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K-Ci & JoJo to Headline Civic Center Concert

One of the area’s biggest R&B concerts in recent memory will converge on the Civic Center of Anderson on Saturday, Feb. 19, as the Anderson Sports & Entertainment Center venue welcomes the “Down at the Juke Joint” tour.

The 8 p.m. concert will be headlined by K-Ci & JoJo, along with special guests Howard Hewett, Urban Mystic, Charrelle, and Glenn Jones. Doors are set to open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are scheduled to go on sale this Friday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. at the Civic Center box office and all TicketMaster outlets.

Advance general admission tickets are $28.50 each. A very limited number of VIP reserved seats in front of the stage are available for $34.50 each. Tickets will increase $5 each day of show.

The Civic Center box office is open Monday-Friday, from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Tickets will also be available through TicketMaster at, or by calling TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000. The Box Office accepts Visa, MasterCard, and cash. Processing fees will be added for credit card purchases at the Box Office.

K-Ci & JoJo, formerly of the group Jodeci, recently signed a new recording deal with Soda Pop Records, which is owned and operated by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The duo is known for such hit songs as “Crazy,” “All My Life,” “You Bring Me Up,” “Tell Me It’s Real,” and others. “All My Life,” a number-one hit, is considered one of the greatest jazz pop melodies of all time.

Howard, the former lead singer of the group Shalamar, is known as both an R&B and gospel singer. His hits include “Stay,” “I’m For Real,” “Show Me,” and the gospel song “Say Amen.”

Charrelle’s hits include “I Don’t Mean To Turn You On,” “Where Do I Turn To,” and the duets “Saturday Love,” and “Never Knew Love Like This” with Alexander O’Neal.

Glenn Jones is known for such chart singles as “Show Me,” “Bring Back Your Love,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Here I Go Again,” and “From Now Own.”

The youngest performer on the upcoming tour is 27-year-old Urban Mystic, known for such hits as “Where Were You,” “It’s You,” “In The Morning,” “Your Portrait,” and “I Refuse.”


Midway Principal to Head to Southwood; Kelley will Lead Midway

Four new appointments aimed at organizing the new Southwood Academy of the Arts were approved Tuesday night by the District Five Board of Trustees.

BruhjellGary Bruhjell was named Principal of Southwood Academy of the Arts, and Rick Mascaro was named Director of Secondary Visual and Performing Arts for the new magnet school, which will open in August 2011.

Mr. Bruhjell has served as Principal of Midway Elementary since it opened in August 2003. He formerly served as Principal of La France Elementary School in Anderson School District Four.

Mr. Mascaro has served as director of the Anderson V Career Campus (formerly the MascaroHanna-Westside Extension Campus) since 2000. During that time he participated in arts activities in the district and created the Mosaic Theatre at the Career Campus. Mr. Mascaro’s duties will include teaching, recruiting, and directing theater productions at Southwood Academy, as well as overseeing the entire visual and performing arts program in District Five.

KelleySucceeding Mr. Bruhjell as Principal of Midway is Brenda Kelley.  Mrs. Kelley began teaching at Midway when it opened in August 2003 and has served as Assistant Principal since August 2007.

Succeeding Mr. Mascaro as Director of the Career Campus is Cathy Shaw. Mrs. Shaw has served as Assistant Director at the Career Campus since 2000.

Transition to these new positions will begin immediately. Mr. Bruhjell and Mr. Mascaro will provide mentoring and other assistance to their successors as they begin planning the opening of Southwood Academy for the 2011-2012 school year.

Southwood Academy of the Arts will be a magnet school for students in grades six through twelve with an Shawemphasis in grades six through eight on academics within an arts-based curriculum, extending the model begun by Calhoun Academy of the Arts. The secondary grades will receive performance-based instruction, beginning next year with selected secondary courses, including accelerated classes in visual arts, drama music and dance.

The district plans to add a seventh grade level in the second year of operation and an eighth grade level in the third year. The number of secondary arts courses and other related courses will also expand over time.

District Five will hold a Magnet School Fair on Thursday, February 24th in the mall area of T.L. Hanna High School. Admissions criteria and applications for Southwood will be available at the Fair, and online beginning February 25th.

Here is the announcemen note from Bruhjell.

January 27, 2011 

Dear Parents,

At the first sermon of the New Year, my pastor, Dr. Dennis Tedder, told a story about the great scientist, Dr. Albert Einstein.  Excited about taking a trip, Dr. Einstein boarded a train, chose a seat, and went straight to work opening his briefcase and spreading his papers, books and journals all around him.  When the conductor arrived at his car, Dr. Einstein frantically rummaged through his papers and paraphernalia to locate his ticket.  It was nowhere to be found.  The conductor quickly, and almost apologetically, said, “Don’t worry about it Dr. Einstein, everyone knows who you are – don’t worry.”  The conductor continued through the boxcar punching tickets only to notice Dr. Einstein now on his hands and knees looking under his seat and in the greasy nooks and crannies that bolted the metal bench to the floorboards.  Once again, the conductor reiterated, “Dr. Einstein, please don’t concern yourself with finding the ticket; we know who you are.”  Dr. Einstein looked up from his precarious position with a worried wrinkle to his brow and replied, “It’s not that I don’t know who I am; I need my ticket to remember where I’m going!”  

