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SC Humanities Receives Democracy Programming Grant

SC Humanities has been awarded a $35,000 grant to support its 2018-19 “News Literacy and the Future of Journalism” initiative.  This important seven-month series will be planned and presented in partnership with Winthrop University and the S.C. Press Association.

Events begin with a public “kick off” in September 2018 in Rock Hill featuring a headline speaker launching Winthrop’s interdisciplinary examination of this important topic.  This plenary event will be presented in collaboration with the North Carolina Humanities Council. Other plans include:

  • Public programming highlighting Constitution Day and News Engagement Day 2018;
  • Four public humanities lectures or moderated forums utilizing scholars and professional journalists examining specific subject areas. Topics are: First Amendment 101, which includes a discussion of John Stuart Mill, the Federalist Papers and the duty of citizens to be informed; discerning fake news from real news; the role of opinion writers; and why investigative reporting matters;
  • Development of a Media and Politics class at the University;
  • At least four additional learning opportunities for students, including internships and volunteer involvement;
  • A portion of SC Humanities’ re-grant funds will be set aside to support programming that relates to the theme; and
  • The series will conclude with another public “headline” event in March 2019 at the SC Press Association annual meeting in Columbia.

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.   SC Humanities thanks The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.

SC Humanities is a statewide non-profit  that reaches more than 250,000 citizens annually in both urban and rural settings with its support of exhibits, festivals, book discussions, literary initiatives, films, lectures and more.  It is not a government agency and receives no support from the state of South Carolina. Its mission is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians.

For more information, contact Judy B. Bynum, Judy@schumanities.org; Karen Kedrowski, kedrowskik@winthrop.edu; or Guy Reel, Reelg@winthrop.edu. Stay tuned to the SC Humanities at website at schumanities.org for programming details.

New cameras could lessen the congestion of Lexington traffic

By Kenneil Mitchell
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

A typical morning commute for Lexington drivers.

For such a little county, Lexington has major city traffic. Lexington County traffic officials have installed new traffic cameras to reduce congestion for drivers navigating rush hour.

Lexington County Police Chief Terrence Green drove through U.S. Route 1 and immediately noticed the difference the cameras made when he paused behind a car and the light turned green right away.

“It read that, hey we got people at this light, we need to let these people come across,” Greene said. “The other system, you would sit here two to five minutes before you’d get the green light.”

Greene says the cameras give him more time to respond to emergencies.

“This has knocked a lot of time off our response time, which is keeping our response time under 10 minutes right now,” Greene said. “This system helps out with trying to move the traffic freely and flowing through the town.”

Steve MacDougall is the mayor of Lexington.

Steve MacDougall, Lexington mayor and general manager of Hudson’s Smokehouse, says it took two years to get the cameras working at the intersections.

He worked with the Lexington County Transportation Division for weeks to test the strength of the cameras by leaving them on only to monitor the traffic and count the cars.

MacDougall says the cameras didn’t control the signals during that period, in order to see if the cameras reduced traffic without it.

“We did that for two weeks and then we turned the system back on,” MacDougall said. “Once we turned it back on, we saw a 20 percent reduction of traffic congestion.”

This reduction results in drivers saving five minutes on the road. The new system was not paid for by the Lexington citizens, but from other sources.

“We got funds from the Council of Governments, which issues funds for traffic improvement,” MacDougall said. “We got some through funds through the county, and we pitched in as a town and put some money up as well.”

MacDougall says he’s proud of the results and hopes to make history with the cameras.

Lexington officials plan to install new traffic cameras in all intersections.

“Once we have all the cameras installed throughout town, we’ll be the first city in America with every traffic light tied together, talking to each other, eliminating traffic congestion,” MacDougall said.

The Lexington Transportation Division has created two phases for the adaptive system of the traffic cameras. Phase 1 is already completed, with 19 intersections having functional cameras. Phase 2 includes 16 intersections being installed, which traffic officials state will be completed by the end of 2018.

Randy Edwards, Lexington transportation director, works with the Lexington traffic committee to keep the cameras functional. He explains the system as a means to provide a green pathway for cars to move more efficiently on the road.

Randy Edwards is the Lexington director of transportation.

