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South Carolina boatmaker adding more space, 100 jobs in latest …

A Summerville marine business that’s expanded twice over the past four years is at it again.

Sportsman Boats Manufacturing announced Thursday that it plans to create another 100 jobs and invest $3.5 million at its Dorchester County site to keep up with demand.

The company said it will be adding 70,000 square feet of production space to its Limbros Industrial Park site to accommodate growth in its upholstery, welding and fabrication operations.

It expects its payroll to swell to about 370 workers, with hiring for the new openings already underway.

Sportsman Boats is headquartered on Isaac Way, off U.S. Highway 78, where it recently installed an 800-kilowatt rooftop solar power system as part of its sustainability efforts.

The company said it now makes 21 models of saltwater center-console fishing and bay boats ranging in length from 17 to 31 feet. They are now carried by about 50 dealers. The company also has started selling in the international market. 

The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved state tax credits that Sportsman Boats can apply for in the future, based on the number of jobs it creates under the new expansion.

The company was started with six employees in 2011 by two former founders of Sea Pro Boats in the Midlands and Key West Boats in Summerville who were itching to get back into the industry as sales started to bounce back from the recession. 

Two years ago, Sportsman announced it would more than double the size of its plant by adding 116,000 square feet of space. The $3.5 million investment also called for the creation of 150 jobs.

The company announced a smaller expansion in 2013.

“Sportsman Boats is proud to have roots here in South Carolina and Dorchester County, and we are excited about our continued growth,” said Tommy Hancock, co-founder and president.

The Summerville area is a longtime hub for boat makers, a lineup that includes Key West, Zodiac of North America and Scout.

The industry, which was hit hard by the last economic downturn, is now cruising along on a rising tide. 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimated that sales of new powerboats climbed 6 percent to 7 percent to 250,000 units last year, a trend the trade group expects to continue through at least 2018.

“Economic indicators are working in the industry’s favor — a continuously improving housing market, strong consumer confidence, growing disposable income and consumer spending, and low interest rates all contribute to a healthy recreational boating market,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the association. 

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Local anglers compete at 6th Annual Bernie Behnke Scholarship Tournament

COLDWATER — The 6th Annual Bernie Behnke Scholarship Bass Fishing Tournament was recently held at Lake Drive Marine on the Coldwater/ Marble Chain of Lakes.

The tournament is held yearly as a scholarship fundraiser for the Bernie Behnke Scholarship, named in honor of longtime outdoorsman, newspaper columnist, and fishing enthusiast Bernie Behnke who, at 98-years-old, still helps select the winners of each years scholarship.

Students are asked to submit an application and an essay describing how fishing, hunting, or outdoor life has inspired them or been a big part of their lives and Behnke, along with family members and friends, lovingly selects those candidates most deserving.

The 2018 scholarship recipients were Brad Steel and Karissa Elkins of Coldwater and Zoe Aseltine and Kaydee Swafford of Quincy, all of whom were on hand during the event to assist in boat check-in and raffle ticket sales.

The event was limited in boats this season, with organizers pairing down the size of the tournament to 82 teams, down from over 100 the previous year.

Over 80 anglers from the tri-state area competed in the Coldwater Chain of Lakes for cash and prizes in excess of ten thousand dollars.

Immediately following the weigh-in, products and services from national sponsors and local venders were auctioned and raffled in order to raise funds for the Bernie Behnke Scholarship.

The event netted more than $8,000 for scholarships in the coming years, given through the Branch Area Career Center in Behnke’s name.

Since its inception six years ago, the scholarship event has generated over $50,000 to assist area youth in furthering their education.

For the event itself, it was a Hoosier dominated event, as teams from the state of Indiana claimed a good portion of the prize money.

Coming away with the tournament win was the team of Frank Randol of Angola, IN. and Quint Butters of Homer, coming in with a five bass limit that weighed in at 12.70 pounds, a limit that included the Yamaha Big Bass Award for the largest bass of the tournament, a 4.27 pound lunker that netted the team $1,500 in total prize money.

