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Monday
Sep182017

S.C. Has No Disaster Dedicated Funds in Budget

ATLANTA (AP) - A summer of natural catastrophes has exposed another peril in disaster-prone states: How to pay for the rescues, repairs and rebuilding.

The combined tab from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is expected to hit $200 billion or more. While the federal government is expected to pay most of that, the affected state and local governments have to start paying for recovery now and eventually could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.

Florida and South Carolina, both hit by Hurricane Irma, are among the dozen or so states that do not have dedicated disaster funds and opt to cover the expenses after the fact.

Experts say such pay-as-you-go disaster funding can be risky, especially if the economy starts going sour.

Monday
Sep182017

Clemson Scientist Seeks to Repurpose Nuclear Waste

CLEMSON – From the mining of uranium ore to the storage of used fuel, radioactive waste is generated at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, and a Clemson University scientist is pursuing research that could help in handling it.

In a collaboration with the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) in Aiken, College of Science professor Stephen Creager of the department of chemistry is working on ways to clean water contaminated by radioactive tritium.

Tritium is an isotope, or form, of hydrogen with a nucleus that has one proton and two neutrons. It differs from hydrogen in that the element’s most common form – protium – has a lone proton and no neutrons. The other isotope of hydrogen – deuterium – falls in the middle of the three, having one proton and one neutron.

Because tritium is an unstable, radioactive isotope, it’s the rarest form of hydrogen, produced mostly as a byproduct of nuclear reactors rather than as a naturally occurring isotope. The Savannah River National Laboratory is one of two facilities in the United States that stores the majority of the country’s nuclear waste, prompting the desire for SRNL to better understand how to dispose of or repurpose tritium. Creager might have a way to do it using the world’s thinnest material: graphene.

“In 2010, the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for studies on graphene,” Creager said. “At the time, I thought it was trivial because graphene is just a layer of graphite – the lead of pencils – but just that single layer has all of these interesting properties, one of which is that it’s an excellent barrier. It’s thin, but it’s also very impenetrable, and people are doing things like putting it in batteries because it’s got a very high surface area and it’s electronically conductive.”

The researchers who won the Nobel Prize continued to work with graphene and discovered in 2014 that under certain conditions the material is permeable to hydrogen ions, also called protons.

Two years later, in the publication that caught Creager’s attention, the same researchers found that not only did graphene allow protons to flow through it, but it let them through 10 times faster than deuterons, the nuclei of deuterium atoms. In other words, graphene allows 10 times more protons to be separated from deuterium in a single step, an enrichment factor that trumps conventional methods.

One of those conventional methods – electrochemical hydrogen pumping – provides a way to separate mixtures of gases composed of hydrogen isotopes. Schematically, a hydrogen pump is an electrochemical cell that has a cathode on one end, an anode at the other and is connected to a power source.

The team’s idea is to build an electrochemical cell that can clean tritium out of contaminated water by means of water electrolysis – useful to SRNL in the event that its storage facilities ever leak tritium into the groundwater and useful to Creager for his miniature cell specialty.

Full Story Here

Monday
Sep182017

Mill Town Players Tune Up for "Honky Tonk Angels"

The Mill Town Players will present the classic country "Honky Tonk Angels, beginning Friday and running through Oct. 5. 

The all-hit song list includes “Stand by Your Man”, “9 to 5,” “Coal Miner's Daughter,” “Ode to Billy Jo,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” “Rocky Top,” and “I Will Always Love You," all backed by a live band. The Angels will be played by Meghan Cole, Katie Halstensgard, and Hannah Smith. 

The director and choreographer of the play is Kimberlee Ferreira, and Hannah Smith will serve as musical director.

Ticketsare $10, with discounts for seniors, military, and students, and can be purchased online at www.milltownplayers.org, by calling (864)947-8000, or at the door. 

 

Monday
Sep182017

Hurricane Maria Gains Strength in Atlantic

Hurricane Maria, which continued to strengthen Sunday, maintained a west-northwest track Sunday night toward the already storm-battered Leeward Islands.

