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Latest News in North Charleston, SC

How one store in North Charleston left many without furniture or refunds

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — How long would you wait for that the right new sofa or kitchen table? Some customers of a North Charleston furniture store say they’ve been waiting for two years now and claim they’re getting the runaround.ABC News 4 received multiple reports directly to our newsroom of this, and one we found was Goose Cree...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — How long would you wait for that the right new sofa or kitchen table? Some customers of a North Charleston furniture store say they’ve been waiting for two years now and claim they’re getting the runaround.

ABC News 4 received multiple reports directly to our newsroom of this, and one we found was Goose Creek mother and daughter Brittany and Shelby Fox.

“We're gonna tell the story start to finish, and you know, just cut out the nonsense,” Brittany Fox said.

On January 15, 2021, the Foxes bought a new dresser online from Home Décor Outlets from its North Charleston location. But the process of getting the furniture to their doorstep took longer than they expected.

“They told me after the first [of February] that it would get delivered. It never came,” Shelby said. “There was one contact where they said something about there was going to be a delay with the dresser could be up to six months.”

So, the mother and daughter waited. And waited.

“I have to chase them,” Shelby said. Then waited some more.

“It was just dead silence from there,” Brittany said.

Now, almost two years later – they still have nothing. They said there was one constant throughout the process: “The runaround was consistent.”

No furniture or money received by the family. Besides the receipt they have from their purchase, the only thing they say they actually got from Home Décor Outlets: Ads.

“[They were] trying to sell me a mattress,” Shelby said. “Yeah, spamming my phone pretty much. But never offering money back.”

As the time went by and the furniture had yet to arrive, the Foxes turned positions and tried to get their money back. Only to find out: “They could not refund my debit card.”

The Foxes say the company told them they had a no-refund policy and the only possible way to get one was to fill out a form and apply, where the refund would only be granted under certain occasions. The whole concept was something that confused the Foxes.

“We never even got a product at this point. It's not even a refund, it's a cancellation,” Brittany Fox said.

So I tried to get in touch with the company. I called the executive board, the phone numbers listed at their corporate websites and the phone number for the North Charleston store location. But all the phone numbers either went straight to voicemail or to dial tone alerting the phone had been disconnected.

After more than an hour, I gave up calling, got in the car and took a trip to the North Charleston store location.

It was the same thing customers like Brittany and Shelby Fox did after having their attempts at communication fall through. But much like the Foxes, when I arrived, I realized there were going to be no answers.

The store was closed with no furniture. Instead, just the remnants of a business.

So why was this the case? I did some digging and found the company had its Better Business Bureau accreditation revoked in January of 2022 for not responding to claims like the Foxes' and others that came in to government offices.

“We had eight complaints over the course of the last six years,” said Bailey Parker, Communications Director for the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. “I'd say the majority of them came in from 2020 to 2022.”

But even the SC Department of Consumer Affairs had a problem contacting Home Décor Outlets.

“They were not getting back to us on a number of these complaints and didn't ever respond to the initial point of contact from us.”

After some more digging, we found out in February of 2022, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Furthermore, just days after the interview with the Foxes, they received a letter from Georgia’s bankruptcy court suggesting the Home Décor Outlets convert from chapter 11 to chapter 7 bankruptcy. It would mean the company would have to close all their stores and liquidate their assets.

However, the documents still give no timetable on when these claims will be resolved and if any money is guaranteed to these customers.

“Consumers are most likely not going to be the ones that get paid back. First, it's going to be the other major creditors that they probably owe debt to,” Parker said.

We also learned from the Georgia Court of Bankruptcy, the company received loans through Covid relief, which they are required to pay 20 percent back, as well as general business loans, and they have missed 15 out of 19 payments -- not a good sign for customers.

“At the end of the day, if they don't have money, they don't have anything left, they can't pay,” Parker said.

So what are these customers options at this point?

“The only options that a consumer would have is taking the business to magistrates court, which in my opinion, is not a great option,” Parker said.

The money spent on attorneys for magistrate court could be larger than the money lost in some of these claims. Parker does say waiting to see the results of the bankruptcy court might be the best option.

