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Noted and passed - June 30, 2014

Posted: June 27, 2014 9:19 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.

• We think most Camden residents will be pleased at the prospect that the city will -- assuming second reading of an authorizing ordinance passes on July 8 -- purchase what used to be Camden City Hall and the Camden Opera House. It’s been nearly 60 years since city offices moved out of the top floor of the building atop which the King Hagler Clock Tower sits on the southeast corner of Broad and Rutledge streets. The building, currently the home of a thrift store and former home to Peebles and B.C. Moore’s department stores, served as Camden’s fourth city hall from its construction in 1886 to 1956 when the current city hall opened on Lyttleton Street. During that same 70-year stretch, the ground floor welcomed residents and visitors alike to the Camden Opera House for a range of performances. With $200,000 in hospitality taxes poised to be used for the purchase, the city plans to renovate the property for tourist- and/or tourism-related purposes. That, in a sense, will bring it back to part of its original use. As we noted in Wednesday’s front-page story, this will give the city at least temporary ownership of two corners of this important intersection, the other being the still-to-be-developed former Maxway property. The purchase of the old opera house and city hall is a good move, one we hope will have positive wide-ranging benefits for years to come.

• The opening of the Jackson Teen Center (JTC) inside the old Continuous Learning Center across from Camden High School (CHS) is cause for celebration. For many, it is a dream come true for those who have fought for a physical, bricks-and-mortar safe haven for teens who want to stay away from gangs and other illicit temptations. That dream grew out of the tragic December 2007 gang-related shooting death of CHS student Michael Smith. In the early aftermath, it was JTC Director Brian Mayes -- well known along with his wife for organizing the county’s stellar step teams and competitions -- who coined the phrase “We have to be a better gang than the gangs.” It took some time, but the county, via the Kershaw County School District, obtained millions of dollars in Safe Schools/Health Students grants to fund a myriad of programs to help students stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, those grants have ended, but, thanks to the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands, teens now have a place where they go during the summer and after classes during the school year to get extra help, have fun and, most of all, be safe. A tip of the C-I hat, also, to Target and the United Way of Kershaw County for helping the JTC spruce up its game room.

• We were also glad to see the Community Medical Clinic (CMC) honor one of its long-time volunteers, the late Jean Pruett. Pruett wrote many columns for the C-I, most focusing on her long career as an educator as well as her travels later in life. CMC Volunteer Coordinator Deb McAbee was right in calling her “a character,” during a recent celebration of Pruett’s life. Case in point: Christian Community Ministries Director Connie Sheorn’s story of Pruett bringing raw meat to class one day in protest of school administrators’ attempts to stop her from cooking and bringing food to her students. She apparently put her English writing and teaching skills to good use at the CMC, helping them to polish grants which, ultimately, the clinic received. Even for those who never got to meet her personally, it is evident that there was only one Jean Pruett and she will be missed.

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