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."
The state of Alabama recently took a step towards righting one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice ever perpetrated in this country, issuing posthumous pardons to three members of the "Scottsboro Boys," who were wrongly accused in 1931 of raping two white women on a train. Eight of the nine charged were swiftly convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, with a mistrial being declared for the ninth, 13-year-old Roy Wright.
• A new study shows that dementia is going to be even a bigger problem than originally thought, estimating that 135 million people will have the disorder by 2050; that's a 17 percent increase above previous predictions. Dementia -- with Alzheimer's Disease being the best known type -- has stubbornly fought the best efforts of scientists to discover a cure or a way to slow the progression. These new figures are a stark reminder that for all its advances, medicine is still an inexact science.
No couple in America stirs emotions like Bill and Hillary Clinton, so when she showed up at an Iowa political festival acting more and more like a presidential candidate, it caused quite a flap among those who have begun such movements as "Ready For Hillary," and also among those who'd rather see anybody than her become president. But it proved one thing: that even after decades in the spotlight of the political arena, she still commands attention.
It was another black eye for South Carolina last week when Rep. Bobby Harrell, speaker of the House of Representatives, was indicted by a Richland County grand jury on nine counts, including illegally using campaign money for personal expenses, filing false campaign disclosures and misconduct in office. Harrell suspended himself -- how's that for an oddity? -- and will now face his government accusers. South Carolina certainly doesn't have a monopoly on political malfeasance but the Palmetto State has had more than its share of governmental scandal. We say that fully recognizing that Harrell is innocent until proven guilty.
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