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Wild (and Strange) Animals Popping Up in South Carolina

(AP) - David Jachowski was looking for a completely different animal when he ran into the elusive spotted skunk.

The Clemson University ecology professor and his students were hoping to study the migration patterns of golden eagles, so they put out deer carcasses in South Carolina's Upstate, trying to attract the birds. Instead, their cameras captured another rarely seen creature - the spotted skunk, a shy inhabitant of the Upstate's hills.

"I don't know if they were eating (the carcasses) or just came to investigate the smell," Jachowski said. Spotted skunks were widespread in the Palmetto State before their population dropped off in the middle of the last century for unknown reasons.

"This is a species we don't know much about," Jachowski said. He now heads a two-year study of the critters, which are baited for study with sardines, rather than stags.

The skunk isn't the only rare, unusual or odd creature to pop up occasionally in the state.

In May, someone reported releasing a boa constrictor into Congaree National Park. Park officials never found the tropical snake and are not sure one ever was released.

But other animal-world oddities have been confirmed.

  • Fishing trips to S.C. lakes have turned up an omnivorous, freshwater relative of the piranha.
  • A South American kangaroo-like rodent has made appearances in the Upstate.
  • The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has been called in when pet turtles from Africa have escaped, having grown to weigh 100 pounds.
  • And, in 2010, a 6-foot-tall emu - a large, flightless Australian bird - caused a commotion when it got loose in downtown Rock Hill.

'You could bruise a knuckle'

Wildlife officials suspect many of the exotic animals that have been found in the state were released by their owners or escaped captivity.

For example, pacu, a tropical fish related to piranha that sometimes is sold in the pet trade, occasionally have been found in Lake Hartwell.

"I think people keep them for a few years and they outgrow the aquarium, and then they just release them," said Ross Self, Natural Resources' chief of freshwater fisheries, hastening to add it is illegal to let pet fish go in the state's waterways.

The pacu is noteworthy because, like its piranha cousins, it has teeth. Not pointed teeth, but eerily human-looking molars.

"It eats fruits and nuts that fall into the water, so it has crushing teeth," Self said. "It's not an aggressive predator."

But, he added, "If you stick your finger in its mouth, you could bruise a knuckle."

Self doubts the pacu are reproducing, since the tropical fish probably couldn't survive a South Carolina winter.

'Souped-up jackrabbit'

Another likely escapee from pet-dom was the Patagonian cavy, an animal that Natural Resources officers used to find occasionally in parts of Edgefield County.

More than a decade ago, wildlife agents got reports of a "souped-up-looking jackrabbit" in the western parts of the county, said Jay Butfiloski, a DNR wildlife biologist.

Natural Resources officers finally identified the "jackrabbit" as being a cavy - a rabbit-like rodent from Argentina that has long hind legs and long ears - from photos snapped by the public and, on at least one occasion, a dead animal found on the side of the road.

Butfiloski thinks the cavy sightings in Edgefield could be the result of someone in the area keeping the animals. But he said it's been six or seven years since the last cavy was reported to Natural Resources.

'Little tanks'

More frequent are reports of the African spur-thighed tortoise, an animal that gets its name from the spiky scales on its legs.

The tortoises are sold as pets but can grow to be much larger than their owners might expect, often exceeding 100 pounds.

"They're sold when they're about golf ball size, then grow to be like little tanks," said Will Dillman, a Natural Resources herpetologist, a scientist who studies amphibians and reptiles. "People put them in the yard, and they can dig out into the adjacent lot."

The tortoises don't pose a danger to humans and are caught fairly quickly. But, Dillman said, "They are surprisingly fast."

Other exotic animals are better suited to life in the S.C. wild.

For instance, the Texas horned lizard, a desert dweller, has made a home for itself in the Lowcountry's sandy soil.

Not new here

Not all of South Carolina's stranger creatures have escaped from captivity.

Some are fairly common, but maintain such a low profile that their presence - when confirmed - can cause a commotion.

Butfiloski recently received a photo from Anderson County showing an ermine weasel peeking out of a woodpile.

