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Latest News in North Charleston, SC

SC Ports OKs $100M+ in contracts for N. Charleston facility

The SC Ports Authority has voted to enter into contracts worth over $100 million to design and build a new facility at the old U.S. Navy base.MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Ports Authority has voted to enter into contracts worth over $100 million to design and build a new facility at the old U.S. Navy base in North Charleston.The authority has broken ground on the $400 million railyard near McMillian Avenue, which is funded by the state legislature. The contracts the board approved Tuesday afternoon are the ne...

The SC Ports Authority has voted to enter into contracts worth over $100 million to design and build a new facility at the old U.S. Navy base.

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Ports Authority has voted to enter into contracts worth over $100 million to design and build a new facility at the old U.S. Navy base in North Charleston.

The authority has broken ground on the $400 million railyard near McMillian Avenue, which is funded by the state legislature. The contracts the board approved Tuesday afternoon are the next step in moving it forward and ramping up construction.

“It has roadways so that the trains don’t interfere with passenger traffic,” SC Ports Authority President and CEO Barbara Melvin said about the facility. “It has an additional rail track. It has the facility itself, along with equipment. A lot of design has already occurred, and now we’re moving into construction, which is the really exciting piece of this as we see the project coming out of the ground, so it’s a big deal.”

When built, the facility will handle cargo from Norfolk Southern and CSX, which Melvin said represents 25% of their current business.

“We expect to be able to handle a million rail lifts, and as we move into phase two, which is the second part of the design, it moves to 1.3 million rail lifts,” she said.

Board members awarded a contract worth just under $120 million to Landmark Construction to build the site itself. This contract includes building sound walls, rail foundations, 11 processing tracks and four arrival and departure tracks.

They also unanimously voted to pay over $4.3 million to design around 15 miles of rail that would head south from the facility toward Charleston before wrapping back to North Charleston.

Juan Gordon, the president of Coalition 18, which represents around 900 truckers in the Lowcountry, said the facility could do some harm to local drivers who rely on a distribution system called rapid rail. This is a system designed to move cargo from ports to areas more inland.

“I’m against it because I know people who solely depend on that program,” Gordon said. “I know people who that’s all they do is rapid rail, and they have been doing it for 10, 20 years now.”

Gordon said he does not see the facility causing truckers to turn in their keys, adding that future projects could help offset the lost business.

“We’re such a huge port community here in Charleston,” he said. “I believe we’ll find a way like we’ve done so many times.”

Melvin said they are still on track to be handling their first trains at the facility in the summer of 2025.

“This is a next great step for us, as we are a very competitive top 10 port to become an import gateway for the United States as well as having our cargo reach further into land,” Melvin said.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

North Charleston leaders to tour CCSD schools to show disparities in opportunity

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — North Charleston leaders are taking a field trip to their local schools on Monday. It's a move that organizers say will highlight the difference between schools within their city and outside North Charleston.According to a press release provided to ABC News 4, the purpose of the unofficial tour is "to confirm the disparities in our North Charleston schools."North Charleston leaders to tour CCSD schools to show disparities in opportunityRepresentatives in the North Charlesto...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — North Charleston leaders are taking a field trip to their local schools on Monday. It's a move that organizers say will highlight the difference between schools within their city and outside North Charleston.

According to a press release provided to ABC News 4, the purpose of the unofficial tour is "to confirm the disparities in our North Charleston schools."

North Charleston leaders to tour CCSD schools to show disparities in opportunity

Representatives in the North Charleston City Council say they want leaders to see firsthand the conditions kids in North Charleston face every time they walk through the school doors and why there needs to be a change for the "good of the kids."

READ MORE: City officials exploring possible removal of North Charleston from CCSD

The school tour was organized by District 5 North Charleston city councilmember Jerome Heyward, who is also leading the tour with the help of three other council members.

The invite is addressed to members of the legislative delegation in the city of North Charleston.

The tour consists of six schools: four outside the city and two within the city.

Those schools are:

Heyward says by visiting schools in the Charleston County School District, he wants people to visualize the difference in athletic facilities and academic facilities and show the difference in opportunity North Charleston students aren't getting.