“We have pre-programmed alignments that essentially will be green for that higher volume of traffic,” Edwards said. “It does provide some better free flow through the town itself when you’re pushing that additional doubling the volume of your normal, daily traffic.”

His mission is to make the cameras adapt to traffic to make the technology more natural.

“It operates a lot the way you and I would think,” Edward said. “Like, hey, there’s not many cars coming, why can’t I go? And so the cameras detect, sense how long you’ve been there and then will shut down when it’s appropriate.”

Terrence Green is the police chief in Lexington.

Green says he’s very proud of the cameras as he believes the technology helps move cars in a timely fashion.

“To use technology in a way to help our citizens, but people who are just traveling through our city, is, I think it’s great,” he said.

Study finds major health benefits of owning a real Christmas tree

By Kenneil Mitchell
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

A HortTechnology study found that real Christmas trees can offer mental and health benefits.

Christmas trees have been a long-standing tradition to celebrate the holidays, but many don’t know the power they hold to better your health.

A study from HortTechnology looked into the health benefits real Christmas trees can give to those that aren’t allergic. The study found that owning a real Christmas tree can increase your mood, lower anxiety and decrease chances of getting a cold or flu.

Alberto Maydeu-Olivares, a USC psychology professor, says he agrees with the findings of the study, conducted by two Kansas State University professors. He pointed out the psychological impact of caring for plants, which like Christmas trees, lighten people’s spirits.

“It may help us improve our mood,” Maydeu-Olivares said. “Feel more relaxed and act warmer towards other human beings.”

Alberto Maydeu-Olivares is a professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina.

He believes owning a real Christmas tree is more mentally healthy for people than an artificial tree.

“I think that having an artificial tree is very sad,” Maydeu-Olivares said. “After all, it’s plastic and you can tell it’s plastic. So maybe you feel that your life is not real.”

Bryan Price is the owner of Price’s Christmas Tree Farm in Lexington, South Carolina.

Bryan Price, who has owned Price’s Christmas Tree Farm for 34 years, says being around real Christmas trees has had a lasting positive impact on him.

“It creates a better mood in the house,” Price said. “Anytime that you feel better, you’re in a better mood, your blood pressure is good and everything. And that right there, is good for your health.”

Jonathan Garris is an employee at Price’s Christmas Tree Farm.

Jonathan Garris, an employee of Price’s Christmas Tree Farm, has felt the health effects of being around real Christmas trees for years.

“I think it’s awesome because the trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen,” Garris said. “I haven’t taken a flu shot in probably 5 to 6 years.”

Tim Barnett, his wife Ashley and their 4-month-old son, Eric own a real Christmas tree.

Tim Barnett of Columbia says that he and his wife, Ashley, family love the feeling that a real tree brings. “We’ve always gotten a fresh tree ever since I was a child,” Barnett said. “I think it’s just more real.”

Barnett said his 4-month-old son Eric is celebrating his first Christmas, and is already intrigued by the big Christmas tree and its ornaments.

“He wants to grab it of course because that’s his natural instinct,” Barnett said.

Barnett says he loves having the real thing in his living room as it brightens his family’s day every time they see it.

“You can smell it when you wake up in the morning,” Barnett said. “I think it just fills the air, just makes you feel great. Like you’re walking through the woods.”

If you want to know more about live Christmas trees, go here.

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Worries about South Carolina’s old buses spark replacement effort

By Kenneil Mitchell
Carolina Reporter & News

Rhonda Watson, a Dutch Fork Middle School bus driver and driving instructor, has driven her 27-year-old bus for more than 10 years.

To Watson, the bus is more than just a vehicle. It’s a longtime friend, a friend she calls Nelly.

“I named her after my grandmother’s favorite pet cow,” Watson said. “Always there, always dependable.”

But Watson will soon be putting Nelly out to pasture and hopping aboard a 2018 school bus. A series of bus fires and other maintenance issues has focused attention on the aging South Carolina fleet.

Out of 5,582 buses running in South Carolina, 1,347 buses are older than 15 years and need to be replaced.

The 2016-17 South Carolina’s School Bus Fleet Report found that since 2012, 24 buses have caught on fire, causing $157,000 in damages.

The average age of the state’s buses ranges from 15-to-30 years old. The South Carolina Department of Education has purchased 855 buses since January.