As of 11 p.m., Maria, which became a Category 1 hurricane Sunday afternoon, was located 210 miles east-southeast of Dominica with sustained winds of 85 mph.

Forecasters expect Maria, which was moving west-northwest at 13 mph, to hit the Leeward Islands Monday and become a major hurricane by the time it nears Puerto Rico Tuesday.

A “burst of convection” occurred in the storm’s center Sunday afternoon, with an open eyewall forming in the the storm’s core, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. Because the storm is compact, it could quickly intensify as it moves over warm ocean waters and faces weak wind shear, they said.

Maria should become a major storm over the next two days, which could cause wind speeds to vary slightly if it undergoes eyewall replacements, which big storms are prone to do.

Hurricane advisories continue to extend across Caribbean islands battered by Irma as the storm approaches. Forecast models generally agree on a track that takes Maria near Guadalupe and the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles on Monday and near Puerto Rico on Tuesday as a major hurricane.

It’s too soon to tell Maria’s impacts to Florida or the U.S. coast. Early models show the storm moving toward Florida and up the East Coast, but forecasts so far in advance can be hundreds of miles off.  

By Sunday night, tropical storm force winds extended 105 miles from Maria’s center. Within three days, forecasters say sustained winds could reach 125 mph.

Sunday
Sep172017

Haley Says Diplomatic Solutions for North Korea Exhausted

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday with the United States exhausting diplomatic means against North Korea, "military options" are an alternative.

Haley, speaking on CNN's State of the Union, said, "We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we could do at the Security Council at this point." 

Haley told CNN's Dane Bash she would be "perfectly happy" turning things over to U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

"We wanted to be responsible and go through all diplomatic means to get their attention first," Haley said. "If that doesn't work, General [Jim] Mattis will take care of it."

Last Monday, the U.N. Security Council adopted a new round of sanctions on North Korea after the nation's sixth and largest nuclear weapons test. On Thursday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japan in the North Pacific and reached a height of 478 miles and distance of about 2,300 miles.

On Friday, Haley told reporters at the White House that North Korea has been "strangled" by sanctions and said military options remain squarely on the table if sanctions are not effective.

On Sunday, she reiterated those views.

"If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed," Haley said. "And we all know that, and none of us want that."

Sunday
Sep172017

More than 3,000 Without Power in Anderson County

Over 5,000 Duke Energy customers are without power in Greenville County and Anderson County Sunday afternoon.

Per the Duke Energy Outage Map, 2,343 customers are experiencing outages in Simpsonville near Scuffletown Road. The outage was first reported at 2:34 p.m.

According to Duke, the estimated time of restoration for most of this area is between 9:45 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. The cause of the outages is listed as damage to equipment.

Duke Energy reports 3,044 customers are without power in Anderson County near Honea Path Highway. The outage was first reported there at 3:17 p.m. The estimated time of restoration is 6:30 p.m.

Saturday
Sep162017

Hurricanes Don't Deter Fast Growth Along the Coast

S.C. Coast, Led By Myrtle Beach, Posts Fastest Growth

By JEFF DONN, AP National Writer

Rising sea levels and fierce storms have failed to stop relentless population growth along U.S. coasts in recent years, a new Associated Press analysis shows. The latest punishing hurricanes scored bull's-eyes on two of the country's fastest growing regions: coastal Texas around Houston and resort areas of southwest Florida.

Overall growth of 10 percent in Texas Gulf counties and 9 percent along Florida's coasts during the same period was surpassed only by South Carolina. Its seaside population, led by the Myrtle Beach area of Horry County, ballooned by more than 13 percent.

Nothing seems to curb America's appetite for life near the sea, especially in the warmer climates of the South. Coastal development destroys natural barriers such as islands and wetlands, promotes erosion and flooding, and positions more buildings and people in the path of future destruction, according to researchers and policy advisers who study hurricanes.

