UNION COUNTY — Each year, the Union County Chamber of Commerce Annual Member Banquet is highlighted by a number of awards, which are chosen by chamber members and evaluated by the chamber’s nominating committee. Selections are based on each industry, business or group’s contribution to the chamber mission and its overall service to Union County as a whole.
Industry of the Year
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Industry of the Year is Haemonetics, The Blood Management Company.
During the award presentation, chamber Executive Director Torance Inman described the company as “one of our unsung heroes who go quietly about their day-to-day operations, tucked away from sight while making a tremendous impact on the local economy and community.” Inman said Haemonetics has been and continues to be a tremendous supporter and partner of the Chamber of Commerce. He pointed out that the company supports local activities such as Downtown Open House, Leadership Union, Youth Leadership Union County and others. Senior Corporate Officer Kelly Lawson accepted the award on behalf of the company.
“I don’t know what we would do without them,” Inman said. “it is always entertaining when touring the facility and everyone puts on the hair net and mask. Some industries like to call themselves ‘lean and mean,’ but this industry is ‘lean and clean.’”
Inman also said the company recently celebrated 25 years in Union County.
Small Business of the Year
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year is Wades Employment Agency.
“Small Business of the Year is awarded to a business that has created a strong positive employee relationship and seeks new levels of customer service,” Inman said. “The business is one that encourages others to act for the good of the community and is a long-standing active member of the Chamber of Commerce.”
Inman said Wade’s Employment Agency is locally owned and operated, employs Union people, and although manned by a small staff, employs over 100 individuals annually. He pointed out that Wade’s is also active in volunteer groups such as First Steps, Save the Children, the Jerusalem Project and United Way.
The award was accepted by owner Roger Wade.
“This business owner is an example for his employees and to all those they serve,” Inman said. “He is an outstanding community leader and veteran of our armed forces.”
Service Group of the Year
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Service Group of the Year is the Union County Arts Council.
Inman said this award is designed to recognize a group which has promoted positive community growth and awareness. He explained that the arts council has served the county for many years, providing educational, cultural and artistic events and activities year-round, day and night.
“They provide first class art shows and workshops featuring top names in art and music,” Inman said. “They have even featured three generations of local artists.”
President Bennie Giles accepted the award.
“The leadership provided by Bennie Giles and Harold and Jackie Senn has taken the Union County Arts Council to new heights and they are still climbing.”
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Shining Star is Barbara Rippy.
“Union County is full of stars that brightly shine throughout the county making Union a great place,” Inman said, pointing out that Rippy is seen not only in Union, but in surrounding areas, supporting a number of civic groups and organizations.
“This person loves Union more than most anyone I know. You will see this star at just about every event there is in Union County, lending her support and bending your ear. She is always there — most always late — but always there giving of herself.”
Rippy accepted the award, explaining that her recent contributions to various entities in the county have been in memory of her late husband, Dr. Bobby Rippy.
“He loved Union just like I do,” Rippy said, mentioning that she and her husband came to Union 42 years ago. “Union people have always been good to us, and we have always tried to be good to them. I know Bobby’s in heaven, looking down and smiling, saying, ‘Barbara, job well done.’”
Friend of the Chamber
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Friend of the Chamber is The Union Daily Times.
Inman said that each year, the chamber’s board of directors recognizes a person or organization that shows an intense interest in the chamber and invests time, energy and money in Chamber sponsored activities.
“Over this past year, this organization has shown exceptional support by being involved in chamber activities and promoting all aspects of the chamber,” Inman said. “Their local leadership understands the value of partnering with the Chamber of Commerce in the promotion of Union County as a whole.”
Inman pointed out that The Union Daily Times has promoted Business After Hours, sponsored Leadership Union, publicized all chamber initiatives throughout the year and are name sponsors in the upcoming Downtown Music Fest.
Inman praised The Union Daily Times for prompt responses, attendance at board meetings and encouragement of others to get involved and support the chamber.
Everyone at The Union Daily Times is extremely grateful for — and honored by — this recognition.
Volunteer of the Year
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year is Roger Bailey.
“What would the world do without volunteers?” Inman asked. “This year’s volunteer is one who supports veterans, Civitan, Miracle League, Boogaloo Broadcasting, Relay for Life, Uniquely Union, the Union Christmas Parade, and many others. He is a volunteer fireman, serves on the Union County Fair Board, a retired National Guardsman, and serves on many committees at his local church. And if that’s not enough, he is the Union County High School Booster Club ‘All-Time Cheerleader.’”
