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Wednesday
May162018

Council Approves Tax Incentives for $20 Million Project

Anderson County Council approved a new process for franchising non-emergency ambulance service as part of Tuesday’s meeting in the history courthouse downtown. 

Anderson County Councilman Ray Graham said the move was an effort to improve such service throughout the county and to have a system in place moving forward.

Council also approved tax incentives for the acquisition and development of a public-private "Project Avocado." The initiative includes five separate projects/properties in the county which could bring a combined investment of nearly $20 million. 

Details are emerging.

Also on Tuesday night, council also approved arrangements to move ahead on proposals for use of the land the county acquired as part of the acquisition of the TTI (Old Singer/Ryobi) property on Pearman Dairy Road. The move is part of the county long-term plans for use of the property and facilties.

Tuesday
May152018

S.C. Lawmakers Return to Work on Budget

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A committee of South Carolina lawmakers has returned to the Statehouse to finalize their proposed $8 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

Members of the House and Senate held a joint committee meeting Tuesday, a few days after the General Assembly adjourned their 2018 regular session. During the brief meeting, Senate counsel read that chamber's version of the provisos that members of the House agreed to, including provisions for renovation and repairs at Lander University.

Committee chair Republican Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence said members met earlier in the day to reach the approved list of 24 provisos.

Lawmakers will return to Columbia later this month for a special session to give final approval to the proposed state budget. The next budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Tuesday
May152018

McMaster Designates May Military Spouse Appreciation Month

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's governor is recognizing military spouses by proclaiming the month of May as Military Spouse Appreciation month.

Gov. Henry McMaster read the proclamation in the Statehouse on Tuesday, surrounded by military personnel and spouses of deployed service members.

McMaster said it was a pleasure and honor to announce the special day in honor of the spouses, and said military tradition is one thing that has kept the state of South Carolina strong.

The proclamation notes that spouses are the backbone of military families and contribute directly to the strength, resilience and readiness of the United States Armed Forces.

Adjutant General Robert Livingston thanked McMaster for being a strong sponsor of South Carolina's military personnel and families.

Tuesday
May152018

Deaton to Lead AU Office of Technology and Online Learning

A familiar face is the first leader of the recently launched Anderson University Office of Technology, Online Learning and Innovation.

Dr. Benjamin Deaton, who currently serves as Assistant Provost for Academic Innovation and Digital Learning and Executive Director of the AU Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL), has been named Vice President in charge of the Office of Technology, Online Learning and Innovation. The new initiative was created in 2018 in an effort to bring together the core services of learning and information technology, online learning, learning design and academic innovation in order to serve the needs of AU students, faculty and staff. The new office is comprised of three areas: the CIDL, Information Technology and a unit dedicated to online and continuous learning.

“Anderson University thrives on a culture that recognizes the importance of casting a vision for the future rather than reflecting on past accomplishments,” AU President Dr. Evans Whitaker said. “Elevating Dr. Deaton to this new position reflects that institutional priority because he challenges us to re-think the ways we deliver learning opportunities in the 21st century. His leadership, emphasis on innovation and singular focus on the entire AU family will serve him well in this new role.”

Tuesday
May152018

AmMed to Offer Electronic Check In at Urgent Care

AnMed Health is working to cut wait-times at CareConnect, its urgent care locations at 600 North Fant Street, Anderson and at 885 Tiger Boulevard/U.S. Hwy 123 in Clemson. 

AnMed is offering patients the option of electronically reserving a spot in line at its urgent care clinics, with the goal of less time in the waiting room, lower germ risks and more time at home, work or school. Patients will be notified by text on their mobile phone or tablet if their reservation time changes due to unforeseen circumstances.

The new service allows patients to treat an urgent care visit the same way they treat checking in for an airline reservation or ordering food online at a restaurant.

Tuesday
May152018

Clemson Launches Fishing/Aquatics Center of Excellence

CLEMSON — With an economic impact of $33.4 billion, natural resources are major contributors to South Carolina economy and quality of life. To train people to help sustain these resources, Clemson University is establishing a Fisheries and Aquatic Center of Excellence.

The center, also known as FACE, will be located in the forestry and environmental conservation departmentTroy Farmer and Brandon Peoples, assistant professors of fisheries ecology, are leading the center’s establishment.

FACE will be a collaboration of Clemson and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, as well as others associated with the outdoor recreation industry. Farmer said FACE is being established because of the increasing demand for highly trained college graduates to work as fisheries scientists with state and federal agencies and private consulting firms.

