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Beware Common Core “Lite”

By Dillon Jones
for the S.C. Policy Council

On several recent occasions you may have heard pundits or public officials claim that South Carolina has gotten rid of Common Core. The implication is that the state has retaken power from the federal government over education policy. There’s some truth in that, and it’s certainly encouraging to see some state officials moving in that direction, but to claim South Carolina has regained sovereignty over its academic standards would be — unfortunately — far from the truth.

It’s true that the Legislature passed a bill that that, among other things, requires South Carolina to begin reviewing its current English and math standards — currently Common Core — by Jan. 1, 2015. The bill also specifies that “the new college and career readiness state content standards” must be implemented in the following 2015-16 school year. And it’s true that the State Department of Education, for the next few months led by Superintendent Mick Zais, has strongly indicated that the new standards won’t simply be a “rebranding” of our current Common Core standards.

All good. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Destroyed’ Ethics Commission letter not related to new media policy, director says

By Rick Brundrett, The Nerve

Nearly eight months after a “destroyed” State Ethics Commission letter was provided to The Nerve, the longtime director of the state ethics-watchdog agency still won’t explain how the letter exists despite his earlier statements to the contrary.

But in a written response Friday to The Nerve, Herb Hayden said a pending lawsuit against him and the Ethics Commission in connection with the letter in question has nothing to do with a new media policy announced at last week’s commission meeting.

James Burns, the commission chairman, said during Wednesday’s meeting that for now, all comments to the media on behalf of the agency would come from Hayden – effectively muzzling the agency’s main spokeswoman, Cathy Hazelwood, who serves as the commission’s chief lawyer and deputy director.

Hayden afterward told a reporter from The State newspaper that the main reason for the new media policy was that the commission didn’t “want to give the impression that Cathy as the prosecutor is already predisposed to any particular action on any particular case,” adding, “Her role is to evaluate the evidence presented during an investigation.”

In an email Friday to Hayden, The Nerve asked if the pending lawsuit against him and the commission, or any other specific incident or case, spurred the change in the agency’s media policy.

“The answer to both questions is no,” Hayden responded in writing, though he didn’t reply to a follow-up written question about the suit.

Burns, an attorney with the Nelson Mullins law firm in Columbia, and Christian Stegmaier, an attorney with the Collins and Lacy law firm in Columbia and who represents Hayden and the commission in the suit, referred The Nerve’s questions about the new media policy to Hayden.

In the suit, filed Jan. 10 in Richland County Circuit Court, the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation, a Greenville-based, government watchdog organization, and Edward “Ned” Sloan, the foundation president, contend that Hayden and the commission violated the state Freedom of Information Act by “responding with a falsehood” to The Nerve about the “destroyed” letter.

The Nerve on Sept. 5 sent a request under the FOIA to Hayden for a copy of an Aug. 28 letter written by Hazelwood to Gov. Nikki Haley. In that letter, Hazelwood directed the Republican Haley to reimburse the state for the costs of travel for her and her campaign staff to attend a fundraising event on June 27, 2013, at a North Carolina resort for a group with ties to GOP N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory.

Questions about the trip surfaced after media outlets reported that the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for Haley, had not revealed initially that she was involved in a traffic accident at the resort involving a state-owned vehicle driven by a SLED agent. Haley was not injured, authorities said.

Although Haley’s campaign staff had received campaign contributions that day, Hayden told The Nerve in a Sept. 30 email that when he learned the event was a fundraiser for a “non-profit and not a campaign event, I determined that the letter (written by Hazelwood to Haley) was not necessary.”

Under state law, the governor appoints all nine members of the Ethic Commission’s governing board, with consent of the Legislature. Board members serve five-year terms, though they can continue serving indefinitely in “holdover status” after their terms expire, as The Nerve reported last year.

Hayden in his initial Sept. 26 email response to The Nerve’s FOIA request said only, “No letter was sent to Governor Haley.”

When The Nerve in a follow-up request on Sept. 27 pointed out that the FOIA required the release of the letter regardless of whether it was sent to Haley, Hayden in an email response that day said, “The letter was destroyed when the decision was made that it was not necessary.”

After The Nerve on Sept. 30 requested under the FOIA an electronic copy of the letter, Hayden replied by email that the document was “destroyed, both hard copy and electronic copy.”

