Search Results for: penny

Citizens for Birch County hold first meeting


Some local residents in both Richland and Lexington counties are looking to form a new county in the Midlands.

From the Irmo-Seven Oaks Patch

By Shireese Bell

About 45 people frustrated with their local county governments gathered in The Cotton House in Irmo Tuesday night to determine the groups’ next steps in the push to form a new county in the Midlands.

“I’m excited about putting something together,” said Ballentine resident Keith Solomon. “I feel so distant from Richland County especially with what happened with the last election with the penny tax.”

“I feel we were totally ripped off.”

The first Citizens for Birch County meeting was held to gauge residents’ interest in the creation of the new county, which would include parts of Ballentine, Irmo and Chapin.

“This is not a political organization,” said Scott Malyerck, one of the group’s organizers and former executive director of the SC Republican Party. “This is a group of folks that are concerned about the future of their communities.”

After the transportation penny in Richland County was passed in November , some residents thought it was time to revisit the idea that was discussed years ago.

Bill Able, a former attorney for Richland County, said he first thought of the idea to form Birch County and that now was the right time to “bring government back to the people.”

“It has grown too big,” Able said of the government. “It has distance itself from the people.”

To read the entire article, click here.

COMMUNITY UPDATE: April 2013

***************
STATE HOUSE
***************

This week and next, the SC House and SC Senate are on furlough. Even though we’re away from the State House, we all stay busy with constituent work, meetings, and working on legislation that will be debated in the coming weeks before we adjourn in early June.

After a rather “quick debate” (Monday through Wednesday), the House passed a balanced budget that will be debated and altered in the Senate. Unlike Congress, we must balance. Doing so means we have to prioritize spending. While no budget is perfect, I do feel we continue to be better stewards of your tax dollars. For a recap of the budget plan we passed, click here .

As a reminder, don’t wait for my COMMUNITY UPDATES to stay informed! Be sure to visit Nathan’s News regularly for my posts on what’s going on in Columbia. Most Friday’s, I share a non-biased recap of the week.

**************
YOUR MONEY
**************

Previously, we’ve discussed the “Penny Tax” that passed last November and I won’t revisit the fiasco that happened with that local election. Instead, I’m focusing on solutions and wanted to update you on the progress. Last November I outlined plans needed to assure our voters do not face an abberation like that again. I was the first to call for the removal of the Director and she is no longer running that office. Last month, I was able to pass legislation that will reduce our precinct sizes and thus shorten our wait times (that bill now waits for Senate approval). I also consponsored legislation to provide more accountability in our election processes (that bill is being vetted in committee). Most recently, during our budget deliberations, I inserted a proviso that would require Richland County to purchase the needed American with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant machines needed at any new precinct. This proviso isn’t a “pork project” and, unlike other provisos, doesn’t spend money from other parts of the state. It simply directs our local county to spend local money to help fix the problem.

Members of Richland County Council had already voiced their opinions that they would not support the reduction of precinct sizes ; despite the County Elections Office working to make this possible. After what our voters went through November, if County Council will not support a fix, someone must. While the County continues to work on legislation in other areas that will reduce precinct sizes, this proviso will assure the new precincts will comply with the law.Every precinct must have one ADA complaint machine and my proviso would provide up to 70 machines (should the county draw 70 new precincts).

**************
COMMUNITY
**************

By now, you’ve probably heard about the “Wendover Project” that is applying for tax-credit, low-income housing in the Ballentine area. I will continue to keep you informed and have been working with other elected officials, community leaders, and concerned neighbors to be sure your feedback is heard at the SC State Housing Authority.

The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 RED CARPET GALA is April 20th and nominations for awards are due by April 2nd.

Turning to organizational meetings in the area this month: the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association will hold its April meeting Monday night (April 1st) at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park. Our two Chambers of Commerce hold their monthly meetings soon: Irmo is Wednesday, April 10th, 11:30 a.m. St. Andrews Presbyterian while Chapin is Tuesday, April 16th, 7:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi. For additional chamber news: Irmo Chamber of Commerce : To see a list of upcoming events click here. . To see upcoming events for the Chapin Chamber of Commerce , click here .

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update the website with people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

*****************
OUR SCHOOLS
*****************

There are several reasons to celebrate our student-athletes this month!

STATE AND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: Earlier this year, Representative Huggins and I welcomed the CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL Cheerleaders, Band, and ROTC to the floor of the SC State House. As you know these groups have been recognized as State and National Champions for their work on the field!