“How can you serve as an elected official and represent North Charleston and see the condition the kids have to go to school, but how can you sit there? The only thing I’m asking [is to] fix the schools up in North Charleston. I'm not trying to create no problems. I don't want [anybody] to lose no jobs, Heyward said. “We got schools in North Charleston, 70 years old. Do anybody still drive a car 70 years old? But we got schools in North Charleston, 70 to 80 years old.”

READ MORE: CCSD responds to North Charleston schools wanting to leave the district

It is unclear if Heyward is hosting this tour in conjunction with the school district. When asked, he said “We will show up and see what happens.”

Some North Charleston leaders are floating around the idea of leaving CCSD altogether.

A week and a half ago, Rep. Marvin Pendarvis filed a bill to allow North Charleston to create its own district separate from CCSD.

The idea quickly gained traction, garnering support from North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and other leaders.

It also got the attention of the Charleston County School District.

Superintendent Don Kennedy was asked about the possible split. He says about 30 percent of the district’s students are in North Charleston schools, and he believes splitting the district will cause North Charleston students to suffer.

RELATED: CSU celebrates soft opening of $1.8M intramural field

In reference to the lack of funding for these schools, Kennedy says this year $622 million are allocated to all schools in the district, and a little more than a third (or $222 million) will go directly to North Charleston schools.

However, Heyward, who helped come up with the idea to leave CCSD, says there isn't enough change happening at schools in the city despite the money coming in. It’s something he hopes Monday's tour will reflect.

“If you go to North Charleston and you look at their campus, and [then] you go to Mount Pleasant and you look at that campus, you walk away with one understanding: 'We clearly do not care about the kids in North Charleston,'” Heyward said. “How would you like it? If we go to work every day, and we get our paychecks on Friday, and then here comes a guy to take all our pay, all our money we earn. That's what they do in North Charleston, because we take all the money right now and we just sit there like servants and let it go right back out the front door, and they fix up the schools outside the city limits.”

Kennedy agrees that there is a need to talk about the measure and says his staff will meet with Mayor Summey to discuss the future of North Charleston’s schools in the near future.

Academic performance in North Charleston schools has risen, according to district officials, which may be in part due to eight schools being in the district's Acceleration Schools program, which focuses on putting more academic resources in lower performing schools to improve test scores.

SC lawmaker files bill to establish North Charleston School District

A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would remove North Charleston from the Charleston County School District and create a new district.NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would remove North Charleston from the Charleston County School District and create a new district.District 113 Rep. Marvin Pendarvis filed the bill Wednesday afternoon, saying that needs are not being met in the city of North Charleston.“We’re here because we care about the quality of education in...

A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would remove North Charleston from the Charleston County School District and create a new district.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would remove North Charleston from the Charleston County School District and create a new district.

District 113 Rep. Marvin Pendarvis filed the bill Wednesday afternoon, saying that needs are not being met in the city of North Charleston.

“We’re here because we care about the quality of education in our schools,” Pendarvis said. “We’re here because the city of North Charleston, there’s a number of underperforming schools that lie within the City of North Charleston. We’re here for good reason, and I hope through collaboration and continuing the conversation we’ll be able to get something done.”

State law lays out how school districts can be formed and broken up.

According to 59-17-20, only an act from the state legislature or by authorization of the county boards of education can break up a district. Even then, the boards of education still need to meet certain conditions.

In a statement from the office of Attorney General Alan Wilson those conditions are as follows:

In (b), both districts involved would have to have a petition signed by at least four-fifths of the registered voters in the district. In (c), the districts would need only one-third of the voters to sign a petition but would then also have to have a vote on it called by the county board of education.

Earlier in the day, North Charleston’s mayor confirmed the city is exploring what would be required to withdraw schools in the city from the Charleston County School District.

Mayor Keith Summey said on Wednesday morning North Charleston City Council will explore breaking away from the school district to create their own.

“I think council is concerned about the number of failing schools that we have and what we can do generate more opportunity for the kids coming up in North Charleston,” he said. “It’s not anything that’s in concrete. It’s something that we’re looking at the possibility of.”

The effort, he says, is in a research phase to determine if the idea of pulling schools from the Charleston County School District is feasible, adding it would not be a “fast-paced” project.