The Nerve, however, on Nov. 27 obtained, through another FOIA request, an Aug. 28 email from Hazelwood to Butch Bowers, an attorney for Haley, which contained a scanned, signed copy of the letter. The Nerve initially reported about the existence of the letter in a Dec. 2 story.

“The letter I mailed is attached,” Hazelwood told Bowers in the email, which was copied to Hayden.

Contacted recently about the pending lawsuit against Hayden and the Ethics Commission, veteran media lawyer Jay Bender, who is not involved with the suit, told The Nerve he wasn’t aware of any state court ruling dealing with the issue of whether a government official violated the FOIA by falsely claiming that a requested public record didn’t exist.

“It’s the denial that can trigger the violation, no matter the form of the denial,” Bender said.

Contacted Friday by The Nerve, Greenville lawyer Jim Carpenter, who represents the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation and Sloan in the lawsuit, said he was vacationing and wasn’t aware of the new media policy announced at Wednesday’s Ethics Commission meeting.

Carpenter said the question of whether a “false denial” of the existence of a public record is a violation of the FOIA is “one of the issues still pending in the lawsuit.”

“Common sense would say, ‘Yes,’” Carpenter said.

The suit asks for a judge’s ruling that Hayden and the commission violated the FOIA, the awarding of plaintiff attorney fees and costs as allowed under state law, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

No court hearings have been held yet. Carpenter estimated a ruling likely is “10 to 15 months” from the date of filing of the suit.

In their written response to the suit, Hayden and the commission denied violating the FOIA, contending that the Aug. 28 letter from Hazelwood to Haley was “nothing more than a ‘draft’ and was arguably not a ‘public record’ under the FOIA.” They also said the letter was “never signed nor was it formally transmitted to the governor via the United States Mails.”

In an email Friday to Hayden, The Nerve asked how he could contend in the suit that there was only an unsigned draft of the letter when a signed copy had been obtained by The Nerve.

No response was given.

Reach Brundrett at (803) 254-4411 or rick@thenerve.org.

SC, Immigration and ‘Us vs. Them’

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

First things first: every nation must secure and control its borders. This is not political rhetoric or an ideological judgment but a simple geo-political fact.

Whether it’s the Ukraine and invading Russians, Japan defending obscure costal islands, or ancient Rome resisting Hannibal and his elephants coming over the Alps from Carthage, it is exactly the same. A nation’s borders must be secure.

We in the US need to do this with our southern border with Mexico. We can argue over the need for a fence, or electronic monitoring, or the National Guard holding hands on the banks of the Rio Grande – but whatever it takes we must be able to control and secure our borders.

That said, one of the great tragedies of the current “children’s crisis” is how it is being used to whip up unfounded fears, prejudices and outright hatred.

Our daily newspapers, TV news reports and the Internet are full of stories of the current crisis of children coming over the border. Yes, the crisis is real and though the numbers seem to be declining in the last couple of weeks, clearly we can’t control our borders and this is a serious problem.

But what is equally troubling is that this children’s crisis has sparked a wave of knee-jerk, ideologically-driven protests that have no basis in fact, as well as an even more troubling wave of sleazy politicians who are pandering to the worst instincts and fears of the anti-immigrant protesters.

First, the facts. A whole slew of national and state officials have repeatedly stated that there is no indication that the undocumented children are either being flown or transported by bus to our state. Repeat: no evidence, none, zero. Yet, there have been numerous protests across South Carolina – and others are planned – with the predictable demagogic politicians and wannabes claiming otherwise.

Second, the reaction of too many politicians has been to “blame the children,” when in reality, it is we in the US who must accept a good portion of the blame. Clearly the general poverty south of the border is an ever-present motivation for many to cross into the United States, even if they have to do so illegally. This is why people have come to America – legally and illegally – since the birth of our nation.

But what politicians won’t talk about is that what seems to have sparked this latest children’s crisis is the takeover of whole neighborhoods and cites throughout Central America by drug gangs. These gangs demand that kids join their criminal enterprises – and their wars with other drug gangs – or in many cases be killed outright. Thus, many of these frightened children flee north. Increasingly, responsible national media are documenting this as one of the root causes of the current crisis.

The hard truth that no one talks about is that these drug wars are fought over filling the insatiable demand for illegal drugs by us in the US. If there were no demand for drugs, there would be no drug wars. When was the last time you heard a politician talk about this? It’s easier to blame the children.

