Santa Claus is coming to town!

From the Dutch Fork Fire Rescue Facebook Page

Alright folks! I just got off the phone with Santa and we are ready to role starting TOMORROW Night! This year we have decided to release the entire schedule early so everyone can plan ahead.
We will still post each afternoon what neighborhoods we will be hitting that evening. We typically leave the station around 6:30 so just keep an ear out for sirens and you’ll know Santa is in your neighborhood.

Please Note- the schedule is subject to change due to weather and making sure we have enough of Santas Helpers. We also may be delayed, or have to make changes if we need to respond to any emergency calls.

We are still taking candy donations at Station 20 in Ballentine and appreciate all the donations so far!

We look forward to seeing everyone!

– Santa Run Cooridnator/FF William Lynch

McMaster-Evette come to Chapin

Yesterday afternoon,the Republican ticket for Governor and Lt Governor visited Chapin to kickoff what will be a week long bus tour around the state before Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.

I began my remarks letting everyone know that my colleagues always hear me say “You can’t spell Champion without Chapin” (every time I bring our state championship teams to the State House). I don’t know of a better champion for our state that Henry McMaster.

Joining me on stage on Beaufort Street were the Governor and his wife, Lt Gov and her husband, Congressman Joe Wilson, our Senator Ronnie Cromer, Representative Chip Huggins and Newberry Sheriff Lee Foster. The event was emceed by Chapin Eagle Club President James Burns.

If you have not voted already, please be sure you vote on Election Day! There are several races on the ballot in our community.

Photo: Chapin students Momo F. and Benson L. (Chapin Sophomore SIC Representative) along with Governor Henry McMaster

2 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot

Many have asked how they should vote on the 2 ballot questions. I plan to vote YES to both.

Here’s an editorial a colleague of mine shared:

On the ballot in November, there will be two Constitutional Amendment Questions for South Carolina voters to decide. These amendments, if passed, will boost South Carolina’s rainy day reserve funds and ensure that we are prepared as a state to meet future economic downturns. A YES vote is a vote to require the state to spend less, and save more every year. A YES vote will require the state to place ten (10%) percent of its total revenues into its General Reserve Fund and its Capital Reserve Fund.

Currently, the South Carolina constitution requires the legislature to place five 5% of revenues in a General Reserve Fund and 2% percent of revenues in a Capital Reserve Fund. These amendments would raise those requirements to a total of 10% of revenues in these rainy-day funds without raising taxes.

A YES vote on these amendments is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows the state to smartly save to meet the needs of South Carolina’s future and our challenges ahead. Every year it becomes more and more expensive to maintain and improve essential government service, therefore every year we need to save more to ensure we can meet the needs of South Carolina’s citizens in the event of an economic downturn or other crisis. Our state is on sound financial footing due to the robust economy created by the citizens of South Carolina and the work of the legislature to ensure that we wisely appropriate tax revenues.

The harsh truth is that an economic downturn is coming. There always is economic hardship just over the horizon. It is unfortunate when it happens – but we must plan NOW and be prepared in our resources NOW, to ensure that when that happens, we can continue to operate the core functions of government for the citizens of South Carolina.

These funds are not slush funds. The General Reserve Fund can only be used when the state is facing a budget shortfall. They cannot be touched for any special projects by the legislature unless there is a budget shortage. These increased savings will be phased in over a period of several years by adding a half of a percent to reserves every year for the next four years. Under current growth projections, that will lead to an increase of approximately $51 million additional funds placed into the General Reserve Fund and the same to the Capital Reserve Fund. Last year, the legislature added an extra $52 million to the General Reserve Fund. Thanks to years of conservative planning and budgeting, we can now afford to plan for the future.

A YES vote will help ensure South Carolina is ready to meet the economic challenges that lie ahead. This is sound fiscal policy that will positively impact the future of South Carolina. I hope you will join me in voting YES on both Constitutional Amendments on the ballot in November.

Early Voting begins today!

Early Voting for the 2022 General Election
Dates: Monday, October 24 – Saturday, November 5 (closed Sunday, October 30).

Times: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Early Voting Centers
The dates, times and locations of early voting centers for the 2022 General Election are listed below. Check locally for dates, times and locations of early voting centers for local elections.

Voters will be asked to present Photo ID when checking in to vote.

Richland County

Richland County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 2020 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29204
Institute Of Innovation (R2i2): 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia, SC 29229
* * * Ballentine Community Center: 1053 Bird Road, Irmo, SC 29063 * * *
Hopkins Park Adult Activity Center: 150 Hopkins Park, Hopkins, SC 29061
Parklane Adult Activity Center: 7494 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223

Lexington County
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 605 West Main Street, Room 130, Lexington, SC 29072
Midlands Technical College (B & L Campus): 423 College Street, Batesburg-Leesville, SC 29070
* * * Midlands Technical College (Harbison Campus): 7300 College Street, Irmo, SC 29063 * * *
Pelion Branch Library: 206 Pine Street, Pelion, SC 29123
West Columbia Community Center: 754 B. Avenue, West Columbia, SC 29169

Changes ahead….

