Monthly Archives: June 2016

Spare old tires second lives as mosquito havens, nuisances and hazards  

Old, discarded vehicle tires might not have the get up and go they used to, but if we don’t properly dispose of them they operate just fine when it comes to aiding and accelerating the growth of the mosquito population.

Tires are ideal breeding sites for several species of mosquitoes that could carry diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya. They collect leaves and easily fill up with water when it rains, making them perfect places for mosquito larvae to thrive.

Considering the fact that South Carolinians generate more than 4.5 million waste tires every year, it’s critical that we dispose of them in the right manner.

Recycling is the best solution

Here’s how you as a citizen can help:

  • When you purchase a new tire, leave the old one with the dealer.
  • If you have tires around your home, toss out any water they might be holding, keep them dry and cover them or store them inside. If you don’t have a use for keeping them, the best solution is to recycle discarded tires. Most counties have collection programs that accept a minimal number of waste tires (usually about five) at drop-off recycling centers. Check with your local recycling coordinator or call the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348 for a drop-off center near you.
  • Report tire dumping and unpermitted storage of waste tires. Contact your local litter control office or the local DHEC Environmental Health Services Office. To find your local litter office go to org/about/ and select your county. DHEC offices are listed at

Properly discarding tires helps control mosquito populations and combats mosquito-borne diseases, and it also prevents potential fire hazards and removes unsightly nuisances. Recycled tires can be turned into valuable products like rubberized asphalt or crumb rubber applications that can be used in road projects, playgrounds, sport facilities and even erosion-resistant beach walls.

School of Deaf and Blind 2 (2)

Recycled tires can be used to construct sports facilities.

In South Carolina, DHEC is working to identify responsible parties to remove and manage illegally dumped tires. But while it’s critical to cleanup existing piles, the best solution is to prevent such piles from forming in the first place.

Be responsible and lawful

It’s going to take responsible, informed, lawful efforts on the part of those who sell, buy, transport or process tires to avoid the creation of waste tire heaps:

  • If you transport more than 15 waste tires at any one time in South Carolina, you must be registered as a hauler. Be sure to obtain a waste tire hauler permit.
  • A permit also is required to process waste tires, including the use of mobile shredders.
  • The storage of waste tires typically requires a waste tire collection permit. Certain exemptions apply to new or scrap tire dealers, tire retreaders, tire manufacturers, permitted solid waste facilities, businesses that remove tires from motor vehicles and agricultural users.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: Once tires have lost their get up and go, dispose of them properly. Spare them a second life as mosquito havens, nuisances and environmental hazards.

Champions of the Environment: Chesnee High Water Bottle Project

Guest post by Ms. Deborah Ezell , Chesnee High School, Spartanburg School District 2

The Chesnee High School Water Bottle Project began as an offshoot of our recycling program and my marine science class. We discuss the ocean trash patch every semester and the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Seeing the amount of water bottles in the recycling bins, I felt it was important to stress the need to reduce the amount of trash we generate all together.

Peer-to-peer engagement

A few students got together to make a video last year to introduce the idea to the school body about the ocean trash patch and the need to reduce the number of plastic bottles we use every day. The video was a necessary undertaking because the student body really had to understand why it is so important to stop using plastic bottles before they would buy into the inconvenience of having to fill their own bottle. They needed to know what was at stake.

The video was shown at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year we began distributing water bottles to the students. We kept coolers of ice water in each wing for students to fill up their bottles anytime during the day. The coolers were difficult to maintain because they had to be cleaned and refilled twice a day. It was very labor intensive and after six months of it the kids were getting a little tired.

Taking it to the next level

Winning the Champions of the Environment Award has allowed us to put in water fountains fitted for bottles and it has made all the difference for our water bottle program. The students in Chesnee are now invested in the program and would not want to go back to the days without the bottle fountain. We have lowered the number of plastic water bottles by 30 percent in 2015. Since January 2016 we have lowered the number by almost 50 percent!

The City of Spartanburg has begun a water bottle program, so I hope our success helps the city make a water bottle program successful across the city. We plan on taking our show on the road and spreading the word at the Spartanburg Earth Day festival and The Spring Fling Festival.

Student pride

I feel like this program will continue to be successful in the future because the students feel a sense of ownership in it. They designed the school recycling logo, created the video, wrote the grant application and then won the award. They feel pride in what they have accomplished and that pride will help keep this program going for a long long time. These kinds of programs can be difficult sometimes, but when the students take ownership of their work you as the teacher can spend more time helping them understand the importance of what they are doing.


