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'Global' rise in natural gas prices expected to impact Upstate customers

Customers are being warned to expect higher natural gas bills this winter. It comes as a result of rising market prices for natural gas.

“Globally, the price of natural gas is increasing," Piedmont Natural Gas Spokeswoman Jennifer Sharpe said

Upstate natural gas suppliers say their customers can anticipate this cost to trickle down to their monthly bills.

“For the average residential customer, you can expect an increase of about $10 or $11 a month in your natural gas bill,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe also points to a rate increase for safety and infrastructure improvements and the typical rise in costs in the winter as additional reasons for larger bills for its customers...

Spartanburg couple tricked into giving money, gift cards to person claiming to know President Biden

William Wren Williams, 78 years old, says he and his wife started lending money to a former neighbor starting in May, because they thought she needed help.

And, he said, through text messages, the scammer claimed a close connection to President Joe Biden.

“What I heard was the fact that they were involved with the president, Mike Pompeo, Harris all them,” said Melinda Garner, his daughter, “A bunch of people that they were communicating with on a daily basis, on their phone.”

Over three months, Williams said he and his wife gave the scammer cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency…

Earthquake reported in Jenkinsville, South Carolina

An earthquake was reported Monday afternoon in Jenkinsville, South Carolina.

The USGS reports it was a 2.2 magnitude that hit about 12:40 p.m.

Jenkinsville is about 19 miles from Newberry and 28 miles from Columbia.

Several earthquakes have been reported in the state this year...

Powerful South Carolina lawmaker Hugh Leatherman in hospice care

South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker is currently receiving hospice care after the discovery of what colleagues describe as inoperable cancer.

A GOP senator told The Associated Press on Thursday that State Sen. Hugh Leatherman’s staff notified a handful of lawmakers the 90-year-old Florence Republican was recently hospitalized after experiencing severe abdominal pain.

Leatherman was first elected to the chamber in 1980 and serves as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which has sway over the state's budget....

Police looking for potential witness after man dies at hospital following crash in Greer

Greer police are looking for a possible witness after a deadly crash Wednesday on Wade Hampton Boulevard.

The crash happened around 2:10 p.m., according to Lt. Patrick Fortenberry with the Greer Police Department.

Myron Belcher, 73, of Taylors, died at the hospital about an hour after the crash, according to Jonathon Lawson, with the Spartanburg County Coroner's Office.

Lt. Patrick Fortenberry, with Greer police, said the preliminary investigation indicates that a Mitsubishi Gallant hit the left side of Belcher's vehicle. Fortenberry said that caused Belcher to drive off the right side of the road and hit a tree...

Greenville County Council rejects road tax refunds again

After Greenville's County Council voted two weeks ago not to refund old road taxes, some wanted a do-over.

"It's not going to go well with the taxpayer, it doesn’t go well with me, and anybody who believes in doing things right," said Steve Shaw, Greenville County Council, District 20. "It was the wrong way to collect it. Supreme Court said it was the wrong way, and we're gonna be back in court with this thing, and it's going to be very expensive is my fear."

South Carolina's State Supreme Court ruled in June that the county's road and public safety communications taxes were invalid, so the county stopped gathering that money.

Council member Stan Tzouvelekas said council should make a program to refund the road and public safety communications taxes if citizens want their money back.

"We weren’t supposed to collect that money - so it’s not really what you did with the money, if when you got the money wasn’t right," said Tzouvelekas, Greenville County Council, District 22. "So I'm trying to say give it back to the citizens, but obviously my fellow counselors didn’t agree..."

AJ Whittenberg principal resigns after social media posts investigation; issues statement

The principal of AJ Whittenberg Elementary School in Greenville County has resigned.

Preston Spratt was placed on administrative leave Sept. 23 due to concerns related to a series of tweets composed in 2012 and 2013, the Greenville County School District said.

The district said the social media posts that were brought to the attention of district employees by a parent and could be perceived as insensitive to individuals living in impoverished neighborhoods.

