Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Lexington Group's Billboard Asking for Mask Choice in Lexington District One Is Changed without Permission

A group of freedom fighters in Lexington School District One have organized a visual protest of the requirement in the Lexington District One school system for students and teachers to wear masks. The request is simply for students and parents to have a choice about wearing a mask at school.

The billboard image was posted on a digital billboard on Highway 378 in Lexington near the intersection with Mineral Springs Road. It was a plain text billboard with white lettering on a black background with the following message:

Dear Dr. Little & Molly Spearman,

Make Masks Optional


Lex 1 Students, Teachers & Parents

Paid for by Lexington Mask by Choice, Not by Force - Kati McCown

The billboard was a group effort and paid for by many individuals who are very concerned about the erosion of freedom and the dangers for children being forced to wear a mask throughout the school day. 

There has been an immediate backlash from a group of teachers and parents that believe in the oppressive COVID requirements and their never-ending continuation. WIS TV did a story on this billboard situation on the Friday evening news. In the time since that story aired, the billboard company Lamar, which is the firm selected to run the message, changed the copy on the billboard without asking the people who placed the order. 

In an apparent cave to the vocal few, Lamar changed the line that formerly read, “Sincerely, Lex 1 Students, Teachers and Parents” to instead read, “Sincerely, The Lexington Masks by Choice, Not Force Facebook Group.”

The advertiser agreement was for the submitted content to read as originally approved. Would a billboard company, a magazine, newspaper, radio station, television station or social media outlet ever take the step to change ad copy without the permission of the advertiser?

If Lamar found the content objectionable, the content could have been rejected prior to publication. 

The organizers of the protest message plan to seek an immediate legal remedy against Lamar Advertising for changing their desired billboard content without permission.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Lexington County 911 Launches Text-To-911

Lexington County Emergency Services is pleased to announce the successful launch of Text-to-911 service. The County’s Text-to-911 uses the latest state-of-the-art technology allowing hearing- and speech-impaired residents, as well as those in potentially dangerous situations, to reach out for help. 

Text-to-911 will be available for all Lexington County residents and visitors in the County’s service area. Text-to-911 will not be available for residents within the City of Cayce, City of West Columbia or Town of Batesburg-Leesville, as those agencies provide their own 911 call services. 

In an emergency, dialing 911 is a call for help. But people with hearing loss or those who must remain quiet in a dangerous situation aren’t able to place a call safely or at all. That is why the County of Lexington 911 Emergency Communications Division has worked with AT&T and West to implement Text-to-911 on the County of Lexington’s Next Generation 911 call-handling system. 

Text-to-911 is an alternative to calling in an emergency when it would be unsafe for an individual to speak. “If a caller is in a dangerous situation where they are unable to speak, such as an intruder in the home or a domestic violence situation, then Text-to-911 would be an emergency lifeline,” said 911 Communications Chief Nikki Rodgers. “However, speaking to a 911 dispatcher is still the fastest way to receive help to the location; so, remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t.” 

If there is an emergency and you cannot call 911, take these steps: 1. Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field. 2. Text your exact address and type of emergency. 3. Send the message. 4. Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emoji’s, pictures or slang. 5. Promptly answer questions and follow instructions. 

Text-to-911 comes with challenges. For instance, emergency response may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text to 911 to be typed and sent. Delivery of texts and speed of delivery are also not guaranteed. 

Here are several reminders to ensure the best service and response from dispatchers: 

• Dispatchers prefer calls so they can get cues from background noise and voice inflections. If you text 911, dispatchers will ask if they can call you. 

• Location is not as accurate with texting as it is with a call. Be sure to text your exact address. • A text or data plan is required to use Text-to-911. 

• Texts to 911 will get a bounce back message if you are roaming. 

• Texts to 911 have a 160 character limit, can get out of order, or may not be received. 

• There is no language translation service for texts to 911. 

• Do not text and drive! 

The new service should only be used in emergencies. Texting 911 with a false report is a crime. If you accidentally send a text to 911, send another text, or call 911 to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency. Remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Disaster for Lexington Real Estate - Six Month Moratorium for Neighborhood Construction in Lexington County

By S. Wade McGuinn

Lexington County Council voted 8-1 for a 6-month home building halt. Council says large builders have created a public health and safety crisis. Public health and safety? Homes where we recently were mandated to stay as schools, government offices, restaurants, sport, and entertainment closed down in the Covid 19 epidemic? 

