TOMORROW: Marco Rubio in Columbia!

Rubio flag

Last summer, Karen and I made the decision to support US Senator Marco Rubio to be the next President of the United States. We saw then, what voters have seen now: he is the best choice to defeat Hillary (or Bernie Sanders) in November.

Since that time, I’ve been honored to be joined by other conservatives on TeamMarco. Fellow colleagues Todd Atwater (Lexington), Dan Hamilton (Greenville), Neal Collins (Pickens) as well as staunch conservative Senator Larry Grooms (Berkeley and Charleston).

Recently, US Senator Tim Scott and US House Rep. Trey Gowdy also joined the team.

We hope you’ll join as well. If you have not yet made up your mind, or even if you want to see and learn more about Marco, come join us TOMORROW in the Vista. To Nathan’s News readers in other parts of the state, here’s a list of other events as he comes to the Palmetto State to win your support!


Please join Marco Rubio and Congressman Trey Gowdy for a Rally on February 10th! Senator Rubio will deliver remarks and share his vision for A New American Century.

DOORS OPEN at 2:15 PM and the EVENT BEGINS at 3:00 PM.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (EST) – Add to Calendar
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center | Richland Room (Lower Level) – 1101 Lincoln St. Columbia, SC 29201

Each guest is required to RSVP for ALL Marco Rubio for President Events, including all adults over age 12. Each attendee must complete registration separately. If you are unable to RSVP via Eventbrite , onsite registration will be available (pending venue capacity) at the door. If you have any questions contact your local Marco Rubio for President campaign office or email

SC House to take 3 weeks of furlough

While the SC Senate continues to refuse to pass legislation to fix our roads, upgrade our state ethics laws, improve education in our state – the SC House is working efficiently and saving taxpayer dollars by furloughing three weeks this session.

In addition, the SC House has again passed legislation to shorten the time we are in session as well as reduce the amount of time spent on recognizing visitors and guests to the chamber.

The SC House believes in doing the people’s work – effectively and efficiently.


The Weekly Rewind : Week of January 19th



Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 12, 2016, to commence the second regular session of the 121st South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3440, a bill making comprehensive statutory revisions regarding MOPEDS. The legislation establishes new requirements for registering and licensing mopeds with the Department of Motor Vehicles and for maintaining the same insurance coverage required of individual private passenger automobiles. New safety requirements are established for mopeds including requirements for moped operators and passengers to wear reflective vests and for a moped to be equipped with a rear red tail light that flashes continually while the moped is in motion. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a moped on the public roads in this state that have a speed limit of greater than fifty five miles per hour. A moped, while traveling along a multi lane highway, must be operated in the farthest right lane except when making a left turn. No person may operate a moped at a speed in excess of thirty five miles an hour. Those who sell mopeds are required to post signs that provide brief explanations of such matters as age restrictions, maximum speeds, and the definition of a moped. A moped seller is not required to obtain a motor vehicle dealer’s license. The legislation replaces the multiple, sometimes conflicting, definitions for mopeds currently found in statutes with a single new definition for mopeds and makes other revisions to allow for greater consistency in the way that the laws governing motor vehicles are applied to mopeds.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4632, a joint resolution REVISING THE APPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN STUDENT ASSESSMENT STATUTES FOR THE 2015 2016 SCHOOL YEAR including authorization for all public high schools and, where necessary, career centers, to offer a state funded college entrance assessment to each student entering the eleventh grade for the first time in school year 2015 2016.


2016 Palmetto’s Finest – finalists named


From John Griggs The New Irmo News

Two schools in Lexington-Richland School District Five have been named finalists for the 2016 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards.

Oak Pointe Elementary and Dutch Fork Middle are two of eight schools statewide selected after extensive evaluations by fellow educators and previous winners of the prestigious award. Fourteen South Carolina schools submitted applications last fall, applying for the Palmetto’s Finest distinction. They received an onsite examination visit by a review committee, and finalists will now undergo a second onsite evaluation.

