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Saturday
Oct192019

GAMAC Performance to Honor Don Campbell

The Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium, Inc. (GAMAC) Chorale will celebrate 10 years under the direction of Dr. Don Campbell with a special performance "With One A-Chord," Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Boulevard Baptist Church.  Featuring a mix of styles and tunes handpicked by the 80-plus members of the chorale, this retrospective will also feature the GAMAC Children’s Chorus under the direction of Dr. Bob Heritage.

"With One A-Chord" will also open GAMAC’s 29th annual Masterworks concert series. The program will include a mix of classical, sacred, popular, Broadway, and comic tunes.  Selections will include “The Heavens Are Telling” from Haydn’s "The Creation," “Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce, a comic tune titled “Old Horatius Had A Farm,” and selections from Broadway favorites such as "Cats" and "Camelot." Performances by the GAMAC Children’s Chorus of Cynthia Gray’s “Afternoon On A Hill” and “Hodie Christus Natus Est” by Children’s Chorus conductor Dr. Bob Heritage will also be featured.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.  To purchase tickets, please call the GAMAC office at (864) 231-6147 or visit www.gamac.org for online.  Tickets will also be on sale at the door one hour prior to the performance. 

Friday
Oct182019

Anderson County Posts Record Low 1.7 Percent Jobless Rate

Observer Reports

Anderson County achieved a record-low unemployment rate of 1.7 percent in September 2019, according to local area unemployment statistic (LAUS) data released today by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). 

“Anderson County’s status as a major regional economic development force can never again be called into question” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn.  “For more than a decade the Anderson County Council has supported policies meant to attract and sustain quality job opportunities for our citizens, and today’s milestone achievement gives us cause for celebration and gratitude—our community has been blessed.”

The September LAUS report shows that 2,975 more Anderson County residents are employed now than in September 2018.  The report also indicates that employment grew by 366 during the period from August to September of this year.  The total county labor force has grown by 2 percent over the last 12 months.

Statewide, unemployment fell to 2.9 in September. Nationally, the unemployment rate moved to 3.5 for September.
Friday
Oct182019

Strategy Plastics Brings 81 Jobs, $3.4M Investment to Anderson

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Strategy Plastics, LLC, a full-service plastic injection molding company, today announced plans to expand to Anderson County. The company’s more than $3.4 million investment is projected to create 81 new jobs. 

In addition to injection molding, Strategy Plastics, LLC also provides custom molding, engineering, project management, parts assembly, testing, dimensional analysis and off-shore tooling.

“We are very thankful for the confidence and trust that Strategy Plastics has placed in Anderson County for their next manufacturing operation," said Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. "This, once again, is proof of the business friendly attitude of our community and solidifies the statement, ‘Anderson County is open for business.”

To allow for more growth, the company has relocated its operations into a larger facility located at 107 Twenty Nine Court in Williamston, S.C.

New operations are already online, and the company plans to continue expanding until fully staffed. Individuals looking to join the Strategy Plastics, LLC team should visit http://www.strategyplastics.com/contact-2/.

“After completing extensive due diligence on several potential new locations for our operations, we chose Anderson County because of their quick response, support and everything the county had to offer for both our company and employees," said Chad Giles, owner of Strategy Plastics. "This transition is a testament to our hard-working team and loyal customers, and it will allow Strategy Plastics, LLC to continue to grow and achieve greater efficiency, along with diversify its current customer base. As a company that’s proud to hire locally, this transition will have a positive impact on the local economy. We thank our local and state partners for their continued support, and we look forward to joining the Anderson County business community."

Thursday
Oct172019

Spot On British Silliness Lifts Market Theatre's "The 39 Steps"

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

If you’re in the mood for a frothy comic melodrama, “The 39 Steps” at the Market Theatre is just the ticket.

British-style silliness and vaudevillian hijinks propel director Drew Whitley’s high-energy staging of this four-person play, which opened Friday. 

Matt Groves is Richard Hannay, a world-weary Canadian who, in search of some excitement, finds himself mixed up in international intrigue in England and Scotland.
Liza Hunter plays three roles (ranging from ingenue to femme fatale) and Matt Groves is Richard Hannay in the Market Theatre’s production of “The 39 Steps,” continuing through Sunday. (Photo: Escobar Photography)

Liza Hunter plays three characters while Jessie Davis and Savvy Thompson fill in dozens of other roles in this spy caper, which has been produced widely throughout the U.S. - including two fine stagings in Greenville in the past decade.

