Originally created 02/24/03

Across South Carolina



Plutonium project may be delayed by Russia

COLUMBIA -The federal government's plan to convert surplus weapons-grade plutonium at Savannah River Site in Aiken may be delayed because of lack of progress in a similar Russian program, federal budget documents say.

The $4 billion program, which would convert plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors, began in 2000 when the United States and Russia agreed to each dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX.

Ed Lyman, the president of Nuclear Control Institute, a Washington nonproliferation group, said the agency's statement in its budget is "the first admission that the two programs are getting so out of whack that it may actually require the U.S. to slow down its program here."

Spinal cord research fund hits $1.4 million

CHARLESTON -A state fund set up for spinal cord injury research has collected $1.4 million in a little more than two years with fines paid by South Carolina's drunken drivers.

The General Assembly established the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund in July 2000 in response to the state's high rate of spinal cord injuries, which were 22 percent higher than the national average.

Mom's business cards raise ethics questions

COLUMBIA -Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is answering questions about ethics after his mother's real estate business cards were printed featuring her name along with the official state seal and these words: "Lt. Governor's Mom."

Mr. Bauer said he asked his mother, Jill Westbury Bauer, to throw out the cards in January, when he found out she was distributing them.

The cards are not a violation of state ethics laws because Mr. Bauer's mother is not considered his immediate family, said Cathy Hazelwood, the general counsel for the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Official hopes debate on start date will end

COLUMBIA -The chairman of the state Education Board hopes the push to start schools in early August will end now that pupils are set to take the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test later in the school year.

Chairman Greg Killian, of Myrtle Beach, said Saturday that state Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum told him she will hold the test in the week of May 12 next school year.

Schools have been starting earlier to allow time to prepare for the PACT because pupils' results are used to grade schools.

The state's tourism industry has pressured school officials and legislators to start school closer to Labor Day to extend the summer season, Mr. Killian said.