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The Columbia Star
Columbia, South Carolina
January 22, 2004     The Columbia Star
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January 22, 2004

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2 "JANUARY 22. 2 C) () 4 The Star Reporter Corporation 723 Queen Street Columbia, SC 29205 803-771-0219 Harold C. Booker Jr. W. Miller Montgomery, Publisher 1963-1986 Publisher 1986-1996 Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.O. Publisher Mimi M. Maddock, M.A. Executive Editor Pam Clark Reception Public Notices " Rachel Haynie Society editor Ceille Baird Welch Mike Cox Natasha Whitling Staff wr/ters Linda Sosbee, M.Ed. Financial Manager Alan Kelso, B.A. Graphics John Temple Ligon Business editor Gail Trebuchon Star Advertising Gorby Montbee Ted Neale Secur/ty Sonia Wilkins CALL Credit card scam It's four o,clock in the afternoon when the tele- phone rings. Henrietta answers, and a man identifies himself as Gregg Overstreet. "I'm with the Security and Fraud Division of MasterCard. My badge number is 12839." Mr. Overstreet continues, "Your MasterCard has been flagged because of an unusual purchase pattern. I'm calling to verify that you are the correct holder of the card in question." He states her card number. Henrietta's head is spinning. "What is this all about?" she asks. "Have you recently purchased an anti-telemar- keting device for the amount of $497.99?" Mr. Overstreet asks, adding, "the company is based in New Mexico." aNo, I have not," says Henrietta. Overstreet continues, "Then we'll be issuing you a credit for that amount. This company is fraudulently charging MasterCard holders for amounts ranging from $250 to just under $500. That's the ceiling over which we flag accounts for possible fraudulent activi- ty." Then Overstreet reads out Henrietta's home address, "Is that correct?" he asks. "Yes, it is," she responds. "If you have any questions, you can reach me at the fraud division number, (800) MasterCard, then ask for the fraud division. To confirm your card is in your possession, please turn your card over and read me the seven digit number on the back. Henrietta reads the man the number. "Thank you, ma,am," says Mr. Overstreet, "and if you have any questions about this case, do not hesi- tate to call. Thanks for your cooperation." OK, readers of Call The Cops! Are you a little bit suspicious of this call? I sure hope so, because Henrietta has just given Mr. Overstreet a']Y-the tools he needs to make purchases in her name. The security numbers on the back of your MasterCard or VISA are "for your eyes only." Mr. Overstreet is not an employee of MasterCard or VISA. He's a thiefi I've just described a scam now being worked across the country. Never, ever give out financial infor- mation on the telephone, especially to a stranger who telephones you. Opinion T H E C O L U M B|A S T A R 5CPA Award Winning Col00nbt fl00e Maddock i 30-Something speaks0000 ' 1 Squirrels; You broke our con I've got nothing against squirrels, although I'm not quite sure what purpose they serve in the great circle of life. Nor do I know where they belong in the food chain, with the possible exception of a stray cat and in some parts of West Virginia. In fact, I can find no possible reason for their existence other than to provide those of us in the city with a little wild life. All of the hustle and bustle of city life is broken up ever so nicely when those pesky little rodents pelt us with half-eaten pecans in the spring and treat our flower beds like some kind of all-you--can-eat buf- fet. Still, even though I'm not quite sure of the squirrels' pur- pose, I have learned to tolerate their presence. But recently some squirrels in my neighborhood have gotten a little greedy, and they have forgotten the sacred agree- ment they have with me and the rest of the human world. Well give them the trees, and they can come down in the yards once and a while. They can even run around in the street at their own risk. But they must never, ever, under any circumstance, enter our homes. Squirrels are lively and cute, even welcome additions to the neighborhood when they are fear- lessly jumping from limb to limb outside. But, in someone's house, squirrels are nothing more than overgrown mice with bushy tails and freakishly good ability to jump. A squirrel in a tree from a distance is picturesque. A squirrel on a chair in the living room is ter- He looked down at me as if to say, "Hey, man, welcome home! Rough day at the office? Come on up for some grub, the Mrs. is cook- ing up some of your pansies." That's just great, I thought as his significant other poked her head out as if to say, "Yes, come on up. I'm trying out a new recipe." Now, with all that's going on in my life, rye got Chip and Dale and 400 of their closest friends living it up in under my roof. I declined their invitation with a small rock from my drive- way, which sent them scurrying even deeper into my attic and broke another one of the wooden slats that is supposed to protect the vent of my house. We had a pact! I didn't spend my free time with a handful of pebbles and a sling shot picking them off as they danced from limb to limb, and they weren't supposed to colonize my attic. The worst part was that I knew I was going to have to deal with this before my house became the Disney World of the entire squirrel population. I don't even like going up in my attic to drop off a box or two, now I had to ven- ture up in that place of dust and cobwebs and do battle with sever- al of Mickey Mouse's much larger and quicker distant cousins. As I began to climb up into the attic armed with my Louisville Slugger and a