Archive for category Columns

The Best Schools in the U.S. … and S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Did you ever wonder what a truly great school looks like?

Politicians, business people, teachers, etc. all talk about how we need, want and deserve great schools. But no one ever really describes what a great school looks like.

So, in doing research with the U.S. News and World Report rankings of high schools, I was amazed to learn that the top three high schools, and five of the top seven in the country, were all run by BASIS – a chain of 27 tuition free, charter, private and international schools in five states, Washington, D.C. and China.

There are lots of organizations that rank and rate schools but most people generally agree that U.S. New and World Report is one of the best and its website is certainly one of the most useful. Go and look around on the site as they have tons of information on 22,000 high schools, charter schools and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools nationwide – all broken down and searchable by state.

On the site, there is data about individual schools including the ratings of the top 47 high schools in South Carolina. Academic Magnet School in Charleston was rated #1 in the state and 11th nationally – that’s pretty terrific. (Also, in a different ranking by another organization, Laing Middle School in Mt. Pleasant was recently named as the #1 STEM middle school in the country – that’s even more terrific!)

But, for the state’s other top 17 high schools, the site shows their ranking among the 22,000 high schools nationwide – it’s pretty depressing. Today, South Carolina’s #2 school ranks 271 nationally, our #5 school ranks 918 nationally, our #10 school ranks 1,580 nationally and, our #15 school ranks 2,348 nationally.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Forever the Wood Brothers

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

I am willing to wager that mine wasn’t the only dry eye in the Palmetto State when Ryan Blaney claimed his first-ever Monster Energy Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway on June 11, driving the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing. In fact, I’m a little surprised our little ol’ state didn’t wash away entirely on a sea of happy tears.

Way back in the 1990s, I lived in Illinois for three years. Specifically, I lived in Chicago, home of deep-dish pizza, excellent music, Al Capone during his time as “Public Enemy Number One,” the always beleaguered Cubs, and the famous 12-foot statue of Michael Jordon in mid-flight, its granite base bearing the inscription: “The best there ever was. The best there will ever be.”

I had a blast, save for one thing. I lived in a different state in a different part of the country for three years, but all I remember about Illinois is Chicago.

Those of you who enjoy a little roulette with your road trips have probably traveled to Nevada a time or two. After a long flight, Las Vegas rises up out of the desert like the Emerald City, if the yellow brick road was crowded with casinos, the munchkins were dealing blackjack, and Dorothy wore a feathered tiara along with her ruby stilettos.

The earliest human skeletons found in the U.S. were hauled out of a cave in the Silver State, and Levi’s blue jeans were invented there, but all I really know about Nevada is Las Vegas.

Back on the eastern side of the country lies South Carolina, home of one of America’s top three beaches (Myrtle Beach) and its number-one dining destination (Charleston). As the home of stock car racing’s original superspeedway, however, as far as sports fans are concerned, Darlington is the true home of NASCAR, and that’s all they really know, or care, about South Carolina.

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Living on Purpose: God will never forget or forsake you

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Have you ever known someone who was even-tempered and composed even when circumstances seemed to be falling apart all around them? In times of a serious crisis, somehow these individuals remain calm and collected and in fact, it’s not unusual to see them comforting the very ones who came to help. So, what is the secret to living in a peaceful state of mind? It’s coming to the point in our journey where we simply begin to realize who God is. For Christians, it only makes sense this would include believing what He has said is true. It may sound rather elementary, but having a passion for knowing God more personally will go a long way toward learning to trust Him.

Life has its share of wonderful times where we enjoy the blessings and have delightful experiences and then there are also times that are devastating and disappointing. Have you noticed that when we are on the mountaintop, unfortunately, we tend to forget about God because we are so distracted with our pleasures. Then, after this season has passed, we find ourselves walking through a dark and discouraging valley, and immediately call out to Him because we want to go back to the good times. It’s true, this fluctuation is a normal part of life but it’s not the way God intended for His people to live. His plan is for us to mature beyond our emotions and become more spiritually connected with Him whether we are walking through abundance or adversity. Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 5 and 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” If we look at this carefully, He is actually talking about becoming more spiritually sensitive and would love for us to consult Him not only in times of crisis and emergency but every day.