Weasels are common in South Carolina, but they don't come to the attention of Natural Resources very often - unless they get into a chicken coop.

"They can be quite aggressive to small animals," Butfiloski said. "Sometimes, weasels go on a killing spree."


Shortage of Wasp, Bee Venom Extract Worries Allergists

A shortage of honeybee, wasp and hornet venom extract has allergists concerned.

The extract treats people who have potentially life-threatening allergies to stings by these insects. It is given in immunotherapy shots to help build up tolerance to the stings.

Manufacturing problems at one of two companies that produce the extract has reduced the U.S. supply by up to 35 percent, according to CNN.

The shortage is expected to continue through the summer -- peak sting season, researchers warned.

"Allergy immunotherapy is one of the best therapies that we have. This treatment can be protective in 99 percent of patients. So, for those patients who cannot be treated or whose treatment is delayed, it's scary and they may limit their levels of outdoor activity," said Dr. Juan Guarderas. He is an allergist-immunologist at University of Florida Health Allergy in Gainesville.

Despite the shortage, patients are still getting treatment, the allergy specialists noted in a university news release.

Dr. Mario Rodenas-Medina said that "there's no need to panic. Patient care has not been affected. We just need to be aware that there are resources despite the shortage." He is a clinical assistant professor of allergy and clinical immunology at the UF College of Medicine.

Patients who are allergic should keep up-to-date epinephrine injectors, or EpiPens, handy, the doctors advised.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommend reducing maintenance doses of the extracts, increasing time between shots and delaying treatment for patients at the lowest risk of a bad reaction.

"We have to be diligent and we have to be careful about misuse of these extracts because they're highly valuable right now," Rodenas-Medina said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on bug bites and stings.


Study: Laughter Helps Build Social Bonds

Sharing a laugh can make you feel closer to someone else, and that quick-forming social bond may have been a big evolutionary boon to human survival, a small study suggests.

The act of laughing out loud triggers the brain to release its very own "feel good" neurotransmitters, known as endorphins, the study's brain scans showed.

Endorphins are naturally occurring opioids that may produce a sense of euphoria, calmness and stress reduction, the researchers said.

And once laughter causes endorphin levels to go up, so too do feelings of closeness and connection between those "in" on the giggle.

For many animals, primates especially, mutual grooming helps boost social bonds. And humans do this, too. But laughter may work quicker.

"Touching is probably the most powerful way of bonding in humans," said study author Lauri Nummenmaa, "but it is very time-consuming, as an individual can touch a maximum of [only] two people at the same time."

Nummenmaa is an associate professor of modeling and medical image processing at Turku PET Centre and the department of psychology at the University of Turku in Finland.

Laughter, on the other hand, gets the job done faster and more efficiently, Nummenmaa said, noting that it's "highly contagious, and may occur simultaneously in large groups.

"Such contagion," he added, "allows the endorphin responses to spread throughout the group, increasing the effectiveness of this type of 'vocal grooming.' Thus, the evolution of laughter may have enabled humans to significantly expand their social circles."

The Finnish study included 12 healthy men between the ages of 20 and 32. First, they completed mood questionnaires to determine their usual levels of happiness, tension, pain, pleasure and calmness.

Two opioid-tracking brain scans were then conducted. The first took place after each participant spent a half-hour alone in a room, with the goal being to get a snapshot of routine opioid levels. The second took place after each participant watched a half-hour of pre-chosen comedy clips with two close friends.

Audio recordings indicated that, during the comedy screenings, "social laughter" outbursts among the participants and friends clocked in at an average of a little more than one per minute.

Brain scans indicated that as social laughter increased so did the levels of endorphins and other brain opioids similarly linked to arousal and emotions.

"Also," said Nummenmaa, "we found that the more opioid receptors the participants had in their brain, the more they laughed during the experiment. This suggests that individual differences in the brain's opioid system could underlie individual differences in sociality."

