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Noted and passed - Oct. 13, 2014
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• We’re seeing some good business and other news here in Kershaw County, showing signs that, perhaps, the community is beginning to climb out of the economic doldrums that have plagued us for too long now. The highlight of the week, of course, was word that Hengst is going through its third expansion, announcing it will invest $8 million into the Steeplechase Spec Building and bring 20 new jobs during the next three years. In the meantime, we’ve seen new small businesses spring up, or new life bloom in older ones, across the county. There are also still rumors of a national grocery store coming to Camden. And then there’s what we’ve seen for months now in our weekly “For the Record” feature: real estate deals and building permit applications for dozens upon dozens of new homes. On Sept. 24 alone, we published nine new house and garage building permits from the city of Camden and another six from the county, plus several real estate transactions that indicated homes were slated to be built on the lands being purchased. Obviously, more people are deciding to make Kershaw County home. That’s good news for those of us who already live here and our local businesses.

• Congratulations to last school year’s graduating seniors on a fantastic uptick in SAT scores. As we reported inside our Oct. 8 issue, SAT scores among 2014 seniors jumped 29 points even as more students took the test. It was the largest increase by any Midlands school district. In a way, this goes hand in hand with the good economic news we started with. While standardized test scores should not be the be-all and end-all of gauging student success or predicting future well-being, the SAT scores do indicate that our graduating students are getting better educated. Ultimately -- and assuming they remain in or return to Kershaw County -- these students could attract more industries and businesses to locate or expand here. As the school district, county, city of Camden and Central Carolina Technical School (CCTC) continue to work toward CCTC’s expansion and merger with the district’s Applied Technology Education Campus, these higher test scores are another signpost to a brighter future for Kershaw County. So, we challenge this year’s seniors and all of our students to continue to work and study hard with help from some of the best teachers and administrators in the state of South Carolina.

• We’re not too terribly surprised at Kershaw County Probate Judge Harriett Pierce’s decision not to go against what is, for the moment, the law of the land when it comes to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. However, her “until I hear differently” remark appears to leave the door open for her to issue such licenses once she’s satisfied that it is legal to do so. On the other hand -- and despite the 2006 state referendum amending the state’s constitution to the contrary -- we’re not sure why S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson can’t see the writing on the wall. The 4th Circuit U.S. Court already overturned the ban (via a Virginia case) and even if Wilson wins in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina on a separate case, that is likely to be appealed as well. A week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up such appeals, automatically upholding the 4th Circuit’s decision. We simply don’t see the use of wasting taxpayer money on a fight South Carolina can’t -- and to an ever-growing number of people -- shouldn’t win.