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  • Homelessness is regular guys getting chance to restart lives

    I stand on the porch with six homeless men.
    They’re chatting, smoking cigarettes, picking on the youngest guy in the group about his rapping skills.
    And I’m taking it all in – writing notes, snapping photos, listening to their stories.
    Ten men are staying in a home on Trestle Lane, part of Lancaster’s old mill hill. They’re in a 90-day program organized by the nonprofit Citadel House, and they’re trying to get back on their feet.
    I’ve seen poor people before.

  • Column: Tributes to an S.C. pioneer, Chief Justice Ernest Finney

    Ernest Finney, former chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, died Sunday at his home in Columbia. He was 86.
    Finney, a Virginia native, was a hero in the state’s judicial community, a well-known legislator and accomplished civil-rights attorney. He broke racial barriers throughout his life, becoming a Supreme Court justice in 1985 and chief justice in 1994, the first African-American to hold those positions since Reconstruction.

  • Memories of Holiday Barbie

    Editor’s note: This occasional column takes you behind the scenes with Hannah Strong, who has been reporting for a little more than a year.


    My grandma Reba Bruton used to get up from our Christmas present-opening time to grab the white Walmart bags.

    Inside were her three granddaughters’ presents.

    She gave these same – but different – presents to all of us each year.

    I got mine for 14 years, starting when I was 3 years old.

  • Editor's Column: I could have brought my AK-47, says the raging man with the axe

    I can’t stop thinking about the 11th paragraph of a Nov. 8 story on our front page.
    A 44-year-old Lancaster man was accused of trying to break in on his estranged wife, screaming that he would dismember her and a fellow she was with. He had arrived with a .38 revolver, a knife, an axe, a metal baton and a set of throwing knives, according to the incident report.
    In the 11th graph, the suspect told the arresting deputy: “I could have come over here with my AK-47 and AR-15 and… nobody would have had a chance.”

  • Editor's Column: 2 bizarre weeks in a bewildering political career

    On Monday, Oct. 16, Linda Blackmon called this newspaper and asked to speak to Publisher Susan Rowell, my boss. It was the morning after my column about the new Lancaster City Council member taking a vote that clearly violated state ethics law.
    Susan wasn’t in, so Blackmon asked to speak to me. When I answered, she identified herself cordially and said she wanted to come by the newspaper later that day to talk to me and reporter Mark Manicone, who had been writing news articles about her.
    Fine, I said. When would you like to come?

  • A long, scary, life-and-death saga unfolds

    Editor’s note: This occasional column takes you behind the scenes with Hannah Strong, who has been reporting for a little more than a year.

    The bench outside the Lancaster County Courthouse lets me see who’s coming in and going out.
    It’s a summer afternoon in August 2016 and I wait – impatiently.
    There’s a private hearing going on inside that I can’t legally witness.
    I finally see who I’m looking for after a 30-minute wait.
    I recognize her big, blonde hair from an online photo.

  • Editor's Column: Obey the law or grab the cash? Choices, choices

    It has been a whiplashing few weeks in the drama of Linda Blackmon’s return to the Lancaster City Council.
    Just before she took the oath Oct. 1, a house that she owns burned, and she postulated that it was an assassination attempt to keep her out of office.
    “I believe someone tried to kill me,” said Blackmon, angry and in tears on the sidewalk as SLED agents combed the fire scene. “You want to run for office, you want to have a dream, you know? But people are against it.”

  • Staff Column: Hello! I’m your new reporter

    If you told me six years ago that I’d become a reporter, fall in love with a country girl and live in good ole’ South Carolina, I’d have said ease up on the psychedelics.
    Yet here I am, with all of the above turning out to be true.
    God must be punishing me for my cynicism as a Northerner.  
    I currently live in Columbia and commute to Lancaster. But I have bought a house in Lancaster’s Erwin Farm neighborhood and will be closing on the sale today.
    I am not an S.C. native, but I don’t plan on leaving – ever.

  • Publisher's Column: We are your ‘Main Street media’

    Editor’s note: Susan Rowell last week became president of the National Newspaper Association, which represents community newspapers nationwide. Here are excerpts of her acceptance speech at the NNA’s annual convention in Tulsa, Okla.

    I am beyond honored to join this group of individuals who have led the National Newspaper Association to where we are today. Over 2,000 members strong, representing communities from the East Coast to the West Coast.

  • Staff Column: Let’s name new school after Charlie Duke

    Naming a new public building is a chance to celebrate something we’re proud of.
    Next August, a new elementary school will be opening in Lancaster County. And if the committee assigned with choosing a name is fishing for ideas, I have a suggestion.
    It should be named Charlie Duke Elementary School to honor our homegrown Apollo 16 astronaut.
    Twelve men have left footprints on the moon. Duke, who celebrated his 82nd birthday Tuesday, is one of them. He logged 71 hours on the lunar surface in April 1972.