Meanwhile, the Foxes ended up finding a suitable replacement dresser elsewhere. But still, after going through this whole experience, they left one piece of advice for any consumers in the state.

“Don’t just check the reviews on the product, check the reviews on the business.”

MUSC Health breaks ground on Sea Islands Medical Pavilion

The more than 20,000 square foot facility will be located at 1884 Seabrook Island Road, near Bohicket Marina. The Sea Islands community is expected to undergo significant population growth over the next few years, especially those residents 65 and older. The Sea Islands are also geographically isolated, situated more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital. The area also accommodates a large seasonal population of tourists, many of whom have trouble navigating local health care services.“It can take up to 45 minutes to get to th...

The more than 20,000 square foot facility will be located at 1884 Seabrook Island Road, near Bohicket Marina. The Sea Islands community is expected to undergo significant population growth over the next few years, especially those residents 65 and older. The Sea Islands are also geographically isolated, situated more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital. The area also accommodates a large seasonal population of tourists, many of whom have trouble navigating local health care services.

“It can take up to 45 minutes to get to the nearest hospital from the Sea Islands. That’s too long for an emergency situation such as a stroke, where every minute counts. As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we are committed to delivering the best possible care, closest to home,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “This new medical pavilion will provide rapid access to outstanding care for the entire Sea Islands community.”

As part of the MUSC Health system’s overarching strategy, the MUSC Health Charleston Division has worked to provide better community access and local care in the greater Tri-County region, as well as coastal communities to the north and south of Charleston. This enables better capacity at the flagship facilities, which offer specialized and complex care downtown while enhancing overall accessibility and continuity of care for patients and families, especially in underserved communities. Since 2019, four new multispecialty ambulatory care platforms have opened in West Ashley, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

In addition to 24/7 emergency care, the facility will offer two trauma rooms, a rooftop helicopter pad, and a medical office building that will provide primary and specialty care, including imaging and lab services, cardiology and physical therapy. A telemedicine network will connect the entire facility to some of the nation’s top providers at MUSC Health in downtown Charleston. The Town of Kiawah Island donated $1 million to create a healing, restful green space and garden adjacent to the new facility.

“Accessibility to the wonderful health system and hospitals we have here has been a concern, so it was exciting to hear about this project,” said Town of Kiawah Mayor John Labriola. “My hat’s off to the MUSC Board of Trustees and the institution’s leadership, because getting a certificate of need is not easy… personally, I look forward to the ribbon cutting and seeing our garden that will be named for the Town of Kiawah.”

The project was made possible in part by Kiawah Partners, which was acquired by South Street Partners in 2013, who donated 6 acres of land to the Medical University Hospital Authority (MUSC Health), valued at $4.85 million.

"This project was initiated to meet the huge need for medical services on Kiawah Island, Seabrook, and Johns Island. With no convenient emergency healthcare options currently available, we have been working for seven-plus years to figure out a way to bring accessible healthcare to the Sea Islands,” said Chris Randolph, South Street Partners. “Thanks to MUSC, we will soon have a world-class medical facility that provides so much more than what we had originally envisioned. We couldn’t be more pleased to have been able to donate the land for this project and feel very grateful to partner with such an excellent health care system.”

Of the estimated $30 million needed to fund the project, MUSC is committed to raising $17 million in private support. To date, it has received more than $9.5 million in confirmed gifts, with many coming from local residents.

“Private support is critical to the long-term success of the MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion because of the many financial challenges that come with operating a medical facility in this community,” said Kate Azizi, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “One challenge is the low population density of the Sea Islands. While this is an aging population that needs timely access to medical care – there aren’t enough people living in these communities full time to sustain our operations. Philanthropic support helps fill those gaps, allowing us to deliver the best care possible where and when it’s needed.”

Donors Chris and DeeDee Gibson are giving $2 million to the project. In recognition of their generosity, the physical therapy space will be named in their honor. “My family has been coming to Kiawah for close to 40 years,” Chris Gibson said. “When my wife DeeDee and I built a home here, she had one request: that there was a hospital nearby in case of an emergency. All these years later, we are excited to contribute to the new MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion and to help make these vital medical services available to our neighbors on Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns islands.”