Spratt sent WYFF News 4 a statement that included the following:

"I became a teacher because I realized that not all students had been given the same public education that I had received. I have built my career around supporting students through relationships and high expectations to increase their future opportunities. My accomplishments and hard work are well documented through the achievements of my students and the media...

'No Vaxx? No Masks?' Greer company hiring people who don't want to get vaccinated or wear masks

A Greer company said it is hiring new employees who have not or will not get the COVID-19 vaccine or who don't want to wear masks.

OTB Tax put up a billboard on Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville and one on Highway 123 in Easley that says: "No Vaxx? No Mask? No Job? Perfect. We're Hiring."

The billboards have been up for about a month.

Toppa Epps, the CEO of OTB Tax, said the company has 25 employees right now — all of whom are unvaccinated and do not wear masks in the office on Wade Hampton Boulevard.

He said the company is expanding and looking for hire more employees who have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and do not wear masks...

WYFF News 4 Anchor Michael Cogdill announces retirement

WYFF News 4 Anchor Michael Cogdill announced today that he plans to retire from WYFF 4. In late November, Cogdill will anchor his final newscast, ending his nearly 33-year career at the station.

“For more than 3 decades Michael has been a trusted voice during breaking news,” remarked WYFF 4 President and General Manager John Humphries. “Together as a team for nearly 25 years, Michael and Carol Clarke set the standard for journalistic integrity in this market. Their calm, confident reporting in the face of a crisis has been reassuring to our viewers. We wish Michael the best and are grateful for the years of service he has dedicated to our communities..."

SC State Fair opens Wednesday

The South Carolina State Fair returns Wednesday after a hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year’s event was drive-thru only due to a high number of COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials reported that such cases have dropped below 1,000 for the first time since July. More than 50% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated against the virus.

State fair officials have instituted new protocols to prevent the virus’ spread like increased cleaning, hygiene signage, hand sanitizer stations and reminding guests that in Columbia they must wear a face covering, WIS-TV reported. Guests are also encouraged to socially distance, use card and touchless methods for payments as well as not coming to the fair if they aren’t feeling well...

New Superman comes out as bisexual in upcoming comic

(via WYFF) DC's latest comic "Superman: Son of Kal-El" will see the current Superman, Lois and Clark Kent's son Jon Kent, come out as bisexual.

The fifth volume of the comic book will hit shelves on Nov. 9, revealing a new relationship between Jon Kent and Jay Nakamura, a reporter who idolises the original Superman and Jon's father Clark.

Writer Tom Taylor explained that this isn't the first time he's tried to introduce an LGBTQ+ character into the DC multiverse.

"Over the years in this industry, it probably won't surprise you to hear I've had queer characters and storylines rejected," Taylor told IGN. "I felt like I was letting down people I loved every time this happened."

Here's what's open and closed on Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples Day

In many parts of the country, what was traditionally known as Columbus Day is now being celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day. But it remains a federal holiday, so some businesses will be closed.

President Biden issued a proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples Day Friday and acknowledged the destruction of native communities that followed the arrival of Christopher Columbus in North America in the 15th Century.

"Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities," Biden wrote in Friday's proclamation. "It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light and we do all we can to address them,"

More than 100 U.S. cities have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. Several states including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon have chosen to celebrate Indigenous People's Day as well...

Google steps in to prevent climate change deniers from making money from ads

(CNN via WYFF) Google is cracking down on the ability of climate change deniers to make money off its platforms and to spread climate misinformation through advertisements.

The company said Thursday it will no longer allow advertising to appear alongside "content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change." Google will also prohibit advertisements that deny the reality of climate change.

The policy, which goes into effect next month, applies to any content on YouTube and other Google platforms that refers "to climate change as a hoax or a scam," as well as denials that "greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change."

"We've heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change," Google said in its announcement Thursday. "Advertisers simply don't want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don't want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos."...

At least two drivers rescued in Anderson County after parts of road wash away in rain

Crews rescued at least two drivers Thursday morning after heavy rain washed out roads in Anderson County.

