It is the nature of the business of commentary that community problems are necessarily a primary subject. Like the old saying goes: It isn't news if 100 planes land safely, but when one crashes, it's a story.
So Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday in which we're all called upon to give thanks for our blessings, is a good time to provide a little balance: To see the half-full glass, the silver lining, the opportunity.
And Columbia County is practically brimming with blessings. As we prepare for the annual feast of food and gratitude, then, here are some of the things for which we should all be thankful.
Locals love to complain these days about traffic, especially in the congested Evans area around the never-ending construction zone of Furys Ferry Road. But we know our commutes, on the worst day, can't touch the two-hour gridlock that often snarls the Atlanta suburbs.
It's also pretty obvious that the traffic problems are symptoms of Columbia County's growth. The growth, while some of it is a direct result of Richmond County's much-discussed death spiral, is a clear sign of how attractive our community has become.
Why? Columbia County home values are low compared to other booming areas of the country (just ask a recent immigrant from, say, California), and our public schools are very good. The crime rate is very low, and the natural beauty of the countryside -- while continually threatened with growth from all those new residents -- shines through. There is plenty to attract people here, and plenty to keep them.
It's also difficult not to admire the county's leadership. Sure, they occasionally stumble, and there are plenty of critics to dog their steps. But all we have to do is look to the east, and see that it could certainly be worse -- a lot worse.
At least when Columbia County commissioners disagree, one of them can't virtually shut down the government by simply leaving the room. And the school board doesn't have to juggle school populations and manipulate test-score reporting to simulate achievement gains.
In fact, the worst that often can be said about Columbia County officials is that they try too hard to govern; they still sometimes need to fall back on the saying that the government that governs least governs best, and worry just a little less about trying to fix all the small problems that are just part of everyday life.
Best of all, Columbia County has great people. From Spooky to be Hungry co-chairmen Evelyn Browne and Debbie Johnson, to Columbia County Cares coordinator David Titus, to United We Care director Bill Campbell, and many others, the county's affluence hasn't dimmed the community's ability to care about its fellow citizens.
Add all this up, and it reveals a pretty good place to live. Columbia County, this Thanksgiving, has a lot of reasons to be thankful.
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