Weeks ago, our community saw our two other schools capture STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS in basketball! Congratulations to the unbeaten and championship teams for IRMO HIGH BOYS BASKETBALL and DUTCH FORK HIGH GIRLS BASKETBALL! Both teams will visit the State House this month as well.

If Irmo and Dutch Fork capturing state titles wasn’t enough, both teams have the South Carolina Gatorade Players of the Year, too! Congratulations to Justin McKie (Irmo) and Alaina Coates (Dutch Fork)

While those accomplishments above are for our high school students, I want to remind all teachers and parents to let me know when your child/class is coming to the State House this year so I can welcome you and introduce you in the House balcony to my colleagues!

**************
THANK YOU
**************

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
803-734-2969
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

COMMUNITY UPDATE: January 2013

***************
STATE HOUSE
***************

Tuesday (January 8th) at noon the 120th SC General Assembly convenes in Columbia.

I’m honored to begin my 5th term as your Representative from the Chapin, Dutch Fork, Irmo communities and will continue to provide regular updates for you here at NathansNews.

The first few weeks rarely see much floor debate as most the work begins (or continues) at the committee level. For a recap of the 2013 SC House Committee assignments, please read my earlier post.

I believe we’ll see Republicans /Democrats and House/Senate work together on several issues this year (Ethics, Cybersecurity, Election Reform); however, expect much debate on the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and its impact on our state/country. As always, there will be much debate on Government restructuring and spending; but I believe many items will not see heated debate like those others I mentioned above.

As far as funding priorities, I’ve pre-filed legislation this year that simply would say “any estimated revenue increase once the House passes our budget – should go to roads”. To me this is one way we should be able to agree to help increase revenue for our roads WITHOUT raising taxes. It simply sends the House Budget to the Senate for them to debate and modify; but they do so without the extra revenue projections that the House did not have when we debated our budget. I would appreciate your thoughts on this if you have time.

**************
YOUR MONEY
**************

I continue to serve on the House GOP Tax Study Reform committee where we have been reviewing tax code and the billions of sales tax exemptions on the books for over a year. This is important because the SC Supreme Court may soon share their decision relating to sales tax exemptions and school funding and the General Assembly may need to act swiftly in dealing with this ruling.

In addition to the SC Supreme Court’s potential ruling that can greatly affect your pocketbook, you’ve seen Washington’s impact recently. It may be more (on our state and country) pending the impact or implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As mentioned above, this will be heated debate in both chambers later this year. Obviously, I’ll share more as information becomes available.

Closer to home, Richland County voters approved a “Penny Sales Tax” in one of the most controversial elections in modern SC history . I have learned the results will stand and, if so, am hopeful the revenue will be spent wisely and with the most beneficial impact possible to safety, commuting times, deferred maintenance, and economic growth possibilities.

**************
COMMUNITY
**************

Speaking of Richland County elections, many of you have contacted me and thanked me for taking an early position on this fiasco. Some of you recently emailed though and were not aware of my position or work behind the scenes. That reminds me to again encourage you to visit NathansNews often, where I’ve tried to keep everyone informed. Here are several posts relating to just this issue that I’ve posted since Election Day: 11/13: The long wait at Dutch Fork Middle , 11/15: State Law Enforcement should investigate Richland County Voting Fiasco , 11/16: What questions do you have regarding Richland County Election Mess? , 11/24: Richland County Election Analysis: Duncan Buell , 11/27: Ooops , 11/30: Restoring the Public’s Confidence , 12/3: Personnel Changes needed at Election Commission , 12/18: More on Richland County Election Mess . The result, thus far, is that the Election Commission Board (whom the Richland Delegation appoints) accepted the Executive Director’s resignation this week. I will continue to work with like-minded delegation members to assure quality, experienced and qualified commissioners are appointed to help run county elections. (Note: I did not vote to reappoint a current Board Member an also did not vote to seat the newest one. With all this controversy, I was not comfortable supporting the new member or reappointing the current one. In addition, as I’ve stated earlier on the site, I am also working on legislation to reduce our precinct sizes as well as provide much more accountability to the election process – locally and throughout the state.

Turning to organizational meetings in the area this month: the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association will hold its January meeting Monday night (January 7th) at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park. Our two Chambers of Commerce hold their monthly meetings soon: Irmo is Wednesday, January 9th (11:45am, St. Andrews Presbyterian) and Chapin is Tuesday, January 15th (7:30 am, The Heritage at Lowman Home) In other Chamber News: Irmo Chamber of Commerce : To see a list of upcoming events click here. . To see upcoming events for the Chapin Chamber of Commerce , click here .

