News In Brief - February 13, 2008

Local Red Cross chapters merge

The York and Lancaster county chapters of the American Red Cross have merged to form the new Upper Palmetto chapter of the American Red Cross.

The merger means the Red Cross will have a greater strength and presence in Lancaster County by doubling its capacity and resources, said Sherry Archie, Lancaster County board chairwoman.

The main office for the Upper Palmetto chapter will be in Rock Hill. The Lancaster County chapter will remain in the Connelly Building at 114 Williams St. in Lancaster.

The Upper Palmetto chapter's efforts focus on meeting disaster-caused needs, facilitating emergency communication between military personnel and their families and providing life-saving training and courses in York, Chester and Lancaster counties. During a disaster, the local chapter provides shelter, food and health and mental health services.

To support the Upper Palmetto chapter, visit yorkcountyredcross.org.

Clover school board makes plan for referendum

CLOVER -- During a weekend retreat, the Clover school board came up with a plan that would expand Clover High School to include the current junior high property next door.

The plan sets the stage for a bond referendum for yet another new middle school.

During a 2006 referendum, voters approved the sale of $58.5 million in bonds that included a new middle school and an elementary school. Once built, the new middle school and the current junior high facility will hold grades six through eight.

If another bond is approved, students in the junior high building would be moved to a new middle school. The junior high would be used by the high school.

This plan was formulated to save the district money, Spokesman Greg Reid said Tuesday.

Building a middle school will require less land and less money than a new high school, he said.

The next step will be for the school board to decide how much money to ask for in a referendum and what it will encompass, Reid said.

A timeline has not been set.

The next school board meeting will be 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at the district office.

Clemson sends acceptance, rejection letters

CLEMSON -- Students who applied to become freshmen at Clemson University next fall should soon know whether they have been accepted.

The school will begin Tuesday mailing out more than 11,000 letters. About 5,400 applicants will receive acceptance letters. Another 1,100 will get acceptance letters to a program that allows students to transfer to Clemson after completing their freshman year at Tri-County Technical College.

The University of South Carolina has been sending out acceptance letters for months and will make its final decisions by the first week of March.

University admissions director Scott Verzyl says about 1,000 incoming freshman already have submitted enrollment deposits, and the school will likely admit another 2,500.

Attorney moves closer to becoming SLED chief

COLUMBIA -- State senators praised U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd on Tuesday as they moved him another step closer toward becoming the next chief of the State Law Enforcement Division.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously sent Lloyd's confirmation to the Senate floor. Lloyd would become the first black to lead SLED in the agency's 60-year history.

"He has a tremendous mind, only succeeded by his personal integrity and character," said Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms. "He will make a great SLED chief."

Lloyd, 40, was nominated by Gov. Mark Sanford in January to replace former Chief Robert Stewart, who announced his retirement in November after leading the agency for more than two decades.

Lloyd, who was appointed by President Bush in 2005 to serve as U.S. attorney, was the first black to hold that office in South Carolina since Reconstruction. He was an attorney for the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee before being elected as a state Circuit Court judge.

"I've been waiting for this for a long time," said Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen of his fellow Camden High School graduate.

S.C. budget revenue estimates unchanged

COLUMBIA -- Predictions of how much money the state would bring in were only slightly off and state budget forecasters left their revenue estimate unchanged Monday despite lobbying from South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who sees a deep recession approaching.

Since the fiscal year began in July, state revenue projections are off by $15 million, a fraction of the more than $7.1 billion in revenue estimated, Bill Gillespie, the state's chief economist, told the Board of Economic Advisors. Sales taxes from the Christmas shopping season weren't the disaster some feared, Gillespie said.

Despite the unchanged estimate, the board's forecast still points to a sluggish economy with state tax collections growing by 3.2 percent, or $230 million, in the 2009 fiscal year. That's not enough to cover spending increases in education and health-care programs set by law, and will prompt cuts from legislators.

The Republican governor has twice written Gillespie and cited national economic data and concerns about a long, deep recession. In his executive budget, Sanford told the Legislature it should cut $326 million from the budget.

Despite Sanford's input, the board saw no need to adjust the estimates House budget writers will use to work on South Carolina's spending plan during the next couple of weeks.

The governor's office continues to think the current forecast is wrong and it is not prudent to suggest South Carolina will have robust growth in the midst of a national slowdown, spokesman Joel Sawyer said.

3 S.C. judges reprimanded by state Supreme Court

COLUMBIA -- The state Supreme Court says three South Carolina judges have been issued public reprimands for a variety of reasons, including one from a Tega Cay courtroom.

The court said Monday that former Tega Cay Municipal Court Judge Deborah Ann Koulpasis was reprimanded after she was accused of taking thousands of dollars from a law firm where she worked.

Koulpasis was charged with breach of trust and sentenced to two years in prison. Her sentence was suspended after she paid court costs.

Horry County Magistrate Monte Harrelson had been reprimanded after he acknowledged having an affair with an administrative assistant in 2006.

Rodney Kinlaw, a former Jasper County magistrate, was reprimanded for not complying with financial requirements.