We're No. 32!
OK, so that doesn't make much of a rallying cry. But for Evans, and Columbia County, coming in 32nd on Money magazine's list of 100 Top Places to Live is a point of chest-puffing pride.
That's in spite of the fact that it's difficult to explain just where Evans is. It isn't a city, so there are no official limits, no "Welcome to Evans" signs. In geographic terms, Evans exists only as a description of boundaries on file at the Evans Post Office.
Increasingly, though, Evans has developed an identity as the area's premier community for people to live, work, worship, shop and play. Consider:
Nearly 10 years ago, county officials began work on the Evans Town Center concept. Eventually those efforts produced the Evans Town Center Overlay District, which set strict guidelines for development in the core of Evans.
Voters in 1999 approved a series of bonds that paid for construction of the Columbia County Justice Center, a building that became an instant Evans focal point.
Not long after, voters approved the continuation of the county's sales tax with funds for a new library, performing arts center and amphitheater. That facility is expected to open next spring.
County commissioners are purchasing the Doctors Hospital field, with plans to preserve the 19-acre site as a community park.
These efforts are what the county's taxpayers have done to build Evans. Meanwhile, the private sector has, if anything, moved faster in developing the face of the community. Construction of the Wal-Mart Supercenter was soon followed by a string of nearby commercial developments.
In the other direction, the Jones and Aaron auto dealerships are posted at the gateway to Evans, while the Mullins Crossing shopping with Target, Kohl's and other retailers is nearing completion. A smaller center across Washington Road is in its infancy, and Marshall Square is coming soon. Also, Evans Middle School's site will soon become a high-end commercial development.
None of these developments would mean a thing, however, without one key factor: People.
And it is the people who are responsible for the community being one of the best in the country. Those people pay a high price for progress, with rising taxes, crowded schools and traffic snarls.
Still, the good far outweighs any inconvenience, which is why Evans and Columbia County continue to attract hundreds of new residents every year. Obviously, the folks at Money magazine think it's working, and we agree.
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