Dr. Tedder used this account to illustrate the importance of taking risks, setting out on new journeys, and having faith that what God’s hand has set in motion will most certainly be done to glorify His name.  I say all this to let you know that I find myself at a crossroads in my career and ready to take on a new challenge.  I have been blessed to be asked by our school board and superintendent to open Southwood Academy of the Arts in the 2011-2012 school year.  Southwood Academy of the Arts will serve our community as a pure magnet school, emphasizing advanced academics using the arts as a vehicle for achieving educational excellence.  By creating a small, nurturing, student and family-centered middle school experience, Anderson School District Five will be fulfilling a need for many children who will thrive in this unique environment.  It is thrilling to be a part of this movement of choice and change in such a progressive school system.

I will continue to serve as principal here through the remainder of this year with all of my heart, passion, and love for the children of Midway.  However, our assistant principal, Mrs. Brenda Kelley, will become the new principal of Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.  Mrs. Kelley is one of the finest and most competent, caring administrators I have ever worked with and I am thrilled that she will continue to build upon the tradition of excellence here at Midway.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Right now, that is exactly how I’m feeling.  But ... just think how exciting it will be to actually have a hand in building the staircase!


Gary Bruhjell


Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering      


ECP to Break Ground for New Theater

Be part of history as the Electric City Playhouse breaks ground on their new theatre this Saturday at 10 a.m. The new theatre location is on South Main Street next to the Fox Pub and diagonally across from City Hall.

After the ground breaking we need volunteers to help clear the site so we can prepare for construction to begin. The Fox of Anderson has been gracious enough to provide lunch and entertainment. Please make plans to come out and give a hand; we'll just be clearing debris and foliage from the site, so we can have a clean canvas to create our new theatre. For information please call (864) 224-4248 or email


AU Softball Ranked Tenth in Preseason Poll

 The Anderson University softball team was selected to finish 10th in its first season in the South Atlantic Conference by the league’s coaches as released by the conference office Wednesday afternoon.
The Trojans notched a stellar 27-18 record last season, while reaching the semifinals of the Conference Carolinas Tournament as the fourth seed. AU took three wins in the three-day event, but was eliminated after dropping a pair of close decisions to top-seeded Limestone.
The Trojans will be led offensively by a pair of seniors and a junior, as Emily Monteith, Lyndsey Huitt and Amber Duncan each posted batting averages above .300, with Monteith earning all-conference recognition after leading the league in RBI, was second in the conference in home runs, fourth in total bases and sixth in the league in runs scored. The Clover, S.C., native earned conference Player of the Week honors in February.
Huitt posted a .338 batting average and saw action in 42 games while starting 16 contests. The Anderson native recorded two triples on the season. Duncan, a junior from Matthews, N.C., hit .314 while starting 41 of 42 games. She was fourth on the team with 32 runs scored, while notching seven doubles.
Another senior, Casey Deer, led last year’s squad with nine wins, posting a 3.08 ERA and recorded 10 complete games on the season. The 5-foot-7 hurler was named to last year’s conference all-tourney team after starting two games and making two relief appearances in the circle, tossing 19 innings and striking out 19 while issuing just five walks.
Anderson begins the 2011 campaign at the Georgia Southwestern Tournament in Americus, Georgia, February 4-5. AU will face Armstrong Atlantic and the host Lady Hurricanes on the opening day of action, then squares off against Valdosta State and Georgia College on Saturday.


'The Luck O' The Brooks' Gala to Raise Funds for Performing Arts

The Brooks Center for the Performing Arts is hosting an Irish-themed party to support arts programming at the university’s performing arts center. "The Luck O’ the Brooks” gala will take place in the Grand Ballroom of the Madren Center from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 5. The party will feature a silentauction, live music and food.
Read the entire news release at:


AnMed Awarded Silver Medal for Organ Transplants

Six South Carolina hospitals received awards from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in November of 2010, for their success in increasing the number of organs available for transplantation. Our state’s six winners were among 307 of the nation’s hospitals that received the department’s Medal of Honor for Organ Donation during a ceremony at the 6th Annual National Learning Congress held in Grapevine, Texas.

Hospital executives, along with their respective partners in all 58 federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs), were honored for achieving and sustaining national goals for donation, including a donation rate of 75 percent or more of eligible donors at their facilities. (Three out of every four medically eligible donors became donors.)

One South Carolina hospital, AnMed Health in Anderson, was awarded a Silver 1 Medal for, not only achieving a 75 percent conversion rate, but also 3.75 organs transplanted per donor. Only 219 hospitals in the U.S. had this distinction. 

Five other South Carolina hospitals received Bronze Medals for achieving a 75 percent or greater conversion rate:

Grand Strand Regional Medical Center – Myrtle Beach

Lexington Medical Center – West Columbia

Providence Hospital – Columbia

Self Regional Healthcare – Greenwood

Trident Medical Center-Charleston

South Carolina’s winning hospitals collaborate closely with the state’s OPO, LifePoint, Inc., to implement best practices for honoring the final wishes of organ and tissue donors.   

Nancy A. Kay, LifePoint President and CEO, said, “We would like to congratulate the six South Carolina hospitals that received these prestigious awards. This national recognition is really a credit to their hard work. It shows their commitment to saving lives through donation and ultimately transplantation by honoring the wishes of donors and their families.”

