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Yearly Archives: 2016

Adult education must improve or jobs will flee

May 19, 2016
By SEANNA ADCOX Associated Press


South Carolina must ramp up efforts to educate and retrain adults or jobs will vanish, says the director of the state’s Education Oversight Committee.

Just 40 percent of South Carolina’s working-age adults — those 25 to 64 years old — have an industry certification or degree beyond high school, ranking the state 40th nationwide. Twelve percent lack even a high school diploma, according to a report released last month by the Lumina Foundation.

“That’s why it’s getting harder and harder for businesses and industry to attract people,” EOC Director Melanie Barton told a Senate panel Thursday. “Even if we graduated 100 percent of our kids ready for college tomorrow, it’s still not enough. You’ve got to address the adults.”

While the state’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in March, about 131,500 South Carolinians remained out of work, despite 63,000 job openings statewide, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce.

Legislation that aims to match training with businesses’ workforce needs is headed to the Senate Education Committee.

Passed 106-5 by the House in January, it creates a council to coordinate all workforce training offered by various state agencies. Its responsibilities include surveying businesses to determine their hiring needs and working with technical colleges to fill in any gaps.

The council would also dole out tuition scholarships for adults who need schooling to get a job, as well as grants to pay for books and other fees they can’t otherwise afford.

Its sponsor, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, said coordination between K-12 schools, colleges, other state agencies and businesses is essential.

“Right now, everybody wants their own kingdom, and that’s not working,” he said Friday.

The low percentages of degree attainment in poor, rural counties are particularly startling, said Barton, who leads an agency tasked with accessing K-12 schools and overseen by a board educators, legislators and business leaders.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 14 percent of adults in Marlboro County hold at least an associate’s degree. Five other counties are below 20 percent.

“That explains why economic development is not happening in those counties. The workforce is not there,” Barton said.

At the top end, half of adults in Charleston County and 46 percent in Richland County hold a post-high-school degree.

“Richland County may be better than others, but our better is still not good,” said Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Columbia.

Barton applauds the legislation’s tiered tax incentives for businesses that employ students as apprentices. Proposed tax credits for businesses in approved trades or skills range from $750 to $4,000 per apprentice, depending on the county’s unemployment rates.

She hopes it creates opportunities for students in distressed counties and helps erase students’ and parents’ misconceptions about pursuing careers in trades or high-tech manufacturing — a high-need field.

According to the Lumina report, just 4 percent of South Carolina’s adults hold a high-quality industry certificate or credential.

“We need a big momentum shift. It’s going to cost money,” Barton said. If the percentages of degrees or certifications don’t improve, she added, “companies will move, that’s my greatest fear, or they won’t expand.”

How much the legislation would ultimately cost will become clearer after agencies start coordinating, White said.

Several counties are piloting the program this year with $7 million from the state: $5 million for adult scholarships and $2 million to expand high schoolers’ dual-enrollment opportunities at technical colleges. The proposed budget for 2016-17 continues those amounts.

Legislators’ proposed spending also adds $10 million specifically for high school career centers and guidance counselors, increasing the total to $16 million.

SC Ports Authority, CSX discuss need for second inland port facility

Rail News: CSX Transportation

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) on Wednesday announced plans for a second inland port facility as a result of the success of its Inland Port Greer and the demand for more efficient international container movement between the Port of Charleston and growing markets in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Port officials are in discussions with CSX to determine the viability of Dillion, S.C., as a potential location for the next inland port, said SCPA President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome in a press release. The parties hope to finalize plans by year’s end, he said.

The Dillion site offers access to an existing CSX mainline, which opens a different intermodal marketplace from Inland Port Greer and provides access to the Southeast and Midwest, port officials said. The location also would be close to Interstate 95, a key transportation artery in the Southeast.

“A second inland port in South Carolina would expand transportation options in the state, lowering shipping costs for South Carolina businesses and improving competitiveness,” said Dean Piacente, CSX vice president, intermodal. “This project would also generate substantial public benefits by creating jobs, spurring economic development and reducing traffic congestion on I-26 and I-95.”

Hamburg Port Consultants are studying facility design, cost and construction timeline. Port authorities are pursuing federal funding through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to help pay for the project.

About 23 percent of containers imported or exported through Charleston last year moved by rail, with nearly 260,000 international intermodal rail lifts handled in 2015. Intermodal volume has increased 166 percent since 2011, driving increased demand for additional inland port facilities, port officials said.

Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental partner to boost childhood reading skills

– Program to be piloted in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region

– More than 3,000 second graders expected to participate

– Program reflects a $400,000 investment by Duke Energy

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, are partnering to minimize the summer slide and improve the reading proficiency of more than 3,000 current second graders in South Carolina.

The program will be available in 36 Title I elementary schools in the Pee Dee region in northeast South Carolina.

“Our philanthropic investments in childhood literary proficiency are aimed at giving children a chance to succeed throughout school and into adulthood,” said Shawn Heath, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. “Reading proficiency is the foundation to help children succeed and get excited about science, technology, engineering and math.”

