Originally created 09/21/03

Across South Carolina



Jury wants state to pay $15 million for death

SPARTANBURG -A Spartanburg County jury says the state should pay $15 million for not replacing a merging traffic sign before an accident that killed a 20-year-old woman three years ago.

State law, however, caps court judgments against state agencies at $300,000.

The state Department of Transportation didn't keep an inventory of its signs, said Gary Poliakoff, a lawyer for the family of Meredith McCallister.

"How could they replace it, if they didn't have a system in place to know when it was missing? I think the jury was trying to send a strong message to the DOT," Mr. Poliakoff said.

School leaders back sales tax increase

COLUMBIA -Some school leaders are pushing a plan that would raise the state's sales tax by 2 cents on the dollar and lower property taxes.

Legislators proposed a similar plan earlier this year, but the measure didn't make it through committee hearings before the General Assembly went home in June.

Along with the sales tax increase, they want to eliminate sales tax exemptions on several items and services, including newspapers, newsprint, broadcasting equipment, residential electricity bills, lottery tickets, bulk mail and long-distance phone calls. The plan generates up to $1.5 billion.

Cases of West Nile in animals double

CHARLESTON -Confirmed animal cases of West Nile virus have doubled in South Carolina since last year.

There has been one confirmed human case in an Oconee County man who developed meningo-encephalitis in May and survived. A year earlier, there was also a single confirmed human case.

The 189 animal cases confirmed through Friday are more than double the 83 cases for all of last year. The cases involved animals in 34 counties, up from nine counties last year.

Transportation board votes to cut costs

CHARLESTON -The board of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority has voted to cut routes and hours and temporarily raise standard fares to keep the public transportation system running a while longer.

The cost-cutting measures will buy time for CARTA while the agency awaits word on whether the state Supreme Court reconsiders its decision to overturn the county's half-cent sales tax. The tax was to be CARTA's only local source of funding.