the annual “SculpTour” installation and there will be street performers throughout the area. In partnership with the Anderson Arts Center, original works of art will be on display in restaurants and retail shops.

Admission is free.


Peeler Bill Would Revamp How UoSC Board Chosen

Observer Reports

Senator Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, President of the State Senate has introduced Senate Bill 798 to restructure the Board of Trustees for the University of South Carolina. The proposed restructure would allow the current members of the board to serve through 2020.

“The University of South Carolina Board is the only college board in South Carolina to be elected by judicial district," said Peeler, who serves as president of the state senate. "The time to bring the UofSC Board into modern form is long overdue. Selection by congressional districts will ensure better representation of the state and provide greater transparency and accountability for Board decisions.” 

The legislation proposes the Board of Trustees for the University of South Carolina be comprised of 11 members: one from each congressional district (seven) elected by the General Assembly, one appointed by the Governor from the state at-large, the Governor (or his designee), the Superintendent of Education, and the President of the USC Alumni Association.

Additionally, the current Board members will cease to serve after June 30, 2020 and the new Board will take office July 1, 2020. The Board will recommend the salary of the university president to the Agency Head Salary Commission. The six-member executive committee of the Board will be deleted.


News Notes, April 30, 2019: Dist. 5 May Move Some Offices Downtown

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County School District 5 is considering moving some of it's administration offices to downtown Anderson. While nowhere near a done deal, reports are that some of the leadership - including perhaps the finance department, human resouces, and senior leadership - could move into one of the new facilities currently being planned on the vacant property formerly occupied by the Bailes/Woolworth buildings behind the historic courthouse downtown.

Plans for the property - which will include 60-100 apartments/condominiums, retail and office space, a plaza green space and a rooftop feature with a view of downtown - are in the works, and Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns has said he'd like to construction beging by early 2020.

Guys Pizza, a longtime favorite of those who frequent the Sandy Springs pizzeria, is almost ready to open their new location on S.C. 81 North (near Carolina Fresh Farms and Fiesta Mexican). The sign has been up for a while, and ownwer are "very close" to opening the new facility.

The Great Anderson County Fair starts this week at the Civic Center. Read more here.

AIM will host it's annual "All In" event Friday. Details here.

Broadway Sounds in the Park, led by the Market Theatre, is also set for Friday.



Jeopardy Champion Winnings Now at $1.3 Million

(CNN) -- What is an 18-day winning streak?

James Holzhauer just won his 18th game Monday night. But it was close — he won by just $18.

This was the clue: "The oldest of these business booster groups, formed in Marseille in 1599, uses "de" instead of "of" in the name."

The answer: What is "Chamber of Commerce"?

Holzhauer ended with a daily total of $54,017 (Adam Levin came in second with $53,999). Holzhauer's overall winnings stand at $1,329,604.

The 34-year-old professional gambler usually has a staggering lead over his opponents going into Final Jeopardy.

That wasn't the case on Monday.

Holzhauer had $33,517 going into the last question, while Levin had $27,000. Monday's Final Jeopardy topic? "Organizations."

What's his strategy?

The Las Vegas resident is using the "Forrest Bounce" technique to win his way through "Jeopardy!"

How it works: The contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents.

Where it came from: Holzhauer is not the first to master the "Forrest Bounce." Previous contestants like Arthur Chu and Chuck Forrest (who the method is named after) have used it to both confuse opponents and rack up the most amount of money in a short span of time by starting from the bottom of each category, where the clues are hardest.

One thing to note: While effective if done right, it is not very popular among the show's staff, including host Alex Trebek, who has spoken out against the method.

Trebek argues that it disrupts the natural order of the show, which the writers work hard on preparing.


Spearman Refuses to Support Teacher Rally for Reform

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's education superintendent won't support teachers rallying for better pay and smaller class sizes on a school day and said she will spend the day as a substitute teacher instead even as more school canceled classes.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said Monday she supports teachers advocating for needed changes in the state's education system. But she said a rally by thousands for teachers planned for Wednesday at the Statehouse isn't the way to do it.

"I cannot support teachers walking out on their obligations to South Carolina students, families, and the thousands of hardworking bus drivers, cafeteria workers, counselors, aides, and custodial staff whose livelihoods depend on our schools being operational," Spearman said in a statement .

Spearman joins fellow Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and other GOP officials criticizing the rally, being sponsored by online teacher group SC for Ed.

The group said it is rallying for smaller class sizes, better pay and more support staff like counselors in schools. They have been fighting for major changes to a massive education overhaul bill backed by McMaster and passed by the house that SC for Ed said had little input from teachers.

The bill is stalled in the Senate, where some senators are working to pare it down and others said it must have more input from teachers before they will let it come to a vote. Leaders in that chamber said it won't pass this year.

On Monday, two more districts decided to call off classes for Wednesday. Lexington-Richland District 5 said in a statement that the number of teachers already asking for the day off combined with what would likely be more absences in the next few days led district officials to decide keeping children out of school was safest.

The district in the Columbia suburbs has about 17,400 students.

