News In Brief - March 25, 2008

Smyrna Republican plans second run at council seat

Kenny Ruffin of Smyrna plans to announce his intention to run for election to the York County Council District 3 seat at 10 a.m. today in York's Palmetto Room.

Ruffin, 33, is an employee of Clover Tool Grinding and will run as a Republican. He ran in the county Republican primary for the seat in 2006, but lost in the first round to then-Sharon Mayor Joe Cox and the former incumbent Steve McNeely.

Cox ultimately won the seat and has also filed to run again as a Republican. After losing in 2006, Ruffin endorsed Cox's campaign against McNeely. But since then Ruffin said Cox has not lived up to his campaign promises.

If elected, Ruffin said he would work to make sure current projects are completed before new ones are taken on.

York County to collect hazardous materials

YORK -- York County residents can dispose of hazardous household materials and electronics Saturday at the York County Public Works Facility, 220 Public Works Road, near the Moss Justice Center.

From 8 a.m. to noon, the county will collect materials, including latex and oil-based paint, used motor oil, oil filters, oil bottles, lawn and garden pesticides, fertilizer, cleaners, pool chemicals, paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits, landscape timbers, passenger car tires, cooking oil, automobile batteries, antifreeze, florescent lights, brake fluid and gasoline and oil mixtures. Broken or old computers and monitors can be dropped off, but the county will not accept major appliances.

The materials will be disposed of by a hazardous material company. No large quantities from businesses or farms will be accepted. Infectious, biological or radioactive materials, gas cylinders and explosives are prohibited.

Materials should be packed in sturdy boxes with newspaper between the containers to prevent spills. Leaving items in the original containers will allow staff to identify the substances.

The county will hold a similar event in October.

For details, call York County Solid Waste Collection & Recycling at 628-3181.

S.C. storms blamed for $43 million in damage

COLUMBIA -- Insurers say estimated damage in South Carolina from severe weather two weeks ago has increased to $43 million.

The South Carolina Insurance News Service said Monday that more than 11,000 insurance claims had been reported as a result of the storms that moved through the state March 15.

Officials say most of that damage was caused by hail and fallen trees. Original damage estimates just after the storms were around $13 million. That number was later revised to around $30 million.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least 15 tornadoes in South Carolina on March 15.

There were no reports of weather-related deaths.

Charlotte leaders delay decision on water rates

CHARLOTTE -- The Charlotte City Council delayed a decision Monday on an unusually high water and sewer rate increase proposed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities.

The council also asked the city manager to decide whether Charlotte should relax water restrictions to allow lawn watering once a week.

The utility department has asked the council to allow it to increase water and sewer rates to customers by almost 16 percent, to make up for $29 million less in revenues utilities officials expect through this fiscal year (which ends June 30) and the next. Typically, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities increases rates by about 5 percent to 8 percent a year.

Utility officials have said that customers' water conservation efforts in the last year -- during an historic drought -- have cut their revenues dramatically, threatening their bond rating and ability to repay debt.

But council members said Monday that they wanted more information about how loosening water restrictions on lawn watering could increase revenues -- and how the utility department was cutting costs.

The council members agreed to take up the issue of increasing water and sewer rates again at their next meeting, April 7.

-- The Charlotte Observer