This will not help anything right now, and it will create a housing shortage in 2023. What about all the county employees who will lose their job or be laid off for six months while the Council sorts this out. What about landowners whose land is now rendered “farmland” and can’t be sold at a fair market price for development?

21-02 should not be a controversial issue. It is not a political issue. It is an issue that needs the attention of everyone involved. It should have never happened. I don't think we will find a resolution by public pole or arguing with those we disagree with. There are already literally hundreds of laws and ordinances on the books that give the county complete control of Zoning, Water, Sewer, Storm Water, Roads, and traffic. So why "close the county" for 180 days and create a 2023 housing shortage, lose county employees and impact local business?

I have lived in Lexington for over 45 years. I am a businessman and CEO of a medium-size homebuilding company for 35 years. I am also a housing author, national panel speaker on housing, habitat board member, and I represented our Home Builders Association at the height of the recession in Columbia and Washington. I survived several market downturns, including the great recession. 

As a home builder, I make a $1 million annual payroll for our team and support our vendor base and trade business to the tune of $50M in Lexington County. We (builders and developers) create jobs and a tax base. We do not build unsafe and insecure environments as this 21-02 refers to. I know most council members, yet no one called my colleagues or me and sought our opinion or expertise. Why?
Big business chooses Lexington County because the lifestyle for their employees is excellent. High-quality, affordable housing, great schools, and a safe place to live and raise a family. Where will the people who work at Amazon, Nephron, Micheline, Lexington Medical, Teachers, Policemen, Nurses, and firefighters go if they can't find a home in Lexington County they can afford? 

Where will new companies go when they learn affordable housing is gone from Lexington?

Other victims of the moratorium are everyone who serves the people who live and invest in Lexington county's growth. Like restaurant owners, grocery stores, public utilities, and small business people who need a new home to grow their businesses.

Housing affordability is simply an issue of lot size and density. Affordable housing cannot be on an oversized lot. As a business owner, the biggest problem and fear is the one that we can't see. That was true when the Council passed 21-02 with no input from the business community. As we wind down one of the scariest times in our history, the Covid 19 pandemic, we face a problem that no one saw coming. Politicians are interrupting the supply chain to the most important thing a family wants and needs. A home!

The pandemic taught us that when parks closed, schools close, restaurants close, we can find refuge in our homes. The safety of owning an affordable home in an affordable area has been the hallmark of what separates Lexington county and the United States from nearly every country on earth. Our ability to own a home and have personal property rights are fundamental rights in Lexington county too!
Whose rights are being violated? Who could have seen our fundamental right to a home in Lexington county would be stopped by a county council using fear as their tool. Health and safety are not their concerns. 

The concern is socio-economic. The council member's vote will hinder the ability of the very workforce that makes Lexington County great to live in or near them. The secret language is hidden in the real meaning. Like "½ acre lots, subdivision of 10 or more". Think of the cost of a new home on a half-acre lot with only nine neighbors. It is not affordable with land and development costs. The price of such a home would be more than $400,000.00.

Think about this, why a moratorium when:
• Interest rates are at an all-time low.
• The supply of used and new homes is at an ALL-TIME low. People want and need a home!
• There are plenty of government controls already in place by Lexington county. The county controls the following items: Zoning, Water, Sewer Storm Water, Roads, and traffic.

Why is there an emergency now in a process they already control? There are only about five developers and 6 builders (large and medium) in Lexington County. This should be resolved in private-public meetings, not in a public process. We all want to do the right thing. We need to agree on what the right thing is.

Under the moratorium, the county now will refuse applications for large residential subdivisions in unincorporated areas. The moratorium begins immediately and may be ratified into law in May. 

The 21-02 moratorium would prevent applications and the administrative processing of applications for: 
• Residential subdivisions of ten lots or more, or; 
• Residential subdivisions with lots averaging less than ½-acre, and;
• Residential attached land use activities as defined by the Lexington County Zoning Ordinance (apartment complexes).
• If a newly proposed subdivision consists of ten lots or more, the number of lots will be determined by many lots in the entire planned subdivision development, including all phases of the proposed development.
• New residential projects that have been formally submitted for review before enacting the moratorium will continue to be processed using the current development review process. 
• The moratorium is applicable in the county's unincorporated areas, which are defined by any sites that do not fall within the municipal boundaries of local towns and cities.
• County officials said the moratorium would allow for an opportunity to study, analyze and make recommendations to the Council concerning the consequences and impacts of large-scale residential growth and apartment complexes throughout the community.