"History gives us a lesson, but we don't always learn from it," said Graham Tobin, a disaster researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa. That city took a glancing hit from Hurricane Irma — one of the most intense U.S. hurricanes in years — but suffered less flooding and damage than some other parts of the state.

In 2005, coastal communities took heed of more than 1,800 deaths and $108 billion in damages from Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. Images of New Orleans under water elicited solemn resolutions that such a thing should never happen again — until Superstorm Sandy inundated lower Manhattan in 2012. Last year, Hurricane Matthew spread more deaths, flooding and blackouts across Florida, Georgiaand the Carolinas. From 2010-2016, major hurricanes and tropical storms are blamed for more than 280 deaths and $100 billion in damages, according to data from the federal National Centers for Environmental Information.

Harvey, another historically big hurricane, flooded sections of Houston in recent weeks. Four counties around Houston, where growth has been buoyed by the oil business, took the full force of the storm. The population of those counties expanded by 12 percent from 2010 to 2016, to a total of 5.3 million people, the AP analysis shows.

During the same years, two of Florida's fastest-growing coastline counties — retirement-friendly Lee and Manatee, both south of Tampa — welcomed 16 percent more people. That area took a second direct hit from Irma after it made first landfall in the Florida Keys, where damage was far more devastating.

Overall growth of 10 percent in Texas Gulf counties and 9 percent along Florida's coasts during the same period was surpassed only by South Carolina. Its seaside population, led by the Myrtle Beach area of Horry County, ballooned by more than 13 percent.

Nationally, coastline counties grew an average of 5.6 percent since 2010, while inland counties gained just 4 percent. This recent trend tracks with decades of development along U.S. coasts. Between 1960 and 2008, the national coastline population rose by 84 percent, compared with 64 percent inland, according to the Census Bureau.

Cindy Gerstner, a retiree from the inland mountains of upstate New York, moved to a new home in January in Dunedin, Florida, west of Tampa. The ranch house sits on a flood plain three blocks from a sound off the Gulf of Mexico. She was told it hadn't flooded in 20 years — and she wasn't worried anyway.

"I never gave it a thought," she said during a visit back to New York as Irma raked Florida. "I always wanted to live down there. I always thought people who lived in California on earthquake faults were foolish."

Her enthusiasm for her new home was undiminished by Irma, which broke her fence and knocked out power but left her house dry.

In Horry County, where 19 percent growth has led all of South Carolina coastline counties, Irma caused only minor coastal flooding. The county's low property taxes are made possible by rapid development and tourism fees, allowing retirees from the North and Midwest to live more cheaply. Ironically, punishing hurricanes farther south in recent years has pushed some Northerners known locally as "half-backers" to return halfway home from Florida and to resettle in coastal South Carolina.

Add the area's moderate weather, appealing golf courses, and long white strands — the county is home to Myrtle Beach — and maybe no one can slow development there. "I don't see how you do it," said Johnny Vaught, vice chairman of the county council. "The only thing you can do is modulate it, so developments are well designed."

Strong building codes with elevation and drainage requirements, careful emergency preparations, and a good network of roads for evacuation help make the area more resilient to big storms, said the council chairman, Mark Lazarus. Such measures give people "a sense of comfort," said Laura Crowther, CEO of the local Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors.

Risk researchers say more is needed. "We're getting better at emergency response," said Tobin at the University of South Florida. "We're not so good at long-term control of urban development in hazardous areas."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency helps recovery efforts with community relief and flood insurance payments. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It provides community grants for projects aimed at avoiding future losses. Some projects elevate properties, build flood barriers, or strengthen roofs and windows against high winds. Others purchase properties subject to repeated damage and allow owners to move.

But coastline communities face more storm threats in the future.

Global warming from human-generated greenhouse gases is melting polar ice and elevating sea levels at an increasing pace, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That amplifies storm surges and other flooding. Also, some climate models used by scientists predict stronger, more frequent hurricanes as another effect of global warming in coming decades.

