SC News

News from and about the Palmetto State.

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.

Judge Declares Mistrial in Slager Case

Dec 6, 2016
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.

Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

Jurors in Charleston, South Carolina will continue deliberating Wednesday morning in the trial of former police officer Michael Slager. He is charged with murder for shooting Walter Scott last year. Bystander cell-phone video of the officer repeatedly shooting him in the back as he ran away shocked a country still trying to come to terms with other instances of police using deadly force against black men. This tape was a key piece of evidence used by both the prosecution and defense.  

A roller derby match pits the Columbia Quade Squad All Stars against a team visiting from Tampa.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

  Half party, half combat. That’s roller derby, a growing sport in South Carolina. Though most teams are women, there are some men’s teams and even juniors teams. In this report we talk to Dell Corley, coach of the Richland County Regulators, as well as two married players. Kelly Wuest of the Columbia Quad Squad All Stars, inspired her husband Mike to join the Carolina Wreckingballs when he saw how much fun she was having. All three, however, say a more important part of the sport than winning is the family-like relationship that links the players.

  Many people are fearful of a Zika virus epidemic because of the publicity the virus has received.  But South Carolina law enforcement officers are fighting a much-less-publicized epidemic – the growth of heroin addiction.  This problem, however, is largely rampant among middle class users, according to Frank Shaheen, director of the Recovering Professional Program.  

Dylann Roof is representing himself in his capital murder trial. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel  granted the man charged with killing nine black parishioners in a Charleston church in June 2015 the right to do so just before jury selection in his case resumed. 

Roof faces 33 federal counts including hate crime charges for the attack on June 17, 2015 at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in downtown Charleston. 

Living area inside new manufactured home
South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office

In less than one month, almost 800 individual cases for South Carolina’s  October 2015 Storm Recovery Program have been started.  The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO) manages the program and is very close to placing some storm victims in new homes.

Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old white man charged with murdering nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church last year, is competent to stand trial on federal hate crime charges, a judge ruled Friday.

Harriet Mealing is planning to move into a house soon, but is waiting until she has the financial ability to furnish it with appliances.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

Harriet Mealing's trailer home was severely damaged by the flood. Ceilings caved in, holes opened in the floor and mold and mildew ruined most of Harriet's belongings. She sought help from a myriad of flood recovery organizations, but received very little assistance, and she received no financial support from FEMA. Over a year later, Harriet is still living in the same situation, resigned to Clorox her home every week to keep the mold at bay. 

Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

The prosecution rests in the trial of former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager after nine days of testimony with 32 witnesses and experts. Slager is charged with murder in state court for the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. The then on-duty cop stopped Scott for a broken brake light. The April 2015 shooting captured on cell phone video by a bystander.

Prosecution witnesses included family and friends of Scott to give the jury a picture of the South Carolinian and the events of Saturday April 4, 2015.

Judge closes Roof competency hearing to the public

Nov 16, 2016

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ordered the competency hearing for Dylann Roof will be closed to the public. The 22-year-old white man is facing 33 federal counts, including hate crime charges, for the murders of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. 

Philip Habermehl of the U.S Geological Survey measures streamflow in the Reedy River south of Greenville, SC.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

For the Piedmont section of South Carolina, the hot, dry summer has become the warm and even drier fall.  Much of the Upstate is in a prolonged drought.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, counties in the northwestern area of the state are actually in a severe or extreme drought brought on by almost no appreciable rain, and above average temperature for months.

Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via Pool

Bill Williams is allowed to testify as a scene analysis, computer technology and video syncing expert, after spending four hours proving his expertise to the judge. Williams is expected to be the last person prosecutors will call to testify in the trial of Michael Slager. The former North Charleston cop is on trial for murder for the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. The April 2015 incident was captured on cell phone video by a bystander.

Tammy Moshier stands in her living room with nametags she made for the guests of her "Gratitude Party." Each one bears a description of what the wearer did to help her and her daughter during their struggle with the flood.
Courtesy of Laura Moshier

Tammy Moshier and her twelve-year-old daughter, Laura, were flooded out of their home near Gill's Creek in October 2015. Because their home was elevated six feet, they had assumed they would be safe from flooding, but they were wrong. It was a stranger that escorted the mother-daughter pair from their front porch and carried Laura through shoulder-deep water. They never knew his name.

Counselors from Carolina United have worked  with thousands of flood victims in the past year, including this one in Eastover, S.C.
Courtesy Carolina United, SC Dept. of Mental Health

More than a year after South Carolina’s historic flood, crisis counselors from the state Department of Mental Health’s Carolina United program continue to find and help flood victims.  But hearing the woes of thousands of victims over a long period can have detrimental effects on the counselors as well, sometimes producing stress or depression. 

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