President’s Choice Award
The 2013 Union County Chamber of Commerce President’s Choice Award was presented by chamber president Pam Roberts. Roberts said the award is reserved for the current chamber president to select an individual, industry or business who has shown outstanding support for the chamber and the community through the year.
This year’s President’s Choice Award was presented to Founders Federal Credit Union.
Roberts said Founders Federal Credit Union has been a very active chamber member and supporter of chamber events and initiatives.
“They have attended every Business After Hours and have sponsored several,” Roberts said. “They have supported and are active members of Leadership Union. They have provided financial support for Leadership Union projects and are sponsors of the Downtown Music Fest this summer. Although their home office is not in Union, their presence and involvement in Union is significant.
The award was accepted by Business Development Specialist Allison Weir.
Source: Union Daily Times
If identity theft victims can be reimbursed, so can local families
The S.C. Senate passed a bill last week that would provide a fund to reimburse taxpayers who suffer from identity theft because the state failed to secure their personal financial information included in their tax returns.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler saw an opportunity and seized it. If the state is willing to reimburse people hurt financially from this state’s failure, why not people hurt physically by the derailment of the miniature train in Cleveland Park, another state failure? He introduced an amendment to create a fund to help the train victims. It passed the Senate.
The House needs to pass this bill as well. Every member of the Spartanburg and Cherokee delegations needs to step up and lead this issue the way Peeler has in the Senate. It is nothing less than a shameful outrage that these families have not gotten help from the state.
These parents and children had no reason to think the miniature train at Cleveland Park might be dangerous. But the state did. It did not properly inspect the train, and the county’s driver drove it too fast.
When the train derailed, 6-year-old Benji Easler was killed. Other children were seriously injured, requiring multiple surgeries, months of care and years of physical therapy. Peeler estimates that $1.7 million in medical bills needs to be paid for the incident.
There is litigation under way against the state and the county, which is a political subdivision of the state, but state law limits the government’s liability to $600,000.
That’s simply not good enough. These families can never be made whole. Money can’t replace a lost son or restore a sound body, but the very least the state can do to make up for its negligence and failure is to reimburse these families for their actual costs.
Unfortunately, it may not happen. Peeler succeeded in getting this bill passed last year, but it was killed in budget negotiations. That is nothing less than a black mark on the honor of the General Assembly.
The House must pass Peeler’s amendment. It must appropriate money for the fund to reimburse the victims. Decency and any sense of obligation or responsibility demand it.
Peeler points out that only lawmakers from this area care about the issue. That’s a failure on the part of lawmakers from other parts of the state. If the General Assembly passes the plan to reimburse victims of identity theft but rejects this plan to reimburse victims of the Cleveland Park train wreck, we will know several things about Palmetto State lawmakers.
We will know they have no sense of responsibility. They won’t be living up to an obligation to make up for the state’s failure. They will simply be pandering to their own constituents.
We will know they do not truly care about South Carolinians. We will know they care only about making sure their constituents continue to vote for them. We will know votes and money matter more to them than their humanity.
If the General Assembly does not reimburse these families, it deserves the full disgust and repudiation of all South Carolinians.
COLUMBIA — The Senate today created a fund to aid victims of a 2011 miniature train accident in Spartanburg that killed one child and injured 27.
The fund was proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler of Gaffney as an amendment to a hacking bill.
The proposal does not include any money for the fund, a task for legislative budget committees.
Peeler said the accident caused about $1.7 million in medical bills.
The Senate also established a victim’s fund for those who suffer financial loss as a result of any hacking at a state agency.
Both amendments and the bill itself won unanimous approval on Thursday by the Senate, which must give the bill final reading before it goes to the House.
Source: Greenville Online
Sen. Harvey Peeler is again making progress to secure state reimbursement of medical expenses for the victims of the 2011 Cleveland Park miniature train derailment.
A bill to reimburse victims of the South Carolina Department of Revenue hacking for any financial losses they might suffer as a result of the data breach passed the S.C. Senate on Thursday. Peeler, R-Gaffney, added an amendment to the bill that would establish a similar fund for victims of the derailment.
“I saw an opportunity in this bill that was germane. If we were creating a fund for this, why couldn’t we create a fund for Cleveland Park,” Peeler said.
One child, Benji Easler, was killed when the amusement train derailed and dozens of others were injured. Victims sustained bruises, nearly severed limbs and brain injuries. The wreck was caused by the train traveling at an excessive speed, according to authorities. Further investigation revealed a state inspector falsified the train’s inspection report.
