Lexington Medical Center/Blue Cross Blue Shield Reach Agreement

After months of negotiation and just before a March 1st deadline, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and the Lexington Medical Center have reached an agreement that keeps the Midlands medical care giant and affiliated physicians in the Blue Cross Preferred Blue network.

Following is a statement posted on the BCBS website this evening:

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and Lexington Medical Center have reached agreement on their contract, which will keep the medical center, its affiliated physicians and its other health care providers in the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Preferred Blue® (PPO) network. There will be no interruption of in-network coverage.

Together, we agreed to work collaboratively to improve health care quality and patient outcomes while also reducing medical expenses.

We understand the important roles that we play as providers of health care and as a health insurer, and most importantly want you to know how much we value you, our patients and members. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by our earlier inability to reach agreement.

Face-lift for Batesburg-Leesville industrial area

A long-wanted face-lift is starting at an industrial area in Batesburg-Leesville.

After a 13-year wait, Lexington County and town leaders are adding roads, water and sewer at the 176-acre tract on the east edge of the community.

“It’s been a long haul to get to where we are,” town Mayor Rita Crapps said.

The improvements should be complete by Dec. 31, officials said.

It’s not clear how long it will take the $4 million project to produce a payoff, but Crapps predicted “somebody will bite the hook” once the facilities are ready.

Adding the improvements is vital to attract jobs to the town of 5,400 residents. Companies looking to expand want parcels that can be used quickly instead of waiting for roads and utilities to be brought in, officials say.

“It’s had looks but it needs to have adequate infrastructure,” said Chuck Whipple, county economic development director.

Town leaders are borrowing $2 million to install water and sewers, a step Crapps said doesn’t require raising taxes or local utility bills. County leaders are ready to use $2 million set aside in fall 2012 for roads on the tract.

The area is off the beaten path for commercial development, located 10 miles north of I-20 in the rural western edge of the county. It’s the oldest of three sites county officials are developing for new industry, with tax gains from each area divided among schools across the county.

Only an industrial basin manufacturer has located in Batesburg-Leesville site during the 16 years its has been open.

Town officials expect a dozen companies – mainly small manufacturers and warehouses – to call the area home eventually.

A slice of the site could be converted into a spot for recreation.

Town leaders hope to make a 6-acre pond on its edge a park open to employees and residents.

One Dead After Accident in Lexington County

(WLTX) – One person is dead following a single-vehicle collision in Lexington County Saturday morning.

Troopers say a 2007 Dodge Ram Pickup Truck was traveling on Old Charleston Highway at Canal Street around 6:50 a.m. when it ran off the roadway and overturned. They say the driver was the only occupant and was ejected from the vehicle.

Officials say the driver was not wearing a seat belt.

The accident remains under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Lexington’s domestic violence approach is saving lives

 (WCIV) — The latest alleged case of domestic violence highlights the attention that many police agencies are looking at as they tackle the ongoing problem.
A sheriff’s office near Columbia is facing it head on — and the results are impressive.

At the entrance to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, phone numbers for domestic violence hotlines are posted for every visitor to see.

“These are reports that I plan on reviewing. This is actually some legislation I’m supposed to look at,” explained Nicole Howland as she looks at numerous files and folders on her desk. She works only select cases.

“Anything that is related to intimate partner violence that’s summary court level comes through here,” said Howland.

She’s a prosecutor for the sheriff’s department. She and five investigators work in a special unit dedicated to domestic violence.

“The goal of the unit is to have effective law enforcement response that enhances victim safety and provides offender accountability,” said Howland.

Part of that accountability includes detailed incident reports prepared by deputies after they respond to a call.

“If it is labeled as a domestic related offense, they must write a report. That way we can track what’s going on in a relationship,” explained Howland.

“Anything we do in this job is dangerous. Particularly with domestics,” admitted Steve Gamble.

The veteran detective also works in the unit. Along with tracking cases, he spends time at the courthouse. From a window, he watches victims arrive and protects them possible intimidation when their accused batterer is in court.

“We’re able to hold defendants accountable with their no contact bond restrictions. We’re able to move cases better,” said Detective Gamble.

“I think any group of highly motivated people with a common goal can get to where they want to be,” said Howland.

She credits a strong commitment from law enforcement, the courts, victim advocates, and a strong batterer treatment program for reversing the death toll from those who are killed by their partners.

“Within the unincorporated areas of Lexington County, we’ve gone several years at a time with not a single domestic violence homicide when we had nine in 2001 when I started,” explained Howland.

Still, her department handled nearly six hundred cases last year alone. Howland and her team know their work is far from over.

“We know when we fail, because someone ends up dead or someone gets hurt,” said Howland.

She says a unit like hers isn’t one-size-fits-all. Howland believes every agency has a different dynamic. What works in Lexington may not work everywhere.

