Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Briefs




by John Temple Ligon

The case for caution

With about 800 people hearing new diagnoses every year, South Carolina has more than 15,000 HIV or AIDS cases, ninth per capita in the country. The state’s waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program is up to 432, the country’s longest waiting list, and is expected to reach 600 by July.

Tired

With North American headquarters in Greenville, Michelin, the world’s largest tire manufacturer, recently identified $1.9 billion in cost savings for the next three years. Profits fell last year by almost 36% even though sales increased by more than 5%.

Can this happen here?

Two New York hospitals have filed a racketeering lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group, America’s second largest health insurer, and some of its affiliates, claiming deception. But don’t come down too hard on any insurer fitting into a system where, from a business perspective, giving care is punished and denying care is rewarded.

We’d like to have it happen here

The Greenville plant expansion by Cytec Industries allows for starting pay at $18 an hour for its 225 new jobs, while the nearby General Electric plant’s new production workers get $23.67.

At least it’s over a woman, but it never happens here

The city attorney of San Francisco is investigating the mayor’s former mistress for receiving thousands of dollars in sick pay for substance abuse treatment after leaving her job as a secretary at city hall. She was married to the mayor’s campaign manager who resigned in January upon learning of his wife’s affair with the mayor.

Top 10 in the country

The emergency room at Charleston’s Children’s Hospital was named among the country’s top 10 pediatric emergency rooms by Child Magazine’s annual Best Children’s Hospitals survey.

Jobs cut

A Columbia- based Medicare contractor, a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield, Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators must lay off 700 workers as a major contract expires by March 31. BlueCross BlueShield employs 12,300 South Carolinians.

Cayce cookies

Otis Spunkmeyer Inc. plans to expand its Cayce plant, spending $8 million on the building and $17 million on new equipment. They also plan to add about 80 new jobs.

SCANA cuts both ways

While poor- mouthing to the Public Service Commission for a 4% electricity residential retail rate increase, claiming the company failed to meet its targeted 10.7% return on common equity in 2006, SCANA raised its quarterly cash dividend to its shareholders by almost 5%. Shareholders get $1.76 per share April 1, up from $1.68 per share. SCANA’s share price started last week at $41.93 and ended Feb. 16, at $41.92.

The Tribune Company

The firm that owns The Chicago Tribune also owns The Los Angeles Times. The Tribune Company put itself on the auction block recently. There wasn’t one serious bid mostly because the newspaper industry is still tainted from what happened to McClatchy last year after it bought Knight Ridder, to include The State. McClatchy stock fell from $76.05 two years ago to $38.09 last week, February 16.

S.C. farms

East of U.S. 17 near 11th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, there’s a defunct golf course of 172.5 acres that pays $172 in property taxes, down from $32,000 because the owners planted trees to qualify as a family farm even though the land is not zoned for agricultural use. The General Electric plant in Florence, near the interchange of I- 20 and I- 95, at last sighting had cattle grazing on its grounds to qualify for farm status and farm taxes.

Hydrogen, the fuel of the future

The price of most any vehicle with a fuel cell on board should cost at least $100,000 until volume and technology bring down costs. Ford’s Edge HySeries fuel- cell plug- in hybrid prototype was on display last week at the Washington, D.C., auto show. As an experimental prototype, the car will not go into production, but Columbia might seriously consider something similar to accommodate Mayor Coble and USC President Sorensen, just to maintain appearances as an incipient capital of hydrogen fuel- cell research. If the City of Columbia follows through with announced gifts of $1 million each to private Columbia College and to private Allen University, surely $100,000 can be peeled off the roll to tool around town in technological style.

Best man for both states

The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce has named U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman (and Dillon native) Ben Bernanke the 2007 Citizen of the Carolinas. Bernanke will be honored during the chamber’s annual meeting November 29 at the Charlotte Convention Center.


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