News from around The Carolinas

February 15, 2013 

South Carolina

Charleston

Construction turns up 2 dozen graves at worksite

Workers have found at least 27 graves at the site of a construction project in downtown Charleston where the city is spending $142 million to renovate Gaillard Auditorium.

Officials are puzzled by the graves since there is no record of a cemetery at that location. Archaeologist Eric Poplin says it appears the pits date to at least 1780, the time of the American Revolution.

Dustin Clemens with the city says it could take a couple of days to decide what should be done with the remains.

The graves are spread out in two even rows. Heavy machinery, shovel and trowel work removed tons of dirt in an area previously sealed under an auditorium parking lot.

Charleston

Curtain falls on city’s Ballet Theatre

After 26 years, the Charleston Ballet Theatre, a cornerstone of the city's arts community, has stopped functioning.

It has reached this point incrementally as its management and dancers have contended with allegations of plagiarism, tax indebtedness, two mass board resignations, dancer contracts that could not be honored and fundraising difficulties.

Last weekend, Resident Choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr and Artistic Directors Don and Patricia Cantwell presented “Snow White,” originally part of the Children's Series. Due to lack of funds, the ballet was mounted by the CBT Center for Dance Education, a separate entity that predates the professional company, and dancers were promised a share of ticket revenue.

Bahr said the school expects to offer “The Wizard of Oz” on March 23 and 24. Professional dancers might participate on a freelance basis, she said. The rest of the season is likely canceled, including a Gershwin show and the Latin-themed “Road to Rio.”

Charleston

I-26 stretch gets safety improvements

The state Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a $5 million plan to improve safety on a dangerous stretch of Interstate 26.

The plan announced Friday calls for improvements from near Interstate 95 east to Summerville. It includes clearing all trees from the median and putting up a cable guard rail between the travel lanes. There is 25 feet of land from the travel lanes to the trees. The improvements would give motorists 46 feet to the guard rail.

The idea is to reduce fatalities caused by motorists running off the road. Between January of 2007 and November 2011 there were almost 2,000 crashes on the section of interstate causing 44 deaths and 709 injuries.

Florence

Warnings aimed at quelling grad disruptions

A disruptive outburst at one of last June's graduation ceremonies prompted months of debate between the Florence School District 1 school board and the administration. Despite that, board members have decided to stick with last year's plan but warn attendees that they are serious about decorum.

The administration proposed a comprehensive plan last month that included an increased police presence, clear communication to students, parents and staff working the events of the expectations and, most prominently, limiting attendance to ticketholders, with each student being allotted seven tickets.

Many board members immediately objected, saying seven tickets was simply not enough for large families and limiting the crowds defeated the purpose of holding the events in the Florence Civic Center instead of the three high schools' gyms.

Superintendent Allie Brooks Jr. said he and principals will be meeting with the senior classes well in advance to make the expectations clear and get them to help spread the word to potentially disruptive family members.

North Carolina

Concord

NASCAR Speedpark makes way for aquarium

When NASCAR SpeedPark at Concord Mills closed on Feb. 8, it opened up a space for a proposed $10 million aquarium at the site.

The Sea Life aquarium, which has been proposed for the old NASCAR SpeedPark site at Exit 49 on Interstate 85, is expected to draw as many as 350,000 additional tourists to the area each year. Already, that exit is home to Concord Mills, which reports 17 million to 18 million visits per year, and is the main drag leading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Great Wolf Lodge, with its indoor waterpark, is another prime attraction at the exit.

Many loyal patrons said on the SpeedPark Facebook page that they were sorry to hear about the closing of the outdoor go-kart race track, which also had other activities both indoor and outdoor. NASCAR SpeedPark's proposed replacement, Sea Life, is the world's largest aquarium brand with more than 30 attractions around the world.

From wire reports

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