Katawba Valley Land Trust names director
The Katawba Valley Land Trust has hired its first full-time employee, Austin Jenkins, as executive director.
He replaces Lindsay Pettus, who founded the Land Trust in 1992, and had served as its unpaid director. The Trust focuses on protecting land through conservation easements, the acquisition of land, and transfer of some properties to other public or private land management agencies. To date, the Trust has completed 53 land transactions and protected 6,862 acres in five S.C. counties, primarily along the Catawba River and its tributaries.
Jenkins has been working as a naturalist and natural resource manager at the Sandhill Research and Education Center of Clemson University. He will start work in early September.
-- The Charlotte Observer
Gun taken from inexperienced officer in hospital
COLUMBIA -- The corrections officer whose gun was taken and used by a woman to commit suicide in Palmetto Health Richland's emergency room Tuesday had been on the job for two months.
But the female officer, whom the department declined to identify, had completed all the necessary training requirements, according to department spokesman Josh Gelinas.
Two officers were transporting a high-risk inmate to the hospital Tuesday night when 29-year-old Lorelei Gibbons of Elgin -- who was a hospital patient and not an inmate -- took the gun from one of the officers and shot herself in the head. Gibbons died Thursday.
Neither officer has a history of disciplinary actions, Gelinas said.
The officer carrying the gun had been on the job since June. The other officer, who was unarmed per department policy, had been with the department since 2003.
Both officers had completed a five-week training course that includes one week of firearms training all that is required of corrections officers, Gelinas said.
-- The (Columbia) State
Aerosol chemicals cause Anderson auto explosion
ANDERSON -- Two men are being treated for first- and second-degree burns after Anderson police say a lit cigarette caused the car where they were huffing aerosol chemicals to explode.
The Greenville News reports that Anderson police say a 34-year-old Georgia man and a 19-year-old Conastee man were in a car huffing computer keyboard cleaner near the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Complex about 8:35 p.m. Thursday.
Police say the older man tried to light a cigarette when the chemicals in the air exploded and blew out windows of the car.
A public safety officer who may have inhaled fumes from the explosion was also taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Earlier, police had said a mobile methamphetamine lab could be to blame for the explosion.
No more money to repair beach at Hunting Island
BEAUFORT -- Tropical Storm Fay eroded a road and damaged three buildings at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, but a state official says there is no extra money to put sand on the beach to prevent further erosion.
The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism spent more than $8 million last year to pour sand on sections of the beach and install walls perpendicular to the beach intended to catch sand.
PRT spokesman Marion Edmonds told The Beaufort Gazette that areas included in the project did well in last week's storm. But other areas were damaged by Fay.
Edmonds says the road will be repaired, but there is no additional funding to put sand on the beach to ease future erosion at that spot.
S.C. parks service creates junior ranger program
COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina State Park Service has created a program to get the state's children excited about the natural world around them.
Department officials unveiled a program Thursday that teaches kids how to find and identify plants and animals. It also encourages them to recycle, interview park rangers and learn about safety in the woods, at the lake and on the beach
The free program is for children ages 6 to 9. The program is offered at 16 of the Park Service's 47 state parks.
Its launch was planned in conjunction with the Park Service's 75th anniversary this year.
Program materials are available online at www.SCJrRanger.com and at the 16 participating parks.
End of summer festival returns to Myrtle Beach
MYRTLE BEACH -- Labor Day means the end of summer and in recent years, the last weekend of the season has meant the Beach, Boogie and Barbecue festival in Myrtle Beach.
The third annual festival is being held on Friday and Saturday at Grand Park at The Market Common.
Brad Dean, the president and chief executive officer of the local chamber of commerce, says between 30,000 and 40,000 people are expected.
This year's event features a concert by singer John Michael Montgomery, a road race and a big screen TV showing the Clemson-Alabama football game.
Myrtle Beach is the heart of South Carolina's $16 billion tourism industry.
Builders of nuclear plant to receive $6.4 billion
COLUMBIA -- The companies hired to design and build a pair of nuclear reactors in the Midlands will be paid $6.4 billion.
That's according to documents filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper have said the reactors they are jointly building will cost about $10 billion but had not revealed the value of the construction contract.
Eric Boomhower, a spokesman for SCE&G, said the filing clarifies questions about the contract posed by some in the financial sector.
Westinghouse Electric Co. and Stone & Webster have been hired to design and build the reactors. The units are planned near the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant in Fairfield County.
S.C. firefighter charged with starting fires
AIKEN -- A South Carolina firefighter has been arrested after authorities say he set a series of suspicious fires in the Aiken County area.
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says 19-year-old Brandon W. Smith was arrested Thursday and charged with four counts of second-degree arson and malicious injury to real property.
The sheriff's office says Smith is a volunteer firefighter with the New Ellenton Fire Department.
Authorities say Smith set a fire to two homes under renovation on July 8 and Aug. 8 and also started fires at an abandoned home in New Ellenton and in a wooded area.
After setting the fires, authorities say Smith would either respond to the fires or go home.
Smith was still in custody Friday morning. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.