The Year in Rear View

The balloons have all dropped, the Champagne corks have all been popped and 2012 is now officially a part of our collective past. While it may be a year known most for what didn’t happen – e.g., the world coming to a shattering end in a blaze of Mayan Doomsday Apocalyptic horror – there were a few noteworthy things along the way, things that give hope to 2013.

The Town of Blythewood’s Council continues to work toward its dream town and endure the accompanying growing pains. Zoning changes continue to be an issue for the town’s businesses, and may need further fine tuning, as the Town Council and Mayor press forward with their long-term vision for the Town. To that end, more angst may be in store for downtown businesses with new proposals on the horizon, including a Municipal Improvement District, a revenue-based downtown improvement plan that will be under the microscope in 2013. A more beautiful approach into the town off I-77 may be in the offing during the coming year as a major landscape beautification project finally blossoms at Exit 27.

Blythewood also saw the doors open on a new high school in 2012, and with it, its first controversy. A parent filed suit against the Richland School District 2 Board of Trustees and its superintendent, Dr. Katie Brochu, claiming the district created a “de-facto segregated high school system” when it redrew attendance boundaries prior to opening Westwood High School. It will be interesting to see if and how this matter is resolved in 2013. A new column in The Voice that will regularly report on school board issues will keep the community updated on this and other Richland 2 issues.

In other 2012 local legal battles, Sam Brick, a LongCreek Plantation resident, filed suit Oct. 31 against Richland County, their Planning Commission and the Richland County Development Review Team (DRT) alleging, among other things, various violations of the Freedom of Information Act when these bodies were considering an application of the County’s Green Code standards to a proposed development in LongCreek Plantation. Sources indicate that 2013 may not be the year of transparency for Richland County, as it is rumored that the County is considering simply altering the way the DRT is organized, legally, to make it exempt from the FOIA. In other words, changing the law to fit the crime. Let’s hope this goes nowhere.

Fairfield County had its struggles in 2012, specifically with water. As the year came to a close, the Town of Winnsboro was somewhat closer to a deal with Columbia to bring more water into their system. Efforts to establish the Regional Water Authority took their first real steps in 2012, and in 2013 the project may actually get off the ground. In the meantime, the governments of Fairfield County and the Town of Winnsboro appear to actually be working together on a solution – something we hope to see more of this year.

The much beleaguered Fairfield County School District hired yet another superintendent in 2012, and although he has only been on the job since July, by all appearances it looks as if the School Board finally got their man. It also appears as if the Board is actually allowing him to do his job without the kind of interference and static that has led to the downfall of so many of his predecessors. The Board also seated two new members in November. Of course, if history is any indicator of future performance – if past is, in fact, prologue – the entire operation could, at any moment and without warning, come completely unhinged. At present, however, it seems as though a new age has been ushered in for Fairfield County Schools. An age where academic success outweighs School Board excess.

No, the world did not end in 2012; but perhaps our inability to find common ground did. Perhaps 2013 will be the dawn of a new Age of Progress for Blythewood, for Fairfield County, for everyone. Don’t think of it as naïve optimism. Think of it as a challenge.