Meet your neighbor : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update the website with people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

*****************
OUR SCHOOLS
*****************

I want to remind all teachers and parents to let me know when your child/class is coming to the State House this year! I know Rep. Huggins and I will again be welcoming the Chapin High cheerleaders for winning ANOTHER State Championship but we also like to visit with all the 3rd graders and other groups that visit from now til June!

You can follow our Teacher of the Year, Ashley Metz (Ballentine Elementary), by reading her blog throughout the rest of the school year! Speaking of Ballentine Elementary, Governor Nikki Haley visited the students last week to share how “cool kids don’t bully”.

Belated congratulations to Robert Gantt, Beth Burn-Watson, and newcomer Jondy Loveless for their election to the Board. Be sure to contact your Board Members on any school-related issues you have. I know they’d love to hear from you!

Robert Gantt, our board chairman, was elected as vice president of the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) during the association’s annual business meeting Saturday, December 1. To learn more, click here .

**************
THANK YOU
**************

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
803-734-2969
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

State Law Enforcement should investigate Richland County Voting Fiasco

Many voters were genuinely excited about voting in this important election. I was one of the first to endorse Mitt Romney for President in South Carolina, and I think many others shared my excitement about his Presidential campaign and the future of our country. On the other side, President Obama certainly had countless local supporters here in the Palmetto State, and I know they were anxious as well to do their civic duty on November 6.

Unfortunately, instead of proudly casting their votes for President and leader of the free world, voters experienced a nightmare this past Election Day in Richland County. Genuine excitement was dashed by long lines caused by an inadequate number of voting machines and, in many cases, voting machines that worked improperly.

But, how did it get this way? What happened and why?

Senior citizens were asked to stand in line in some cases for four or five hours or more. Many frustrated voters faced with the choice of voting or missing work had to leave the lines and go back to work. Many parents were forced to leave long lines to care for children at home. Citizens were standing in line hours and hours into the night and many enduring freezing cold weather. The sad thing is that this never had to happen.

According to The State Newspaper, the Richland County Election Commission has over 1,000 voting machines at their disposal. State law mandates a voting machine must be available for every 250 registered voters in each precinct. Richland County was the only county in the entire stay to so drastically misallocate voting machines. If the Richland County Election Commission had only followed state law and run the simple math, these problems could have been avoided.

Many voters are convinced this fiasco is a result of some broad conspiracy for special interests to pass the penny sales tax increase. Because I have yet to have my questions answered from last Tuesday afternoon, I cannot answer these concerns for the voters and taxpayers.

Many other local voters feel this was all a result of government bureaucracy and plain incompetence. They point to the high number of machines the County owned combined with the time it takes to do the simple math to ensure each precinct has enough machines, and they conclude that this epic failure is just a sign of the times when government can’t get anything right. I can understand their frustration and sympathize with their concerns but believe we should withhold judgment until we know more facts.

What I do know as fact is at least one of the precincts in my area was seriously under equipped on Tuesday. The voters at Dutch Fork Middle School had only four booths (one of the four wasn’t working). When I spoke directly with the Executive Director of Elections and Voter Registration that afternoon, she told me we had 2,900 registered voters at that precinct. Quickly, I asked her to “do the math”. and she knew we didn’t have sufficient machines. She later sent four additional machines (still below the number required by law); but that was close to 4 p.m. after many voters had gone home or determined they could not wait and meet family obligations. Many told me they expected (and planned) to wait two hours but did not and could not wait four and five hours.

Last year the large Democrat majority on our county delegation was convinced that making changes to the election staff and voter registration staff through consolidation was the most efficient way to proceed. As one of only four Republicans on the delegation, I knew the outcome had already been decided on who the new head of this combined office would be and could not stop that process. Sadly this is how almost every appointment is made in Richland County, by the Democrat majority and with no member of the minority party on the “appointments committee”.

Moving forward as elected officials, it is imperative that we treat this matter seriously and that we investigate it thoroughly. Given the gravity of the situation and the political nature of elections, how can we best get answers for our voters without “politics” getting in the way? The public trust in the voting process must be restored with no prejudice towards parties, candidates, or ballot referendums.

In my opinion, state law enforcement should be given authority to investigate this matter fully, and if it is proven that any laws were broken, responsible parties should be prosecuted and punished. Though many questions still need answers, one thing is for certain – this can never be allowed to happen again. Richland County voters deserve better.

Letter as it appeared in The State

COMMUNITY UPDATE: November 2012

***************
STATE HOUSE
***************

By now, you’re aware that millions of South Carolinians have had their social security numbers and other data compromised due to a “cyber attack” of the SC Department of Revenue computer systems. This is a serious event and I suggest each of you protect you and your children by signing up for the protection services offered by our state.