Randol and Butters were third place finishers in the 2016 event and are superb veteran tournament anglers and are perennial favorites each year.

The team of Blake Smathers of Angola, IN. and partner Mike Klavinski of Hudson, IN. just barely missed claiming their second championship, as they had previously won in 2013, with their second place finish with a five fish limit of 10.72 pounds, good enough for a $1,000 payday.

The team’s weigh-in also included the third largest bass of the tournament at 3.98 pounds, netting the pair of Hoosiers the Rampit Big Bass award of $250.

The husband and wife team of Brian and Renee Hensley, runners up in 2016, had no fish at 2 p.m. on a difficult day of fishing, with a 2:40 check-in time looming.

The team turned their day around in a heartbeat, coming through in crunch time, eventually netting a five fish limit in less than an hour, giving them third place on the day with a total weight of 9.70 pounds, good enough for $750.

Brian and Renee Hensley recently became the first husband and wife duo to each earn a spot on the Indiana Bass Federation State team where they will get to represent their state in the national competition later this fall on Kentucky Lake.

Perennial contenders Kevin Warner of Litchfield and Kelly Warner of Homer were the first team out of the trophies with a fourth place finish, weighing in a five bass limit of 9.64 pounds, good enough for a $600 payday.

Additionally, the team of Warner and Warner brought in the second largest bass of the tournament, a 4.06 pound largemouth, earning the team the Skeeter Big Bass prize of $500.

Other local teams placing high in the final standings at the end of a tough day of fishing included Austin Cary and Mark Gordier II of Battle Creek, sixth place; Lucas Earl of Reading and James Wickey of Coldwater in seventh place; Bryce Steward of Jonesville and Dale Stewart of Hillsdale in ninth place; Doug and Terry Tucker of Albion, tenth place; Dan Inman of Union City and Mitchell Inman of Sherwood with a twelfth place finish; Bob Goheen and Dale Poley of Quincy in fifteenth place; and Darrell and Jeremy Antrup of Fremont, IN. in sixteenth place.

The first 50 teams to register for the tournament this year were also entered into a drawing for the Walmart D.C. mystery cash prize worth $300.

A special thanks goes out to all those who made the tournament possible.

A special thanks to Short’s on the Water for donating the pulled pork and ice for the anglers as they were all treated to a final meal following the weigh-in.

Other local vendors contributing prizes and service for this event included Meijer; Family Farm and Home; Tri-State Tackle; The Angler; Lake Drive Marine and staff; Spieth and Satow Auctioneers; Bobilya Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Inc.; Catalyst Marketing; Kendal Ulsh; and JDP Construction LLC.

The event organizers would also like to recognize our many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the day a big success, including Ricky King, Don Laughton, Penny Tappenden, Belinda Smathers Corenea Wilkins, Tyler and Austin Fee, Emma Tennyson, Julie Uetrecht, Jaran Utrecht, John Foust, Paul Elton, John Rodgers, and Garrett Rodgers.

In all, it was a successful day of fishing, despite the super tough fishing conditions.

Only 39 of the 83 teams weighed in fish on the day with only 10 teams weighing a five bass limit.

But in the end the event was about raising money for the Bernie Behnke Scholarship foundation and preserving a great man’s legacy.


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Powerball prize means a dream boat for Brunswick County man

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Today’s Must-Reads For Entrepreneurs: Helping Houston, The Newest Unicorns, The Uber Of Boats

Residents shop for emergency supplies from a Randall’s Food Markets store in Houston on Thursday. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg

News and insights from around the Web:


Retailers shut down on Sunday: “Randalls managed to open three Houston locations and one in Cypress until early Sunday evening. Its other local store remained closed. … Walmart, which mobilized its emergency response center Friday, kept most of its Houston-area stores closed amid flooding, power outages and road closures. The company sent nearly 800 truckloads of water and emergency supplies to Texas as the storm rolled inland, and it expects to send another 1,700 truckloads of water within the next week.”

