Columbia

S.C. Treasurer Loftis vows to fight fine, reprimand on ethics charge

An ethics complaint filed against S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis Jr. has resulted in penalties, but the matter appears far from over. S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Jr. (Photo provided) Loftis, of West Columbia, received an official reprimand and was ordered late last week to pay a $500 fine by the State Ethics Commission. Loftis had been accused of hiring a long-time…

District 2 congressional candidates square off in SCETV appearance

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who represents District 2, and his two challengers confronted each other in a brief face-off Thursday night on SCETV in a warm-up before their main debate next week. From left: U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, Arik Bjorn, and Eddie McCain. (Photo provided) Wilson, a Republican from Lexington County seeking his eighth term, and his two challengers – American Party…

Feds succeed in shutting down Columbia-area Liberty Tax franchisee

Thanks to a dizzying array of practices that left a years-long trail of audits, fraud, and customer-deceit in its wake, Irmo businessman Christopher Paul Haynes on Thursday was permanently barred by the federal government from ever preparing federal tax returns again. (Photo via LibertyTax.com) Haynes is the owner of three Liberty Tax franchise offices in Columbia, acquiring his first one in…

Lexington-Richland School District Five students among state’s best on S.C.-mandated tests

New data from the S.C. Department of Education shows students in Lexington-Richland School District Five continue to demonstrate academic excellence, district officials said. Each year, students in grades three through eight are required to take state-mandated tests to determine their academic progress. In May 2016, students took the SC READY math and English language arts assessment, and the SCPASS social…

Columbia man pleads guilty to sex-trafficking scheme involving underaged girls

A Columbia man faces the prospect of life behind bars after admitting to taking part in a sex-trafficking ring that included underage girls. Da-Shun Curry of Columbia faces possible life in prison after pleading guilty to sex trafficking. (Photo provided) Acting U.S Attorney Beth Drake announced that Da-Shun “Dae Dae” Curry, 23, of Columbia, pleaded guilty in federal court in…

Burglary suspect found in restaurant cooler

Considering “cooler” is a slang term for jail, the arrest Monday of a burglary suspect in Lexington County was rich in irony and metaphor. According to Lexington County Sheriff’s deputies, a Columbia man surrendered in the early morning hours Monday inside a restaurant’s walk-in cooler after the burglar alarm was tripped. Michael Davis (Photo provided) The suspect was identified as Michael…

Columbia medical facility among those listed in massive fraud settlement

$145 million Life Care Centers of America settlement with Justice Department is largest ever among skilled-nursing chains

In what is being called the largest-ever settlement of its kind, Life Care Centers of America and its owner have agreed to pay the federal government $145 million to settle lawsuits alleging the company imperiled patients and fleeced the government and taxpayers through bogus billings to Medicare and its military equivalent, known as TRICARE. The Tennessee-based company owns four skilled-nursing…

So, who IS Trombone Shorty?

Get to know this year's Famously Hot New Year's Eve headliner

Trombone Shorty (Photo provided) In a video posted online Monday, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin announced the headliner for this year’s Famously Hot New Year’s Eve event will be Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue, with support from 90’s hit-makers Sister Hazel and local rockabilly-punk band Capital City Playboys. It’s an unusual pick for the sixth year of the concert, which…

State Fair closes 2016 run with record attendance numbers

An expanded ride promotion, record football Saturday attendance and ideal weather lead to a banner year for the 147th South Carolina State Fair, which welcomed 464,878 visitors before the gates closed for the year Sunday night. The 2016 attendance figures marked an increase of 34,931 over last year’s fair, which followed after last October’s historic floods in the state. “We were thrilled to…

Columbia Fireflies rack up more honors from Ballpark Digest

The list of awards continues to grow for the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team in its inaugural year as a franchise. Ballpark Digest honored the Fireflies with its 2016 Best New Logo and Branding Award on Monday. Columbia’s design was selected as the most creative among all other Minor League Baseball teams that featured new or altered logos and color schemes in…

‘Famously Hot New Year’ organizers to reveal headlining musical artist online Monday

Rock, Hip-Hop, or Soul? Some old-school Funk, perhaps? Or, maybe for the first time, a noteworthy Country music artist or group? A scene from the 2015 Famously Hot New Year. (Photo provided) If you’re among those wondering who will headline Columbia’s upcoming, sixth-annual “Famously Hot New Year,” event organizers will reveal the answer for all to see via an online…

Walk for Life brings in more than $600,000 for fight against breast cancer

The 26th annual Walk for Life moved to a new venue and added a new race this year, and organizers liked the results. Event Chairwoman Emily Long looked around the scene at Spirit Communications Park on Saturday morning and said, “it seems like a home run.” Indeed, it was. Thousands came out Saturday for the 26th Walk for Life and…

