Friday, July 21, 2017

The Agenda: Outgoing DHEC head won't take contract; I-526 gets 30 days; Graham urges sympathy for DREAMers

Heigel won't be paid during transition

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 11:27 AM

DHEC Director Catherine Heigel is leaving the state public health agency - SCDHEC
  • DHEC Director Catherine Heigel is leaving the state public health agency

Catherine Heigel, the departing director of DHEC won't take a "transition services contract" taken by predecessors after criticism arose this week over the $17,000 per month contract her predecessor Catherine Templeton took when leaving the agency. Source: The State

Greenville-based coding school The Iron Yard announced yesterday that it would close after its current class session is over. The company's major investor was acquired earlier this year and the school says it was challenging to maintain physical campuses in the changing education landscape. Source: Greenville News, P&C

Lobbyists spent $1 million more during this year's legislative session to influence state lawmakers than last year. Source: The State

Charleston County will have 30 more days to describe how it intends to fill a $300 million budget hole in the I-526 project. Source: P&C

A caller to Charleston County 911 on Monday warned that a portion of the canvas draped over the I-526 Don Holt Bridge had come loose and was flapping in the wind, two days before the canvas and netting holding it in place came loose and fell onto cars passing by. Source: P&C

SCE&G is asking the Public Service Commission to toss out a complaint from environmentalists seeking to stop the over budget and behind schedule VC Summer nuclear project. Source: P&C

Three men have been charged with helping the man who managed to escape from a maximum-security prison earlier this month. Source: AP

A new program called the Santana Initiative after Feidin Santana, the man who recorded the shooting of Walter Scott, is seeking to help train volunteers "on how to record police encounters in minority neighborhoods," the AP says. Source: AP

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham made an emotional appeal yesterday asking political leaders to sympathize with undocumented children who were safe from deportation under the Obama administration, protection President Donald Trump has been pressured to drop. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is one of 10 state attorneys general who are threatening legal action if Trump rescind the Obama executive order. Source: P&

Graham: "To President Trump: You're going to have to make a decision ... campaign is over. To the Republican Party: Who are we? What do we believe? The moment of reckoning is coming. When they write the history of these times, I'm going to be with these kids."

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Agenda: Cruise ships hit downtown cap; State to discuss I-526; Graham reacts to McCain cancer diagnosis

Graham: "This disease has never had a more worthy opponent."

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM

  • Mike Ledford file photo

For the first time, the cruise ship industry has hit the cap on the annual number of times it's allowed to dock at its downtown cruise port. Source: P&C

The State lede: "The S.C. Supreme Court sided with big agricultural interests Wednesday in turning back a challenge to a law that lets farms siphon billions of gallons of water from rivers with limited state oversight."

Just a few hours after DOT cleared temporary tarps draped over the Don Holt Bridge on I-526, the State Infrastructure Bank will meet today to discuss the future of the project to finish the highway. Source: Live 5

A bill the Senate reportedly plans to vote on next week to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement could, according to the latest CBO score, raise premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans by more than 30 million. Source: USA Today

The state Department of Juvenile Justice says it's looking into building regional detention facilities for underage offenders closer to their homes rather than holding them all at a facility in Columbia. Source: P&C, The State

President Donald Trump told the NYT yesterday that he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general if he'd told the president that he would recuse himself for inquiries related to Russia. Source: NYT, Politico

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, reacting to the news that his friend and colleague John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis yesterday: "This disease has never had a more worthy opponent." Graham told reporters that McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for more than 5 years, said "I've been through worse" and "I'll be back." Source: AP, Twitter, AP

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Noose discovered outside home of Charleston City Councilman Mike Seekings

‘Wildly inappropriate’

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Councilman Mike Seekings - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Councilman Mike Seekings
In an apparent, yet puzzling threat, Charleston City Councilman Mike Seekings made a startling discovery outside of his home in Harleston Village — a noose.

Following a nearby house fire on Smith Street that Seekings said filled his house with smoke, the District 8 councilman and CARTA board chairman returned to check on his Montagu Street home Sunday morning to find a noose hanging outside of his front door. Seekings said he was shocked to make the discovery and was advised to quickly report the incident to police.