“We are extremely proud to have two Palmetto’s Finest Awards finalists this year,” said District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner. “Honors and accolades like these are not possible without the combined efforts of students, staff, parents and the entire community working to make our schools the best they can be. It’s a testament to the great schools we have, and the entire District Five community celebrates this recognition for Oak Pointe Elementary and Dutch Fork Middle schools.”
The finalists will gather in their schools on March 15 to learn which have won the top honors. SCETV will stream the 1:45 pm announcement live to each of the finalist schools. The Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards annually to schools which “offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs.” Now in its 38th year, the Palmetto’s Finest Awards are among the most coveted and respected awards among educators. District Five’s Chapin High School earned the award in 2015.

“We are excited to recognize some of the outstanding and innovative schools in South Carolina. They represent the many excellent school communities serving South Carolina’s families,” said Beth Phibbs, SCASA Director.

Oak Pointe Elementary School is ranked the number one elementary school in South Carolina by national reviews website The school also is a three-time state winner of the Reading with the Gamecocks program and a Professional Development School in partnership with the University of South Carolina. Several staff members have earned state and national awards, and Oak Pointe Elementary has earned recognition for its programs and services for students with autism.
“We work very hard at Oak Pointe to give students the best education and the very best that we have every day, so it’s an honor just to be named a finalist among hundreds of great schools in our state,” said Cassy Paschal, principal of the school. “What makes our school stand out is the fun learning environment…we really believe that if a child loves coming to school, they will love learning. We call ourselves The Best School Ever, so being named a finalist just reaffirms everything we already believe about our school community.”

Dutch Fork Middle has an overall “A” grade and top South Carolina middle school ranking by for academics and student programs. Among its many initiatives, Dutch Fork Middle School launched a Hate Won’t Win campaign this school year as part of an effort to encourage diversity and tolerance. In 2014, the school received recognition for its Project Lead the Way Gateway to Technology program, and a teacher at the school earned the prestigious national Milken Educator Award in 2013.
Dutch Fork Middle Principal Dr. Gerald Gary said world-class staff, great students and parental support help make Dutch Fork Middle a top South Carolina school.

“In order to become a finalist, the first visiting team looked at our entire school program, from academics and student programs to community involvement and professional development,” Gary said. “Being a Palmetto’s Finest Awards finalist is an honor for our school and our entire Dutch Fork community. We’re proud to be recognized, and even prouder of the staff, students, parents and community that make Dutch Fork Middle School a great place for learning each day.”

The 8 finalists are as follows:
BC Grammar Elementary, Lexington District 2
Holly Springs Motlow Elementary, Spartanburg District 1
Oak Pointe Elementary, Lexington-Richland District 5
Boiling Springs Middle, Spartanburg District 2
Dutch Fork Middle, Lexington-Richland District 5
Lexington Middle, Lexington District 1
St. James High, Horry County Schools
Seneca High, Oconee County Schools

The SC Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards each year to schools which offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto’s Finest Award is celebrating its 38th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators.
“We are excited to recognize some of the outstanding and innovative schools in South Carolina. They represent the many excellent school communities serving South Carolina’s families,” said Beth Phibbs, SCASA Executive Director.

SCASA is the professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, with a membership of more than 3,900.


Community Update


The 2nd regular session of the 121st SC General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at noon. You can keep up with what’s going on in Columbia by visiting Nathan’s News often or going to the Statehouse website for lots of information on members, voting, legislation, committees, and every meeting that’s scheduled during the year!

I’m hopeful this year my colleagues will ultimately pass legislation that will improve our state infrastructure needs as well as improve our educational issues in our state. While we have one of the state’s top school districts in the state; others are not as fortunate. Closer to home, I look forward to support from members throughout the state to address concerns raised by the recent flood.

For a look at this year’s prefilled bills, you can go here. These bills will have to be on the “fast track” if they hope to become law before we adjourn in June. To see just how many bills have become law in recent years, you can read this previous post I wrote in 2013.


