State news in brief
Freezing rain means school closings, wrecks
COLUMBIA (AP) — At least one person has died in a wreck on an icy road in South Carolina.
Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley said 52-year-old James Carroll lost control of his vehicle after hitting ice on U.S. 123 in Easley around 11 a.m. Friday. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt and died at the scene.
Schools and government offices in the Upstate shut down early as sleet and freezing rain moved across the area. The Highway Patrol reported at least 70 wrecks in Greenville County in two hours as the first batch came through, and 30 crashes were reported in an hour in Spartanburg County with a second round of icy weather.
A winter weather advisory has been issued for areas to the north of a line from Greenwood to Camden to Cheraw.
Teacher fired for sex charge with students
COLUMBIA (AP) — A Columbia high school honors teacher accused of having sex with two students has been fired.
The Richland District 1 school board voted earlier this week to fire 34-year-old Kinsley Wentzky from her position as an English teacher at Dreher High School.
Wentzky was arrested earlier this month by police in Columbia and Forest Acres on charges of sexual battery with two 17-year-old male students.
School district spokeswoman Karen York said Wentzky had been on administrative leave with pay as the district conducted its own investigation into the accusations.
York would not reveal details of the school board’s findings, saying the case was a law enforcement matter.
Wentzky’s teaching certificate was suspended by the state education department on Jan. 9.
Construction layoffs at nuclear plant site
JENKINSVILLE (AP) — The company building two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County said it has laid off some workers.
The State newspaper reported The Shaw Group of Houston did not say how many workers have been laid off at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville.
Scana is spending nearly $10 billion to build two new reactors to generate electricity.
The Shaw Group did not explain the reason for the layoffs, only saying the reductions were needed to balance current operations.
Nuclear regulators said concrete for the reactor base was to have been poured last year. But inspectors found problems with the reinforcement bar used in the concrete. Joey Ledford with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said there are problems with the spacing of the rebar.
Wedding planner charged with theft
CHARLESTON (AP) — A Charleston wedding planner has been accused of using a couple’s credit cards to pay $28,000 to vendors to whom he owed money.
Robert Lawson Smith was arrested earlier this week and charged with financial transaction card theft.
The 35-year-old Smith said he’s done nothing wrong and is being prosecuted for imprecise bookkeeping.
Adam and Wendy Shearer hired Lawson for their 2011 wedding at a Charleston plantation that cost $63,000. The couple said they were called the day before their honeymoon about possible fraud.
They discovered that up to $28,000 in charges on their credit cards for vendors that Smith had said were paid previously.
The couple was able to get many of the charges reversed.
Smith said that left him with the bill.
Clemson president home after surgery
CLEMSON (AP) — Clemson University President Jim Barker said he has returned home after undergoing heart bypass surgery a week ago.
In a letter Friday to Clemson faculty, students and supporters, Barker said his doctors are satisfied with his progress, but want him to continue to rest. Barker underwent quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery on Jan. 18, a day after blockages were discovered in some of his arteries.
Barker said he is still limiting visitors and can’t accept gifts of food because his diet is restricted.
He said he had read every card and comment left on a special website and appreciates the prayers and concern he has received from the Clemson family.
Provost Doris Helms is acting as Clemson’s president while Barker recovers.