Kershaw County received a significant snowfall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, an event that doesn't happen very often. It gave local kids an opportunity they relished -- playing outside under conditions they don't normally see. And to the relief of adults, most roads in the county cleared quickly on Wednesday despite temperatures that didn't rise above freezing, coupled with a cloud cover that never dissipated.
President Obama's plan to expand early-childhood education on a massive scale sounds at first blush like a great idea. After all, who can argue with the fact of helping kids -- especially disadvantaged kids -- get a break early in life, thus helping them gain valuable skills and leading productive lives? The only problem is that the government itself -- the Department of Health and Human Services, in particular -- has found that programs such as Head Start don't work on a long-term basis.
• People here in Kershaw County are getting a bit tired of the cold weather, and with good reason. While South Carolina has a mild climate and certainly doesn't experience the extreme cold of New England and the Midwest, it's been much colder than normal this year, and those days when the temps don't rise out of the 30s or 40s have become too common. We find ourselves longing for the blooming of azaleas, and we imagine we're not alone in that.
An interesting and moving project is taking place from Virginia up into Pennsylvania, where 620,000 trees are being planted along roadways to honor those who gave up their lives in the War Between The States, the bloodiest military conflagration in this nation's history. Oaks, maples, cedars and dogwoods are being placed in the median and in groves along the historic highway that links Charlottesville, Va. and Gettysburg, Pa.
The change jangling around in your pocket might be looking different soon, as the U.S. Mint is exploring ways to change the composition of metals it uses to make quarters, dimes and nickels. It now costs almost a dime to make a nickel -- that's in metal costs alone -- and combined with the excessive cost of the penny, it's costing the mint more than $100 million each year. Changing the mix of metals has drawn protests from vending machine operators, who say the new coins could foul their machines, but mint officials are said to be working with ...
• The concept of balanced reporting in today's national media is pretty much a joke. Fox News isn't going to hide its favoritism of right-wing politicians, while MSNBC (and virtually all other national broadcast outlets, including the three major networks) cannot abide anyone who isn't a liberal. Pundits have had a field day with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the so-called Bridgegate affair. The general response from analysts on the left has been, "Well, he says he didn't know about it and we are going to take him at his word, but if he did know ...
Camden and Kershaw County have had a long, pleasant relationship with the College of Charleston. Countless students from this area have attended school in the Holy City, and there aren't many people who have gone there and not liked it. So it was particularly interesting when Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell announced he would not seek re-election but would instead throw his hat in the ring to become president of the College of Charleston.
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.
Lawyers of every political persuasion are lining up in Washington to have their say on the legality or illegality of the plan President Obama intends to implement regarding amnesty for illegal aliens who are in the United States without proper authorization, with one major network saying the president's plan to take the immigration system into his own hands "is a daring test of the limits of presidential power."
Operating under the simple premise that citizens have a right to know as much as they can about how their government officials operate, and how that affects governmental agencies as a whole, we almost always favor laws and regulations which require transparency in government. Transparency, of course, is an overused word, but it basically means that government agencies must operate in a way that allows citizens to observe what's happening, and even to have input about what's taking place.
• Once again, we mention the good work of Brian Mayes in this space. Seven years ago -- in response to the death of Camden High School student Michael Smith in Kershaw County's only gang-related shooting -- Mayes said the community had to become "a better gang than the gangs." What he meant is Camden and Kershaw County had to offer young people alternatives to gang life and choices which could land them in jail, or worse. Two events this month prove Mayes has planted good seeds we hope will bear fruit for generations to come. First, the official ribbon cutting ceremony ...
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