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Looking back; looking ahead How did we fare in 2021?

            In our 2020 year-end editorial, we wrote that everyone was cut some slack for not accomplishing much over those past 12 months as the whole world was dealing with a pandemic. It looked like we were at the end of that story, now with a surge locally and around the world and we are still dealing with it in everything from closures and cancellations to deaths right here at home.

            At this point, however, there has been plenty of time for all institutions to make adjustments, not merely to keep doors open but to function, so we’ll not offer an across the board pass in our review.

School board  has steadied the course

            If you attended a recent school board meeting, it’s calm and all parties appear to be getting along, making it hard to believe that the early 2021 headlines included ousting a superintendent, enraged parents, calls for resignations and a stymied recall effort.

            We’ll not go further in re-hashing the history as it appears to be just that, history, and who knows if voters will still have any interest in it when board elections roll around?

            We’d give a nod to Superintendent Tony Young for calming the waters. Young is both highly experienced in school administration and a native of this county, meaning he gets along with most factions and has done a solid job in steering the $48 million system for most of the past year.

             We’ll end by noting the local student  test scores have slipped compared to similar systems, so there is still work to be done.

Hoping the new Jasper city manager brings urgency to projects

            We’re excited to welcome a new city manager to Jasper. Let’s hope Sonia Jammes, brings a big load of action and energy with her from Virginia to move some of the councils’ plans into high gear.

            There is just no getting beyond the fact that ambitious goals, like Perrow Park, have sat with no action at all, and even smaller projects, like converting the former bank drive thru on North Main to a public bathroom, have either been abandoned or pushed so far down a priority list the dust is now several inches thick on them.

            We’re encouraged by a lot of the ideas put forth at Jasper’s city hall, so here’s hoping Ms. Jammes will put some substance to the talk.

Can Talking Rock move forward?

            For the past several months, Talking Rock has not been the relaxed small town it was for decades. It’s a unique situation, a town with just over 50 voters is sitting on the best tourist/scenic area in the county with their picturesque downtown, creek, park and  two town-owned railcars leased for a brewery and forthcoming pub/restaurant. Wow, what could derail this from being the hottest little town in north Georgia? Political infighting.                   

            With election results like 20 to 12 in the most contested race, you can’t say the outcome sent any strong message. But most of the few voters who turned out sided with the candidates seeking a change. And they will get one in January. As history shows repeatedly, gaining control is easy, governing is hard. Here’s hoping that the little town can get back on track.

Let’s see what the county commission can do in 2022

            Commission Chair Kris Stancil has completed his first year in office. Nothing dramatic has happened, good or bad. Replacing Rob Jones after 16 years in the office naturally took a little while. We know there are solid plans floating around the Admin Building involving expanding infrastructure to the Foothills area and plans involving Roper Park – both very worthwhile projects.

            We regularly chide the county commissioners over Roper Park, asking bluntly, “are you proud to say this is Pickens County’s main and only park?” A park planning group is working and SPLOST funding has been dedicated to improving that park. We  also remind commissioners and the public that a study funded under the Jones administration called for starting fresh at a new location – as Roper’s layout, shape and size was judged unsuitable to take us forward.

            We strongly encourage Mr. Stancil to get this project moving and do so on a scale that when we ask “are you proud of this park?” The answer will be a resounding yes.

            From us at the Progress, thanks to those who have supported community journalism over the past year with subscriptions and ads. We wish all of Pickens County a Happy New Year.

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