But one thing that everyone has in common, said Nummenmaa, is that "laughter is also highly contagious. And we often have a hard time resisting laughing when we hear others doing so, even when we know that the laughter is fake or intentional, as in canned laughter [and] laughter tracks in sitcoms."


S.C. Denies Trump Request for Voter Data

The South Carolina State Election Commission is refusing to turn over voter information to a White House panel investigating voter fraud.

The commission on Thursday posted on its website the reasons it is rejecting the request from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The state commission said it has reviewed state laws and consulted with the South Carolina Attorney General's Office before making the decision.

The Election Commission said it cannot share voter data without anyone outside South Carolina.

The presidential commission was seeking the names, dates of birth, party affiliation, voter history, any felony convictions, and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers.

South Carolina has no party registration. The commission said it would never provide any part of a Social Security number to anyone.


National Study: Anderson "Well Being" 382nd of 3,235 Counties 

"By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness," said researcher Anneke Buffone.

Anderson County ranks 382nd overall out of 3,235 counties nationwide in overall personality traits effecting well-being, according to a study just released by the University of Pennsylvania. 


Among the findings on the good side of the nationwide rankings, Anderson County ranked 31st in High School Graduation Rate, 39th in Median Household Income (although the statistics used are from 2014, and Anderson County has seen a marked increase in wages since that time), 51st in Openness to Experience (intellectually and emotionally curious and open to new things), 57th in Unemployment (althought this ranking is based on statistcs for 2015, the county has certainly moved up since that time with a current rate of 3.4 perccent), 75th in Extraversion ("the degree to which one feels energized by interactions and sociability, 82nd in Trust (believing others mostly good, honest),  85th in Agreeableness (social harmony, compassion, cooperation), 89th in the PERMA scale (Positive emotions-Engagement-Meaning and Accomplishment), and 94th in concientiousness ("the degree one is disciplined and organized rather than impulsive and spontaneous"). 

Anderson 4th lowest in the nation in both Depression and Neuroticism (defined as experiencing "emotional instability or negative emotions").

Compared to other counties in South Carolina, Anderson consistently ranked in near the top in all the postive categories.

The bad news is, in the categories of concern, Anderson County ranked, 32nd in Heart Disease Mortality and 74th in Diabetes Diagnosis.

Compared to other counties in the state, Anderson was in the middle of the pack statewide in each of the negative categories.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania created the new interactive map revealing the well-being and personality traits of communities across the United States.

The map is the culmination of five years of compiling and analyzing Twitter data. Researchers mined more than 37 billion publicly shared, geo-tagged tweets for evidence of personality traits like openness and extraversion.

Researchers reinforced the Twitter analysis with government-reported socioeconomic and health data like rates of unemployment and heart-disease mortality. Scientists organized the information for further analysis and comparisons using county boundaries.

The newly published map is the grand finale of the World Well-Being Project.

"The World Well-Being Project was established on the idea that we can measure psychological states of large populations in real time by analyzing their social media content," said project co-founder Johannes Eichstaedt, a Penn postdoctoral fellow. "To get here, we collected huge data sets, built language-based prediction models, ran those models over tweets and demographic information and extracted language patterns associated with specific traits."

Researchers hope other social scientists, as well as lay people, will use the map to explore and investigate the diversity of personality traits across American communities.

"I hope people will just want to play around with it. If I were considering moving somewhere in the U.S., I would want to know how happy people are there," said Lyle Ungar, project co-founder and Penn professor. "County-level psychological profiles are really, really important. What people are like in different areas affects economic and health outcomes as well as happiness."

The map could help governments, businesses and other organizations more effectively deploy resources to places where they are most needed.

Identifying places were heart disease and diabetes are most concentrated can help policy makers deploy exercise and other health and wellness programs in the right areas.

"We're looking for areas where we, as a country, can do better," said Anneke Buffone, WWBP's lead research scientist. "By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness."


State: Fire-Hazard School Buses Still on Road in S.C.

Hundreds of fire-hazard school buses will continue to take S.C. students to school this fall.

Midlands school districts have 113 of the dangerous buses – out of more than 1,000 statewide – assigned to bus routes. 