“The construction of a full-fledged medical facility with emergency services is a dream come true for all Johns, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands,” said local resident Pam Harrington, who donated $2 million and will name the emergency department after the Harrington family. “As our population continues to grow and more folks are retiring to our area, the demand for medical services grows with it! Being a Kiawah/Cassique resident for many years, the addition of a medical pavilion fills a real need that has existed over several decades. Prior to my 40-plus years in real estate on the islands I was a practicing ICU nurse. This medical center is near and dear to my heart! As a thank you and show of appreciation to all who have been so supportive of my success, here, on the Sea Islands, it seems befitting to take this opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.”

Construction is expected to conclude in late 2023.

Quote bank:

Seabrook Mayor John Gregg – “It is indeed my pleasure to welcome MUSC to Seabrook Island, as our local community will be well served by the capabilities of this facility and the practitioners who will staff it. We look forward to having better availability of care, ranging from emergency room treatment, to advanced diagnostics for the ailments, bumps, pains, scrapes, stings, and strains that come with having an active and diverse population.”

MUSC Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Charles Schulze – “On behalf of the board, I want to acknowledge, commend, and deeply, deeply thank you for your dedication hard work and the public private collaboration that is taking place to get us to where we are today. As an air force veteran of the Vietnam war, I know the importance and necessity of teamwork. When you have a complex mission ahead of you in those situations, your unity as a team is your biggest strength… And it didn't matter where you live, where you were from or what your background was in our military. You learned that persistence, perseverance, collaboration, and expertise are critical to the success of a mission. And it's been no different in this case. When the board began to discuss the feasibility of this project, we knew it wasn't going to happen without teamwork and vision. Not only from everybody at MUSC, but also from the community here in the sea islands.”

MUSC Health System CEO and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs Dr. Pat Cawley – “What makes this project challenging is that it doesn’t fit into normal health constructs. We spent a lot of time with the community, trying to gauge what was needed and it was clear that there was tremendous community support for this project and it was the engagement with the concept of neighbors caring for neighbors and the work of the community to reach out to state officials and regulators that helped make this project a reality. MUSC Health is proud to be a part of this community and its health care provider of choice, and we are humbled by the level of support we are receiving to bring this shared vision to reality.”

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit web.musc.edu

As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $5.1 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.

Women’s Golf Opens Season Monday in Charleston

Clemson, S.C.—Kelley Hester’s Clemson Tigers open the 2022-23 season Monday at Yeamans Hall Golf Club in Charleston, SC at the Cougar Classic. It will be Clemson’s seventh appearance at the tournament that is an annual fall event featuring prominent programs from the south and midwest.Clemson is one of six ACC teams in the 18-team field, as Louisville, 11th ranked Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina and NC State also will compete. SEC teams include Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, while the Big 10 ...

Clemson, S.C.—Kelley Hester’s Clemson Tigers open the 2022-23 season Monday at Yeamans Hall Golf Club in Charleston, SC at the Cougar Classic. It will be Clemson’s seventh appearance at the tournament that is an annual fall event featuring prominent programs from the south and midwest.

Clemson is one of six ACC teams in the 18-team field, as Louisville, 11th ranked Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina and NC State also will compete. SEC teams include Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, while the Big 10 will be represented by Penn State, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

The three-day, 54-hole event is played in a shotgun format on the par-71 layout with all golfers teeing off at 8:30 a.m. Clemson will be paired with Tennessee and North Carolina.

Clemson’s lineup includes three veterans and two newcomers. Melena Barrientos is a sophomore from Plano, Texas who led Clemson in stroke average last year with a 73.70 figure. She finished sixth at the Cougar Classic last year thanks to three consecutive rounds under-par.

Annabelle Pancake is coming off a terrific summer in which she finished second at the Western Amateur and reached the Final 16 of the US Amateur. She had a 74.92 stroke average last year, third on the team. The native of Zionsville, Indiana is a two-time winner of the Indiana Women’s Amateur.