This post is part of a series of posts on environmental education submitted by DHEC’s Champions of the Environment 2016 winners.

About Champions of the Environment
Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. For more information, visit

Health Regulation Team Honored for Outstanding Effort in Patient Safety Work

By Jim Beasley
photo above: Shelly B. Kelly, Yolanda Holloman, Tamara Grant, Barbara Brague and MaryJo Rooue

Sometimes, regulating leads to the need for swift action.

Emergency actions taken by DHEC Health Regulations staff following an unannounced complaint investigation at an ambulatory surgery center have earned recognition from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their efforts also exemplified the agency’s core value of promoting teamwork.

It was April 2015 when registered nurses Tamara Grant and Yolanda Holloman from DHEC’s Bureau of Certification visited a site and found that the facility was placing its patients in “Immediate Jeopardy,” the formal term for a crisis situation in which the health and safety of individuals are at risk. Serious violations were found, including practices covering infection control and surgical services.

The team collaborated with the Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing and the Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology, finding several areas at the facility requiring an urgent plan of correction. Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing staff referred the center’s medical director for review by another state agency, while Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology staff conducted a contact investigation of patients and collaborated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional guidance.

CMS Award_2

Eva Johnson, Lorie Sanders, Tamara Grant, Sandra Johnson, Barbara Brague and Yolanda Holloman

Barbara Brague, a registered nurse with the Bureau of Certification, helped guide the inspectors in the field during a situation that proved a challenging experience for all. She interacted with the other DHEC bureaus and worked closely with the CMS regional office to determine whether the facility’s correction plan was acceptable.

DHEC surveyors conducted follow-up inspections in May and June 2015 to verify that corrections were made and to ensure the facility complied with federal regulations and conditions.

This shining example of cooperation and collaboration among bureaus demonstrates the importance of communication across the agency and with our partners.

Congratulations to all staff involved in this extraordinary effort for helping to protect the health and safety of patients. The award is well-deserved.

Remembering Dr. Richard Ballew: A legacy of service to TB control and public health

Photo above: Dr. Richard “Dick” Ballew (seated) served our agency and state for almost 50 years making a dramatic difference in the treatment and control of tuberculosis.

By Jim Beasley

Few people exemplify the traits of service and dedication as well as DHEC tuberculosis consultant Dr. Richard “Dick” Ballew.

Dr. Ballew died May 16 following a lengthy illness, leaving a notable legacy in the wake of nearly 50 years of service with DHEC.

After receiving his medical doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee, he served with the U.S. Public Health Service in South Carolina from 1958 until 1960, focusing his efforts on the treatment and control of sexually transmitted diseases. After an eight-year stint at an Alabama private practice, Dr. Ballew returned to South Carolina in 1968 as a DHEC clinical physician and medical director.

He then turned his eyes toward the agency’s efforts to fight tuberculosis in 1970 by holding TB clinics at the Lexington County Health Department. At the time, South Carolina experienced more than 600 cases of TB disease annually, placing a significant medical burden on the agency and state.

His interest in the disease grew, leading him to assume a full-time position as chief medical consultant to DHEC’s Division of Tuberculosis Control in 1990. Dr. Ballew oversaw diagnosis and treatment of an extraordinary number of TB cases as he conducted TB clinics in 37 of the state’s 46 counties. Through his work with the agency’s TB team, the incidence of the disease dropped to approximately 100 per year by his full retirement last year. TB control specialists around the country took note of these accomplishments, as did members of DHEC’s TB Control staff.

Dr. Ballew possessed wisdom from his years of experience, and he was always willing to share it with others through training clinics and consultations.

“He became the ‘go-to’ consultant for suspect TB cases and, of course, for proven TB cases as well,” said Dr. Eric Brenner, formerly of DHEC and now with the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. “Aside from being a clinician par-excellence, Dr. Ballew was also a wonderful teacher, serving as instructor in TB courses for nurses and clinicians from around the state.

“During his 35 years in the TB program,” continued Dr. Brenner, “the state reported approximately 6,700 cases of this infectious illness, and a conservative estimate is that Dr. Ballew was personally responsible for the medical treatment of over a third of them.”

His dedication to battling disease could only be topped by his love for Nancy, his wife of 56 years.