According to an incident report filed with the Charleston Police Department, police were contacted by Seekings to discuss the apparent threat. In the report, Seekings states that the noose was found hanging from a tree in front of his home, approximately 10-12 feet above the ground, showing that considerable effort was made to send a message.

Charles Francis with the Charleston Police Department says that investigators haven’t identified a suspect or suspects for this incident, and it has yet to be determined if this is a direct threat against Councilman Seekings.

According to Francis, police have increased their presence in the area where the noose was found. Investigators have spoken with residents in the area and nothing of concern has happened prior to this incident or since it occurred. Francis asks that anyone with information about this incident call the department at (843) 743-7200 and ask for the on-duty detective.

The councilman, whose district extends across the historic neighborhoods at the southern end of the peninsula, says he is unaware of who may have placed the noose outside of his home or what may have motivated such an act. With no idea as to what may have spurred someone to leave a noose outside of his home, Seekings has decided to leave the matter to investigators to unravel.

“The act of doing what has been done is so hateful. Whether targeted at me or my neighborhood or anyone, it is wildly inappropriate,” says Seekings.

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UPDATE: All lanes of I-526 re-open after tarps fall on Don Holt Bridge during Wednesday rush hour

Leave now for work

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 7:21 AM

Lanes re-opened on I-526 just before 10 a.m. Thursday - SCDOT
  • Lanes re-opened on I-526 just before 10 a.m. Thursday
UPDATE: SCDOT says all lanes of the I-526 bridge have re-opened around 9:55 a.m.

Expect major delays on Charleston-area roadways this morning as crews continue to work this morning to clear I-526 of debris on the Don Holt Bridge this morning, which will remains partially closed ahead of the morning rush hour.

As of 7:10 a.m., the westbound lanes (Mt. Pleasant toward I-26) of the bridge were opened, according to SCDOT.

The bridge was abruptly closed Wednesday when a gusty drive-time thunderstorm caused temporary safety tarp and netting draped over the bridge by work crews fell onto the already-congested roadway. About a dozen cars were trapped by the tarp, but all were safely removed, SCDOT told the P&C.

In a statement this morning, SCDOT says: "While crews have made significant progress in removing the fallen tarp, other debris remains to be cleared before the roadway can be safely returned to service."

SCDOT says it will continue to route traffic off the I-526 loop at I-26 from the west and Clements Ferry Road from the east.

Drive safe, Charleston.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jury sides with family of CofC grad Sarah Jones in wrongful death lawsuit

Jury for Jones

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 10:05 AM

File photo of Jones working on the set of 'Vampire Diaries' - FACEBOOK.COM/SLATESFORSARAH
  • File photo of Jones working on the set of 'Vampire Diaries'
More than three years after camera assistant and College of Charleston grad Sarah Jones was killed on the set of Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, the Jones family will receive compensation from railroad owner CSX Transportation.  On Monday, July 17, a jury ruled in favor of the Jones family, deciding upon the dollar amount of $3.9 million. According to the AP report, "The jury Monday found $11.2 million to be the total value of Jones' life as well as her pain and suffering. Jurors decided CSX — the only defendant on trial — bore 35 percent of the responsibility for Jones' death, making the railroad's share $3.9 million."

Jones was killed Feb. 20, 2014 on a Georgia railroad bridge where the Midnight Rider crew was filming when a train came down the track at 55 mph — six other crew members were injured by the train or flying debris. Randall Miller, the film's director, served a year in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing charges.  During the trial, the transportation company claimed that the fault lay entirely with the filmmakers. Jones' attorney, Jeffrey Harris, argued that CSX should have taken precautions to avoid the crash. According to the AP report, the lawsuit stated that "despite the fact that multiple CSX trains passed the Midnight Rider cast and crew on February 20, with those individuals in view of the trains' operators, no warning was given to the subsequent train that ultimately caused Sarah's death."

Rob Doolittle, a spokesman for CSX, says that the company "respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the jury" and that they plan to appeal the jury's decision.

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