Here’s how to help.


In the first half of 2017, a dozen venture-backed unicorns emerged: “This new unicorn cohort operates across industries, from fitness tech to cybersecurity to enterprise data management. Healthcare and wellness was one common theme, with health tech platform Outcome Health, cycling fitness company Peloton, and health insurance startup Clover Health all raising unicorn rounds this past May. While late-stage investing rounds are the typical “tipping point” for entry into the unicorn club, one quarter of newborn unicorns in H1’17 earned their $1B+ valuations with a mid-stage Series C capital raise. And while the majority of unicorn deals (8 of 12) were worth $100M+, three companies landed on the list with raises under $100M: Quora, with an $85M Series D, Rocket Lab, with a $75M Series D, and Symphony, with a $63M Series C.”

Meet 5 edtech startups from Y Combinator: “Hire faster, hire better, and reduce teacher turnover. Led by a former D.C. Public Schools human talent administrator, Nimble aims to be “a better applicant system that uses machine learning to find teachers with the best potential and match them in classrooms where they’re likely to succeed,” says Lauren Dachille, the company’s co-founder and CEO. The traditional hiring process for teachers is disorganized, she claims, and often involves disparate, disconnected tools. ‘Sometimes districts are hiring for convenience, not quality.’ Dachille believes that data can determine the type of classroom environment where a teacher can thrive. Some of that information can come from résumés and work samples (in the form of videos, for instance). But the system also collects unstructured data through open-response questions, and uses natural language processing to parse those answers and identify where an applicant may be strongest.”

Stony Creek Colors is convincing farmers to grow indigo instead of tobacco: “Once people hear that they might be wearing organic cotton blue jeans, but the dye is made from cyanide and no longer made in the United States because it is so hazardous they will recognize the importance of natural alternatives. The toxicity of the chemicals in synthetic indigo is really staggering.”


Amazon is already disrupting the super-market industry: “Food retailers like Kroger and Walmart have whittled down their prices to compete with each other and with Amazon. One advantage these chains had over Amazon was their brick-and-mortar stores. If you want to buy fresh food like salmon or eggs, you’re probably not going to do it online. Now that Amazon has access to Whole Food stores, and it’s planning to sell these products at lower prices, these chains will have more competition. We saw some of the disruption reflected in the markets yesterday — Kroger’s shares fell more than 8 percent after the announcement, while Walmart’s dipped 2 percent. In total, the news ended up wiping out nearly $12 billion in market value from grocery stores on Thursday.”

UberBOAT, a test program, is serving Croatia’s tourist-choked islands: “UberBOAT is aimed at people who want a more personalized, on-demand service — and are willing to pay for it. For example, a one-way Uber trip to Hvar from Split on an eight-seat boat cost 2,600 kuna (about $416, or $52 per person); ferry tickets run about $16. Uber Adventures cost a minimum of 330 kuna (about $53) plus $5.75 per kilometer and 50 cents per minute. UberBOAT will also take visitors directly from Split’s waterfront airport to Hvar, about an hour’s journey, for about $480 for up to eight passengers, or $600 for up to 12. That would replace a half-hour $35 taxi ride from the airport to the line for the $16 ferry — where the wait for the next boat can be up to four hours and the water journey itself lasts two hours. Mr. Tremac said the service was for people more concerned about saving time than money, noting that tourists spend an average of three and a half days in the area.” (And here’s an introduction to Uber’s new CEO.)

Social Media

A startup expects to drive $175 million in revenue this year through social media testimonials: “One might expect the average woman to be skeptical about the idea of applying a little-known liquid to her eyelids every night in hopes of longer lashes a month later, especially without a prescription. It is the kind of thing that, if seen on a television infomercial, might be skipped without a second thought. But fueled by social media testimonials and a robust direct selling force, the serum, Lash Boost, briefly sold out this summer and the company said that sales of the product — which costs up to $150 — should top $175 million in its first year.”