Youth-driven festival Jam with Purpose pits kids against cancer

Concert fundraisers are not uncommon, but Saturday’s Jam with Purpose at Coble Plaza in Columbia could be considered unusual. The music festival was the brainchild of a teenager – and was organized and executed by people too young to vote and most too young to drive. Saturday’s Jam with Purpose festival ends with a “Let It Go” singalong, with Erin…

Botanical Parkway is on the mend after being destroyed by 2015 flood

The repair of Botanical Parkway is the most expensive, post-flood fix in Lexington County. The West Columbia road over Double Branch Creek leads to the entrance of Riverbanks Zoo, via the Botanical Gardens. Botanical Parkway, destroyed by last year’s floods, is close to being fully repaired. (Photo by Terry Ward) A year after the historic October floods, the road’s repair…

Students in Columbia join nationwide pledge to help curb gun violence

Children often are victims of gun violence – but that doesn’t mean they are powerless to make the world around them safer. That’s the basic premise behind the Student Pledge to End Gun Violence. This week around South Carolina, more than 23,000 students from 46 schools across the state – including Forest Heights and North Springs elementary schools in Columbia…

‘Rebuild blitz’ underway to repair flood-ravaged homes in Columbia area

More than 350 volunteers will be working on a range of projects

Just two weeks after announcing a plan to ramp up efforts to assist local homeowners victimized by last year’s historic floods, representatives with United Way of the Midlands are rolling up their sleeves and making good on that pledge. This week, the agency and its Midlands Flood Recovery Group partners — Habitat for Humanity, Home Works of America, Reach Global, and SBP…

Calls for help go out in Lexington, Richland counties to assist areas devastated by post-hurricane floods

USC, Lexington Police Department among those asking locals to donate items to aid those in Marion County disaster area

It was sunny, beautiful, and dry Wednesday in the Midlands. But in many areas of South Carolina, thousands of residents and businesses were still struggling to cope with a flooding disaster caused by Hurricane Matthew. About 120 miles east of Columbia, the state’s Pee Dee region, Marion County, and its towns of Nichols and Mullins, have been especially hard-hit by…

Bakery at BullStreet the latest endeavor in Columbia’s high-tech evolution

Another step in the process of turning Columbia into a haven for creatives, thinkers, techies, and entrepreneurs will take place this Friday. Folks hunkers down to get work done at The Iron Yard, one of the new tech-friendly tenants at the Bakery at BullStreet. (Photo by Sean Rayford) The Bakery at BullStreet, the latest historic building to be renovated as…

Leaked email shows Columbia Mayor Benjamin among early Clinton VP possibilities

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (Photo provided) Amid all the hacked emails being leaked by the website WikiLeaks in an effort to derail the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton came this little tidbit Tuesday: Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made the first cut of Clinton’s possible vice presidential candidate picks. (Read the email from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta). The March 17…

Olympic gold medalist gives Irmo High students lesson in success

Courtney Shealy Hart returns to her alma mater to inspire Irmo High swimmers

Courtney Shealy Hart (standing) brought her Olympic gold medals and an inspiring message to Irmo High School swimmers before their big state swim meet. (Photo provided) You could call it a Hart-to-heart talk. As they faced an upcoming state-championship meet in Columbia last week, the Irmo High School swim team received a visit from a special guest – Irmo High…

Urban oasis: Cayce’s Guignard Park is redone and reopened

An oasis in the middle of the asphalt is back up and running in Cayce. Guignard Park, at the corner of Axtell and Knox-Abbott drives, hosted its grand re-opening Saturday. The park had been closed more than seven months to undergo a face-lift. Cayce Assistant City Manager Shaun Greenwood plays ping-pong on the new concrete table at Guignard Park, which…

‘Our fight to win’: More than 1,000 gather for Walk to End Alzheimer’s

More than 1,500 people came together Saturday morning as Columbia’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s moved to Spirit Communications Park for the first time. “There is not a soul in this stadium who has not somehow been touched by Alzheimer’s,” Joe Pinner said. Pinner shared the emcee duties with Judi Gatson, and University of South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley…

4 Claflin University students killed in I-77 wreck

Four students from Claflin University in Orangeburg who were killed in a wreck Thursday on Interstate 77 in Columbia have been identified by Richland County Coroner Gary Watts. The two-vehicle collision occurred around 5:45 p.m. on I-77 between mile markers 22 and 23, Watts said Friday. According to autopsy results, the vehicle’s driver Melvin Lonell Jackson Jr., 21, of Chester,…