August 2, 2015

Boats manufacturer looking to hire 200 at new Newberry County plant

Startup boat manufacturer Sea Pro Boats announced Wednesday it will be hiring more than 200 people as it ramps up operations in Newberry County this fall.

The company was initially founded in the Midlands 28 years ago, but was sold in 2005 to Brunswick Corporation and eventually went bankrupt. One of Sea Pro’s original founders Jimmy Hancock announced through the South Carolina Department of Commerce on Wednesday that he was getting back into the business and was partnering with Tidewater Boats founder Preston Wrenn to reboot the brand.

The new $5.5 million, 200,000-square foot facility will be housed at a former sock factory inside Whitmire — a town of just over 1,400 people located in the state’s Piedmont region almost halfway between Columbia and Spartanburg. Sea Pro said its new corporate headquarters will also be at the site.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be resurrecting Sea Pro Boats in Newberry County, and the outpouring of support from the town of Whitmire has been both humbling and heartwarming,” both Hancock and Wrenn said in the announcement. “I can’t express how much we appreciate what Newberry County and the South Carolina Department of Commerce have done to help make this dream a reality.”

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Race to replace Horry County legislator headed to runoff

Russell Fry (Image:

Russell Fry (Image:

The election to replace a Surfside Beach legislator who resigned amid sex harassment allegations this spring is down to a runoff.

Relative newcomers Russell Fry and Tyler Servant each got the most votes among the four Republicans running to replace former State Rep. Nelson Hardwick in SC House District 106. The State Election Commission said Fry received 45 percent of the votes to Servant’s 33 percent. They will face off again on August 11.

“What a stunning upset,” Fry posted to his Facebook page. “This was possible because of you, your hard work, and your dedication… Over the next two weeks, we will offer a clear difference in candidates, ideas, and solutions.”

Since there is no Democrat running, the winner in two weeks will almost certainly win the seat. District 106 covers the neighborhoods southwest of Myrtle Beach, including South Strand, Surfside Beach and Garden City.
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SC agencies say law tied hands in preventing KKK/New Black Panther rallies on same day

Jonathon Brooks of Mooresboro, NC, waves his personal banner in the midst of the Black Educators/New Black Panthers event on July 18 (File)

Jonathon Brooks of Mooresboro, NC, waves his personal banner in the midst of the Black Educators/New Black Panthers event on July 18 (File)

South Carolina legislators on Tuesday demanded to know why state officials allowed two opposing hate groups to hold simultaneous rallies at the Statehouse two weeks ago.

A joint legislative committee which oversees the Statehouse grounds asked the state’s General Services Division director why the Ku Klux Klan and a New Black Panther-affiliated group Black Educators for Justice were both allowed to protest the Confederate battle flag on July 18. Law enforcement officials said the rallies were marred by fistfights, vandalism, and five arrests as police struggled to maintain control.

The Division of General Services oversees the maintenance of the Statehouse complex and handles any public requests to use the grounds. Agency staff said the Black Educators request went from 12-4 pm, while the original KKK rally was scheduled from 3-5 pm. Not included in those requests were hundreds of others who came to counter-protest or to watch. Police shut down the KKK rally after an hour once things spiraled out of control.

“The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan hate black people. The Black Panthers… hate white people,” State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland. “It would seem to me that somebody would have realized they weren’t coming to eat cookies or set lemonade.”

But general services director Nolan Wiggins said the agency had been worried about potential free speech violations, since there is nothing in state regulations that would prohibit either group from getting permission. “It’s very difficult to curtail people’s First Amendment rights when they’re used in a public forum such as the Statehouse,” he told the committee.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said his department did not want the rallies, but did not know how to stop them without causing potential lawsuits. “We didn’t know of any legal way that we could keep these folks from showing up,” he said. Department of Public Safety director Leroy Smith said both groups had “misled” his staff about what would occur at the protests.

Wiggins also told legislators that nothing in state law would have prevented either group from showing up without state preclearance. But he said his office and its parent agency the Department of Administration have changed how requests are handled. Wiggins said SLED and Statehouse security will be notified before any future requests to use the grounds are granted.

However, Keel and Smith admitted SLED and DPS had been notified before the July 18 rallies. And Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott — whose deputies also worked security that afternoon — said law enforcement was unprepared for things to get out of control. Lott called violence at the rallies the “worst situation I have ever seen.”

“My biggest question would be why would the state allow two hate groups… permission to come to the Statehouse grounds on the same day?” he rhetorically asked during Tuesday’s hearing. “We all knew what was going to happen. And it did happen.”

State Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Columbia, said the House could consider legislation that would restrict known hate groups from using the grounds. That sparked a well-known Midlands progressive activist Brett Bursey to warn lawmakers against overreach. Bursey, the South Carolina Progressive Network director, was not scheduled to speak but told the committee that he believes the current rules had worked well until this particular incident.

The rallies occurred roughly two weeks after legislators voted to remove the battle flag from its position next to the Confederate Soldiers Monument.

Authorities ID man shot by Lexington County deputies, say he attacked family member

Lexington County authorities have now identified a man who was shot and killed by deputies responding to a domestic incident near Irmo on Monday.

The county coroner’s office said 56-year-old Timothy Milliken died from multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident, as it does for most officer-involved shootings in South Carolina.

A Lexington County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said deputies reported Milliken was attacking a family member with a knife when they arrived. Both deputies fired at Milliken, saying they feared for the life of the family member. The victim’s relationship to Milliken was not given in the initial reports to media outlets. A SLED spokesman told The State newspaper that the other individual remains in the hospital.

Both deputies are on administrative leave during the state investigation, which is also typical under South Carolina procedures.

The shooting was the 29th in South Carolina this year involving law enforcement officers, which The Associated Press reports is on pace for the most officer-involved shootings since the state began tracking the number in 2000. The current high is 45 such incidents in 2012. The total includes any incident where an officer discharged his or her weapon and includes both armed and unarmed suspects.


Kroger spice recall launched after salmonella found in SC store

The Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger said it was a discovery in South Carolina that led it to recall four brands of spices from 31 total states.

The company said in a statement Saturday that the recall began after potential salmonella bacteria were found in a garlic powder sample from a North Augusta store. The FDA discovered the contamination and alerted Kroger, which then recalled its store-brand garlic powder, ground cinnamon, coarse ground black powder, and “Bac’n Buds” from stores across the South and Great Lakes region.

The company said no illnesses have been reported and it is recalling the products out of an abundance of caution.

Product                       UPC               Codes                       Size
Ground Cinnamon  1111070034   Sell by: May 19 18PS4   18.3 oz

Garlic Powder           1111070039   Sell by: May 18 17PS4   24.7 oz

Coarse Ground         1111070041    Sell by: May 18 18PS4   17.1 oz
Black Pepper

Bac’n Buds                 1111070025   Sell by: May 20 18PS4   12.0 oz

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Salmonella causes 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths in the United States each year, although the actual number of illnesses is likely much higher. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

Anyone who purchased one of these four brands should not consumer them and should instead return them to the store for a full refund or replacement.

The company said that includes stores which operate under a different name, including  Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, City Market, Smith’s, Dillons, Baker’s, Gerbes, Jay C, Ruler Foods, Pay Less, Owen’s, and Scott’s.