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News
Gas prices remain low
 08.17.20

Drivers have seen continued low gasoline prices around the Lowcountry in recent weeks, a trend drivers have enjoyed for most of the year.

Prices also remain the lowest in the country according to a report from AAA. Comparatively, drivers in the Southeast pay about $1.90 per gallon, while West Coast drivers are shelling out close to $3 per gallon, more in California, where the average price of gas is $3.20 per gallon.

And, while prices have risen slightly over the last month, the price drivers are paying at the pump remains substantially lower than last year at this time.

The average price of gasoline around Berkeley Corner is $1.87. Nationwide the average is $2.17 — which also is substantially lower than prices this time last year.

“Since (Aug. 10), the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has held steady at $2.17, which is one cent less than a week ago, two cents less than a month ago and 47 cents lower than a year ago,” according to a report from AAA. “In the new weekly report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased slightly from 8.6 million b/d to 8.8 million b/d. However, last week’s estimated rate is 1 million b/d lower than last year’s rate in early August.

“Lower demand has helped to keep pump prices stable, as total domestic gasoline stocks are also holding steady at 247.1 million bbl. If demand remains low amid consistent stock levels, motorists will likely see stable pump prices in the weeks ahead,” AAA officials stated.

Berkeley County also reported some of the lowest prices in the state. Considering the tri-county area, neighboring Dorchester County reported prices 3-4 cents higher, while Charleston prices were about 10 cents higher than Berkeley County.

The report stated that prices at the pump are determined by both the amount drivers are using and the price of crude oil.

“At the close of Thursday’s formal trading session, WTI (West Texas Intermediate) decreased by 43 cents to settle at $42.24,” the AAA report stated. … “So far, the minimal fluctuations in crude prices have not had a noticeable impact on pump prices, but if prices increased to $45 per barrel for a prolonged period of time, consumers could see gas prices at their local stations increase.”


News
Dorchester County launches emergency notification system (copy)
 08.12.20

A scenario from Dorchester County: A train carrying hazardous material has derailed between Coburn Town Road and Highway, 27 in Ridgeville. All residents and businesses within a 3-mile radius should remain indoors until further notice.

The new Everbridge Notification would be sent immediately to those located in the 3-mile radius deemed the “danger area.”

The notification would be sent to everyone with information about the derailment, public safety information on the material and its known hazards to people, pets and the environment, crews responding, traffic detours, shelter operations and estimated time of cleanup.

It was announced in an emailed statement that Dorchester County has partnered with Everbridge to provide these geographically targeted emergency notifications.

“We are excited to add Everbridge as another option for residents and business owners to receive information at their fingertips,” said Dorchester County Council Chairman, George Bailey. “I find comfort in knowing that if and when time sensitive information needs to be distributed the County has multiple platforms to do so.”

The county said Everbridge will be used to notify residents and business owners of time sensitive/emergency updates in their immediate area. The platform allows users to add multiple addresses like work, home and school, as well as multiple contact methods to get emergency alerts where and how they choose.

In addition to Everbridge, Dorchester County will continue to use the GovDelivery platform for general emergency updates for hurricanes, state of Emergencies and COVID-19, as well as county news and quarterly updates (such as this). Residents and Business Owners are encouraged to sign up for updates from both notification platforms.

Residents can sign up for Everbridge notifications by visiting DorchesterCountySC.gov/everbridge and following the instructions to create an account and/or by downloading the Everbridge App in the Apple Store or Google Play.


News
Educators honored by Chamber at virtual event
 08.12.20

As administrators grapple with school reopening formats amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, teachers, parents and students have mixed emotions about returning to school.

Sarah Gams, the 2021 South Carolina Teacher of the Year, said it is important to acknowledge that everyone is dealing with a range of emotions about returning to the classroom - whether it be virtually or for in-person learning.

“I’ve taught for 17 years and I know that this is going to be the most difficult year yet,” Gams said. “None of us were prepared when our governor made the hard decision to close our schools. It was a shock for all of us and now it’s August and we are preparing for opening in a very different format than we ever expected. It’s a hard time for everybody.”

jbonala / provided  

Sarah Gams, the 2021 South Carolina Teacher of the Year, addresses educators virtually during the Teacher of The Year Breakfast hosted by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and presented by REV Federal Credit Union.

Gams teaches English at Spring Hill High School in Chaplin, South Carolina. On Tuesday she was the keynote speaker during a Virtual Teacher of The Year Breakfast hosted by the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and presented by REV Federal Credit Union.

Gams addressed attendees virtually via ZOOM. She said while many decisions are still being made about how education will take place this year, the goal of education remains the same: to support student growth through academics and experience. 

To engage with her live audience she took two polls using the website Poll Everywhere. First she asked audience members how they are feeling about returning to school. Participants' responses varied. Several people said they felt excited, while others reported feeling anxious.

Next, she asked audience members what kinds of struggles they have faced due to COVID-19. Participants replied that they have struggled with childcare, negativity, and fear for the future. Many people expressed sadness about missing in-person connections and fellowship with others.

In turn, Gams shared her own pandemic-related struggles. When schools closed abruptly in March, Gams and other teachers in her district had one day to prepare two weeks worth of material for her students to complete remotely. The effort required collaboration and communication with fellow teachers, she said.

The first week of remote learning went well but in the second week Gams said she noticed a change; students were not showing up for online learning. They were “ghosting,” or showing signs of “zoom fatigue,” according to Gams.