Small Business

At 54, she opened Lucky Dog Barkery, which has been called Whole Foods for dogs: “It’s filled with high-end pet food — bison, sardines, turkey — plus dog toys and pet clothing (more on that in a moment). Customers have been lapping it up for 12 years now. The average customer spends $65, and the store averages 90-100 sales a day. ‘We’ve got good quality people coming through the door,’ Lindsey said, and that has boosted traffic to the stores around her. Lindsey opened the story even though she knew nothing about retail. ‘My husband said the most I knew about retail was that I was on the wrong side of the cash register.'”

Human Resources

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Biotechs Cruise On Upgrades, But Drugmakers Miss The Boat

Corvus Pharmaceuticals (CRVS) rocketed to a four-month high Thursday after an analyst upgraded the stock ahead of data expected in November from an immuno-oncology partnership with Roche‘s (RHHBY) Genentech.

XAutoplay: On | OffIn morning trading on the stock market today, Corvus popped as much as 9.6% to a high last seen in early April, but recently was up 7.6%, near 14, in recent trades. Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA) also lifted 2.2%, near 57.50, after grabbing an upgrade.

Meanwhile, downgraded Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) sank 0.3%, near 16.40. Alder Biopharmaceuticals (ALDR), though, rose 1.8%, near 9.70, after sustaining a price-target haircut.

Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan upgraded Corvus to neutral from an underperform rating and boosted his price target to 14 from 12. During the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer meeting in November, the firm is expected to unveil Phase 1 data for its drug known as CPI-444.

CPI-444 is designed to block the action of a molecule produced by tumors that hinders immune response. Corvus began a Phase 1B trial with Genentech in early 2016 to look at CPI-444 alone and in combination with an immuno-oncology drug known as a PD-L1 antibody.

“Our underperform rating on Corus had been driven by limited enthusiasm around the clinical data to date for CPI-444, as well as a quiet near-term catalyst calendar,” Divan wrote in a note to clients.

IBD’S TAKE: Biotech fever has chilled over the past several weeks following the second-quarter earnings season. IBD’s 445-company Biotech industry group is now ranked eighth out of 197 groups tracked, down from fifth just a month ago. Head to IBD Industry Themes for the issues boiling under the surface.

Divan also upgraded Portola to outperform from a neutral rating and kept his 70 price target. The stock has sold off following its second-quarter earnings report in which the biotech said it’s working through some manufacturing issues that could delay the launch of its drug, Bevyxxa.

Bevyxxa is a treatment to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients at risk due to moderate or severe mobility restrictions. It’s Portola’s only approved drug. But approval also could be coming for its drug, AndexXa, an anticoagulant.

Teva, on the other hand, sustained a downgrade to underperform from a neutral rating and Divan slashed his price target to 13 from 25.

“While Teva has dramatically reduced fiscal 2017 guidance, we do not expect the core challenges they are facing to fade anytime soon,” he wrote. Teva continues to face pricing pressure in U.S. generics and upcoming competition for its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

The firm has yet to appoint a full-time chief executive and is talking about potential sales of noncore assets to pay down debt that eclipsed $35 billion in the June quarter. Divan wants to see the final details of these transactions before “giving Teva full credit.”

He also trimmed his price target on Alder to 11 from 17, though kept his neutral rating. Alder will most likely have to spend significantly to compete in a crowded market, he said. A key migraine drug, eptinezumab, is in Phase 3 trials and is rivaled by drugs from Teva, Eli Lilly (LLY) and Amgen (AMGN).

“Upside risk could come from positive updates on a self-administration formulation and more differentiated clinical data,” he said. “Downside risk could come from strong competitor launches or setbacks in eptinezumab development.”