The wishes of individual’s desiring donation, along with their legal consent, can now be indicated by potential donors on a South Carolina Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, Established in December 2008, the registry is providing LifePoint, South Carolina hospitals, and families with increased clarity about a potential donor’s end-of-life wishes.

HRSA’s Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice brings together donation and transplantation professionals and hospital leaders to identify and share best practices to integrate organ donation into hospitals’ end-of-life care.

For more information about the Medal of Honor or the S.C. Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, contact:  Mark Johnson, Media Relations Coordinator - LifePoint, at 1-800-462-0755 or 843-763-7755.


Trojan Baseball Tabbed Eighth in Preseason Poll

ROCK HILL, S.C. – The Anderson University baseball team has been picked to finish eighth in its inaugural season in the South Atlantic Conference by the league’s coaches as released by the conference office Tuesday afternoon.
Senior second baseman Ryan Saxon and sophomore Erick Sanderson earned preseason second-team All-SAC recognition following stellar 2010 campaigns.
“With it being our first year in the conference we are picked about where I expected,” said Anderson head coach Joe Miller. “But it’s more about where you finish than where you start.”
Saxon is back following an outstanding junior campaign that saw the Landrum, S.C., native rank second on the team in hitting (.357), first in runs scored (52), RBI (50), doubles (23) and slugging percentage (.629). Sanderson saw playing time at first base as well as on the mound for Miller’s squad, as the native of Hanahan, S.C., hit .306 during his rookie season and recorded 33 hits, including seven doubles. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was second the team in total appearances on the hill (15), tied for second on the team in total wins (3) and was fourth on the squad in innings pitched (36.1).
“The league made good choices with Ryan (Saxon) and Erick (Sanderson),” added Miller. “Erick had a great freshman year and contributed both offensively and defensively. Ryan has shown his ability to hit the long ball during his career and we expect another good year from him as well.”     
The Trojans wrapped up the 2010 campaign with an overall mark of 20-35 after winning a pair of games in last season’s Conference Carolinas’ tournament, shocking nationally-ranked and No. 1 seed Mount Olive, 10-7, in the opening round then pulling off its second upset in as many days by eliminating the 24th-ranked Erskine Flying Fleet from the tournament.
Anderson opens the season Thursday, Feb. 3, when the Trojans play host to former conference-foe Limestone. First-pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at Anderson Memorial Stadium


Mosaic Theater Hosts Bluegrass Night

The Mosaic Theatre will host its first Monthly Bluegrass Night on Friday, January 28 from 6 to 9 p.m.

All shows are free admission and open mic. Bring your bluegrass instrument and come pick with us. (Acoustic instruments only.) The house band will be the Breazeale’s Grocery Bluegrass Band.

Dinner plates will be available featuring barbecue, hamburger and hot dog plates and drinks from $5 to $8. Proceeds will go to the Mosaic Theatre.

The Mosaic Theatre is located at the rear of the Anderson V Career Campus at 1225 McDuffie Street. Follow the Mosaic Theatre signs from the corner of Hampton and McDuffie streets.


Westside Hosts Financial Aid Workshop

The Guidance Department at Westside High School will host a Financial Aid Workshop on Monday, January 31, at 6 the AV Room. 

Financial Aid Counselors from Anderson University will go through the FAFSA Form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and answer questions regarding this form as well as other financial aid and scholarship issues.  Junior and Senior parents are invited to attend.   

Financial Aid Counselors from Anderson University will return to the Guidance Career Center Computer Lab on Wednesday, February 9, from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. to host a FAFSA Help Session to assist parents and students with submitting their FAFSA form online.  Students and parents will need to bring their FAFSA worksheet, FAFSA PIN number, and other needed financial documents.


United Way Offers Free Tax Preparations

Anderson, SC –  The Developing Self-Sufficient Individuals vision council of United Way of Anderson County is partnering with local leaders and churches to expand the availability of free tax preparation services in Anderson County. 

“The demand was so great from last year, that it necessitated opening two new sites, one in Iva and the other in Belton” stated Lora Kline, of United Way who is coordinating the effort. “Last year, people were able to just walk in and have their taxes done, however, due to the overwhelming response; people are now required to make appointments at the Pendleton and Iva Town Hall sites.” To have your taxes done at the Anderson County Library, you need to call 211 to make your appointment. If you need an appointment in Belton, you should contact Lora at the United Way office at 226-3438. “United Way greatly appreciates the host sites opening their doors to allow this service to be offered in Anderson”, states Kline.

VITA – which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is sponsored by the IRS, and run by local communities wishing to provide the service to local residents.  VITA volunteers can help prepare IRS forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ. Preparation of other schedules will not be available at the VITA sites.


1.    Picture ID.

2.    Social Security cards for everyone listed on your return.

3.    All income documents such as W-2’s, 1099’s, Social Security Statements, etc.

4.    All documentation of deductible expenses such as higher education expenses, property taxes paid, daycare expenses (include provider’s name/address/tax ID #).

5.    Your 2009 tax returns (Federal and State).

6.    A blank check with bank routing and account numbers for Direct Deposit of refunds.

If you are filing a joint return, both spouses must be present to sign required forms. If you have an appointment, please arrive 15 minutes early to complete required paperwork.