It seems like the nightmare never ends for Richland County. Just recently we’ve seen more issues from the “Penny Tax” and I expect more issues are yet to come. I have kept an eye on this issue from the start and made improvement that we can from the General Assembly. Unfortunately, most of the changes needed must come from the county level. Just not sure what we can expect; although this looks like a good start .

In other news, state officials have provided estimates of an additional BILLION dollars for the SC General Assembly to appropriate this year in our budget. The state portion of our budget is in excess of 8 BILLION (and we have 2 other parts that fund the entire budget as well: Federal Funds and “Other funds”). It’s great to see our economy growing (fyi, unemployment is 5.5% which is a level our state has not seen since 2011) and that our state has lived within our means. While a BILLION dollars is a lot of money, you need to know that our state’s colleges and universities have requested ALL OF IT for their use and the total of all state agency new requests for the upcoming budget debate is TWICE that much.

I would love to hear from you where you would like to see any “new money” go. So you know, the BILLION dollars already has several million accounted for due to previous legislation we have passed (Property Tax Relief, Reserves, etc) and obviously we have growth in services associated to Medicaid. Still, there is a large portion we can use to improve our state. How would you prioritize it? Please let me know by contacting me through the website.


MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: I want to continue to share members of our community with you that I hear about doing good things in our community. Be sure to give me details here about someone you think deserves recognition. Here’s an old post from the past that has several community members listed for various reasons.

OUR TOWN COUNCILs: Irmo’s town government has a four-year term and consists of a Council of five members . It meets the first and third Tuesday of every month in the Municipal Building, 7300 Woodrow St., Irmo, SC 29063. November’s elections placed two new members on the town’s council. The current council consists of Mayor Hardy King, Councilman Barry A. Walker, Sr., Mayor (Pro Tem) Julius Waites, Councilwoman Kathy Condom and Councilman Mark Pouliot. When you need to contact Chapin’s Mayor or Town Council, you can get that information here.

OUR CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE: You still have time to make plans for the first meetings of 2016! Irmo’s Chamber Luncheon is Wednesday, January 13th from 11:30-1pm at St. Andrews Presbyterian. That next Tuesday, January 19th from 5:30 to 7pm is Chapin’s Chamber Monthly Meeting at the Market Place of Chapin. If you haven’t visited their websites lately, you need to check them out: Irmo Chamber of Commerce ; Chapin Chamber of Commerce


CHAMPIONS…AGAIN: Another championship season for two Chapin teams. Their cheerleaders and their band both were crowned CHAMPIONS and will be recognized later this year by Representative Huggins and me. It’s always great to see District Five students recognized for their work on and off the field!

DUTCH FORK HIGH SCHOOL / FLOOD RELIEF: Dutch Fork High School students help rebuild home as part of flood relief project. Students at Dutch Fork High School helped give a local family a late holiday present as part of a project to rebuild a home damaged by last year’s flood. Members of the school’s Beta Club spent several hours rebuilding walls and lives as part of Project Rebuild. The project was part of a partnership with Home Works of America, St. Bernard Project, the United Way of the Midlands and several other local groups. “They can see the magnitude at which the community was affect. It’s a direct way to give back,” said Kelly Payne, Home Works site leader and Dutch Fork High School Beta Club advisor. “The students jumped right into the project, even the building tasks that were outside of their comfort zone…Giving back is a lesson that will be with them a lifetime.”

DISTRICT FIVE RECRUITMENT FAIR: Lexington-Richland School District Five will hold its 2016 Teacher Recruitment Fair on February 6, 2016 at Irmo Middle School, 6051 Westcott Road, Columbia, S.C. 29212 from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Pre-registration is available through February 3. To register click here. To be considered for employment, all attendees must complete an on-line application at before attending the recruitment event. Early Contracts for critical areas, such as Math, Science, Special Education and World Language may be issued.