What’s lacking are politicians of either party that will stand up and tell the truth about the current crisis and it causes – and not simply indulge in pandering.

This is not new in our state and national history and it’s not just about brown or black or others with different skin color. It’s about “us vs them” – us (who have been here for a while) vs. them (who just arrived).

My family is Scots-Irish; they came to the Upcountry of our state in the 1750s. If you had asked, they’d have told you that they were farmers by tradition, South Carolinians by choice, hard-working and self-reliant by temperament, and Presbyterian by the grace of God. And so they were. But the fine upstanding people of Charleston who had been in South Carolina for a while did not see it that way. One newspaper went so far as to call these newly-arriving Scots-Irish “the scum of two nations.” Us vs. them.

And throughout our country’s history, each new immigrant group has had to fight their way through this prejudice and bias of the “us” who were already here. The Russians, Italians, Poles, Germans, Africans, Greeks and Chinese have all experienced the same fate.

Somehow we seem to have lost sight of our single and most basic shared history as Americans – we are all us. President Franklin Roosevelt said it best when he began a 1939 speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution with the words, “My fellow immigrants…”

So much for political pandering.

For too many, it is a slippery slope from denigrating “them” to their somehow becoming less than human. The denigration of “them” is just one step away from discrimination, then to abuse, and on to hate crimes…and worse.

Hyperbole you say? Well, there are people in our state today who personally witnessed the lynching of our fellow South Carolinians.

Yes, we can solve this crisis and yes we can control our borders.

But when you see the news reports, remember: these are children and this is America. Let’s not forget who we are as a nation, and who made us the great nation we are today.

It was us– all of us — however and whenever we got here.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@philnoble.com   www.SCNewDmeocrats.org

“A Trend” by Walt Inabinet

EC2099

“A Trend” by Walt Inabinet

“Government Waste” by Walt Inabinet

"Government Waste" by Walt Inabinet

“Government Waste” by Walt Inabinet

“The Border” by Walt Inabinet

"The Border" by Walt Inabinet

“The Border” by Walt Inabinet

 

Criminal Charges Possible for New Company’s Cab Drivers

STATE REGULATORS SHOW UP AT ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING, “RUCKUS” ENSUES

By Rick Brundrett for TheNerve.org
July 18, 2014

On June 17, George Parker, a law enforcement officer with the state Office of Regulatory Staff, attended a meeting in Columbia aimed at recruiting drivers for UberX, a popular smartphone-app, ridesharing business that launched Thursday in the Capital City, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

Parker, an ORS transportation program manager, said he went to the event at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel on Lady Street to “obtain information for ORS regarding the driver/partner recruitment process for Uber,” according to a sworn affidavit submitted by him.

What Parker didn’t say in his affidavit, filed with the S.C. Public Service Commission, was that ORS representatives apparently weren’t welcome at the event. Read the rest of this entry »

Supreme Court autopsy ruling trumps public accountability

Bill Rogers

Bill Rogers

By Bill Rogers

For the second time in a month, the S.C. Supreme Court has ruled against openness and punted important issues back to the Legislature for change.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that autopsy records are exempt from release under the FOIA because they are medical records.

Why does this matter to the public?

It matters because the next time police shoot an innocent man, don’t expect the public to have access to the autopsy report giving the details of the death.

That is what this case was about… the shooting of an innocent suspect. Supposedly in self-defense. Problem is, the autopsy showed the suspect in Sumter County was shot in the back.

Can you see now why autopsy records should be public?

This is a terrible ruling that will allow coroners to withhold information the public has a need to know.

This case was really about public oversight, and the public lost.

The public also lost a few weeks ago when the high court ruled that not only could public bodies change meeting agendas at the last minute without notifying the public, but that agendas for public meetings were not even required.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve got enough sense to read this part of the FOIA: “All public bodies shall notify persons or organizations, local news media, or such other news media as may request notification of the times, dates, places and agenda of all public meetings…”

Pretty clear to a layman. But the court chose to focus on the wording for notification of regularly scheduled meetings at the beginning of the calendar year, where the wording said that notice must include the agenda, “if any.” If you announce a meeting to be held in October at the start of the calendar year, I can’t imagine having a meaningful agenda prepared. The law made it clear later that agendas must be available 24 hours in advance.
Why is this a problem for the public?

