15th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast

Once again, Representative Huggins and I are pleased to host the event we decided years ago would serve as the “unofficial kickoff to the Okra Strut”.

We hope our sponsors and community will again fill the halls of another local church (socially distanced, of course) as we start our morning off with prayer, song, and powerful message.

If you’ve never been before, we hope you’ll RSVP this year.

2019 St Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Brittany Maier & Tammy Maier-Scher
2018 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Jose Alvarez, retired Atlanta Braves Pitcher, FCA
2017 River Springs Church – speaker Dr. Wendell Estep, retired First Baptist Church of Columbia
2016 Union United Methodist Church – speaker Marcus Lattimore
2015 St. Paul AME Church – speaker in memory of Senator Clementa Pinckney
2014 Gateway Baptist Church – speaker Chris Joye
2013 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker Shelley Bryson King, Miss South Carolina 2006
2012 Riverland Hills Baptist – Jim “Soni” Sonefeld – member Hootie and the Blowfish
2011 Seven Oaks Presbyterian – Steve Arnold, operator Chick-fil-A Ballentine
2010 First Baptist of Irmo -speaker Adrian Despres, chaplain USC football team
2009 St. Mary’s Episcopal – speaker Eddie Walker, then principal of Irmo High School
2008 Gateway Baptist – speaker Jeff Davis, former Clemson football player
2007 St. Andrews Presbyterian – speaker A.V Strong, director A Better Way, Project Gang Out
2006 Riverland Hills Baptist – speaker Bob McAlister, McAlister Communications

For more about past breakfasts, along with video from a few, click here

DETOUR NOTICE: Rauch Metz Railroad Repair Friday

A few weeks ago, CSX let me know they planned to review their rail lines in our area in September.

Because of some persistent constituents (NextDoor app), CSX moved up their date on at least one crossing: Rauch Metz! Great job! Looks like we’ll need to take Bickley Road until they finish the work. Looks like only one day needed!

Sales Tax Free Weekend: August 7th-9th

During the annual Sales Tax Holiday, a variety of purchases are exempt from the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes. Tax-free items range from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. As long as an item is eligible, it is tax-free whether purchased in-store or online.

Fore more information and to see an “easy to read” list of eligible products, visit the SC Dept of Revenue website here.

Blood Drive – Prisma Health Parkridge August 6th

From WIS-TV:

WIS is partnering with The American Red Cross to hold a blood drive on August 6.

There will be five locations across the Midlands where you can donate blood. They are:

Colonial Life Arena (801 Lincoln Street, Columbia)
Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge (300 Palmetto Health Parkway Drive, Columbia
Lexington Urgent Care (811 West Main Street, Lexington)
Spring Valley Presbyterian Church (125 Sparkleberry Lane, Columbia)
USC Arts Building – Banquet Hall (190 Miller Road, Sumter)
The drive will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Those who wish to donate will have their temperature checked before entering the donation site. They will also be provided with hand sanitizer to use before and during the drive. Donors will be asked to maintain social distancing at the entrance, during donation, and in the refreshment area.

Staff members will ensure donors and employees are wearing face masks during the event. Staff members will also routinely disinfect surfaces, equipment, and areas touched by donors. Staff members will also wear gloves, change gloves often, and use sterile collections sets and aseptic scrub during the event.

Donors will receive a free t-shirt and $10 Visa gift card courtesy of Suburban Propane while supplies last. Additionally, Amazon is thanking donors with a $5 Amazon gift card via email.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit this link and enter sponsor code WIS. You may also call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Budget Update

Serving on the House and Ways committee gives me much more insight into our state finances than I had the first several years I served in the House. Even when I was on other committees, I viewed the budget as our biggest responsibility in office.

During my time in office, I’ve been known as one of the top fiscal conservatives in the State House and oftentimes sustain more Governor Vetoes than most my colleagues. The budget is complex and the budget is always imperfect. I wrote about that years ago and it still rings true.

What started as a very promising budget in January has changed – dramatically. The General Assembly will return September 14th for two weeks to finalize a budget that was put on hold earlier this year. We will be faced with many difficult decisions.

From The State Newspaper

This year was shaping up to be a boon for many state employees and agencies, some long neglected since the Great Recession led to massive budget cuts.

State economists had projected legislators would have nearly $2 billion more to spend this year over last year — amounting to the largest annual revenue growth in state history. The money would go toward fixing state prisons and raising teacher and state employee pay and a host of other priorities.

But that was before the COVID-19 outbreak that led to lost jobs, skyrocketing unemployment and a giant decline in tourist travel and economic activity.

Now state budget forecasters say most of the extra cash lawmakers had hoped to spend in the budget ending June 30, 2021, has been cut back dramatically — by an estimated $1.2 billion — leaving lawmakers with about $700 million to spend in the upcoming budget, based on current projections. And this fall the budget could hit another snag if the economy struggles more resulting in the downward revision of that $700 million projection.

What does that outlook mean for some of the costliest budget items included in the House’s spending plan adopted in March?

Read more from The State

Can you help serve our community as a poll worker in November?

Everyone knows the challenges we face in Richland County every election cycle. I continue to fix what I can and have again got another lift in an agreement from one of the Commissioners.


From the county site:

Poll Worker Duties

Qualifying the voter
Assisting the voters with the election equipment
Assist in opening and closing the polling location
Available to work on Election available to work a minimum of 12 hours on Election Day

A resident of Richland County, or an adjoining county
If age 18 +, you MUST be a qualified registered voter to work on election day
16 & 17 year olds may serve as poll managers
Complete online and in-person training

* * * * * Apply to be a Poll Worker * * * * *

For more information contact Lakeisha Diggs at Election.worker@richlandcountysc.gov or click here.

or 803-576-1512.

