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1937 Ford truck takes top prize in DORA show
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The 10th annual Car Show & Craft Fair was held in downtown Orangeburg on Saturday,

The Carroll Stillinger Best in Show award went to Jerry and Debbie French and their 1937 Ford truck.

The People’s Choice award went to Jeff Paquette for his 2014 Chevy Stingray Corvette.

Other winners include:

Street rod

First – James Thompson, 1939 Buick Street Rod

Second – George Jeffcoat, 1932 Ford Coupe

Antique

First – Dee Cercopely, 1935 Hudson Terraplane

Second – Eddie Crim, 1957 Chevy Wagon

4WD/off road

First – Bobo Smith, 1974 CJ5 Jeep

Second – Bobo Smith, 1979 CJ7 Jeep

DORA's fourth-annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration

Daily driver

First – Troy Hubbard, 2006 Chevy SSR

Second – Amy Brightwell, 2005 Ford Mustang

Import

First – Joceyln and David Wise, 2015 Mini Cooper Roadster

Second – Brandon Ward, 1994 Nissan Sentra

Classic truck

First – Kent Vienneau, 1961 Chevy Apache

Second – Jame Clegg, 1976 Chevy Truck

Modern truck

First – Joe McLees, 1978 Ford F-100

Classic muscle

First – Robert Spires, 1951 Mercury Lead Sled

Second – Tracy Hewitt, 1967 Chevy Chevelle

Modern muscle

First – Jimmy Chavis, 2015 Chevy Z06 Corvette

Second – Tommy Chavis, 2016 Ford Mustang

The event was hosted by Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association and this year’s presenting sponsor was Ford’s Tire & Automotive.

In Photos: Tenth Annual DORA Car Show

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AP
Biden quadruples refugee cap

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday formally raised the nation's cap on refugee admissions to 62,500 this year, weeks after facing bipartisan blowback for his delay in replacing the record-low ceiling set by former President Donald Trump.

Refugee resettlement agencies have waited for Biden to quadruple the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year since Feb. 12, when a presidential proposal was submitted to Congress saying he planned to do so.

But the presidential determination went unsigned until Monday. Biden said he first needed to expand the narrow eligibility criteria put in place by Trump that had kept out most refugees. He did that last month in an emergency determination. But it also stated that Trump's cap of up to 15,000 refugees this year “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest," indicating Biden intended to keep it.

That brought sharp pushback for not at least taking the symbolic step of authorizing more refugees to enter the U.S. this year. The second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, called that initial limit “unacceptable” and within hours the White House made a quick course correction. The administration vowed to increase the historically low cap by May 15 — but the White House said it probably would not hit the 62,500 Biden had previously outlined.

In the end, Biden returned to that figure.

Biden said he received additional information that led him to sign the emergency presidential determination setting the cap at 62,500.

“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin," Biden stated before signing it.

Biden said Trump’s cap “did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”

But he acknowledged the “sad truth” that the U.S. would not meet the 62,500 cap by the end of the fiscal year in September, given the pandemic and limitations on the country’s resettlement capabilities — some of which his administration has attributed to the Trump administration’s policies to restrict immigration.

The White House insisted it was unable to act until now because the administration was being taxed by a sharp increase in unaccompanied young migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras arriving at the southern U.S. border, though any link between the border and the government’s decision on refugees was not immediately clear. Refugee advocates, including Durbin, accused Biden of playing politics.

Biden said Monday it was important to lift the number to show “America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world."

It also paves the way for Biden to boost the cap to 125,000 for the 2022 fiscal year that starts in October.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said work is being done to improve U.S. capabilities to process refugees in order to accept as many of them as possible under the new cap. Since the fiscal year began last Oct. 1, just over 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S.

Travel preparations are being made for more than 2,000 refugees who were excluded by Trump's presidential determination on Oct. 27, 2020.

Refugee resettlement agencies applauded Biden's action.

“We are absolutely thrilled and relieved for so many refugee families all across the world who look to the U.S. for protection,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, head of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of nine resettlement agencies in the nation. “It has a felt like a rollercoaster ride, but this is one critical step toward rebuilding the program and returning the U.S. to our global humanitarian leadership role.”

Biden has also added more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America and ended Trump’s restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Some 35,000 refugees have been cleared to go to the United States, and 100,000 remain in the pipeline. Resettlement agencies that closed more than 100 offices during the Trump administration said the cap needed to be raised to unleash resources.

“The way you rebuild capacity is by setting ambitious commitments that signal to domestic and international stakeholders that U.S. leadership is back," said Nazanin Ash of the International Rescue Committee.


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Orangeburg County Schools
Orangeburg County School District plans employee raises; $137.8M school budget advances with tax increase

Orangeburg County School District teachers and eligible employees will receive pay increases under the $137.8 million general fund budget that’s being considered by district trustees.