The schedule for the VITA sites are as follows:


  • Anderson County Library


  • Pendleton Town Hall



  • Pendleton Town Hall


  • Iva Town Hall



  • Anderson County Library



  • Iva Town Hall



  • Anderson County Adult Education


  • Iva Town Hall



  • Anderson County Library


A new site has being established at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Belton. Contact Lora at 226-3438 for details on days and hours of operation.


All sites will open effective February 1, 2011, unless otherwise noted, and close effective April 15, 2011.


For more information please contact Lora Kline at United Way of Anderson County at (864) 226-3438 or email


Southwood Celebrates “AVID Awareness Week”

January 24-28 has been designated “AVID Awareness Week” at Southwood Middle School.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program which targets students with average grades and from families that traditionally have not produced college graduates. Students chosen for the program are given support in an AVID classroom and are encouraged to take higher level classes such as Algebra I and English I in eighth grade.

Southwood was chosen as a National AVID Demonstration Site in 2010. As a demonstration site, Southwood is open to visits from other schools throughout the region who are interested in initiating the AVID program.

“AVID Awareness Week” will coincide with a visit from District AVID directors from across the country. Approximately 35 directors are expected to attend the meeting.

Southwood will showcase its school-wide adoption of the AVID strategies on Thursday, January 27. Activities planned for the directors will include AVID Data Presentations from 6th grade students; student, teacher, and parent interviews; classroom observations; and presentations by 7th and 8th grade AVID students.

Visits from two South Carolina high schools are also included in the week’s agenda.

Wren High School will visit on Monday, while Whale Branch Early College from Beaufort will observe classes Monday and Tuesday. All classroom teachers will showcase lessons that demonstrate the ways they use AVID strategies on a daily basis.

Throughout the week, students and teachers are encouraged to wear specially designed “Think College” t-shirts, their favorite college t-shirt, or a 212.2 t-shirt that reflects Southwood’s determination to “turn up the heat” on achievement. Each teacher is posting AVID lessons plans at the classroom door allowing anyone visiting to have a preview of the lesson that is being taught.

Over 100 board members, District Office staff, administrators, and local and state leaders have been invited to a culmination event on Friday, January 28. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. After viewing the AVID showcase presentation, a school tour and classroom observations will be available for this group.


Electric City Mardi Gras to Benefit Meals on Wheels

Tickets are now available for the sixth annual Mardi Gras in the Electric City, a fundraiser to benefit Meals on Wheels-Anderson. 

This event will be held Friday, February 18, 2011 at the Anderson Civic Center, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a festive Mardi Gras-themed party, with dance music by the Back 9, heavy hors d’oeuvres prepared by local restaurants, and a silent auction featuring fabulous items donated by local businesses.  

All proceeds from this event will help feed the 650 elderly, homebound, and disabled of Anderson County who receive services from Meals on Wheels. 

The title sponsor for this event is Piedmont Automotive of Anderson, which has been instrumental in supporting Mardi Gras in the Electric City since its debut in 2006. This event kicks off the fundraising year for Meals on Wheels-Anderson. “It is our pleasure to be able to sponsor this event and give back to the community that continually supports us,” said Jeff Searcy, vice president and general manager of Piedmont Automotive. “We can think of no organization more deserving than Meals on Wheels.”

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at the Meals on Wheels Center, 105 S. Fant St., Piedmont Honda at 4011 Clemson Blvd., Draisen-Edwards Music at 2902 North Main St., or online at  Tickets must be purchased in advance, as they will not be available at the door.

For ticket information or to find out how you can help Meals on Wheels, please call 864-225-6800 or visit


Text of Governor Haley's State of the State Address (FULL)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the General Assembly, Constitutional Officers and my fellow South Carolinians:

Let me start tonight with a tradition established by my predecessor, who recognized the certain truth that nothing said in this Chamber tonight or done in this Chamber tomorrow would be possible without the sacrifices and commitment of the men and women in uniform who bravely serve our nation.

And so now let us pay tribute to those South Carolinians, those true heroes, who in the past year made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our state and of our country:

Private First Class Geoffrey A. Whitsitt; Sergeant Jeremiah T. Wittman; Sergeant Aaron M. Arthur; Staff Sergeant Steven M. Theobald; Captain Michael P. Cassidy; Specialist David W. Thomas; Sergeant First Class Kristopher D. Chapleau; Private First Class David A. Jefferson; Staff Sergeant Sheldon L. Tate; Sergeant First Class John H. Jarrell; Staff Sergeant Willie J. Harley, Jr.; Sergeant Luther W. Rabon, Jr.; Corporal J. Chad Young; Staff Sergeant Andrew S. Bubacz; Staff Sergeant Vincent W. Ashlock; Lance Corporal William H. Crouse, IV, Sergeant Michael J. Beckerman

Thank you.

Before we move on, there is one individual with us tonight who played an important role in the mobilization and support of some of the soldiers I just mentioned and many others who protect our state and country.

And as of this past month, she has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, the first female General in the history of the South Carolina National Guard.

I ask you to join me in acknowledging the service of a great South Carolinian, and a great friend, Brigadier General Marie Goff.

