WANTED: Community member for Transportation Committee

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We continue to see growth in our community, and with that, improvements in our infrastructure are needed. If you are interested in serving on the Richland County Transportation Committee (representing our community in House District 71), please contact me here so I can review applicants before selecting our representative before the end of the month.

Brief information about the position:

* Represent our community in identifying road improvement needs
* Decide with other members which projects will be funded with Richland County Transportation Committe Funds
* Term (usually 2 years) – at will of House Member
* Meetings are bi-monthly on the 4th Tuesday

Additional information on county transportation funding:

SCDOT “C” Program: Improving Roads in your county.

About Us:

The C Program is a long-established partnership between SCDOT and the forty-six counties of South Carolina to fund the improvements of state roads, county roads, city streets, and other local transportation projects. SCDOT, like all state transportation departments across the country have quickly learned, the job is too big to accomplish without partnerships. The C Program is successful because local leaders and citizens alike are willing to work with SCDOT to meet the needs of the communities throughout South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) C Program was established in accordance with Section 12-28-2740 of the S.C. Code of Laws 1976, as amended.

The C funds are derived from 2.66 cents per gallon of the state gasoline tax. These funds are distributed to each of the 46 counties based on a three part formula. The formula allocates one third of the C funds based on the ratio of the land area of the county to the land area of the state, one third based on the ratio of the county population to the state population and one third based on the rural road mileage in the county to the rural road mileage in the state. By law, each county is responsible for establishing a County Transportation Committee (CTC) appointed by the County’s Legislative Delegation. The number of members on the committee can vary from county to county. The CTC is entrusted with the authority to select and approve projects to be funded utilizing C funds.

The law stipulates that the counties spend at least twenty-five percent of their apportionment of C funds based on a biennial averaging of expenditures, on the state highway system for construction, improvements, and maintenance. Furthermore, the counties are to spend no more than seventy-five percent of their apportionment each year on their local system. Also, the balance of uncommitted funds carried forward from one year into the next cannot exceed three hundred percent of the county’s total apportionment for the most recent year.

During 2007, the Department reorganized the Preconstruction Division of the agency in an effort to improve the delivery of projects and programs including the administration of the C Program. The new organization took the form of four statewide regional production groups, which align themselves around the Metropolitan Planning Organizations and the Council of Government statewide boundaries. This reorganization improved resource management, enhanced communication, improved project ownership, and most importantly proposes to improve the project delivery time to insure roadway projects are in place for the benefit of the citizens of South Carolina. As a result of the reorganization, each regional production group has its own C Program Manager. The C Program Administration’s staff responsibilities include administering overall C program issues including financial issues and ensuring compliance with the C fund law.

District Five rated “Excellent” on State Report Card

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From District website

Lexington-Richland School District Five is rated “Excellent” on the state report card for the fifth consecutive year and has the fourth highest absolute rating in the state, according to data released Nov. 14 by the South Carolina Department of Education.

South Carolina schools and districts receive both federal and state ratings annually. State report card ratings are part of the state’s Educational Accountability Act, whereby schools receive an Absolute rating of Excellent, Good, Average or At Risk. All schools in District Five received either Good or Excellent absolute ratings on this year’s state report card.

To view District Five’s school reports, click here !

From WLTX

SC School Districts Show Improvement on State Report Cards

Columbia, SC (WLTX) New report cards are out for South Carolina schools and school districts and they show improvement. Out of 82 school districts, 49 are rated “good” or “excellent.” That’s down one from last year, but the number of schools at the bottom, rated “below average” or “at-risk,” is 7, down from 15 in 2010. The high school graduation rate has also gone up to 80.1 percent, the highest in state history. Last year, the graduation rate was 77.5 percent.

Mark Bounds, spokesman for Lexington/Richland District 5, which got a rating of “excellent,” says the report cards are important for parents, schools, and districts.

“Just like students get report cards, it’s important that schools get report cards so that our community understands where we are and where we’re going,” he says. “It’s important for the district because it gives us a target. The grade is important so we know where we are today, but it also gives us information that we can use to get better every day.”

The state won’t issue report cards for the next two years as it transitions to a combined state and federal report card for schools. Now, those are separate, which can cause confusion. For example, 51 percent of the state’s schools were rated “excellent” on the state report card but only 13 percent got the top ranking on the federal report card.

State education superintendent Dr. Mick Zais says, “Moving to one accountability system and just one annual report card will make it easier for everyone to understand how their school district and school is performing.”