Underneath the giddy proceedings, there’s a story of an organization of spies trying to steal British military secrets. But don’t worry too much about the plot: Laughter is this play’s real raison d’etre.

The comedy’s episodic storyline closely tracks the script of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film noir of the same name, which in turn is based on a novel by John Buchan. Patrick Barlow adapted both the film and novel to come up with this stage version. (Both Hitchcock and Barlow improved upon Buchan’s rather tedious novel.)

Granted, you have to be in the right mood for this stylized and cheerfully over-the-top play, which includes amusing allusions to other Hitchcock classics such as “North by Northwest,” “The Birds,” “Rear Window” and “Vertigo.” Catch ’em if you can.

Much of the humor emerges from watching the Etch-A-Sketch clowns Davis and Thompson shift identities, often in the blink of an eye, with the quick change of a hat and accent. They’re cops one moment, secret agents or dotty women’s underwear salesmen the next. Usually, these two roles are played by men. Whitley’s casting of women was a bold and inspired choice. 

Whitley sets a breathless pace and stuffs the play with an abundance of comic bits. This staging succeeds best when it’s most flamboyant. One caveat: The scene changes slowed things down a little too much on opening night.

Groves plays Hannay as a young everyman - suave, confident and game for whatever fate may toss in his direction.

Hunter brings a winsome appeal to three vivid roles: the femme fatale Annabella, the wistful Glaswegian farm girl Margaret and the plucky ingenue Pamela.

Davis and Thompson take on more than a dozen roles with nimble comic versatility. My favorites include a pious Scottish clod with a thick brogue and the fact-spouting Mr. Memory. 

Cameron Woodson’s scenic design, which includes a marvelously nostalgic proscenium arch and set of footlights, is superb. 

This effervescent production of “The 39 Steps” continues at the Market Theatre through Sunday. For tickets, call 864-729-2999 or see the website www.themarketanderson.org.

Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Anderson Observer. Follow Paul on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

Thursday
Oct172019

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage to Headline Anderson Festival

Thursday
Oct172019

Pendleton Ghost Walks Friday and Saturday

Pendleton is getting ready for Halloween early, with ghost walks downtown Friday and Saturday.

The walk (tours) will begin at 6:40 p.m., and tickets - which include refreshments - are $15.

Tours run every 20 minutes until 9 p.m., with a maximum of 25 people per tour. Participants must pay in advance via cash or check by mail to PO Box 444 in Pendleton, or use a credit/debit card through PayPal on our website https://www.pendletonhistoricfoundation.org/event-calendar/.

Registration is not complete without the assignment of a tour time by the director (via email to pendleton.hf@gmail.com or phone call to (864) 646-7249) and finalized payment. It is suggested that groups arrive at the Dunlap Team Real Estate Office at 107 N. Mechanic Street to check in at least 20 minutes before their tour begins. We do not accept walk-up groups!

The Ghost Walks cover approximately one mile and will take between 60-90 minutes to complete. Comfortable shoes are strongly suggested and a small flashlight is recommended but not required.

Thursday
Oct172019

S.C. Senators Hope to Speed Up Work on Interstate Highways

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — With South Carolina's rapid growth over the past 20 years, a group of senators says it is vital that the state's interstate highways keep up.

The Special Interstate Subcommittee met Wednesday for the first time, getting an overview of more than $1 billion in interstate widening projects in the works, like expanding Interstate 85 near the North Carolina state line and Interstate 20 west of Columbia from four to six lanes.

State Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall threw around bigger numbers than that, saying the state has begun preliminary studies on the biggest road project ever undertaken here — a $1.6 billion untangling of the intersection of I-20, Interstate 26 and Interstate 126 in Columbia.

The DOT is tossing around an even bigger widening project on Interstate 526 in the next few decades, from North Charleston to Mount Pleasant, involving several high bridges. Hall can't say when it will start or how much it will cost because her engineers haven't started the details, but it has all the signs of topping the Columbia project.