I’d also like to thank our former Speaker, and our nation’s Ambassador, David Wilkins, for agreeing to Chair my transition team.  Ambassador, what a pleasure to work with you again, and what service you have provided to South Carolina.  You truly are a statesman.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our state is challenged but optimistic.

My ask tonight, to every South Carolinian, is that you embrace our challenges for the opportunities they must be and that you join me in my optimism for the future of our state.

If you do, we will transform South Carolina in ways that have long been imagined but never realized, ways that will make our state the envy of the nation, and ways that will ensure our pride in the South Carolina we pass along to my children and yours.

One week ago today, I stood not too far from where I stand tonight and pledged, in front of God and each of you, to “exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected, and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof …”

The words of that promise will drive me each and every day.

But words are only as good as the definitions we ascribe to them, and so let me take this moment to lay out my answer to what may be the most important question facing us going forward:  what is the role of our government?

For eighteen months I traveled our state and I told our citizens what I tell you now:  government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people; it was never intended to be all things to all people.

We have drifted far from that principle, that idea so critical to the future of our state and of our people.

So as we move forward tonight in discussion of the challenges and opportunities that lie in front of us, let’s not forget the words of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, who said:

“There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics:  As government expands, liberty contracts.”

It is time that we restore to the people of South Carolina a government that both knows and performs its intended role.

Our current budgetary situation demands it.  Our commitment to best serving this state requires it.  And most importantly, our citizens deserve it.

An editorial published this past Sunday was reflecting on the week we’ve had and closed with the observation that South Carolina is “faced with mountains that may seem unconquerable”.

I disagree.  My life, my experiences, and my faith have taught me that no challenge is unconquerable.

We are blessed to live in the best state in the best country on earth.

I believe in the will of the people.  I believe that it is our duty to follow that will and to engage the people of South Carolina in the governance of our state.

And I believe that if we do that, if we move forward together with one vision, we can climb any mountain and prosper through every challenge, no matter how high, no matter how hard.

The responsibility to get there is a shared one, one that is in large part mine but is not mine alone.  The legislature, the people, the governor – we must be committed, together, to moving South Carolina forward.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The people will save their government, if the government itself will let them.”

To the legislature seated before me, who have been given such honor and responsibility by the constituency we serve, I ask that you let the people save us.

Let them in.  They have spoken loud and clear.

They want us to remember that we work for them.  They don’t want to watch in-fighting with no real results. They want to feel our successes in their wallets and regain confidence in the role government plays in our state.

Let’s give that to the public this year.  They deserve to know what it’s like to feel good about their government.

And to the people of South Carolina, from whom I have drawn great comfort and strength, I ask you to remember the words of India’s Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who said, “People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.”

The energy and enthusiasm you displayed throughout the last campaign inspires me.  It inspires us all.  What I would charge you with tonight is to not let it go away.

Don’t get complacent.  Don’t complain about those things that bother you, continue to do something about them.

Stay involved in your government.  Let your will be known so that those of us you have sent to Columbia might follow it.

I pledge that I will remember your rights.  I ask that you remember your duties.

For me, I will do my part to encourage constant communication between the elected officials and the people of South Carolina.

I will be strong in passing along what goes on in this State Capitol.  You may think you hear from me too much.  I think that’s a good thing.

This Administration will hold town halls, in which we will visit every region in our state and talk about our agenda.  We will keep a report card of legislative votes that we will distribute when session is over. This will empower every citizen in this state to see exactly how their legislator votes on the issues important to them.

My promise is that these votes will not be partisan, just as the good-government, pro-business issues we must embrace are not partisan. 

But we have an opportunity to do things no other state has done:  to open our doors, bring down boundaries, and refuse to accept that we have no options.

With commitment from the public, creativity from our cabinet heads, courage from our legislature, and a chief executive willing to lead the charge and make the tough decisions, there is no limit to where we can take South Carolina.

Our state has a tremendous opportunity and I have a wonderful partner in Bobby Hitt as our new Secretary of Commerce.  As I said when announcing him as my choice to run this crucial agency, with Bobby Hitt, there is no learning curve.

And with this Administration, you will find no greater priority than economic development and job creation.

I am spending time daily on the phone with companies interested in coming to South Carolina.  Our focus will not be on the quantity of companies we recruit but on the quality of companies that call our state home.

We want partners, those who are willing to invest in South Carolina, create jobs in our state, and utilize the small businesses already here.

As I have said many times, Boeing was not just a win for our state for the jobs it directly created but for the auxiliary jobs and the economic activity it will bring to South Carolina.

When I met with Boeing executives a few months back, they told me that 91 percent of their contracts were going to South Carolina businesses.

That is economic development.

My pledge to you is that we will not wait another twenty years for the next Boeing or BMW.  I am impatient by nature, and I’ve learned, happily, that Bobby Hitt is too.  We will continue to work, day in and day out, to bring the type of companies to our state that make all of our citizens proud.

We will strengthen services for our small businesses so that we can take care of the businesses we already have.  Commerce needs to be a resource for small business owners whenever they need help navigating the red tape of government.  And when government requires something of businesses, we should make those requests as easy on them as possible.

As we focus on lowering our unemployment rate in South Carolina, we will hone in on ways to improve the business environment in our state.

