Although they are almost always more of a pep rally than a critical examination of local affairs, the annual Chamber of Commerce State of the Community breakfasts offer a window on some of the issues local officials feel are important enough to highlight. Last week’s breakfast, held at the Glennon Center in Tega Cay, was no exception as the area’s two mayors and the superintendent of Fort Mill’s schools provided laundry lists of things to feel good about.
There was however a little foreshadowing served up with the eggs and grits. Albeit just a small dollop, but enough to pique the public’s interest. First, here’s a quick look at some of the accomplishments Mayors Danny Funderburk and George Sheppard of Fort Mill and Tega Cay, respectively, and Superintendent Chuck Epps shared with the crowd:
• Fort Mill was named one of Family Circle magazine’s “10 Best Towns for Families” and won a top state award for the S.C. Strawberry Festival.
• The town’s financials received a clean bill of health from an independent auditor.
Tega Cay moved its makeshift City Hall into a new, modern building.
• The city’s largest current development project, a 130,000-square-foot assisted living facility, received state health department approval.
• A much awaited Tega Cay Connector linking Gold Hill Road and the Stonecrest development should see right-of-way acquisition this fall followed by 12-18 months of construction.
• Both of the school district’s high schools earned Palmetto Gold awards and the district received an overall “excellent” report card and “A” grade on federal accountability standards.
• Fort Mill, which was on the verge of getting a hotel before the economy tanked, has interest from another developer who may fill that void and last but not least, Tega Cay could be home to a new bagel shop.
That is an impressive list of accomplishments in a region where success seems to breed even higher expectations for local municipalities. Managing growth has always been a challenge, but local leaders have proved themselves up to the task. That experience will come in handy when it comes time to confront an issue raised by Epps – the possible need for a third high school.
Though careful to point out a new high school is far from a done deal – the district could expand the current schools, for instance – Epps was wise to get the conversation off the ground. If a referendum in which voters will be asked to finance either a new school or capital projects to grow existing campuses is held by 2014 as Epps indicated, then that leaves just enough time to hold public forums and build a campaign. Residents will surely be eager to air their views and ask questions and a bond committee will need time and resources to make the district’s case.
If Epps getting the discussion started was a piece of egg shell in anyone’s omlet, it should be remembered that he and all the other speakers were there not just to highlight the feel-good news, but to give an honest accounting of where the community is headed. It would have been easy for Epps to skip that platform for broaching the subject and he deserves credit for taking the opportunity.
What’s your opinion?
Comment on our website