A rose to the organizers, volunteers and donors who, for 30 years now, have provided children with cancer an escape from the often-difficult realities of being a patient through a week-long summer camp at the Columbus-Lowndes YMCA’s Camp Pratt. For three decades, hundreds of children – along with an invited companion of their choosing – have spent a fun-filled week at Camp Rising Sun. The kids don’t sit around commiserating with each other about the challenges cancer present. They’re far too busy being kids. For many, the week of fun-filled activities is the highlight of their year and many return again and again. In fact, there are many former campers who now serve as camp counselors, some traveling from all over the country to be a part of it. The camp ended this week, but we’re already looking forward to next year.
A rose to the county for its decision to use county inmates to help as the district attorney’s office makes its move to new offices. We believe this to be a win-win situation. The county benefits from the free labor inmates provide, but it is the inmate who benefits most. This is not forced labor, the work is done on voluntary basis and most inmates jump at the opportunity. For a prisoner, idle time turns the minutes to hours and the hours to days. Having productive work benefits the inmate by allowing him/her to contribute in a meaningful way. Allowing inmates these opportunities is a signal that while the person must be held accountable for his/her offenses, they still have something positive to offer. Hopefully, the work they do will be an encouragement toward a more productive life.
A rose to Caledonia election commissioner Betty Kirkland, who has said, if it comes to it, she will forfeit pay from her job in order to work the town’s July 18 municipal elections. In the aftermath of the aborted June 6 election, where state election law was violated by one commissioner and another commissioner stepped down to avoid a charge of nepotism (her nephew was on the ballot), the town was left with the minimum three commissioners, including Kirkland, who is an international flight attendant. Her work schedule for July comes out today so she will know if she is scheduled to be on-duty on July 18. Even if she is scheduled to work, Kirkland said she will work the election, even if it means forfeiting her pay. Kirkland said she was willing to make that sacrifice because she loves her home town. The town clearly owes her a debt of gratitude.
A rose to the Columbus Municipal School District for a move this week that could wind up saving $300,000 in taxpayer money. The board voted this week to explore options to refinance its general obligation bond debt from the construction of Columbus Middle School. At its current interest rate, the district would pay approximately $9.6 million over the term of the bonds, which expire in 2024. If the district can secure a better rate, the amount paid would be reduced by $300,000, according to estimates. Given the current realities, as shrinking tax base and chronic under-funding by the state, every penny matters. We applaud the district for exploring every option available in reducing costs without jeopardizing the quality of education provided to our schoolchildren.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.