This older South Carolina school bus caught on fire early this year.

Watson said the old buses are easy to drive, but there are problems with maintaining a 27-year-old bus.

“It is disappointing that the maintenance of them cannot be achieved a little quicker and a little more efficient,” Watson said.

Watson says her bus only had two maintenance issues that were quickly taken care of by mechanics of the S.C. Department of Education. She believes it’s the driver’s responsibility to take care of the bus, no matter how old they are.

“I really think it comes down to a driver being aware of their vehicle,” Watson said. “Turning in a maintenance write up on it as soon as they find an issue. Letting the supervisor and the state determine if that puts that bus out of service.”

Mike Bullman is the director of school bus maintenance for the S.C. Department of Education.

Mike Bullman, assistant director of School Bus Maintenance,says he is committed to fixing the buses while adding new models to the fleet.

The wiring becomes old and securements can break, which is why Bullman says inspections should happen more often to prevent that from happening.

He is working alongside S.C. Schools Superintendent Molly Spearman to gain more funds to purchase new buses and says she has been really committed to making sure the bus fleet is at the highest standard possible.

Bullman says they’ve been able to get funding from the General Assembly and use internal funds intended for maintaining older engines to buy new buses.

Bullman is confident in  his plans to create a safer fleet.

“It is the safest form of ground transportation in the world,” Bullman said. “If we can get on our 15-year replacement cycle, we’ll go a long way to making the fleet as safe and efficient as possible.”

Rhonda Watson drives her 17-year-old bus Nelly to transport students to Dutch Fork Middle School.

Watson still drives Nelly to pick up students, but she’s willing to make the transition to the new 2018 model of school buses.

“I thoroughly enjoy driving these,” Watson said. “They handle wonderfully, they hold about the same number of students, which doesn’t interfere with the routes already put in place.”

As far as which one she prefers to drive, the old Nelly or the new Nancy, both buses have their strengths.

“From just a driver’s point of view, I like that old beauty cause it’s what I knew,” Watson said. “For the safety of the students, these are better. Because these newer buses offer additional safety equipment that Nelly doesn’t have.”

Watson says she’s open for a change of buses, which means leaving her friend Nelly in the past, and driving forward to ensure the safety of the students.

“Absolutely,” Watson said. “I’d be very happy to make the change. Yes, I’d give up my old bus!”

Why your Christmas tree could cost more this year

By Taylor Estes
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

If you usually buy a real Christmas tree to celebrate your holiday season, you might be out of luck this year.

Tree farms across the nation are reporting that they don’t have enough supply to meet the rising demand for live Christmas trees. According to Steve Penland, secretary of the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association, this is the biggest shortage he has seen in a few years.

“The popularity of the live, or real, Christmas tree has started evolving. We’re seeing that generation Y is looking to go back to tradition and do things like they did when they were young, like pick out a tree with the family. Demand is going up,” Penland said.

Bryan Price, owner of Price’s Christmas Tree Farm in Lexington, has also seen an increase in the demand for his trees in the past few years.

“We now open before Thanksgiving to meet demand every year, it’s what the customers expect,” Price said.

Price’s Christmas Trees is a family-owned business that was started by Bryan Price’s father in 1984. Bryan Price and his wife, Leah Price, grow their own trees on their family property, but they normally order their Fraser fir trees from North Carolina to be sold at their lot.

“We were warned by the company that sends our Fraser firs back in the summer that supply was going to be short and prices were going to go up,” Bryan Price said. “I suspect it is due to rising demand, as well as a few other reasons like wildfires, storms, and the lack of business back in the 2000s.”

Live Christmas tree sales were at all time lows then and the industry is still feeling the effects of the shifting change in demand.

“Back in the early 2000’s many Christmas tree farms went out of business because no one was buying the trees,” Penland said, agreeing with Price. “After that, farmers began planting less trees to stay even with the low demand.

“Prices are up 10 to 20 percent in some locations and certain tree types will probably be more expensive than others due to higher demand,” Penland said. “I just hope prices stay affordable for those wanting a tree.”

It takes five to seven years for a tree to reach maturity, and fir trees, which tend to be the most popular, take even longer. The combined higher demand and lowered supply of trees from the effects of previous years have people buying their trees earlier than usual.