The OCSD trustees unanimously approved the increases last week when they gave first reading to the district's 2021-2022 budget. The increases apply to the current school year and the next one.

Teachers, who normally receive a salary increase annually, did not receive the roughly 2% increase this year due to statewide salary freezes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

State lawmakers unanimously passed the retroactive annual salary increases for teachers in March of this year.

The Orangeburg County School District has been operating on a continuing resolution with frozen salaries due to the pandemic, according to Assistant Superintendent for Communications and Community Partnerships Merry Glenne Piccolino.

“In essence, the legislature unfroze the teacher step for the 2020-2021 school year,” Piccolino said.

The OCSD board also approved a pay raise for the current school year for all employees who worked in the district during the 2019-2020 school year. All school employees will also receive an increase for the 2021-2022 school year.

The first step salary increase will occur on or before June 15 of this year, Piccolino said.

"Our administration and school board recognize that all employees contribute to the success of our system, schools and community," she said. "We are working through the logistics of this payout and will share with employees, once determined."

Piccolino said the district's finance department is also preparing its budget in anticipation of the legislature providing a salary increase for teachers for the 2021-2022 school year.

“The state has not shared yet what their portion of the teacher step increase will be,” Piccolino said. “The district will use local funds to compensate teachers for the difference in what the state appropriates individual districts and what the step equates to on our scale.”

“OCSD will be fully responsible for the step increase for non-teachers,” she said.

The salaries will be increased based on a step method. A step increase means an increase from one pay rate to the next higher rate within the established salary range for the class or position.

“Teachers and other staff are paid on salary scales specific to their role,” Piccolino said. “The salary scales are publicly available on our website under Human Resources.”

The 2021-2022 general fund budget also includes a 1% increase for retirement contributions.

“There is no increase in the employee portion,” Piccolino said.

The budget also calls for an estimated 6.73% increase in employer health costs.

About $3.3 million will be allocated to the High School for Health Professions, the district's charter school, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Brandi Gist said.

Gist said the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget leaves ten positions vacant and creates 12 new positions.

The new positions would allow each middle and high school to have at least one foreign language teacher and all elementary schools to have an offering in music and art.

“We reviewed staffing levels,” Gist said.

The budget calls for a net increase of eight employees due to enrollment and student/teacher ratios, Gist said.

The general operations budget calls for taxes of 219 mills. That includes a 28-mill increase in operational millage from the current school year. The tax increase will not apply to primary residences.

It will apply to second homes or rental property, which will see taxes increase by about $168 on a $100,000 home.

The increase will also apply to vehicles. Taxes on a vehicle valued at $25,000 will increase by about $42.

The district had to receive special permission from lawmakers to increase taxes above the state cap. The increase adjusts for a miscalculation made when the county’s three school districts were combined into one.

The budget calls for the district to spend $137.8 million, with $72 million for instruction, $63 million for support and $3.3 million in transfer costs.

Gist said the district is looking at ways to cut costs in the budget by conducting a districtwide salary study; contracting out its substitute services with a goal of saving in administrative costs and using COVID federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to help with maintenance expenses.

Gist said there are still some unknowns in the budget, including the cost for the substitute teachers, local revenue volatility due to the COVID pandemic, falling enrollment numbers and reductions in state or federal funding.

Gist said the district receives state funding based on its base student cost and enrollment.

She said the district's fully funded base student cost for the coming school year is $3,140.

Gist said the S.C. House Ways and Means Committee version of the budget has committed to funding about $2,500 per student.

“For the past several years, that base student cost hasn't been fully funded, which affects funding for all districts across the state,” Gist said.

The Senate version of the budget increased the base student cost to $2,516.

The district has seen its enrollment decline over the past few years.

Since the 2017-2018 school year, the district has lost about 915 students.

Gist said the district has lost about $2.3 million in state funding due the decline in enrolment since the 2018-2019 school year. This loss is based on a fully funded base student cost.

The budget will be tweaked prior to second reading, which will occur May 25.


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Thunderstorms possible Tuesday, Wednesday

There is a chance that severe thunderstorms could bring damaging wind gusts and large hail to the T&D Region on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms in the Orangeburg area, mainly after noon on Tuesday.

New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch are likely, with higher amounts possible in thunderstorms, according to the NWS.

There’s a 50% chance of thunderstorms Tuesday night.

The chance of severe weather will decline Wednesday.

A hazardous weather outlook has been issued for The T&D Region through Wednesday due to the potential for severe weather.

The severe weather threat is due to a deep trough and strengthening surface front moving into the area Tuesday afternoon.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center says the “severe weather threat remains low” with a marginal risk for isolated damaging wind gusts.

For Wednesday, the chance of severe weather is less likely as drier air begins to move into the area.

Things will quiet down quite a bit Thursday through Monday of next week.

Sunny skies will predominate with temperatures warming through the weekend with Saturday’s high forecast to be 80.


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