Next month, the SC House will hold our Reorganizational Session where we go through the process of actually selecting our House desks for the next two years (no, I’m not kidding) and also learn of our committee assignments. I have served on several committees during my four terms in office and hope to add a new one to that list. I have requested to serve on the Labor, Commerce and Industry committee where I can continue to help SC provide a better business climate for existing companies to expand and new companies to relocate to our state!

Presently, I also serve on two House GOP Study Committees: the recently formed Campaigns/Elections Committee (where we plan to soon file a bill to “fix” the ballot mess from 2012) and again for another year on the Tax Study Committee (formed before session last year, where we will continue to find ways to improve our tax structure and also review billions in current sales tax exemptions)

If you, your family, or a group are interested in visiting the State House next year for a tour, please call my office at 734-2969 or contact me here and I’ll be sure to make that happen for you or your group!

I am honored and humbled to soon begin another term representing your family in Columbia. While there will be long lines at our voting precincts Tuesday, please be sure you VOTE for those you want representing you at all levels of government.

**************
YOUR MONEY
**************

Richland County voters have 2 questions on the ballot Tuesday to consider relating to a “penny tax” for transportation needs (wants?). Be sure you read up on those questions so you are prepared and won’t spend more time voting than you need to on a very busy, important day. You can also read a past post from me on this subject by clicking here .

As with every year, the budget (Appropriations Act) will take up most of the session. As I hear more on projected revenues, I’ll share with you. I’m always interested to hear from you regarding where to allocate any new funds. Many prefer we save those while others prefer we fund agencies that have had budgets cut in the past. Some actually mention funding for new programs. Regardless of your preference, please let me know so I can consider all viewpoints.

As I mentioned previously in the September Community Update , look for much debate on the Affordable Care Act. Of course, Tuesday’s election may have a huge impact on that so be sure to watch the returns; not just at the Presidential level but also across the US Senate and US House.

**************
COMMUNITY
**************

Please keep Chapin Mayor Stan Shealy and his family in your prayers. Today (Sunday), his wife Vicki passed away.

The Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association will hold it’s November meeting Monday night (November 5th) at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park.

A Salute to Eagle Scouts! Being a former Boy Scout and watching JC in Cub Scouts, I see how much of a positive impact scouting has on our young men. If you’re in scouting, this event is a must at the end of the month! I hope you can take your scout and attend this great event! Details here.

Chamber News: Irmo Chamber of Commerce : To see a list of upcoming events click here. . To see upcoming events for the Chapin Chamber of Commerce, click here .

Meet your neighbor : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update the website with people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

*****************
OUR SCHOOLS
*****************

While many people say they are only interested in the Presidential Race, politics much closer to home can have an even greater impact on you and our community. Our local School Board has 3 positions on the ballot and there will be 4 names (for 2 spots) on the ballot for Lexington voters to consider and 2 names (for 1 position) on the ballot for Richland voters to consider. I want to remind everyone that I do NOT endorse in our local elections as I feel everyone in the community has sufficient access to the candidates (debates, campaigning door-to-door). To be clear, I do sometimes endorse statewide or nationally because of the lack of access to candidates based on the scale of those races and on a rare occasion, I will support someone running outside our area .

I want to congratulate all our three area high schools for their recent accomplishments:

Chapin Band : 3A State Champions! The Pride of the Midlands marching band from Chapin High School earned the title of 3A State Champion last weekend. This is the first time the Chapin High School Band has won a state championship since 1986. Read more here…

Dutch Fork Football Team : Region 5 AAAA Champions! Irmo Football Team : Region 4 AAAA Champions. Both teams will host first-round playoff games this Friday night! Please show your support for these outstanding student athletes!

Speaking of our high schools, last week I attended the Dedication/Ribbon Cutting for our CATE Center (Center for Advanced Technical Studies) which is already open and sits adjacent to what will be our fourth area high school next fall, Spring Hill High .

**************
THANK YOU
**************

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
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

COMMUNITY UPDATE: September 2012

***************
STATE HOUSE
***************

Last week I made a quick trip to Charleston for our House GOP Caucus meeting. We hold these meetings every summer to prepare an agenda for the upcoming session. The agenda, while drafted by us, comes from our conversations and discussions back home with our constituents. The GOP House caucus will unveil our agenda in January; however, each member obviously works for his/her constituent on other matters.

As always, I encourage you to contact me here to share your ideas/suggestions about how to improve South Carolina. Every session I’ve served our community, I’ve been able to work to pass significant legislation as the primary sponsor. It’s not all about “who gets credit” though. For that reason, I lend my name, support, and work to pass other great ideas from around our state and let other colleagues champion those causes.