“The central goal of the center is to promote research that will enhance management and conservation of South Carolina’s aquatic and fisheries resources,” Farmer said. “We also want to provide the highest quality training and education for the next generation of fisheries biologists, managers, scientists and other professionals. In addition, we will have an outreach component that involves the delivery and dissemination of fisheries management and conservation information to private landowners, professionals, policymakers and the general public.”

Academic programs will be provided through forestry and environmental conservation. Outreach programs will be conducted through Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture.

South Carolina has more than 1,600 lakes larger than 10 acres. Image Credit: Clemson University College of Agriculture Forestry and Life Sciences

FACE’s establishment began after Greg Yarrow, professor and chair of forestry and environmental conservation, determined it would be an excellent way to train individuals to provide researched-based information to sustain the state resources. The center is in the process of securing funds it needs to ensure it can meet its goals.

“An investment in the center is an investment in educating and training future fisheries professionals,” Yarrow said. “It also is an investment in ensuring South Carolina’s fisheries resources will be around for generations to come.”

Farmer said there was a lot of interest in the center during the Bassmaster Classic recently held on Hartwell Lake.

South Carolina’s forests cover 13 million of the state’s 20.5 million acres and and water for 1.3 million acres. The state has 11,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 1,600 lakes larger than 10 acres, including 19 reservoirs greater than 1,000 acres, and 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline.

Natural resources have the largest economic impact of any industry in the state. Fish- and wildlife-related recreation contributes $1.7 billion annually to the state’s economy, with $686 million spent annually on fishing alone. Fish- and wildlife-related activities support more than 31,000 jobs in South Carolina, many of which are provided by local outdoor recreation companies based here.

Alvin Taylor, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said natural resources are an important part of the state’s charm.

“South Carolina’s natural resources are our most valuable economic asset,” he said Alvin Taylor. “Natural resources are the major contributor to our quality of life, which is why corporations want to locate here, why people want to move here and it is why people want to stay here.”

Tuesday
May152018

Clemson Professor Invited to White House STEM Summit

CLEMSON — Congratulations are pouring in for Clemson University’s Tom Peters, who has been invited to attend a White House summit aimed at shaping federal support for education in the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Tom Peters

The State-Federal STEM Summit runs June 25-26 and is hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Peters will join more than 150 of his colleagues from states, territories and tribes across the country at the summit. The dialogue is expected to focus on federal STEM education plans and the best use of STEM education resources for states to grow their STEM programs.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to be a representative for our state,” Peters said.

Peters is executive director of South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science, which is housed in Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Tuesday
May152018

Farmers Market Vouchers Available for Senior Citizens

Begining in June, Anderson County seniors may apply for produce vouchers as part of the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Seniors. The Anderson County Senior Citizens Program and Anderson County, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and other state agencies, will issue vouchers to eligible senior citizens. Vouchers can be used to purchase produce at participating farmer’s markets through November 2017. Each eligible person will receive $25 worth of coupons. Vouchers are issued on a ‘first come- first serve’ basis until the supply is exhausted. EBT is accepted year-round.

“For the past few years, low-income Senior Citizens across Anderson County have been given the opportunity to supplement their diets with fresh, healthy and local produce by means of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program,” said Anderson Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “Seniors can apply for these vouchers between May 31 and June 2 at the Iva, Belton and Anderson County Farmers Markets. When residents spend their vouchers at our Farmers Markets, they are supporting our county's farmers and our local economy also gets a healthy boost from those dollars spent. I want to once again, encourage everyone to help us get the word out about this beneficial program and also to remember to support our local farmers at the Anderson County Farmers Market.”

“Once again, Anderson County Senior Citizens Program is receiving $20,000 worth of vouchers for our seniors & farmers,” said Anderson County Senior Citizens Program Manager Kelly Jo Barnwell. “It is so important that each senior who receives their vouchers, spends their vouchers with our local farmers!! We want everyone in Anderson County to WIN with SFMNP!”
 
Individuals aged 60 or older, with a low monthly income, or who receive SSI or Food Stamp benefits are eligible for these free coupons. Individuals must apply in person; provide proof of their identity, age and their Anderson County residency. Applicants must also meet household income eligibility limits. Information regarding the income of all household members is required to determine eligibility. Verification of Social Security numbers is also required.

Individuals wishing to apply for homebound seniors must provide a statement from the senior granting permission to submit an application on their behalf. Proof of identity and proof of income for the homebound senior must be presented at time of application.

