COPY-South Carolina Top News This Hour - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

COPY-South Carolina Top News This Hour

NEW: Recent attacks fuel debate over state hate crime law

MANNING, S.C. (AP) _ Attacks on two women is fueling debate again about whether South Carolina needs a law covering hate crimes. Investigators have said the women may have been targeted because they are black.

Dustin Evans and Jeremy Shay Sweat have been charged with kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and assault and battery with intent to kill in the attack on the 15-year-old girl.

The two also have been charged with sexually assaulting and kidnapping a 45-year-old black woman from Summerton last month.

State Senator Darrell Jackson says the two cases show why the state needs to create a law that increases the punishment for criminals who use race or another factor when picking their victims.

South Carolina is one of five states without a hate-crime law.

BOY KIDNAPPED

NEW: Investigators still trying to find out why child was taken

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ North Charleston investigators say they are still trying to figure out what prompted a baby sitter to refuse to return a two-year-old boy to his mother.

The State Law Enforcement Division issued an Amber Alert about 12 hours after the baby sitter was supposed to return the boy. Police arrested 30-year-old Stephanie Crosby shortly after, following a high-speed car chase.

The boy and Crosby's three-week-old daughter were found unharmed inside.

Investigators haven't been able to determine why the child was taken.

FREE LUNCH

NEW: Eligible students not getting free lunches

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Greenville school board members say the district failed to get the word out about a free summer lunch program that is reaching only four per-cent of the 28-thousand low-income children.

Eileen Staples is director of the district's food and nutrition services. Staples says the school district took over the program this year from the county recreation district.

Staples says the school district failed to send notes home with children who are eligible for government-subsidized meals.

CLEMSON-SONOCO

NEW: Sonoco donates $2.5 million for packaging design institute

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) _ Sonoco Products Company will give Clemson University two and a half (M) million dollars to create an institute to study packaging design and graphics.

Officials said the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics funded by the Hartsville-based global packaging company will be the only one of its kind in the nation.

The Sonoco donation will be used to help build a facility to house the institute. Clemson has commitments of gifts-in-kind for technology support and plans are in the works for endowed chairs -- two positions in packaging science and one in graphic communications. The institute will be self-sustaining.

ALLIGATOR SIGNS

NEW: DNR creates alligator warning signs

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Wildlife officials have made new signs to help people understand that alligators are a normal part of South Carolina's swamps, ponds, drainage ditches, waterways, and other areas along the coast.

The signs by the Department of Natural Resources provides helpful information, such as how a splash in the water signals food for alligators and how fast the reptiles can lunge.

The signs are free and were made for homeowners associations, park managers and others whose properties include natural habitats.

SUBURBAN MARIJUANA

NEW: 35-hundred pot plants found in suburban Columbia neighborhood

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Richland County deputies have found 35-hundred marijuana plants tucked into private property between several suburban neighborhoods.

Investigators say the plants had their own irrigation system and had been grown from seeds with their roots bound, just like some people do with their backyard garden. Bamboo had been planted to hide the marijuana.

Police don't think the out-of-state property owner was involved with the cultivation and are looking for the growers.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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