Because you won’t know what your councils or school boards will be discussing, so you won’t be able to  participate in the discussion.
These rulings send us back to secret government.

Sure, the Legislature can fix this. But will they? For the last two years, efforts at FOIA reform have failed.

It will fail again if the public and the media don’t demand FOIA and ethics reform.

Bill Rogers is executive director of the S.C. Press Association, the trade group for South Carolina’s 110 newspapers.

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“Attaboy Harry” by Walt Inabinet

"Attaboy Harry" by Walt Inabinet

“Attaboy Harry” by Walt Inabinet

“Time Lapse” by Walt Inabinet

"Time Lapse" by Walt Inabinet

“Time Lapse” by Walt Inabinet

Supreme Court Supporting Secrecy in Harrell Case?

By Rick Brundrett for TheNerve.org
July 14, 2014

All courts shall be public, and every person shall have speedy remedy therein for wrongs sustained. – Article 1, Section 9, S.C. Constitution.

South Carolina’s top court, however, apparently ignored the first part of the above sentence last week in its ruling involving House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

The S.C. Supreme Court in Wednesday’s ruling about the state grand jury investigation of Harrell recommended that any future “ancillary” legal arguments concerning the speaker’s case be held behind closed doors – giving what Harrell wanted, but didn’t get, in the beginning.

Several attorneys, each with years of state grand jury experience but who asked not to be identified, told The Nerve that they believe the justices – despite ruling that the state grand jury investigation could continue – slipped in the secrecy recommendation in a footnote to help Harrell.

“It seems to reaffirm the secrecy that Harrell wanted in the first place,” said one attorney. Read the rest of this entry »

‘While I breathe I hope’ – Really?

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

South Carolina’s motto, ‘While I breathe I hope’, is surely the most optimistic statement any one can make. Despite all, if we can draw a breath, we are hopeful and optimistic.

I’m sure most people don’t pay attention to such things, or even know what our state motto is, but ‘While I breathe I hope’ gives great solace to me. I am an optimist by nature and when it comes to the future and fortunes of my beloved native state, I sometimes vacillate widely between despair and hope. (Today’s newspaper says we’re 50th in something again). But somehow through it all, I seem to usually come out on the ‘hope’ side.

All this got me to thinking about other state mottos and what they say about these states. Presumably somebody didn’t just sit in a closet and make these up; somehow they must have some value or meaning about the state, their history and their character.

First the basics; all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories have an official motto. Only Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands don’t have a motto and for these tropical island cultures, maybe they should both just adopt the motto ‘Who cares?’

Most states’ mottos are in English or Latin. South Carolina, North Dakota and Kentucky have two official mottos. Our other one is ‘Ready in soul and resources’, which seems a bit off to me. We as a county have two mottos as well, sorta. Since Colonial days, E Pluribus Unum (One out of many) has been on the official national seal, but it was never officially adopted as our motto. That honor went to ‘In God we trust’, but it seems like we didn’t get around to making this one official until 1956.

After looking at the official state motto of all 50 states, it seems that they fall into five basic categories:

First, are the traditional, positive and often pious mottos. Examples of these are Arizona’s ‘God enriches’, New York’s ‘Ever upward’, Wisconsin’s ‘Forward’, Colorado’s ‘Nothing without providence’ and American Samoa’s ‘Samoa, let God be first’. Pretty standard stuff.

Second are mottos that tell you where the state is. For example: Alaska’s ‘North to the future’, Indiana’s ‘The crossroads of America’, Minnesota’s ‘Star of the north’. Michigan’s motto has a strange geographic twist: ‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you’.

The third group could be called the feisty mottos. These all express some sense of truculence or defiance which is understandable in that many of these, especially those in the original 13 Colonies were written at the time of the Revolution. Delaware is ‘Liberty and independence’, Massachusetts, ‘By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty’, Virginia, ‘Death to tyrants’, Pennsylvania, ‘Virtue, liberty and independence’. New Hampshire’s motto, ‘Live free or die’, is one of the few state mottoes that have managed to become at least somewhat well-known outside of the state.

The fourth group of mottos are the short ones, often only a single word. Rhode Island’s is ‘Hope’, Texas’s ‘Friendship, Utah ‘Industry’, Maine’s ‘I lead’, Montana’s ‘Gold and silver’, Tennessee’s ‘Agriculture and Commerce’. And the only motto in Greek is California’s ‘Eureka’ (I have found it).

