With recent doom and gloom about the myriad challenges faced by South Carolina, it’s time to take a step back in this season of rebirth and take a good look at other happenings.
Yes, one in five South Carolinians live in poverty and need health insurance. But that also means that four in five don’t. Lots of people have a good quality of life, which explains why more than 1.5 million people have moved to the American South in the last couple of years. So consider these good news tidbits:
Teen pregnancy rate down. Thanks in part to the championing effort of the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the prescience of the state Legislature a few years ago to fund pregnancy prevention efforts statewide, South Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate is down 47 percent over 20 years to 36.5 births for 15- to 19-year olds per 1,000 babies born. That’s the lowest recorded rate in state history.
Columbia’s Joy Campbell, who started the organization 20 years ago, reflects that no one would have believed such a dramatic impact would have been possible in two decades. “It is a living testament to the progress that can be made and the success that can be achieved when our state invests in proven effective strategies,” she notes. “From the beginning, the Campaign set measurable goals and objectives, implemented evidence-based programming, stayed the course and, as a result, has realized what was once unimaginable change.”
Cool schools. While schools in rural areas need a lot of help to offer more opportunities for rural students, the state has some cool schools that are doing some pretty neat things.
• Engineering for kids. Greenville offers an elementary school of engineering. Yes, engineering. Talk about a commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering incorporates lots of science in young students’ courses of study. And get this: The school’s team for Lego Robotics — a worldwide competition that is to science students what football is for athletes — is the only one from an American elementary school that won the right to compete in a German competition, according to Forbes.
• Solar school. An Edgefield County middle school is now a Green Power Solar School thanks to solar array provided through a partnership of the Aiken Electric Cooperative, Santee Cooper and the local school district. The 2-kilowatt solar panels will allow students to get lots of hands-on learning about renewable resources.
• Academy of scholars. A Charleston public charter school, Palmetto Scholars Academy, offers a unique curriculum for gifted and talented students starting in sixth grade. Open to students across the state, it focuses on meeting needs of intellectually gifted learners and guides them at their own paces, which can be light years faster than smart kids stuck in traditional classrooms.
BMW expansion. Recent news of BMW’s continued investment — another $1 billion and 800 more jobs — shows the company’s commitment to the state. In the 20 years it has been building cars in the Upstate, it has expanded five times. By 2016, it’s expected to be able to produce 450,000 vehicles a year. By then, it should have 8,800 employees. Wow.
Jobless rate. The state’s jobless rate has dropped to less than 6 percent — quite a feat over double-digit levels from the recent Great Recession. Hats off to lots of people in state government and business who worked hard to reinvigorate the Palmetto State. Now, let’s get to work on improving education in substandard schools.
Despite this good news, the General Assembly still can’t stop being dumb sometimes, such as the colossal mistake this month to not re-elect Dan Ravenel of Charleston to the College of Charleston Board of Trustees.
Ravenel, a former chair of the state Commission of Higher Education who was unopposed, is a smart conservative with good judgment about higher education. For the Legislature — and GOP state Sen. Larry Grooms of Berkeley County in particular — to inject petty politics into his election shows a continuing immature micromanagement of state government.
New Downtown Dessert and Coffee Bar!
Tony’s Italian Eatery has teamed up with Southern Charm Sweets to bring you the highest quality dessert selection in the downtown area. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2. Find us on Facebook!
Columbia’s Largest Sidewalk Sale
Shop local this tax free weekend! Devine Street and Five Points are teaming up for a massive sidewalk sale featuring great in-store specials from all your favorite retailers and a Saturday art stroll. Read more hereand here!
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage is offering 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Tax-Free Weekend at Best Mattress
With big savings from July 31st-August 2nd, you can afford handcrafted quality. Free bed frame and pillows on any Full, Queen, or King set $599 and above! Click for locations and hours.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Concord Park From the $150’s. Off 12th St. Extension. 803.419.2227. mungo.com
Click here for more real estate.
WATERFORD APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Prime location, and plenty of space. Live large at Waterford Apartments. Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 1340 Longcreek Dr., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
ST. ANDREWS COMMONS APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Close to everywhere YOU WANT TO BE! 1200 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
GABLE HILL APARTMENTS 1, 2 & 3 BR’s available with many amenities. Surround yourself with Southern comforts at Gable Hill Apartments! Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 310 Ross Rd, Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
Donate Plasma Today & Be Somebody’s Hero For Life. You could earn up to $400 a month! Program and fees vary per location. Contact your local center today. 803-736-5888. Click here for more info