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Simple, Easy and Wrong Answers for S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”  H. L. Mencken

The South Carolina Legislature seems to live by this. We have some very big and complex problems in this state and our legislators are masters at coming up with clear, simple and wrong answers. Three stories in the news last week are a perfect illustration of this.

Many would argue that the two most basic core functions of our state government are to 1) educate our children and 2) keep us safe … and dealing with the related issue of how do we pay for these things.

First the problems and then the (wrong) answers.

Education. Readers of this space are probably tired of reading this line – but it is still true and I’ll keep writing it until it’s not: if we don’t fix education in this state, nothing else really matters.

Keep two facts in mind. 1) A recent study by the US News and World Report rated our state’s education system (K-12 and higher ed) as 50th in the country. 2) After a 21-year legal battle (yes 21 years), the state Supreme Court ruled that the state does not provide a ‘minimally adequate’ education for about a third of the students in the state, i.e. the Corridor of Shame schools. The courts have ordered the legislature to come up with a plan to do something about this educational travesty.

Against this background, the state passed legislation this session to provide an additional $140 million for K-12 education. Let’s break this down – $29 million for new school buses, $60 million to increase the per pupil funding to $2,425 and $55 million for school building repairs in low income districts.

Spending $140 million more on education sounds great, right? The legislators will now brag to the folks back home that they have done something about education.

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Living on Purpose: The bond of love we have with our pets

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Within two weeks of each other, my son and daughter-in-law took both of their dogs to the vet to end their suffering. Juno and Bishop were so loving and gentle. They were rescued a few years ago, but sadly they both had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It’s very difficult to go through this, but our sincere love and respect does not to want to see them suffer. When my wife and I would visit, Juno would always bring us this huge chew bone and Bishop would wrap his legs around ours like he was hugging us. Of course, my son and his wife are very upset, and we can definitely relate as we have also said goodbye to several dogs through the years. I remember our Boston Terrier Katy, and the sorrow I felt when they put her to sleep. I was rocking her like you would hold a baby and she was staring into my eyes like she had done since she was a baby. I believe us being present in their last moments is very comforting to them and I cannot help but believe they trust us to do the right thing.

A couple of weeks after I had written a rough draft of this column, we came home to find our beloved French bulldog Sampson had unexpectedly passed away. We have taken it hard and miss him very much. I would kid around with my wife in the evenings when Sam would snuggle on the couch with us that he was the recipient of a lot of grand-baby love – ha! In fact, I do not even call them dogs, but I admit I refer to them as “children.” When I say, let’s go to bed children, they march to the kitchen for their bedtime treat and go straight to their designated areas for the evening. We do not have grandchildren yet and our dogs are so spoiled it’s comical. You know, I’m sure that some will think I’m silly, but a pet over time becomes much like a close family member and to some people the bond may be even stronger than any relationship they have with a human. Only those who are deeply attached to their animals would understand.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Bubba Wallace

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

One of the most exciting things to happen in NASCAR in a very long time didn’t happen during a race. Rather, it happened when someone in Richard Petty Motorsports’ PR department hit “Send.”

NASCAR team press releases are a dime a dozen. It is not uncommon for every team in each of NASCAR’s top racing series to send out two or three of them each week. There’s one recapping the previous week’s race, and yet another one previewing the next event. There are qualifying reports, and updates on current sponsor promotions, and releases on what Dale Earnhardt Jr. ate for breakfast.

But not this one. Short and very matter-of-fact, an RPM release on June 5 contained the following information:

Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that NASCAR XFINITY Series regular Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will pilot the No. 43 Ford while Aric Almirola recovers from his injuries. Wallace brings five years of NASCAR experience in both the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series and has been a member of the Ford Performance team since 2015. Wallace, a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and inaugural member of NASCAR Next, will make his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway this weekend.

The 23-year-old Mobile, Ala., native has five years of experience in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, where he’s tallied five wins, 20 Top Fives, 60 Top 10s and five Pole awards.

There is news … and then there is NEWS.