The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature approved spending $20.5 million to replace about 250 of those buses with new ones. 

However, state education officials say they cannot order the new buses because Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the money. Lawmakers are refusing to come back to Columbia to override the veto. 

South Carolina’s aging buses are proving to be a fire hazard for S.C. students. Seventeen buses have caught fire or dangerously overheated since August 2015. In some cases, children were on board. 

Republican leaders say the S.C. Department of Education could use other money to order buses. 

Surplus money could pay for the new buses “before the start of the school year, if it truly were a priority,” S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, said Tuesday.

But the state’s schools agency says it already has used money set aside for other purposes to buy new school buses in an effort to park the dangerous buses for good.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are pushing for legislators to return to Columbia to approve spending the money to replace the buses, including state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland. 

“The fleet ... is a legitimate concern for the safety of our children riding these buses,” Smith said.

“We have school this fall, and we have a chance to be prepared for that with safer buses,” he said, adding “It’s a long overdue priority.” 

Bus purchases on hold 

Lawmakers have no plans yet to return to Columbia to deal with McMaster’s vetoes of the state budget that started July 1. 

They could wait to consider budget vetoes when the next legislative session starts Jan. 9, 2018. 

“Wasting taxpayer funds and calling the Legislature back into session is not the answer to a problem that has an existing responsible solution,” Lucas, the House speaker, said.

S.C. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, agreed, pointing to $105 million the Department of Education had available last year. 

“This problem is efficiently remedied without holding an expensive special legislative session at additional cost to taxpayers,” Simrill said. 

But the Department of Education disagrees. 

That money already is designated for other uses, including spending at other state agencies and school districts, the agency said. In addition, the money cannot be spent on school buses because lawmakers directed the agency to send those dollars to poor rural school districts that are suing the state. 

S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also said safety and replacement of the aging S.C. bus fleet has been a top priority since she took office in 2015. 

Spearman said she has used all means available to her to purchase 1,424 new school buses, nearly twice as many as required by the Legislature. 

“We have purchased 156 new buses from fuel and operational savings just in the past few days and will continue to identify and exhaust all options available to ensure students have a safe means of transportation to and from school,” Spearman said.

The Department of Education has spent $2 million out of its budget that began July 1 to purchase new buses, Spearman spokesman Ryan Brown said. After all the buses under order come in, about 900 of the fire-prone buses will remain on the road, he said.

Lottery money at issue 

Gov. McMaster vetoed the school bus money last month, slated to come through a surplus of the state’s education lottery sales. Though often spent on other education expenses, lottery money should be spent solely on the scholarships the lottery was created to fund, McMaster said in his June veto message.

Spending money before it is available “is not a responsible budgeting practice,” he added.

McMaster also said if the lottery makes more money than expected next year, that money should go to pay for future scholarships for S.C. students.

State officials have not yet said how much extra money the state’s education lottery earned in the budget year that ended June 30. 

Last year’s lottery surpluses totaled $59.3 million, state officials said, adding this year’s surplus will be announced late next month or in September.

More at The State Newspaper


Sheriff's Office Hosting Blood Drive Today

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a blood drive today from 10 a.m.=2 p.m.  in the back parking lot of the Law Enforcement Center at 305 Camson Road.

“Blood supplies typically take a dip during the Summer months and this year is no exception,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.


Volvo to Build Only Electric Cars Beginning in 2019

Swedish car maker Volvo says all its new cars from 2019 will have an electric motor, ending altogether the manufacture of automobiles that have only a combustion engine.

Volvo Cars, which describes the decision as "one of the most significant moves by any car maker," says it will have a range of models, including fully electric vehicles and hybrid cars.

CEO Hakan Samuelsson said Wednesday the policy reflects the wishes of customers.

He said: "People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs."

Volvo said that it will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars' performance car arm.


Mental Health Training Now Required for S.C. Law Enforcement

A new law requires every police officer in South Carolina to be trained in recognizing mental illness and de-escalating confrontations with people who are manic, not malicious.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says officers increasingly encounter people with mental health issues and need to be able to "see it for what it is."

