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South Carolina editorial roundup

Associated Press Updated: October 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Oct. 28

The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, South Carolina, on conservation Bank mission:

The meeting is not one that will attract a big crowd, but the South Carolina Conservation Bank board's meeting in Orangeburg on Wednesday is important.

The S.C. Conservation Bank was established by the General Assembly as an ongoing funding source to acquire real estate interests from willing sellers and to encourage cooperation and innovative partnerships among landowners, state agencies, municipalities, and non-profit organizations for the continued recreational, scientific study, and aesthetic appreciation of the state's natural resources.

When the board meets at 10 a.m. in the Roquemore Building at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, items on the agenda include previously approved commitments and grant proposals. There is also the matter of "financial status."

For now, the fiscal health of SCCB is good. But there is no long-term guarantee.

The South Carolina General Assembly, in a bipartisan effort, agreed and passed the South Carolina Conservation Bank Act, which became reality in April 2002.

Funding began in July 2004 and since that time the bank has actively pursued its mission of conserving significant sites from willing landowners. The bank's charter was extended by five years in 2012, meaning the Legislature will have to act again before or during 2017 to continue its existence.

The bank has done much to provide public hunting lands through the Wildlife Management Area program and has been instrumental in preserving some 200,000 acres, largely environmentally valuable property, though including historic sites, like Morris Island.

Yet the bank's work is jeopardized by both the sunset provision and its funding mechanism, which The Post and Courier has accurately labeled the "poison pill" that virtually terminates funding to the bank during an economic downturn.

The Conservation Bank's charter and funding mechanism should be changed by the Legislature, with the agency becoming permanent and its funding mechanism being stabilized.



Oct. 25

Sun News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on ballot questions:

It's anybody's guess as to exactly why South Carolina has elected its top military official, the adjutant general, but voters have an opportunity to fix that unsettling situation with "yes" votes on a constitutional amendment referendum in the Nov. 4 general election. The Amendment 2 question on the ballot is verbose at 160-plus words, but it boils down to this: Approval will bring appointment of the adjutant general and the General Assembly will set the term, duties, compensation and qualifications for the office.

Appointment instead of election would begin in 2018 and the appointment would be with the consent of the state Senate. The current adjutant general, Bob Livingston, is on the ballot unopposed for re-election, so the state is virtually assured of having for the next four years a highly qualified professional military person overseeing S.C.'s Military Department including 11,000 people in the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, State Guard and the Emergency Management Division.

Livingston is an Army major general and it's significant that he worked to win General Assembly approval of the constitutional amendment referendum going on the ballot. The fact is that the state has been well-served by its elected adjutant generals, but as Cindi Ross Scoppe noted in an Oct. 15 article, it's unsettling that Gen. Livingston was opposed in the Republican primary by "a junior officer in the Army Reserves who was on probation from stalking charges."

Approval of Amendment 2 will require the General Assembly to establish procedures for the adjutant general to be appointed from military officers qualified and eligible. Another unsettling - and frankly unseemly - aspect of electing the adjutant general is the process itself. As Scoppe points out, adjutant generals have to raise money to campaign and "the only people who have any motivation to donate are those whose promotions the generals decide...." This places professional persons in an improper position and perhaps is one of the reasons all other states appoint their adjutant generals.

South Carolina has other elective officers that really should be appointive but they are not part of Amendment 2. There is no viable argument for continuing to elect the adjutant general and several good reasons supporting a yes vote. South Carolina needs this change.


Oct. 28

Aiken (South Carolina) Standard on dictionary donation:

A kid growing up in the early 2000s could not have imagined having a virtual world in his or her hands.

At the age of 8 or 9, his younger siblings today find smartphones and tablets a familiar, comfortable presence in their daily lives. They have nearly instant access to movies, videos and games - both fun and instructional.

As is often-repeated, these gadgets in some ways can provide more computer power than those that put astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

Kids can look up words online, obtaining definitions, synonyms and antonyms. As it happens, children can type in "dictionary definition" in a search engine, and almost like magic, the phrase will arrive in 0.29 seconds, more or less.

Yet, on Friday, Rotarians in three Aiken County clubs began distributing hundreds of real, physical dictionaries to hundreds of public and private school third graders - a project that will continue this week. In all, the club members will deliver to the children more than 2,100 dictionaries. Their teachers will get about 300 more.

As many as two million dictionaries are presented every year to young people by Rotary and other civic organizations. That initiative, which goes back about 15 years, would seem paradoxical. Wouldn't a kid rather have the tablet?

Yet when School Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and a group of Rotarians arrived at J.D. Lever Elementary School on Friday, the children's excitement was immediate.

As soon as they received them, they immediately pored through the books, looking up words and exploring information about the presidents, all the states and other nations. The kids couldn't wait to find page 373 and laugh in amazement at what is probably the world's longest English word - all 1,909 letters of it.

This endeavor also brings a component that is vitally important: Many 3rd graders may have very few books at home or none at all - nothing they can hold and read and own themselves.

Many clubs, churches and other organizations have a valuable opportunity to join this effort - perhaps more than they realize themselves.


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