Homeowner Confronts, Detains Armed Robber to Save Family

(WLTX)- What would you do if you opened a door in your home and saw the end of a shot gun?

For one Midlands man, protecting his family was all that mattered.

“I figure that’s what any husband or father would do,” David Platts said.

Platts says he discovered a man crouched in his laundry room, pointing a shotgun directly at him early Saturday morning.

He says he doesn’t remember anything that went through his head before he lunged at the intruder…except for one thing.

“The only thing I do remember was that I knew if he got past me, he was going to go after my wife and my daughter.”

Within seconds, Platts says he was able to pry the shotgun from the intruder’s hands.

“I called for my wife and she took the shotgun out of my hand,” he said.

Their daughter, 17 years old, was the one who called police while wife Carrie Platts held the shotgun at the intruder. They say he broke in through their doggy door.

“When David had him on the floor he just kept staring at my daughter. and now when she closes her eyes at night that’s all she sees,” Carrie said. “We’re all having trouble sleeping. we’re having trouble just being here because you’re been invaded. your home’s been invaded. your privacy’s been taken away.”

Unknown to the Platts family at the time, arrest warrants say the intruder Jahmand Mcneill, along with two accomplices, broke into a home down the street, locked a couple in their shower, and threatened to kill their three children.

And even though Platts’ quick thinking landed the three suspects in jail, he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I see where people are calling me a hero. to me, I’m not a hero. I did what a father and husband is supposed to do.”

He says that title belongs to someone else.

“It felt like an eternity but it wasn’t more than three minutes to five before the first law enforcement officer arrived,” he said. “So you know, my hats off to them. those guys are the heroes.”

Now the Platts family says they are just eager to heal.

“It’s going to take time. If you get to where you don’t feel like you can be safe in your own home, where can you go to be safe?”

The three suspects are being held without bond.

Lex. Co. family threatened and robbed at gunpoint; 3 charged


Hughes, Johnson and McNeill

 — Shortly after 1 am Saturday, three men armed with a shotgun broke into a home on Doe Trail Drive in Lexington County, threatened to kill three young children if the home owners didn’t cooperate, Lexington County Sheriff Lewis McCarty said in a news release.

Charged with robbing the family which lived one street over from them were roommates Jonathan Christian Hughes, 19, and Antonio Lamont Johnson, 25, of Deer Moss Trail and Jahmand Maurice McNeill, 22, who lives 9 houses down on Deer Moss Trail.

The married couple was forced to stand in a shower while the three took Wii and Xbox video game consoles, a Samsung Galaxy Note smart phone and iPod portable media players.

Around 5:30am, warrants allege, McNeill, alone, broke into another home on Doe Trail Drive but was confronted and disarmed by the homeowner. McNeill is accused of hitting one of the arresting officers in the face with his elbow while he was being arrested. The officer was not seriously hurt, McCarty said.

Investigators found some of the items that stolen earlier in the morning at NcNeill’s home. Other items were found in the woods behind Hughes and Johnson’s home.

The three men are being held at the Lexington County Detention Center. McNeill is charged with burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, use of a weapon in commission on a violent crime and assaulting a police officer. Hughes and Johnson are charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary and possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

 L&M note: This is the same area in which authorities discovered a meth lab earlier this month.

Lexington looks at higher water, sewer fees

tflach@thestate.comFebruary 17, 2015

LEXINGTON COUNTY SC — It’s probably going to cost homes and businesses more soon for water and sewer service provided by Lexington.

Lexington town officials on Tuesday started looking at a rate hike of 2.5 percent annually for each of the next five years for 15,000 homes and businesses. It’s a plan that seems “practical and conservative,” Town Councilman Ted Stambolitis said. The package is needed to pay for rising costs of operation, additional facilities planned to keep pace with growth and increasingly tougher environmental protection standards, consultant William Zieburtz said. Overall, the series of rate hikes suggested is “pretty moderate,” he said.

Town residents pay an average of nearly $64 per month for service while those outside the community pay an average of slightly more than $111 per month. The first increase would take effect July 1 if the plan is accepted by town leaders. It would be smaller than average initially after other minor adjustments in the way rates are set – 71 cents per month for the typical home in town and $1.52 per month for one outside town.

Adoption of the package is “very likely” since it provides a low-cost way to handle the demands created by steady development, Mayor Steve MacDougall said. Town officials last raised utility rates in mid-2013 with a 3 percent hike capping a series of increases.

The latest increases proposed follows one last year in areas served by Cayce and West Columbia. Those cities are partners with Lexington in providing water and sewer in the eastern half of the Lexington County. Despite some complaints, recent utility rate hikes in Lexington are less than average compared to elsewhere in the Southeast, Zieburtz said.