Savannah Grewal is the only senior in the Clemson lineup. The native of Ontario, Canada was second on the team in stroke average with a 74.44 last year and is sixth in Clemson history in career stroke average. She had a top 10 in the 2022 NCAA Regional in Stillwater, Okla. in her last appearance for Clemson. She also had a busy summer and reached the second round of match play at the US Amateur.

The two newcomers in the Clemson lineup are Chloe Holder and Sydney Roberts. Holder is a transfer from Augusta University where she posted six top 20 finishes last year as a freshman. That includes medalist honors in her first career tournament, the Mercedes Benz Invitational in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Roberts was the 2A Player of the Year in South Carolina last year and was ranked as the second-best overall player in the state. She won an incredible 17 tournaments during her high school career in Chesnee, SC.

Live scoring will be available on golfstat.com.

Charleston region’s only Denny’s shuts down as franchisee sues SC-based chain

A North Charleston restaurant that served up the Grand Slam breakfast and other dishes for nearly 25 years is going, going, gone.The only Denny’s left in the region abruptly closed amid a legal dispute between the Upstate-based dining chain and the franchisee that operated the 2280 Ashley Phosphate Road location.The main entrance to the building was secured by a padlock and chain early Sept. 8. The signage was removed and left near some bushes lining the vacant restaurant.“Sorry, we are officially closed. Tha...

A North Charleston restaurant that served up the Grand Slam breakfast and other dishes for nearly 25 years is going, going, gone.

The only Denny’s left in the region abruptly closed amid a legal dispute between the Upstate-based dining chain and the franchisee that operated the 2280 Ashley Phosphate Road location.

The main entrance to the building was secured by a padlock and chain early Sept. 8. The signage was removed and left near some bushes lining the vacant restaurant.

“Sorry, we are officially closed. Thank you for your patronage,” according to a handwritten note taped to one of the front doors.

An attorney for franchisee Donnell Thompson, a former National Football League tight end, told an industry trade publication this week that the North Charleston restaurant and another Denny’s in Fayetteville, N.C., were to close Friday.

“We all agreed that the employees could work until this weekend, so the units are open until Friday of this week,” James L. Walker Jr. of Atlanta said in the report by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Walker did not respond to a request for additional comment.

Thompson is president and co-founder of RWDT Foods Inc., which he formed in 2012 with another NFL retiree, Ron Wooten, who played for the New England Patriots. It owns about 30 restaurants in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, including Checker’s drive-thrus.

The company filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Spartanburg-based Denny’s Inc. and its franchising arm late last month in Charleston County.

According to the complaint, the publicly traded chain had notified RWDT in October that it had defaulted on its operating agreements for the two locations, citing management-training infractions.

The franchisee said it immediately tried to fix the problems, as allowed under its contract. It alleged that its efforts to “cure” the default were thwarted.

“What began as a clear directive ... quickly turned into a moving target, making any meaningful corrective action by RWDT impossible,” the company said in its 24-page complaint.

Earlier this year, Denny’s issued a formal termination notice that was effective April 22, leading to negotiations over the several months while the restaurants continued to operate.

The settlement talks failed.

Afterward, a final termination notice was to take effect Sept. 5. RWDT requested a temporary restraining order barring Denny’s from ending the contract. A judge declined, saying on Sept. 2 that the franchisee had not demonstrated “irreparable harm.”

The two shuttered restaurants were profitable and employed a total of 24 workers, including several who have been with RWDT for more than a decade, according to the lawsuit.

The breach-of-contract litigation is expected to continue even after the restaurants have been shut down.

Denny’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. In statements provided to Nation’s Restaurant News it said that it had “made every effort to work with Mr. Thompson, and it was unfortunate that he has elected to proceed this way.”

The company also said that its “success is tied directly to the success of all of our franchisees, which is why we make every effort to support them and their operations.”

The Ashley Phosphate Denny’s opened its doors near Northwoods Boulevard in 1998 in a new building patterned after an old-fashioned roadside diner, complete with a silver-cladded exterior, chrome finishes and neon lights.