Note: ALSO, I am pushing to be sure that we don’t again have FIVE PRECINCTS voting at Oak Pointe Elementary with only 2 computers to check voters in!

UPDATE: District Five changes plans on reopening

Sorry for not posting earlier. I was on vacation when news broke.

From the District’s Website:

School District Five will start 2020-2021 school year with a hybrid option (and virtual option), Sept. 8 start date for students

Lexington-Richland School District Five will start the school year with a hybrid schedule option and all virtual option, district officials announced at a school board meeting on July 23.

A hybrid model is a blend of face-to-face instruction and distance learning with students attending school in-person two days a week and learning virtually for three days. District officials said students will be assigned to one of two cohorts, and parents and guardians with multiple students will have the ability to request that all of their children be placed in the same cohort.

The July 23 announcement of a hybrid model is a change from the district’s earlier plan to offer a five-day in-person option and virtual option for parents. Parents will still have the option of choosing an all virtual model, in addition to the hybrid schedule, for their students.

“We continued to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in our area and continued to listen to the input of our families,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton. “While we had hoped to start the year with a five-day, traditional offering, the data at this time simply does not support this option. It’s our hope that we can transition to a five-day, in-person model as soon as possible. We all want the same things. We want the numbers of COVID-19 to go down, and want our students and teachers back in the classroom…But we want to do these things safely and with the best interest of our staff and students in mind. We will continue to monitor the numbers and make adjustments as needed.”

During the July 23 meeting, Board of Trustees members also approved revisions to the school year calendar. The first day for students will now be Sept. 8, while the first day for teachers will be August 20.

“We are planning for the hybrid option to be temporary,” Melton said. “We hope we can begin a five-day, traditional option after October 8 (beginning of second interim period), but we will continue to watch the numbers of COVID cases and adjust accordingly.”

School District Five to resume on-campus school sports workouts

From the District’s website:

IRMO – Lexington-Richland School District Five has set a return date of July 27 to resume on-campus school sports workouts.

The workouts will be phased in over the next three weeks and student athletes will return to workouts based on the sports they play. The first group to return will be fall sports on July 27. On August 3, winter sports athletes will resume workouts, followed by spring sports athletes, 7th and 8th grade football and middle school wrestling on August 10. All workouts are voluntary and no players or staff will be penalized for not participating.

School District Five will adhere by safety measures that have been put into place by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the SCHSL, which includes pre-workout screenings of athletes and coaches, facilities cleanings, social distancing for staff and students in each designated area or facility (inside or outside), and workouts that will be conducted in “groups” of athletes with the same athletes working out together weekly to limit overall exposures.

“Our goal is to allow the opportunity for our student-athletes and coaches to return to on-campus practices and workouts in the safest environment.” said Alvin Pressley, School District Five director of secondary education. “We will closely monitor our safety protocols and practices on a daily basis as we resume athletics.”

Student athletes in School District Five will receive additional details from their coaches and/or school administrators.

School District Five suspended workouts earlier this month out of an abundance of caution.

Schedules for upcoming games will be posted once they are finalized.

Lexington-Richland 5 reveals school reopening plans

Parents of District Five students should receive more information this week from the district. Understandably, this situation is very fluid.

From The State

Schools in the Lexington-Richland 5 school district are preparing to open for the 2020 fall semester on time next month, even if it means modifying how classes will operate in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Guidelines for reopening classes were announced at Monday’s school board meeting in Chapin. They foresee teachers returning to work Aug. 11, and students coming back Aug. 19.

When they return to campus, they will find social distancing enforced in all school facilities, in line with guidance from the S.C. Department of Education. There will be protocols for frequent hand-washing and sanitizing, including hand-sanitizing stations in classrooms and bathrooms. Educational spaces will be frequently cleaned, and local mask requirements will be followed.

Bus routes will also need to be adjusted to allow for more social distancing, with busloads cut in half and frequent cleaning.

School district staff are working on protocols for dealing with students or staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19, as well as any emotional support that students will need.

But specifics can be adjusted as the pandemic evolves, and parents will get more specific information from their schools in the next two weeks, said Superintendent Christina Melton.
Melton compared the guidelines to the weather alerts parents receive shortly before school hours have to be adjusted.

“This is where we are at this point, but it’s not necessarily where we will be later,” Melton said.
Plans can be adjusted after nine weeks, and after the end of the semester.

DHEC estimates 89% of COVID-19 patients in SC have recovered

NOTE article is from July 10th. When I posted this to my website, the recovery rate had risen from 88 to 92%. Link to that information is here. Photo is above.

DHEC estimates 89% of COVID-19 patients in S.C. have recovered


By WMBF News Staff | July 10, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT – Updated July 13 at 7:49 AM
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released new COVID-19 recovery numbers on Friday.

Agency officials said that as of July 9, DHEC has “symptoms onset data” for 24,280 people. Symptoms onset data means that the agency knows the date when a person first showed signs of illness.

According to DHEC, of those patients, 733 have passed away. Of the remaining 23,547, 89%, or 20,957 people, have recovered from the virus and 11% are estimated to remain ill.

DHEC outlined how they develop its recovery rate:

· Those who reported being hospitalized were deemed as “recovered” based upon having no reported adverse outcome reported as of > 32 days since their illness onset.

· Those who reported not being hospitalized were deemed as “recovered” based upon having no reported adverse outcome reported as of > 14 days since their illness onset.

· Those where hospitalization status was unknown were deemed as “recovered” based upon having no reported adverse outcome reported as of > 32 days since their illness onset.