Summey said he believes the city contributes more than what they are getting from the school district. He said the majority of failing schools in the district are in North Charleston.

“A community, at the end of the day, is only as strong as the education we can provide for our children, and we just want to make sure that our kids are getting the top chance that they can to get that education,” he said.

Summey said his vision would be for the schools to become a department within the city. He says he believes it would ultimately take a voter referendum, likely in 2024, for the change to happen.

North Charleston Mayor Pro Tem Jerome Heyward said he does not see one member on council not standing behind mayor in support of this.

“The city of North Charleston has been left out of the equation,” Heyward said. “Academic wise, we suffered over here because 30 of our schools are failing. It’s time for us to fix our schools.”

Summey said he has not yet heard from the school district, adding he would like to sit down with them.

“We’re just interested in making sure that children in North Charleston have the same opportunities as children in the entire county to get the best possible education that they can, and that’s not to say that the school district is not making effort,” Summey said. “It’s saying we don’t believe that effort to date has been successful.”

Charleston County School Board Chair Pam McKinney says she has not heard a single word from Summey or the city since she took office. She claims she learned of the mayor’s plan from news coverage.

“CCSD is proud to serve students from every corner of Charleston County,” McKinney said. “It is a priority for the board to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education. North Charleston students deserve a great education and that is exactly what we are working to deliver.”

The Charleston County School District provided a response to the city’s plans, saying the proposal to withdraw would duplicate administrative costs and result in less funding per pupil.

Mayor Keith Summey’s proposal to withdraw North Charleston schools from the Charleston County School District (CCSD) and instead house them in a department within the City of North Charleston would fail students. Such would duplicate administrative costs and result in less funding per pupil for both academic support and capital improvement.

Mayor Summey’s assertion that the City contributes more than what it receives from CCSD is untrue. In fact, North Charleston has historically received well above the CCSD average funding for construction and facilities maintenance.

North Charleston’s schools currently account for 30.32% of the District’s total student population yet receive approximately 35.6% of funds allocated for schools. In addition, the average budgeted per-pupil allocation in FY2023 for North Charleston schools was $16,645.18 compared to that for all other CCSD schools at $14,171.06; isolating North Charleston’s schools served through Acceleration Schools boasts a $19,532.61 per pupil allocation.

Claims that academic efforts in North Charleston schools have not been successful are also misleading. Most recently, for example, three North Charleston schools were removed from the state improvement designation list while others made significant gains.

Rather than benefiting students, withdrawing schools from CCSD would exacerbate educational disparities between geographic areas that CCSD has worked to address. Likewise, the assertion that creating a smaller district would ensure children in North Charleston have greater opportunities is simply misguided. Smaller schools and smaller districts have historically been less-able to offer such access and opportunity.

The District calls on Mayor Summey to address his concerns directly with CCSD leadership so that adults can avoid negative outcomes for students, parents, and educators. The Mayor has not reached out to the District directly since February 2022, after which he and Superintendent Kennedy met with other District and City officials.

The city refutes this, claiming the mayor reached out in May 2022 about an educational program.

Summey reaffirmed Wednesday morning he has not yet decided if he will seek re-election but expects to do so within the next 30 days.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

TSA at Charleston International Airport gives tips for spring break travel

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With many preparing to take to the skies for spring break, officials with the Transporation Security Administration (TSA) are reminding travelers what they can and cannot bring with them through checkpoints.Nationwide, TSA said travel volumes are expected to trend upward throughout 2023, including during the spring break season which typically runs from mid-February until mid-April.A TSA spokesperson said roughly 9,000 passengers were screened at Charleston International Airport (CHS) each day bet...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With many preparing to take to the skies for spring break, officials with the Transporation Security Administration (TSA) are reminding travelers what they can and cannot bring with them through checkpoints.

Nationwide, TSA said travel volumes are expected to trend upward throughout 2023, including during the spring break season which typically runs from mid-February until mid-April.

A TSA spokesperson said roughly 9,000 passengers were screened at Charleston International Airport (CHS) each day between March 3 and March 5.

“We’re going to see that volume continue into this next weekend and really kind of building into the summer where we’ll see upwards of 10 or 11,000 passengers a day,” Mark Howell said.