"There will be some real challenges for coastal towns," predicted Jamie Kruse, director of the Center for Natural Hazards Research at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. "We'll see some of these homes that are part of their tax base becoming unlivable."

Hazard researchers said they see nothing in the near term to reverse the trend toward bigger storm losses. As a stopgap, communities should cease building new high-rises on the oceanfront, said Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

He said big changes probably will not happen unless multiple giant storms overwhelm federal and state budgets.

"The reason why this development still continues is that people are making money doing it," he said. "Communities are still increasing their tax base — and that's what politicians like."

Saturday
Sep162017

Council Considers Airport Fees, Honors Career Center Tuesday

Observer Reports

Anderson County Council will consider a resolution to suspend ramp fees at the Anderson County Airport as part of Tuesday's meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtown.

Council will also vote, on second reading, on tax incentives for a manufacturer which could bring 1,000 jobs to the county. The company says the average wage for those jobs will top $20 per hour. 

A report from the finance commitee is also on the agenda for the regular meeting.

At a 6 p.m., prior to the official business meeting, council will host ceremony honoring Anderson School District One's Career and Techonology Center's selection as the 2017 Southern Regional Technology Center.

Full Agenda Here

Saturday
Sep162017

New Bus Routes to Belton-Honea Path Begin Tuesday

Observer Reports

A pair of new bus routes to the Belton-Honea Path area, and the extension of the current Masters Boulevard route, is expected to give those seeking jobs and/or training better access to transportation.

The WorkLink Workforce Development Board, in collaboration with Electric City Transit and Anderson County, has been awarded grant funds to pilot a new transit route serving the Belton-Honea Path area and extend an existing transit route on Masters Boulevard in Anderson County. 

The new routes will be in service starting Tuesday and will run twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon starting in Anderson at 6:20 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. and again at 2:20 p.m. and 4:20 p.m.  

A kickoff event celebrating the new Purple Route and Gold Route extension is scheudled for 9:30 a.m. Monday  at the Anderson County Courthouse Plaza downtown.

“It has been a long-term goal of the Anderson County Council to provide public transportation to the Belton-Honea Path area,” said Anderson County Administrator, W.R. “Rusty” Burns.  “We are very excited and appreciative of the grant opportunity provided through Worklink to accomplish this goal.”

The $100,000 grant, awarded by the State Workforce Development Board – Department of Employment and Workforce, will help remove transportation barriers faced by jobseekers and those seeking training in Anderson County. While the exact number of riders for the new route can be hard to predict, approximately 30,000 people live within one mile of the new Purple and expanded Gold Routes, making those involved with the grant enthusiastic about the 12 to 18-month project’s success.  

Trent Acker, Executive Director of the WorkLink WDB agreed the new routes are important to jobseekers and employers in the community. 

Employers in the area are also excited about how the new transportation options will affect their ability to attract new employees and retain existing staff.  

“IMS of Belton is excited for the opportunity this brings to our existing and potential workforce," said Kevin T. Craft, pesident of IMS of Belton, Inc. and a member of the  Anderson County School Board of Trustees for District 2. "Based on our initial assessments, this route could impact up to 10% of our existing workforce. We see this expansion of the current Anderson route into the Belton area as a way to increase our pool of potential labor.”

"I know we have missed out on potential workers due to lack of transportation over the last 10 - 20 years," said G. Robert Bowers, Nutritional Services Director for Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital. "This new bus route may not only bring us new employee prospects, it may offer existing employees a more affordable way to work. This could be huge."

Electric City Transit will provide bus service via the new Purple Route to Belton and Honea Path, and through an extension of the Gold Route, provide bus service to additional employers in the Masters Boulevard area.

New Belton-Honea Path Route

The new Purple Route will begin in downtown Anderson, following Hwy 178 to Hwy 252 into Honea Path, and then picking up Hwy 178 in Honea Path continuing through Belton back to Anderson. As a result of the brand new bus line, a number of employers will have direct access to employees with a reliable mode of transportation, and employees will have access to employers with higher wages, thereby changing the quality of life for the better for our citizens in Anderson County. 

