Luncheon to raise awareness of infant mortality

Low Country Healthy Start will host a luncheon Wednesday in Orangeburg to help increase awareness of infant mortality in South Carolina.

Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of filmmaker and actor Spike Lee, will be the featured speaker at the event, which promoters say is part of an effort to reduce the number of infant deaths.

According to the group, 520 S.C. babies died in 2008 before their first birthday. The leading cause of death was premature birth and low birth weight. African-American infants are 2.6 times more likely to die within the first year of life than other infants, Low Country Healthy Start said.

The group has secured a $1.1 million grant with the aid of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, to help medically high-risk pregnant women secure medical care.

The luncheon, which is open to the public for a $25 donation, will be held at the Cinema in the Garden Room in the Orangeburg Mall.

Columbia radio host Cynthia Hardy will emcee the luncheon. For more information and to RSVP, call the Low Country Healthy Start office at (888) 581-0319, ext. 204 or 205.


DOT to review planned interstate closure

A South Carolina transportation official says he will review a plan to close part of Interstate 385 next year for repairs and improvements.

The Greenville News reported Saturday that state Department of Transportation Commission Chairman Hugh Atkins says he will investigate the plan in time for an Oct. 15 meeting of the highway commission in Greenville County.

Some South Carolina officials have expressed concerns that the closure will create a roadblock for companies.

The department plans to close 15 miles of I-385 northbound between Clinton and Greenville in January. The traffic will be rerouted on I-26 through Spartanburg County.

Work will include expanding medians, replacing asphalt with concrete and elevating six bridges.


Group gets grant to protect Black River

A South Carolina environmental group has been given a $1 million grant to protect the Black River along the Grand Strand.

The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina says it will use the money to buy mature bottomland hardwood forest to add to the organization's Black River Swamp Preserve.

The grant also will allow the group to create wildlife habitat and protect water quality. Some forests in the swamp include ancient bald cypress trees that are more than 1,000 years old.


College buying historic plantation

The College of Charleston Foundation is buying the McLeod Plantation.

The college said Friday it is buying the historic South Carolina property that dates to 1678 from the Historic Charleston Foundation for $4 million.

The James Island plantation could be used as a laboratory to study historic preservation, archaeology and biology and could provide space for recreational sports.

McLeod Plantation had once been envisioned as a campus for the nearby American College of the Building Arts. But that college sold it back to the foundation last year to bolster college finances.

The plantation house itself dates to the 19th century and was used as a hospital during the Civil War. The property includes a row of slave cabins.

Preservation Society offers home tours

South Carolina's oldest city is preparing to open its most beautiful homes to visitors.

The Preservation Society of Charleston begins its 33rd annual Fall Tours of Homes and Gardens on Thursday. Tours are offered Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 25 during the height of the city's fall tourist season.

The Preservation Society dates to the 1920s and is the nation's oldest community membership preservation group. Tour proceeds pay for education, advocacy and planning.

The Historic District tours feature mainly private homes and gardens but also include historic churches and public buildings.

Volunteers interpret the history, architecture and decoration of buildings for visitors.