Debate from the House Floor : Protecting Life

As I shared from the House Floor, I didn’t wake up Tuesday expecting to take the podium during this debate. But when I saw how the debate was going and how, once again, the chance to do something (ie, our job) was about to lose out to doing nothing (bill being defeated) – I had to speak up.

On the way to the State House , I wanted to thank y’all for responding to this year’s Legislative Survey and let you know: I heard you and I would be there for you. Overwhelmingly whether you identified as a “Trump Republican”, “Republican” or “Independent”, you wanted exceptions placed into the abortion bill for rape and incest. That’s how I voted and, ultimately, that’s what got into the bill that now heads to the Senate.

In the past few weeks, word was that there were going to be thousands of amendments placed on the desk and that this debate could go days, even into the weekend. That turned out not to be the case as we only had 20-25 amendments and debate was over by 7pm Tuesday night.

Early in debate two amendments to place exceptions were defeated… first only 25 supported , later 41 supported (we picked up more support when the reporting piece regarding rape was added to the earlier amendment). Ultimately after a 2 hour recess from the house floor, the House agreed to placing exceptions into the bill and the bill passed 67-38.

What was surprising (and I explain in video above) was that the Democrats voted against adding exceptions into the bill. Anyone in politics knows that the Democrats vote was not their true beliefs, instead it was their way to help accomplish their ultimate goal – defeating the bill . If the Democrats had kept exceptions off the bill, that bill would have never passed the Senate. If you’re confused, that happens sometimes in politics. You use the tools you’re given and the strategies you can to get the ultimate outcome you want. UNFORTUNATELY in this day and age of politics, is those votes that are used by opponents (usually primary opponents) to try to paint the official as “out of touch” or “not one of us”. What do I mean? A citizen wanting to run for office in a Democratic primary could take that vote and say “See. Representative Smith is out of touch. He voted to force women who were raped to have a baby”. (And that is not what most Democrats would believe).

I’m getting way into the weeds here, but that’s stuff you voters need to know. Don’t look at ONE vote from an official (especially when it’s highlighted on a campaign mail piece from opponent) and assume that’s the whole story.

Long story short, what was accomplished yesterday was this: saving a bill from dying ( it actually WAS defeated when it had no exceptions in it ) and sending a stronger bill than we had passed in 2021 with the SC Fetal Heartbeat Bill.

In layman’s terms:

The SC Fetal Heartbeat bill 2021 – banned abortions after 6 weeks except for rape or incest (allowed up to 20 weeks) or life of the mother

Recently that law had been “stayed” by the SC courts. That meant, Roe v. Wade was still law of the land.

So….do we pass nothing or do we pass something? Something that actually does more than what we did in 2021?

This bill which finally passed – bans abortions after Day One except for rate or incest (allowed now up to 12 weeks).

While some wanted NO EXCEPTIONS, that bill was never going to become law – much less pass the House . And had some Republicans not had the courage to “vote for exceptions” (against immense pressure from outside the chamber), the outcome would be WORSE in Republican eyes since we would have lost an opportunity to do something – even better than we did in 2021 – to protect life.

In the end, to those who said if you add exceptions, you are not pro-life, you now see that is far from reality. You now can see how this new bill is the strongest pro-life bill ever passed in South Carolina.

The end justifies the means and, again, cooler heads prevailed in the Republican Caucus. For those in SC who consider themselves pro-life, you now have an even stronger bill than you did in 2021.

Back to Columbia: Protecting Life

Stop me if you’ve heard this before….Richland County Election Issues

Like you, I learned of the recent resignation via the news media . Like you, I’m not shocked or surprised anymore. But I am curious as to why the Richland County Elections Director resigned. I will be calling her to see what she will share.

I won’t berate the issues we’ve all seen and experienced through the years (click here for a few). What I will do is simply state this….as one of only TWO Republicans in the Richland County Delegation, it is very frustrating to see things happen over and over and still not be in position to help remedy. The FIFTEEN Democrats control the boards and commissions The Election Commission being one of those. By rules, there is ONE member “of the minority party” (that’s Republican in Richland County) that serves on the board, but you can imagine he/she’s influence is miniscule to any decisions the board makes.

From The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — Richland County’s elections director submitted a letter of resignation after two years in the position.

The county’s Board of Voter Registration & Elections chose Alexandria Stephens for the job in June 2020 after a year of searching for someone to fill the historically troubled position.

Stephens’ resignation is effective Aug. 29. The letter did not say why Stephens resigned or where she may go next, board Chair Anjanette President said.

Stephens was not at the Aug. 18 meeting where the board accepted her resignation. She could not be reached for comment.

″(Her resignation) was a shock and it was very concerning to me,” President said. “I’m not sure what the issues were or her concerns, so it was a shock to the board.”

