WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s new ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Answering the Administration’s call to action for rural prosperity, Congress appropriated funds in the fiscal year 2018 budget for this broadband pilot program. USDA Rural Development is the primary agency delivering the program, with assistance from other federal partners.

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Ugunda Children Choir

Experience the Choir! https://www.watoto.com/choir/

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The choir of 18 orphans from Uganda will continue its six-month U.S. tour in the Charlotte, N.C. area from December 29 through January 11, 2019 featuring a brand new concert, We Will Go!

Since 1994, the Watoto Children's Choirs have toured the world annually as advocates for the 18 million African children currently orphaned by AIDS. The experience of traveling on a choir helps the children to develop confidence and boldness, as well as broadening their worldview. The children have even performed before royalty and world leaders at venues including Buckingham Palace and the White House.

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S.C. Department of Commerce Awards $7.6 million in Community Development Block Grant Funds

COLUMBIA, S.C. - More than 20 communities across South Carolina are slated to benefit from public improvement projects supported by more than $7.6 million in funds from the latest round of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The S.C. Department of Commerce (S.C. Commerce) is awarding CDBG funds to these communities, representing more than 34,720 residents, for the following projects:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke Energy has restored more than 685,000 outages after a weekend winter storm rolled through the Carolinas, dumping record amounts of snow and ice.

As of noon today, a total of 45,000 Duke Energy customers were still without power – 31,000 in North Carolina and 14,000 in South Carolina.

"Our workforce of 9,000 is restoring power to customers as fast as safely possible," said Duke Energy storm director Jason Hollifield. "However, the job is not finished. We continue to work to bring electricity back to the hardest-hit areas of the Carolinas."

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Stratos Aviation Instructor and Founder Dimitri Partafyllas.
Stratos Aviation Instructor and Founder Dimitri Partafyllas.

For the third year in a row, Stratos Aviation has been recognized as a Distinguished Flight School by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest aviation association.  AOPA also recognized Stratos Aviation Instructor and Founder Dimitri Partafyllas as a Distinguished Flight Instructor.

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WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are proposing a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of “waters of the United States” that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama administration's 2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” today’s proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – This fall, winter and/or early spring, state and federal fire crews plan to treat up to 75 acres at Table Rock State Park, up to 322 acres at Devils Fork and up to 239 acres at Keowee-Toxaway State Park with controlled burns. Many State Parks have seen decades of fire suppression with years of accumulated combustible fuels. The purpose of these controlled burns is to reduce hazardous forest fuels that cause wildfires and improve habitat conditions for wildlife and recreation.

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Mike Scruggs