“He loved his wife and family,” said Debra Ray, BSN, MPH, who worked alongside Dr. Ballew for almost 23 years in DHEC’s TB program. “He always referred to Mrs. Ballew as his ‘bride.'”

Dr. and Mrs. Ballew Dec 2015

Dr. Ballew accepts an award at his DHEC retirement party in December 2015.

Dr. Ballew retired from DHEC in 2000, the first time, leaving his full-time position as TB consultant with the agency. He would continue as a part-time consultant until eventually retiring, for a second time, in December 2015. His health would not allow him to reach his goal of 50 years with the agency. TB staff from across the state gathered in Columbia to honor the man who began serving this agency before many of them had been born.

“Dr. Ballew has worked extensively to eliminate TB disease, making South Carolina a healthier place,” said Basley Carlisle, director of DHEC’s Division of Tuberculosis Control. “Dr. Ballew will truly be missed.”

Very true. He will be missed by many.

“He was not only a compassionate, dedicated physician,” Ray said, “but also a wonderful friend.”

It’s for the Birds…An Introduction to Ornithology with Kids

Guest post by Ms. Amy Ellisor, Bookman Road Elementary, Richland School District Two, Columbia SC

Involving children in being responsible for the animals and natural habitat that surround us provides a foundation for sustaining our environment.  As a 2016 Champions of the Environment grant winner, Bookman Road Elementary’s ornithology project allows children to create bird sanctuaries to provide protection from predators, a safe nesting space, and nourishment for a thriving bird population for our school families and community to enjoy for many years.  Through this type of environmental education, students learn to be responsible custodians of the land, the animals and other living creatures in this mini ecosystem.

Project Summary

Bookman Road Elementary students in kindergarten, fifth grade and the school’s Ecofriendly Club created bird sanctuaries in the existing nature trail on the school property. Through this project, students learned the importance of relationships within habitats and to be responsible custodians of the land, animals and other living creatures in this mini-ecosystem.

First, the nature trail was cleared of debris, then nesting boxes and webcams were installed with the help of local experts in ornithology, biology and environmental science. All K-5th grade students, their families, and community visitors have access to the live streaming video of the nesting boxes through the school blog, as well as access to visiting the bird boxes and sanctuary on school property.

Student-friendly Introduction to Ornithology Discovery kits from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will provide additional activities and resources for fun student learning. The Ecofriendly Club will help assemble the kits and create a training video for the use of the kits and procedures for visiting the sanctuary. Observations and images will be captured in Nest Notebooks and students will use the Merlin Bird ID by Cornell for data collection analysis.

Inspirational Education

The inspiration behind our Champions project was to allow students of different ages and abilities to work to together to learn about the birds indigenous to our local area.  Bringing in technology such as mini iPads, web cams and bird watching applications allows us to make observations, collect data and share information with other people across the globe.

The best part of the project was the first time we looked onto the computer and straight into our Cardinal nest with a clear, birds-eye view.  We have also really enjoyed establishing a relationship with the experts at Cornell University.  This institution created the Merlin Bird ID application.  They have provided answers to many of our questions to assist us in setting up our project.  They are also eager to collaborate with us when our sanctuaries become populated.

Overcoming challenges

A challenge we faced was getting the webcams installed and connected to a live video feed. The original location we selected for this project was the school’s nature trail.  The trail was too far to manage with the equipment in our budget range.  However, locating the nest boxes, cameras and feeders in three key locations close to the school ended up resulting in even better locations than we originally planned.  Our existing locations are easier for students and families to access, to monitor activity and to take care of the sanctuaries more easily.

With donations of bird food, regular sanctuary area cleaning and maintenance and continuous technology, the impact of our project will remain permanently.

Bookman champions.jpg

Tips for Teachers

For schools wishing to create their own environmental education program, we suggest forming a partnership of students, teachers, SIC/PTO members and the support of local experts and volunteers.  Think of a project that will be simple, fun and beneficial to many people.  Organize your plan to begin with research and then plan to include time with a small leadership team to think about the participants you wish to be involved, the dedicated space needed, the cost of materials needed for your budget and the sustainability of your project.  Celebrate the success of your grant being funded with students, parents and your school community.  Notify your school district’s community relations division and inform your local media to showcase your great news!

Contact Bookman Road Elementary to come visit and talk with our resident Beacon Birds.

This post is part of a series of posts on environmental education submitted by DHEC’s Champions of the Environment 2016 winners.

About Champions of the Environment
Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. For more information, visit