- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Jan. 2

The Island Packet of Hilton Head Island on how the state should handle a possible plutonium dumping:

Here we go again.

The federal government wants South Carolina to be the dumping ground for more of the world’s plutonium, a toxic nuclear weapons component.

At the same time, it is failing miserably in its promise to process and remove 12 metric tons of plutonium already at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

South Carolina should fight with every tool it has to stop a new plan by the U.S. Department Energy to import nearly a ton of plutonium from the Pacific Rim and North America to SRS.

Not an ounce more should arrive until the existing problem is resolved.

The news of new shipments is part of an old shell game. In it, the federal government tries to move bad things around because it has enacted no national plan. And it repeatedly fails to live up to its promises and responsibilities to communities around the country.

Gov. Nikki Haley said a lawsuit against the federal government may be needed. Good for her. But that tactic — like a previous governor’s threat to lie down in the road to stop plutonium shipments, as well as previous lawsuits, and laws threatening steep fines against the federal government — has not yet resolved this national problem.

That’s why it would be foolish to trust a new Energy Department proposal to ship about six metric tons of plutonium now at SRS to an existing DOE disposal site in New Mexico.

That would be great, if it could be believed. The proposal faces numerous hurdles, including funding and opposition in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, the government’s program to convert weapons-grade plutonium at SRS into a mixed oxide fuel (MOX) that could be used in commercial nuclear reactors is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

So into this quagmire stumbles the federal government with the suggestion to do what? Bring in more plutonium. It’s like the theater of the absurd. But it is a serious problem that has been bungled for many decades.

South Carolina has done more than its share to be a patriotic good neighbor to the nation’s nuclear program. Enough is enough.

Online: https://www.islandpacket.com/


Jan. 4

The Post and Courier of Charleston on the shrinking of rural areas:

Lowcountry residents are unlikely to be surprised that South Carolina’s population is growing. Mount Pleasant, Charleston and Summerville are all attracting so many new residents that they struggle with how to provide roads and schools to meet the increased needs.

But in many rural parts of the state, population is shrinking, and their economies are shrinking too.

New Census Bureau data show that South Carolina overtook Alabama in population during the 12 months ending July 1.

Our population now is the 23rd largest in the country. Most of the growth is from people moving here. The rest is from the birth rate.

But in 13 S.C. counties the number of deaths is exceeding births. In Allendale, for example, the population shrank by 7 percent during that same period. And along with a declining population comes less tax money to fund schools, less incentive for new business and industry to move in, and less likelihood that young adults will stay in their rural hometowns because jobs are scarce.

Studies have also shown that shrinking towns have lower educational attainment - and poorer schools. And more health problems - and fewer options for medical care.

The S.C. Supreme Court’s recent decision requiring the Legislature to come up with a plan to improve education in the state’s poorest rural counties reflects just how severe that disparity is.

Gov. Nikki Haley is to be commended for recognizing that rural areas need assistance. In addition to designating additional funds for rural schools, she has worked to direct new business and industry to small towns that need jobs - and reasons for people to move in, not out.

And several programs at the Medical University of South Carolina provide remote health care for people in rural areas without enough specialized doctors.

Unfortunately, the charming old homes of many small towns and pastoral beauty of rural areas have yet to attract many new residents. And without growth, planners predict that distressed communities will continue to dry up.

That is a hardship for residents and a threat to the well-being of the state. It is also another drain on infrastructure as people have to travel miles and miles to find work, see doctors and do their shopping.

One advance that could help both urban and rural areas would be better public transit connecting hubs to each other and connecting regions as well.

The Commerce Department must continue to lead the effort bringing new investment and jobs to rural South Carolina.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/


Jan. 5

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on the proposed “Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum:”

It won’t be at the top of the agenda when lawmakers return to Columbia on Jan. 12, but the people of South Carolina will be watching for reaction to the latest developments regarding the Confederate flag.

Amid national attention, lawmakers over the summer returned to Columbia for historic votes to remove the banner from Statehouse grounds. The action came in response to calls by the governor and so many others to furl the flag as a show of unity in response to the killing of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney and eight others in a racially motivated attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Lawmakers did the right thing in removing the flag from official display, but in the process they also decided the banner would have a special place in a historical setting. That place is to be the Confederate Relic Room at the State Museum.

But even in the move to a museum, the flag cannot avoid controversy.

When the headlines came regarding an estimated cost of $5.3 million for renovations to expand the museum to accommodate the flag, reaction from lawmakers and the public was swift.

The proposal by a consultant hired by the S.C. Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia came after October’s flooding and the renewed clamor for something to be done immediately to improve the state’s roads and bridges.

The question: How can South Carolina even consider spending $5.3 million to house a flag when there are so many other needs?

In response, the cost of the planned renovation has been reduced by the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum Commission to $3.6 million, but even that seems to be an extraordinary amount.

But is it really?

The resolution that produced the flag’s removal from the Statehouse calls for more than just display. It mandates that the Confederate Relic Room “establish and maintain an appropriate, permanent, and public display honoring South Carolina soldiers killed during the Civil War to include (the flag removed from Statehouse grounds). This flag must be displayed alongside other distinguished military exhibits covering the Civil War.”

As reported by The State newspaper, commission Chairman George Dorn of Lexington said, “We don’t have room to do an adequate and appropriate display according to the resolution.”

Confederate Relic Room Director Allen Robertson, also as reported by The State, elaborated by saying that without an expansion, a display meeting the resolution’s criteria would take up the relic room’s only programming space. That would threaten the income and accreditation of the relic room, which has an annual budget of $860,000 and a staff of four full-time employees, Robertson said.

So the plan is to use a vacant 4,600-squre-foot second-story room, an expansion that would increase the size of the Confederate Relic Room by a third.

So the question becomes just what is a reasonable amount to spend on “an adequate and appropriate display” for the flag?

That will be up to lawmakers as they would have to appropriate the money being requested by the commission.

In making the decision, they should weigh the present plan and its projected cost against potential alternatives, realizing that if a truly unique and permanent display for the flag which tells its story and memorializes its place in the state’s political history is the mandate, there is going to a cost.

What would be unwelcome is more contentious debate in reaching a decision. Consuming more time - and money in the process - would indeed by a misappropriation of funds.

Online: https://thetandd.com/

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