COMMUNITY UPDATE: March 2009

My apologies for it being mid-month before the March Update was ready!

If you have events you’d like me to share on the website, please contact me directly through NathansNews and I’ll be happy to see how I can help pass along the news. Hopefully, you’re a frequent NathansNews reader or either following me on Twitter or Facebook . I try to stay in touch as much as possible and these mediums help me hear from you and learn more about you – the people I represent in Columbia.

STATE HOUSE

Last week was “Budget Week” on the House Floor and (if you were interested), you could have (for the first time ever) followed both Republican and Democrat House Members’ live updates during the debate at SCTWEETS.COM . ( WLTX did a story about Twitter/SCTweets a few weeks ago but most NathansNews readers are already up-to-speed about Twitter and several in our community are using the medium as well!)

In case you missed it last week: we took the $350 million “Budget Stabilization Money” from the feds , we restored several agencies (many to 2006 levels some to 2008 levels), we stayed until 11 p.m. one night and 2:30 a.m the next, and several of worked to gain support of amendments to help protect you and our state when these “stimulus funds” aren’t there in 2 years.

Last week was a busy week and my office visits were limited but I would like to thank the following constituents who took time from their busy schedule to come to the State House last month: Traci Richard, Ben Thompson, LaWandra Kelly, Ballentine Elementary School classes, Dick Hohn, Padgett Lewis, Chase Tolbert (8th grader from Dutch Fork Middle School), Janet Sternernberg, Bonnie King, Patricia Cummings-Lecque, Irmo Town Councilmember Hardy King, Oak Pointe Elementary School Classes, Stan O’Brien, Mike Lowman, Thom Chumney, Ralph Bell, Matthew Deans (8th grader, Irmo Middle), Jerome Singleton, Jr and his parents, Abner Montessori School (Chapin), Donna Quirk, Gabrielle Barnes, Kathleen Mercer and Kathy Cannon.

YOUR MONEY

The Budget passed by the House now heads to the Senate and from there to a Conference Committee to hash out the differences between the two plans. After that is finished, the budget will go to the Governor’s Office and then back to both chambers for consideration of any vetoes. It’s a long way from over so if you aren’t happy with it, it still has several changes before being finalized for our state! Let your Senators know over the next few weeks as they work to craft their version to be debated on the Senate floor.

Closer to home (money/transparency), I am excited to see IRMO become the first town in our state to hop on the “transparency express” and allow our community to “see the books!” (I’m equally excited that Lexington/School District Five appears to be leaning that direction as well!).

“By being the first local government to sign on to our local-government transparency initiative , Mayor John Gibbons, Irmo Town Council and town administrator John Hanson should be commended,“ said state Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. “The town of Irmo is a pioneer, helping usher in a new era of transparency in South Carolina. They believe, as I do, that citizens deserve to know how public money is being spent. And taxpayers deserve easy, no-cost access to that information.”

I remember this summer fighting for more transparency in state government (and the price we paid) and I’m glad to see the movement is growing. I applaud Comptroller Eckstrom for his continued support and his push on this front to provide more transparency with state agencies and local governments.

COMMUNITY

Welcome Meredith Allan, the new President and CEO of the Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce! The Chamber invites you to call, e-mail, or stop in the office to meet Meredith. You can reach Ms. Allan at CEO@greaterirmochamber.com or call her at 803-749-9355.

The Richland County Republican Party will hold its PRECINCT REORGANIZATION meeting on Monday, March 23, 2009 at 6:00 PM. There will be multiple precincts meeting at the same location; please check for the location of your precinct meeting and arrive on time. You must bring a current valid Voter Registration card to the meeting. Location: Friarsgate Park, 1712 Chadford Road, Irmo, SC 29063 for the following precincts in our area: Ballentine, Dutch Fork 1, Dutch Fork 2, Friarsgate 1, Friarsgate #2, Old Friarsgate, River Springs, Spring Hill, Springville. Location: St. Andrews: St Andrews Park, 920 Beatty Road, Columbia, SC 29210 for the following precincts: Beatty Road*, Harbison #1, Harbison #2, Kingswood, Oak Point, Parkridge, Pine Grove, Riverside, Riverwalk, St. Andrews, Walden, Westminster, Whitehall.

Trash Bash! The Town of Irmo has partnered with Palmetto Pride & Keep The Midlands Beautiful to plan and promote a cleanup event Saturday April 18th from 9 a.m. to noon. I hope you’ll join me in keeping our community clean. For more information, call 781-7050. (NOTE: If you live outside of the town limits and/or would like to help me develop another similar project in our community , please let me know!)

IRMO LITTLE LEAGUE OPENING DAY: Saturday, March 28th, the 15th annual Opening Day ceremonies begin at 9am with a parade of all teams! Location: Friarsgate Park.

Benefit Contest between Dutch Fork and Irmo High: Hot Dog Heaven is sponsoring a dual between Dutch Fork and Irmo. Staring Tuesday March 31, through April 30, 2009 Hot Dog Heaven will have Top Dog Days. Dutch Fork is invited to represent their school on Tuesday’s from 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM. All staff and students are invited to participate. You must present your school ID to be entered into the contest. The winning school will be announced on May 1, 2009 and will become Hot Dog Heaven’s Top Dog! The winning school will be promoted on our website and will receive 20% of the proceeds from the contest. Good Luck and “May the Best Dog WIN!”

SCHOOLS

LAST CHANCE! If you’re a parent, living in House District 71, with a high school senior going to college next year – the deadline for the 2009 Ballentine Scholarships is March 31, 2009. Scholarships to USC ($1,000), Clemson ($1,000), Columbia College/Winthrop ($1,000) and Midlands Tech (two for $500 each) are available again this year. I’ve been able to continue to donate my legislative salary since I was elected and hope to be able to again do so in 2010.

Speaking of our high school students, if your child goes to Dutch Fork High School and is in Ms. Kelly Payne’s Civics Classes , he/she has already heard from more elected officials since January than I ever did in my entire K-12 and college career! Look at who has taken time to come speak to our students the past three months since Representative Nikki Haley and I did in January : State Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) , State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom (R) , State Superintendent Dr. Jim Rex (D), Speaker of the SC House of Representatives, Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston), Representative Gilda-Cobb Hunter (D-Orangeburg) , Representative Chip Huggins (R-Lexington), Representative James Smith (D-Richland), Ashley Landess – President of SC Policy Council , Stephen Benjamin (past chair, Richland County Democrats). Coming soon….Representative Anton Gunn (D-Richland), Minority Leader Representative Harry Ott (D-Calhoun), Chief of SC Law Enforcement Division Reggie Lloyd.

For those that called concerning the Snow Make Up Day , you’ll be pleased to know that it will NOT be Memorial Day. Instead, it will be June 5th.

THANK YOU

Thanks again for staying informed by visiting the site! Please let your friends and neighbors know about it so that they can stay as informed as possible, too. As you can see, I try to write often and regularly update photos from our community as well as videos.

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net anytime I can be of service to you or your family. Please put the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line so that I can respond to the emails from members of our community first!

For those wishing to meet in my office this week, please know the House will be on “furlough” the week of March 23rd (I will use this week to “refresh” after a rough few weeks and also focus on my paying job at Wachovia/Wells Fargo).

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221