• Column: DHEC’s process for selecting agency chief violated state law

    The board of directors of the state’s largest and perhaps most vital regulatory agency, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, has announced its selection of a fellow board member to be the agency’s new director.
    The hiring of Rick Toomey came on the heels of a search lasting 13 months in which the search firm, Find Great People, was unable to identify a candidate satisfactory to the board. Notwithstanding that failed search and the insider hiring of Toomey, the search firm will be paid 20 percent of Toomey’s $178,126 salary for its work.

  • Column: In U.S., officials don’t get to dictate what reporters publish

    On Jan. 6, “60 Minutes” aired an interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with two notable revelations.
    El-Sisi denied that his country has political prisoners, despite documentation. And he confirmed prior reports that Egyptian and Israeli forces have coordinated airstrikes against an Islamic insurgency in the northern Sinai.

  • Column: Yow’s priorities: Teacher salaries, voting machines, state tax rebates

    We have been hard at work in Columbia in committees focusing on the 500 bills that crossed the desk the first day of session.
    There are more than 70 bills in the House Education and Public Works Committee, on which Speaker Jay Lucas has appointed me to serve, and well over 100 bills in the Judiciary Committee alone.
    In the chamber last week, I joined my fellow House members in unanimously supporting legislation to exempt federal workers in South Carolina from being penalized for not paying their property taxes on time while the federal government is shut down.

  • Column: S.C. ag agency: If we build it, they will come

    The S.C. Department of Agriculture, which for years has been involved with taxpayer-backed economic development projects, now wants millions to construct buildings statewide in hopes of attracting new agribusinesses.
    In his written budget request for fiscal 2019-20, Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said the agency needed another $1 million to “continue funding agricultural related economic development projects not supported by traditional state incentives,” though he didn’t give specifics.

  • Column: Let’s not take for granted our plentiful access to food

    I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Catawba County, N.C.
    I enjoyed the farm life, but knew I didn’t want the seven days a week commitment of a dairy farm. That is why I studied computer science and eventually moved to Lancaster.
    Jan. 11-15 was the 100th American Farm Bureau Convention, and I accompanied my father to the convention in New Orleans. He has been involved in Farm Bureau and is supportive of their mission to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities.  

  • Column: Kindness should become America’s default reaction

    Every night, l fall asleep in a world filled with people caught in situations that require a helping hand, while others hurry along, remaining inattentive to any thought of reaching out to lend that helping hand.
    I dream of a world different from this, one where we strive to show kindness to one another, one where every person is accepted without stipulation, one where diversity is a unifying force rather than demarcation. This is the world I hope to someday awake to.

  • Column: To change the world, we must start with ourselves

    The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had a grand aspiration for the American people. For many years we have evolved into forming a better nation, but we have not completely fulfilled Dr. King’s dream.
    He presented his hope for our society in his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech. Like Dr. King, I too have a dream. Not one to compare to his, but one to at least consider.

  • Column: To end this shutdown now, we all need to take action

    People who do business with me know that I do what it takes to work through obstacles that get in the way of my real estate closings. I’ve written to mortgage companies, law firms, even the S.C. Court of Appeals.
    But this is the first time that doing my job meant writing an open letter to my congressman, Rep. Ralph Norman, and my fellow citizens.

  • Column: Newton lays out checklist for changing S.C. schools

    As the General Assembly reconvenes, it looks like two major issues will dominate this session. Though very little specific legislation has been filed on these topics yet, these issues will likely begin to take the form of legislation in the coming weeks. Here is a preview of these topics and my thoughts on each:
    Education Reform  

  • Column: 4-H initiative builds leadership among Lancaster County youth

    Last year, more than a dozen local 4-H participants joined a youth leadership initiative called 4-H LEAD.
    The program is intended to grow young 4-Hers’ leadership skills and improve the community through the abilities of driven youth. It provides a paid internship with the 4-H office for two participants from each county, Lancaster and Chester, who have excelled in the program.