Every one of my cabinet directors understands that his or her job is to reduce the amount of red-tape placed on our businesses.  In the business-world, time is money – if government is costing our small businesses time, it is costing them money.

That’s unacceptable.

The heart of our economy is and always will be our small businesses.  If we give them cash flow, if we give them profit margins, they aren’t going on vacation – they will use those dollars to hire people, to invest back in our state.  And it will be our people, and South Carolina’s economy, that benefit.

We have spoken some, both tonight and on Inauguration day, about moving forward with one vision.  To the great credit of those in this room, in the seven short days I have been governor, we have made great progress.

As a new governing coalition we have had many accomplishments in our first week, and I take great pride and comfort in the fact that we made these strides together for the people of our state.

The Senate swiftly approved two of our cabinet appointments, Bobby Hitt at Commerce and Catherine Templeton at LLR.  I want to thank the Senate and especially Senator Greg Ryberg for moving so quickly on these agencies, setting a great tone right off the bat, and letting these two talented individuals get to work.

We have eleven appointments outstanding, and all of these candidates need to be confirmed quickly as we deal with a budget situation that requires all hands on deck.  I would ask that the committee chairs follow Senator Ryberg’s lead and that the full Senate get all of my agency heads confirmed by the first week in February.

As we go into a budget knowing we’ll have to sacrifice, we must do so with consistency.   We are trusted to spend the people’s money, and we’re all aware that nothing we do each year is as important as our budget.  It is the most honest expression of our priorities as the leaders of South Carolina. 

I believe that in order for the public to trust us, as we make decisions that may be seen by some as unfair or even callous, we must be honest with them:  this budget year is going to hurt.  

My pledge to you is that if you will work with me to make the right decisions – right, not for the next year or the next election, but right for the long-term future of South Carolina – you will find a partner willing to stand with you in front of the people of our state and defend our choices.  

While we will continue to offer solutions to get us out of this hole, tonight and in the weeks to follow, I claim no monopoly on good ideas.  In this budget year, I’d be foolish to.  If any of you in this room has a thought on how we can close this gap, rein in our spending, and get our government back on track, I’m all ears.  Pick up the phone.  Or better yet, come downstairs and knock on my door.  It’s always open. 

Because if we do right by our people this year, we can create a South Carolina that never finds itself in this position again. 

We will never again have such an opportunity to reform and correct the spending habits and processes that have brought us to this dire situation.  This year has to be the year we make the tough but right decisions so that, going forward, this process doesn’t hurt as much as it does today.

We must analyze every agency – cabinet or otherwise – to see what its core mission is and whether or not the dollars we spend are contributing to that mission. 

We must start our budgetary process at zero and ask, “What do we have to have?”, as we work our way up.

We must statutorily cap spending so that South Carolina’s government, like its businesses and its citizens, will live within its means.   And we must do so based on the spending levels of the previous year. 

Spending caps don’t mean anything if we are using, as their basis, the years we have spent the most.  If this is worth doing, which it is, it’s worth doing right. 

We must implement, in permanent law, a three-day wait from when the final budget is produced to when it is voted on, and by final budget, I mean after conference committee.  I’d like to thank Representative Dan Hamilton and Senator Tom Davis for leading this charge. 

Legislators and citizens alike have the right to see how we plan to fund their government, and to do so before it becomes law.  We saw on the federal level, with both the stimulus and healthcare bills, the pitfalls that come with rushing massive spending bills through a legislature.  Let the last two years in Washington not be the example on which we choose to model our legislative process.  

Time and time again you’ve heard me say that I plan to involve myself in the budget, not just at the beginning with an executive budget or at the end with a veto pen, but throughout the committee process. 

I think we owe it to each other to communicate from start to finish, so there are no surprises on either side, and most importantly, so that the decisions we make are in the best interests of the citizens we’ve all sworn to serve.

To that end, let me offer to you a sample of the proposals that we hope to partner with you on to help ease our budgetary crisis without gutting core services.

Last week our administration physically moved the Department for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services from a privately-leased space to offices sitting empty in a government-owned building.  This simple act will save the people of South Carolina $700,000 over the next four years.  

And it’s just the beginning of the commonsense savings you’ll see as we analyze the property that the state owns and leases.  As we downsize the spending of government we must also consolidate properties, equipment, and administrative services.  You will continue to see measures like this one in the coming weeks.  

We will not please everyone with the decisions we make but we must make decisions that do the least amount of harm and have the best long-term effect. 

And the reality is the role of South Carolina’s government in the year 2011 can no longer be to fund an Arts Commission that costs us $2.05 million.  It cannot be one that funds ETV, costing taxpayers $9.6 million.  And it cannot be one that pays taxpayer dollars to lobbyists, costing us $1.2 million a year.

When you release government from the things it should not be responsible for, you allow the private sector to be more creative and cost efficient.  And you allow government dollars to go to the places and people they should. 

The majority of prescription drugs issued by Medicaid are generic, with three large exceptions:  AIDS, cancer, and mental health.  We propose, following the lead of Senator Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist himself, that we remove the proviso prohibiting the use of generic medications to treat those three afflictions. 

I realize that this may sting pharmaceutical companies, and some lobbyists, but it is an option that will allow us to realize real savings without compromising the quality of care for our patients.  

