The Catch-Up: Anticipated octopus arrives at Riverbanks Zoo

Also: Catering company replaces West Columbia Subway, Dominion boat ramp closed

By Jordan Lawrence and Natalie Szrajer
Posted 12/6/23

The most anticipated occupant of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s new Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center arrived at its new home in time for the holidays.

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The Catch-Up: Anticipated octopus arrives at Riverbanks Zoo

Also: Catering company replaces West Columbia Subway, Dominion boat ramp closed


The most anticipated occupant of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s new Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center arrived at its new home in time for the holidays.

Nearly nine months after the upgraded facility opened to the public following extensive renovations, Susan, a giant Pacific octopus, has taken up residence at the zoo.

 “When The Boyd Foundation originally made their generous donation for the ARCC renovation, Mrs. Boyd really wanted her favorite animal, an octopus, to be a part of the guest experience,” a release states. “The octopus is named Susan in honor of Mrs. Boyd. In fact, Susan Boyd was one of the first to meet Susan the Octopus early this morning [Friday, Dec. 1].”

Susan was available for guests to see starting that day. 

 “The number one question we get day after day is when will the octopus be here, and now we have an answer,” Kendra Bottini, aquarium curator at Riverbanks, is quoted. “There were delays revolving around mechanical issues with the water chiller and tank sealant, but after months of hard work the tank is ready, and the new homeowner is finally here. Bottini continues, “I’m just happy to finally lay eyes on her. Octopi are just really amazing creatures. To have the opportunity to care for one is absolutely thrilling.”

The zoo closes daily for regular visitors at 4 p.m. through Jan. 14 for its nightly Wild Lights holiday display. — JL

Catering company replaces Subway in West Columbia

A Subway will be replaced by a long-standing catering company in West Columbia.

Signature Catering is set to move into the previous sandwichery location at 509 Meeting St., offering pre-made meals, wine and gifts from local vendors in addition to its catering operations.

The catering company, associated with popular Columbia seafood restaurant Blue Marlin, will now have two locations, with its previous one sitting at 991 1st St. in Columbia.

The shopping center — located a block from State Street and the heart of West Columbia’s dining and nightlife hub, the River District — also features the Soda City location of Pedego Electric Bikes and Always Original Bakering, among other tenants. — NS

Lexington-Richland 5 teacher gets national award

A local teacher has received a national award.

Peter Lauzon, who teaches biomedical sciences at Lexington-Richland School District 5’s Center for Advanced Technical Studies and has been a STEM educator in the district for 21 years, recently received the National Education Association Foundation’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

“The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognizes educators for their leadership, excellence in the classroom, commitment to equity and diversity, and advocacy for the teaching profession,” a release states. “It provides an annual opportunity for NEA state leaders to collectively and publicly recognize and reward exemplary educators for their outstanding instruction and advocacy to advance the profession. Between September and May each year, NEA direct affiliates may nominate an educator to receive an Award for Teaching Excellence.”

“We celebrate Mr. Lauzon’s exemplary instruction and dedication to the teaching profession,” Tina McCaskill, the district’s chief of academics, is quoted. “He is well-respected for his leadership in our district as well as in the state and is most deserving of this distinguished honor.”

Lauzon began his teaching career in 1988.

 “I am truly humbled to be chosen by The SCEA to represent the educators of South Carolina for such a prestigious award,” he is quoted. “Our school district, this community, and my colleagues have all played an integral role in my career and for that, I am truly thankful.” — JL

3 arrested following November shooting in West Columbia

West Columbia police recently announced the Nov. 26 arrest of three people following a shooting that occurred Nov. 25.

“Officers responded to a home on the 600 block of Lown Street that had been struck by gunfire. Following an investigation by WCPD detectives, the following individuals were arrested on November 30, 2023, for Discharging a Firearm into a Dwelling, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Violent Crime, and multiple counts of Attempted Murder: 21-year-old Michael Jackson of Columbia, 34-year-old Aliyah Sims of Orangeburg, and 18-year-old Jamarion Gladden of Columbia,” the department posted to Facebook. 

“A fourth codefendant who is a juvenile has also been arrested for the same charges in this case. Thank you to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Marshall’s Task Force for assisting with taking these individuals into custody.”

Jackson (charged with three counts of attempted murder) remains in the Lexington County Detention Center, bond having been denied, per the jail’s website. — JL

Boat ramp at Lake Murray Dam closed for December

A prime Lake Murray boat landing is temporarily closed.

“Dominion Energy will begin repaving the parking area at the boat launch located on the Irmo side of the Lake Murray dam, closing the area temporarily until work is complete,” a release states.

That launch, located at 2101 North Lake Dr., is a popular spot to put in boats, sitting on a main thoroughfare and featuring ample parking, outdoor space and restroom access. Work began Dec. 4 and is expected to continue through December, with the parking lot and boat ramp remaining closed while the work is being done.

Boaters are encouraged to use the Hilton Recreation Ramp (415 Launch Court in Chapin, about 25 miles away) and the Larry Koon Landing (1501 Shull Ave. in Gilbert, about 19 miles away) in the meantime.

Those looking to access the walkway across the dam can use the Dominion parking lot on the other side of the lake. — JL


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