He wants the new combined report card to be weighted heavily toward the federal guidelines because they’re more rigorous and hold schools to a higher performance standard.

Meet James Burns : Governor’s Chief of Staff

Burns

Nathan’s News readers met James earlier this year . Actually, most of you in the community know James already or have seen him on the ball fields at Chapin, helping the booster club, or being involved in other areas around town.

This week he was named as Chief of Staff at the beginning of Governor’s Haley second term. I know James well and I know he will serve that office and our state exceptionally well.

From www.governor.sc.gov

Gov. Nikki Haley Announces New Chief Of Staff

COLUMBIA, S.C.- November 13, 2014 – Governor Nikki Haley today announced James H. Burns, a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, as her new chief of staff. Gov. Haley’s current chief of staff, Ted Pitts, will be stepping down from his role and joining the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

“From the moment we stepped into office, I have been incredibly blessed to have Ted Pitts as a member of my staff and for the past fourteen months serving as chief of staff,” said Gov. Haley. “His character, ability, and sense of duty made him indispensable – and he is not only a trusted adviser but someone who I also consider a dear friend. Whether in the National Guard, as a member of the General Assembly, or in the governor’s office, I know how much time and dedication he has given to South Carolina, and I want to personally thank him for his contributions to our state and wish him all the best going forward.”

Prior to being partner at Nelson Mullins, Burns was deputy assistant for legal and legislative matters for the Office of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon, and served in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) from 2002-2008. Burns is a 1996 graduate of The Citadel and a 2002 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is the former chairman of the South Carolina State Ethics Commission and worked as pro bono counsel to the South Carolina Ethics Reform Commission.

“As a widely respected member of both the legal and professional community, James Burns will be a great addition to Team Haley, and I am excited to start working with him and continue building on the progress we have made.” said Gov. Haley. “His integrity and outstanding reputation as a leader, combined with his understanding of both our policy and legislative goals, is exactly what we need to start this second term the same way we ended the first – fighting to make South Carolina a better place to live. The last four years have been great ones for our state, but we still have a lot to accomplish and I know that James is the best person to help us get the job done.”

“What Governor Haley and her team have accomplished over the past four years is remarkable, and I could not be more honored to be named her next chief of staff and to follow in Ted’s footsteps,” said James Burns. “Under the governor’s leadership and vision, our state has reached new heights. I look forward to doing my part to not only continue this record of success, but to build on it.”

The transition will take place over the next few weeks.

Burns, 40, currently resides in Richland County and is married with three children.

Grateful and honored to represent you in Columbia!

Thank you

My family and I again appreciate your support yesterday (and throughout the years)!

Public service is a calling for me and one I take seriously. Everyday I walk the steps of your State House, I realize the weight of the decisions before us in Columbia. I could not serve without the support of my family at home or without the input and advice from those of you who stay involved and are willing to share your expertise and opinions with me.

As I share with my colleagues “elected officials who stay in touch year round – instead of just at election time – are far better able to serve their constituents.” That is what I’ve strived to do since 2004 and will continue to do for our community.

As always, I encourage you to visit my site often (I’ll post more starting next month when we return to Columbia). Please call or email with advice and opinions ; and feel free to invite me to visit with your neighbors, church or civic organizations.

I’m here to help,

Nathan

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

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With the November election less than a month away, inevitably people start to ask me “Nathan, who should I vote for?”

Obviously, they don’t recall that I have made it a practice not to endorse in local races . Instead, I believe our community has many opportunities to meet and learn about these candidates and can decide on your own who to support.

For example, you can catch candidates for County Council visiting the Ballentine Dutch Fork Civic Association or all the School Board candidates at this year’s voting forums . Many officials and candidates attended the 9th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast while some attend Irmo and Chapin chamber events . In the next few weeks, my guess is you’ll receive a lot of literature from these candidates and maybe even a visit at your front door step from a candidate or two.

Take time to read, learn and even ask questions before deciding whom to support. While some in the community will show up to vote (which, based on low turnout is actually more than the majority of people in the state will do), others will choose to display signs, make calls, and contribute financially. Whatever level of support you wish to give, do so in favor of your candidate and not campaigning negatively about other candidates.

Please look at the issues, the job and the candidates qualifications. If there are votes some officials have cast that you don’t like, that’s a legitimate concern. If there’s an issue one candidate addresses more than another candidate, maybe that’s your guy/gal. But please don’t succumb to personal vendettas or he said/she said spats that do nothing but divert attention from building up our community. And PLEASE don’t resort to vandalizing/removing signs of an opponent. We’re better than that in Chapin and Irmo.