Victims of the crash and Spartanburg County are embroiled in litigation, but in the meantime they have received little assistance to offset large medical bills. South Carolina law caps government liability for accidents at $300,000 for an individual or $600,000 for an incident. That left the dozens of families who were victims of the Cleveland Park train wreck to split $600,000.
Peeler said unpaid medical bills from the wreck are estimated to be $1.7 million.
Though Peeler’s amendment passed unanimously, it has several considerable hurtles.
The bill did not set out an amount of money for the fund. Peeler said that will be taken up by the finance committee in budget negotiations.
“It’s still subject to funding, but I’m definitely going to propose an amendment to try to get money in that fund,” he said.
Similar legislation passed the Senate but died in the House last year. Peeler then tried to use a $2 million budget proviso to secure the funds, but that was vetoed by a budget conference committee immediately before the final document was sent to Gov. Nikki Haley.
“The further you get from Spartanburg, the less people care about this,” Peeler said of his struggle. “Most of the affected families were from my area … They are my constituents and I’m trying to help them and there’s no statute of limitations on that. They need help and I’m going to keep trying to get it for them.”
Peeler’s amendment is attached to a bill by Sen. Vincent Sheheen — who recently announced he will run for governor in 2014. In addition to creating a reimbursement fund for victims of identity theft who can prove their loss came from the Department of Revenue hacking, the bill directs the governor to negotiate for continued identity theft monitoring and protection and creates a central agency to oversee information security.
Peeler amendment would create fund for Cleveland Park train victims
Columbia, SC – April 11, 2013 – After it was successfully argued yesterday in the State Senate that victims of hacking should be made whole financially, Senator Peeler again went to bat for the victims of the Cleveland Park train tragedy of 2011 – many of whom are still struggling with unpaid medical bills.
Peeler successfully introduced and passed an amendment for the state to create a fund for the victims’ medical expenses.
State law holds government to a different set of rules than private business, where there is no cap on economic damages like medical costs. But the state sets a cap on those expenses when a government entity is involved. In addition to championing immediate relief for victims of the Cleveland Park train ride, Peeler has also sought a permanent legislative fix to the cap issue.
Money included for this purpose last year in the state budget was ultimately stricken by House budget conference committee members.
“It’s unthinkable that victims of government negligence are still struggling with medical bills two years later, and cannot be taken care of on medical expenses because of an archaic law that holds government to a different standard than private business,” Peeler said. “I’m pleased that the Senate once again has acted to take care of these victims, and I hope the House will agree.”
Peeler Introduces Comprehensive Transportation Reform Plan
PLAN WOULD RESTRUCTURE GOVERNMENT, DEDICATE MONEY TO ROAD IMPROVEMENT
Columbia, SC – April 10, 2013 – Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler today unveiled a comprehensive new proposal aimed at fixing our roads and making smarter infrastructure decisions as a state.
Recognizing a need to make sure that roads are built on a merit-based process rather than a politically driven process, the new bill would:
- Transfer the duties of the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank to the DOT and require that the STIB only approve projects included in the state’s long-range plan.
- Transfers the vehicle sales tax, half to the State Highway Fund and half of the SCTIB funds toward federally eligible highway improvement projects included in the Statewide Long Range Transportation Improvement Plans.
- Takes 20 percent of General Fund growth from previous year to be used for bridge maintenance.
- Adds another Governor’s appointee to the DOT Commission to serve from the state at large, and removes the sunset for the Secretary of Transportation appointment.
- Strengthens the Joint Transportation Review Committee by requiring the DOT and SIB to produce an oversight review yearly of the DOT commission, the DOT’s operations, and the STIB to determine whether they are meeting their objectives in the Statewide Long Range Transportation Plans.
“The way we deal with road maintenance in this state would be like a farmer spending money on a new Corvette instead of fixing his tractor,” Peeler said. “We build fancy new projects along the coast based on political pressure, while bridges in other parts of the state look like swiss cheese. This bill is aimed at making sure we have dedicated streams of money to fix our roads, and making sure decisions on how to spend that money are made wisely.”
Senate working quickly for you
By Senator Harvey Peeler
Something you don’t see very often is the Columbia newspaper putting out an article called “SC Senate Cranking Out Bills.” The story was about how the Senate has been much more efficient this year, due in part to our work to get more conservative Republican Senators in the Senate as some of the longtime obstructionist Democrats have retired.
It’s been a good change, and is letting us get a whole lot more done for you.