“It was a very big struggle not being able to reach students,” Gams said.

Feeling disconnected from her 140 students, Gams decided to try a new approach. She recorded a video of herself reading her favorite children’s book, “Not a Box,” by Antoinette Portis.

The book portrays a small rabbit who shows that a box can be anything from a mountain to a rocket ship; all it takes is a little bit of imagination.

“What I love about this book is that we are going to have to think outside the box,” Gams said in her video. “School is not the same, life is not the same, our social lives are not the same. And we’re going to have to think about ways to make it beautiful.”

She challenged her students to take advantage of the time they had at home. She told them to be creative - just like the rabbit in the book. She told them to work at finding ways to bring joy to themselves and to those around them.

Gams said her students accepted the challenge and began to create videos and share pictures of their own personal projects. Many of them took up gardening or started a small business from their home.

She emphasized that the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. She admitted that despite efforts made by her district, some students still won’t have access to the technology required for distance learning during this coming school year.

Gams became choked up as she described some of the hardships her students had endured in addition to the pandemic. She knew one of her students was homeless and lacked access to technology or the internet. Another student confided in Gams that she had suffered from depression.

Carrie Bovender, Board Chair for the Chamber, asked Gams for her own personal take on school reopening this fall. Gams replied that she wants to be in the classroom with students for in-person classes. However, she said returning to in-person classes is only possible if it can be done safely.

She said the key to making any situation work is to have a mindset that allows for giving grace and mercy to others.

“We’re going to start thinking outside of the box,” Gams said. “Together we can do it - together we can do anything.”

2020-2021 Teachers of the Year

Clay Hill Elementary -Chaquain Boone

Harleyville Elementary –Jennafer Easterlin

Williams Memorial Elementary-Jocelyn Fludd

St. George Middle-Marie Gladfelter

Harleyville-Ridgeville Middle-Tamara Washington

Woodland High-Brittany Sibert

2020-2021 Rookie Teachers of the Year

Clay Hill Elementary-Nicole Mitchell

Harleyville Elementary-Rachel Chapiesky

Williams Memorial Elementary-Kaelah Primus

St. George Middle

Harleyville-Ridgeville Middle

Woodland High-Andrew Chariker

Pinewood

Lower School - Tammy Bowers

Middle School - Olivia Guillet

High School - Deirdre Hawes

Summerville Catholic

Cheree West

DD2 2020 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

Adult Education - Jennifer Roberts

Alston-Bailey Elementary - Asia Williams

Alston Middle - Ariana Mitchell

Ashley Ridge High - Lindsey Jutzeler

Beech Hill Elementary - Lindsey Grow

DuBose Middle - Amanda Birchmeier

Dr. Eugene Sires Elementary - Brittany Brown

Eagle Nest Elementary - Alexandra Blair

Flowertown Elementary - Carlissa Cleveland

Fort Dorchester Elementary - Ashley Clemmons

Fort Dorchester High - Hillary Deering

Givhans Alternative Program - Chris Hensley

Gregg Middle - Eric Emerson

Joseph R. Pye Elementary - Vanessa Mijango

Knightsville Elementary - Rebecca Butler

Newington Elementary - Kirstin Kyzar

Oakbrook Elementary - Kim Garcia

Oakbrook Middle - Meredith Melven

River Oaks Middle - Tina Hammock

Rollings Middle School of the Arts - Marissa Chavis

Sand Hill Elementary - Lia Locklair

Spann Elementary - Donna Skipper

Summerville Elementary - Maree Carway

Summerville High - Tarrah Meyer

William M. Reeves, Jr. Elementary - Heather Watts

Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary - Sheena Olsen


According to gasbuddy.com, the average price of gasoline in Berkeley County — and across the nation — has seen a relatively low decline over the last year.


News
Moncks Corner councilmember resigns after social media post
 08.14.20

Moncks Corner councilmember Chadwick Sweatman has resigned following a social media post involving former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Statements from both Sweatman and Moncks Corner Mayor, Michael Lockliear are below.

“The Town of Moncks Corner is committed to inclusion representative of all of Moncks Corner’s citizens” Mayor Michael Lockliear said “We have worked hard over the past several years to build bridges and increase understanding. Our efforts include racial bias training for all Town employees, community outreach events in the neighborhoods that we serve, regular meetings with local community leaders, and proactive recruitment of minority employees.

“The Facebook post by Councilmember Sweatman is not representative of our values or reflective of these efforts. Recognizing this, he has issued a self-explanatory statement today confirming his resignation from Town Council.”

“I recently posted on Facebook an image of Hillary Clinton in black face. This was a mistake,” Chadwick Sweatman said. “My choice in posting the image was never maliciously intended. It was meant to be a joke. In hindsight, I understand it was a poor joke.

“I know it was offensive to many. I apologize for my decision to post the image. After considering the matter carefully, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of my family, my colleagues at the Town of Moncks Corner and my constituents, that I resign as a member of Moncks Corner Town Council effective immediately.

“I care about our community too much to cause my momentary lapse in judgment to become a distraction or in any way diminish the very excellent work of our Mayor and Town Council.

“I want to thank the citizens of Moncks Corner for their support and their confidence in me over the years. I will continue to work hard as a private citizen to make Moncks Corner a place that we can all continue to be proud to call home.”