There is so little diversity in the sport of stock car that I’m surprised no one has started a #NASCARsowhite Twitter campaign yet. So it will be a very big deal when Wallace makes his Monster Energy Cup Series debut on June 11 at Pocono Raceway, becoming the first black driver since Bill Lester in June of 2006 to compete at NASCAR’s premier level.

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McMaster, Trump and Saving the Planet (and S.C.)

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

On Saturday morning, the newspaper landed with its usual thud on my front porch. As I bent over to pick it up I saw the headline, “McMaster Backs Trump’s Exit from Climate Accord.”

Instantly, I remember the words from a radio interview the day before with English businessman Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines and Records et. al) about Trump’s action. He said, “When the leaders won’t lead, the people will have to just get on with saving the planet; we have no choice.”

Therein lies the problem and the solution to the most important issue on the planet – the survival of the planet.

First about the Agreement. Wikipedia does a good job of laying out the facts:  the Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The voluntary (repeat voluntary) language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 countries and adopted in December 2015.

To date, 195 countries have signed the agreement. The two who haven’t are Nicaragua (who thinks the Agreement is too weak) and Syria because – well they are Syria.

Now, with Trump’s decision, Syria has a partner, the United States. (Makes you proud to stand with mass killer Bashar al Assad on this, right?)

And the science. Now there are some who deny that climate change is real. The White House has refused to say if President Trump believes climate change is real. Climate change deniers point to a few scientists and studies that question if climate change is a hoax – excuse me, but no.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Nothing is impossible with God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I never grow weary of writing about prayer because to me it’s the heart of our spiritual communication with God. Even though I believe that our heavenly Father listens and all things are possible with Him, I must admit I do not pray like I should. We realize our spirit is willing but unfortunately our flesh is weak and has every intention to prevent us from connecting with the Almighty. In fact, there is hostility between the carnal mind that is governed by our human nature and anything that is associated with God including our new transformed spirit that is dedicated to knowing and serving Him. This explains why praying is much easier to talk about than to do. As the popular English minister F.B. Meyer once said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but neglected prayer.”

Of course, we know there is no problem too large or small for the Lord to take care of. His long list of divine attributes includes being the creator and authority over all things and accepting that He is in total control gives us a wonderful sense of peace and security. We are motivated to pray when convinced that He desires to intervene and is concerned with even the smallest details of our life. He may not always give us the answer we are seeking but that does not take away from the reality that He is working in our best interest. “Do not be worried or anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.

I have the privilege to be a free-lance columnist for many newspapers around the country and I take this responsibility seriously. Anyway, I was cleaning house the other day, mopping and vacuuming, (yes, men do such things), and I was casually talking with the Lord about how I had been trying for several months but had been unable to make any contacts with editors from a particular state as if the door was locked and how I needed Him to do the impossible. While thanking Him for His blessings I felt compelled to kneel in front of the couch and pour my heart out to Him. A couple of hours later, I returned to my office and while routinely checking email messages, I opened one of them and – you guessed it! It was from a large newspaper in the very state I had been praying about, saying they would love to run my column every Saturday in their religion page. Can you imagine the expression on my face? This may not be a big deal to some, but to me it was nothing less than amazing! I nearly cried as just a short while earlier I had called upon Him in faith, to please help me and make a way where there seemed to be no way. I admitted that I had done all I could do and I needed His super-natural power. This was not a coincidence, and I believe it’s just one of the millions of daily demonstrations where God steps in and performs a miracle according to His perfect will. Jeremiah 29:12 says, “You shall call upon Me, and you shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.”  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The mic drop

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

The Coca-Cola 600 on May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway gave us yet another first-time winner, as Austin Dillon in the No. 3 took a gamble on fuel and won the jackpot. In the manner of all drivers who claim their first checkered flag in NASCAR’s premier racing series – David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth, just to name a few — it was an exciting moment and a great story.

But it wasn’t the best story. That honor belongs to Kyle Busch, who finished second.

NASCAR requires the top three finishers in each race to come to infield media center for a little question-and-answer session with the press corps. It’s usually pretty status quo stuff, questions about things like changing two tires rather than four, or why the driver made certain decisions during the race.

