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This Hour: Latest South Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment

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DSS HEARING

DSS director to testify before Senate panel

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The director of South Carolina's Department of Social Services is expected to testify before a Senate subcommittee created to investigate the agency.

Director Lillian Koller is scheduled to appear before the panel on Wednesday.

County coroners have testified in previous meetings about investigating the deaths of children whose care was connected to DSS. Last month, a Greenville woman told lawmakers the agency misinformed her family about the difficulties of adopting a teenage boy out of foster care.

Democratic state Sen. Joel Lourie has called on Gov. Nikki Haley to fire Koller, complaining that the director has not yet testified, despite several requests that she appear. The agency has said Koller had a stroke in December and is obeying doctor's orders.

PEACH DAMAGE

Grower: early SC peach crop hit by March freeze

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - Peach lovers may have to wait a while this year. Growers say a late March freeze caused major damage in the Aiken area and the fruit might be scarce until July.

The Aiken Standard reported that early peach varieties in Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda counties were struck while the trees were in full or just past full bloom.

J.W. "Sonny" Younce said early peaches are 40 percent of the crop on his 4,000 acres. He predicts they'll bounce back by July, but the freeze will cost his operation millions of dollars.

South Carolina Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture Martin Eubanks says peaches in the northern part of the state will not ripen until June. Eubanks says some of the crop in other parts of the state may be available then.

NUCLEAR FUEL-FUNDING

SC seeks ruling in nuclear fuel funding lawsuit

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina wants a federal judge to rule in the state's favor in a lawsuit seeking to keep viable a nuclear reactor fuel project at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

Attorney General Alan Wilson has asked for a decision without a trial.

The state is suing the U.S. Energy Department to keep the government from defunding a multi-billion dollar project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel. Gov. Nikki Haley says the closure of the mixed-oxide fuel project would harm an international nonproliferation agreement and eliminate hundreds of jobs.

The MOX project is to help the United States fulfill an agreement with Russia to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium.

The Obama administration intends to mothball the project, which is billions of dollars over budget. Wilson says that's unconstitutional.

BREWING PROGRAM

Brewing program would be first in SC

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - Something new is brewing on the South Carolina coast. Horry-Georgetown Technical College will be offering a degree in brewing.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the school will offer an associate degree in applied science with a major in brewing, distillation and fermentation. It will be the first college course of its kind in South Carolina.

The college received approval for the program last week.

Marilyn Fore is the college's executive vice president for academic affairs and says there's excitement over the program that will train students for an occupation that is appealing to many.

The program is expected to be running in the fall of next year in the college's culinary department.

WAGENER SHOOTING

Man gets 23 years in death of woman in Wagener

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - A Wagener man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the shooting death of a Lexington woman last year.

The Aiken Standard reported that 32-year-old Ricardo Levon Williams pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Tuesday.

Williams originally was charged with murder in the Sept. 12 death of 25-year-old Kerry Eck.

Prosecutor Strom Thurmond Jr. said Eck and a friend had driven to Wagener to buy drugs from Williams. Thurmond says at some point, there was an argument and Eck was shot during a struggle over Williams' gun.

Thurmond says Williams called Aiken County sheriff's deputies to report that he had accidentally shot someone and wished to turn himself in to deputies.

BEACH TENTS

Horry County bans beach tents

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) - Still another ban on large beach tents along the Grand Strand.

Horry County Council voted Tuesday to ban the tents year-round. Law enforcement officials say the tents crowd the beach and make it difficult for emergency vehicles to move along the shore.

The ordinance affects about 14 miles of beach in unincorporated areas of the county. Beach umbrellas are still allowed.

Earlier both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle beach banned tents on the shore during the summer tourist season.

The Grand Strand is the heart of South Carolina's $18 billion tourism industry.

FLORENCE TEEN KILLED

2 plead in Florence teen's death

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) - Two men have entered pleas in the death of a Florence teenager in 2011.

The Morning News of Florence reported that 21-year-old Jamad Thomas entered an Alford plea late last week to manslaughter. An Alford plea does not admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence for a conviction.

Thomas had been charged with murder in the death of 18-year-old Jessie Raheem Brower, who was shot while sitting on the porch of a home.

Circuit Judge Craig Brown sentenced Thomas to 28 years in prison.

Twenty-year-old Mildenzel Malcolm Davis of Florence pleaded guilty Tuesday to accessory after the fact of manslaughter. Davis was accused of providing false information to police. He was sentenced to the time he had served in jail since 2011 awaiting trial.

US SENATE-DEBATE

5 primary challengers to Sen. Graham to debate

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - Five of the six Republicans running against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are meeting in a debate in Aiken.

The Aiken Republican Club is sponsoring Wednesday's debate, which will take place after the club's luncheon in downtown Aiken.

A panel of reporters will ask questions of the candidates. Those scheduled to appear at the event are Columbia pastor Det Bowers, Spartanburg County state Sen. Lee Bright, Upstate businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg lawyer Bill Connor and Lowcountry businesswoman Nancy Mace.

Graham will not attend the debate.

Graham is seeking a third term in the Senate. All his Republican opponents say he isn't conservative enough for South Carolina and tries too hard to compromise with Democrats.

The primary is June 10.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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