As part of RIF’s Read for Success program, the students will receive eight summer books of their choosing and a book bag of items to take home.

In addition, teachers will receive a collection of 35 fiction and nonfiction books for the classroom and school library; printed and online access to enrichment and instructional activities; and in-person and online professional development to effectively implement the program model.

Families in participating South Carolina schools will be encouraged to take part in the summer book distributions and share stories together to help students develop a love of reading and experience the magic of books.

RIF will also have available supplemental booklists and fun activities for families to experience reading throughout the summer.

“The unfortunate reality is that many children do not have access to books, especially at home; this is something most of us take for granted,” said Carol Rasco, president and CEO, Reading Is Fundamental. “The eight books students receive at the end of the school year to own and take home really motivate them to read over the summer.”

During the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning and skills they’ve acquired over the school year. If the summer learning slide is not addressed at an early age, some children may fall behind as much as three years in reading comprehension by the end of fifth grade. In addition, existing research shows that 75 percent of students who read poorly in third grade, a benchmark for literacy skill building, remain poor readers in high school.

“The Read for Success program has been tested over two years among 33,000 students,” Rasco said. “Results show it can reverse the trend of summer reading loss for more than half the participating students.”

School districts in the South Carolina program include: Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg.

“Once again, Duke Energy has stepped up its level of commitment to public education,” said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of Darlington County School District. “We deeply appreciate the partnership between Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental, and the resources they are so unselfishly providing. Fostering a lifelong love of reading is paramount to develop a child’s ability to create, communicate, collaborate and problem solve. Our teachers and students are very excited about the new books.”

The results of the program will be evaluated in the fall as part of Duke Energy’s ongoing efforts to support childhood literacy in the states it serves.

About Duke Energy
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at

The Duke Energy News Center serves as a multimedia resource for journalists and features news releases, helpful links, photos and videos. Hosted by Duke Energy, illumination is an online destination for stories about remarkable people, innovations, and community and environmental topics. It also offers glimpses into the past and insights into the future of energy.

Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

About Reading Is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) transforms lives through the power of books. By providing children in need with access to books of their choosing, RIF empowers young minds to embrace the world of reading and develop a love of learning. As the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, RIF has provided more than 412 million books to 40 million RIF kids over 50 years, inspiring generations to read, learn and grow. Visit us online to learn more at

Anne Sheffield, Duke Energy
24-Hour: 800.559.3853

Tracey Beeker, Reading Is Fundamental

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To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

Students Participate in SC 4-H Engineering Challenge

Publsihed April 13, 2016 by Marlboro County School District

Jontavius Loyd, Tyqueshis Bridges, Fredrick McCray, and Joey McCray of Marlboro County High School proudly display their trophy after winning 1st place in the “Mystery Challenge” during the 2016 SC 4-H Engineering Challenge held at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg, SC on April 9, 2016.  The students were chaperoned by Ms Maria Maderal, TAP STEM Master Teacher, Mr Selase Fianu and Dr Genaro Alderite, science teachers at the high school.

Selected students of Marlboro County High School participated in the 2016 SC 4-H Engineering Challenge held at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Orangeburg, SC on Saturday, April 9, 2016.  The event was an opportunity for students to learn, have fun, demonstrate the STEM skills and compete for individual and team honors. This was also an opportunity to expose the students to the STEM fields and to prepare them for effective involvement in an increasingly technological society. The MCHS students participated in the Bridge-building Challenge, GPS Challenge, Energy Challenge, Rocketry, and Mystery Challenge where the team of Jontavius Loyd, Tyqueshis Bridges, Fredrick McCray, and Joey McCray won 1st place. This is MCHS’ first time to participate in this statewide challenge.

The challenge was presented by enLIGHTenSC with support from Science on the Move-a SC 4-H initiative; Clemson Cooperative Extension, S2 STEM Centers and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

Front row, L-R: Ms. Maria Maderal, TP STEM Master Teacher, Kalia Thomas, Laqueshia Bridges, Kelifa Gillespie, Tyqueshis Bridges, Joey McCray, Jontavius Loyd, and Dr Genaro Alderite, Science teacher

Back row, l-R: Mr Selase Fianu, science teacher, Noah Harper, Dylan Quick, Leigh Oxendine, Arian Garner, Cedric Little, Bobby Morrison, Trashoan Cain, and Xavier Smith.

Sandhill ConNEXTions To Serve Marlboro County

April 1, 2015 – Jefferson, SC – Sandhil ConNEXTions has acquired the cable assets in Marlboro County from MetroCast Communications. Sandhill is a well established provider of high-speed internet, digital television, voice, security, and wireless solutions.

The same great service that MetroCast has been providing of television, internet, and phone will continue with only minor changes initially. We will provide more info in the near future of plans for the community’s service. Some of these plans include the addition of the AMC Network, adding more fiber capabilities for business in the area, and reaching previously unserved areas of the County.

