May 30, 2015

“Know Your Zone” in case a hurricane prompts an evacuation in South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley has proclaimed May 31 – June 6 to be 2015 South Carolina Hurricane Awareness Week. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), the National Weather Service and county emergency managers urge citizens to take time now to prepare for disasters by reviewing their family emergency plans and developing a disaster supplies kit.

Derrec Becker of SCEMD told South Carolina Radio Network that the state’s annual Hurricane Guide has been completely updated for the 2015 season and details useful information on what to do before, during and after the landfall of a major hurricane.

Becker encourages everyone living near or visiting the coast to “Know Your Zone” in case a hurricane prompts an evacuation.

“It’s important you know your evacuation zone — the zones are the areas in which county emergency managers would work with the governor to issue an evacuation,” Becker said. He recommends visiting to use an interactive map showing color-coded coastal evacuation zones, routes and links to county emergency management pages with detailed hurricane evacuation information.

Becker said planning in advance is also important. “Have a plan for you and your family should there be a hurricane approaching South Carolina.” He said reviewing that plan with all of your family members is vital as well so everybody knows what to do.

Despite forecasters’ predictions for a below-normal number of storms, fewer storms do not necessarily mean a less destructive season. SCEMD joins the National Hurricane Center in reminding everyone that some of the most destructive hurricanes, such as Agnes (1972), Alicia (1983) and Andrew (1992), have occurred during seasons in which little hurricane activity was expected.




Volvo CEO: Workers, infrastructure were key in choosing Lowcountry

Volvo executives and state officials pose during a meeting with the public on Thursday

Volvo executives and state officials pose during a meeting with the public on Thursday

The CEO of Volvo Cars North America says his company chose the South Carolina Lowcountry for its new $500 million auto manufacturing plant because of the region’s existing infrastructure for high-tech companies, a business-friendly climate and an available workforce. 

Lex Kerssemakers spoke with reporters Thursday for the first time since the Swedish company announced its plans this month to build its first North American plant in Berkeley County, creating at least 2,000 new jobs by the end of the decade and a projected 4,000 jobs by 2030. 

“We looked at more than 60 locations across the country,” he said during a visit to Charleston. “Some we left quickly, few remained towards the end. Here in Charleston and South Carolina we have found our American manufacturing home.”

The company said construction on the plant will begin this fall, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018.

Gov. Nikki Haley helped recruit Volvo personally, helped by more than $200 million in state and local incentives. She said Volvo and South Carolina will make good partners in the coming decades. “When you look at everything that is Volvo Cars, their entire focus… is about people,” she said. “And when you look at everything that is South Carolina, it’s all about quality of life for people. Our core values match.”

Kerssemakers said about 7,500 people have already logged onto a website expressing interest in working at the plant. Construction begins this fall.

Jay Harper contributed to this report

Lancaster Sheriff: Pastor killed after pointing gun at deputies in domestic dispute

Darrell Morgan (Image: SC Free Will Baptist State Association)

Darrell Morgan (Image: SC Free Will Baptist State Association)

Friends and family say a man shot and killed by deputies at a Lancaster County store on Thursday was a Baptist pastor who was likely distraught over his wife leaving him.

The county coroner’s office has identified the man as 60-year-old Darrell Morgan, who was pastor at the New Harvest Free Will Baptist Church in Tradesville. The coroner’s office said Morgan died from his injuries at a nearby hospital. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said deputies responded to the Carolina Corner appliance store about five miles north of Lancaster after a clerk there called 911 to report a man with a gun arguing with a woman inside. The woman was Morgan’s estranged wife, according to a State Law Enforcement Division spokesman.

Faile said Morgan was behaving in a threatening manner and the deputies believed he had started to point his handgun at them when they opened fire.

[Read more…]

Domestic violence bill heads to governor

S.C. Statehouse

S.C. Statehouse

A domestic violence bill now headed to the governor would increase penalties for offenders, bar higher-level abusers from owning guns, and revamp how such crimes are prosecuted in South Carolina.

The House voted 81-23 Thursday to accept a compromise version of the bill that was introduced last week. The vote came two days after the Senate approved an identical version

“This battle has been about creating a better tomorrow for all South Carolinians. Our laws reflect our values, and until recently, our values were not accurately represented by our laws,” State Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement released after the vote. “While this problem won’t be overcome with legislation alone, South Carolina has taken its first giant (step) in the long journey to changing the culture of violence.”

Many of the “no” votes against the bill came from Democrats who felt the bill did not do enough to provide counseling for batterers and their victims. Some opponents also questioned why a domestic violence intervention program was being moved from the state Department of Social Services to the Attorney General’s Office and circuit solicitors.

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EPA awards brownfields grants to clean up sites in South Carolina

Saluda River in Pelzer, near the site of one of the Brownfields projects (Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Saluda River in Pelzer, near the site of one of the Brownfields projects (Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding three recipients in South Carolina with Brownfields grants to help redevelop former contaminated industrial sites.

The grants are meant to provide communities with funding necessary to clean and rebuild contaminated properties, boost local economies and create jobs while protecting human health. EPA Region 4 Brownfield Director Barbra Alfan told South Carolina Radio Network the purpose is to reclaim the sites. “These properties are the home of a former mill, a former drycleaner, anything like that used chemicals in their process or manufacturing,” she said.

EPA’s Brownfields grants provide resources early which is critical for the success of communities’ ability to leverage additional partnerships and resources. The community leaders– represented by local governments, states, tribes, quasi-governmental organizations, and non-profit entities– have demonstrated strong partnerships and plan to leverage the EPA grants with other public-private investments. They use an inclusive process to help spur the redevelopment of vacant, former manufacturing and commercial sites for broader revitalization in their downtowns. This results in a transformed economy and environment while addressing poverty and economic distress.

The South Carolina brownfield grant recipients are:

  • City of Greenwood, SC (Greenwood Mill #5) ($200,000 cleanup grant)
  • Pelzer Heritage Commission (Former Pelzer Mill Dump – Eastern Parcel Overlook Park) ($200, 000 cleanup grant)
  • Pelzer Heritage Commission (Former Pelzer Mill Dump Western Parcel) ($200,000 cleanup grant)
  • Town of Saluda ($400,000 assessment grant)

The Pelzer grants are of particular notice, as the former mill town in Anderson County is looking to create a kayaking and canoeing river trail that would pass through the closed industrial dump site. A town heritage commission is also looking to turn the site into a park.

The EPA said communities selected among this year’s finalists demonstrate “a high level of preparedness to undertake specific projects.” The announcement said those communities involved have firm commitments of leveraged funds to move projects forward.