“This is a public market and always will be, but … it needs some revitalization, renovation, professional management, special events, and things that will attract locals.”

Businessman Steve Varn on plans for him and Hank Holliday to take over management of the City Market. Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal

Election Filings: Round 1

Filings for this year’s local and state elections began last week, with bouts quickly shaping up for the June 10 primary and November’s big dance.

Both Congressmen Henry Brown and Joe Wilson will face primary challengers: Charleston businessman Paul Norris and Phil Black respectively. Lexington conservative Buddy Witherspoon officially filed to challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham in June’s GOP primary. Brown will also face a challenger in November, with Democrat Linda Ketner filing for the seat. And Republican Nancy Harrelson filed to run against Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn.

In Statehouse races, Mt. Pleasant Councilman Joe Bustos and Isle of Palms Mayor Mike Sottile, both Republicans, filed to represent East Cooper in the seat being vacated by Ben Hagood. Rep. Wallace Scarborough will again face a challenge from Democrats — Anne Petterson-Hutto and Scarborough’s 2006 opponent, Eugene Platt, have both filed in hopes of challenging him in November. Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott will be running against Berkeley County Councilman Bill Crosby in the Republican primary for the open District 117 seat that’s shared by the two counties. Sen. Robert Ford will face a Democratic Primary challenge from Dwayne Green. The House seat left vacant by exiting Floyd Breeland will also be fought over in June between Democrats Wendell Gilliard and Clay Middleton. Republican Stephen Smith is hoping to challenge Democratic Rep. David Mack in November.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten is being challenged by fellow Republican Robert Dunlap in June and possibly Democrat Henry Middleton in November. Democrat Colleen Condon will face competition for her County Council seat, with Republicans Joey Douan and Mark Peper looking to challenge her.

Candidates have until March 30 to file. —Greg Hambrick

Municipal Greed Stalls Sprinkler Bill

On June 19, less than a day after the Sofa Super Store fire killed nine Charleston firefighters, Chief Rusty Thomas was asked if sprinklers would have helped with the fire. He said yes. But when he was asked if sprinklers would have saved the lives of his men — barely able to hold back tears, he couldn’t respond.

In the weeks after the event, Charleston’s water system was taken to task by The Post and Courier for its flagrant over-billing for sprinkler fees in order to underfund other water system costs. Now, similar water systems are blocking a statewide bill that would encourage business owners and residents to install sprinklers.

Sen. Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken) and others scuttled the bill over concerns that it would limit the money they could charge to install the fire sprinkler systems — money they use for other water system needs. —Greg Hambrick

Strong Sentiments Shared On Sewer Debate

Last week’s meeting of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government’s Special Wastewater Issues Committee was supposed to result in a recommendation to the COG Board on how to proceed when developers or towns request a private, decentralized wastewater plant, but after two hours of impassioned commentary, they motioned to postpone the decision until April 11.

Proponents say private treatment will help small towns grow and can be more environmentally friendly. Opponents cite a history of failed private plants, raising concerns about who will maintain them and the sprawl they could induce.

“We’re not saying we’re going to be a bunch of cowboys out here running a sewer system when we have no idea how to do it,” said Awendaw Mayor Bill Wallace, a supporter of a proposal for a $28 million private plant in the town of 1,200 residents.

Opponents say the company will need 6,000 new homes just to break even.

Clay Duffie of Mt. Pleasant Waterworks recommended that a government entity oversees any private plants — a notion that many committee members appeared to agree with.

Isaiah Simmons, co-chair of the Awendaw Community Action Group, spoke strongly against a private plant. “The only thing we’re going to bring is hardship to the citizens of that area. This is not going to help the people still using an outhouse,” said Simmons. —Stratton Lawrence


That’s South Carolina’s ranking among the most dangerous states. Of course, officials argued that the state may be unduly penalized because we do such a great job of reporting crimes. Source: The Post and Courier

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