So, what's behind the "why"? Let have an open debate. Both sides in a public hearing let people understand the issues and agree on a resolution. Why don’t the current ordinances and laws work? Why interrupt progress as the economy starts to recover if we can resolve the real problems in an open forum?

Monday, April 19, 2021

S. C. Lawmakers Move Forward on In-Person Learning, Bus Purchases and Protecting Seniors

The House passed a joint resolution that requires all school districts in South Carolina to give an option for five days a week, in-person learning by April 26th. Providing an in-person option allows parents to decide what learning format is the best fit for their student. Additionally, this bill suspends the earning limitation for retired teachers. This ensures that retired teachers can come back to school and teach without fear of too little compensation during these unique times. 
Buying More Busses

Many K-12 students in SC will be getting a better ride with the decision to buy 235 propane-fueled school busses. The $23.6 million price tag will be paid from the remaining from the legal settlement from Volkswagen. A decade ago, SC’s school bus fleet was the oldest in the nation, with some busses on the road for more than 20 years. With the new busses, the fleet will have an average age of five years. More than 3,000 busses have been replaced since 2015.

Revitalizing South Carolina
The South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act” qualifies taxpayers who make certain investments into rehabilitating and revitalizing abandoned property in the State to receive tax credits. This bill is a great incentive for people to bring life to abandoned and run-down areas of our State. This act was set to expire, but the House voted unanimously to renew it. 

Law Enforcement Help
Receiving a favorable vote from a House Judiciary panel is a bill (H.3939) extending workers compensation for law enforcement officers in deadly-force situations to PTSD or other injury caused by stress or mental illness. It is essential that we provide officers with these lifesaving resources to safely and healthily serve our communities. 

Protecting SC Seniors
H. 3180, also known as the Vulnerable Adult Maltreatment Registry Act, passed out of a House Subcommittee. This act aims to protect our most vulnerable, elderly populations from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This bill would create a registry for these populations, creating further protections for them in places like nursing homes. 

COVID Vaccine Update

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has identified 155 cases where individuals were diagnosed with COVID after being fully inoculated with a vaccine. According to DHEC, 17 of those patients were hospitalized, and at least one person has died in what they term “breakthrough” infections. 25% of SC residents are fully vaccinated; many more have received their first shot. The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine has been suspended in SC. The state is in Phase 1C of the vaccination process. Under these guidelines, anyone 16+ is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with an appointment. Meanwhile, DHEC has a warning concerning scammers:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Charleston Modifies Mask Ordinance

There is minor movement in the Lowcountry on the never-ending mask ordinance. Charleston City Council voted on Tuesday to extend the city’s mask ordinance through May 13.

The ordinance requires masks be worn in certain circumstances when six feet of social distancing from others cannot be maintained. An amendment to the ordinance strongly encourages masks to be worn in all public places, but does reduce the number of places where masks are required. 

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said this amendment is still requiring masks be worn indoors, but now strongly encourages they be worn outdoors. 

Harry Griffin, a member of the Charleston City Council, argues it's impossible to comply with the previous rules of the mask ordinance, and requiring masks under such strict circumstances “defies logic.” 

Other members said that with more and more people being vaccinated, they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is time to remove the requirement. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Want to See the Fireflies This Year at Congaree Park? You'll Need to Win their Lottery

Congaree National Park is offering several opportunities to see the park’s fireflies May 20 through 22, and May 27 through 29. 

To keep COVID restrictions, the viewings will be limited to 25 vehicles each night of the event. Tickets will be available through a lottery system posted on this website at recreation.gov/ticket/facility/300008. You will only be allowed to enter on the date and time of your specific ticket. Full lottery details may be viewed online at nps.gov/cong/fireflies.htm.

The lottery begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 15th and stays open until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 19th. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 23rd. Participants who are chosen will be required to pay a non-refundable $19 event fee plus a one dollar service charge to secure tickets ($20 total).

Tickets will only be issued for passenger vehicles up to two axles that can fit into standard parking spaces (i.e. no motor homes, vehicles with trailers, buses or mini-buses). 

“At our most recent fireflies event, over 12,000 visitors came to the park to view the fireflies and on some nights we welcomed over 2,000 visitors,” said Superintendent K. Lynn Berry. “After consulting with public health officials, we determined that a smaller-scale event would be a wise decision. The lottery system, which is based on the one that has been used for a similar fireflies event at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for years, seemed to be the fairest way of determining who will have access each night.”