One last thing that’s been on my mind for sometime is this – our school board currently has no minority representation. With seven members chosen to represent a district that has a diverse population from elementary schools to our high schools, shouldn’t our board be more diverse?

I hope you’ll get out and vote Tuesday, November 4th. Please check your Voter Registration Card to be sure you go to the correct precinct and remember to bring a photo ID with you to the polls!

2014 Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast

2014 Prayer Breakfast Invite

Years ago, Representative Huggins and I wanted to do provide something for Irmo that was missing. Chapin has their Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and we felt Irmo could benefit from something similar as well.

We continue to rotate among churches in the area and would love to bring to your church in the coming years! This year we’re back at Gateway Baptist (site of our 3rd Annual Prayer Breakfast years ago). Next year, plans are to have St. Paul AME Church host the 10th Annual event in their new facility!

Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we’ve been able to provide the event for FREE to the community the past few years and hope to continue to do so!

To sponsor ($100 for table of 8) or to simply RSVP a free spot for the event, email Mary Lou Stinson at mlbstinson@yahoo.com or call her directly at 351-5197.

This year’s speaker is Chris Joye (too many titles and accolades to list, so I’ll share his most important), father. Chris will share the Mark Joye story. Mark is a recent Wofford College graduate and former standout golfer at Dutch Fork High School.

Chip and I look forward to another packed house later this month! If you’ve never joined us, please click on the links below to see videos and programs from years past.

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7th Annual – Video and Program
6th Annual – Video and Program
5th Annual – Video and Program
4th Annual – Video and Program
3rd Annual – Video and Program
2nd Annual – program

UPDATE: Richard Franklin Road improvements

2014 Richard Franklin Road

Those living in the area have seen the signs, trucks, pylons, and markings that signal the beginning of much awaited repairs to the area. Earlier this year I shared what was in the works and last month shared the latest .

I want to thank you for your patience and especially the SC DOT for bringing this project to fruition.

Below is detailed information so you’ll know what’s going on and so you’ll be patient as the work will cause some inconveniences in the coming weeks.

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The roadway that is being reclaimed is State Road S-40-1333. The road names associated with this work and limits are as follows:

• Lowman Home Barn Road
o From the intersection of Lowman Home Road (S-40-216) (3 way intersection) to Johnson Marina Road (S-40-618)
o ~0.3 miles
o Reclamation, widen shoulder 2 ft each side, resurface

• Richard Franklin Road
o From Johnson Marina (S-40-618) to Wonder Dr / Old Road (S-40-1333 Loop)
o ~0.95 miles
o Reclamation, widen shoulder 2 ft each side, resurface

• Wonder Drive / Old Road
o Loop Road
o ~1.06 miles
o Reclamation and resurfacing only

The total roadway work is ~2.31 miles in length. The approximate costs for this work was estimated to be in excess of $533,000 but may be less due to the actual amount of cement used in the reclamation process based on the design.

UPDATE: Making that commute easier…on your eyes

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Tuesday, I shared the story brought to me from Richland residents about the need to improve the entrace ways into the Capital City.

I reached out to the key players (City of Columbia, SCDOT, Dept of Corrections, Richland County) and am pleased to share with you what I received yesterday from the SC Department of Transportation. Sometimes “the wheels of government” move very slowly. Not this time!

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I have met with City Officials to discuss our upcoming activities and we both agree that coordination of our efforts would have most public benefit. Therefore, the following activities outlined below will run concurrently beginning on Monday, August 25th:

SCDOT:
• In preparation for the 3rd Cycle Interstate median barrier wall sweeping/cleaning. Herbicide spraying of the center median as well as the retaining walls adjoining the emergency lanes will start on Monday. This operation will be in both Lexington and Richland (Columbia Metropolitan Area) Counties with I-126 being the first location.
• Starting Monday, August 25th, two crews will beginning cutting and removing vegetation (Inbound – after peak traffic period) along the retaining walls on I-126 between Greystone Blvd and the Charleston Flyover. I expect this operation to be completed by Thursday, August 28th.
• The center median barrier wall sweeping operation will remain on its current schedule to due to coordination with Highway Patrol, other Districts, and major area events for September 20th – 25th.
• We will maintain continuous litter/debris removal of the mainline and emergency lanes on the interstates as necessary.

City of Columbia:
• Pruning and manicuring the ornamental trees specifically in areas covering destination/directional signs and overhanging the emergency lanes on I-126 between Huger/Elmwood tri-level and Greystone Blvd to begin on Monday, August 25th.
• Trimming vegetation growing the median area on I-126 from Huger/Elmwood tri-level to the Congaree River.
• Spraying herbicide in unsightly areas as needed.
• Policing for litter in the median along the areas where there is guardrail.

