Report shows '04 was a bad year for beaches
COLUMBIA - One of the busiest hurricane seasons in years, combined with a five-year drought in funding, has left South Carolina's beaches in their worst shape since Hurricane Hugo, officials with the state's coastal management agency said Monday.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control released its State of the Beaches report, which reflected the toll taken when the centers of four tropical systems crossed South Carolina for the first time in more than a century.
Last year, state legislators put aside $5 million to renourish parts of Hunting Island. Work will start there this spring.
The $5.8 billion state budget bill being debated this week in the House includes $5 million for beach renourishment in the upcoming fiscal year.
House rescues funds to assist the blind
COLUMBIA - The House restored money cut from a little-known program that helps the blind stay on top of local news as it began debate Monday on a $5.8 billion spending plan.
The $104,990 reduction would have eliminated the Commission for the Blind's Radio Reading program, which provides broadcasts of stories, editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries and other newspaper articles.
Gov. Mark Sanford wanted to kill the program, saying it duplicates the State Library's Talking Book Services and other news media.
But Nell Carney, the director of the state Commission for the Blind, said there's little overlap and the Radio Reading program gets news to listeners faster than the Talking Book service.
Rapes lead churches to background checks
GREENVILLE - In an effort to prevent sexual abuse in churches in South Carolina, leaders are asking church volunteers to undergo criminal background checks.
The request has drawn mixed reactions.
Seven cases of forceable rape were reported in South Carolina houses of worship in 2003, the latest year for which figures are available from the State Law Enforcement Division.
One case of forceable sodomy and 10 cases of forceable fondling also were reported, the figures show.
SLED's background check shows only crimes committed in South Carolina.
If someone with a history of child molestation moves to South Carolina from another state, the crimes would show up only on a FBI records check, bureau spokesman Steve Fischer said.
State law prohibits FBI checks on church volunteers, church officials say.