Sometimes the Q&A is comical, and sometimes it’s contentious, but it’s always interesting, and can take quite a while in the case of a particularly eventful race. Believe it or not, some of those drivers are quite the little chatterboxes.

As the winner heads to Victory Lane, the second through fifth-place finishers are held on pit road for interviews. An obviously upset Kyle Busch had plenty to say.

“We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t the right game. We came up short and finished second,” he said. “It’s a frustrating night, man. I am so, so disappointed. I don’t know. There’s nothing we could’ve done different. We just ran our own race and did what we needed to do for what we had going on and came up short.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Archie Parnell should be in the U.S. Congress

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The U.S. Congress today is hyper-partisan, divisive, shallow, parochial, corrupted by money, driven by special interest, dominated by career politicians, poisoned by personal attacks, disrespectful of the voters, focused on the short term and rigidly ideological.

Archie Parnell should be in Congress because he is none of these things.

Most people in South Carolina have never heard of Archie Parnell and it is only recently that he has become more widely known once he decided to run for Congress in the special election in the 5th Congressional District. The election is on June 20.

First about Archie and then about the election.

Archie is a South Carolina home boy who grew up here, went away and made good, and came home to do something to help his neighbors and his home state. It’s really that simple.

A native South Carolinian, Archie graduated from Sumter High School and then went on to USC and USC Law School. He became a tax attorney and worked in the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and the House Ways and Means Committee – back when the Congress was a civil place where people of different parties actually got along with each other.

From there Archie went on to have a very impressive career in business both in the U.S. and abroad working with some of the largest companies in the world.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Remembering the high cost of freedom

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Every year in early June, we observe Memorial Day and remember the anniversary of the Normandy invasion of World War II commonly called D-day. By the way, the “D” simply stands for whatever day a military assault is planned. For example; D-3 meant three days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day. On June 6th 1944, America and her allies engaged in one of the most significant military operations of the 20th century. I have been personally touched by war and have a deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice that men and women give to protect our country. My mother’s brother, Kenny Maye was killed in Korea and I have his tags, casket flag and one picture of him. He was only 20 years old in 1950. Sadly, his existence is nearly unknown and I often wonder about the life he could have had. To everyone that has sacrificed for this great nation, I sincerely thank you for your service.

I live a couple miles from a National military cemetery and its close enough to the highway to see over twelve thousand perfectly lined white marble tombstones. I am sure there are many who drive past with hardly thinking about how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To defend and protect our freedom – whatever the cost! Do you and I have convictions that strong? The first Amendment was not only signed into existence with ink, but with the blood of over 1.1 million Americans that have died in U.S. wars along with even more that have suffered with physical and mental difficulties. For instance, the privilege we have to publicly communicate what is on our mind are liberties that have come at a great price and we should not take them for granted.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: NASCAR loves the troops

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

The story I would like to tell this week is not my own, but I believe it is one we can all embrace.

I could go a different route. We could talk about how, although I do believe NASCAR needs an annual All-Star Race, I’d prefer that they come up with a format that isn’t completely incomprehensible and yes, I’m gonna say it … boring.

I could dredge up my ancient joke about I’ve had marriages that didn’t last as long as the Memorial Day weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. We could talk about how you could read a sizable chunk of War and Peace and actually find it more exciting than the event, or hop on a plane during the pre-race show and be in Costa Rica before the checkered flag drops.

This race is LONG … but it’s also very meaningful to the body that sanctions it. When it comes to recognizing and very publicly honoring our military, no one does it better than NASCAR, who considers it not only necessary, but a top priority.

This year, activities to honor those who have sacrificed their lives have been ongoing throughout the week, with probably the best-known being the #NASCARSalutes social media campaign.

