Jim Merrill

State Rep. Jim Merrill

Lowcountry Republican state Rep. Jim Merrill pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in office as part of a long-running probe of state lawmakers, and was sentenced to one year of probation. He also resigned his seat. As part of his plea agreement, Merrill agreed to cooperate with prosecutor David Pascoe as the investigation continues; in return, Merrill will not be prosecuted on 29 other charges, though they will remain hanging over his head rather than being dismissed. Merrill was accused of profiting from his office by taking on clients at his communications firm who also had business at the State House and failing to report those payments. The probe has also snared Republican Rep. Rick Quinn, whose father runs a prominent political communications firm, and longtime Sen. John Courson, one of the elder Quinns’ clients. — Eva Moore

Poets to Protest Sims Monument

On Thursday, Sept. 7, from 2 to 8 p.m., activists will hold a poetry marathon “to advance the removal of the J. Marion Sims Monument” from the grounds of the State House. Poets will protest the monument heralding as the “father of gynecology” a man who performed experiments on enslaved women without anesthesia. “This monument should reflect the sacrifices of the women, and defame the deplorable acts of Sims,” the organizers write, adding, “Poetry is a way poets protest.” — Eva Moore

Audit: Officials Knew Nuke Project Was Failing a Year Ago

Officials with Santee Cooper and SCANA knew the construction of two new nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer was failing more than a year ago. According to The Post and Courier, an audit by a leading construction and civil engineering firm confirms that the utilities knew of “significant flaws” with contractor Westinghouse, but continued ahead with the project. The audit was filed in February 2016. Three months later, SCANA asked state regulators to increase its share of the total project cost by a whopping $800 million. — Chris Trainor

Gamecocks Down N.C. State in Opener

The University of South Carolina football team was victorious in its Sept. 2 season opener, downing N.C. State 35-28 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a big game for South Carolina, opening the contest with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and hauling in two touchdown passes from quarterback Jake Bentley. The game went down to the wire, with USC’s D.J. Smith knocking down an N.C. State pass in the end zone with just six seconds remaining. South Carolina will travel to play at Missouri on Sept. 9. — Chris Trainor

State Prisons Trying Out Opioid Treatment Drug

The South Carolina Department of Corrections is trying out a new opioid treatment drug called Vivitrol. It is one of three federally approved treatment drugs for opioid addiction. “This is something new, so we want to make sure we do this correctly,” SCDC director Bryan Stirling said. “The goal is to get these folks off this addiction.” The nation is in the throes of an opioid crisis, with more than 33,000 people killed across the country last year. A trial run of Vivitrol will begin with 10 prisoners, according to The Post and Courier. — Chris Trainor

City Fires Rec Workers After Alleged Assault 

The City of Columbia says it has fired and suspended parks and recreation employees in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a child in Lorick Park in July. According to WIS, the five-year-old child reportedly was assaulted by a 16-year-old suspect while attending a city summer program at the park. The alleged 16-year-old suspect was arrested. “A concurrent administrative review was initiated and disciplinary actions were taken involving staff in the Parks and Recreation Department, which resulted in terminations, suspensions, work improvement notices and staff reassignments,” a statement from the city read. “Organizational assessments are underway in the department and, if necessary, additional actions or departmental changes may be forthcoming.” — Chris Trainor

McMaster Wants to Stop Refugee Resettlement in SC from Travel Ban Countries

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants to put an end to refugees being settled in South Carolina from six nations outlined in President Donald Trump’s would-be travel ban. Refugees would be blocked from the following nations, per The Post and Courier: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. McMaster told a crowd at a recent fundraiser hosted by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan that, “We want no refugees from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen, just like President Trump said, until those procedures can be made safe, sound and secure.” The last refugees from any of the named nations that were resettled in South Carolina came in January, when a family from Iran arrived. — Chris Trainor

We're improving out commenting experience.

We’ve temporarily removed comments from articles while we work on a new and better commenting experience. In the meantime, subscribers are encouraged to join the conversation on our Free Times Facebook page.