News In Brief - February 7, 2008

Welcome center named for longtime employee

The South Carolina Welcome Center on I-77 in Fort Mill will bear the name of the woman who has welcomed visitors to the state since the center opened more than 26 years ago.

Betty Skeen, who is retiring at the end of the month, was honored at a surprise rededication ceremony Wednesday. She's spent 36 years with the state's park, recreation and tourism department in Fort Mill and the Little River Welcome Center on U.S. 17 north of Myrtle Beach.

Skeen has worked as manager of the Fort Mill center on the southbound side of the interstate since it opened in 1981.

A plaque in her honor was given to her Wednesday. Jayne Scarborough, director of the Olde English District, said a plaque will be mounted in the center.

Skeen recently was honored with the first Lifetime Achievement in Tourism award, presented by the Olde English District Tourism Commission. The award was renamed the Olde English District Hospitality Employee of the Year Award in her honor.

Area wildlife officer honored for work

LAKE WYLIE -- Sgt. Todd Campbell, an officer for S.C. Department of Natural Resources, recently was named state wildlife officer of the year by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

A turkey hunter himself, Campbell was honored for his work against poaching in the state.

Campbell patrols area hunting grounds and Lake Wylie, especially during the summer boating season. He will be recognized Feb. 21-24 at the federation's 32nd annual Convention and Sport Show in Atlanta. He is eligible for the national wildlife enforcement officer of the year award, which will be announced Feb. 23.

Campbell also won the 2007 South Carolina officer of the year award and the 2007 Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies officer of the year for a 16-state and two-territory region.

For information on the National Wild Turkey Federation, visit www.nwtf.org.

Volunteer firefighters to get new scanners

York County volunteer firefighters soon will have scanners to hear radio communications during an emergency.

The scanners, which the York County Council bought this week, will allow firefighters to hear radio traffic, including addresses and commands, without having to look at their pagers' screens.

This is important to some firefighters, who have said the pagers that accompany the county's new $23 million radio system are dangerous because firefighters have to look at their screens while driving or during an emergency. The pagers used on the old system were voice-response.

County Fire Marshal Randy Thompson has said he wants to provide a scanner to most of the firefighters who don't have a radio.

The council on Monday approved spending more than $108,000 on 216 scanners to work on the new countywide 800 MHz radio system that started late last year. The new system replaced an outdated system and links all emergency response personnel across the county.

The York County Board of Rural Fire Control had budgeted $116,000 for the scanners, Thompson said. The new scanners should be in place within a couple of months.

Former bank employee faces charges

A former Chester bank employee has been indicted on federal charges of embezzlement.

Prosecutors say Michelle Waters Dawkins, 37, stole more than $1,000 from First Citizens Bank in Chester while employed there between January and June of last year.

U.S. Attorney Reginald Lloyd announced the indictment on Wednesday. Dawkins could face maximum penalties of a $1 million fine and 30 years in prison, according to an announcement from Lloyd's office.