APNewsBreak: SC comptroller faces ethics hearing
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's top accountant is accused of using campaign money to accompany his girlfriend to the Republican National Convention last year.
The state Ethics Commission found probable cause that Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom violated state ethics law. Documents obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday show he faces six charges of using campaign money for personal benefit.
The Republican reported spending $1,642 in campaign money for gasoline, food and the hotel stay during the GOP convention in Florida.
Eckstrom's chief of staff Eddie Gunn contends the law allows for such political expenses.
Ethics director Herb Hayden says Eckstrom was not there in any official capacity, but because his girlfriend invited him. She was an alternate delegate.
A hearing is scheduled March 9. Possible penalties include $2,000 per offense.
Michelin celebrates newest SC plant in Upstate
((Eds: Corrects investment figure in 4th paragraph.))
STARR, S.C. (AP) - The first massive Michelin Earthmover tire is about to roll off the assembly line at the tire maker's new Anderson County plant.
Michelin officials are celebrating the completion of the plant in Starr on Thursday. The company says the 12-foot tall, 5-ton tires are some of its most in-demand products for heavy equipment in mines, quarries and construction sites.
The plant should start production in January and have tires ready to sell by summer.
The plant is part of a $750 million expansion that will create a total 500 jobs at the new plant in Starr and an expansion of a similar Lexington plant.
Nine of Michelin's 19 North American plants are in South Carolina. The company has more than 8,000 employees across the state.
Gov. Haley's husband returns from Afghanistan
WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley and her family joined about 200 friends and family members welcoming home Michael Haley and his 40 fellow soldiers from Afghanistan.
Haley says Michael Haley's return Thursday means the family just got their Christmas gift.
The South Carolina Army National Guard soldiers returned after a 10-month tour helping Afghan farmers as an agricultural support team.
Michael Haley said it feels terrific to be home. He stood for pictures with his 12-year-old son Nalin, 15-year-old daughter Rena and their grandparents.
The soldiers left in January for a month of training in Indiana before being deployed.
The deployment was his first overseas since he joined the Army National Guard as an officer in 2006.
He previously worked as a medical service corps officer and a planning officer.
Charleston authorities identify shooting victim
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Charleston County officials have identified a man who was shot to death.
The coroner's office says the victim of the shooting around 9 p.m. Wednesday was 23-year-old Deontre Miles of Moncks Corner.
Police have provided few details on the shooting.
Officers were called to check on a report of shots fired and found a crowd gathered around Miles.
Police spokesman Charles Francis said no suspects have been identified at this time.
An autopsy has not yet been conducted.
Horry County reimbursing airline $500,000
CONWAY, S.C. (AP) - Horry County will reimburse an airline about a half million dollars under a revenue guarantee agreement.
County leaders say they don't expect to structure any similar agreements in the future.
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the agreement with WestJet was an effort to bring more tourists to Myrtle Beach from Canada during the summer.
Under the agreement, if WestJet did not make at least a 15 percent profit in its operating margin, the county would reimburse the airline up to $1 million.
The airline missed its profit margin on the flights by about $550,000. WestJet carried about 4,600 passengers into Myrtle Beach during the six months that ended in October.
It was the first time Horry County had provided a revenue guarantee to an airline.
Foul play suspected in SC woman's disappearance
BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) - Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies say foul play is suspected in the disappearance of a Bluffton woman missing since last month.
The sheriff's office said Wednesday that 47-year-old Margarita Gonzalez-Almazan was last seen at a family party she hosted the evening of Nov. 30.
Deputies said they are looking for her boyfriend, whose car was found abandoned last week in Savannah, Ga.
On Dec. 2, deputies tracked his cellphone to a bridge in Beaufort County but a search of the water and beaches found no other evidence.
SLED asks for 65 more agents
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The State Law Enforcement Division is asking lawmakers for money to hire 65 more agents.
The State newspaper reported that if lawmakers go along with the request, it would give the state police agency slightly more than the 380 agents it had before the Great Recession.
SLED director Mark Keel made his request for a $15 million increase to a House subcommittee Wednesday.
SLED also wants permission to spend $3.5 million for a new helicopter.
Keel says about 30 of the new agents would work in alcohol enforcement, making sure businesses have the proper licenses and close on time and check for underage drinking. Only about a dozen agents now work in alcohol enforcement, monitoring about 16,000 businesses.
It also wants eight more forensic scientists.
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