Agency could order end to SCE&G program
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's utility regulatory agency is expected to decide whether SCE&G must end its complicated bill-adjusting program.
The issue is on Wednesday's agenda for the Public Service Commission. It could order that customers' bills reflect their actual electricity usage.
The utility's Electric Weather Normalization Adjustment was designed in 2010 to protect customers against billing spikes during extreme weather. But the agency that represents the public in utility issues said last month it's so complex, only SCE&G can determine if customers are being correctly charged.
SCE&G has since filed a joint petition agreeing with the Office of Regulatory Staff's recommendations to end it.
But the Public Service Commission has the final say. The petition asks the regulatory agency to order the adjustments to stop with bills issued from December meter readings.
Suspect in 1998 Connecticut death arrested in SC
SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - A man wanted in connection with the 1998 strangling of a Connecticut woman has been arrested in South Carolina.
Surfside Beach Police Chief Rodney Keziah says 51-year-old Gerald Brian Tuttle was arrested at a home on Tuesday. He faces a fugitive from justice charge and was being held without bond Wednesday pending extradition to Connecticut, where he is charged with murder.
The body of 60-year-old Gertrude Ochankowski was found floating in a shallow brook in a secluded area of East Hampton, Conn., on Jan. 12, 1998.
Authorities said Ochankowski had been washing clothes at a Laundromat when an attacker took her into a vacant apartments, sexually assaulted her, then strangled her. Her car was found outside the building, its engine still running.
Jail records listed no attorney for Tuttle.
Court orders SC mom's acquittal in baby death
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina mother's conviction in the death of her toddler daughter has been overturned.
The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a trial judge should have decided that prosecutors didn't have enough evidence to continue pursuing the conviction of Ashley Nicole Hepburn at her trial.
Hepburn was arrested in 2009 and charged with murder in the death of her 16-month-old daughter. Authorities said the girl died of brain injuries, and Hepburn was ultimately convicted of homicide by child abuse.
The high court said that there was no evidence that Hepburn knew about or caused the girl's injuries.
Hepburn's boyfriend was found guilty of aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse, but an appellate court overturned that conviction earlier this year.
Spartanburg expects to clean up PCBs by January
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - State officials have approved a plan by the Spartanburg sewer district to remove hazardous chemicals from water and sludge deposits by January.
The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reports that Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer chief operating officer Rebecca West said Tuesday it will cost $2.5 million to remove the chemicals known as PCBs from 1.2 million gallons of contaminated water and sludge.
State and federal officials have approved the cleanup plan. Authorities began investigating earlier this year after PCBs were found in several Spartanburg County sewer districts. Officials said the contamination appears to be the result of the dumping of illegal materials into the sewer systems.
PCBs were used for decades in a variety of industrial applications but were banned in 1979 after tests showed they could cause ailments including cancer.
MYRTLE BEACH TOURISM
Myrtle Beach lodging revenue, admission taxes up
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - There are more signs South Carolina's tourism industry is continuing its strong recovery from the recession.
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the head of the local chamber of commerce told City Council on Tuesday that admission tax revenue is up 6 percent while lodging revenues are up about 5 percent this year.
Chamber President and CEO Brad Dean says the area's local option 1 percent sales tax has paid for marketing to increase the number of visitors. Dean said 38 percent of those who came to the area last year were first time visitors, up from 34 percent in 2011.
Dean says the chamber has an almost $30 million marketing budget for 2014 and nearly 75 percent of that money will be spent on digital advertising.
Beaufort County oak is SC's 2013 Heritage Tree
BURTON, S.C. (AP) - An oak tree estimated to be as many as 400 years old has been designated South Carolina's Heritage Tree for 2013.
The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports the honor went to the Cherry Hill live oak in Burton. The award was presented Tuesday by Trees SC, a nonprofit group that works to preserve South Carolina's urban and neighborhood forests.
The tree is on a 10-acre site owned by an Augusta, Ga., company. Development plans for the area have not been mapped out, but the owners say the tree will be protected.
Trees SC director Karen Hauck says the award recognizes remarkable trees and is designed to help people recognize the benefits of trees.
SC coroner: More tests needed in inmate's death
UNION, S.C. (AP) - Union County's coroner says more tests are needed to determine how an inmate died at the county jail.
The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported that Coroner William Holcombe said he needs more information before he can determine how 34-year-old Robert Franklin Gregory of Union died.
Gregory was found unresponsive in a jail cell shortly before 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
Gregory had been jailed on a criminal domestic violence charge and was awaiting a bond hearing. Jail workers and paramedics were unable to revive Gregory.
Sheriff David Taylor said he could not talk about the investigation.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating.
MAYOR'S BROTHER-IN LAW KILLED
Man arrested in death of SC mayor's brother in law
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The man wanted in the shooting death of the brother-in-law of Columbia, S.C.'s mayor has been arrested in Charlotte.
Charlotte police say 40-year-old Arthur Givens was arrested Tuesday.
Givens is charged with murder, possession of a weapon by a felon, assault with a deadly weapon and communicating threats. It was not clear if he has an attorney.
Thirty-eight-year-old Donald Gist Jr. was shot and killed Friday afternoon in Charlotte. Gist is the brother-in-law of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.
Police had said the shooting did not appear to be random, as the suspect and the victim knew each other.
Gist's family issued a statement thanking Charlotte officials for the quick action in arresting a suspect.
Cutter returns to SC from final patrol
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - After 45 years of service, the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin has finished its last patrol.
The cutter slipped up to a pier in North Charleston on Wednesday after a 72-day patrol in the Caribbean. Family members waited along with about a dozen members of the Patriot Guard holding American flags.
During the patrol, the cutter seized more than 24,000 pounds of cocaine valued at almost $34 million.
The Gallatin was commissioned in 1968 and will be decommissioned in March and transferred to Nigeria.
It will be replaced next year by the Hamilton, one of a new generation of National Security Cutters and the first of that class to be deployed on the East Coast. The new cutters are bigger and faster, have longer range and state-of-the art surveillance equipment.
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