Congaree River

Congaree River

There will be a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, in the Canal Room at EdVenture during which the planned laser lights display over the Congaree River will be discussed. Groups including What’s Next Midlands and One Columbia for Arts and History are shepherding the laser installation, called Southern Lights, which will debut in August and is set to appear above the Congaree River each night for the next 10 years. Congaree Riverkeeper has helped organize the July 19 public meeting for river users to get additional information about the project. — Chris Trainor

USC Staffer Indicted on Corruption Charges

The state grand jury indicted a University of South Carolina project manager for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the university. According to state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office, Blake A. Langland, a staffer in the electrical engineering department, “diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of USC money to a company he controlled as supposed payment for work that was already within the scope of duties of his full time state employment, and also for work separate from USC that only benefited his own private business interests.” Langland’s USC page notes that he works in the Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium, which involves Navy ships. — Eva Moore

Restaurateur to Plead Not Guilty in Alleged Murder of Wife’s Lover 

Restaurateur Greg Leon will now plead not guilty to the Valentine’s Day 2016 killing of his wife’s alleged lover. Leon reportedly encountered his wife and another man embracing in the backseat of a pickup truck in a deserted parking lot in Lexington County. He reportedly called 911 on the night of the killing and said, “I shot my wife’s lover.” Now, according to The State, Leon says he plans to ask for a jury trial and plead not guilty. Leon is currently out of jail under house arrest and reportedly works in his Mexican restaurants “seven days a week.”

Chris Trainor

Ethics Commission Says Bryant Fundraising OK

The state Ethics Commission says Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant can continue raising funds for a position that will no longer be elected separately. Beginning in 2018, candidates for lieutenant governor will run on the same ticket as gubernatorial candidates. According to Maya Prabhu at The Post and Courier, interim Ethics Commission Director Steve Hamm pointed to a January state Supreme Court decision that ruled the change to the law as to how lieutenant governors are elected doesn’t take effect until the general election, which doesn’t begin until after next year’s primary race for governor. Bryant opened a lieutenant governor campaign account in April and has raised $100,000. — Chris Trainor

Swimming Advisory Issued for Saluda River

A swimming advisory was issued for the Saluda River near Saluda Shoals Park after Carolina Water Service’s Friarsgate plant discharged poorly treated sewage into the river. The advisory went out July 15 because of high levels of bacteria in the water. Swimming in that area is not advised until the bacteria levels fall back within state standards for safety. “People can get sick, especially those with open wounds. They can get rashes, infections and have gastrointestinal issues,” Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler said. “We want to make sure people are informed and for river users to make an informed decision.” — Chris Trainor

DHEC Director Leaving

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Executive Director Catherine Heigel is leaving the agency to work in the private sector. Heigel is just two years into a four-year term. She will become the chief operating officer of accounting firm Elliott Davis next month. David Wilson, who has been with DHEC more than 30 years, will be the DHEC’s acting director.

Chris Trainor 

Bird in Columbia Tests Positive for West Nile Virus

A dead bird found in Columbia has tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to city and county officials. The bird reportedly was found July 17 near Palmetto Health hospital at Sumter and Hampton streets. The virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. According to DHEC, less than one percent of people infected will develop a serious neurologic illness. Richland County sprayed for mosquitoes early Tuesday morning in the area where the bird was found, and spraying was set to continue Tuesday night and again Wednesday night. Spraying eventually will occur within a two-mile radius of where the infected bird was found. This is the second West Nile Virus incident in Columbia in less than a year. A sample of mosquitoes trapped in Shandon in September 2016 also tested positive for the virus. — Chris Trainor

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