March 31, 2015

Roosters rescued from cockfighting ring could be euthanized if not adopted soon

A handler carries away one of 117 birds rescued from Saturday's cockfighting raid in Wallace (Image: Carolina Waterfowl  Rescue)

A handler carries away one of 117 birds rescued from Saturday’s cockfighting raid in Wallace (Image: Carolina Waterfowl Rescue)

Over 100 roosters are being treated in the aftermath of a cockfighting bust this past weekend in Marlboro County. But the shelter warns it may have to euthanize many of the birds if they are not adopted soon.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (CWR), a nonprofit organization based in Indian Trail, North Carolina, says it is treating 117 roosters that were rescued following a raid by law enforcement in Wallace on Saturday night. The organization said roosters had many injuries including stab wounds to the chest, concussions, broken legs, and broken ribs.

27 people from both North and South Carolina were charged with cockfighting after the incident. Some individuals also face counts for possession of illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. In South Carolina cockfighting is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

Although 122 roosters were seized during the raid, five had died by Sunday morning due to severe injuries according to the organization’s  spokeswoman, Kara Lopp. Lopp said CWR has federally-certified rehabbers that that can set broken bones, provide antibiotics, and stitch wounds. The rehabbers can also give IV fluids to hydrate the roosters.

Lopp said the clinic has seen some early success with adoptions. As of Monday, 50 roosters were adopted or transferred to other sanctuaries and rescues. “We’re networking with other animal sanctuaries and rescues throughout the Carolinas… to try and take some of the birds,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “Of course, individual families would be able to adopt them.”

But there is only a small window for the anyone to adopt the birds either temporarily or permanently. Lopp said any roosters that remain after Friday, April 10 will be euthanized because the organization does not have room to keep them.

“We certainly don’t want to that,” she said. “That’s not our typical business practice. But we just don’t have the room at the rescue for the roosters.”

Two hens were founds with eggs that were nearly finished incubating at the time of the raid. Two baby chicks have since hatched, Lopp said. “It’s kind of just a great reminder of spring and new life, so that’s something good that’s come out of this.”

The rescue is also treating a duck that was rescued during the bust. Several dogs were also rescued, but they are being treated by the Humane Society of Marlboro County.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue was among several agencies directly involved in Saturday’s bust.

Jeremy Urso filed this report

Daufuskie Island asking residents if they want to become SC’s newest town

Haig Point Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island (Image: Carol M. Highsmith Collection, Library of Congress)

Haig Point Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island (Image: Carol M. Highsmith Collection, Library of Congress)

Daufuskie Island is perhaps the most unique community in all of South Carolina.

The moderately sized barrier island slightly southwest of Hilton Head is only accessible by boat, yet has roughly 250 residents who live in an unusual combination of golf resorts and historic Gullah structures. But the island’s isolated nature has also caused problems with its needs and infrastructure, according to Daufuskie Island Council Chairman Charlie Small.

“We’re kind of down the pecking order as far as Beaufort County’s concerned,” Small told South Carolina Radio Network. “So we’re trying to reinvigorate the interest that they show us and it seems to be getting some traction.”

One idea now being floated is possibly incorporating the island into South Carolina’s newest town. The council has not endorsed the idea yet, however, instead asking residents to go online and fill out a survey. The news was first reported by the Hilton Head Island Packet newspaper.

Small cautioned the idea is still very much in its infancy and depends upon how residents answer the survey, which includes other topics beyond incorporating. “It’s going to be a slow process because we want to make sure we do it right and have the temperature of everybody on the island,” he said. “That’s very, very important to us that the whole island either commits to it, or they don’t.”

If residents do get behind the idea, he said the council would consider paying $15,000 for researchers at Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond Institute to study how a new town would be structured and governed. The final proposal would be presented to residents again before any action is taken on incorporation, he said.


Lawsuit claims frat members present when Clemson student fell off bridge

Tucker Hipps (Facebook)

Tucker Hipps (Facebook)

The parents of a Clemson student who investigators believe died after falling off a bridge last September have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity he was pledging at the time. The suit, which gives a very different narrative than the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office report, claims other frat members were not only present at the time but later tried to cover up their actions that morning.

The lawsuit seeking $25 million in damages names three members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity as defendants, but South Carolina Radio Network has decided not to repost them due to the seriousness of the accusations and lack of criminal charges at this time. SPE has since been suspended by Clemson officials.

“Tucker Hipps’s death was a senseless and avoidable tragedy. The culture of hazing and inappropriate conduct by social fraternities must be stopped,” Cynthia and Gary Hipps said in a statement released through their attorney. “Universities and fraternities must make change from within to protect their own.”

The three individuals are accused of organizing a pledge run in the early morning hours of September 22.  Prior to that run, Hipps — the pledge class president who often acted as liaison between the new and old members– had been told by a fraternity brother to buy 30 biscuits, hash browns, and 2 gallons of milk before the run, the lawsuit stated. Pledges at SPE were often expected to run errands at any hour of the day on behalf of upperclassmen and the fraternity as part of their initiation. The suit claimed Hipps told the brother he did not have the money to buy that much food and was told to raise what he needed from fellow pledges.

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Businessman acquitted in SC State corruption case found dead

A Greer businessman who was ultimately found not guilty for his involvement in a South Carolina State University corruption case has been found dead in his Georgia hotel room, according to several Columbia media outlets.

Eric Robinson was 43 years old. Robinson’s death was confirmed by his attorney, who said the businessman’s body was found in a hotel room outside Atlanta around 2:00 p.m. Friday. WIS-TV reported Robinson’s body was found at the Hilton Garden Inn at Stonecrest, which is located near the suburb of Lithonia. The attorney Shaun King said Robinson was partner in an Atlanta steakhouse and was in town on business.

King said Robinson appeared to have died from a heart attack.

The news was first reported by the conservative political blog FitsNews on Saturday.

Last year, a jury found Robinson not guilty on seven counts related to the corruption trial of former SC State University trustee Jonathan Pinson. Federal prosecutors said that Robinson’s business WE Entertainment was contracted to run a 2011 school homecoming concert, largely due to Pinson’s backing. Indictments against Robinson had accused him of skimming money off the project as kickbacks for Pinson and former school counsel Edward Givens. The jury found Pinson guilty and Givens entered a guilty plea.

However, Robinson consistently argued his innocence in court. The jury sided with him, clearing Robinson on seven counts.

South Carolina makes early $75 million unemployment trust fund loan payment

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce made an early payment of $75 million to the federal government toward the agency’s unemployment trust fund loan.

“What this means is that the loan balance is now at $120 million,” Director of Information Services of the  department,  Adrienne Fairwell told South Carolina Radio Network Monday.

With the early payment the state will not have to pay as much interest. “And saves South Carolina approximately $1.3 million in interest because the loan payment was made early,” Fairwell said.

“When the 2014 unemployment tax rate was set, the federal government estimated 1,968,209 South Carolinians were employed. As of December, 2,069,190 people were earning paychecks in the state, leading to additional tax collections,” Fairwell said in explaining the savings in interest.

In addition, South Carolina paid about $80.7 million less in unemployment benefits between January 2014 and December 2014 compared with the same time frame in the previous year.

South Carolina experienced record-high employment throughout 2014, as benefit payouts continue to decline monthly enabling this $75 million early payment to be possible.

The state borrowed $977 million from the federal government during the depths of the Great Recession to cover unemployment checks that were being paid to out-of-work South Carolinians. To date, South Carolina has repaid more than $857 million of that loan.