This is much more than just another of the many ubiquitous hashtag campaigns constantly popping up on our various platforms like dandelions. NASCAR takes this program very seriously. The names of fallen military service members are placed on the front windshields of all the Cup Series cars in the Coca-Cola 600, and specially-prepared Honor and Remember flags are displayed  throughout the garage area, representing those who have died in service from each of the 50 United States.  Read the rest of this entry »

Leapfrog Progress for S.C.?  Focus on Innovation/Digital

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

For hundreds of years, we in Western society have thought about things with a lineal and increment mind set. Progress – in society, commerce, science, engineering, etc., – was believed to be something that happens sequentially, usually slowly, with one step leading to another. This mindset is embedded in how we think about things and express ourselves “steady as she goes… one step at a time… the tortoise wins the race, etc.”

Yes, there have always been breakthroughs that brought big change but they were rare and it usually took years for the effect of the breakthrough to have a widespread impact throughout the general population. But digital innovation has now changed everything. A few examples:

Adoption: When electricity was first harnessed in 1873, it took 46 years for it to reach 25% of the U.S. population. The first television was invented in 1926 and it took 26 years to reach this 25% mark. The first mobile phones hit the market in 1983 and only 13 years later 25% of us had one. Invented in 1991, it took the internet only 8 years to reach 25% of the U.S. population.

Nature of Business: Consider this – the largest transportation company in the world, Uber, has no cars or trucks. The largest accommodations company in the world, Airbnb, owns no hotels or motels. The largest photography company, Instagram, sells no cameras or related products. The largest US retailer, Amazon, has no stores. The largest media content company in the world, Facebook, produces no content.

Companies Growth: Uber began in 2009 and in five years their valuation of $66 billion was greater than General Motors, Ford or Honda. Airbnb began in 2008 and has a $31 billion valuation, greater than Hyatt or Inter-Continental Hotels. Instagram started in 2010 has a $37 billion valuation and Kodak is now bankrupt. Facebook began in 2004 and its current valuation is $430 billion. And the ‘old digital company’ Amazon started in 1994 and is now worth $959 billion and Walmart’s valuation is $78 billion.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Living in the awareness of God’s presence

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Here is a touching story found in John chapter 12 about humble servants love for her Lord. Verse 3 reads, “Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Judas managed the finances for the ministry of Jesus and was angry about how the perfume should have been sold and the money used to help the poor. Jesus spoke up and said, “Leave her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor, always you have with you; but me you have not always.” We can picture this scene in our minds as a beautiful example of the importance of having our priorities in the right place. Mary was not intimidated by the criticism of the world because she was mesmerized in the holy aura of God’s presence. She discarded what this realm considered logical and practical and was only concentrating on the revelation of who He was. Her personal relationship with Jesus was her highest calling and nothing was more important than becoming one with Him. This is a glimpse of humility that has made the bold decision to be free from embarrassment and fear and is determined to live and serve God whatever the cost.

Pure and love are not two words that we often connect together because much of what we know about love in this world is not always pure. We are flawed humans and realize that love many times has a slightly twisted angle or ulterior motive. Within our dysfunctions, it’s common to feel that we need to earn someone’s love as we learn how to exchange and trade love in order to receive it. However, the wonder and beauty of God’s love is not based on how much we can do or how well we perform. He loves us with a pure unconditional love which means that even in our worst moments – He loves us just the same. When we receive this revelation of His pure love for us, we are broken and drawn to express our sincere love back to Him through worship. When Jesus was on the cross, we were on His mind and we will forever bow before Him in gratitude. To recognize who He is and to love Him with all of our strength, mind and soul is all that He has ever wanted. What more can He say, what more can He do?  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Almirola

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It bugs me more than a little bit that, prior to the recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, most of us never gave much more than a passing thought to Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola, if we ever thought about him at all.

That all changed on May 13 when, rather than enjoying racing under the lights at Kansas, we watched Almirola being cut out of his mangled car, strapped to a backboard and airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center. The incident was the result of a fiery, terrifying collision which also involved Joey Logano and Danica Patrick.

What bothers me the most is the reaction that most of us probably had as we watched the aftermath of the wreck: “He’ll be OK.” It seems we have become so inured to watching drivers walk away unscathed from horrific accidents – usually the most exciting part of any race – that we take it for granted they’re going to be fine.

Thankfully, this was true in Almirola’s case, more or less. The hospital kept him overnight for observation, then released him with a diagnosis of a compression fracture to the T5 vertebra. He is currently recovering at his home in North Carolina, and according to an RPM press release, his driving status has yet to be determined.

