THUMBS UP

To Aiken Railway's flashy engine: A new engine is attracting a lot of attention in Aiken, creating a treat for train lovers in the area. People from all over the state and even the rest of the country have stopped by the depot to snap pictures and check it out, according to Todd Hutson, the engineer who drives the refurbished 1960s vehicle. Our history is immensely tied to the railway, especially with the thousands of Winter Colonists who came here for decades. It's wonderful to see a redone engine brought back to life locally.


THUMBS DOWN

To skate park inactivity: The H. Odell Weeks Activities Center permanently closed its skate park earlier this month because of a low numbers of participants. The park only generated only about 7 to 10 people per week, not enough to make the park solvent, according to City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff. The park cost approximately $115,000 and was funded through the Capital Project Sales Tax, a referendum approved by voters. We hope whatever replaces the park is able to attract an active level of participants.


THUMBS UP

To leadership shown by a young Aikenite: Aiken resident Thomas Pope, age 18, has been chosen as the new president of the South Carolina NAACP's Youth & College Division. The Aiken High School graduate was elected to the position for a two-year term during the South Carolina NAACP's state convention in Charlotte, N.C., in early October.


A freshman at the University of South Carolina, Thomas joined the local NAACP branch's Youth Council when he was in the eighth grade and rose steadily through its leadership ranks.


THUMBS DOWN

To bickering on retirement commission: Former S.C. Sen. Greg Ryberg, who formerly represented Aiken, was recently hired to head the state's Retirement Systems Investment Commission, which has been wracked with bickering and infighting. Ryberg has taken over as chief operating officer after the commission's chairman alleged State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a member of the commission, used profanity and berated the former agency head, Darry Oliver. We wish Ryberg the best in his new role, especially in the aftermath of the disputes.