Scott Morgan

A Peek at South Carolina's New Voting Machines

By Scott Morgan

Lancaster resident Rita HuffmanLancaster resident Rita Huffman test drives the county's new voting machines at a recent public demonstration. The new system is a two-step process that involves a return to a handheld paper ballot. Credit Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio The Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary will be South Carolina's first major test for its new voting machines. Last year, the state invested $51 million on new machines that election officials say are easier to use and more secure than what South Carolinians had been using for years. The new system is a two-step process. Step 1 is to make your...

Expungements, Housing, and Finding Work in South Carolina

By Scott Morgan

man placing file in trashYou did something when you were younger. Something kind of stupid that got you busted, way way back when you were a different person. And now you can't seem to find a decent place to live or a decent job because of an arrest – not even a conviction! – that's still stuck on your record. The first thing a lot of people in this position think of is a pardon, says Jamie Bell, managing attorney for South Carolina Legal Services ' office in Rock Hill. But pardons are hard to come by. A much safer bet is an expungement. An expungement is the erasure of an arrest or conviction from the permanent...

Greenville Nonprofit Sets Former Trafficked Sex Workers on the Path to Healing

By Scott Morgan

04e93bc2-3b9e-4c2f-a15c-0a41cebbec5aJasmine Road. Think of it as a path towards healing for women who once thought their lives of prostitution and other sex work were normal. The women who come to Jasmine Road – a Greenville nonprofit that serves as a kind of rehab for mostly city women caught up in the revolving door of the criminal justice system – have had lives that are anything but normal. Most, says founder Beth Messick, began their lives in the sex trade when they were children; often sold in exchange for drugs when they were still single-digit ages. Often by their mothers. Messick frequently uses the phrase, “many women...

A Quarter Century for Murder and an Ex-Prosecutor's Change of Heart

By Scott Morgan

bae6da98-59d0-4884-b595-34655ff95e70Doug O'Neal spent 24 years in prison for the murder of a woman police still can't identify. But the evidence against him was so questionable that even the man who helped put him away says he's innocent. In 1990, Doug and Catherine O’Neal were in their Columbia home, giving one of their children a bath, when a “friend” called and said he had something to bring over. That something turned out to be the police, who soon took Doug away at gunpoint “The whole place was lit up like Christmas trees,” Catherine said. “This lady stopped me and told me to put my hands in the air. I said ‘What’s this...

Tapping Into York County's Booming Craft Beer Scene

By Scott Morgan

59ce6ee2-50b2-4578-8539-633723c57400Even just three or four years ago, one of the biggest complaints people had about York County was that there wasn't much to do there if you were looking for a night out. Brewhouses have certainly helped changed that. The six brewpubs and breweries that now operate in Rock Hill and Fort Mill bring thousands (and thousands) of visitors a year. Most are looking to sample the IPAs and sours and Belgian ales and stouts. Some are looking to get a T-shirt. But everybody is, intentionally or not, helping this northwestern end of the county grow its cachet as a destination for anyone who wants top-...

Chester Residents Call Out Gun Violence, Culture of Silence

By Scott Morgan

Chester Residents Call Out Gun Violence, Culture of SilenceThe City of Chester is in crisis. Shootings are on the rise and so are shooting-related deaths. So far this year, police have taken more than 130 calls about shots being fired. That’s 20 more than all of last year. Chester residents marched for 'Freedom From Gun Violence' on Sept. 14, a first public effort to stop escalating street and gang shootings in the city. Credit Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio Since April there have been almost a dozen confirmed shootings, including the recent deaths of 36-year-old Andrew Johnson and the drive-by killing of 14-year-old Jada Jones. Thirty...

When Hurricane Hugo Rocked the Piedmont

By Scott Morgan

fe5a130d-af83-40cd-8dd1-1efdc5a41354On Sept. 21, 1989, a lot of people in the Piedmont went to bed before the storm arrived. They knew it was on its way; some even knew about it hitting the coast. But hurricane or no hurricane, hurricanes don’t barrel across states and then make their way north, so most people didn’t think much of what was to come. Most of those same people woke to a rude surprise. Hurricane Hugo did, in fact, shove its way across the state – along I-26 and then up I-77, like it was on a road trip to Rock Hill. By the time Hugo made its way out of South Carolina, the state had suffered $6 billion in damages...

Complacency Isn't the Only Reason People Don't Evacuate for Hurricanes

By Scott Morgan

stormy ocean wavesWhy don’t people leave when a hurricane hits where they live? And how do news outlets and emergency officials and even governors make people understand that they should? Those are two questions that vex all of the above-mentioned groups during a storm. In the first week of September, Hurricane Dorian menaced the South Carolina coast for days and triggered evacuation orders for every beach community in the state. And yet, more people than not in some evacuation zones just didn’t evacuate. On the evening the storm hit Horry County, Sept. 5, Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Webster...

Meet the 10-year Old Fighter Whose Name You Might Hear Again Soon

By Scott Morgan

70d719a2-7f5c-494a-b366-9f490b00b15aIf you’re the type who likes to say you knew someone back in the day, you might want to remember the name Kamron Venable. At 10, Kamron already has chins wagging about what kind of name he could make for himself as a pro boxer. He’s one of those kids that even seasoned adults know has that elusive quality called “it,” even if they don’t know how or why he has it. Alonzo Lumpkin, director of and head coach at the Rock Hill Boxing Club, will tell you Kamron has heart and discipline and an unyielding need to get better. Talk to Kamron himself and he’ll tell you about how he figured out a kid he...

Inside the Rock Hill Boxing Club's Quest for a Better Community

By Scott Morgan

Alonzo LumpkinThe Rock Hill Boxing Club is the kind of old school gym real boxers come out of – Golden Glove contenders, burgeoning pros, Olympic hopefuls …. There’s nothing corporate or pretentious about this place. It’s decorated with spray paint and duct tape-wrapped bags; it’s beastly hot; it’s packed with young men looking to make a name in the ring. But look past the trappings of a small-city boxing gym and you’ll see what the Rock Hill Boxing Club really is for the people who train here – a community. Dare one say a family. Actually, it’s not that daring to call it a family. Ask any of the dozens of...

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