There are three species of synchronous flashing fireflies, out of more than two thousand species in total. The mating season lasts approximately two weeks and the synchronized flashing is a part of the mating ritual. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Lexington man charged in home remodeling fraud case

Lexington County deputies have arrested a man accused of contracting to do construction work he is not licensed to perform.

James Brandon Jordan, 29, is charged with obtaining goods under false pretenses for signing a contract and accepting more than $30,000 to work on a Chapin home last October, according to an arrest warrant.

“Jordan has what’s known as a specialty contractor registration from the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that allows him to perform only certain types of work at a home,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Based on what we’ve determined during our investigation, Jordan agreed to do work outside the scope of his LLR registration.”

Jordan is also charged with possession of a destructive device and three counts of unlawful conduct toward a child, according to arrest warrants.

“While detectives were executing a search warrant at Jordan’s home Wednesday to gather evidence related to the construction case, they found a homemade pipe bomb,” Koon said. “The unlawful conduct toward a child charges are due to the fact three children were in the home when detectives found the pipe bomb.

“Our work on this case continues,” Koon said. “To report other cases of potential home improvement fraud allegedly associated with Jordan or his company, send an email to homefraud@lcsd.sc.gov.”

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Real Estate Buyers Face Fierce Competition

The Columbia, S. C. real estate market continues to operate at a breakneck pace. With limited inventory, buyers are forced to be very aggressive if they want to secure a new home for themselves.  

A normal level of homes for sale is a three to four month supply. The Columbia market has less than a one month’s supply and has been in that condition for a few months now. 


In many cases, a home will sell in a day or less. Showings are usually allowed in fifteen minute segments and finding an open slot to show a property on the day it becomes active is tough. It’s becoming the norm for seller’s agents to request highest and best offers by a certain date and time to aggregate all of the offer options for the seller to review at once. And even then, sellers may also choose one or two back up offers in case the primary one falls through for some reason. 


If you’re considering purchasing a home and are just looking, online sources such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com give you access to mostly current inventory to browse from the convenience of your own device without having to go in person. The downside to these sites is that the data feed is not always instant. A home you see this morning as active may have gone under contract the day before and is no longer available. 


Once you become serious about purchasing, the crucial first step is to speak with a lender to get pre-approved. The days of submitting an offer without a lender already willing to work with you for a loan are over; with multiple offers on almost every home, if you submit an offer without being approved for a loan, your chances of winning the bid are virtually zero. 


While the standard contract of sale allows for five business days to seek loan approval, it’s not wise to proceed without it. There’s another important piece of information that comes with a lender review of your financials: you learn your true buying power. You may discover you can buy a higher priced home than you thought. Or, you may find out that your budget needs to fit in a lower priced property instead.


A surprising new trend is emerging, with buyers offering over the property’s listing price. It’s no longer enough to say you’re willing to pay full price for a property; that kind of offer may not be successful in a bidding war. The value of working with an experienced real estate agent cannot be over emphasized, as the agent will help guide you to terms that could help you be the winning offer. 


Other considerations include:

•Are you asking the seller the contribute towards your closing costs?

•Are you wanting the seller to provide a home warranty?

•What type of financing are you using – Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA Rural Housing, cash?

•Do you have any contingencies, such as needing to list and/or sell your current home?

•Are you requesting any items in the home to remain, such as appliances, washer/dryer?

•How soon can you close? 30 days, 45 days, 60 days?


If you can afford the time to be patient, start looking as soon as you know you want or need to buy a home and have all of your documents ready when you begin. It may take longer to get the home you want, but it will be worth it in the end. Interest rates remain at historic lows, meaning it will cost you less to borrow. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Cancel Culture Pushes Boycott of Georgia to the Extreme

In an attempt to push the far left agenda, the woke culture in place at several major corporations has selected the state of Georgia as their next target. Georgia recognizes the need for shoring up the integrity of elections and has passed a law requiring voters to show identification when exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Georgia also deemed it inappropriate to have influencers working the line with food and drinks while people are waiting to vote. What they didn’t do was take away the ability of legitimate voters to participate in elections and they also didn’t take away the ability for people to provide water and snacks to voters, it just has to be done from a dedicated distribution station. 

To hear this law described by the mainstream media, you’d think they’ve disenfranchised the bulk of the population with an excessive, restrictive ruling. The corporations that are doing business in Georgia and are following the playbook of the cancel culture include big names known across the country and the world: Coca Cola, Delta Airlines, Major League Baseball and others.