This approach and coordinated effort should go a long way to improving one of the many gateways into the Capital City.

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Kennedy era gets underway at Irmo

From Midlands High School Sports.com. Visit often for updates during the season!

By Emerson Phillips

Longtime Irmo head football coach Bob Hanna retired this past offseason. New head coach Reggie Kennedy now guides the tradition-rich Yellow Jackets’ program. Kennedy has won everywhere he’s coached. And because his approach has been successful in the past, it will not change at Irmo.

“Everybody’s buying in,” Kennedy said. “One of things I’ve done is try to keep the terminology as close as possible to last year. So I try to make the transition more than the kids. One thing I tell our coaches is that we do the thinking, and the kids do the playing.”

Last year Kennedy led Sumter to the state championship game after the Gamecocks had gotten off to a bit of a slow start to begin the season. Kennedy knows Irmo’s history, and he’s driven to maintain it.

“Our #1 goal is to win a state championship every year,” Kennedy said. “First we want to have a winning season. We want to win the region championship. And we want to win the state championship.”

But is winning the state championship a realistic goal in Kennedy’s first year at Irmo?

“I believe we have a chance,” he said. “You have to get hot at the right time. Our practices are designed to keep the kids fresh. Sometime you can burn kids out by midseason. They get tired of football. A lot of times, kids hear the first basketball bounce and they’re ready to head to the gym. The way we do practice, we keep the fire burning all season. By the time the playoffs start, our guys are still having fun and they’re still fresh. Our practices are designed to keep the kids fresh.”

Irmo has a solid group of returning players, but Kennedy says he and his staff will have to develop some less-experienced players as the season goes along for Irmo to meet that lofty goal.

“We’ve got a lot of potential here,” Kennedy said. “We’re gonna be young up front. We have some experience at the skill positions. We can match up with a lot of folks at the skill positions. But we gotta have consistent play at quarterback, and we gotta get better up front. D-line we’re a little undersized, but we’re really athletic. We can run. And the style of defense we’ll play is a running defense. It’s the same defense (Irmo) ran last year.”

“Our leader will be Manny Banks, our wide receiver,” Kennedy continued. “Good kid, good runner. Hard worker. He’s getting better. The biggest thing is he needs to learn how to separate from DBs, and he’s getting better at that. He’s picked up a lot over the summer.” Banks (5-11, 180) already has an offer from Georgia State, and Georgia Southern is showing interest.

Senior quarterback Anthony Jones (5-10, 170) suffered a leg fracture last year and missed most of the season. But now he’s healthy, and he’s battling for the starting job with junior Mason Smith (5-10, 180), who started at QB for the JV team last year. Kennedy says Jones is more of a runner, while Smith is more of a passing threat. But there isn’t likely to be a platoon situation at quarterback.

“I like to go with one guy,” Kennedy said. “Platoon doesn’t work for me, I always have back luck with that,” he said with a chuckle.

Kennedy’s excited about his starting running back, junior Ronnie Jamison (6-1, 185). “He’s got the potential to be one of the best backs in the Midlands this year,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy says sophomore slot receiver Jeffrey Thorpe has been impressive during preseason practice. “He’s surprised us,” Kennedy said. “He’s real good in space. Quick. He can catch the ball real well. He’ll probably be a starter.”

Senior AJ Robinson (6-0, 265) returns at center. “He’ll be our leader on the offensive line.”
Kennedy says his linebackers are the strength of the defense. Senior Juwan Freeman MLB (5-10, 190) is a second-year starter. Joe Boyd (5-11, 200) will start at inside linebacker.

Junior free safety Philip Barrett is the leader of the secondary. Junior Nicholas Jenkins played JV last year and will start at cornerback.

“We’ll play by platoon on the defensive line,” Kennedy said.
Irmo should be solid on special teams. Kennedy places extra emphasis on that aspect of the game. “Our kids know we take special teams seriously. We work on it every day in practice. We want to score on special teams.”

Kennedy’s a proven winner, and his success is due in no small part to the fact that he excels at relating to today’s younger generation.

“A lot of that comes with building relationships away from the field,” he said. “Kids have changed over the years. You just have to find different ways to communicate with them. You get to know kids and find out a lot about their character when you’re dealing with them off the field. So I make it a point to talk to my guys off the field.”

Let the Kennedy era begin at Irmo.

