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My Brain on NASCAR

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part two of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

I’m not even going to pretend to be unbiased on the subject of Darlington Raceway. “The Lady in Black” is simultaneously NASCAR’s greatest and most flawed structural achievement, a lop-sided Southern belle with a mean streak 1.366 miles long.

Like a doomed and dramatic high-school romance, she regularly and with great relish demoralizes would-be suitors, perhaps as some sort of payback for those who over the years have called the fabled egg-shaped oval everything from a dinosaur to a dump.

Ah, the sweet taste of revenge. A rash of improvements over the past couple of decades has the track “Too Tough To Tame” looking anything but prehistoric. Gone are the wooden bleachers of her early years, replaced by gleaming, high-rise grandstands. The former press box – an elevated platform enclosed by chicken wire where sportswriters were treated to “gourmet” lunches of pimiento cheese sandwiches (still a Darlington meal-time tradition) with a side order of flying rubber, has been replaced by a state-of-the-art media center and catering services.

Just outside of the Turn 3 retaining wall, rows of graceful palmettos – South Carolina’s state tree – line the hospitality village, where the movers and shakers of the corporate world entertain their customers and employees prior to the races.

Drivers, crew members and fans requiring medical attention are treated by a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in a modern infield care center, similar to a small trauma hospital, including 24-hour helicopter transport service if it is needed.  Read the rest of this entry »

S.C.’s Nuclear Scandal, Politicians and Clean/Dirty Hands

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

For a columnist like me, the state’s nuclear scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. It is no exaggeration to say that there could be a column every week (or several times a week) on the growing scandal – and it’s likely to be so for months and even years to come.

There will be thousands of news articles written by journalists, millions of words spoken by politicians and utility executives, and billions of dollars in payments to rate payers are at stake.

As we begin (and we are just at the beginning of the beginning) to work our way through this $9 billion scandal effecting millions of people in our state, there are two basic facts that we should never lose sight of – and two necessary first steps that must be taken in dealing with this gigantic scandal.

The two basic facts:

  1. Those responsible should be held accountable. SCANA (parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas), Santee Cooper and the politicians that passed the legislation to enable this to happen (and got paid for it) – will all be blaming each other when they are all at fault. Their hands are dirty.
  2. Those not responsible, the rate payers, should not have to pay. The people with absolutely no responsibility for this disastrous scandal – the rate payers – are being asked to pay billions of dollars, perhaps for as long as 60 years. This is wrong. Their hands are clean.

The two necessary first steps:

  1. The legislators, statewide elected officials and Congressional politicians with dirty hands must ‘come clean.’ This means they should disclose all of their financial dealings with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the electric co-ops – and give the money back. They should return all campaign contributions since the scandal began in 2007 and they should disclose and return all of the retainers, consulting contracts and other unreported payments they and their immediate families have received. (Better than returning the money, they should give it to charity.)
  2. Those utility leaders with dirty hands who are directly responsible should resign. This means that all of the boards of directors and senior management of both SCANA and Santee Cooper should resign. They should also refund any bonuses, stock options or other extra payments they have received since the beginning of the scandal in 2007. When they leave, there should be no severance payments or golden parachutes. None.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Trump above the law” by Stuart Neiman

“Trump above the law” by Stuart Neiman

“Pill Poor” from The Times and Democrat

“Pill Poor” from The Times and Democrat

“Live Shot” from The Times and Democrat

“Live Shot” from The Times and Democrat

“Old News” from The Times and Democrat

“Old News” from The Times and Democrat

Living on Purpose: Asking for the gift of wisdom

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When I think about having wisdom, I am reminded of king Solomon. If you remember the popular story about David and Bathsheba, Solomon was their only son and also became king of Israel after David passed away. In I Kings chapter 3, we read that Solomon sincerely loved God and obeyed His laws. Verse 4 records him offering 1000 burnt offerings upon the altars at Gibeon and as the story continues we notice that something very special happens to him. “The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, ask whatever you want and I will give it to you.” We must admit this is a huge opportunity and temptation especially for a young person, which is why it’s so impressive when we hear his request. How would we respond if God offered to give us whatever we wanted? Money, fame, super-powers, long life? Amazingly, Solomon gives a very mature and humble response as he simply desires more wisdom and understanding so that he can be a good king. Verse 10 says that Solomon’s reply pleased the Lord and listen to this, “And God said unto him, because thou hast asked this thing, and has not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked for riches for thyself, nor hast asked for the life of thine enemies; but has asked for understanding to discern judgment, behold I have done according to thy words.”

This is truly awesome, but the encounter does not end here. God continues to declare that Solomon will not only become the wisest person in the history of the world but will also receive all the things he did not ask for like riches and honor beyond the imagination. Scholars say that Solomon wrote thousands of clever sayings and songs and we can read some of his brilliant writings in the books of Proverbs, The Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. However, we also know that when he became older, he made some critical mistakes as it seems that he allowed his wealth and authority to distract him from his original passion. It’s unfortunate that he strayed away from focusing on God’s commandments by carelessly allowing his wives to publicly worship their pagan idols which made God very angry. Solomon was just like everyone else in the fact that walking with God requires a strong personal commitment and is more serious than a casual religious lifestyle.  Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina’s Jeremy Clements Captures Shocking Win at Road America; Enters Darlington Raceway with Playoff Berth

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It took Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Jeremy Clements 256 races to finally win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and on Sunday in the Johnsonville 180 at Road America, he did so while piloting a car that was built in 2008.

