News In Brief - June 11, 2008

Three gunmen rob Lake Wylie bank

LAKE WYLIE -- A Lake Wylie bank was robbed Tuesday afternoon by three men, officials said.

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said the Wachovia at 4100 Charlotte Highway was robbed around 5 p.m.

The three went into the bank brandishing guns, officials said. They later fled along S.C. 49 in a navy blue Dodge Caravan that displayed North Carolina tags, Bryant said.

No other information was available Tuesday evening.

Storms knock out power in Chester, Columbia

COLUMBIA -- Storms that moved across South Carolina knocked out power to about 6,000 customers in the central part of the state.

The line of storms started at midafternoon Tuesday and continued into the evening.

Duke Energy reported it had about 1,300 customers without service, almost all of them in Chester County.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. reported it had about 4,500 customers without service about 9:30 p.m., mostly in the Columbia area.

Crews were working to restore service.

Francis Marion to create McNair research center

FLORENCE -- Francis Marion University will establish a think tank named in honor of the late Robert E. McNair, who has described creation of the state university in Florence as one of his proudest achievements during his years as governor.

The Robert E. McNair Center for Government and History initially will be funded by a $500,000 grant from the Columbia-based PSARAS Foundation. It will conduct policy research focused on the Pee Dee and the state and propose solutions, said FMU president Fred Carter.

The gift will help institutionalize McNair's legacy of providing better education to more people in South Carolina, said PSARAS Foundation board chairman Jim Konduros, who was McNair's law partner.

The foundation plans to provide additional annual gifts to the McNair Center, perhaps $100,000 for the first such gift, Konduros said. And he plans to help raise an additional $1.5 million from other sources to support the center.

The McNair Center's advisory board will be chaired by former Gov. Jim Hodges, who Carter said often has helped the school.

The grant includes the creation of McNair Scholars at Francis Marion, which will pay the cost of an undergraduate degree for four students. The scholarships will go to students interested in careers in public service, and the number of scholarships will grow as more funds become available, Konduros said.

The PSARAS Foundation has funded for the past two years a rural leadership initiative that works with leadership groups in Marlboro, Marion and Williamsburg counties.

-- The (Columbia) State