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A really long week

Posted: January 13, 2012 4:43 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

When I woke up a week ago this morning, I knew I would have a busy week. I just didn’t know how busy.

Last Monday was fairly normal. As usual, I headed over to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) to gather the weekend’s incident reports for my weekly Wednesday crime report. What was unusual about gathering those reports, however, is that we’d just come out of the county’s -- and our -- holiday schedules.

When I got back to the office, that meant I was working on creating a crime report made up of both the KCSO and Camden Police Department’s (CPD) reports for Dec. 30 through Jan. 8. That’s 11 days’ worth of reports from both agencies when I usually report seven. I spent most of the rest of the day writing up that report.

In fact, by the time I finished, so much of the day had gone by that I could only spend an hour or so starting another article for last Wednesday’s paper: the lineup of Web offerings by Camden for the Y (CFTY) and Camden Recreation Referendum Coalition (CRRC). I looked over the CFTY’s website and the CRRC’s Facebook page and blog, typed up some notes and headed home.

The next day, Tuesday, was the one I already knew would be tricky. I had to write the CFTY/CRRC Web story before 1 p.m. when I would be covering another important story: the first of two National Park Service (NPS) public meetings on the proposed Southern Campaign of the Revolution National Heritage Area (NHA). I also needed to find time to have lunch in there, somewhere.

(By the time you get to the end of this column, you’ll see why my NPS NHA story isn’t running until this Wednesday.)

That meeting lasted a bit longer than the originally allotted two hours, leaving me little time to assist Editor Martha Bruce with prepping last Wednesday’s paper. You can read my blog in the C-I’s free Community section to find out more about what that entails.

(Did I mention it was free? Good. Point your browser to http://community.chronicle-independent.com and look for me in my favorite red short-sleeve shirt. You’ll need to scroll down just a little bit.)

I had little time to help Martha out since I also had to cover that evening’s Camden City Council meeting, starting with a 5 p.m. work session. I did so, with my copy of Microsoft Word 2007 freezing up on my laptop for about five minutes near the end of the work session’s second half after the regular meeting. Luckily, it freed up and I was able to wrap up my note taking.

I try to visit KCSO headquarters every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to gather those crime reports. so back I went to look at the first of this Wednesday’s round up. The very first report I pulled was a doozy: a break-in at Camden Military Academy that netted someone more than $15,600. That story finally made it on to today’s front page even though it took place a week ago.

I spoke to Chief Deputy Sheriff Marvin Brown after I gathered my reports. I think I got back to the office around 10:30 a.m. and began working on the Camden City Council story which was amazingly brief (by my standards -- yes, I know you’re chuckling). I went home for lunch around 12:30 p.m. -- I love living so close to work --  and got back to the office an hour later.

No sooner had I sat down at my desk than I began hearing perhaps the most frightening series of calls on my portable police scanner I’ve heard in my 11-plus years with the C-I. By now, you know the story: deputies chasing an 18-year-old rape suspect who’s firing back at them from his car.

I grabbed the scanner, pen, and note pad, a camera from Martha’s office and jumped in my car just as I saw the CPD’s Herbie Frasier leave headquarters across the street from us. He, of course, could legitimately, with blue lights flashing, speed off toward east Camden. By the time I got to East DeKalb Street and Bishopville Highway, Frasier was out of sight. I passed Lt. Lee Boan just as he started motioning for other cars to either stop or get off the road.

A few minutes later, I was parked just down and across the street from East Camden Church of God on U.S. 1 and began taking notes, lots of pictures and, ultimately, getting a preliminary report from Sheriff Jim Matthews.

I returned to the office nearly two hours later only to find myself in a situation where I had to help out with prepping for Friday’s paper rather than strictly concentrating on starting to write the chase story.

I did so, sparing a little time looking up more information about the suspect -- especially realizing that it was the same person who’d gone “missing” for five days in April 2011. I spoke with Matthews again and did some more work before leaving the office around 6 p.m.

I decided to work on the article at home and stayed up until past midnight writing as much as the story as I possibly could before almost falling asleep at my laptop.

For various reasons, I give myself an early alarm each morning, so I got more of a nap than true sleep.

Thursday, of course, was spent back at KCSO headquarters for another interview with Matthews about the suspect. I was back to the office by around 10 a.m., made changes to the story and turned it in by 12:30 p.m. or so. I returned an hour later and helped wrap up Friday’s paper, all but capping a long week.

It may seem like this column is my way of complaining or looking for sympathy. Far from it. I may have ended up exhausted, but we reporters live for this stuff!

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