What would like to see us do for South Carolina next session?

**************
YOUR MONEY
**************

You’ve probably noticed more attention to the possible tax increases on the November ballot for both Lexington and Richland Counties. These proposals are designed to improve our local infrastructure. Be sure you study the issues and get the information you need to make an informed decision this fall. This Monday, September 17th, Richland County will have an informational meeting right here in our community ! I hope you’ll join me there so you can be better informed when you cast your vote in November.

Also, I want to give everyone a heads up about another huge funding decision our state will face whether we opt-in or opt-out of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) when we return in January. Regardless of what direction our state chooses, there will be a huge cost for either option. Opting-in has less cost (for the next couple of years) but will eventually come with a much higher pricetag AND an influx of $10 billion from the Federal Government by 2020. (Think of it as a “teaser rate” on a credit card that eventually goes up much more than had you not chosen that option to being with) Similar to the stimulus debate a few years ago, we’ll have a heated debate and, as we get closer to that time, I want to hear from you especially. One thing to add for consideration, even if SC opts-OUT, our state still faces an enrollment boom of over 170,000 citizens who are eligible at this moment but not in the system. Keep that in mind.

**************
COMMUNITY
**************

7th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast is less than two weeks away. This year’s speaker? Jim “Soni” Sonefeld (Hootie and the Blowfish). I can’t believe the vision Representative Huggins and I had years ago is still going strong each September! Here’s video from last year’s breakfast and we look forward to seeing the same sponsors and many new neighbors join us again on Tuesday, September 25th at Riverland Hills Baptist Church (site of the very first breakfast years ago)! To reserve your spot (FREE thanks to our many sponsors), please contact Elizabeth Donehue at elizabethdonehue@gmail.com or by calling her at 843-864-9414.

2012 Okra Strut is just days after the Prayer Breakfast! Be sure to sign your group/organization up for the annual parade and take the whole family out to the Irmo Town Park (new site for this year’s event)

Irmo Chamber of Commerce : To see a list of upcoming events click here.

Chapin Chamber of Commerce announces new Executive Director! If you don’t know Karen Owens, here’s a little bit about a wonderful lady who works hard everyday for the Chapin area!

Meet your neighbor : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update the website with people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

*****************
OUR SCHOOLS
*****************

I took the kids last Friday night to the Chapin football game for their 9/11 Salute and to see their NJROTC cadets receive their NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP trophy! Karen and I will also be at Dutch Fork and Irmo during the season and hope to see your family at the fields supporting our student athletes and band members.

Filing for School Board Members has closed and there will be 4 names (for 2 spots) on the ballot for Lexington voters to consider and 2 names (for 1 position) on the ballot for Richland voters to consider. I should go ahead and remind everyone that I do NOT endorse in local elections as I feel everyone in the community has sufficient access to the candidates (debates, campaigning door-to-door). To be clear, I do sometimes endorse statewide or nationally because of the lack of access to candidates based on the scale of those races.

A constituent brought something to my attention that I must have overlooked last month in the news regarding the ACLU and South Carolina School Districts. I’ll direct you to what I wrote earlier today .

**************
THANK YOU
**************

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
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

COMMUNITY UPDATE: August 2012

***************
STATE HOUSE
***************

In what seemed like one of the longest sessions since I was elected, the General Assembly finally adjourned for the year and the House is not scheduled to return until December for our customary House reorganization meeting every two years.

For a very easy to read review of the 2012 Legislative Session, please click here. As always, many feel we could have done more and the state’s budget consumed much of our time and deliberations.

While many constituents wait until January to be reactive about potential legislation they read about or hear about in the news, I’d encourage you to contact me or your House or Senate member over the next several months with issues, ideas, suggestions on what you feel could improve our quality of life, educational system, tax structure, government services or anything on your mind. The next several months allow elected officials and staff the time to research and craft legislation for the next legislative session that will begin in January.

**************
YOUR MONEY
**************

By now, you’ve seen what the House and Senate agreed upon for the current state budget. Many of my constituents also gave me feedback on the Governor’s vetoes which greatly helped me before casting those important votes.

As you’ve seen since then (and all session long), there’s always a constant battle between either the Executive Branch/Legislative Branch, the House/Senate, Republicans and Republicans or Democrats and Democrats. You expect Republicans and Democrats to not see eye-to-eye but the others you’d hope could work together and make effective use of our time in Columbia each year. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll ever go away. If we spent as much energy all working together instead of posturing or trying to score political points, it’s a wonder how much good would actually come out of state officials working together. Thing is, that’s politics and it seems it always will be like that – especially in South Carolina.

