July 7, 2015

Controversial former governor’s portrait vandalized at Winthrop University

Tillman Hall (Image: Winthrop University)

Tillman Hall (Image: Winthrop University)

Winthrop University officials say a portrait of controversial former South Carolina governor Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman was vandalized Thursday morning

The school’s president Dan Mahony wrote in an email that someone had written “violent racist” in red paint across the portrait. “Ben Tillman was inarguably a racist, however, that fact does not justify vandalism,” Mahony wrote. “Campus police are conducting an investigation of the incident and anyone found responsible will be held accountable.”

Tillman was perhaps the most divisive figure to ever govern South Carolina, leading the state from 1890-1894 and serving as U.S. senator after that until his death in 1918. The Democrat pushed for segregationist principles and helped eliminate the last vestiges of voting rights most African-American men obtained after the Civil War. However, he was also a key figure in the founding of Clemson University and establishing Winthrop’s present-day campus. The vandalized portrait hung in the school’s Tillman Hall.

Tillman’s statue at the Statehouse also had red paint thrown at it earlier this week.

A Winthrop University Police report stated that a staffer with the school’s foundation had called officers after she spotted a “thin, White Male wearing a green ball cap” who she saw writing on the portrait. She told the officer she had noticed the man on her way to the restroom. She said the man then turned around and looked at her before running out of the building. Police did not find the suspect. There are no security cameras at Tillman Hall.

The school estimates the vandalism caused about $3,000 in damage to the portrait.

Meanwhile, the Rock Hill Herald reports the incident happened just hours after someone apparently broke a first-floor window at the building during an overnight break-in. Nothing was reported missing and the two acts do not appear related, a school spokesman told the newspaper.

Anonymous group donates $3 million for Emanuel AME scholarship fund

Emanuel AME Church (File)

Emanuel AME Church (File)

An anonymous donor has provided $3 million to help set up a scholarship fund in memory of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting victims, Charleston officials announced Thursday.

“A group of people who want no credit, they want to be completely anonymous, have so far raised $3 million to endow the Rev. Pinckney Scholarship Fund,” Mayor Joe Riley, Jr., announced to reporters. Riley said the donors were from outside of South Carolina. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor, was among the nine killed by a suspected white supremacist who opened fire during a June 17 Bible study.

The anonymous donors issued the following statement through the Mayor’s Office:

“We do not pretend to understand the pain caused by this unimaginable tragedy. We simply want members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community to know that the burdens of perseverance and empathy, which they have demonstrated with such dignity, do not fall exclusively on their shoulders. We want them to know that others, most of whom do not share their race or religion, who do not come from South Carolina, abhor the injustices from which they have suffered and admire the ways the African-American community has enriched our nation. We honor Reverend Pinckney who so profoundly embodied the values that bind us together as Americans.”

The Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Fund is a nonprofit corporation registered in the State of South Carolina. The Fund will provide college and advanced degree scholarships for members of the extended Mother Emanuel AME Church community including the families of the victims. Mayor Riley, Jr., Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and William M. Lewis, Jr. have agreed to serve as the initial board members of the corporation. The Board and the Mother Emanuel AME Church leadership will establish the grant making process.

Anyone wishing to make tax-deductible contributions to the Fund may send it to:

Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Fund
c/o The Mayor’s Office, City of Charleston
Post Office Box 304, Charleston, SC 29402

Contributions may also be made online at PinckneyFund.org.

SC State University trustees approve major cuts to reach balanced budget

South Carolina State University’s new board of trustees approved $19.1 million in cuts Tuesday, including dozens of layoffs and the elimination of some programs, but believe they are now close to eliminating the school’s massive budget deficit.

“We now have a balanced budget for South Carolina State University,” board chairman Charles Way announced to applause after Tuesday’s meeting.

A finished budget for South Carolina’s only public historically-black university was required before July 1, when the state’s new fiscal year begins. The unanimous vote was the first major step for the new smaller board. Legislators replaced all previous trustees in June amid frustrations that they were not doing enough to

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USC health researcher: Steer kids away from junk food at early age

With kids out of school, a University of South Carolina public health researcher says there are healthy snacks that parents can give to their children to put them into the habit of eating right.

Michael Beets said parents need to stay away processed packaged snacks. “We’re trying to move away from the artificially flavored, individually packaged chips and crackers.”

He said parents can mix it when it comes to fruits, vegetables. “We have kind of five of them we recommend on a consistent basis. We talk about apples, bananas and oranges. And carrots and celery.” He said mix and match them throughout the week just to change things up so the kids will not tire out on the same thing day after day.

Whole grains also play a major role in healthy snacking. Whole grain pretzels and chips are great source of nutrients, while at the same time kids think they are actual potato chips and pretzels. Another good whole grain snack is air popped popcorn. Not microwave or popcorn popped in oil. Those defeat the purpose of the value that pure popcorn has.

He said moderate amounts of string cheese per week will provide calcium. “I have yet to meet a kid, unless they have a dairy intolerance, who doesn’t like string cheese.”

If parents mix and match any these any way they can come up with a variety of healthy snack combinations for their kids. Keep in mind healthy snacking does not have to be boring or bland.


Ethics Commission finds ‘probable cause’ of wrongdoing by ex-Winthrop president

Former president Jamie C. Williamson (Image: Winthrop University)

Former president Jamie C. Williamson (Image: Winthrop University)

The South Carolina Ethics Commission has advanced its case against former Winthrop University president Jayne “Jamie” Comstock Williamson more than a year after she was forced out of office, news partner WRHI reports.

Williamson had only held the post for a year when the school’s board terminated her in a 12-1 vote last June. Among the allegations against her at the time was that she had hired her husband as a school lobbyist without the board’s knowledge, a potential violation of state nepotism laws.

Now WRHI reports the Ethics Commission used news articles to determine that Williamson may have violated ethics law by appointing her husband to the post. Larry Williamson later returned the $27,000 the school said he had been paid after his employment was reported by local media.

Williamson’s attorney during her legal struggle with the Winthrop board had argued the trustees were well-aware of Mr. Williamson’s employment and only reacted after hearing “concerns in Columbia.”

WRHI reports Williamson, who now lives in Florida, will have to appear in a closed-door hearing at a later date — possibly November. Should Williamson not attend the hearing or the commissioners rule against her, she may be levied an administrative fine up to $2,000. The state Attorney General’s Office could also determine if criminal charges could be filed against her.

Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill station WRHI filed the original report