“We are committed to providing the people of Bennettsivlle, Tatum, McColl, and Clio with affordable, reliable services and great customer service. Our number one priority is caring for our customers by meeting their needs with the latest technology,” said CEO/General Manager Lee Chambers. “We’ve been providing local service for over 60 years and look forward to adding the communities and people of Marlboro County to our service area.”

Existing MetroCast customers and non-customers alike are encouraged to contact the local office in Bennettsville at 843-479-4063 to learn more about what is available.

Sandhill ConNEXTions is a subsidiary of Jefferson-based Sandhill Telephone Cooperative, a cooperative owned by its members since 1951. Sandhill is a technology advanced telecommunications provider serving residential and business members with an array of services that include local phone, long distance, high-speed broadband, cell phone service, digital television and security systems.

New Town Hall in McColl

The town of McColl moved its operations into a brand-new building at 300 South Main Street in late January. The spacious new facility replaces the old city hall on Gibson Avenue and was made possible by the generosity of the late Dr. C.W. Love’s family.

NESA region and manufacturing a good match

Today in Florence, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) – a nine county regional economic development organization – hosted site selection consultant Woody Hydrick.

Hydrick specializes in finding sites for large-scale manufacturing facilities and has worked with companies such as Shell Oil and Pfizer.

Hydrick said that his company, Global Location Strategies located in Greenville, S.C., is running a number of projects in the Florence region and believes the region is a good fit for manufacturing.

Existing infrastructure and utilities are some of the region’s greatest assets according to Hydrick.

For more information, email NESA at

The North Eastern Strategic Alliance is a regional economic development organization that serves a nine-county region in the northeast corner of South Carolina including Marlboro County.

NESA’s primary objective is to significantly enhance the quality of life for residents of the region by creating additional jobs and capital investment within the existing industry base, recruiting new companies and expanding tourism-related development.

Sector Strategies aims to fill the workforce pipeline

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Emily Fitzpatrick Palmetto Workforce Connections

In the coming months, you will be hearing quite a bit about building a workforce pipeline through Sector Strategies.

But this is not “just another program,” says Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

What it is, however, is a regional, industry-focused approach to building a skilled workforce pipeline through regional collaboration between industry, education and government. Sector Strategies is proving to be one of the most effective ways to address the talent needs of employers.

This initiative is slated to be rolled out around mid-April, but the roll out is only the beginning, said Stanton, during the Workforce Development Symposium held recently in Columbia.

The goal is to build regional talent pipelines in critical industries to address workers’ skill shortages and to create career pathways for workers in specific industry sectors. All industry across the state will benefit from this effort.

This is happening through the analysis of data and on-the-ground intelligence to drive career pathways and talent pipeline development strategies. This allows for customized solutions by economic region rather than a cookie-cutter approach for all.

In order to have world-class Sector Strategies, there must be a shared vision in each region, it must be guided by industry that validates competency needs and partners in the programs’ designs, and it must lead to strategic alignment, which allows students and workers to move seamlessly between academic and career technical programs, to and from work, and to advanced credentials.

As part of this plan, the state has been divided into four regions. They are Upstate, including Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Edgefield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda, Spartanburg and Union counties; Central, including Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Lexington, Orangeburg and Richland counties; Pee Dee, including Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter and Williamsburg counties; and South Coast, including Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester Hampton and Jasper counties.

The plan has also identified five critical industries in the state. They are diversified manufacturing, which includes metal and metal fabrication, textiles, lumber and wood products and chemicals, rubber and plastics; business information technology services; health care; transportation, logistics and wholesale trade; and construction.

“The end result of the intentional and thoughtful process of Sector Strategies and data-driven planning is where all business in South Carolina benefit – and that is the end of the pipeline,” Stanton said. “By matching individuals’ strengths and life stage with the demands of South Carolina’s industries, businesses can continue to find the employees they need in order to grow and compete.”

New Wallace Elementary/Middle School officially opens its doors

Monday night’s meeting of the Marlboro County Board of Education had a celebratory tone, as Janice Henson, principal of Wallace Elementary/Middle School, appeared with the following message: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

She referred, of course, to the new Wallace school, which had opened that very day. She said students and staff alike were thrilled with the new school, and she expressed gratitude to the board and administration for making it possible.

“We have a school that we can be proud of, and that our children deserve,” said Henson.
In response, the district superintendent, Dr. Helena Tillar, thanked Henson and her staff, as well as the district’s technology, maintenance and custodial staff, for a smooth transition to the new school.

The public will have the chance to see it very soon, as an open house has been scheduled for Sunday, February 28, at 3 p.m.

In her monthly report to the board, Tillar said the district must decide how to dispose of equipment that remains in the old Wallace school and will not be moved to the new school.

Board member Danny Driggers pointed out that the old Blenheim school gym, which Marlboro County now owns and operates for recreation, needs an HVAC unit and could benefit from the old one in Wallace.

Tillar said the district may donate items such as the HVAC unit to government entities. Some items may also be used in other schools as needed. And she suggested an auction to deal with the remaining items.