There’s never a good time to be cut out of a car, but from a professional viewpoint, the incident was particularly unfortunate for Almirola. He’s been having a pretty good year. Prior to the Kansas race, he was 23rd in the Cup Series standings, just 62 points outside of the current cutoff with 17 races left in the regular season. He has posted a pair of fourth-place finishes this year, at Daytona and Talladega.

As they always seem to do, things really got interesting when the drivers involved were asked the literal burning question after being checked out and released from the infield care center – What happened?  Read the rest of this entry »

FOI reform comes at last

Bill Rogers

By Bill Rogers

It’s been a long time coming, but citizens of South Carolina will soon have faster and cheaper access to public documents.

For seven years, the Legislature has for one reason or the other not passed an FOI reform bill.  They did so on the last day of the session this year, and it offers some real improvements in our state’s open government law.

The House, led by Reps. Weston Newton and Bill Taylor, pushed hard for the reform and in the end concurred in a last-minute Senate amendment doing away with establishment of an FOIA hearing officer.  But the good of the law far outweighs the loss of easier enforcement.

Perhaps the most meaningful part of the reform deals with response time.  The new law changes the amount of time an agency has to respond from 15 days to 10 days.  That’s a pretty good compromise.  Note that Georgia requires a 3-day response, but they have exemptions.

The law also sets up a specific time for an FOI request to be fulfilled.  In the past, a few agencies abused the law by dragging out their response for months.  Now they have 30 days in most cases.

The law also limits how much an agency can charge for documents.  In the past, some charged outrageous amounts to discourage release.  Now, they can charge no more than the prevailing commercial rate for producing copies.   Agencies may also require up to a 25% deposit before beginning a search.

The law encourages electronic transmission of public records and says copy charges may not be made for electronic records.  But the agency is not required to create an electronic version when it does not exist. Read the rest of this entry »

S.C. Political Corruption, Part 4: Image, Ethics, Business and South Carolina’s Future

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

This is the latest in a continuing series on the ethics scandal that is unfolding in our state. See others in the series at

Image –

After World War II, a fierce but civil rivalry developed between Birmingham and Atlanta as to which would become the unofficial Capital of the South.

Founded in 1871, Birmingham was a coal and steel town with much of the ownership of the principal industries being in Pittsburg and other northern cities. The symbol of the city was and is a large statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge. In 1950, the city’s population was 326,000.

Atlanta was founded in 1837 as a railroad junction and was known as the crossroads of people, commerce and ideas. The Atlanta newspaperman Henry Grady coined the term New South. In 1885, a local former Confederate Cornel name James Pemberton invented Coca Cola and his partner Asa Candler and his dependents led the growth of Coke to become a global brand. In 1950, the city’s population was 333,000.

Then came the defining issue for not only Atlanta and Birmingham but the South and the nation as a whole – the issue of race. How these two cities dealt with this issue defined their future.

Bull Connor, police dogs, firehoses and violence became the image of Birmingham. The out of state economic ‘big mules’ cared more about their profits than Birmingham’s image or the city’s people and they let the Bull Connor crowd do what they pleased.

In Atlanta, the local economic leaders and Mayor Ivan Allen proclaimed Atlanta as ‘the city too busy to hate.’ Birmingham jailed Martin Luther King; Atlanta held a dinner in his honor when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The memories of our loved ones live within us

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Through the winter months, I had been thinking about how I was going to tackle the huge project of replacing our privacy fence in the spring. I have built this type of fence before and those of you that are familiar with this, will understand when I say it is very hard work, especially when you are doing it by yourself. Digging post-holes are not for the faint of heart – ha! I retired in 2014 and have not really been involved with strenuous activity for a while, so when I started tearing down the old fence, I knew the first day this was going to be rough. Yes, there were days I thought about calling a fence company to take over, but to be honest, as I kept going, the better I started to feel. I would start early trying to come up with a game plan for the day, drinking coffee as I contemplated. The weather was cool and it was very peaceful listening to the breeze flowing through the trees and the birds in all their glorious and enthusiastic singing seemed to be encouraging me to keep pressing forward. I finally finished the other day and I am very grateful to be able to mark that from my list and now I can move on to other projects I need to accomplish.

