Thumbs up:To USC Aiken student athletes taking part in community cleanup:

Balancing the stresses of the classroom with the pressures faced on the field or the court isnít easy. It undoubtedly crunches schedules and makes for less free time. Those limitations, however, didnít stop student athletes at USC Aiken from taking part in a community cleanup effort last week. The motivating force was the schoolís double knot, a sculpture on campus thatís meant to motivate and inspire as well as connect the university to the community. About 150 student athletes took part in the event, giving back to the community that has supported them during the schoolís sporting events. City Manager Richard Pearce and his staff as well as the schoolís athletic department, especially Director of Athletics Randy Warrick, should also be commended for their efforts to coordinate the event.

Thumbs down:To the closing of Bi-Lo and its impact on the community:

Aikenís Bi-Lo grocery store located on York Street is unfortunately set to close in July, impacting about 85 jobs at the store. This is especially a blow to those workers who are affected by the closing, and it would be a silver lining for the community if they can find other jobs with the company or continue to be employed in the County. The company plans to close 13 stores throughout South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Thankfully, despite the closing, the companyís location on Pine Log Road will continue to operate. Bi-Lo also owns the Reidís store on York Street. The best should be wished for all those looking for jobs because of the companyís changes.

Thumbs up:To the reopening of Hitchcock Woods to the public:

Damage from the recent ice storm caused piles of tree limbs and debris to wreck Hitchcock Woods, closing the area to visitors. The woods thankfully reopened early Friday after crews and residents made the trails passable. It is one of the nationís largest urban forests, and a true asset for Aiken County. Hitchcock Woods Superintendent Bennett Tucker and Harry Shealy, Hitchcock Woods Foundation chairman, have especially been working hard to ensure the woods could reopen. The two spent more than two hours riding an all-terrain vehicle last week, surveying portions of the woods and cutting through areas. Residents should be grateful of the work that has been completed. Donations to the Hitchcock Foundation are also being asked as the cleanup continues.

Thumbs down:To the intrusion of a federal agency in the newsroom:

The head of the Federal Communications Commission thankfully decided to revise a proposed study of how news organizations around the country are meeting ďunderservedĒ needs in particular communities Ė a plan that would have opened the door for federal government intrusion into newsrooms. The federal government is looking to help ensure minority ownership of media, but injecting more oversight isnít the way to do it. The main aim of the media and its relationship with the government should be to pursue the freedom of press as well as the freedom of speech. Looking over the shoulders of news organizations and dictating their operations misses that message.