I searched far and wide and am proud to have found one of the brightest healthcare minds in the country to help us navigate our current HHS deficit and the looming disaster that is the federal healthcare plan. 

I am thrilled Tony Keck is joining us in South Carolina – we need the best, and he is certainly that.  I ask that we strike the proviso prohibiting the HHS Director from setting rates paid to providers through Medicaid. 

South Carolina is the only state in the nation that doesn’t give our Medicaid director that flexibility, and with all due respect, we can’t be the only state that has it right.  We need to allow Tony to do his job.

Tonight I am also announcing that my cabinet will stop the practice of working the system to get increases in federal funding simply for the sake of expanding our budgets. 

South Carolina cannot continue to chase federal dollars without studying the larger impact of how accepting those dollars affects our spending and financial stability.  We know all too well that with federal money comes strings, and with those strings come limitations, unaccounted for costs, and in many cases, unsustainable spending. 

The days are over when Washington tells South Carolina, “If you want the money?  Jump.”  And South Carolina responds, “How high?” 

We cannot jump without first considering where we are going to land.  And South Carolina cannot afford to follow the federal government, which has thrown itself into a pit of growing deficits, irresponsible budgeting, and uncontrollable spending.  

Starting tonight, South Carolina is a state that is focused on establishing our financial independence, controlling our own destiny, and empowering our people with the knowledge that their state government doesn’t jump for anyone.   

We can’t talk about the Federal government or our budget without acknowledging the financial challenges that face us with the new healthcare bill.

I had the pleasure of meeting with the President last month and asked him if he would consider repealing this law, as South Carolina citizens can’t afford it.  He quickly told me “no”. 

Our founding fathers always intended that we empower families first, then communities, then states, and last Federal.  Constitutionally, our states do and should have the ability to decide what is best for our citizens.   And so I will continue to support the Attorney General’s legal action against this intrusion.

But as I told the President, my job is to look for every avenue I can to deal with a situation that South Carolina can’t afford.   I asked him, respectfully, if he would allow South Carolina an exemption from this bill. I appreciate his willingness to have an open dialogue, and his statement to me that if South Carolina met certain criteria, he would be open to allowing us to opt out.  

I am working with members of my Cabinet to find a solution that is economically sensible, conservative, and beneficial for the people of our state. The reality is that the federal healthcare bill will cost this state $2.7 billion more by the year 2020.

We can’t afford or sustain those numbers.   We must find an alternative. 

It is also incumbent upon us to deliver each year measures that make South Carolina more efficient, more effective, and better conditioned to tackle the challenges of the 21st Century. 

The good news is restructuring is past the debate stage in this Chamber.  We all agree we need a more accountable government.  We all agree that we must move forward with the changing times.  And we all agree that we don’t have any more time to waste. 

I appreciate the leadership of Representative Bakari Sellers and Senator Mike Fair on the issue of consolidating the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services into the Department of Corrections. 

In Judge Bill Byars, we have one of the most talented and effective corrections administrators in the country.  What he did for the Department of Juvenile Justice is nothing short of a miracle.  And now, to my delight and his enduring credit, he has accepted a new challenge – reforming our adult corrections system and pulling us out of that deficit. 

Over the last eight years, Jon Ozmint did a tremendous job running our prisons at the lowest cost per prisoner in the nation.  My challenge to the Judge is to take Mr. Ozmint’s reforms and move them one step further.  His goal will not be just to produce the cheapest meals, but to reduce the number of meals he serves each day.  And we can’t do that unless we lower the number of inmates that come back into the system.

The cost savings to the taxpayers of this state would be substantial.  The immediate savings would be approximately $6 million in administrative costs alone.  But the real dollars will come on the back end, when the Judge fulfils his ultimate goal, the reduction of our recidivism rate. 

The state of South Carolina pays more than $16,000 annually to incarcerate a single prisoner.  We spend more each year on a prisoner than we do on a student.  Think of the savings we’ll realize if we aren’t constantly welcoming back behind bars those prisoners who finish out their initial terms. 

And think of the cultural impact.  It’s immeasurable.  

As I mentioned earlier, this Administration last week physically moved the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Services to Mental Health.  Let’s go a step further and follow the recommendation of the Legislative Audit Council by consolidating similar health and human service agencies into the cabinet, a move the Council says will both save money and provide better service for our constituents.

We should also take this opportunity to allow our Governor and Lt. Governor to run on the same ticket.  It simply does not make sense to have two people with two different agendas at the top of our executive branch.  Lt. Governor Ken Ard and I will spend the next four years showing what we can accomplish when we work together as a team – but let’s start letting the people of this state choose what that team looks like.

We should also allow the voters to decide if future governors will appoint other cabinet heads like the Superintendent of Education.

It is crucial that the Superintendent and Governor partner in priorities, spending, graduation rates, and the workforce we produce.  Education is almost 40 percent of our budget – how can we justify having those dollars flow through a completely isolated part of government?  We can’t. 

Our teachers deserve better, our parents deserve better, and most of all, our children deserve better. 

Finally, our end game in restructuring must be a Department of Administration.  A state that holds its Governor accountable is one that doesn’t just empower the Governor but empowers the people.

What is now important is not only that we create a Department of Administration, but what that department looks like.  