The influx of travelers has meant more prohibited items are being found at CHS, according to Howell.

“We are seeing more prohibited items and part of that is because we’re having a lot of inexperienced travelers, a lot of first-time travelers, taking advantage of spring break,” he said.

In order to prepare, the agency said it will maintain its commitment to hiring new officers as well as increase signage alerting passenger to potential monetary penalties they could face for attempting to take a firearm through security.

But, TSA officials said there are also steps passengers can take to help ensure an expedited screening process, including knowing what items are and are not allowed on flights.

Firearms, blades, explosives, brass knuckles, and razors are just a few of the items prohibited in carry-on luggage. The same goes for liquids over 3.4 ounces, including popular spring break items like sunscreen and alcohol.

According to Howell, TSA officers at CHS detect roughly 100 pounds of prohibited items per month, not including liquids, gels, and aerosols.

“When we find a lot of prohibited items, it’s going to make the wait times grow along with it,” Howell said.

To speed up the process, TSA recommends travelers start with an empty bag, pack it, and then double-check to make sure there are no prohibited items.

“Be mindful when you travel, spring breakers, to check your bag for any types of loose items,” TSA officer Brenda Grant said.

If a firearm or any other illegal items are found during screening, law enforcement is called and screening on that lane must stop immediately. That is why officials encourage passengers to be sure they know the location of their firearms prior to arriving at the airport.

“Doing that is going to save you time, it’s going to save you money potentially from civil penalties and having to rebook your flight, and it’s going to keep the lines moving,” Howell said.

Sixteen firearms have been detected at South Carolina airports to date in 2023, three of which were found at CHS, according to Howell.

Firearms can be packed in checked luggage, but it is important for passengers to follow the proper protocols when doing so.

For travelers who are unsure if an item is allowed through the TSA checkpoint, check here for specific guidelines.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

City of North Charleston considering new district, re-zone at old Navy base

The City of North Charleston will consider an ordinance creating a new zoning district Thursday night at the site of a former Navy Base.NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of North Charleston will consider an ordinance creating a new zoning district Thursday night at the site of a former Navy Base.The Navy Base Redevelopment District would establish a mixed-use urban area that will provide office, retail, entertainment, civic and public uses, as well as a variety of urban housing choices for the region.Then, the cou...

The City of North Charleston will consider an ordinance creating a new zoning district Thursday night at the site of a former Navy Base.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of North Charleston will consider an ordinance creating a new zoning district Thursday night at the site of a former Navy Base.

The Navy Base Redevelopment District would establish a mixed-use urban area that will provide office, retail, entertainment, civic and public uses, as well as a variety of urban housing choices for the region.

Then, the council will consider rezoning 89 parcels of land to be a part of the NBRD. The city of Charleston, the South Carolina Ports Authority and the South Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Public Railways own most of the land.

One parcel included in the zone is the non-profit Water Mission. The team of engineers, marketers, implementers, fundraisers, volunteers and donors works to create clean water systems for those who need them.

They recently sent a relief team to Turkey following the earthquakes.

Related: Water Mission to deploy to Turkey, Syria to aid earthquake recovery efforts

Water Mission owns about 10 acres on the northernmost part of the former base. Founder and CEO George Greene says he enjoys the history of the area.

“Personally, growing up in Charleston; you know, I remember being out in the harbor and on boats and nuclear submarines coming and going and just kind of, you know, looking back on it, that was the middle of the Cold War,” Greene remembers.

He says he is excited about the potential for development along the old Navy Base since it will bring people to the neighborhood.

“As we look at more and more people coming into this area, whether it’s for a concert or whether it’s because it’s where they want to live or it’s where they want to go grab a meal,” Greene says. “There’s just some really neat things that are coming down the pipeline that are just going to make it an even more desirable place to be.”

The land is currently zoned with light or heavy industrial. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Jan. 9, 2023, and voted unanimously to recommend approval.

“It’s just kind of crazy to think about how much growth we’ve had already been experienced and seen, and I think all that’s tied to everybody understands how valuable the location is,” Greene says.

The ordinance includes requirements for use, setbacks, street standard and streetscape use, all defined in its writing. You can read the details of the proposed NBRD here:

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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