One driver was found hanging on to tree branches on Scotts Bridge Road after his truck went off the flooded road, according to the Hopewell Fire Rescue team.

This happened about 6:20 a.m. A tactical rescue crew used a boat to rescue him. He was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay. They said his truck floated down in the floodwater. 

Crews were also called to Martin Road and Shackleburg Road around 6:30 a.m. Thursday for reports of a possible water rescue there.

Officials said they were searching for a vehicle. They didn't find the vehicle, but they did find the driver and rescued him...

Deer breaks into Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville

There was some excitement at a Greenville school Tuesday when a deer "let himself" into the building.

Pictures show busted-out glass at Christ Church Episcopal on Cavalier Drive and the deer standing in a classroom.

David Padilla, the head of the school, said on Instagram that the deer let himself in through the front door, wandered around the lower school, and visited a couple of classrooms before being escorted safely out by Greenville’s animal control professionals....

Former NASCAR John Wes Townley shot to death, police say

Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley was shot to death over the weekend during a dispute that involved a hatchet after showing up at a house occupied by his estranged wife and another man, police said Monday.

The 31-year-old Townley, who raced eight seasons, had the weapon at some point before he was fatally wounded by Zachary Anderson, 32, of Dunwoody, Georgia, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department said in a statement. Laura Townley, 30, was shot and wounded, it said.

John Wes Townley died after being taken to a hospital. The woman was seriously injured but is expected to survive, police said.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the Townleys remained married, but they clearly were estranged, said Lt. Shaun Barnett, a police spokesman. The relationship between Laura Townley and Anderson also wasn’t clear...

SC school district warns after elementary student follows through with ‘Slap a Teacher’ TikTok challenge

A South Carolina school district is warning parents after an elementary student followed through with a new TikTok challenge.

It’s called the “Slap a Teacher” challenge and it happened Friday to an elementary school teacher in Lancaster County.

According to the district, an elementary school student struck a teacher in the back of the head.

“Unfortunately, the challenge that has been put out for this month is to slap or hit a staff member from behind,” the district wrote in a letter to parents. “Sadly, we actually had an elementary student assault a teacher by striking her in the back of the head.”

In recent weeks, schools dealt with incidents of vandalism from the “devious lick” challenge where students were encouraged by peers to break or steal stuff at school – often in the restroom...

Bear attacks couple, dog on Blue Ridge Parkway, officials say

A bear attacked a couple in?the parking lot of an Asheville area art center this week, prompting warnings and safety precautions, officials said.

It happened Wednesday evening at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, according to a release from the National Park Service.

The couple was having a picnic on a grassy hill near the center when they were alerted to a bear by their dog, the release said.

The unleashed dog ran towards the bear, barking loudly, according to the release.

The bear acted defensively toward the dog and the couple, likely aggravated by the dog, officials said.

There were repeated attacks by the bear over the next several minutes while the couple was able to get to the safety of their vehicle with their dog...

Greenville County Schools hold special meeting to talk about judge blocking school mask mandates

Greenville County Schools is having a special meeting Thursday to talk about a federal judge's decision to block a ban on mask mandates in South Carolina schools.

The meeting is happening now in executive session. We will update this story when we know what happened.

Parents and students have gathered outside the meeting to protest a mask mandate

The judge made the decision to block the mask mandates in schools on Tuesday.

The meeting notice says the school board will talk about legal advice regarding the decision.

Parents of disabled children, helped by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the state saying the ban discriminated against medically vulnerable students by keeping them out of public schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues...

Federal judge temporarily blocks ban on mask mandates in SC schools

A federal judge Tuesday suspended South Carolina from enforcing a rule that banned school districts from requiring masks for students.

Parents of disabled children, helped by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the state saying the ban discriminated against medically vulnerable students by keeping them out of public schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The mask ban has been forcefully backed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and GOP lawmakers who said parents should decide whether students wear masks, not school officials.

The ruling wasn’t even a close call, U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis wrote, stopping the state from enforcing a one-year ban placed in the budget...

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