Clements, who competes for his family-owned team on a shoestring budget, chased down Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Tifft in the closing laps of the Johnsonville 180 to challenge for the race lead. Driving the No. 51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet, Clements dove underneath Tifft in Turn 14 with the white flag in sight; however, the 32-year-old South Carolinian lost control and spun, collecting Tifft. Both drivers were able to get their cars pointed in the right direction and continue, but it was Clements who had an enormous lead with just a lap to go.

“I got in there and got loose up under him (Matt Tifft) trying to keep off of him,” Clements said in Victory Lane. “I’m very sorry to Matt. I definitely didn’t mean to wreck him, but I definitely had the better car in my opinion, but hats off to those guys. That’s a Gibbs team, that’s the best. To be faster than them was pretty dang cool!”

In the end, Clements took the checkered flag and pulled off the upset. Finishing behind him was Michael Annett, Matt Tifft, Justin Marks and Brendan Gaughan. Clements only led 10 laps throughout the afternoon. Prior to Sunday’s race in Wisconsin, Clements’ best-ever finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series was a fourth-place effort that he captured at Talladega Superspeedway last year. In fact, Sunday’s win only marks his second-career top-five finish. He has been racing in the series since 2003, but he didn’t start competing on a full-time basis until the 2011 season.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The (Egg-shaped) Oval Office

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part one of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

Regardless of our personal opinions on the current government administration, I’m pretty sure there’s one thing on which we can all agree. From the smallest of businesses to the greatest nation on earth, success or failure depends on one thing … and no, it’s not Twitter. It’s leadership, and Darlington Raceway has boasted some of the very best.

“The Lady in Black” will celebrate her 68th year of NASCAR Cup Series racing on Labor Day weekend; not too shabby for a weird-looking racetrack carved out of a peanut field by a local sand-and-gravel guy born with a load of something we could all use a lot more of: gumption.

That man was Darlington’s first president, Harold Brasington, who after returning from a trip to the Indianapolis 500, decided that stock cars needed their own premier racing venue … so he just hopped on a bulldozer and built one. As what once had been farmland slowly began to resemble an actual racetrack, naysayers simply laughed and scratched their heads, nicknaming the facility “Harold’s Folly.”

(It is important to note that those same detractors brought their lunches out to the construction site almost daily to watch the work in progress. Darlington Raceway was the biggest tourist attraction in town before she hosted a single race … and she still is.)

In the end, Brasington got the last laugh after all, as the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950, expected to attract about 5,000 fans, drew a crowd of 25,000. It was, to say the least, a spectacular success.  Read the rest of this entry »

Charlottesville: What You Can Do Now

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Most everyone was outraged by what happened in Charlottesville. If you are in that tiny sliver of humanity that was not outraged, well…

It is only human to react by asking, “What can I do?”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been successfully fighting the KKK, neo-Nazi and white supremacy organizations since 1971. If you don’t know about them and their courageous founder, Morris Dees, you should. (www.SPLCenter.org). Go to their site and learn about hate groups in the county and in South Carolina, and what you can do. Make a donation, too.

Full disclosure: Morris has been a personal hero of mine and inspiration for over 40 years. There is no human being alive in America today who has risked their life more directly and longer in the fight “to ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement becomes a reality for all.” We first met and worked together on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign and later he helped get my father’s book published, “Beyond the Burning Bus”, about his experience in civil rights in Alabama in the 1960s.

Right after Charlottesville, the SPLC published “10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide” and bought full page ads in many major newspapers around the country to get people involved. Below is a summary of the 10 Ways. On their website, there is much more detailed information about each of the 10 Ways and some specific things you and your community can do.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Sympathy is not a substitute for action

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We do not have to look very far to find someone that needs a miracle. Many are suffering some type of crisis with everything from health problems, their children, and grieving over a loss, to finances, marriage issues and addictions. When difficult situations are presented, we become sympathetic, but how often do we consider that God may have brought these individuals to our attention so that we can not only pray but to intervene and help meet their needs? Instead of just discussing the situation and having pity, maybe we can become the miracle they are praying for. James chapter two talks about the difference between having faith without becoming involved and demonstrating our faith by our willingness to take the time and actually help them.

Have you ever been discouraged or in trouble and you cried out for God to please send somebody to help? If someone responded, you knew they were a Godsend, right? But if no one came, we assume someone was called upon but was probably just too busy or maybe they simply did not want to take the time or money to become involved. I believe this reveals more about what life is really about than we care to think about. Many people are convinced they are free to do whatever they want and I can understand this point of view for a non-Christian. However, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible clearly explains that we are called to radically change from only thinking about ourselves to listening and obeying God as our highest priority. This transformation will produce generosity and compassion as we develop a willingness to become more like Christ in His attributes and character. I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When we accept the life-changing gift of salvation, we are called to let go of our old self-centered nature and become focused on the greatest commandment which includes loving God and others as ourselves.  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