Teva And Mylan Under Pressure As Rivalries Loom For Key Drugs

Biogen, Teva Slip After Democrats Launch MS Drug Pricing Probe

This Toppling Generic Drugmaker Could Be Poised For A Rebound: Analyst

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Moguls on a Boat 2017: Where Jeff Bezos, Lachlan Murdoch, Obamas, Zuck Vacay-tioned

As we mortals inch closer to Labor Day, we take a moment to ask for unity in our country and, for the love of God, some details about rich people on huge boats.

If you can’t afford to hop over to Bora Bora, let TheWrap tell you how Oprah Winfrey and Barack and Michelle Obama got there (Spoiler: a mogul took them. On his boat).

Find out what power couple ignored the beach to party on a glacier, what media executive hiked a Colorado mountain for a birthday party with billionaires and of course where the newborn twins of Beyonce and Jay-Z are getting some RR.


Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg

WHO: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, on Grewingk Glacier in Alaska
STATUS: This mogul added an additional $4 billion to his net worth in 2017, elevating him to the world’s fifth richest man at $72.7 billion per Forbes. To cool off all that hot cash, Zuck and Prisc visited a “huge, healthy” glacier this July. The vacation also doubled as a babymoon for Chan, who is expecting their second child. Post-delivery, Dr. Chan will get back to running a charitable initiative named for the couple, which will spend a reported $50 million this year on programs promoting education and health.

From left: Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Oprah, Barach and Michelle Obama, David Geffen

WHO: David Geffen, on his $300 million yacht Rising Sun with Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Bruce Springsteen in French Polynesia.
STATUS: In what must have been one of the most epic social voyages to set sail in our time, the stubbornly-retired music and movie honcho invited the Obamas, Oprah, The Boss and Hanks for a jaunt down the South Pacific this spring. Activities included a lunch date on Vanilla Island and then a tour through Bora Bora, said Travel + Leisure. Geffen has a net worth of about $7.7 billion as of summer 2017, and is no longer an active entertainment executive. He recently donated $100 million to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which will reportedly name a wing for him in the coming months.

From left: Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch

WHO: Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, in Aspen, Colo.
STATUS: The Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox and Co-Chairman of News Corp strayed from summer staples like the Hamptons or Malibu, attending a birthday bash for a member of his “Aussie posse.” Lachlan and wife Sarah hit up the luxe mountain town in celebration of Ericka Packer, the ex-wife of billionaire, producer and former Mariah Carey fling James Packer. The “Midsummer Night’s Dream” themed bash was also attended by actor Orlando Bloom. Lachlan’s year has been a doozy, as Fox faces a culture rife with sexual harassment claims (many ended in financial settlements). In August, he stepped out of line with his conservative father Rupert Murdoch (an informal advisor to the President) in decrying Donald Trump’s divisive response to white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va. The bright spot? 21st Century overshot earnings expectations this quarter, to the tune of $6.77 billion in revenue.

From left: Ron Perelman and Ron Meyer

WHO: Ron Meyer on Ron Perelman’s $125 million yacht C2 off the Amalfi Coast
STATUS: Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal Meyer, who advises the Comcast company on strategic moves in film, TV and theme park businesses, kicked back with pal Perelman off the gorgeous Italian coast. Perelman is a longtime MA magnate and shareholder in Revlon cosmetics among many other companies. The men also had a neighbor in the water in …

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs

WHO: Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, also off the Amalfi Coast on the $46 million chartered yacht Double Down
STATUS: This rapper-mogul’s brand is synonymous with wealth and luxury, but Combs stormed the annual Forbes Celebrity 100 List as the top-earning famous person of 2017. A stake sale in his fashion company Sean John landed him $70 million last fall. That, with investments in liquor and media companies, delivered him a career-best haul of $130 million.

