- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Aug. 2

The Sun News on beach access to Myrtle Beach :

Myrtle Beach city officials have maintained “it’s not about the money” regarding the controversial changes in parking for beach access, but money surely is one of the factors. Implementing the new regulations - which effectively end free access to the beach for area residents who do not live in Myrtle Beach - are projected to cost $80,700 through December 2016.

For the six months (July through December), projected revenue is $50,261 - $34,286 from meters and $15,975 from violations, or fines paid. The bottom line for the six months is a loss of $30,439.

The new regulations strip the last remaining free parking spaces along the city’s beachfront. Many area residents remain extremely unhappy about the loss of free beach access. In letters to the editor and emails to Myrtle Beach officials, people have complained. They have pointed out that while they do not reside in the city, they spend money - and pay sales taxes - in the city and resent the loss of no-cost access to the beach. Parking in beach access spaces now costs $2 an hour or $10 a day.

The other side of the story includes summertime traffic congestion and public safety problems along the 20 blocks of Ocean Boulevard from 31st Avenue North to 52nd Avenue North, the Golden Mile. There has been a sense, a perception, that the city council rushed into the new plan. The fact is, traffic and parking problems have plagued the Golden Mile for nearly a decade. While delaying the changes seemed prudent a couple of months ago - The Sun News editorially suggested as much -it’s now evident that fewer free parking places was inevitable.

Throughout the city of Myrtle Beach, parking revenue, such as the new money from beach access spaces, goes to the Downtown Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit. Total projected revenue from Golden Mile parking is $14,508 for July and $10,540 for August, falling to $6,200 in September and $3,038 in October. The first year shortfall is largely because of the cost of enforcement. DRC Executive Director Dave Sebok points out that parking enforcement requires a new vehicle. “We’re adding five miles of distance that has to be covered on a regular basis. We don’t have a spare vehicle … or spare people.”

Golden Mile costs and revenue likely will balance out next year, Sebok estimates. Until then, revenue from other DRC areas will make up the shortfall. “We make money on some streets and we lose money on others. It’s sort of a balancing act.” For enforcement, DRC pays Lanier Parking, a contractor, to collect parking money and write tickets. Revenue from the tickets goes directly to the city - the projected $15,975 for the first six months of the new Golden Mile setup. The monthly projections include $4,550 in July; $4,125 August; $3,125 September; $2,425 October; $1,250 November; $500 December.

It is lamentable that growth - permanent residents, second home owners, tourists - has added costs for many people to enjoy the beach. In the future, should Golden Mile parking revenue exceed costs, city officials must be flexible about lowering the parking fees and show their purpose is to better control parking, not to increase city revenue. Free beach access is history in Myrtle Beach, but it should be as affordable as the city can make it.




July 31

The Post and Courier of Charleston on horse-drawn carriages in the city:

It wouldn’t be fair to suggest that City Hall has ignored people’s concerns about horse-drawn carriages. More than a decade ago, it spent three years studying the issue and developing guidelines for the industry, and recently it has doubled down on oversight.

But neither would it be fair to turn a deaf ear to critics who believe carriage horses are not adequately protected by those guidelines. The city received about 50 complaints in June and July, as Charleston suffered through record-breaking heat.

So Dan Riccio, who became director of the Department of Livability and Tourism in December, is forming a committee to consider those concerns anew. Wisely, his first two priorities are to discern how hot it should be when horses drawing carriages are brought in out of the heat, and how heavy a load horses should pull.

Animal lovers have pointed to both as areas of concern. At present, horses are brought in when the temperature reaches 98 degrees. Charleston and Savannah, which use the same standard, have the highest approved heat limits in the country. Mr. Riccio said some cities, including New York City, call in horses when the temperature reaches 90 degrees.

And while city regulations here limit the weight of the loads that horses pull, those loads are not weighed as such. The city has records of the weight of each horse, mule and carriage, and it allows ample additional weight for passengers.

After addressing those two questions, Mr. Riccio says his committee will take on others.

The committee’s diversity should help convince the public that findings will be credible. Mr. Riccio is including a meteorologist, city staff, people from the carriage industry, neighbors and a representative from the Charleston Animal Society, a longtime critic of city carriage regulations.

They should be instructed to make recommendations based on solid scientific data. And if those data show that carriage horses need more protections, the city should waste no time making necessary changes.

But if data - irrefutable data - indicate that the present rules are working just fine, or that tweaking the regulations will resolve problems, animal lovers should be prepared to accept those findings, even if they have personal objections to horses working at all.

Horse-drawn carriages have been part of the Charleston scene for generations. They are on the must-do list for many visitors.

Charleston isn’t the only city where animal activists are unhappy. They have tried to shut down the horse-and-carriage industry in New York City. It appears they will be successful in doing just that in Melbourne, Australia.

Meanwhile, however, Alton, Ill., and Big Bear Lake, California, have approved horse-drawn carriages in their cities. Branson, Missouri, is allowing additional carriage routes.

In Charleston, carriage debates are over more than the horses’ health: the benefit of jobs versus the impediment to traffic; the appeal for tourists versus the frustration of people who live and work on the peninsula.

All are worthy topics to consider - after the committee deals with the job at hand: ensuring that the horses and mules that pull the carriages are sufficiently protected against the heat.




July 31

The Aiken Standard on technological breakthroughs at Aiken County’s Applied Research Center:

Technology development can affect drastic changes in the quality of peoples lives. It’s been less than 75 years since the first administration of penicillin in human beings. The developed world’s fear of lethal infections from the likes Staphylococci or streptococci bacteria, among others, has faded out of existence.

The rapid advancement in medical technology left a legacy and that kind of potential lies in research and development at Aiken County’s own Applied Research Center.

The center was started primarily to focus on hydrogen research, hence its former name, Hydrogen Research Center. Researchers did work in fuel cell technology, developing more efficient and safer ways to use hydrogen to power engines in vehicles. In 2007, the organization was the first in South Carolina to register a hydrogen powered vehicle. Both Toyota and Ford sent teams to the ARC to work on their own lines of hydrogen fuel cell technology, demonstrating the international wingspan of the high powered facility.

The ARC has continued to update its facilities and capabilities, now boasting the most technically advanced scanning electron microscope anywhere in the Southeast. Tech development there has spawned glass microspheres, tiny glass bubbles one-third the diameter of a human hair. The spheres are so minuscule that they move like liquid in a container -convincingly enough that you wouldn’t be able to get them onto a commercial flight.

Researchers at the facility have already gotten about a dozen patents for different applications of these microspheres, including medical applications. They have already partnered with doctors to develop methods of delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor in a cancer patient. Direct, targeted chemotherapy is quite different from the conventional chemotherapy methods used today. That alone could not only have a huge benefit for understanding and curing cancer as a whole, but could add years to lives of our family members. Dr. George Wicks, researcher and material scientist at the ARC, said, “The medical component is a chance for us to leave behind a contribution.”

Given the advancements already made in the lives of his fellow researchers and his students, as well as the potential for life changing applications of these microspheres, Dr. Wicks and the ARC can rest assured their contributions to the people of Aiken County will not be forgotten.



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