The fifth group are my favorites; these are the ones that are just strange and even weird. New Mexico’s is ‘It grows as it goes’, Washington’s ‘Bye and bye’, and Maryland’s ‘Manly deeds, womanly words’. My all-time favorite in this category is Puerto Rico, whose motto is ‘John is his name’. I have no idea what this means but since it is the oldest motto, dating to 1511, and is in Latin, we can assume something got lost in translation over the years.

So, mottos are like names; everyone has to have one even if it doesn’t always make sense or seem to fit. And we in South Carolina have ours – both of them.

As for me, ‘While I breathe I hope’ is pretty darn good. On most days it keeps me optimistic about our state even if the morning newspaper says we are 50th again on a good list or 1st again on a bad one.

While I breathe I hope… pass it on.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group stated by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnedemocrats.org   www.SCNewDemocrats.org

“Basket Case” by Walt Inabinet

"Basket Case" by Walt Inabinet

“Basket Case” by Walt Inabinet

“S.C. State” by Walt Inabinet

"S.C. State" by Walt Inabinet

“S.C. State” by Walt Inabinet

“Mom ‘N Pop” by Walt Inabinet

"Mom 'N Pop" by Walt Inabinet

“Mom ‘N Pop” by Walt Inabinet

SC vs GA vs KY vs TN – It’s Not about SEC Football

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

by Phil Noble

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, also known as the AJC, has always had a very special role in the South and for me personally. And, on a recent trip to Atlanta, several AJC stories, all published on the same day, provided a wakeup call about the challenges we in South Carolina face relative to other states in the South.

Originally two separate papers formed after the Civil War, The Constitution was the morning paper with a liberal bent and The Journal was its afternoon conservative rival. These papers represented the competing voices of the South and they produced many of the great writers, journalists and thinkers that have defined our region – Henry Grady, father of The New South; Joel Chandler Harris and his Uncle Remus columns; Margret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind; sports writers Grantland Rice and Furman Bisher. The editors, Ralph McGill and Reg Murphy, were leading voices for moderation during the civil rights struggle and their columns and opinions reverberated across the whole region – widely cussed and discussed but never ignored.

The AJC was so dominant across the South that their long-time motto seemed to encapsulate its influence – “Covers Dixie Like the Dew.”

My mother’s family lived in Decatur, just outside of Atlanta and we often went there for holiday and family occasions. For me, as a young boy living in the small-town South, on every trip I’d eagerly read the AJC, as if it were the enlightened oracle of the capital city of my beloved South.

Other than providing a little regional and personal history lesson, why should we pay attention to the AJC today? Because, despite the rise internet bloggers, online pundits and the consolidation of national media chains that offer up the daily homogenous news accounts, today the AJC is the only paper that still tries to cover the South as a region and at least attempts to put it all in regional perspective.

Thus, on July 2, on a single day this week, three very different stores in the AJC highlighted some of the triumphs and challenges that we in South Carolina face as we try to be competitive among our neighboring states in the region.

Story one – Georgia and corporate headquarters. Buried at the bottom of page A 11, there was a report that Veritiv Corp, a packaging company, was being created by the merger of two existing companies and would be moving its headquarters to Norcross, just outside of Atlanta. Veritiv will have $10 billion in revenues and 9,500 employees. Buried even deeper in the story was the mention that this would be the 18th Fortune 500 Company headquartered in the state, and that another Michigan company, PulteGroup was also on the way to boost the number to 19.

South Carolina has no Fortune 500 company headquarters – zero. (Technically, Domtar Corp is listed as a SC company but they only have one facility here and they list the head office as Montreal.) As for the rest of the South, our other neighbor, North Carolina, has 13, Virginia 23, Florida 15, Tennessee 9, Arkansas 6, and Kentucky 5. It’s small comfort that economically we are in the same category as Alabama with 1 and Mississippi with 0. The other state of the old Confederacy is the economic behemoth of Texas with 50.

Story two – Kentucky and same sex marriage. Few issues have flipped quicker from an issue of social division to mainstream acceptance than same sex marriage. Just as in the 1960’s, when many corporations would not locate in the South because of our racial policies, today this is beginning to happen around issues of sexual equality. The ACJ reported that since the US Supreme Court ruling of June 2013, every federal court to consider same sex marriage has found bans to be unconstitutional. This week, Kentucky became the 18th state to overturn the ban.

