SC News

News from and about the Palmetto State.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, it is estimated that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer-related deaths. As part of Radon Action Month, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is providing free kits for residents to test their homes for the invisible, odorless, tasteless gas.

The second phase of jury selection starts today in the federal trial of Dylann Roof. He’s the white man charged with hate crimes in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a historic Charleston, South Carolina church. If convicted, the federal government plans to seek a rare death penalty. 

Day 12 of testimony in Slager Trial

Jan 17, 2017
Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

Defense attorneys are calling experts for the third day in the case of Michael Slager. The former North Charleston cop on is on trial for the murder of Walter Scott. In April 2015, a bystander captured cell phone video of Slager shooting Scott after he fled a traffic stop.

The defense called William Schneck, a trace evidence and crime scene reconstruction expert. He testified that paint from a road at the crime scene, which was painted yellow. Schneck found that paint from the road matched the particles found on Walter Scott’s phone and Slager’s Taser.

Sitting in her office, in Aiken, S.C., Dr. Ratliff conducts a telepsychiatry consultation to a patient sitting in a private room located at one of the emergency departments in S.C.
Taylor Crouch

In South Carolina, rural communities are struggling with access to mental health care. In many places, there is a shortage of psychiatrists to attend people in need of services. To serve those with mental illness in distant, rural communities, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health adopted an innovative solution: tele-psychiatry.

Faces of past U. S. Presidents carved into Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.
Aline Dassel/Pixabay

Comedian Jay Leno and others have long pointed out many Americans’ inability to identify people they should know, whether they be politicians, celebrities or historical icons. According to University of South Carolina historians Lauren Sklaroff and Kent Germany, attitudes are changing about whether there should be a certain set of people or information that all Americans should know.

Poet Ray McManus conducts a poetry workshop at a high school in Blythewood.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

University of South Carolina – Sumter English Professor Ray Mcmanus is a poet who can’t sit still. He travels the state conducting workshops in poetry much as a missionary would: But the message he brings to the people – that is, students from elementary to high schools – is that poetry isn’t the exclusive realm of artsy, smart people; it’s accessible to everyone, and it’s already in their lives if they take notice.

Gov. Nikki Haley giving her State of the State Address, Wednesday night.
SCETV

S.C. Governor Nikki Haley bids farewell to the General Assembly.

BMX Supercross is a rapidly expanding sport that few have facilities for.  Rock Hill is one of those few, and reaps economic benefits because of it.
Wendy Waddle

Rock Hill was a big textile town in the 1970s.  But when that industry started to go away, the city began to look for ways to diversify and to revitalize its economy.  It found the answer in amateur sports.  Beginning with baseball and softball, the city has built facilities that have attracted teams from across the country and around the world for sports such as lacrosse, soccer, tennis, cycling and more. 

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Cain sign their wedding certificate before friends at the Columbia Fireflies ball park.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

A recent wedding at the home of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team would seem unusual to most people, but to a group of University of South Carolina students, it’s just part of a class.  The wedding planning class is included in the curriculum of the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program, and for at least a decade has had the dual advantage of giving students experience in all the details that go into planning a wedding and providing the bride and groom with a free wedding and honeymoon.  The catch?  They must give the students total control over everything.  But s

A federal judge in South Carolina formally sentenced Dylann Roof to death on Wednesday, one day after a jury recommended that he be executed for murdering nine people in a Charleston church.

Under federal sentencing laws, the death penalty can be imposed only if all 12 jurors agree on it, and the judge cannot overrule the jury's decision.

Josh Floyd / SC Public Radio

Hurricane Matthew brought considerable damage and devastation across the east coast, but it’s hard to find a town affected more than Nichols, South Carolina. A month after the storm, debris was piled up so high along the roads that it was like driving through a tunnel. Today, nearly three months after the storm hit, most of that debris is gone, but the damage can still be seen. Every house has damage and there’s not a single citizen in sight. The town feels empty, but it’s not abandoned. If you find someone to talk to, there’s a smile on their face.

Freezing Temperature Expected Through Sunday

Jan 7, 2017

Forecasters predict freezing temperatures in parts of South Carolina through Sunday. The latest forecast from National Weather Service in Columbia shows the temperature dipping below the freezing point this evening in the Upstate and parts of Midlands, with Sunday’s high just below 40 degrees.

Governor Nikki Haley has declared a State of Emergency in preparation of hazardous wintry weather. The order activates the Emergency Operations Plan, directing all state agencies to coordinate emergency resources should local safety assets request aid. Additionally, the order activates the National Guard and other state resources. 

Russ McKinney
Rob Sprankle

    The 2017 session of the S.C. General Assembly begins Jan. 10th with lawmakers facing a number of un-answered questions.

An information packet from USC's 2016 Economic Outlook Conference.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Construction means progress for South Carolina’s economy.  Experts speaking at the University of South Carolina’s annual Economic Outlook Conference in December made their forecasts for how the state’s economy should shape up in the new year.  According to research economist Joseph Von Nessen, the trends will include a leveling off of economic growth (after several years of steady increase, so it’s not a bad thing), a tighter labor market (which is good for job seekers), and a strong housing demand.   

A tiny pink peanut is not a white rhinoceros. Nor is it a green turtle or a Bengal tiger. But until a few years ago the Carolina African runner peanut — at one time, the South's most praised peanut, packed with flavor and rich with oil — was much like the rhinoceros and turtle and tiger. That is, it was nearly extinct.