Recently I introduced the South Carolina Read to Succeed Act. If you still remember the old “Reading, writing, arithmetic…” there’s a reason reading comes first. Reading is the foundation of all later school success, so we need to make sure all our kids are reading like they should be before moving past third grade.
The bill would require third-graders who do not read on grade level to be held back for a year of reading-intensive instruction. The same thing worked for Governor Jeb Bush in Florida, and I think it can work here, too.
Under the Obama Administration, we’ve become all too familiar with federal overreach, watching the federal government intrude more and more in our daily lives. The worst example is Obamacare. One you may not have heard of is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), part of which lets the federal government detain American citizens for an unlimited amount of time if they’re suspected of terrorism.
As we’re fighting the War on Terror, we can’t lose sight of what we’re fighting for being the American way of life and our rights, and one of those is the right to due process. So the Senate acted to nullify the part of the NDAA that would have let the federal government detain citizens for an unlimited amount of time.
Along the same lines of protecting our constitutional rights, as the federal government is looking to take away gun rights, in South Carolina we’re looking to expand those rights. We set for special order a bill expanding gun rights for CWP holders. It will for the first time allow CWP holders to carry their firearms into restaurants, something that I think had been an unreasonable restriction before.
Finally, it’s not all good news as the Democrats did manage to temporarily defeat a bill letting the governor appoint the state’s superintendent of education. The bill was rejected by Senate Democrats, but Sen. Larry Martin, who supports the measure, changed his vote at the last minute in an effort to keep it alive, once he saw it would fail. Senator Martin’s procedural move will allow us to get another vote in coming weeks. Allowing the governor to appoint the state’s schools chief would bring more accountability and greater focus on education issues in the governor’s office.
We will be out of session for one more week, but look forward to returning refreshed and ready to continue improving the state. I hope to see you around the district between now and then.
COLUMBIA, S.C. A South Carolina Senate committee has advanced a measure that creates more oversight of public agency computer systems following the massive breach of the state’s tax collection agency.
The bill that received unanimous approval Tuesday centralizes responsibility of cyber-security and helps residents exposed by last fall’s hacking into tax filings.
It would put a chief of computer security in charge of a new technology division. It creates a new unit within Consumer Affairs to help victims of identity theft. It also creates two separate committees to craft a statewide plan and recommend changes to keep up with technology.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler asked why the bill creates so many new entities. Peeler said he hasn’t “seen this much creation since Genesis.”
The bill extends state-paid credit monitoring 10 years.
Courtesy of Charlotte Observer
Children who don’t read on grade level by the end of third grade would be held back for intense remediation, if a bill introduced by Sen. Harvey Peeler on Tuesday becomes law.
Peeler, R-Gaffney, said the idea for the bill grew from a conversation amongst his staff on ways to reduce South Carolina’s high school dropout rate.
“I figured if there’s one common denominator, it’s they have trouble reading,” Peeler said of high school dropouts. “I would say a great majority of them don’t drop out so much as they give up.”
Students with low reading proficiency at the end of third grade are at an increased risk of dropping out of school, according to a Kids Count special report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In South Carolina, more than 70 percent of fourth graders failed to rate proficient in reading on national standardized tests, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Kelly Harrison-Maguire, director of elementary education programs at Converse College, was part of a group that spoke to the state’s Education Oversight Committee about the bill. She said she was excited by the intense focus on early literacy and all it can do to enhance the future of individual students and the state as a whole, but she called the practice of retaining children in the third grade for failing to meet reading proficiency guidelines “educational malpractice.”
“The research is very clear that retaining a student doesn’t help anything,” Harrison-Maguire said. “If a student is not reading in the third grade, they aren’t going to learn it the second time.”
Peeler said he anticipates there will be some backlash to the bill from those who argue holding a student back stigmatizes them and decreases their motivation to succeed, and those who will argue if a student is proficient in other subjects outside reading they should be allowed to advance their education.
“I think the rewards will far outweigh the risks and costs,” Peeler said. “People always say ‘reading, writing and arithmetic,’ but there’s a reason reading comes first. It’s the foundation for the rest of education.”
Kim Bagwell, director of curriculum and instruction for Cherokee County School District, said she thinks it is reasonable to expect all children, with certain exceptions for the learning disabled and children speaking English as a second language, to read on grade level before advancing to the fourth grade. Students enter school with varying levels of exposure to literacy, and some students take longer to learn the skills, but they are able to learn.