Closer to home, in the next several weeks you’ll start to see local taxation issues get more attention with potential tax increases on the November ballot for both Lexington and Richland Counties. The proposals are designed to improve our local infrastructure. Be sure you study the issues and get the information you need to make an informed decision this fall.

**************
COMMUNITY
**************

Chapin Labor Day Festival is just weeks away (September 1-3)! I hope to see you along the parade route and at other festival events that weekend.

7th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast is soon after the Chapin events! I can’t believe the vision Representative Huggins and I had years ago is still going strong each September! Here’s video from last year’s breakfast and we look forward to seeing the same sponsors and many new neighbors join us again on Tuesday, September 25th at Riverland Hills Baptist Church (site of the very first breakfast years ago)! To reserve your spot (FREE thanks to our many sponsors), please contact Elizabeth Donehue at Elizabeth@donehueagency.com

2012 Okra Strut is just days after the Prayer Breakfast! Be sure to sign your group/organization up for the annual parade and take the whole family out to the Irmo Town Park (new site for this year’s event)

Irmo Chamber of Commerce : To see a list of upcoming events (to include a special Purple Martin Cruise this Friday) click here.

Meet your neighbor : Please be sure to email me news of accomplishments of your friends and neighbors in the community! Previously I would regularly update the website with people I knew around town who were doing great things right here in Irmo, Chapin. I’m willing to help promote their work/cause and simply need you to let me know what’s going on!

*****************
OUR SCHOOLS
*****************

I don’t need to remind you; but I will. School starts back next week! Tuesday, August 21st is the First Day for students. Obviously, let’s be sure to slow down (and put down our phones) when we’re in school zones!

This year Karen and I plan to take the kids again to visit the area schools at least once under the Friday lights! We are fortunate to have such great athletic programs at Chapin, Dutch Fork and Irmo!

Speaking of athletic programs, I’m pleased to share that the Chapin Rugby Team (defending back-to-back state champions) has found a home this season thanks to the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission and Crooked Creek Park! With the renovations at Chapin High School, it looked as though this club may be left out with no place to practice or hold their matches. I’m glad ICRC stepped up to help us out!

LACROSSE: This year will be the first year that each high school will field their own boys and girls lacrosse teams. As a relatively “new sport”, our district has previously only fielded a boys team at Irmo and a girls team at Chapin. I hear Irmo, Chapin and Dutch Fork have enough demand and talent to now compete on their own this year!

School Board Candidate Filings run through Wednesday. Richland County has one board spot on the November ballot and Lexington County will have two.

**************
THANK YOU
**************

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
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

COMMUNITY UPDATE: November 2010

Tuesday is Election Day for 123* SC House seats, our State Constitutional offices, one of our US Senate seats and all US House of Representatives seats. We’ll also vote on our local School Board, County Councilman, and statewide constitutional amendments . Regardless who you vote for, I encourage you to vote. Nothing bothers me more than hearing from people who think they can’t make a difference or that their votes don’t matter. They do. Every one of them!

*** STATE HOUSE ***

Previously, I’ve mentioned how there will probably be 20 new House members when we return in January. The following Democrats did not file for re-election: Anton Gunn, Doug Jennings and Ken Kennedy. The following Republicans did not file for re-election: Jeff Duncan (Republican nominee for Congress – 3rd District), Lanny Littlejohn, Nikki Haley (Republican nominee for Governor) , Ted Pitts, Rex Rice, Tim Scott (Republican nominee for Congress – 5th District), Don Smith, Michael Thompson and Annette Young. The following Republicans lost in their primaries or primary runoff: Harry Cato, Keith Kelly, Jim Stewart, Richard Chalk and Joey Millwood. *Recently, a special election was held for the seat vacated by the death of Bill Wylie (Greenville). Combine those with some very close races out there and we could see close to 20% of the SC House of Representatives with new faces.

Six years ago, I was one of those new faces. I did not know how many years I would be given by my voters – and still don’t. God willing, and if you continue to approve of my constituent service and my common-sense approach to reforming our state, I look forward to another term starting Tuesday. Since I’ve been elected, there has been a movement afoot to change the status-quo in South Carolina government. I imagine there have been other movements in the past but they apparently never could get over the severe hurdles and resistence that come when fighting to change an entrenched system; however, it’s these next few years that gives me hope. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and, until proven otherwise, I look forward to seeing my colleagues work together to deliver what the people have been demanding for years. Recently the rhetoric has been turned up by those seeking re-election or those wishing to serve. I hope, and trust, this rhetoric will be followed by actions consistent with their words.

