Originally created 04/23/04

Across South Carolina

Owners of hotel deny wrongdoing in fire

GREENVILLE - The owners of a Greenville hotel that was the site of a deadly fire three months ago have denied they did anything wrong, according to their response to a lawsuit filed by two guests.

R.G. Hospitality LLC and Greenville Hotel Partners said in court documents filed Wednesday that any injury sustained by the plaintiffs was caused by the criminal conduct of someone they have no control over.

Investigators have said arson was the cause of the fire that killed six people and injured 12. No arrests have been made.

School officials ask teacher not to return

CHARLESTON - A Charleston County middle school teacher who has been outspoken about discipline problems says she has been told to leave her job because administrators are worried about her safety.

District officials confirmed Wednesday that Elizabeth Kandrac was put on administrative leave from Brentwood Middle School with pay because of safety concerns.

Ms. Kandrac said the tires on her bicycle she rides to school every day had been punctured the day before the decision.

She said the change in attitude came after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state's Human Affairs Commission, citing several incidents in which she was threatened or assaulted by pupils.

Ms. Kandrac also said she has not been invited back to teach next year at the school, which has a history of academic and discipline problems.

Committee passes golf course tax bill

COLUMBIA - A bill that would reduce the amount of property taxes paid by golf courses in South Carolina has passed a House committee.

The bill approved Wednesday would assess golf courses at $500 an acre plus a percentage of profits, rather than based on fair market value of the land.

Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, said he will not allow the golf course bills to pass because they are an unfair tax break not available to other owners of valuable property who have little money.

The House version of the golf course bill would cost other taxpayers about $7.2 million. The Senate version of the same bill would cost $6 million.

White powder found on shipping boxes

CHARLESTON - Alltel stores in North Charleston and Mount Pleasant were evacuated for a time when a white powder was found on the outside of shipping boxes.

Preliminary testing indicated the powder likely is harmless and no medical problems were reported.

The powder was sent to be tested by the FBI.

"I think it's probably going to end up being nothing, probably something like drywall. The problem was, you have to treat it like it is" something, Mount Pleasant Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Alexander said.

Initial testing showed the powder was neither a chemical nor radioactive.

It was first noticed on boxes delivered to the North Charleston store Wednesday. Authorities responded and the store's ventilation system was turned off as a precaution. About 15 employees were evacuated for a couple of hours.

A similar powder was later found on two boxes at the Mount Pleasant store.

An Alltel spokesman said the boxes might have been have been shipped from a subsidiary in Georgia.

Firefighters protect homes from forest fire

DACUSVILLE - More than 100 firefighters spent Wednesday afternoon protecting up to three dozen homes from a 200-acre forest fire.

The homes were not evacuated as officials watched the blaze, which was pushed over firebreaks by strong winds, Forestry Commission spokesman Ken Cabe said.

Authorities don't know what sparked the fire. It was contained within a few hours.


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