Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, has been tapped by President Donald Trump to be the acting White House chief of staff. Mulvaney, who also is the White House budget director, will replace John Kelly, who is stepping down as chief of staff at the end of the month. “He got picked because the president liked him,” a senior administration official said of Mulvaney, according to a White House pool report. “They get along.” — Chris Trainor

PSC Approves Dominion Purchase of SCANA

The South Carolina Public Service Commission has approved Dominion Energy’s purchase of embattled utility SCANA. As noted by The Post and Courier, Dominion, which is based in Virginia, has been pursuing the $14.6 billion buyout for a year. The commission also ruled that SCANA electric customers will pay another $2.3 billion for the nuclear reactor construction fiasco at V.C. Summer. “Dominion ultimately offered to erase most of the nuclear boondoggle from ratepayers’ power bills, but it left them to pick up a smaller piece of the tab over the next 20 years,” The Post and Courier reports. — Chris Trainor

NFL’s Panthers Plan to Build Headquarters in SC

The Carolina Panthers are planning to build a team headquarters and practice facility in South Carolina. According to The Post and Courier, the facility would be in York County. A location receiving serious consideration is at the former Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, just off I-77. There is discussion about extending a light rail line into York County for the project. The NFL team’s headquarters project could also include nearby hotels, restaurants, stores and residences. — Chris Trainor

Haley Says She’s ‘Tuned Out’ Trump Investigation

Former South Carolina governor and outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated she isn’t paying much attention to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. “I’ve tuned it out,” Haley told Craig Melvin on The Today Show. “The investigation, if it’s going forward, needs to go forward. But for the good of the country, they need to hurry up and let us know what they know.” Haley also nodded to the working relationship she had with Trump, noting that she would often play off his combative style when speaking with colleagues at the U.N. “He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and I would tell the other ambassadors, ‘He’s pretty upset. I don’t know what he’s going to do,’” Haley said. — Chris Trainor

Body Found in Finlay Park Pond

Authorities are investigating after a dead body was found in a pond in Finlay Park. According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, the deceased was Jerry Jermaine Hickson, 29, of Myrtle Beach. As reported by The State, a passerby saw Hickson floating in the pond, face-up, at about 11 a.m. Dec. 14. A witness said the body had a “face full of ice.” An autopsy did not reveal signs of trauma, but the coroner’s office and Columbia Police Department are continuing to investigate. — Chris Trainor

Babcock Building at BullStreet Catches Fire

The state’s historic former mental hospital caught fire Dec. 13 — but Columbia fire crews were able to put it out. The Columbia Fire Department says the cause of the blaze is under investigation. The Babcock Building was built between 1857 and 1885 on the grounds of the Bull Street campus, then called the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum. The building’s iconic cupola stands out as a Columbia landmark, though the building has been vacant for many years. It is slated for redevelopment as part of the reimagining of Bull Street by Hughes Development of Greenville. On Dec. 14, Mayor Steve Benjamin tweeted “We are all heartbroken at the damage to the historic Babcock Building & thankful to the brave men & women of @ColaFire who protected & fought to preserve this treasure @HistColumbia @BullStreetSC.” — Eva Moore

Owens Corning to Set Up Manufacturing Facility in Richland County

Insulation and fiberglass producer Owens Corning will set up a manufacturing operation in Blythewood. According to a release from Richland County, the company is making a $13.6 million investment and will bring in 16 new jobs. The county says the Owens Corning plant here will make “coated non-woven products supporting a variety of applications within the North American building materials industry. This will be the fifth Owens Corning location in South Carolina. “We are grateful that Owens Corning has chosen Richland County to locate its operations here,” longtime Richland County Councilman Paul Livingston said. “They are breathing life back into a plant that has suffered many losses and we are excited to see what the future holds.” — Chris Trainor

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