Saturday, November 22, 2008

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Jobless rate hits 8%, highest in nearly 25 years

South Carolina looked like a pretty good choice to computer network engineer Chad Birnbaum. Armed with a degree from Michigan State University and solid industry credentials, he landed a job in the area that paid $60,000 and offered full benefits. At 25, life was good. Then, as the financial meltdown began to wind its way through the local economy, Birnbaum was laid off by Welded Tube Berkeley.

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W. Ashley man among those saying they were cheated by suspect

The offer sounded strange but plausible: Barbara Bennett identified herself as an agent of an obscure government program that every seven years is mandated to sell off surplus homes and land at pennies on the dollar. To the 49-year-old West Ashley man the deal seemed legitimate, especially when compared with other land ads he'd seen on late-night infomercials. Additionally, she boasted of having an inside track to acquiring foreclosed homes before they went up for auction.

Webb Center falls to budget cuts

The state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs axed five child day-care programs, including the Webb Center in Charleston, to keep the Coastal Center in Ladson and other residential facilities off the chopping block, a department spokeswoman said Friday. The Coastal Center has about 450 staffers, making it among the top area employers. The center's 180 residents have conditions such as mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy.

Group says it's a matter of degrees

Improving education in South Carolina would help boost the state's economy, according to a committee studying the issue. "Education can't stand alone. Business can't stand alone â€" especially in tough times," said Brad Davis, chairman of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's Education Foundation. Davis is part of a group that's released a draft of a plan to improve higher education and increase the state's overall education level.

Some theater groups feel left out of holiday campaign

It can hurt to be excluded. Especially when a project to ensure the survival of struggling performing arts groups in Charleston only emphasizes three organizations: Charleston Stage, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Charleston Ballet Theatre.

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