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Noted and passed - April 23, 2014

Posted: April 25, 2014 10:54 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2014 5:00 a.m.

• It’s hard to know what to think of Palmetto Utilities’ request for county council’s support of its permit application to discharge treated wastewater in Spears Creek in Kershaw County. Ten years ago, in 2004, county officials claimed Palmetto Utilities President Stan Jones was using his position on the Central Midlands Council of Governments’ (COG) Environmental Planning Advisory Committee to keep Kershaw County from moving its participation in what is known as a 208 Water Plan from the Central Midlands to the Santee-Lynches COG. Within that fight, the county also objected to the Richland County-based utility’s plan to expand its treatment capacity in a way that would have it discharging into the Wateree River -- something the utility couldn’t do physically, but held a permit for anyway. In 2007, when the county was looking to fund sewer line and wastewater treatment plant upgrades, a majority of council rejected a proposal to enter into a public-private partnership with Palmetto Utilities. Now, as it did a year ago, Palmetto is asking to discharge up to 6 million gallons of treated wastewater, only this time into Spears Creek. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. We can’t help asking if anything has changed -- environmentally or politically -- that would make this request any more palatable than the old one was a decade ago.

• We share Camden City Council’s evident excitement about plans to expand Central Carolina Technical College’s  (CCTC) campus at I-20 Exit 98. The idea that, one day, 1,500 Kershaw County students could get the education they need without having to leave the county is a great vision to hold in our minds. One of the most important statistics Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter mentioned during his and CCTC President Dr. Tim Hardee’s presentation to council a week ago is that 70 percent of Kershaw County’s employed residents commute out of county to work. That’s a lot of dollars leaving the county every day. Having most if not all of CCTC’s current 900 Kershaw County students have to finish their course load in Sumter also means money going elsewhere. There are incredible opportunities for Camden and Kershaw County that could come from the proposed expansion. We hope the city, school district, KershawHealth and a host of others will line up with the county to transform CCTC into a major force for economic and cultural growth for the community.

• Speaking of students, congratulations to both the Upchurch & Jowers All-County Academic Team and the graduates of Junior Leadership Kershaw County’s school year-long  leadership program. (We’ll have a story about Junior Leadership in the coming days.) The 32 students honored by Upchurch & Jowers and the 26 Junior Leadership graduates -- and there is some overlap between the two groups -- are great examples of what our students, and schools, are doing right. Academic excellence is something that should always be celebrated, especially in a world that seems hyper-focused on celebrity. Add in a chance for students from all three of the county’s high schools and Camden Military Academy to get to know each other, work together and learn what it really means to be leaders, and you have a great recipe for Kershaw County’s future. As they move forward through school, college, the military and business, here’s hoping they remember the lessons they’ve learned and apply them here at home.

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