South Carolina has been among the slowest of states to move on this; by many standards we are moving in the wrong direction. The question is when will SC act – will we become one of the last states to accept this major social change? When will our intransigence start to cost us, the way our intransigence on civil rights has for more than a generation now?

Story three – Tech in Tennessee. One doesn’t normally think of Tennessee, or South Carolina for that matter, as a high-tech state, but they have set a bold and audacious goal that will propel them in that direction. Gov. Bill Haslam has set the goal of making his state “the number one state in the Southeast to launch and grow a business.” And he’s putting his money and credibility where his mouth is. They have just launched a $50 million INCITE initiative (Innovation, Commercialization, Investment, Technology and Entrepreneurship). Their recent innovative Southland SE conference attracted startups from 10 states and, as one journalist that covered the conference said, Tennessee is leading the South in “ambition.”

So what does all this mean for South Carolina? The short answer is that even if we in South Carolina are on the right track – and we are – we will still get run over by the train if we don’t move fast enough.

We as a state are making progress in many areas – new business recruitment, changing social attitudes and lifting our vision from making excuses for “poor ole South Carolina” – but it’s not enough. We need to move faster, more boldly, and with a lot more urgency and ambition.

One day’s read of the AJC tells the story. The South is rising again, and the rest of it is rising faster than South Carolina.

We can do better – and we must.

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform. phil@scnewdemocrats.org   www.SCNewDemocrats.org

Field is set for the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2014

Field is set for the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray

No more bubbles. No more wondering. And for 45 anglers, no more worrying about whether they’ll get an invitation to the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murraypresented by Walmart and hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country.

With the conclusion of the Walmart FLW Tour season at Kentucky Lake as well as the Angler of the Year race, all the Cup slots are now filled.

The top 35 pros from the AOY race get invited to the Cup; however, Andy Morgan (2013 Tour AOY), Randall Tharp (2013 Cup champion) and Dan Morehead (2013 Rayovac FLW Series Central Division AOY) double-qualified this season. So FLW extended three additional invitations to the 36th- through 38th-place pros. The lucky anglers who gained access via the extra slots are Alabama pro Barry Wilson, local favorite Anthony Gagliardi and Castrol pro Philip Jarabeck.

In addition to Tour qualifiers, Cup spots go to the 2013 Rayovac FLW Series AOYs in each of five divisions, the Walmart BFL All-American champ, the FLW College Fishing national champion and The Bass Federation national champion.

The first angler out of the Cup this season is Luke Clausen, who finished 39th in AOY points. Other noteworthy anglers who barely missed making the Cup are former Rookie of the Year front-runner Shane Lehew (40th), 2007 Cup champ Scott Suggs (42nd), 2009 Cup champ Greg Hackney (45th) and deep-water expert Troy Morrow (43rd).

This year’s field includes five former Cup champions and six Angler of the Year winners. Gagliardi and Casey Ashley are the only in-state qualifiers, while Tennessee leads all states with eight qualifiers.

Here’s the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup pro roster:

2014 Walmart FLW Tour

Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C.

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.

Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark.

Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala.

Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla.

Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky.

Robbie Dodson, Harrison, Ark.

David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va.

Brent Ehrler, Redlands Calif.

Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas

Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C.

Matt Greenblatt, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn.

Matt Herren, Ashville, Ala.

Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz.

Charlie Ingram, Centerville, Tenn.

Philip Jarabeck, Lynchburg, Va.

Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala.

Brad Knight, Wartburg, Tenn.

Jason Lambert, Pickwick Dam, Tenn.

Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif.

Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla.

Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, Wis.

Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn.

Richard Peek, Centre, Ala.

Mark Rose, West Memphis, Ark.

Shad Schenck, Waynetown, Ind.

Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark.

Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis.

Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn.

Austin Terry, San Angelo, Texas

Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C.

Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind.

Barry Wilson, Birmingham, Ala.

Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn.

2013 Angler of the Year

Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn.

2013 Forrest Wood Cup Champion

Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla.

2013 Rayovac FLW Series Division AOYs

Tony Davis, Williston, Fla.

Stephen Johnston, Hemphill, Texas

Jeff Michels, Lakehead, Calif.