DISTRICT FIVE SCHOOL BOARD TO BE RECOGNIZED IN JANUARY: Lexington-Richland School District Five will join school districts statewide in celebrating School Board Recognition Month in January. More than 600 elected and appointed school board members throughout South Carolina will be recognized by schools and communities for their service and dedication to public education. The theme of this year’s statewide celebration, “School Boards Stand Up 4 SC Public Schools,” reinforces the roles and responsibilities of school boards and the ownership they take for governing their local public schools. The District Five Board of Trustees is the district’s official policy-making entity, formulating policies to enhance educational opportunities in District Five by interpreting the needs and goals of the community. The men and women serving Lexington-Richland School District Five include: Robert Gantt (chairman), Ellen Baumgardner (vice chairman), Jondy Loveless (secretary), Larry Haltiwanger, Jan Hammond, Beth Hutchison, and Ed White. District Five will recognize board members during its Jan. 25 school board meeting. The event, which is open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. at Chapin Middle School.

For more District Five news, read the Weekly News and Highlights which can be found here .


Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Nathan Ballentine
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

Road Closings in Richland / Lexington Counties

Historic flooding occurred this weekend in the Midlands and I hope everyone is safe and that the property damage is not too bad. Videos and pictures that I’ve seen from our community and area are unbelievable!

The City of Columbia has issued a Boil Water Advisory as well. Since many in our area use “city water”, please be aware.

As of 1pm today, here is the report from the SC Department of Transportation.



Closed for repairs (again)


Not sure what keeps happening to the website but for the 2nd time in a few months; we’ve basically been shut down.

I’d like to thank Wesley Donehue and his team at Push Digital (the ones who originally put this site together years ago) for stepping in again to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, all your comments over the years were lost and many links in my posts are now “dead links”. Not to mention my “Donate” link doesn’t work either. Despite that, we had another great turnout at our Community Cookout last month and I very much appreciate the support (financial, prayers, volunteers, etc). I’ll post pictures of the event next week.

Now that we’re up and running again, I’ll continue to update you regularly and keep you informed about what’s going on in the community and in Columbia!

As always, please contact me here for a quicker response to your concerns or needs!

10th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast

It’s hard to believe that next Thursday, September 24th, will mark the 10th time Representative Huggins and I have gathered the Irmo Community together in prayer!

This annual event could not be possible without our regular sponsors and the hard work of local churches and their congregations.

Each year we see many of the same people; but every year we see more and more new faces. Each year we rotate the breakfast among churches in the Irmo area and every year the pastor for the host church for the upcoming year gives the benediction. Last year, the benediction was given by the Rev. Dr. Derrick Scott of St. Paul AME Church on Kennerly Road. I visited the church in 2013 when construction on their new facility was just beginning. I’ve been back since then; but am excited that the community will now get to visit and hear from one of the relatives of the late Senator Clementa Pinckney.

Our state should never forget the Emmanuel Nine and the grace shown during those very difficult time.

Please RSVP to reserve your space today (Email or call Dana at 803-807-3339. Thanks to our sponsors, this event is FREE to the public. We hope to see you there!

You can read more about our past Prayer Breakfasts by clicking here to see photos, videos, and more


Roads, Bridges, Intersections, Lights


While the General Assembly was unable to pass a “Roads Plan” (note: I voted for the plan that the House passed; but it didn’t make it out of the Senate), there is still alot of improvments happening around House District 71.

Below is an update from the SCDOT on the improvements going on in our community!

SC-6 @ Salem Church Road Intersection Improvement
The work on SC-6 is on-going, but utility conflicts have halted the pipe work. C.R. Jackson is actively working on other items until the utilities are relocated. C.R. Jackson plans to fine grade and pour curb and gutter this week and hopefully start back laying pipe August 24. City of Columbia plans to have a crew onsite this week to lower a 3” water main that is in conflict and SCE&G currently has a subcontractor onsite relocating a gas line. They plan to tap the line Thursday, August 20, and be out of the area by the Friday. There is also a meeting scheduled with AT&T to confirm the specific location of their lines for the installation of the remaining 2 signal pole foundations.

The expected completion date for this project is September 30, 2015. This should be attainable if no more utility conflicts are encountered and the current issues are resolved in a timely fashion.