The Colleton County School District on Monday mentioned similar reasons for having its 5,500 students stay home Wednesday.

Dorchester County District 2 with 26,200 students near Charleston and Chester County schools with 5,100 students have already canceled classes for Wednesday. Other systems are reporting sharp increases in teachers planning absences and filing for substitutes.

Rep. Russell Ott plans to speak at the rally. The Democrat from St. Matthews says he isn't surprised some lawmakers are trying to downplay the rally and frustrate teachers until they stop fighting.

"I see that tactic at work all the time over here," Ott said. "Especially after a group finds its voice."


Market Theatre Brings Broadway Tunes to Park Friday

The Market Theatre Company will be performing the sounds of Broadway as part of the City of Anderson’s Sounds in the Park series Friday from 7-9 p.m.

The event is free and attendees can sit on the grass, pack a blanket, or bring a lawn chair.

The Market Theatre is hoping for highest attendance of the spring, since "Sounds in the Park" events' winners will receive a cash prize. 


Clemson to Offer Carbon Credit Market Workshop for Landowners

CLEMSON – Clemson Cooperative Extension experts are holding a workshop in the Upstate to show South Carolina forest landowners how they can create a new revenue stream and help combat climate change by participating in the carbon market.

Image Credit: Clemson Public Service and Agriculture

Clemson Cooperative Extension experts are holding a workshop in Clemson on May 23 to show South Carolina forest landowners how participating in the carbon market can provide a new revenue stream for forest landowners while helping attack climate change.

The workshop, Carbon Market for South Carolina, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 23 in the Madren Conference Center, 230 Madren Center Drive, Clemson. The cost is $50 and includes lunch. The cost for students is $20. Seating is limited and pre-registration is requested. To register, go to

Marzieh Motallebi, an assistant professor at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, said the workshop will inform landowners about the amount of carbon sequestered due to various forest management activities. Carbon sequestration occurs when carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere. Forest best management practices not only might increase carbon sequestration but also can help with enhancing wildlife habitat, improving soil quality and conserving biodiversity.

Forest owners will learn how they can generate and trade carbon offsets, also known as carbon credits.

“We are going to talk about the benefits of joining the carbon market for landowners,” Motallebi said. “We want to show forest landowners how they potentially can be sellers of carbon credits from their forest areas.”

A fact sheet, Carbon Offsets for South Carolina Family Forest Landowners, written by Motallebi and Clemson postdoctoral researchers Mustapha Alhassan and Hamed Majidzadeh, explains carbon offsets and why they are important.

“By participating in the carbon market, South Carolina family forest owners will have an opportunity to reduce climate change impacts if they decide to generate and sell forest offsets,” Motallebi said.


Education Bill Stalls as Some S.C. Teachers Plan May 1 Walkout

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — This year's legislative session in South Carolina started out with high hopes for a massive overhaul of the education system in South Carolina.

It will likely end in two weeks with a torn down bill stalled in the Senate after a potentially divisive teacher rally next week on a school day.

The House passed an 84 page bill in March, which gave the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts, created a $100 million fund to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling, and created a student 'bill of rights' as well a new Zero to Twenty Committee that would oversee education from pre-kindergarten to universities.

But teachers mobilized online against the proposal almost immediately, saying House Speaker Jay Lucas and other leaders did not listen to them. They wanted a 10 percent raise, smaller class sizes, a guaranteed 30-minute break to eat lunch and use the bathroom away from children, and more counselors and other support staff.

The largest of the new groups — SC for Ed — is calling for teachers to take a day off from school Wednesday for a march on the Statehouse. North Carolina teachers are holding a walkout rally the same day, and it's a similar tactic that has been done in other states like Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia with at least moderate success.

More than 1,000 teachers have signed an online pledge, saying they will wear red and converge on the capitol.

"For over a decade educators in this state have been continuously pushed aside and neglected as we give our best to the students we love so dearly including the clothes off our backs, the money in our wallets, the love in our hearts and the tears in our eyes," SC for Ed said in its statement calling for the rally.

McMaster and legislative leaders are warning teachers that pressure isn't the way to solve their problems. The governor reminded teachers there is a 4 percent raise in the budget that passed the House and Senate.

"Teachers leaving their classrooms sends the wrong message to students, unnecessarily disrupts schools, and inconveniences their students' working parents," said Brian Symmes, a spokesman for McMaster.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Rita Allison understands teachers are frustrated. But she said civil discussion, not a walkout, is the way to reach agreement.

"They are trying to make a statement. I understand that. I'm not sure that statement will be favorably taken across the state by parents," said Allison, a Republican from Lyman.

Meanwhile, the senator tasked with handling the education overhaul proposal in the Senate said Wednesday he doesn't think the bill can pass before the General Assembly's regular session ends May 9.

The Senate took the House's big bill in bites. They held 15 meetings and four public hearings across the state and trimmed more than 30 pages from the proposal. Gone are the new oversight committee, the student bill of rights, and tax incentives for businesses that gave teachers summer internships.

"That piece of legislation has been on a diet. A successful diet and it's much lighter," Senate Education Committee Chairman Greg Hembree said. "I know it focuses on some of the more important concepts in the original bill that can hopefully make South Carolina a stronger education system."