We, as elected officials, have the opportunity to lift our state to prosperity. We can (and should) attract and retain more employment opportunities for our citizens, more educational opportunities for our children and families, and begin to prepare for a long-term vision for the governing of our state. I’m glad it appears this can happen soon (even with the flames of discontent being fueled the past several weeks and months).

As you know, I’ll be casting my vote for Representative Nikki Haley to lead our state as Governor. I know she has the right vision for our state and I know that she will work with our state leaders to make this happen. I hope you’ll join me as well this Tuesday and support her.

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Tax Realignment Commission . It’s been quiet on that front (in wake of all the elections) but look for a return to the spotlight soon. The Commission is scheduled to deliver their proposal to the General Assembly next month for our consideration. To make changes of this magnitude, there must be give and take. If we can put the political rhetoric behind us, hopefully we can make improvements to South Carolina’s tax structure – at all levels. For those wanting to know why Act 388 isn’t being included in discussions , ask your Senator. The House included it; the Senate did not.

Closer to home, Richland County voters will choose Tuesday whether to pay a Transportation Tax for the next 20+ years.

In other news, I’m hearing state revenues are actually AHEAD of BEA (Board of Economic Advisors) projections. While this sounds good (and is), our budget debate will again be very difficult as this year we’ll lose the $350m/year prop-up that was provided by the federal stimulus in the past two years’ budgets.

*** COMMUNITY ***

We have two community members who will come before the General Assembly for consideration on various boards and judicial positions. Reggie Gallant (Irmo) is up for re-election to the SC State University Board. Tara McGregor (Irmo) has made me aware of her interest in the Circuit Court At Large Seat Number 9 in our state. These elections will be held in the early months of 2011 and are voted upon by the entire SC House and Senate.

Our community has other ways to get involved as well. I hope you’ll consider serving in the capacity of a Board Member for a new museum being created in our state and contact me soon. If you know of a local college student wishing to serve as a page in the State House starting January, please be sure they contact me as well.

Irmo Chamber of Commerce News : The 15th Annual Chuck Larsen Live and Silent Auction will be held Tuesday, November 9th beginning at 5:30pm at the Raddison Hotel & Conference Center. Tickets $25 single, $40 couple (includes food and drinks). To reserve tickets, call 749-9355.

Irmo Chamber Monthly Luncheon is Wednesday, November 10th from 11:45 am to 1pm at St Andrews Presbyterian. Cost is $7. This month’s speaker is Karen Brosius of the Columbia Museum of Art.

The Chapin Chamber of Commerce’s 19th Anniversary Annual Awards & Auction On the 19th of November at 6:30 p.m. Timberlake Country Club. Heavy Hors D’oeuvres, Wine & Beer (Cash Bar also available) Silent & Live Auctions Awards for Business Person of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, and Annie Epting Volunteer of the Year Business Attire RSVP by November 10th Reservations are $35 per person

*** OUR SCHOOLS ***

A reminder that we get to vote for our Lexington/Richland School District Five School Board of Trustees on Tuesday. For a profile of each candidate (as written by The State), click here .

Chapin Elementary’s 3rd Annual Veteran’s Day Program will be Thursday, November 11th at 10a.m. at the school’s auditorium. I’ve attended the previous two programs and it really is a patriotic service with several veterans in attendance!

All three local high schools are faring well on the gridiron this season. Every Saturday morning on Twitter and Facebook I try to update you with who won the night before and their overall record. If you haven’t seen one of these teams play yet, make time soon before the regular season ends!

** THANK YOU **

Thanks in advance for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community 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!

During the next few months, please contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

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

COMMUNITY UPDATE: September 2010

While I don’t have an opponent in November, I’m always talking with neighbors at their doorsteps and out in the community to hear what’s important to them and learn what I can from the voters! A friend once told me that elected officials who stay in touch year round – and not just at election time – always have a better chance of staying informed and doing the best job for their constituents!

Just this week I ran into a few community members that follow me on Twitter and Facebook and they always appreciate how I keep everyone informed of more than just the “political stuff”.

I probably write too much about the kids, my musical “tastes” (80s mainly) , where I’m going , the Gamecocks and things like that – but that’s just me. I do talk politics a good bit but 140 characters probably isn’t the best way to hear about your concerns or learn about legislation you think can move our state forward.

*** STATE HOUSE ***

A few weeks ago, many members of the House Republican Caucus met to continue crafting an agenda we feel can best move our state forward and improve our economic climate and education system, streamline government and improve our quality of life.