Chapin ready to defend Region Crown

From Midlands High School Sports.com. Visit them often for updates during the year!

By Emerson Phillips

Last year Chapin High won its first football region title in 21 years. Chapin fans are excited about the job fifth-year head coach Justin Gentry is doing.

“They are,” Gentry said. “We’re trying to get back to the days of Coach Woolbright and Coach Muldrow, when Chapin football was legit. We’re trying to separate ourselves. It’s a work in progress.”

And it’s a work that took a major step forward last year. Chapin went undefeated in the region. But Gentry feels Chapin is still seeking respect in Midlands’ high school football circles.

“Even though we were 5-0 and coming off the region championship, we don’t have an ‘X’ on our backs,” Gentry said. “We’re picked to finish second or third in the region every year. But that’s ok. That’s what helps drive our ship. I actually thrive off that and use it as motivation. I’ve never done the history of Midlands football, but Chapin is probably traditionally one of the strongest schools in the Midlands in modern history. We want to build this program back to prominence.”

Chapin will have a new quarterback in 2014. Last year Matt Charpia ended his Eagles’ career as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards. Junior Logan Bailey (6-0, 200) is penciled in as the starter at QB in 2014.

“Logan brings a different style to the table,” Gentry said. “Matt ran if he needed to. Logan will make plays with his legs. He’s got a pretty good arm. But the pass will be set up a lot more by his legs as opposed to true drop-back.”

Freshman QB Trad Beatty will be the backup and has had a good summer.

“Trad came into the season as the #3 quarterback, he’s now #2 and making a pretty good push,” Gentry said. “He’s 14 years old. His biggest weakness right now is arm strength. But he’s about 6-foot-2 and he’s gone be a big ol’ kid.”

Evan Estridge will start at wide receiver and serve as the #3 QB.

“Evan will be there if we need him,” Gentry said.

Junior Ben Fischer is the #1 running back. He played both JV and varsity last year.
“Ben has done everything to deserve and earn the right to be our starting tailback,” Gentry said. He has not missed a workout this year. He’s busted his tail. But there’s still some competition in that department.”

Chandler Engle will get some carries as well as a spot runner, and he’s a two-time all-region selection at linebacker. He’s a Wofford baseball commit.
Matthew Nalley (6-1, 260) is a senior and a second-year starter at right tackle.

“He’s super, he’s a rock,” Gentry said. “Matt’s done a great job.”

Stephen Haralambis (6-3, 270) is another outstanding veteran who will play both ways this year..

“We’ve moved Stephen Haralambis from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side,” Gentry said. “Right now he has sealed up the center spot. And he’ll play some defensive tackle for us too. He’s being recruited as an offensive lineman because of his size.”

Haralambis has an offer from Charleston Southern. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are also showing interest.

Haralambis, Matthew Bickley (6-0, 215) and Will Register will start on the defensive line. Bickley’s a senior. Register’s just a sophomore, and he’ll play H-back/Tight End also.

Junior Garrett Reinhart (6-1, 190) is a newcomer who will start at inside linebacker. Junior Caleb White (6-1, 175) will play receiver and safety. Caleb’s older brother Carter was a standout for Chapin last year, and he’s now playing football at Presbyterian College.

“Caleb’s gone be just as good as Carter, if not better,” Gentry said.

Senior Nate Blankenship is a third-year starter at safety and he’ll play receiver also. Noah Schelble (6-1, 175) will play receiver and defensive back. Schelble started at safety last year.

“There’s no words to describe Nate and Noah,” Gentry said. “They’re our heart and soul. We feel like our defense can be as good as anybody else’s just with those two guys back there.”

Senior receiver/cornerback Rakeem “Rock” Ricard (5-11, 180) is another player Gentry is high on. Ricard was hurt in the first game last year but is back in 2014.

“He’s the epitome of hard work,” Gentry said. “He’s fully healthy and ready to rock ‘n roll. He benches 325 and squats 500. He’ll be on the radar as a recruit as soon as the season starts.”

AC Flora might be the popular preseason pick to with the region, but Gentry likes his club’s chances at a second straight region crown.

“I feel like come region time, we can be in the mix,” Gentry said. “We’ve changed the mindset here. When we go on the field, our boys feel like we can win now. It wasn’t easy trying to change that mentality here. Our boys have really bought into what we’re trying to do.”

Chapin opens the regular season August 22 at home against Columbia High. The Eagles play in Region 4-3A with AC Flora, Camden, Dreher, Lower Richland and Richland Northeast.