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program’s goal is to supplement the diets of low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious produce while supporting South Carolina’s small farmers. South Carolina is one of several states that receive funds from the USDA to operate this program.

Application for vouchers will be at the following locations & available first come, first served:

June 6 at 8 a.m.: Iva Farmer’s Market

June 7 at 8 a.m.: Belton Farmers’ Market

June 8 at 8 a.m.: Anderson County Farmers’ Market

For more information about the Senior Voucher program, please contact Anderson County Seniors Program Manager, Kelly Jo Barnwell at 231-2237.

Tuesday
May152018

Self-Employed, Freelancers, Contract Workers Struggle to Find Health Care

NEW YORK - There are plenty of problems lurking on America’s career ladder, but here is a big one: our healthcare systems are designed for the workforce of 1950. 

If you have a lifetime corporate 9-to-5 gig, then you probably have group health insurance. 

But what if that is not the kind of job you have? Well, good luck with that. 

More Americans than ever are falling into that second category, a scrappy mix of the self-employed, solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and contract workers. More than 57 million Americans, or 36 percent of the workforce, freelance, according to a recent study by the Freelancers Union. 

Among millennials, that number rises to 47 percent. By 2027, if trends continue, the majority of the workforce is expected to be freelance. 

Such a scenario will require new initiatives. 

Stride Health, a kind of coverage matchmaker, has teamed up with companies whose employees are primarily independent – like Care.com, Etsy, Fiverr, DoorDash and Postmates – to funnel freelancers into the healthcare policies and plans that are right for them. 

So far the coordinated push has been encouraging: With Postmates, about 30 percent of workers had Stride’s help navigating Obamacare exchanges, and 1,300 of them who did not have it previously secured coverage. 

At Care.com, 85 percent of caregivers working with Stride received a subsidy for health coverage, at an average of $460.54 monthly. 

“Like most gig workers, caregivers frequently work for more than one employer with no access to the benefits that those working for traditional employers take for granted,” said Bryan O’Malley, general manager at Care.com. “With more of a social safety net, we are helping provide critical benefits so caregivers can look after themselves and their own families.” 

At the best of times, healthcare is a tricky thing to figure out. For independent workers, doubly so: Not only does their income fluctuate month-by-month, but the policies and premiums available to them are constantly in motion as well. 

“If you are a freelancer facing the pure retail cost of healthcare, then it is horrifying,” says Kathy Hempstead, senior advisor for the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to healthcare. 

That is why the Affordable Care Act was a “total game-changer” for independent workers, Hempstead said. A system of subsidies helped pull millions into coverage, and plans compliant with the ACA offer a guarantee of a certain level of quality, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

STATE SOLUTIONS 

Despite the current administration’s attempt to scrap it, the ACA still stands – for now. 

Many states are also coming up with solutions on their own. 

Minnesota and Alaska, for example, have received waivers to devise plans in which they contribute additional cash to help keep costs low for policyholders. 

In those states, premiums have actually been falling, says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Alaska, for instance, actually had a 26.5 percent decrease in rates on its independent market for 2018. 

California, New Jersey and Florida have also taken steps to protect their risk pools and make sure premiums do not soar, says Hempstead. Others, like Iowa, are on the other end of the spectrum, having real trouble providing affordable insurance to independent workers. 

There are plenty of other changes bubbling on the healthcare front. One potential development: So-called “association” plans, in the works from the Trump administration. 

Those could be good for some independent workers, and bad for others. A yoga-teachers’ health plan, for instance, would presumably provide good coverage at affordable rates, since the participants are fit and health-conscious. But draw those healthy people out of other plans, and everyone else’s premiums will go up. 

There is an upside to such a massive problem, in that it represents a tantalizing potential market. With so many millions of gig workers in need of healthcare, there are rich opportunities for innovators able to figure out this particular puzzle. 

Perhaps the biggest question mark of all: The recent joint announcement of Amazon, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase, which are teaming up to form an independent healthcare company billed as “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” 

If that partnership offers policies to independent workers, beyond just the employees of the three companies, all bets are off. The healthcare world could be turned on its head.

Monday
May142018

S.C. Protesters Call for Solutions on Poverty, Voter Suppression

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina protesters who say their mission is to reignite Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign to empower poor people held a rally demanding changes regarding poverty and voter suppression.

