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New business ventures aim to revive Main Street

City celebrates Mast Store opening, expects renewal of downtown Mast Store — a key tenant in Columbia’s ongoing Main Street renovation — opened its doors in an elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. Columbia leaders cheered the effort as a keynote sign of progress for the downtown district.

Russell House to host stress-reducing events for exam week

Beginning today, the Russell House will host events in an attempt to lighten the stress of exam week. Today, Carolina Productions will host Carolina After Dark from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. in the Russell House. The lobby of the building will host a relaxation station, complete with massage chairs and beds, and an oxygen bar as well as sandy candy. In the ballroom, there will be a dome planetarium theatre that organizers have explained as a surround sound/video immersive mind-body experience. In the theater, fourth-year music major and local musician Haley Dreis will be putting on a concert opened by third year english major, Ned Durrett. Durrett was last year’s winner of USC Idol. “I’m really excited because I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for me and also for students who have never heard my music but need that study break,” said Dreis, whose band will perform original songs from both of her albums as well as a few covers. On Tuesday, the Russell House Study Union begins. The program, which was started to offer support and space for students to study during exam week, will run through May 3. Students will be able to benefit from free photocopying services at the Russell House Information Desk, and will be able to use the meeting rooms for studying. Campus Wellness will be relocating its Bean Bag Room into the lobby as well.The Russell House itself, as well as the Horseshoe Deli, will stay open until 3 a.m. from Tuesday to Thursday. On Wednesday, the Union will host “Russell House Review”. The night will have a free late-night breakfast in the Grand Market Place from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m., pet therapy in the ballroom, ZUMBA stress breakers and free massages.

Data on USC salaries and salary increases now online

Following Friday’s story that detailed significant salary increases for some of USC’s highest-paid employees, we received dozens of comments, emails and phone calls from outraged readers. Many of you asked us for more data. On our website, you will now find a database of all USC salaries more than $100,000. In a separate column, labeled “temporary salary adjustments” by USC officials, you can see the raises given in 2010. Why are we doing this? It’s your money, and we think you have a right to know. Government is practiced best under rays of sunshine, and if these employees are getting bonuses of $20,000 or more on top of salaries that are often $200,000 or more, you at least deserve to know who is getting them. USC officials would like you to believe these raises are all deserved. We think it’s your right to think for yourself. We’d like to report more on these salary increases, but today is our last paper of the semester. You’ll see more information next semester.Have a good summer!— Josh Dawsey, Editor-in-Chief

Confrontation between fraternity members closes NPHC step show

The music was shut off at the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Yard Show Thursday evening after an altercation occurred between members of two fraternities. According to several members of the crowd on the Russell House Patio, who originally came to see the step show but excitedly gathered to see the conflict, no blows were exchanged. But even though the music was shut off around 6 p.m. and the crowd was encouraged to disperse, the area didn’t clear until after 7:30. “In the past, we’d just turn the sprinklers on,” said Jerry Brewer, USC’s associate vice president for Student Affairs, who supervised the crowd with two police officers. “That was more of a ’70s thing.” Brewer said he didn’t know what action would be taken against those responsible for the altercation, but he pointed to a security camera and said the whole incident had been recorded.