When I was growing up, my dad was a custom home-builder and he taught me a lot about construction. He passed away last year and my mom gave me some boxes of tools that he had saved from the past and I put them in my shop. The other day I was looking for a drill bit and noticed dads old set of bits and as I opened that old familiar yellow plastic box, I remembered the good times we spent working together. The flood of emotions took me by surprise and I just sat down and allowed the memories to roll like I was watching an old movie. My dad was very talented and I was always amazed at his strength and what he could do when it came to building things. He was creative and had an ability to problem solve and was not afraid of hard work. He was respected for his high level of expertise and was definitely a true craftsman.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The Big One

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

If the success or failure of an event — oh, let’s say a NASCAR weekend, for example – can be measured by the sum of its many moving parts, then the May 7 race at Talladega Superspeedway was an official doozy.

Daytona International Speedway, despite all its glory and success, didn’t quite satisfy its builder, NASCAR co-founder Bill France, Sr. He wanted something bigger. So, after failing to secure a location in the Raleigh, NC area, in 1968 he ended up breaking ground on an old airfield in Alabama, officially giving birth to NASCAR’s longest, fastest and arguably most dangerous track.

Talladega Superspeedway is, in pretty much every way you can think of, literally “the big one.”

The Geico 500 on May 7 was no exception. The wrecking ball started rolling during qualifying, when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driving the No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, won the pole position, only the second of his career.

That was pretty exciting. Despite his obvious talent behind the wheel, Stenhouse hasn’t quite managed to reach the levels of success and fan popularity enjoyed by some of NASCAR’s other “young guns,” most notably our usual suspects, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Winning the starting spot at Talladega was a great moment for him … except for the small issue of who he took it from.

In what has unfortunately become Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s farewell tour, Stenhouse’s moment in the sun clouded up the day for many fans when he snatched the pole from Junior and held onto it. For Stenhouse, whose career to date hasn’t exactly been full of stellar moments — although mark my words, that’s going to change — the moment was definitely a big one. Read the rest of this entry »

Gov. McMaster’s First 100 Days: Failure?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

This is an expanded version of a column that appeared last week in The State newspaper.

May 4 marked Gov. Henry McMaster’s 100th day in office. Since there was such a flurry of reporting about Pres. Trump’s first 100 days, it seems appropriate to look at what Gov. McMaster has achieved in his first 100 days.

The title of this column “Failure?” asks the question. Below is a simple recounting of the facts (not alternative facts) as reported by the state’s media. I then offer my opinion and I leave it to you the readers to decide for yourself if McMaster has been a failure.

Request of $5.18 billion from Trump – On Feb. 6, The Post and Courier reported “In his first major action as governor, Henry McMaster penned a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday, requesting nearly $5.2 billion to help fund a laundry list of infrastructure projects…” There has been no public response from Trump.

A Diet for State Government – On Feb. 22, McMaster announced, “State government is going to have to go on a diet as far as spending.” This was in response to the first draft of the state budget that did not give state employees a pay raise.

Pay Raise for Staff – On Feb 24, (two days after the above announcement) McMaster announced his Chief of Staff Trey Walker got a $30,000 or 23% pay raise – raising his salary to $165,000. The governor’s salary is $106, 078.

 Financial Shell Game as Chairman of S.C. GOP – On March 15, The Post and Courier reported that a long buried 2004 S.C. Republican Party audit revealed that “Powerful South Carolina operatives aided Gov. Henry McMaster’s political rise by running a financial shell game in 2000 that masked division and debt in the state Republican Party while he was chairman.”  Among those as aiding McMaster with in and out cash payments of $60,000 were Richard Quinn and his companies.

 McMaster Denies Kickbacks – On March 17, The State newspaper reported,S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has not received any money personally – whether rebates or kickbacks (from Quinn) … McMaster has paid Quinn and Associates $504,000 since 2009…” Read the rest of this entry »