Thanks to a unanimous vote by my fellow members, this week the Budget and Control Board received the fresh eyes it desperately needs so that we can better define its mission, its assets, and its faults.

I have complete faith in Eleanor Kitzman and Marcia Adams as they embrace the daunting but necessary task of streamlining this 1,000 person agency, all-the-while making it more open and transparent for the people to see.

I want to express my gratitude to my fellow Budget and Control Board Members – Chairman Hugh Leatherman, Chairman Dan Cooper, General Richard Eckstrom, and Treasurer Curtis Loftis – for recognizing the importance of moving the Board in a new direction and for joining me in supporting change in the Board’s leadership. 

It is my hope and expectation that the 5-0 vote the people of South Carolina were treated to last week is the first of many.  We have serious issues and tough decisions ahead of us, and the communication lines opened during the last two weeks give me great confidence that we will continue to make those decisions thoughtfully and together.

But here is where I draw the line - a restructuring plan that takes the important functions of the Budget and Control Board and assigns them to the legislature is not restructuring our government in a manner that better serves the people.  We must make our government more open, more accountable, and more accessible to the citizens of South Carolina – not less. 

More than two years ago, I first asked you to support putting all legislative votes on the record and both Chambers have passed rules putting that into effect.  I appreciate that effort, and your recognition of the fact that the key to a strong democracy is when we have openness and true representation.

I want to thank Representative Nathan Ballentine for continuing the fight he and I started together as deskmates, as well of the rest of the House for following his lead and passing his on-the-record voting bill unanimously the first week.  

And I want to thank Senator Larry Martin for his work on this issue this year and Senator Harvey Peeler for continuing his efforts to make sure that this absolute right of the people becomes a reality.

I have long believed that rules protect legislators, laws protect the people.  The people of this state have the right to know how their legislators vote, and we must complete this task, and complete it soon.  And so I ask that the Senate move swiftly forward on making on-the-record voting permanent law this year. 

It is time that we, collectively, do right by the people of this state.  

I briefly mentioned education earlier, but a conversation about the role of state government would be incomplete without talking more about the state’s responsibility to educate our children. 

It is perhaps the most important duty of our state to give South Carolina’s children the preparation they need to be successful contributors to our society.  Not only for their sake, but for ours. 

Our children are our future workforce, our future business owners, our future legislators, and even our future governors.  The quality we give them now is the quality they will return back to South Carolina, the quality that will define our state long after we’re gone.

Last year, the people gave our children a tremendous champion when they elected Mick Zais as our State Superintendent of Education.  And standing together, General Zais and I will reform the Department of Education. 

We’ll start with the funding formula.  As we said during the campaign, we need to educate our children not based on where they happen to be born and raised, but on the fact that they deserve a good, quality education, and they are our future workforce.

We must also privatize our school bus system.  We are one of the last states in the nation to do so, and our government just doesn’t need to be in the school bus maintenance business. 

Making this change would deliver our state a check for our old buses.  It would deliver our children a new fleet of buses.  It would keep our school bus drivers employed while transferring our mechanics to the private sector.   And it would put the focus of our Education Department where it needs to be:  teaching our kids. 

I want each of you to know how very proud I am of South Carolina - it’s a great state, with  great people and a brilliant future.  I want every citizen in this state to share in my pride.  It is our job to continue to give the people of South Carolina something to feel good about.

At the next State of the State, we will be talking about our first year.  My goal tonight was to lay out a vision that ensures when we come together next year, we are talking about the next set of challenges, not the same ones we are talking about now. 

At this time next year, we should not be talking about on the record votes.  We should not be talking about spending caps.  We should not be talking about deficits in our budget. We should not be talking about government restructuring.  Those should be success stories delivered to the people this year.

Results matter. The wins we shared this first week should be the pace our administration continues to have. 

The wins this legislature feels should not be defined by half-year sessions but by weekly and monthly goals achieved.

The chatter among the people of our state should be positive.

We have old challenges in a new year.  It is up to the people in this room to decide whether we will continue our old ways or whether we too will turn the page. 

I believe you have seen in the months since my election that I have made every effort to demonstrate my eagerness in getting things done for the people of this state in our first year. 

But I can't do it alone.  You hold the key.

We have a lot of challenges, but one of the greatest is our culture. We must change the way we think and proceed in this Statehouse.  I know this process and have lived it. It’s slow. It’s political. And it doesn't have to be.

I can redefine the habits of the Governor’s office.  I am willing to do so.  I have every faith that each of you can redefine the way this legislature has functioned. 

And I know the people of this state will be better, every day, when you do so.

As many of you will come to know in the weeks and months ahead, the door to my office has a sign for all to see every time they walk through my doorway. 

The sign says, “Can’t Is Not An Option.”

For too long, we have approached the problems facing South Carolina with the question, “Can we get this done?”  It’s the wrong question, and predictably, almost always leads us to the wrong answer.

If we approach our challenges with the mindset that can’t is not an option, and begin to instead ask ourselves the question “How do we get to where we need to go?,” we will give the people of South Carolina a state that every other state in the country looks at and says, “That’s how you do it.”

That’s my South Carolina. 

I know that together, we can make it happen.

Thank you, may God bless, and may He continue to smile on South Carolina.