  Shooting incidents around the country have not left South Carolina untouched.  The Emanuel AME Church shooting demonstrated that the Palmetto State is not immune to such violence.  To help citizens become more aware of what to do  and how to protect themselves in such a situation, law enforcement agencies are offering active shooter training to groups across the state.  We talk today to representatives of the Richland and Lexington County Sheriff’s Departments, who offer advice that could save lives in the event of an active shooter attack.

As recruits train at Fort Jackson, their weapons stand at the ready.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

As the army’s largest basic training post, Fort Jackson is a vital part of the nation’s defense. Today’s story looks at the approaching centennial of the fort, begun in 1917 in response to the need to train soldiers for World War I. Historians Henry Howe and Fritz Hamer comment on the fort’s beginnings as Camp Jackson, how it was built and its impact on the Midlands economy, as well as its prospects for the future.

Fort Jackson VolunTEENS Serve in the Midlands

Dec 19, 2016
Mary Reardon

VolunTEENS is school-year programs connecting students with the Red Cross. Based in the Fort Jackson community, the group promotes the Red Cross mission through service projects, such as supporting the South Carolina Special Olympics, public education initiatives about health or fire safety, and disaster recovery. For example, their November event was to help the Red Cross clean, inspect, and pack away the cots used in the shelters during Hurricane Matthew. After the October floods in 2015, the VolunTEENS came out for multiple days of service in the Midlands.

Josh Floyd / SC Public Radio

It’s been two months since Hurricane Matthew devastated cities across the east coast. In Lumberton, North Carolina, a Robeson County town hit especially hard by the storm, people are still seeking relief aid. Many families are still displaced from their homes, but many more are starting the steps to rebuild. That’s where the Robeson Church and Community Center comes in. Outside the building, a line of people await any help they can get. Inside, the center and the Red Cross have joined forces to offer any help they can give.

Illumineer worker installs Christmas lights on home of Columbia flood victim
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Nonprofits working in the Midlands of South Carolina are hoping Christmas lights will shine focus on flood recovery. They also hope charitable giving will boost donations during the gift-giving season. 14 months after the flood, South Carolina Public Radio talks with two homeowners, celebrating the holidays on opposite sides of recovery.

A Lot to Celebrate This Christmas

A jury in Charleston, S.C., has found Dylann Roof guilty on all 33 counts of federal hate crimes he faced for murdering nine people and attempting to kill three others in the basement of a historically black church.

A committee of The South Carolina House of Representatives has been at work attempting to revamp the state’s outdated tax code,  the collection of laws and regulations that prescribe how the state collects tax revenues.  This year that's expected to be over $7 Billion.

Arthur Erskine of West Columbia and friend.
Lauren Rivers

Most men don’t frequent beauty parlors, but Arthur “Cotton” Erskine of West Columbia visits his every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas to prepare his hair and long beard for a role he’s portrayed for years: Santa Claus.  “Santa Cotton,” as he is known, becomes the Jolly Old Elf for events such as Christmas parades, private photo sessions and store appearances, sometimes with as many as six appointments a day.  He is “Ho Ho” to his grandchildren, and here he discusses the fun of  dealing with children, and the unusual requests they sometimes have of Santa.  Erskine’s hairdresser and the co

Holiday depression is a real phenomenon for some South Carolinians.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Cries of “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy New Year” can ring hollow for those afflicted with the phenomenon known as holiday depression.  Psychologist Fred Medway says holidays are so charged with memories that if one experiences, for example, a loss or other unhappy event during the holiday season, it can trigger sad memories in future seasons.   According to University of South Carolina nursing professor Sue Heiney, symptoms of holiday depression can include sleeplessness, change in appetite, sadness and not being able to enjoy anything, even things a person once took pleasu

Cherryvale Community Center
Josh Floyd/SC Public Radio

On an overcast day in Sumter County, there’s a community center with a huge RV parked outside.  FEMA is stenciled across the front of the vehicle and wires hanging out the back are snaking their way inside.  The RV provides internet and phone service to the Cherryvale Community Center ,where FEMA has set up their short term Mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). It’s one of the last recovery center’s open in the state before Hurricane Matthew flood victims can no longer apply for FEMA grants or low-interest loans.

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (right) with Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, S.C. Adjutant General.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

It’s expected to be early 2017 when Gov. Nikki Haley becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster becomes Governor.  However the developments are already impacting the 2018 elections.

Photo courtesy of Grace Beam/Post and Courier via Pool

The five-week trial of a former North Charleston police officer ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.  This comes after four days and twenty-two hours of deliberation.  

35-year old Michael Slager was charged with murder after he fired eight shots at 50-year-old Walter Scott as he ran in. Slager had pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in April 2015. The incident was captured on cell phone video that shocked the nation. 

Soldiers from Fort Jackson lead City of Columbia’s Veterans Day Parade. Over the past two years, the area has seen a 14% decline in homelessness. According to the United Way, Veterans typically make up 15-17% of that population.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The October 2015 flood created new cases of homelessness in the Midlands of South Carolina. But despite that increase, the United Way of the Midlands has been able to shrink the number of homeless cases. This accomplishment, in part, is because of a national program called Built For Zero.

Built for Zero is coordinated by Community Solutions, the national effort supports participants in developing real time data on homelessness, optimizing local housing resources, tracking progress against monthly goals, and accelerating the spread of proven strategies.

Michael Slager at the Defense's table during his trial.
Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

The murder trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager has ended in a mistrial. After a month long trial and four days of deliberation, the jurors were not able to reach a unanimous agreement.

The two conviction options included murder and voluntary manslaughter. Any verdict must have unanimous agreement.

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