News In Brief - February 15, 2008

Man robbed of firearms during home invasion

YORK -- A man was greeted by a gun to his head when he answered the door of his York residence Wednesday night, police said.

The victim was restrained while two men ransacked the Kays Drive residence and stole several firearms, according to a York County Sheriff's Office report.

The 46-year-old man was watching TV around 11 p.m. when someone knocked at the door, the report states. When he opened the door, a man put a semi-automatic gun to his head and forced him inside.

The victim told police he was tied up and the phone was disconnected while the men ransacked the bedroom and stole more than $1,000 in rifles, shotguns and ammunition.

He told police both men were black with black hair and brown eyes. One was described as being 6-feet, 170 pounds and wearing a red shirt and jeans. He said the other was a 5-foot, 6-inch man, weighing about 250 pounds and wearing a blue shirt and jeans.

Recycling center off table for now

There are no plans for a recycling center on Porter Road -- for now.

Bob Weeks of Fort Mill withdrew the application for a special exemption to put in an operation that recycles construction debris on more than 10 acres in Rock Hill.

A public hearing has been deferred twice because the applicant didn't provide adequate plans, zoning administrator Dave Pettine said. Another hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but Weeks withdrew the application Wednesday evening.

Weeks applied for the special exemption in November for this property at 1290 Porter Road. Owned by Bowers Industry, the land is already zoned for this type of facility.

Pettine said Weeks and partner Gretchen McCarter will meet with staff to get a plan approved and resubmit the application. The earliest there would be a public hearing before the zoning appeal board is April, Pettine said.

Weeks wants to allow construction trash to be brought to the site and sorted for materials that can be recycled. Whatever couldn't be reused would be taken to a construction and debris landfill, Pettine said.

No advertising on Rock Hill school buses

Advertisements won't be on school buses in Rock Hill any time soon.

The state Department of Education told districts they could decide whether to work with a state-approved advertising agency to put ads inside buses.

The ads would be placed above the side windows. They would be no more than 6 inches tall and no wider than a window.

Profits would be shared between the state and the districts.

Luanne Kokolis, an associate superintendent, told the Rock Hill school board this week it's unclear how much money the district could earn from bus advertising. Therefore, administrators do not recommend entering a contract with the ad agency, she said.

The district could still decide to install advertising at a later date.

Students choose gator as Dutchman Creek mascot

Future students at Dutchman Creek Middle School chose the gator as their school mascot, Principal Norris Williams said.

The school's colors will be green, black and silver.

Students nominated mascots, before voting for the gators over two other finalists, the tigers and the eagles.

"I love it," Williams said. "The gator is very unique. We're still in South Carolina. We don't have an abundance of gators in this area but in this state there are areas that are highly populated with alligators. It's a very strong and fierce mascot."

Dutchman Creek Middle School, located near Mount Gallant and Museum roads, will open in August. It is the district's fifth middle school.

Keystone launches fundraising campaign

Keystone Substance Abuse Services has launched a fundraising campaign asking the community to help raise money for its youth and adolescent prevention services.

For its Change Matters Piggy Bank Campaign, Keystone is asking area families and businesses to adopt a piggy bank and fill it with pocket change. The pigs, available at the center, are ceramic and may be decorated with names or any creative design. Once the bank is full, drop it off at Keystone or any York County Wachovia Bank branch through June 1.

Jane Alleva, director of community relations at Keystone, said the goal is to raise $50,000. Piedmont Medical Center recently donated $25,000 to the center and challenged the community to raise the other $25,000.

To adopt a pig or for information about Keystone's Prevention Center, call 324-4118.

Winthrop to hold mass communication week

The Department of Mass Communication at Winthrop University will host its 19th annual mass communication week Feb. 25 to 28 to give students a taste of what life might be after graduation.

Events include:

• Feb. 25: The founder of the Charlotte-based NBC news satellite service for network affiliates, will speak at 10 a.m. in Owens Hall G01. Also, Herb White, editor of The Charlotte Post, will talk to students at 2 p.m. in Johnson 117.

• Feb. 26: Gene Policinski, founding editor of USA TODAY Sports Weekly, will speak at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Johnson Theater.

• Feb. 27: Debbie Abels, president and publisher of The Herald, will address students at 10 a.m. in Owens Hall. Also, a panel of recent Winthrop alumnae including Lindsey Stewart, class of 2006, of The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle; Jacqueline Diaco, class of 2004, the marketing manager for the Wood Division of Biesse America; and Sonja Rawlinson-Burris, class of 2002, a visitor services and sales associate for the Rock Hill and York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, will address students at 3:30 p.m. in Johnson's Black Box Theater.

• Feb. 28: Nicolle DuBose, marketing manager for the Atlanta Bread Company and a 2000 alumna, will make a presentation at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Johnson Theater.

All events are free and open to the public. For information, contact the Department of Mass Communication at 323-2121.

Banks, schools among Presidents Day closings

Area banks, state and federal offices will be closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day.

The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will be closed Monday and the Newport office, which offers Saturday services, will be closed Saturday.

The postal service will deliver express mail but no other services will be offered. Self-service centers are available in the lobbies of the main office and at the Ebenezer and Cherry Road stations.

York and Chester county schools are closed Monday.

Winthrop University, York Technical College and Clinton Junior College will be open.

Senate panel discusses higher cigarette tax

COLUMBIA -- A Senate finance subcommittee met briefly Thursday to talk about a plan that would raise the state's cigarette tax.

Senators discussed proposals to raise nation's lowest tax of 7 cents a pack to as much as 57 cents. That would raise about $160 million.

But Sen. Thomas Alexander, D-Florence, said the committee hasn't settled on the amount of the increase or how specifically to spend the money. Later Thursday, the Senate gave the panel two more weeks to come up with a final proposal.