The now-mandatory course will be part of the additional training officers need every three years to be recertified. The training is already standard for the state's 59 accredited agencies.

But there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide.

Paton Blough knows firsthand the difference that training makes. The Greenville resident has been arrested six times during psychotic episodes. He now helps educate officers on his "successful arrests" verses violent ones that left him with scars.


The Declaration of Indepence

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Americans Celebrate Independence with Fireworks, Gluttony

(Reuters) - Americans will celebrate Independence Day on Tuesday with fireworks, acts of gluttony and escapes to the beach, even for people in New Jersey where legislators brokered a last-minute deal to reopen state parks.


In keeping with tradition, cities across the country will launch fireworks after dark, perhaps the most emblematic way to commemorate July 4, 1776, when the American colonies' Declaration of Independence from Britain was adopted.

The document enshrines the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which in many U.S. cities today involves competitions over how many hot dogs and hamburgers people can stuff down their throats in rapid succession.

In Washington, a hamburger restaurant challenges competitors to consume as many sandwiches as possible in 10 minutes, while in New York City, a seaside establishment stages a tournament that tests some of the world's most formidable consumers of frankfurters. 

Americans are expected to flock to beaches, especially in the West where the weather is hot and dry, while the eastern part of the country may see scattered thunderstorms.

In New Jersey, a budget battle halted nonessential services, forcing state beaches and parks to close, but lawmakers on Monday night ended the three-day-old state government shutdown.

On Sunday, while state beaches were still closed, however, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie managed to visit Island Beach State Park, prompting outrage. 

Maine residents are facing a partial government shutdown as well, but its state parks remain open. They are two of nine states to miss deadlines for passing a budget.

An informal peace and love celebration will mark the holiday in Oregon's Malheur National Forest. The annual Rainbow Family Gathering had drawn nearly 12,000 people by Monday, and thousands more were expected for July Fourth, said Ryan Nehl, a forest administrator.

Professing to have no leaders and no organization, the families mark Independence Day with "care-taking of mother earth, nonviolence and living a compassionate and loving life," according to one blog associated with the event.


"We don't want any of the groups to potentially surround any of the officers on site," Nehl said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to attend a picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House and later view an 18-minute fireworks display.

City officials expect almost 700,000 visitors for a range of events in the U.S. capital.


A Quick Reminder on S.C. Fireworks Laws

The arsenal you and your family have acquired for your Fourth of July festivities is nothing to sneeze at, but in order to not bother your freedom-loving neighbors, knowing South Carolina's laws may be your best be in having a fun and safe holiday. 

First thing's first - you must be at least 16 years old to purchase fireworks in the state of South Carolina. 

RELATED: Fireworks may trigger bad memories for vets with PTSD

Moreover, it is illegal in South Carolina to have "fireworks containing pyrotechnic composition in excess of two grains, designed to produce a loud and piercing effect, including: 

  • "ground salutes" or "cherry bombs"
  • M-80's
  • TNT salutes
  • "bulldog salutes"
  • small rockets (not bottle rockets) less than 1/2 inch in diameter and 3 inches long 

Other than that, any other fireworks are permitted in South Carolina - mortars, spinners, bottle rockets, cakes, aerial fireworks, etc. 

Read the full South Carolina fireworks law here.

Here is a list of safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!

  • Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

S.C. Receives Trump Request for Voter Information

South Carolina election officials say they have received a letter requesting voter information from U.S. President Donald Trump's commission investigating voter fraud.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said commissioners will carefully consider the request received Monday. He says they are researching state and federal law.

Trump's commission asked for names, party affiliations, addresses, voting histories, felony convictions, military service and the last four digits of Social Security numbers for registered voters.

Whitmire wrote in an email that the agency collects most of the information requested. He says they can't release any part of Social Security numbers under state law and South Carolina doesn't have party affiliation data.

Some states have refused to comply at all, and none have all the information Trump's commission asked for.