Former President Donald Trump reacted to the news of the companies that are leaning on Governor Kemp to back away from the law. "Are you listening Coke, Delta,” Trump said. "Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck."

Major League Baseball decided to pull the All Star Game from being played in Georgia this summer. The latest speculation has the game being played in the state of Colorado. 

Democrats have criticized the law, with Joe Biden calling it “Jim Crow on steroids.” More than one hundred companies and social media firms including Twitter, Zillow and Uber issued a joint statement through Civic Alliance Friday, joining several major corporations who have expressed their concern about Georgia's decision to require identification when voting. There are activities in every state of the Union that require identification to participate, but yet the idea of proving your identity to vote is somehow different and racist. 

Publicly issued statements from companies and social media outlets included:

Facebook: "We support making voting as accessible and broad-based as possible and oppose efforts to make it harder for people to vote," Roy Austin, VP and deputy general counsel for civil rights, said in a statement.

Bank of America: "Our history in fact is punctuated by the moments when we expanded that right to those to whom it had been denied too long. We must continue to right the wrongs of our past, and stand united in our advocacy for equal voting rights for all," Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan wrote in a message to employees.

Microsoft: "We are concerned by the law’s impact on communities of color, on every voter, and on our employees and their families. We share the views of other corporate leaders that it’s not only right but essential for the business community to stand together in opposition to the harmful provisions and other similar legislation that may be considered elsewhere."

Coca Cola: The Georgia law is "unacceptable" and "a step backwards," CEO James Quincey told CNBC Wednesday. "[It] is wrong and needs to be remedied, and we will continue to advocate for it both in private and now even more clearly in public."

Friday, April 2, 2021

University of South Carolina's Medical School Leads Nation For Graduates Practicing In Areas with Healthcare Shortages

A new report ranking the top graduate school programs in the country names the University of South Carolina School of Medicine at Columbia as the number one medical program in the country for graduates who practice in areas where there is a shortage of health care professionals.

U. S. News and World Report released their annual rankings on Tuesday. The rankings show the University of South Carolina boasts more than 60 nationally-ranked programs. 

The Darla Moore School of Business maintained its top ranking for the International MBA program, now in its eighth year of being number one.  

The University of South Carolina's School of Medicine’s top ranking perfectly aligns with their mission of providing medical professionals for underserved areas. 

Other prominent rankings for the school include coming in at number 45 for the number of doctors practicing in primary care specialties and fifty fourth for graduates who practice direct patient care in primarily rural areas of the country. The University of South Carolina's School of Medicine is also ranked at number 76 nationally in primary care.

The Darla Moore School of Business continued its reign as the highest ranked international business master’s program in the United States. Their program has been ranked in the top three for more than thirty years.

The university’s ranked graduate and professional programs include the sciences, humanities, health sciences, technology, law, engineering and business.

Other ranked programs at the University of South Carolina: 

  • 7th for school library media.

  • 9th for services for children and youth.

  • 17th for library and information studies.

  • 23rd for criminology program.

  • 25th for part-time MBA.

  • 25th for nuclear engineering.

  • 25th for speech language pathology.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Congressional Art Competition Accepting Entries

 Each year, the House of Representatives participates in a nation-wide high school arts competition sponsored by the Congressional Institute.

The Congressional Art Competition is a way to recognize the talent of young artists here in South Carolina and across the nation.

This competition is open to all high school students, and one winner is selected to represent the Second Congressional District of South Carolina. The winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol with art from all participating districts around the country. 

Artwork must be two-dimensional and represent this year's theme, The Palmetto State: Capturing the Spirit of South Carolina. Each framed artwork can be no larger than 26 inches high, 26 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it must be framed. Even when framed, it must still measure no larger than the above maximum dimensions. No framed piece should weigh more than 15 pounds.

Accepted mediums for the two-dimensional artwork are as follows:

  • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
  • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (it is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed.)
  • Collages: must be two dimensional
  • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
  • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc
    Computer-generated art
  • Photographs

Entries must be original in concept, design, and execution, and must be entered in the original medium (i.e. not a scan or copy of original work).

All submissions must be delivered to one of Joe Wilson's district offices in the Midlands or Aiken-Barnwell by close of business April 30, 2021. 

For additional information, contact Jackson Gossett in the Midlands office of Representative Joe Wilson at 803-939-0041.