“Already in North Carolina, which is the number two producer of Christmas trees in the nation, we’re seeing trees selling out,” Penland said.

The number one producer of Christmas trees is in the Pacific northwest, with Oregon and Washington producing the leading number of trees. Tree farmers in both states have reported similar shortages in tree supply.

“It’s unfortunate to see, and we hate to have to raise the prices on people for the Fraser firs from North Carolina,” Price said. “However, I can’t say I’m not happy to see more people buying real Christmas trees. I think our farm would make my dad proud if he was alive today.”

Click here to see more about Christmas trees.

Take a walk on the B-side: Increase in vinyl sales not surprising to Scratch n’ Spin owner

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS, AN INFOGRAPHIC AND OUTSIDE LINKS. TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THESE MATERIALS, VISIT THE CAROLINA  REPORTER & NEWS.

Customers can bring in their new or used vinyls, CDs, movies and other items to sell or trade in. Rare finds like old Beatles and Jimi Hendrix records can be found at Scratch N’ Spin as well as newer albums by Taylor Swift and Drake.

By Caroline Davenport
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

Vinyl albums are expected to become a billion-dollar industry by the end of 2017.

It could seem counter-intuitive that a decades-old way of listening to music is making a resurgence in our digital, hyper-portable music era driven by the newest singles.

But vinyl never really went away, according to Eric Woodard, owner of Scratch n’ Spin record store in West Columbia. He said while mainstream retailers like Walmart, Sears and Target stopped carrying vinyl, it was still being produced in smaller quantities. Smaller mom-and-pop shops like his kept the format alive, and for some bands, producing vinyl has always been a staple.

     Woodard believes the increase in record sales ultimately comes down to value. When people spend money on music, they want something they can enjoy for years.  A vinyl album with its intricate artwork fits that bill.

“I think it’s inherently a part of the human experience. You want to have that shelf with your collection on it, and you want to be able to have a party or have friends over and show off your collection of books or have friends flip through your album collection,” he said.

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Traveling postcards workshop creates healing, recovery through art

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS, AN INFOGRAPHIC AND OUTSIDE LINKS. TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THESE MATERIALS, VISIT THE CAROLINA  REPORTER & NEWS.

By Debbie Clark
CAROLINA NEWS AND REPORTER

Caroline Lovell started the Traveling Postcards workshops in 2009

On a recent weekday, Caroline Lovell transformed a second floor room in USC’s new Center for Health and Well-Being into a place where healing and art come together.

As participants trickled in one by one and filled every seat, Lovell opened her Traveling Postcards workshop with an introduction exercise and gentle words.

Lovell, founder and executive director of the Women’s Wisdom Initiative, began Traveling Postcards in 2009 as a way to use the healing arts to address trauma caused by sexual and domestic violence and other types of oppression. Workshop participants decorate postcards to be hand-delivered to survivors around the world.

“We give you the opportunity to settle into that space and into your heart to have a communication with a survivor that is genuine,” she said.

So far, more than 4,000 postcards have traveled all over the world, from Costa Rica to Afghanistan. The organization works with worldwide aid agencies as well as military and domestic violence shelters on college campuses. Lovell said the stop at USC is the last in a month-long college tour that started in Boston a month ago.

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Bucking millennial trend, USC sweethearts ready to say “I do”

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS, AN INFOGRAPHIC AND OUTSIDE LINKS. TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THESE MATERIALS, VISIT THE CAROLINA  REPORTER & NEWS.

By Janelle Buniel
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

University of South Carolina graduate students Elizabeth Rogers and Nick Doyle have been dating for six years, and people are already asking, “Why don’t you just get married?”

For many of their generation, it’s not that simple.

Recent polls have suggested that fewer members of the millennial generation – those born after 1980 who came of age at the turn of the new century – are getting married compared to Generation X, the generation that precedes them. A Gallup poll showed that 59 percent of millennials are single and have never married, as opposed to 16 percent of Generation X.

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The play’s the thing: Three SC theaters connect communities to stage with contemporary, creative works

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS, AN INFOGRAPHIC AND OUTSIDE LINKS TO THE THEATERS’ SITES. TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THESE MATERIALS, VISIT THE CAROLINA  REPORTER & NEWS.