Jeff Bezos

WHO: Jeff Bezos, at his rocket factory in Huntsville, Florida.
STATUS: Not content with Amazon’s footprint on the American retail experience, Bezos did not take off to Necker Island with Richard Branson or touch down in St. Barth’s this July — he cozied up to a Florida swamp where he’s got a massive rocket factory. The second-richest man in tech ($80 billion, as of August) is babysitting his startup Blue Origin. The sales pitch is a fleet of reusable rockets you can “launch, land and repeat” that will also carry passengers. Bezos teased construction on the joint with a drone-shot Instagram video, that ended with a closeup of him on a folding chair on the roof of the building. Also hard at work …

WHO: Bob Iger, at Disneyland Shanghai
STATUS: You don’t create a market-eating entertainment Goliath like the modern-day Walt Disney Company by sitting around on vacation, right? Ask Iger, who is so indispensable he extended his contract to remain Disney’s CEO while the board of directors vets possible successors. Only days after resigning from Donald Trump’s Business Advisory Council at the start of summer, Iger jetted to China to celebrate the one year anniversary of Disneyland Shanghai. The park is a hit, overshooting projections and hosting 11 million visitors in its first year. The success may have emboldened Iger, as Disney shocked Hollywood in August by announcing in third quarter earnings that they would withdrawal their films from Netflix and launch a proprietary streaming service. Iger also sold a boatload of stock just ahead of that announcement, so either way he’s swimming in it.

WHO: Beyonce and Jay-Z, in Malibu, Ca.
STATUS: The husband and wife are artists, top-tier influencers and as close to American royalty as it gets. They also spent their summer close to home, nursing newborn twins at a Malibu rental pad that goes for $400,000 per month. When Beyonce isn’t busy changing diapers, she’s counting cash. The “Lemonade” singer’s net worth ballooned to $350 million in 2017, mostly thanks to her sold-out Formation World Tour which earned a quarter of a billion dollars. Jay-Z, who released a simple and soulful album this summer called “4:44,” counts a reported $810 million net worth. They’re leaving the Malibu for Bel Air, by the way, but the rent is a bit higher — they just bought a megamansion for $90 million.


Here Are the World’s 10 Richest People, From Jeff Bezos to Charles Koch

  • Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos shook up the rankings of the world’s wealthiest on Thursday, narrowly surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Scroll through to for a countdown listing Forbes’ top list of billionaires




  • 10. Charles Koch

    Net worth: $48.5 billion

    One half of the Koch brothers, Koch is chairman and CEO to Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. He splits control of the company with brother David. 


  • 9. Bernard Arnault

    Net worth: $53.2 billion

    The CEO of LVMH, Arnault oversees 70 luxe retail brands, including Dom Perignon, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Tag Huer, not to mention 3,900 other retailers. (Yes, that’s Karl Lagerfeld he’s pictured with here). 

    Getty Images

  • 8. Michael Bloomberg 

    Net worth: $53.3 billion

    Bloomberg still retains an 88% stake in Bloomberg LP, the media and financial informations company he founded. He’s donated more than $4 billion towards gun control and climate change. 

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  • 7. Larry Ellison 

    Net worth: $61.3 billion

    The Oracle co-founder is another college dropout. He got his start building databases for the CIA and now still serves at Oracle as chairman and chief technology officer. 

    Getty Images

  • 6. Carlos Slim Helu

    Net worth: $68.6 billion

    Helu heads Mexico’s largest mobile telecom firm, America Movil. He’s also involved in real estate, construction consumer goods and mining companies, making him Mexico’s richest man. 

    Getty Images

  • 5. Mark Zuckerburg

    Net worth: $70.2 billion

    For a Harvard dropout, the Facebook founder and CEO is doing pretty well. He and his wife have pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes. 

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  • warren buffett

    4. Warren Buffet

    Net worth: $74.3 billion

    One of Gates’ good friends, Buffet is known as one of the most successful investors ever. Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 60 companies. 

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  • 3. Amancio Ortega

    Net worth: $83.5 billion

    Ortega co-founded the parent company to popular fast-fashion retailer Zara, Inditex. He’s the wealthiest man in Europe. 

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  • Bill Gates

    2. Bill Gates

    Net worth: $89.7 billion

    The Microsoft cofounder co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife; it’s the world’s largest charitable foundation. 

