Mark Sanford

Sanford divorce final hearing set for February

CHARLESTON - A final hearing on first lady Jenny Sanford's request for a divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford is set for February.

Charleston County Family Court records show 90 minutes has been allotted for a hearing on Friday, Feb. 26.

The first lady filed for divorce Friday from her husband of 20 years, saying they had been unable to reconcile after he returned from a mysterious disappearance last June to reveal a yearlong affair with an Argentine woman.

The governor has 30 days to respond to the filing.

The complaint says Jenny Sanford is entitled to a divorce on the grounds of adultery. It also says issues such as a property settlement and custody of the couple's four boys will be resolved by an agreement to be presented to the court.

No family court judge has been assigned to the case. Generally, that is not done until a week or two before the hearing, when family court dockets are finalized.

- The Associated Press

State GOP gets new executive director

South Carolina Republicans have a new executive director for the state party.

Chairwoman Karen Floyd announced Monday that Todd Kincannon will be the party's new day-to-day leader.

Kincannon has served as parliamentarian and general counsel to the party for years. He's been involved in handling election challenges in party primaries.

Kincannon replaces Ryan Meerstein, who worked with Floyd after running former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign in South Carolina. Floyd said Meerstein is taking a job in Ohio.

Meanwhile Floyd announced that John Cattano will be the party's new treasurer. Floyd said he'll replace Glenn OConnell who served as a transitional treasurer.

- The Associated Press

3 grant programs seeking applications

The Richland County Conservation Commission is accepting applications through Jan. 29 for three grant programs to neighborhoods and other groups.

They are:

- Conservation grants protect natural resources, improve water quality or enhance recreation. Eligible communities, nonprofit groups and municipalities must outline goals, partnerships and management of the proposed properties. A formal maintenance plan must be included. Grants will be given up to $10,000.

- Historic preservation grants preserve culturally and historically significant buildings in Richland County. Grants may be used for preservation/restoration costs, consultant fees or educational programs. Grants will be given up to $50,00.

- Green development grants are offered to developers who incorporate innovative water-quality projects to new or existing sites in the Gills Creek or Crane Creek watersheds or in a neighborhood planning area. Grants will be given up to $50,000.

All grants carry a 20-percent match of cash or in-kind services. See or contact Jim Wilson at

- Dawn Hinshaw

Gadsen couple finalists for Farm Bureau award

Harold and Betsy Hill of Gadsden have been recognized as finalists in the S.C. Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

The Hills were among three families honored during recent awards ceremonies at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting in Myrtle Beach.

The award recognizes a young farmer or farm family for outstanding achievements in agriculture and in their communities.

The Hills farm corn, soybeans and wheat.

- Dawn Hinshaw

Community Carol Sing Wednesday at Trinity

Voices once again will be raised in Christmas songs Wednesday as Trinity Episcopal Cathedral hosts the 25th anniversary community Carol Sing.

This year, the 12:30 p.m. event will be held in Averyt Hall, where the congregation has been worshipping during the renovation of the historic downtown sanctuary.

Edward Chalgren Jr., 96, has been a driving force behind the event through the years, promoting the pure love of singing.

"There are so few chances to sing," said Chalgren, who contends that the joy of beautiful singing is "an important part of happiness."

Lunch is available before the Carol Sing at noon in Satterlee Hall, and after the concert for $6. The concert is free and open to all.

- Carolyn Click

N. Charleston wins sustainability award

NORTH CHARLESTON - The city is being honored by Home Depot Foundation as one of two nationwide for achievements in sustainable development.

Sustainability means different things to different people, but generally is defined as understanding connections between the environment, society and the economy and working to make sure resources and opportunities are shared equally.

The award announced Monday notes North Charleston once faced challenges with the closing of the Charleston Navy Base and people leaving for the suburbs.

The city revised its master plan to reduce blight, reduce pollution and increase environmental awareness. It shares the $75,000 award with its nonprofit partner, the Sustainability Institute.

Minneapolis, Minn., was the other city honored.

- The Associated Press

Magnet high school rated best in nation

CHARLESTON - U.S. News and World Report magazine has designated Charleston County Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston as the best magnet high school in the nation.

The publication also rated the school as the 12th best public high school in America.

According to the magazine's Web site, almost 22,000 public high schools were evaluated, and 1,750 were recognized for considerably outperforming their state standards.

The school in North Charleston has 606 students and average class size of 23. This year, students were offered more than $10 million in scholarships.

The Charleston County School District Web site notes that 100 percent of the students graduating from Academic Magnet attend college.

- The Associated Press

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