Nearly 100 people gathered Monday on the north lawn of the Statehouse grounds for The Poor People's Campaign, which was one of over 30 rallies held nation-wide. Columbia police arrested 16 demonstrators and charged them with pedestrian unlawfully in the roadway.

Event organizers said they are calling for a "moral revival" and want to refocus the national conversation around what they call fundamental issues concerning the country. The organizers also said the campaign is about values and not associated with any political party.

The rally kicked-off six weeks of a call to action by organizers.

Monday
May142018

Neal Named New Anderson University Provost

Dr. Ryan Neal, Assistant Provost and Professor of Christian Studies at Anderson University, has been named the university’s new Provost of the school effect June 1, replacing the retiring Provost Dr. Danny Parker. Parker will remain on the university’s senior leadership team while serving as the school’s first W.B. Johnson Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science.

“Dr. Neal has served Anderson University admirably and honorably for more than 13 years, and he’s proven to be a transformational leader as we seek to fulfill our commitment as a comprehensive university known for academic rigor and sustained innovation,” said AU President Dr. Evans P. Whitaker. “Dr. Neal has played a large role in elevating Anderson as a university of distinction, and I’m excited to work with him as he leads our faculty and academic administration in the years to come.”

Neal came to AU as Professor of Christian Studies in 2005, where he has been Assistant Provost since 2016. A graduate of Texas Tech University, Dr. Neal earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and a Master of Theology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he lived from 2000 until 2004 while completing his PhD studies.

Dr. Neal’s teaching and research focus on the relationship between biblical interpretation and theology.

Monday
May142018

Clemson Research Could Improve Efficacy of Drugs

Joshua Bostwick of Clemson University is launching a new research project that could lead to improved drug delivery techniques and is made possible by one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty members.

Bostwick, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is receiving a $500,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. The funding pays for Bostwick to do research and to develop an educational program based on his research.

“Our goals are ambitious yet achievable,” he said. “We aim to place the field of elastocapillary fluid dynamics on a firm foundation for future growth that has the potential to be transformative.”

Elastocapillary fluid dynamics deals with the motion of liquid on soft materials, such as organs and other human tissue. When the materials come into contact with liquid, they deform, creating their own speed bumps. That affects the fluid motion.

“Tissues are generally complex materials,” Bostwick said. “They don’t behave exactly like a solid, and they don’t behave exactly like a fluid. They behave somewhat in between. To understand the motion of liquids on complex soft materials is the idea. It is relevant to many biological applications.”

Any new technologies would be several years off, but the Bostwick research could enable many new opportunities, he said. For example, Bostwick’s work could help researchers understand the motion of cancer cells through the body, how injectable drugs move through tissues and the optimal droplet size in aerosol medicine.

Richard Figliola, acting chair of the mechanical engineering department, said the award is well-deserved.

“The CAREER award is highly prestigious and widely seen as a sign of future success,” he said. “It’s a reflection of Dr. Bostwick’s talent, creativity and hard work.”

Bostwick has laid out four goals as part of his research: to predict and experimentally verify the dispersion relationship for elastocapillary waves, to describe the fluid mechanics of droplet durotaxis/mechanotaxis, to quantify the splashing dynamics of liquids on soft solids and to develop fully coupled models of spreading liquids on deformable viscoelastic solids.

As part of his award, Bostwick has already begun to develop a Creative Inquiry course and a summer program that would give undergraduates a chance to learn about elastocapillarity through research.

“Because the field is new, the research problems undertaken by these undergraduates have the potential for high impact in the academic literature, which will improve the quality of their graduate school applications,” he said.

Bostwick also envisions a graduate-level introductory course in elastocapillarity and a departmental seminar focused on research and professional development for graduate students.

Monday
May142018

Supreme Court Paves Way for Legalized Sports Betting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for states to legalize sports betting in a defeat for the major American sports leagues, endorsing New Jersey’s bid to allow such wagering and striking down a 1992 federal law that prohibited it in most places. 

The court upheld the legality of a 2014 state law permitting sports betting at New Jersey casinos and horse racetracks and voided the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Some states see sports betting, like lotteries, as a potentially important source of tax revenue. 

The ruling takes the United States a step closer to legal sports betting in numerous states, perhaps nationwide, rather than just in select places such as Nevada, home to the gambling capital Las Vegas. The current illegal sports betting market is worth billions of dollars annually. 

The justices struck down the entire federal law on a 6-3 vote. 

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote on behalf of the court. 

Industry analysts have said that dozens of states might legalize sports betting if they are not barred from doing so by the federal law.