Masters Boulevard Extension

The Gold Route, currently serving the Homeland Park area of Anderson, will be extended in a loop down Masters Boulevard to Hwy US-29 to provide access to five medium and large employers. The companies directly impacted will be Electrolux, First Quality Tissue, Unaflex, Kravet Fabrics and Michelin North America. 

Employers in the area are also excited about how the new transportation options will affect their ability to attract new employees and retain existing staff.   

"The new purple route will provide individuals in Anderson area access to jobs and freedom from every walk of life. This will expand our ability to recruit and maintain good people at The Timken Company," said Mary Hallman, Plant Manager of Timken in Honea Path.

In addition to the employment opportunities these new transportation options offer, riders will also be able to access training and educational opportunities that may have been limited in the past.

"The addition of this bus route will provide an opportunity for more students to get to our campuses for the education and technical training they need," said Dan Cooper, Director of Government Relations and Economic Development, Tri County Technical College. "In turn, they will help to meet the demand for a highly skilled workforce in our service area."

“The unemployment rate in the communities of Belton and Honea Path is slightly higher than the state average," Dr. Richard Rosenberger, Superintendent of Anderson School District 2. "If the Purple Line Bus Transit system allows more of our folks to find gainful employment in other parts of Anderson County, then it is a win - win for all of us.” 

For more information about the routes and the service times to specific locations, visit cityofandersonsc.com or call 864.231.7625.

Friday
Sep152017

County High School Football Scores

T.L. Hanna 21, Mauldin 10

Westside 38, Daniel 17

BHP 28, Palmetto 21

Fox Creek 48, Creescent 28

Powdersville 27, Liberty 20

Wren 37, Woodmont 21

Friday
Sep152017

TD Club Honors Coach, Players for Last Week's Games

The following players and coach were honored at the weekly meeting of the Anderson Area Touchdown Club today:

Co-Offensive Players: Tyrell Jackson, Wren High School 

Antwin Jackson, Pendleton High School 

Defensive Player: Ben Cothran, Palmetto High School

Offensive Lineman: Connor Powers, Powdersville High School 

Defensive Lineman: Zacch Pickens, T.L. Hanna High School 

Coach Jeff Tate, Wren High School

Friday
Sep152017

Upstate Equine Counsel Donates Horse Trailer to County

Observer Reports

The Upstate Equine Council donated a horse trailer to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office today, to help the county's animal control officers in cases involving horses. Anderson County Council last year included funds for the care and housing of horses in such cases.

But the trailer solves the issue of having a trailer on hand to rescue the animals, according the the Sheriff's department, rather than relying on volunteers.

The trailer will also be used to pick up cattel when needed.

Friday
Sep152017

Survey: Healthcare Still Top Concern of Voters in Both Parties

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A new survey shows both Democratic and Republican voters rank healthcare as the most important issue for Congress to address before the end of the year -- but for different reasons.

In the Politico/Harvard poll, healthcare topped the agenda for constituents of both parties. Among Republican voters, 54 percent agreed it was "an extremely important priority" to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act -- something the GOP-controlled Congress has so far failed to do. Just 18 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents agreed.

Among Democratic voters, 51 percent rated lowering prescription drug costs as extremely important -- the highest number of 10 issues included in the survey. That sentiment was shared by 30 percent of GOP voters and 36 percent of independents.

Another issue facing Congress, the ongoing investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, divides voters along party lines. Forty-four percent of Democrats said the probes were extremely important, but only 1-in-10 Republicans and 18 percent of independents agreed.

Support for a border wall to limit illegal immigration, one of President Donald Trump's signature campaign promises, had little fervent support among voters in any of the three groups. Among Republicans, 28 percent said building the wall was extremely important. Only 6 percent of Democrats and independents agreed.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3 and surveyed 1,016 adults. It carries a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.