“If this bill were to come to pass, the challege for teachers will be you’ve got to make sure what you do for the child the first time in third, you do something better the second time around,” Bagwell said. “We want all of our students to be reading on grade level because we know that is a hallmark for success … It’s not really off the mark.”
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais supports reading proficiency gateways in the third and seventh grade, according to Department of Education spokesman Jay Ragley. The gateways would require students read on grade level to advance to the next grade.
The Senate Bill 516, the South Carolina Read to Succeed Act, would establish a new state government office dedicated to designing and implementing effective literacy strategies in public schools beginning in pre-kindergarten. It would enhance literacy training requirements for teachers and create summer camps for developing literary skills.
The additional literacy courses for teachers required by the bill teach instructors how to tap into a student’s brain and discern the most effective way to the individual child to learn to read, Harrison-Maguire said.
Though reading is fundamental, it is not instinctual, she said. As a society, people have only been reading for the last 600 years or so.
“Most kids are going to make the pathways and learn to read and write, but for those children who don’t it’s a real struggle because every child is so different,” Harrison-Maguire said. “It’s not like a recipe for making doughnuts. It’s not the same every time. It takes a highly skilled teacher to determine how that child learns.”
The bill places a strong emphasis on early intervention. It mandates “readiness screenings” for pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners upon their enrollment in public schools. The readiness screenings will test language and literacy, mathematical thinking, physical well-being and social-emotional development. Peeler said the results will be used to get children on track to proficiency by the third grade.
Peeler said he plans to use a portion of South Carolina’s Education Improvement Act funds — derived from a penny sales tax instituted in 1984 — to fund his initiative. About $6 million of EIA funds are allocated annually for reading initiatives, according to Peeler.
“It’s not necessarily spending additional funds, but using the money more efficiently,” he said.
Peeler said he hopes to see the bill fully funded by the state. He said he hopes not to create any unfunded mandates for school districts.
Courtesy of GoUpstate.com
COLUMBIA, SC — A proposal to allow the governor to appoint the state’s schools chief — rather than have the public elect the superintendent — advanced in the SC Senate on Thursday.
The change has been long sought by Democrats and Republicans who say placing the governor in charge of education, the state’s largest single budget item, would make government more accountable.
However, the restructuring, which requires an amendment to the state Constitution, faces several more hurdles before it becomes law.
The bill must pass the Senate a third and final time, where it faces more debate, possible amendment and must be approved by two-thirds of senators. From there, the bill must win approval by two-thirds of the SC House and a majority of voters in the 2014 General Election.
One statewide education group is opposing the bill.
SC Education Association director Roger Smith has said the state schools chief should answer to voters. He called the plan a “distraction” from the real challenge of improving public education.
A similar bill passed the House in 2011, barely achieving the two-thirds majority needed. However, it died in the Senate.
But, this year, the plan is gaining momentum, starting with the chamber where it last died.
Endorsements from Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington; state Superintendent Mick Zais, R-Newberry; and, most recently, former state Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, a two-term Lexington Democrat, are helping.
Campaigning for election takes superintendents away from their jobs and discourages talented educators from seeking the position, Tenenbaum told The State on Thursday. Tenenbaum said she pushed to make the post appointed while she was superintendent.
Changing how the state selects its constitutional officers is part of a government restructuring proposal to give the governor more power and more accountability for state functions.
Final Senate debate of the superintendent’s bill next week likely will touch on the qualifications that lawmakers would require of candidates for the post if voters are no longer vetting them.
“If (the superintendent of education) is going to be appointed, then that person needs to have strong qualifications and be a strong advocate of public education,” said Senate Majority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said he thinks the Senate will agree upon qualifications with little trouble.
Lawmakers also will consider proposals by state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, to add other constitutional officers to the proposed amendment.
Sheheen, who has long advocated government restructuring, wants to ask voters to approve letting the governor appoint the adjutant general, leader of the state’s National Guard and agriculture commissioner. He also wants to abolish the posts of secretary of state and the comptroller general.
“It doesn’t make sense to do piecemeal reform,” Sheheen said. “When you’re reforming state government, you ought to try to have as comprehensive an approach as possible.”
However, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, expressed concern Sheheen’s amendments would “load the wagon too heavy,” killing the bill.
Abolishing offices also would draw opposition from the politicians now holding those posts, said Campsen, adding he hopes Sheheen instead will focus on the “low-hanging fruit.”
Campsen said he would support asking voters to decide whether they want to continue electing the adjutant general, a post now held by Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, R-Lexington. Like Zais, Livingston has endorsed having his post appointed by the governor.
Courtesy of The State