News In Brief - December 11, 2007

School doors locked after reports of gunfire nearby

The exterior doors of Castle Heights Middle School were briefly locked down Monday morning after gunshots were heard nearby, said Rock Hill school district spokeswoman Elaine Baker.

Classroom doors were not locked and classes went on as usual, Baker said. The lock-down was a precautionary matter.

The York County Sheriff's Office was called and it later was determined that the shots likely were from someone hunting who did not pose a threat, Baker said.

Parents were notified of the incident with a Connect-ED phone call Monday.

Sewer spill flows into Wildcat, Fishing creeks

Rock Hill utilities workers discovered a faulty pump Monday that resulted in a sewer spill into Wildcat Creek. This creek feeds into Fishing Creek, which flows into farm areas near Lando before traveling toward Great Falls.

While the spill is not expected to affect residential neighborhoods, it does travel through farmland with livestock. City officials advise farmers watering livestock or other animals from these two creeks to find alternate water sources while the spill is investigated.

The city is working with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Department of Natural Resources to determine the severity of the spill.

Statewide red flag fire alert lifted

COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Forestry Commission has lifted a red flag fire alert that recommended no burning outside.

The alert was posted about a week ago because of brisk winds and low humidity, ripe conditions for wildfires. Conditions were better Monday and the commission lifted the alert.

During the red flag alert, firefighters fought 156 fires on more than 475 acres in the state. They also battled a fire of almost 1,000 acres in Richland County that began before the alert was posted.

Officials say the drought has caused this forest fire season to start earlier and it will be more active than in past years.

Kraft Foods continues expansion in Newberry

NEWBERRY -- State officials say Kraft Foods Global is expanding its Newberry plant and plans to hire about 600 additional workers by mid-2008.

The company says it is adding 75,000 square feet to its plant that produces Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich deli meats. Construction began in 2006 and is scheduled for completion next year.

The company says it has hired 440 employees since the beginning of the year.

Progress Energy to cut 50,000 trees in Carolinas

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Progress Energy plans to cut about 50,000 trees in the path of transmission lines in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Company officials said it's the only way to comply with a new federal mandate that sets fines of up to $1 million a day if power outages are caused by trees or other vegetation. The project costs about $30 million.

Utilities aren't required to cut down trees, only to have a plan for maintaining vegetation along transmission line corridors.

So far, trees have been cut in several N.C. cities including Raleigh, Wilmington and Sanford. The work is 5 percent complete.

Many residents aren't happy and are trying to curb the cutting. In Durham, city officials were able to persuade Duke Energy to prune rather than cut down more than 250 trees.

DNA leads to arrest in 2001 killing

COLUMBIA -- Police say DNA has helped them solve the death of a woman more than six years ago.

State agents recently matched DNA taken from the Columbia home where Angela Coleman was strangled in April 2001 to a man in a Daytona Beach, Fla., jail on an armed robbery charge.

Investigators say 30-year-old Clarence Myers admitted killing Coleman after he was confronted with the new evidence.

Myers has been charged with murder and prosecutors are working to return him to South Carolina.