News In Brief - February 20, 2008

RFATS to hold public discussions on goals

The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study is holding two public meetings to discuss updating the Long Range Transportation Plan.

The public is invited to comment on transportation needs and existing road projects at 6 p.m. Thursday at council chambers at Rock Hill City Hall. A similar meeting will be held the following Thursday at 6 p.m. at Fort Mill council chambers.

The meetings kick off the process of updating the transportation plan, said David Hooper of the city's Planning Services Department. The meetings will provide information on how to update the plan and solicit input on road priorities.

RFATS includes the communities of Tega Cay, Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Catawba Indian Nation and the eastern urbanized portion of York County.

More meetings will be held during the year-long process of updating transportation goals, Hooper said.

Animal control employee honored for advocacy

A York County animal control employee was honored Monday for her animal advocacy by the county's Animal Adoption League.

Tracy Morgan was presented an award by Martha Holcombe and others from the league at Monday's York County Council meeting for her efforts dealing with rescue groups.

"Tracy started an effort to place animals elsewhere before they are euthanized," Holcombe said. "We have York County animals in five counties that we know of."

Morgan has raised the adoption rate at the shelter by calling shelters and rescue groups to see if they can take the animal so they aren't put down.

"Tracy's really special," Holcombe said. "She's one person in the transition that has been an animal advocate in the shelter."

The county recently hired Chris Peninger as the new animal control director and is considering changing some of the shelter's policies.

Winthrop names professor its third Thompson Scholar

Carol Marchel, an associate professor of education in the Richard W. Riley College of Education, is Winthrop University's third Thompson Scholar, the university announced Tuesday.

Marchel will help develop service-learning sites at area schools. She said she would like her students to participate in diverse school settings where they will develop case studies that include the analysis of children's cognitive development and learning, according to a news release from Winthrop.

Marchel teaches courses in human development, educational psychology, educational issues for educational leaders, and legal, management and assessment issues in education. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a master's degree in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Tennessee.

Effort to block money to sex-ed company fails

COLUMBIA -- A budget measure that would have blocked state funding to a controversial abstinence-only sex-education program was defeated Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Heritage Trust Services contracts with a handful of S.C. school districts and teaches abstinence-based sex education. But recent studies suggest such programs are ineffective.

A budget proviso would have created a panel that would review sex-ed programs and prevent state money from going to sex-education programs that provide "medically inaccurate" information, something the Heritage group has been accused of doing when discussing birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

-- The (Columbia) State

Teacher gets 6 years for sex with students

LAURENS -- A former teacher who admitted to sexual encounters with teen boys was sent to prison Tuesday for six years despite testimony of a psychiatrist who said Allenna Ward is not a pedophile, but rather a childlike victim suffering from personality disorders and a repressed childhood.

Forensic psychiatrist Donna Schwartz-Watts said Ward, a minister's daughter, lived a sheltered life under the watchful eyes of her parents but really was a "free spirit" who never got a chance to break away from her family.

"Whenever she did something wrong, her father immediately knew about it," Schwartz-Watts said. "When she dated, the only way that she could go out on a date was to sit in the living room with her parents watching."

Authorities painted Ward's crimes in a harsher light and said she violated the trust that parents place in teachers.