flashlight, I thought, Maybe sharing my home with squirrels wouldn't be so bad. I don't go in the attic much, and they don't make that much noise. But they'd get comfortable, attd rifying. I came home from work the other night, and as I was working my way up the driveway, I glanced up toward my attic vent. There in the vent was one of our neighbor- hood squirrels peking his cute lit- tle beady head out of my attic. .. -  inviting their bird friends.. Then they'd probably even invite in a stray raccoon orpossum, and before you know it, my family and I would be watching TVfrorn the oak tree in our front yard, and the squirrels would be throwing par- ties in our living room. Mike Maddock So, like the big brave man ! my two small daughters think I t am, I took my attic back. The little 1 rats didn't even put up a fight. They ran for the trees before I :tlectI e bu; could take one swing. I guess their lY"Ling consciences got to them as they reles realized they were in breach of our If' and contract. Or, more likely, they t camq knew no matter what I did to plug mer the hole into my attic, they'd got- ] Janu  ten a taste of life offthe branch, [" Kno and this local yokel and his pry a. Louisville Slugger were simply a t tra, temporary distraction in their new t n the home away from home. A few days have passed and .|.1 m! in ed ( my attic is still squirrel free. My i300 q home improvement skills may i 1 0,0( have actually improved enough to  uch defeat those little home invaders, ifigul Sure, I'm getting some really La mean looks from the trees, my F ] in truck has been pummeled with |_" acorns and pecans, and every !ES  fl'i11' our yard has been uprooted, but I won. I am a manly man who has taken back his home. Now if only I could get those pigeons to stop decorating my wife's van. Kay J. McClanal Land Development Manifesto 10 Part One: Overview of lost rights Richland County Council will begin deliber- ating on the new 239-page Land Development (zoning) Code Thursday, 1/22/04. The public hearing 'sched- uled for that day was can- celled. That's good, because council needs to study the whole code before the public makes comment. Because the code will enforce the Town and Country Plan, they really need to read all 275 pagbs of the plan, too. Once they read these documents, they will final- ly know why the rest of us are so upset. They will learn, for instance, that even though most of the vocal opposition has been from the rural areas of the county, every single prop- erty owner in Richland County will be hurt by this plan and code. Every property will' be rezoned, all with new restrictions, and thou- sands of properties where people live, work, and play will become non-conform- ing uses. All future subur- ban development in the county will be crammed into the Northeast area around Two Notch Road, along Broad River Road, in a little patch of Lower Richland just beyond 1-77, and in selected spots (including Blythewood, Ballentine, and HorreU Hill) scattered throughout the rural parts of the county called "villages" or "growth centers." Areas doomed for future development will be forced to add thousands of homes, apartments, and non-residential (even industrial) development between homes as "mixed- use," "infill" development of "underutilized" lots, so that once the code passes, no homeowner will ever again be safe in what his neighbor might be able to build next door. And taxes are going up as property values go down. Lot width, structure size, setback, density, per- mitted land uses and max- imum height require- ments for any new village or in-fill development will be crafted on a site-by-- site basis by the courty, without written rules, as long as they say they are consistent with the plan. They can do anything they want for their friends and turn the rest of us down for no reason at all. Every single residential lot in ' the county will be able to have two residences on it as soon as this code pass- es, but no manufactured homes will be allowed as a second home anywhere, not even for rural family members. Everybody on a 55 mph road must have 350 feet between his and his neighbor's driveway; 45 mph/250 feet, and 30 mph/100 feet, so some people won't even have enough frontage for a driveway. The code also does away with private driveway subdivisions, so that rural families will have to build and pay for paved roads that meet county standards before they can even have a home on their own land. Nothing will really be encouraged in the rural areas because no infra- structure will be provided. Someone will be able to force you to survey your trees before your property can be subdivided, and deputies can arrest you for cutting a "protected" tree on your own land. If you're in a new subdivi- sion, the county will dic- tate how many, what size, and what kind of trees must appear in your front yard. Required alleys behind village homes (so cars can't be seen from the street), sidewalks, and low density requirements (how many acres of "green space" you must build on a one acre homesite), will make impossible for the family, retiree, police officer, or teacher to be able to afford to live in county. The code will other freedoms, too. can't be boarded by a erinarian unless sick. No person nor trailer can stay in an park for more than days, and you can't but one camper at ever. You can only two yard sales a your own yard, and in residential areas rural ones, places ship can only be by convincing the Zoning Appeals. These are but a of the things the and Country Plan and Land will enforce. If County Conncil these documents as as the people have, it should lie easy make the right (Next week: how the l zoning will affect you live.)