Stephens, who had previously worked as an elections coordinator in Alabama, stepped in after the June 2020 primary in which some Richland County voters had to wait up to seven hours because there weren’t enough workers to staff every polling place. She earned the praise of state lawmakers that year when the November 2020 election went smoothly despite a significant number of absentee ballots.

Problems arose again in November 2021 when the state demanded to oversee a partial recount of the Columbia mayor runoff election before polls closed because voters had reported being turned away because of faulty machines.

President said the board will ask the South Carolina Election Commission for help in the November election, including requesting someone from the state to act as director.

Deputy Director Terry Graham will assume the responsibilities of the role for the upcoming Nov. 8 election. Graham was tapped in as interim director after Stephens’ predecessor, Rokey Suleman, resigned in 2019 and the interim director appointed after him left the position.

“I’ll always be the last man standing,” Graham said. “I’ve been through this before; didn’t want it to happen again, but of course I’m here. I’m committed and want to make sure the citizens of Richland County get a fair and impartial election.”

Graham said while he understood Stephens probably had a reason for moving on, he was sad to see her leave.

“I know we were heading in the right direction,” Graham said. “I’m a little bit disappointed because I was in for the long haul with her.”

Graham has plans for the upcoming election. He wants to increase the stipend poll workers receive, which currently ranges from $135 to $195, to help incentivize more people to sign up.

“What I did in my former location in Chester was a $30 increase, and if I can get that $30 supplement for all poll workers it’ll be a great improvement,” Graham said. “I think you wouldn’t have as many problems trying to get people to come and work.”

Richland County elections have historically been a hotbed for issues.

Suleman’s resignation came after the county failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the November 2018 election, which led Gov. Henry McMaster to remove the entire board.

In March 2019, the new elections board voted unanimously to hire another elections director, Tammy Smith, from Wilson County, Tenn. But Smith turned down the job because she and the board couldn’t agree on a contract.

The county’s problems with elections date back more than a decade. In 2010, the county failed to count 1,100 votes, causing it to incorrectly certify the election. In 2012, voters dealt with long lines because the county failed to roll out enough voting machines. In 2016, the state stepped in to help after the county missed a recount deadline.

Board member Shelia Washington said the county will make sure the November election happens without issue.

“We’re doing our best to make sure the election runs smoothly and nothing goes slacking,” Washington said. “And we do want all support from the community.”

Road work – Forrest Shealy Road beside Lake Murray Elementary

Thanks to a call from a constituent, we may avoid a few headaches next week when school begins.

I reached out to SCDOT and informed them Forrest Shealy is heavily traveled during school hours and asked that if construction has to happen next week, they need to be aware and have the contractor plan accordingly.

Here’s what I received back:

“Nathan, in regards to Forrest Shealy, the contractor will not be allowed to work in the road during the following timeframe: Mon-Fri 7-9AM / 2-4 PM”

Again, we avoided more of a mess thanks to a constituent bringing to my attention. I ask everyone to be my eyes and ears and continue to bring your concerns to me so I can help. Whether it’s legislation at the State House and navigating state agencies, or local matters where I can connect the right personnel for you. Please let me know!

Lake Murray levels to be lowered

From WLTX website

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Lake Murray is 41 miles long and stores approximately 763 billion gallons of water. However, the lake will not stay that way much longer this year.

The elevation of the water level is normally 358 feet and will be dropped down to 350 feet.

“We are hoping to drop the level down much lower than what it is now, and it will definitely be a noticeable difference,” Dominion Energy representative, Matt Long said.
Long explained that the water levels in the lake are normally brought down in the winter months. Dominion will lower the water starting in October to dehydrate the plants and kill them.

“It’s routine maintenance that happens every few years. The last time this happened was in 2018,” Long stated.

Dominion says the plants in the lake can effect boats on the water if they get too tall. Weeds and vegetation can get caught in boat motors and effect fishing trips for people like Brad Rutherford.

“I like to fish and I know the fish but more when the levels go down. I don’t really want them to cut the grass down though. The fish use the grass under to help them grow really big. I think they [Dominion] should just leave that alone,” Rutherford explained.

By killing the plants off, Dominion Energy hopes to improve water quality as well.

Columbia Water explained that customers who receive water from the Lake Murray Water Treatment Plant may sometimes have an earthy taste to their water.

The musty taste is caused by algae, fungi, and bacteria growing in the lake. The plants in the water can be a breeding ground for the algae blooms.

Dominion explained that they believe water quality can be impacted by sediments in the water as well. The drawdown will also push sediments, which help these weeds grow into deeper levels of the lake.

Mike Ludlow, walks on the dam frequently and loves looking at the water. He says he has no problem with Dominion doing maintenance work.

“If they are improving the quality of the water, then I’m all for it, why wouldn’t we want cleaner water out here,” he said.

The lake water is expected to raise back up to normal levels by spring of 2023 with rain and river flows feeding into the lake.