Thumbs up:To honoring heroes on Memorial Day:

The final Monday of May is our national day of remembrance Ė a time to reflect on the importance of service and honor those who died protecting our country.


But too often, Memorial Day is seen as just another day off or as a long weekend for trips to the beach. Even if you are taking the opportunity to relax and be away from work or school, take a moment to take stock of the importance of this national holiday. Make an extra effort to notice the American flags that are placed alongside grave markers. Make an extra effort to remember the men and women who didnít come home after serving. Without an awareness of the meaning of Memorial Day, we can easily lose a sense of what makes America special. Remember those sacrifices and what it means for you and future generations.


Thumbs down:To lack of growth in Aiken:

Our communityís economic vitality is in jeopardy, according to a study funded by the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership. Aiken Countyís growth rate has slowed, while the City of Aikenís growth rate is approaching zero and could potentially go into the red. That population decline should be a call to action for local officials and policymakers.


The report suggests that improving educational opportunities and becoming less reliant on the Savannah River Site for job opportunities would be a sensible starting point to reverse the disconcerting trend.


Aiken County canít afford to lose out on attracting businesses as well as families who want to live here.


Itís a positive sign, however, that local leaders have identified whatís wrong. Itís now time to implement a long-term solution.


Thumbs up:To investigation into Harrell continuing:

South Carolinaís Supreme Court wisely said last week that an investigation into S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, could continue, temporarily blocking a lower court ruling. Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Casey Manning ordered S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson to stop a grand jury investigation into charges of public corruption made against Harrell. The complaint alleges that he used his office for political gain. Manning ruled that the House Ethics Committee Ė which is relatively toothless Ė should take the case, but Wilson argues that the judgeís ruling infringes on his role as the stateís top prosecutor. The state Supreme Court will hear both sides of the argument on June 24, and hopefully will allow Wilson to pursue an investigation into these very serious allegations.


Thumbs down:To immigration reform remaining unlikely:

There unfortunately remains no impetus to put together any kind of immigration reform package this year, and serious talks may not take place until after the 2016 presidential election. Few argue that an overhaul isnít needed, and there appears to be common ground between both parties on the issue, but so far, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have balked at the idea. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, recently mocked members of his own party for their unwillingness to even discuss the issue, saying some in the GOP simply think itís ďtoo hardĒ to do. But lawmakers are sent to the capitol to make the hard decisions. Boehner has been working for more than a year to get Congress to consider revamping immigration laws, but to no avail so far. Immigration may be a political issue, but legislators need to remind themselves that immigrants are actual people. Finding a workable solution should be a greater priority for national lawmakers.