Any list of top stories for a year includes good and bad. The Times and Democrat’s for 2018 is no different. But there are sound reasons to see the positives in our annual review.
With 2019 into its first weekend, here’s a look back with our reasons for optimism.
1. Orangeburg County school district consolidation. The merger of the three school districts into one unified county district with one governing body will become official in July. There remain many details to work out but the goals of better education with reduced cost of administration and other remain achievable. Both must not be forgotten by the new trustees. A transition committee has given the new board a solid list of recommendations.
2. Industrial development successes. Orangeburg County in 2018 landed the first Volvo supplier in South Carolina as well as companies from Italy and China. Unemployment is the lowest in 28 years. With good reasons, development leaders are optimistic about possibilities for 2019.
3. Statehouse incident. The assault case against Orangeburg Rep. Jerry Govan stemming from a Statehouse incident with Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter ended in an acquittal of Govan, as he predicted. As to how the state’s two longest-serving state representatives will work together now, both say they are not looking backward.
Cobb-Hunter said, "… I don't see it having any more of an effect than it already has. I was taught the 'long-handled spoon' theory. I have dealt and intend to continue to deal with Rep. Govan. Scripture talks to us about forgiveness, but it's also important not to forget.”
Govan said, "My working relationship with any of my colleagues in the delegation and with those around the state is very important to me in terms of being able to come together to get things done. I have never seen it and continue not to see it, on my part, as a problem."
4. The retirement of Claflin President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale. The 25-year Claflin president will retire at the end of the academic year. As much as his leadership of the university and in Orangeburg will be missed, there is much to look forward to from Tisdale in the coming months and beyond. He is committed to fundraising and increasing scholarship dollars for students, working on the Claflin Archival and Preservation project and writing a book on the 150-year history of Claflin.
5. Tri-County Electric Cooperative board. The historic action of co-op members to oust the entire board in the face of scandal led to election of a new board that has put in place protections against excessive spending and perks for board members.
6. Escape from Orangeburg County jail. The escape was seen as another example of problems at the aging facility. But help is on the way. Orangeburg County expects to complete a new jail with modern safety improvements by early in 2020.
7. Hurricane Michael and Florence. By any measure, The T&D Region was spared the worst from both storms. The forecast for 2019 is for an average to below-average number of storms.
8. Bamberg, Calhoun referendums. As much as a sizable number of voters in both counties decided they could not vote for an extra penny sales tax, the majority went with recommendations from their leaders and approved the tax that will fund infrastructure improvements.
9. Denmark water woes. Recent developments regarding Denmark’s long-standing issues with water have put a national spotlight on the town. That could mean improvements that many in Denmark believe are long overdue.
10. The election of Deloris Frazier to Orangeburg County Council. The longtime community activist got more than 60 percent of votes in June’s Democratic primary. She promises to learn and serve. And there is no better goal than hers for elected officials and their time in office. Frazier wants “the work I’ve done to speak for me.”
Join us in being optimistic as we welcome the new year and the possibilities it brings.