Richland County deputy arrested and fired
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he has fired 1 of his deputies after he demanded a woman expose herself, then told him he would help her reduce her criminal charges.
Lott said 31-year-old Tracy Stephens also was arrested Thursday and charged with criminal sexual conduct and misconduct in office.
The sheriff says Stephens arrested a woman on May 15 for driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and simple possession of marijuana charges. After she was booked, investigators say the woman complained that Stephens ordered her to expose herself and touch herself inappropriately.
Lott says Stephens was fired after an internal investigation. He had worked for the sheriff's department for 18 months.
It wasn't known if Stephens had a lawyer.
Rep. Duncan thanking veterans, first responders
LAURENS, S.C. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan is touring his South Carolina district over the Memorial Day weekend to thank veterans and first responders for their service.
The Republican is launching his tour in Laurens on Friday. Over the next few days, he'll make nearly a dozen stops at fire stations and law enforcement offices in places including Ware Shoals, Walhalla, Anderson and Clemson.
Duncan says he feels it's important for those who serve to know that people appreciate their work and sacrifice.
Balloons soar near Simpsonville for holiday events
SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Brightly colored hot air balloons will be flying over Simpsonville as part of an annual Memorial Day celebration.
The Aloft Festival gets under way Friday and runs through Monday. The event was previously called Freedom Weekend Aloft and includes several stages featuring live music.
There are also games and comedy performances. An activity zone features a zip line, obstacle course and climbing wall.
SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
Spoleto Festival USA opening 37th season
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The 37th season of the internationally known Spoleto Festival USA is about to get under way.
The festival founded in Charleston by the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti opens Friday on the steps of Charleston City Hall with a brass fanfare, speeches and a shower of confetti.
Joseph Flummerfelt, the festival's longtime artistic director for choral activities, is scheduled to deliver the main address. Flummerfelt is in his final season after more than 30 years with the festival.
This year, there are 160 performances during the 17-day festival run.
Spoleto was established in Charleston in 1977 as a companion festival to the Festival of 2 Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.
DMH ART EXHIBIT
Art by SC mental patients on display in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Art created by some people receiving mental health treatment in South Carolina is going on display in Charleston.
An exhibit of nearly 100 pieces created through the South Carolina Department of Mental Health's Art of Recovery program is opening on Friday at the Circular Congregation Church in Charleston.
Organizers say the display highlights the role that art can play in the recovery process. Many of the works on display will be for sale, with all proceeds going directly to the artist.
The exhibit runs through June 9 and is part of Piccolo Spoleto, Charleston's companion event to the Spoleto Festival USA. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Police: Columbia baby-sitter's abuse killed boy
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Columbia woman has been arrested after a toddler in her care died last weekend.
Police said Thursday that 34-year-old Margie Hamm had been charged with homicide by child abuse.
Authorities say Hamm slammed 2-year-old Jayon Wilson Turnipseed's head into a bathtub faucet while she was babysitting him May 18. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts says the boy was having trouble breathing, but Hamm told authorities she put him to bed anyway.
The boy died overnight. His father got home late from work and found his son unresponsive the next morning.
Emergency workers found no obvious injuries, but Watts said he saw a mark near the boy's nose.
Hamm told police the boy ran into a door. She was jailed Thursday, and it wasn't known if she had an attorney.
Clemson hosting statewide naturalist conference
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson University is hosting a statewide conference for the state's naturalists.
The S.C. Master Naturalist gathering kicks off with a social on Thursday night. Clemson author Ben Sill opens the conference with a tongue-in-cheek guide to humorous birds that exist only in a creative imagination.
The gathering also includes expert presentations on fungi, birds, plants, lakes and geology. Workshops teach how to create a nature journal, make paper from plants, create an herbal salve and dance with dragonflies.
Acclaimed naturalist Rudy Mancke (MAN'-kee) is slated to close the conference with a keynote address entitled "History of Natural History in South Carolina."
IRS-SC ATTORNEY GENERAL
AG: 2 SC groups say they were targeted by IRS
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says he's gotten calls from two conservative groups that feel they were wrongfully targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.
Spokesman Mark Powell says the Myrtle Beach Tea Party contacted Wilson's office this week and provided documents showing they had sought but not received tax-exempt status.
Officials from the Laurens County Tea Party have also contacted Wilson.
Wilson said he wants to hear from groups that felt they may have been hassled after the IRS acknowledged targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS has apologized for the tax agency's heightened scrutiny of tea party affiliates and other conservative groups with certain words or phrases in their materials.
Powell says Wilson is sending the information to federal authorities and South Carolina's congressional delegation.
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