Dan Morehead, Paducah, Ky.

Joseph Wood, Westport, Mass.

2014 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American Champion

Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo.

2014 FLW College Fishing National Champion

Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn.

2014 The Bass Federation National Champion

James Biggs, Richland Hills, Texas

For more information about the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray presented by Walmart and hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country, visit ForrestWoodCup.com

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Spirit Communications named one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For additional information, contact:
Roddy Broadnax, Director of Marketing
roddy@spiritcom.com
803-726-7013

Spirit Communications named one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina

 Local telecommunications provider honored for its exceptional benefits, collaborative work environment, and culture of mutual respect and trust.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (July 1, 2014)Spirit Communications, a premier provider of voice, data and Internet services in the Carolinas, has been named one of the 2014 Best Places to Work in South Carolina by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Best Companies Group and SCBIZ. This exciting initiative, managed by independent research firm Best Companies Group, is dedicated to finding and recognizing the state’s most innovative and top-notch employers.

Spirit, a first-time participant in the survey, is the only telecommunications company in the small/medium employer category to be recognized for this distinguished award. Its culture of openness and transparency has laid the groundwork for stable profits, satisfied clients, and employees who feel empowered to make a real difference.

“What a terrific time to be a part of the Spirit Team,” said Bob Keane, president and CEO of Spirit Communications. “We’ve been executing on a multi-year growth plan that has required all hands on deck. The entire team has tackled the challenge head on; surpassing our financial goals and creating a fun and inspiring work environment along the way. I’m thrilled with this recognition and proud of what our employees have accomplished individually as well as for our customers.”

VP Human Resources, Julie Cathcart, has been with Spirit Communications for 19 of its 20 years. “I have always felt that Spirit was a great place to work – even during the difficult times. I’ve had countless opportunities to expand my skills here, with many fabulous coaches and mentors. Our culture is truly special: a unique blend of respect, trust and passion that motivates you to put your best foot forward every day.” Technical Consultant, Seth Krisnow, comments on Spirit’s culture of empowerment. “In my role, I collaborate with employees at every level of the company – across all locations and divisions. Everyone here has a voice. We work hard, play hard, and creative thinking is not only encouraged but expected.”

Spirit, along with the other S.C. winners, will be recognized during an awards dinner, presented by Colonial Life, August 7 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Columbia. Specific company rankings will be shared during the celebration.

About Best Places to Work
The Best Places to work initiative is designed to encourage S.C. firms to strive for workplace excellence. Companies are judged on factors including leadership and planning, culture and communication, role satisfaction, work environment, relationship with supervisor, training and development, pay and benefits, and overall satisfaction. In addition to company benefits and practices, input is collected directly from detailed employee surveys.
 
About Spirit Communications
Headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, Spirit Communications provides voice, data, Internet and fiber optic solutions, along with a full suite of Cloud services to commercial businesses and government agencies across the Southeast. The company’s mission is to enable customers to transform their operations through fast, stable and secure offerings that flex with business demand. Ranked among the top 25 privately held firms in South Carolina, Spirit serves thousands of customers in over 150 service locations throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.spiritcom.com.

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Certified Barbeque Judging class coming to Columbia

June 30, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

Lake High, President
SC Barbeque Association
PO Box 363
Irmo, SC
(803) 782-9595

Certified Barbeque Judging class coming to Columbia

The South Carolina Barbeque Association will hold a class in Columbia to train new barbeque judges this July.

The SCBA has held classes in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Lexington, Beaufort, Greenville, Aiken and Florence but Columbia is a favorite location since it is central to the whole state and the SCBA tries to hold at least one seminar in Columbia each year.

This all-day seminar is designed to start a person on the path to becoming a full-fledged Certified Barbeque Judge.  It is the first of a five step process towards that goal.

The barbeque judging class in Columbia will be held on Saturday, July 12. The class will use the recreation hall at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1715 Bull St, in the heart of Columbia. The seminar that will last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Cost is $45, which includes lunch.  Membership in SCBA is $35.

Anyone interested who would like to become a Certified Barbeque Judge should contact Lake High, President of the SCBA, at Lhigh1@sc.rr.com for information on how to join the South Carolina Barbeque Association and how to become a Certified Judge.

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“Bday USA” by Walt Inabinet

"Bday USA" by Walt Inabinet

“Bday USA” by Walt Inabinet