RWDT took over the location in 2007. In 2013, the company’s owners were the recipients of a Denny’s franchise award.

The region’s only other Denny’s was at 5270 International Blvd., near the North Charleston Coliseum. It abruptly closed several years ago.

South Carolina Lawmaker Who Spearheaded Abortion Bill Enters Treatment Facility

A South Carolina state lawmaker who spearheaded passage of a total abortion ban in the state House of Representatives has reportedly checked himself into a treatment facility to deal with alleged substance abuse issues.Powerful S.C. House judiciary committee chairman Chris Murphy is receiving treatment for an undisclosed addiction, multiple sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to this news outlet....

A South Carolina state lawmaker who spearheaded passage of a total abortion ban in the state House of Representatives has reportedly checked himself into a treatment facility to deal with alleged substance abuse issues.

Powerful S.C. House judiciary committee chairman Chris Murphy is receiving treatment for an undisclosed addiction, multiple sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to this news outlet.

According to my sources, Murphy’s rehabilitation stint was mandated by S.C. speaker of the House Murrell Smith – who was made aware of several incidents involving the 54-year-old legislative leader over the past few weeks. One of those incidents? A rumored verbal altercation at a reception hosted last month by the McGown, Hood, Felder and Phillips law firm during the annual South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) convention on Hilton Head Island (a.k.a. the “Murdaugh Mingle”).

News of that altercation was first reported by this news outlet.

It is not clear precisely when Murphy’s rehab stint began. The Honolulu, Hawai’i native was granted a leave of absence for medical reasons by Smith on August 30-31 as the House convened for the expressed purpose of taking up H. 5399 – the abortion bill which cleared his committee two weeks earlier.

(SPONSORED CONTENT - STORY CONTINUES BELOW)

Obviously, Murphy’s efforts on the abortion bill were all for naught as this debate has reverted back to square one. Well, it has reverted back where it was earlier this year, anyway – when the U.S. supreme court struck down Roe v. Wade and effectively made the 2021 “heartbeat bill” the law of the state.

The 2021 legislation – which lawmakers incrementally adjusted during a special session this summer – was referred to the S.C. supreme court in late July for constitutional review. In fact, the state’s five supreme court justices temporarily enjoined the state from enforcing the 2021 bill in mid-August just as the legislative debate over a total abortion ban was ramping up.

Speaking of those justices …

Murphy, who represents North Charleston in the S.C. House, experienced another political setback this summer when his wife – S.C. circuit court judge Maite Murphy – withdrew her candidacy for a seat on the state supreme court.

Chris Murphy’s abrasive advocacy on behalf of his wife – whose name is pronounced “my-tay” – had created major headaches for House leaders. And unfortunately for them, her decision to remove her name from consideration for this seat has done nothing to resolve the larger issue with the way judges are chosen in the Palmetto State.

*****

DON’T MISS A STORY …

*****

South Carolina is one of only two states in the nation where lawmakers screen and vote on judges – a notoriously corrupt process which has rendered the judicial branch effectively impotent.

First, a legislatively controlled panel picks which judicial candidates are “qualified” and then submits these names to the legislature for a vote. Then, lawmakers engage in judicial horse-trading to ensure their preferred judges win the legislative elections.

It is notoriously corrupt … seedy … incestuous.

Thanks to this shady system, the judiciary in South Carolina has become little more than an annex of the legislature … or more precisely, of the powerful lawyer-legislators who install their cronies as judges (and then reap the benefits of this influence).

Unless lawmakers fix the system, we will continue to see a judicial branch which administers one brand of justice for the wealthy and well-connected … and another for the rest of us. And we will continue to see public safety – and the rights of victims – erode precipitously.

Murphy needs to be held accountable for his role in that process … and I will continue to hold him accountable. For now, though, I hope he gets better.

As a recovering addict myself, I wish Murphy every success in his struggle … especially if his addiction was a consequence of the recent illnesses he endured, illnesses which kept him (and his committee) out of commission for several months.

*****

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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