The General Assembly's 2017 approval of a 12-cent gas tax increase over six years — passed over Gov. Henry McMaster's veto — and increases in other fees are helping accelerate the pace of work, Hall said.

In all, the DOT has $3.6 billion of road work going on right now in South Carolina. While $1.3 is going toward widening interstates, $1.1 billion is repaving all types of roads in bad condition, $315 million to replacing substandard bridges and $117 million toward small projects like guardrails and paved shoulders to reduce South Carolina's highest in the nation rate of deaths on rural roads, Hall said.

"We've got everything stacked and ready for delivery. It's just pulling them through the pipeline," Hall said.

Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler of West Columbia asked for the committee after yet another trip on I-26 between Charleston to Columbia slowed to a crawl amid truck traffic heading west and north from the ports in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia.

"Ride down 26 and all the sudden you stop, and you start thinking the way it will be 20 years from now — that's a nightmare," said Setzler, the longest serving member in the state Senate.

Expanding all of I-26 is decades away but is on the radar. Hall said widening 14 miles (23 kilometers) east of where the current six-lane stretch ends south of Columbia is in the next wave of projects, along with expanding 8 miles (13 kilometers) of Interstate 95 after the highway enters the state from Georgia — a longtime choke point for travelers all along the East Coast as the road narrows to four lanes.

Hall said the DOT is using the additional money as wisely and creatively as it can. Her agency had only $1 billion to spend on roadwork just 11 years ago. But they are encountering other problems, like competing with large highway projects in other Southeastern states.

"There's a limited pool of larger contractors that are able to come in and work on these big projects," Hall said.

Other lawmakers asked Hall not just to concentrate on interstates. Lancaster County has grown by 50% since 2000, and many of those 30,000 new residents have spilled down U.S. 521 from Charlotte, North Carolina.

The road has stoplights, but it is over capacity too and needs help, said Republican Sen. Greg Gregory, who represents the area.

Setzler asked Hall to return to the next meeting with information about the DOT's bond debt and how much it could potentially borrow.

"Our needs are so great in this state. We can't wait until 2040, 2050 to deal with this," Setzler said. "We as a state have to determine how do we address catastrophic needs we have right now or we are going to be left behind by the rest of the Southeast?"

Wednesday
Oct162019

Trump Food Stamp Proposal Could Impact Free Lunch Program

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly a million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that would reduce the number of people who get food stamps.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an analysis that says as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change. About half would have to pay a reduced price of 40 cents for school lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. Around 40,000 would need to pay the full price, which varies depending on the district.

The rest — 445,000 — would remain eligible for free meals, but their families would have to apply to qualify.

Children automatically qualify for free lunches if their families receive food stamps, but the Trump administration has proposed tightening eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was once known as food stamps. The USDA is not proposing changes to the income rules for the program. It says it is addressing a loophole that gives eligibility to people who would not have otherwise qualified.

The agency said the vast majority of affected children would still be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals.

But Lisa Davis of the advocacy group No Kid Hungry said the application to qualify could be a barrier.

"We hear from schools all the time about the challenge they have with getting families to understand the paperwork or to get it back," Davis said.

The National School Lunch Program serves roughly 30 million students, including about 20 million free meals daily. For those who don't qualify for free or reduced price meals, the average price of lunch was $2.48 for elementary school students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the School Nutrition Association, which represents cafeteria employees and vendors.

The group says about three-quarters of school districts have students with unpaid meal charges.

The prevalence of school lunch debt shows even small amounts of money can add up over time and become a burden to struggling families, said Giridhar Mallya, senior policy officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Wednesday
Oct162019

Oct. 24 Belton Ghost Walk to Add Six News Haunts

Observer Reports

The Belton Area Museum Association’s third annual Halloween Ghost Walk is scheduled for Oct. 24, with tours beginning at 6 p.m., and continuing every 15 minutes until 8 p.m., from the historic Belton train depot.  

Six all-new historic properties are on the tour. The Belton Bank (a present-day lawyer’s office), the J. P. Cox House, the Belton Standpipe, the Willard Horton House, the Fred Black House, and the Enoch Gambrell House.  Exteriors of homes and businesses will be accessible and spooky stories attached to each property will be shared by costumed presenters.