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  • Amazon Jeff Bezos

    1. Jeff Bezos

    Net worth: $90 billion 

    Bezos overtook Microsoft mogul Bill Gates on Thursday. He’s the founder and CEO of Amazon, which passed $500 billion market value this week for the first time. 

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The Amazon founder just recently passed Bill Gates. See who else is on the list

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos shook up the rankings of the world’s wealthiest on Thursday, narrowly surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Scroll through to for a countdown listing Forbes’ top list of billionaires



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The scene in Houston: A city under siege from Harvey’s floodwaters






Water from Harvey gushed into the KHOU 11 building Sunday forcing employees to evacuate the building.

The scenes from Houston were harrowing Sunday. 

Residents forging their way through furious floodwaters waist- and chest-deep in some parts of the city, many gripping plastic trash bags stuffed with their belongings. Trucks pushing through inundated streets as cars and other parked vehicles quickly were becoming submerged.

Families urgently piling into canoes, rafts and anything inflatable to get to higher ground.

The deluge from Tropical Storm Harvey was so intense that authorities were urging residents to seek refuge on roofs as emergency crews struggled to make their way through the city by land, water and air amid desperate pleas for help. 

Interstate 610, a freeway forming a 38-mile long loop around downtown Houston, was engulfed in floodwaters that were creeping closer to overhead highway signs — another sign of how dire the situation was becoming. 

 Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities had received more than 2,000 calls for help and would be opening the city’s main convention center as a shelter.

“I don’t need to tell anyone this is a very, very serious and unprecedented storm,” Turner said at a news conference. “We have several hundred structural flooding reports. We expect that number to rise pretty dramatically.”

Residents were being told to stay on roofs instead of climbing into attics — and to wave towels or sheets to flag down rescuers.

As people fled to rooftops, the scene was strikingly similar to another epic flooding event: 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.   


More: ‘Worse than worst-case scenario for Houston': Harvey flooding catastrophic

More: Desperate for help, flood victims in Houston turn to Twitter for rescue

More: Live stream: Water rescues in Dickinson, TX

More: Harvey threatens to make natural disaster history

Amid the horror, there were reports of heroics.

Father David Bergeron, a Catholic priest, used a kayak to get from his home in southeast Houston to higher ground where he hoped to say Mass for those stranded on the streets. Bergeron said he tried to buy some wine for Mass at a convenience store but couldn’t because sales are prohibited in the state on Sunday before noon.

“This is how America was evangelized — by canoe,” he told TV station KTRK. 

KPRC2 broadcast video of dozens of Houston residents wading through an inundated street in East Houston, some in rubber boats, many helping others through the torrents. The station captioned the scene: “Good Samaritans Help Flood Victims.”

Jesse Gonzalez, and his son, also named Jesse, used their boat to rescue people from a southeast Houston neighborhood. Asked what he had seen, the younger Gonzalez told TV station KTRK: “A lot of people walking and a lot of dogs swimming.”

Harris County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Spencer said flooding throughout the county that includes Houston was so widespread that it’s “difficult to pinpoint the worst area.”

Spencer said the department has high-water vehicles and airboats but “certainly not enough.” He says authorities are prioritizing hundreds of phones calls for help to ensure life-and-death situations were at the top of the list.

The situation was “heartbreaking,” he said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Miller on Twitter @susmiller 

West coast dealer for Axopar Motorboats is JK3 Nautical Enterprises

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — Axopar has a new dealer in town. The Finnish line of boats is now available through JK3 Nautical Enterprises with local offices on the coast in Newport Beach and San Diego.

Finland’s Axopar boats were launched in 2014 with impressive international sales growth. More than 500 boats have been built and delivered. The company, with 50 dealers in 30 countries, continues to expand.

Axopar earned the “2016 Boat Builder Award” at the Motor Boat Awards in Amsterdam. The Axopar 37 was also named “Motor Boat of the Year 2017.”