The Little River Republican said there is not enough time to fully debate the bill in 2019. This is a two-year legislative session in South Carolina, so the bill will pick up in January wherever it finishes this session.


Two More B.A.S.S. Championships Slated for Green Pond

Two more major B.A.S.S. fishing events are scheduled for Green Pond Landing later this year. TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship will take place Nov. 6-8, while the Team Championship is set for Dec. 11-14.

Green Pond at Lake Hartwell hosted the GEICO Bassmaster Classic in 2015 and 2018, a Bassmaster Elite Series event in April, a B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in 2017, and High School Opens this spring and last.

“Our team at Anderson County could not be more excited about hosting the 2019 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship as well as the Bassmaster Team Championship at Green Pond Landing and Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, executive director of Visit Anderson. “Our community enjoys a tremendous amount of success whenever we’re hosting the great folks from B.A.S.S. We owe a great deal of credit to B.A.S.S. for their part in helping us establish Lake Hartwell as a championship fishery and Green Pond Landing as one of the premier facilities in the nation. We look forward to welcoming the anglers, their families and the entire B.A.S.S. Nation to Anderson County later this year.”

The top boater and non-boater from each state competing in one of three regional championships will fish the National Championship, along with qualifiers from 11 foreign nations with affiliated B.A.S.S. Nation organizations. The Top 3 finishers from the Nation Championship will earn a spot in the 50th Bassmaster Classic, to be held March 6-8, 2020, in Birmingham, Ala. The overall winner of the Nation Championship will receive an invitation to fish the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series. 

The Team Championship comprises the top teams from organized tournament trails across the United States, as well as other countries. Teams were fielded this year from Australia, Canada and South Africa, in addition to the U.S.

“We are excited to bring the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship back and the Bassmaster Team Championship to Lake Hartwell, Green Pond Landing and the city of Anderson,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director and Team Championship tournament director. “They always roll out the carpet for B.A.S.S. when we come. Hartwell is a fantastic fishery. I am excited to go back.”


Clemson, Greenville Begins Rapid Teacher Certification Program

CLEMSON - Greenville County Schools, Greenville Technical College and the Clemson University College of Education have announced a collaborative partnership that will open a "seamless pathway" from high school to a degree in education from Clemson University. The partnership, “Expressway to Tiger Town,” will identify, support and prepare students for a career as an educator.

The teacher pipeline partnership is to provide curriculum pathways will allow high school students from Greenville County Schools to begin taking dual credit courses as early as the 10th grade. Students will then go on to earn an associate’s degree from Greenville Technical College and finally a teacher preparation bachelor’s degree from Clemson University.

Students will spend one year at Greenville Tech and two years at Clemson, allowing them to receive a bachelor’s degree in just three years. Students can choose to spend an additional year at Clemson to earn a master’s degree and the additional knowledge, training and pay that come with it.

According to Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools, the district is committed to graduating students with college credits and/or industry certifications through its Graduation Plus initiative. Expressway to Tiger Town will give students a head start on a quality career in education and post-secondary education goals.

“There is a major teacher shortage nation-wide; South Carolina is not exempt, particularly in high need areas such as math, science and foreign language,” Royster said. “The Expressway to Tiger Town initiative supports our Graduatio


Three Clemson Players Chosen in Top 20 of NFL Draft


NASHVILLE — Clemson made school and NFL Draft history on the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft, featuring the selections of defensive end Clelin Ferrell to the Oakland Raiders at No. 4 overall, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13 and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to the New York Giants at No. 17. The output marked the first time Clemson had produced three first-round picks in a single draft.

The selections also marked the first time in NFL Draft history that a single school produced three players selected as defensive linemen in a single draft. The only other draft to feature three college defensive linemen from a single school in the first round was in 2006, when NC State’s Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo went with the Nos. 1, 22 and 26 picks, respectively, though Lawson was officially submitted as a linebacker.

The night in Nashville started with a bang, as the Oakland Raiders selected Ferrell with the fourth overall pick. Ferrell’s selection at No. 4 tied for the highest selection for Clemson all-time, matching the fourth overall selections of Banks McFadden (1939), Gaines Adams (2007) and Sammy Watkins (2014).

Wilkins was next off the board to Miami at No. 13, becoming the first player from Clemson to be selected in the first round in Dolphins history. Of Clemson’s nine all-time selections by Miami, each of the last four (DE Phillip Merling, S Chris Clemons, CB Cordrea Tankersley and Wilkins) have come from the defensive side of the ball.

Lawrence became Clemson’s historic third selection of the evening at No. 17 overall. Lawrence’s selection continued a pipeline of Clemson players being drafted by the Giants, representing the franchise’s 18th selection from Clemson all-time, moving past the Pittsburgh Steelers (17) for the most of any franchise.

With the three selections, Clemson has now had 54 players selected since Dabo Swinney became head coach in December of 2008. With six rounds still remaining, the 2019 draft already represents the 12th consecutive year Clemson has had at least three players selected in the NFL Draft.