Advanced tickets for the tour are $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under, and includes light refreshments at the depot, guided tours of historic properties, and other entertainment. Purchasing advanced tickets is encouraged as slots fill up quickly.  Tickets are $15 if purchased the day of the event.

All tours will be family-friendly.

For more information, contact Abigail Burden at 864-338-7400 or beltonmuseum@bellsouth.net.

Wednesday
Oct162019

Student Fishing Tournament Set for Saturday at Green Pond

The 2019-20 Palmetto Boat Center High School Tournament Trail will visit Anderson for their high school/middle school tournament.  Launch is scheduled for 7:20 a.m. at Green Pond Landing. The weigh in for middle school teams will begin at 1:30 p.m., and high school teams weigh in at 3 p.m.  T

“We are expecting 200 boats for this weekend’s tournament, which equates to 400 students and 200 volunteer adult captains” said Marty Walker, Tournament Director and owner of Palmetto Boat Center. “This is the second tournament of the new season for our student anglers, and the growth of our trail has simply been unimaginable." 

The student anglers will be awarded prizes for the heaviest five bass limit, including a $2,000 scholarship to the winning team, sponsored by the Lake Hartwell Outdoor Center. 

For more information on the tournament trail, contact Marty Walker at 864-561-2026, martyw@palmettoboatcenter.com.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Anderson County Council Recap, Oct. 15, 2019

A recap of the Anderson County Council meeting for Oct. 15, 2019 with Councilman Craig Wooten.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Duke, County Partner for Energy Storage Project at Civic Center

Observer Reports

Duke Energy Carolinas is partnering with Anderson County, S.C., to build an energy storage project at the Anderson Civic Center that will be part of the company’s long-term strategy to integrate battery technology into the smart-thinking grid it is building in the Carolinas. 

Anderson County citizens and others will benefit from the battery project since will also provide power to a facility that is critical during emergency situations, such as being the site of a hurricane evacuation shelter or emergency shelter during weather events.

“Anderson County depends greatly on reliable power at the Civic Center; especially, while it’s operating as an emergency shelter,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “Power is critical at the Civic Center when our facility is being utilized as a command post for service providers and shelter to citizens who have been displaced. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Duke Energy on this project that will benefit our community during times of disaster.”

The battery storage project – the first of its kind for Duke Energy in the state – will be located on land adjacent to the Anderson Civic Center and will also serve as back-up power for the facility. The battery will be able to power the Civic Center in the event of an outage for at least 30 hours based on the facility’s normal usage.

This project is part of the company’s ongoing plans to invest $500 million in battery storage projects across the Carolinas over the next 15 years.

“Through projects like this, we’re transforming the state’s energy infrastructure to support the two-way flow of electricity and significantly improve reliability for our customers,” said Michael Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “The added benefit of this project is that – in the case of a power outage – the storage system can be dedicated to the Anderson Civic Center so this critical emergency facility will be able to support residents and evacuees in time of crisis.”

The 5-megawatt lithium ion battery will be grid-tied and available for use by Duke Energy Carolinas grid operators. The battery storage system will benefit all Duke Energy Carolinas customers by helping grid operators more efficiently manage the grid, providing additional energy options and improving grid stability during periods of peak customer demand.

The company recently submitted a request to the Public Service Commission of South Carolina to approve a provision of the lease agreement for the land from Anderson County, which has aready been approved by Anderson County. Once the final engineering study for connection to the power grid is complete later this year, the project will go through a competitive bidding process for construction and is expected to be in service in early 2021.

Tuesday
Oct152019

Danny Ford to Speak at TD Club Friday

The Anderson Area Touchdown Club welcomes former Clemson University Head Football Coach Danny Ford as the guest speaker on Friday at the Anderson County Library.  Coach Ford, who currently works his farm, planting and growing legalized hemp, will share his coaching and farming stories.

The TD Club meets at the main branch of the library, and the food line begins at 11:30 a.m. The cost of lunch is $15.00 for visitors, and is catered by Mama Penns.

The weekly high school players and coaches to be honored on Friday will be announced on Thursday. 

For more information, call 864-934-2423 or 864-616-6471.