The west coast dealer for Axopar Motorboats is now JK3 Nautical Enterprises. JK3 will be at the next Southern California Boat Show in San Pedro, Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

More information on the Axopar models, provided by JK3 Nautical Enterprises, can be found online at

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Henry T. Finch Jr., former president and owner of Wild Dunes Yacht …

Henry Taylor Finch Jr., a former president and owner of Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor Inc., died Aug. 17. He was 65.

Finch was born Jan. 30, 1952, in Columbia, the oldest son of Frances Rodgers Finch and the late Henry T. Finch. He attended Western Carolina University and graduated from Baptist College at Charleston, now known as Charleston Southern University, in 1974.

In 1972, Finch’s father and uncle purchased property on Isle of Palms and developed it as Isle of Palms Beach Racquet Club. The property was later renamed Wild Dunes and the resort occupies 1,600 acres of oceanfront real estate, home to the world-class Links Course and Harbor Course, both designed by golf course architect Tom Fazio.

In 1984, Finch was named vice president and general manager of Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor at the Isle of Palms marina, where he was in charge of the day-to-day operations of boat charters and rentals, the dry storage yard, boat sales and service, slip rentals, yacht brokerage and the general store. He previously had been a sales associate with Wild Dunes and was in charge of plans and permits for Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor.

Wild Dunes was sold in 1987, but ownership of Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor was maintained until a portion was later sold to the city of Isle of Palms, which ultimately became the island’s municipal marina.

Finch also was a former owner and president of Finch Enterprises and former president and member of the Charleston Restaurant Association.

Surviving, in addition to his mother, are his wife, Nancy Judson Finch; one son; one daughter; two sisters and two brothers. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24 at Stuhr’s Mount Pleasant Chapel. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island.

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Vessels decorated with light sail in inaugural Venetian Boat Parade

Along with a City of Milwaukee Fire boat and Police boat escort, 14 vessels clad extensively in themed lighting took part in the inaugural sailing festival. The decorations and complexity of illuminations were multiplied by the mirror-like water at night.

Presented along with support from the Milwaukee County Parks, the idea for the free parade was to entertain Milwaukee residents with a pageant of light and raise funds for the Milwaukee Water Commons, to support their work with kids and water conservation. Proceeds were collected from the boat registrations and refreshment sales.

Volunteers from McBOAT invested a great deal of effort to plan and enlist the small flotilla, and coordinate with the Coast Guard and Homeland Security to hold the event. The combination of sailing ships and motor boats attracted hundred of families and spectators along the route, many arriving well before sunset to get a coveted spot for viewing.

“We really did not expect so many people to attend, attendance was more than we could have imagined. The power of social media brought in numbers that took all available parking, then filled the grass parking,” said Mike Johnson, President of the McBOAT Board of Directors and organizer of the Venetian Boat Parade. “People staged from the breakwater pier, along the marina office area and piers, to the grassy area between Center Marina and South Marina, by the Sailing Center, and east up to O’Donnel point.”

Johnson had dreamed of the Venetian Boat Parade since 2013, and this year he finally had the chance to make it a reality. A panel of judges scored the boat decorations, and presented a best-of-show award after the parade concluded. The naval contestants included a Captain Morgan themed tiki bar, American pride tropical island, 1970s disco club, and assorted spectaculars of colored lights and kitsch.

As a nonprofit organization, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center provides educational and recreational sailing programs to those who wish to gain access to Lake Michigan and learn to sail regardless of age, physical ability, or financial concerns. McBOAT’s mission is to advocate on behalf of McKinley slip tenants, provide an outlet for boating education, and maintain a working relationship between the tenants and the McKinley Marina Staff.

“People can’t wait to see the Venetian Boat Parade next year,” added Johnson. “They were telling us that with all the attention this has created, they imagine more boats will want participate next year. Some really thanked us for an amazing night that Milwaukee has not seen before.”

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