S-40-216: Lowman Home Barn Road
The scope of this reclamation project was to grind up the existing roadway surface and base materials at least 8” in depth, add in cement, and remix while adding water. The result of this process produces a cement modified base course which is then overlaid with asphalt. This reconstruction method is very economical as compared to traditional patching and produces a structurally sound roadway which will last for many years to come.

The reclamation process has been completed and a temporary gravel riding surface has been installed. Milling and installation of traffic signal detection loops will be complete by end of week. The final asphalt surfacing is scheduled to begin at the end of this week or first of next week.

S-40-296 – A.J. Amick Road
Reclamation is also complete on this road, however, the final asphalt surface has not been placed yet. Surface will be placed once Lowman Home Barn is complete.

S-40-620: Captain Lowman Road
This road is under contract for single treatment – Contract ID 5190090. C. R. Jackson is the prime contractor. No work has been performed on this road to date. We anticipate that C. R. Jackson will full depth patch this winter and the single treatment will be placed in 2016 once seasonal restrictions have been lifted. The project has a completion date of September 30, 2016.

Richland County CTC Resurfacing
Shadowood Drive (S-1680), West Shady Grove Road (S-612) and Water Garden Court (S-1708) are part of this contract. Work has not started yet. The completion date is October 31, 2015.

Firetower Road Bridge Replacements
Local SCDOT bridge maintenance crews have completed the first bridge replacement on Firetower Road and are in the midst of replacing the second. We hope to have the project completed and the roadway reopened prior to October 1st.

Richland County Penny Project – Kennerly Road at Coogler Road
This is a Richland County Penny Project begin administered by ICA Engineering. Per my discussion with Project Manager Jennifer Bragg, the scope of the project is to install a roundabout at this intersection. It is one of six intersections included in a Design Build contract. They hope to award the contract by September with an 18-month window for completion of all intersections. For more information, you may contact Project Manager Jennifer Bragg at (803) 726-6146 or Richland County Transportation Director Rob Perry at (803) 576-1526.

I-26 Rehab
Several bridges along the I-26 corridor (89 MM to 101 MM) are scheduled to be combined in one large project in advance of the I-26 roadway rehabilitation project. These bridges will either be raised to provide for interstate clearance or replaced. The contract is tentatively set to be let late 2016. The roadway contract is expected to follow in 2017.

US-76 @ Johnson Marina Road Intersection Improvement
This is an intersection improvement project that will provide turn lanes on both US-76 and Johnson Marina Road. The initial project scoping meeting was held two weeks ago and currently the project is scheduled to be let Summer 2016.

Other notable projects in the Chapin area include
– Amicks Ferry Safety Improvement
– St. Peters Church Road Safety Improvement
– Murray Lindler Road @ Old Lexington Road Roundabout

FREE Community Cookout – August 26th

In just two weeks, I will again host another COMMUNITY COOKOUT for families in House District 71 to get to interact with several elected officials in a casual setting here on Lake Murray.

Like I’ve done every two years, we’ll be at The Rusty Anchor and Quarterdeck and have Jim LeBlanc playing tunes on his acoustic guitar.

Every year, it’s standing room only and the food goes fast! Be sure you’re one of the 300 that RSVP so you can enjoy an evening on the lake and meet those that represent our community, county and state.

Elected officials who have attended before:

Governor Nikki Haley, State Treasuer Curtis Loftis, Attorney General Alan Wilson, US Congressman Joe Wilson, State Senator John Courson, Representative Chip Huggins, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, Irmo Mayor Hardy King, Irmo Town Council members: Walker, Younginer, Hoots, Condon; former Chapin Mayor Stan Shealy, Lexington/Richland District Five Superintendent Steve Heffner. School Board Members: Jan Hammond, Ellen Baumgardner, Beth Burn; Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski, Lexington County Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat…and others

See below for contact information to RSVP and to help contribute by being a Sponsor, Host or Supporter.

Remember – families in House District 71 are FREE – just be sure to RSVP so we don’t run out of food!

Pictures from previous cookouts can be found by clicking here.

Cookout 2015