Since we're still in the early part of 2014, there are undoubtedly many people here in Kershaw County who are still sticking to their new year's resolutions, whatever they might be. And people who read this newspaper regularly know that we often write of the benefits of exercise when it comes to maintaining good physical and emotional health. Trying to increase fitness and trying to lose weight are two of the most common resolutions made in this country.
• Nobody understood why Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, jumped into a Wyoming race for the U. S. Senate, a seat held by popular Republican Dick Enzi. Cheney moved from the east coast to establish residency there, then caused a family rift with her comments about gay life; her sister, Mary, is a lesbian. It was a quirky, inexplicable move which ended earlier this week when she dropped out of the race in the face of nearly certain defeat. Politics is a strange business, indeed.
It was quite a college football season here in Kershaw County and South Carolina, with both Clemson and the University of South Carolina turning in sparkling seasons. And the final BCS championship game of history -- there will be a four-team playoff starting next year -- might have been the best championship game ever played, with the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles scoring four times in the waning moments of the game.
As of today, three public officials have decided not to seek reelection. Several days ago, Kershaw County Councilman Stephen Smoak said he would not run again. Today, Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers and Kershaw County Probate Judge Harriett Pierce announce they are not running for reelection, either.
• The concept of energy conservation has never been stronger, as the amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes fell in 2013 for the third straight year. Usage is at the lowest level since 2001. Several factors are involved, in addition to Americans being more conscious of saving power: homes are better built; appliances and gadgets are more efficient; insulation has become better and cheaper; and there are nifty new devices such as smart thermostats. It's all a good thing, of course, for this country.
The people of Kershaw County and South Carolina will be the big winners as a result of an agreement that will leave a huge piece of land near Lake Wateree protected from development forever. Sen. Vincent Sheheen deserves a great deal of credit for making the deal happen, as he was the point man, and he says it was the culmination of a years-long dream for him.
The beginning of a new year is a traditional time for people to try to improve parts of their lives with which they're not satisfied. New year's resolutions aren't always kept, but they're a step in the right direction, and they often revolve around people determining to take better care of themselves. It's long been know that exercise cuts the risk of heart disease and a host of other physical ailments, including diabetes. Researchers are now finding that fitness has a long-term effect upon brainpower and can play a crucial role in staving off dementia.
• Yes, we know South Carolina is a strong second-amendment state, and we're surely aware that this is an election year. But Gov. Nikki Haley's posting on Facebook of her Christmas gift, a Beretta PX4 Storm pistol, took posturing to an extreme.
Congress finally made some semblance of an effort to work together a couple of weeks ago in passing a two-year budget agreement which will preclude the possibility of another government shutdown this year. That's the good news. The bad news is that with the agreement completed, lawmakers in Washington appear to be done with serious deficit reduction for the foreseeable future. Those members of Congress who believe the country needs to address the horrid deficits plaguing the country apparently have little leverage against their colleagues, who are apparently satisfied with the plan cobbled together by Republican Paul Ryan and ...
We offer this timeless piece which was first published in The New York Sun in 1897, when editor Francis Church was faced with the following letter from a little girl named Virginia O'Hanlon:
• It's sad to note that 2013 has been an "average" year when it comes to mass killings and victims in the United States. There have been 29 mass killings with a total of 147 victims, which is in line with other years since 2006. A few decades ago, nobody could have predicted such sobering figures; now, unfortunately, we Americans live with the threat of such violence on a daily basis.
A Greenville legislator has pre-filed a bill in the General Assembly that would prohibit motorists from driving slowly in the left lane, thus holding up traffic. It would also ban drivers from using cell phones in the left lane and would make it illegal to drive five miles per hour slower than the posted limit while in the left lane. And it would outlaw ever driving in the left lane except for passing other cars.
One of the things that Democrats in Washington have done successfully over the past couple years is planting the obstructionist label all on the Republican Party. In reality, Democrats on the far left are just as unyielding as Republicans on the far right, and there's plenty of room for blame when it comes to Congress' failure to compromise. Still, we're glad to see House Speaker John Boehner finally stand up to Tea Party-motivated members of Congress and call them out for being obstinate.
• The Chronicle-Independent offers a tip of its hat to Rigdon Boykin, Ann Bass and everyone at Kimbrell's Furniture on completing renovations to its Camden store. The $350,000 spent on the project isn't just an investment in the store, but an investment in downtown Camden. Camden Mayor Tony Scully called it a "transformational vision, showing us what's possible." We agree, hoping not only that other property owners will upgrade their buildings, but that Kimbrell's lead will entice new businesses and developers to invest in Camden as well.
Guns in schools is always a touchy subject, and of course it was newsworthy when a Camden Middle School student recently was apprehended at school with a loaded .38 caliber revolver as well as a box cutter. We have all read too many incidents of horrific school shootings across the country, so parents and other citizens are sensitive to security in schools. Local law enforcement authorities say school administrators handled the situation well and praised the school's staff, headed by principal Byron Johnson, for doing "a great job."
One of the things that keeps many people interested in politics is the fact that big decisions can turn on little details. Such is the case with control of the United States Senate in the upcoming election; Republicans want to gain six seats so they'll have a majority in both the Senate and House, while Democrats, even though they understand they probably will lose some seats, want desperately to prevent a GOP majority. The entire deal -- which party, in effect, controls the government in Washington -- could come down to Alaska, the least densely populated state in the nation. With ...
The unemployment rate here in Kershaw County and across South Carolina, as well as the rest of the United States, remains disappointingly high. The economy is still mired in slow growth, and too many people are out of work. Yet a recent study by a national newspaper shows how ineffective government jobs programs can be and points out that many people who have tried to take advantage of them end up worse off than they were before starting them.
• Here in Kershaw County, we don't think about bridges much, unless it's the spans crossing the Lynches and Wateree rivers on U.S. 1, I-20 and other roads. Many bridges in our county are small, made of wood or pipes used as culverts. They cross streams and branches of creeks and -- according to our recent two-part story -- not in the greatest shape. Some state-owned bridges are in the process of being repaired or replaced with state and/or federal funds. But many others are owned by the county. All but two currently open bridges that cross bodies of ...
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