I was pleased to see the cohesiveness of how many of our Republican members are anxiously looking forward to returning and working with one of our former members, Rep. Nikki Haley (R-Lexington), should she be elected as our next Governor this fall.

Reforms, that were once discussed and never made it out of committees, seem to have new life and should have a good chance of getting to the floor for full House debate next year (and hopefully Senate). Each election cycle seems to return power to the voters and elected officials get a chance to hear loud and clear what their constituents demand and how the “status quo” is no longer what the voters are looking for in goverment – local, state, and national.

In other news, many of you have spoken with my legislative aide, Eileen Fogle, over the past six years. She’s the one who keeps the office running and makes sure I’m returning my calls and emails! Unfortunately, her mother passed away this morning after weeks in hospice. Please keep Eileen and her family in your prayers.

*** YOUR MONEY ***

As many know, a significant portion of House District 71 is in Richland County. If you are not already aware, a Transportation Penny Sales Tax will be on the ballot this November. I’d encourage each of you to make next week’s meeting in our area to hear first-hand the details of this plan.

September 15 at the Harbison Recreation Center (106 Hillpine Road) from 6pm to 7pm

*** COMMUNITY ***

Monday was the Chapin Labor Day Parade and later this month, the Irmo Okra Strut will kick into high gear! This year, I hope you’ll join many in our community at the 5th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast to be held at First Baptist of Irmo. We’re almost at 200 RSVPs already to hear Gamecock Football Chaplain, Adrian Despres! This guy is someone you’ve got to hear. Thanks to our sponsors, the event is again FREE this year. Simply RSVP by September 16 to Elizabeth Donehue (843) 864-9414 or elizabethdonehue@gmail.com

If you’re not a member of the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association (BDFCA), you may not be aware of all the recent details of the proposed apartment complex for Lake Murray Marina. Here’s an article from The State from July but there have been ongoing meetings between the Association and the developer.

Speaking of the BDFCA, this weekend we learned of the passing of a very active member: Phil Kuzlik. Phil did for many things for our community: he served on the BDFCA board, he helped with missions, was active in the Richland County Law Enforcement, and one thing he enjoyed the most was playing Santa for the kids! Phil will be missed by many.

*** OUR SCHOOLS ***

As you’ve probably noticed (at parades, signs along the road), we have School Board elections this November in both the Richland and Lexington side of House District 71. The district’s website has more information and for the sake of fairness and impartiality, I’m not linking any candidate’s websites in this update.

I mentioned Twitter earlier in the update and wanted to share some new additions from our community that you may want to follow related to the schools. Dutch Fork Principal Gregg Morton is now “tweeting” as is Dutch Fork High School Football. If you know of other schools, teachers, teams with social media sites, please share with me so that I can pass along to others in the community!

Lastly, I wanted you to know that I try to update you every Saturday morning with the area’s football teams’ records and whether they won their game on Friday. I can’t be at all the games but sometimes I’m even getting updates from students or parents who are sitting the stands! Thanks for keeping me informed so I can keep others informed as well.

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community 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!

During the next few months, please contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

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

Pinching Pennies

As someone who tries to pinch pennies , I probably should’ve noticed the “new look pennies” much earlier than a few weeks ago. Apparently, the US Mint has changed the back of the penny but I’m not quite sure why?

I mean who, besides some tightwads like me, actually picks up pennies they find or actually saves pennies in “piggybanks” at the end of the day? Apparently there are SEVERAL like-minded folks in Irmo who are starting to be regulars on the “free circuit” when it comes to the perk of “kids eat free”.

Tonight, Karen and I took the kids to Moe’s (no surprise there) and have started seeing some of the same families the past few Tuesday nights. After commenting about this on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve since learned of some other “Kids Eat Free” spots in town (who said social-media doesn’t payoff?):

Carolina Ale House
O’Charley’s
Sticky Fingers

I imagine there are several more places out there with benefits so if you know of any, please pass along and post here.

I’m guessing there are more folks out there like me than we know!

Surely, I’m not the only one to drive a few miles to save $2.50 for a gas fill-up or to order water (instead of tea/diet coke) with lunch to save $2.15?

What are you and your family doing to stretch your dollar or pinch those pennies? I’ve already hit up the tooth fairy a few months ago, what else am I missing?

For the past few years, we’ve saved a ton by using generic razor blades (and you can’t tell the difference). Karen buys alot of our kids’ clothes at WalMart or some used “fancy ones” on Ebay for pennies on the dollar. We go generic on most things (not on PopTarts though, there IS a difference there).

After having to replace our Heating and Air Unit yesterday , we definitely need to find some more ways to save!

I’m sure we all do.