Heathwood-Devereaux street signs

Some residents of the Heathwood neighborhood have been particularly vocal in a zoning issue surrounding Dreher High School. The school wants to build new athletic facilities, while many neighbors fear those facilities would bring increased noise, traffic and lights. Photo by Chris Trainor

Columbia City Council is slated to vote March 20 on a rezoning being sought by Richland School District One that would make way for some new athletics facilities at Dreher High School on Millwood Avenue. The district and the school’s booster club have long pushed for the construction of a new practice/junior varsity field and new lighted tennis courts on the school grounds. However, some residents in nearby Heathwood and Melrose Heights have pushed back forcefully, saying the new facilities would be a detriment to their neighborhoods. The city’s planning commission has recommended denial for the plans three times. — Chris Trainor

Solicitor Johnson Spends Big

A report from The Post and Courier — relying on records gathered by new watchdog group PAPR — indicates Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson “spends big bucks outside the courtroom while some 9,000 active cases remain pending on [the circuit’s] docket.” Public records released to PAPR reportedly indicate that taxpayer dollars were used on a number of swanky items, including home plate seats at a Minnesota Twins game, a $6,000 holiday party where beef tenderloin was served, a $2,000 Super Bowl party with face-painting services, a $900 stay at a luxury hotel in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and numerous rides with Uber Black, which is a more expensive and luxurious version of the rideshare service, among other things. Johnson also reportedly paid his own brother, Phoenix-based DJ Phlava, at least $3,000 in taxpayer money and an additional $3,600 in airfare to DJ fancy private parties for Johnson’s office. Following the revelations, state Attorney General Alan Wilson told The Post and Courier he’d asked SLED to look into the matter and see if a full investigation is warranted. —Eva Moore and Chris Trainor

McMaster Takes on Sanctuary Cities, of Which SC Has None

Gov. Henry McMaster threw his support behind a S.C. House bill that would block funding for sanctuary cities — those that harbor undocumented immigrants from federal authorities out of concern they’ll be detained or deported. Later that same day, McMaster sent out a fundraising plea outlining his position, saying, “The liberals are desperate to stop us.” There are no sanctuary cities in South Carolina. The bill in question, sponsored by Greenville Republican Rep. Bruce Bannister, would force the state’s cities to prove to SLED that they’re not shielding undocumented immigrants; they’d do so by turning over arrest data to the state. At least one Republican, Rep. Micah Caskey, was annoyed by what he called “the sort of political bill that is designed to pander for the purpose of campaigns.” — Eva Moore

Mullen Will Not Resentence Quinn

Judge Carmen Mullen says she will not resentence former state Rep. Rick Quinn, who she previously sentenced to two years probation in connection with Special Prosecutor David Pascoe’s long-running corruption probe. Pascoe had asked for Quinn to be resentenced, and also wanted Mullen to recuse herself. Pascoe claimed that Mullen had improper communications with Quinn’s lawyers. But Mullen wrote that Pascoe’s accusations “impugning the character both of the court and defense counsel casts a pall on the judicial process.” She also wrote that her sentence of Quinn was based on information that was “reliable and relevant.” — Chris Trainor

Gamecocks Get No. 2 Seed in Women’s NCAA Tourney

The University of South Carolina women’s basketball team got a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The defending national champion Gamecocks are in the Albany region, meaning, if they want to get back to the Final Four, they would likely have to face off with powerhouse UConn along the way. South Carolina will host first and second round games this weekend at Colonial Life Arena. Coach Dawn Staley’s squad will open tournament play Friday at 7:30 p.m. against North Carolina A&T. The earlier game at Colonial Life Arena on Friday will be at 5 p.m. and will pit Virginia against California. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks men’s basketball team was not selected for the 2018 NCAA Tournament— and they weren’t selected for the NIT, either. The men finished the season with a 17-16 record. — Chris Trainor

Scholarship Recipients Had Personal Info Exposed

Roughly 3,000 college scholarship recipients in the Palmetto State had their personal data exposed for about a year. According to a report from Andy Shain at The Post and Courier, the state Commission on Higher Education has mailed letters to the scholarship awardees who were affected. A computer program “glitch” reportedly left names, addresses and social security numbers exposed. The agency learned about the exposure when a scholarship recipient reportedly found the information during a web search. — Chris Trainor

Second Democrat Wants to Challenge Sanford

Democrat Toby Smith says she plans to run for U.S. House in District 1, the seat currently held by Mark Sanford. Smith, who ran for mayor in Charleston in 2015, is the second Democrat in the race, following Joe Cunningham, who announced nearly a year ago. “Let me be clear: I’m a protest candidate,” Smith wrote on her campaign website. “I’m protesting the upsurge of racism. I’m protesting the sexism. I’m protesting that the America I know is becoming something very different.” Smith also says that she is “playing the woman card” in her bid to unseat the Republican Sanford. — Chris Trainor

Barnes Out at WOLO

Alicia Barnes has left Columbia’s ABC affiliate. The WOLO anchor has been here since 2008, having previously worked in Atlanta and Lansing, Michigan. — Eva Moore

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