By Debbie Clark
CAROLINA REPORTER AND NEWS

When Jim and Kay Thigpen founded Columbia’s Trustus Theatre 33 years ago, they had the radical notion that the city was hungry for contemporary theater. They were right.

Now, Trustus and other playhouses across the state provide settings where theatergoers can settle in to be challenged, informed and sometimes shocked, into thinking of critical issues of the day.

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Scout’s honor: This Scoutmaster says admission of girls will strengthen youth organization and families

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS PHOTOS, AN INFOGRAPHIC AND OUTSIDE LINKS TO SCOUTING SITES. TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD THESE MATERIALS, VISIT THE CAROLINA  REPORTER & NEWS.

 

By Caroline Davenport
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

The public’s response to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to accept girls into its iconic Scout and Cub programs was swift and fierce, and the debate is expected to continue.

Opponents put forth a simple argument: the Boy Scouts program is for boys, and the Girl Scouts program is for girls. But the scouting organization as a whole is much broader, and not exclusive to boys only, officials said.

“The Boy Scouts of America has a larger umbrella than just ‘the Boy Scouts’,” said Columbia resident Chris Jordan, who has served in many positions within Boy Scouts of America, including Scoutmaster for 14 years. He is also the father of two Eagle Scouts. He says the only groups within the organization that aren’t already co-ed are The Boy Scouts and The Cub Scouts.

Families will be allowed to enroll both boys and girls into Cub Scouts in the 2018 program year.  In a statement Oct. 11, the non-profit organization said existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack.  Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.

Other Scouting groups like Explorers and Venturing have been open to boys and girls since 1971. Both the Sea and STEM Scouting programs are also co-ed.

“The shift and change taken by BSA is one that brings the whole organization together utilizing the same joining criteria for all branches of the tree,” Jordan said. Read the rest of this entry »

Total Eclipse, Easley

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Total Eclipse, Easley

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Total Eclipse, Easley

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Total Eclipse, Easley

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Total Eclipse, Easley

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Photo by Kasie Strickland | The Sentinel-Progress

Total Eclipse, Columbia

Onlookers watch the eclipse during totality, the only time it can be viewed without special glasses. Onlookers are participants of the NSTAR physics conference at University of South Carolina in Columbia. Physicists came from all over the world to share information and view the eclipse on campus. Photo by Denise McGill

Onlookers watch the eclipse during totality, the only time it can be viewed without special glasses. Onlookers are participants of the NSTAR physics conference at University of South Carolina in Columbia. Physicists came from all over the world to share information and view the eclipse on campus. Photo by Denise McGill

Total Eclipse, Columbia

View of total solar eclipse in Columbia, S.C., on August 21, 2017. Photo by Alexandria Cone and Denise McGill

View of total solar eclipse in Columbia, S.C., on August 21, 2017. Photo by Alexandria Cone and Denise McGill

Total Eclipse, Columbia

Early view of partial eclipse Columbia, S.C., on August 21, 2017. Image taken through a long lens with a solar fllter. Photo by Alexandria Cone and Denise McGill

Early view of partial eclipse Columbia, S.C., on August 21, 2017. Image taken through a long lens with a solar filter. Photo by Alexandria Cone and Denise McGill.

Total Eclipse, Columbia

USC student volunteer Leticia Pena shows onlookers how to view the eclipse through a Sun Spotter device. It was one of many stations set up throughout Columbia, S.C., for viewing the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 Photo by Denise McGill

USC student volunteer Leticia Pena shows onlookers how to view the eclipse through a Sun Spotter device. It was one of many stations set up throughout Columbia, S.C., for viewing the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Photo by Denise McGill

You could be paying twice for V.C. Summer

Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

August 18, 2007

In the wake of Santee Cooper and SCE&G abandoning construction of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Jenkinsville, there’s been a lot of media discussion about who’s to blame and who will pay.

The fear for many is that the electricity customers of the two providers will keep paying now for a project that may never be completed. And there’s a building sentiment that state government is to blame, at least for having failed to exercise adequate oversight of the partners’ activities, since Santee Cooper is owned by the state and SCE&G is regulated by it.

Less noticed has been the situation of what appears to be SCE&G’s biggest customer and ratepayer: the state of South Carolina.

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