We've had plenty of hoopla lately about Evans being ranked No. 32 in Money magazine's listing of best places to live.
But there's another area in which the community ranks even higher: Golf.
Money magazine's latest listings rank retirement-friendly communities. Our area, as retiree-friendly as it is, didn't make the list; our closest neighbor in the top five is Athens. I guess old University of Georgia fans are discovering the joys of returning to their college town to retire.
The newest Money list included other rankings, though, and that's where Evans made the grade again. It comes in second, just behind Marco Island, Fla., for "most golf played."
No wonder two brand-new courses opened here this year. Bartram Trail and Champions Retreat joined Jones Creek, West Lake and Three Oaks in providing a place for retirees (and others) to spend their days.
An added bonus of attracting retirees: They don't bring children.
Not that children are bad, mind you - I've got three of my own, and as principal of the county's biggest elementary school my wife has another 840 or so - but our school system is already bursting at the seams.
The school board recently started working on the purchase of a piece of land on Blackstone Camp Road where a new middle school will be built. There's also a need for a couple more elementary schools and a high school.
The system's growth this past year was the largest single-year gain in more than 20 years, bringing in more students than are now housed in the county's newest school: River Ridge Elementary - which opened at full capacity.
The new middle school on Blackstone Camp will be just a couple of miles away, turning the Furys Ferry Road area into a series of campuses separated by subdivisions.
There are only two golf courses in that densely packed area, so no wonder Evans ranks so high.
Last no more
Another ranking was the topic of discussion this past week when the Kansas-based Morgan Quitno Press released its annual list of "smartest states," with Georgia at No. 40.
Horrors! You might say. Unbelievable! You might think.
Not bad, I'd say.
Remember: We've had it drilled into our heads for the past few years, ad nauseum, that Georgia has only South Carolina to thank for not being in last place in education - an ignorant comment based entirely on the state's SAT scores. It's a grossly unfair way to keep score, with Georgia students in far higher numbers taking the SAT.
This ranking actually shows we're much better off than last place. Sure, 40th is nothing to brag about, especially for the ninth-largest state. But it's a lot better than last.
Besides: In this ranking Georgia beat Tennessee - again - which is what really counts.
To the rescue, again
Former state Rep. Bill Jackson is heading up a group called Save the Columns, which is working on a plan to rescue the Evans columns and arch from the pending commercial construction project at the Evans Middle School site.
Superior Court Judge Jim Blanchard also is involved, so this effort already has some serious horsepower.
They're seeking public input in a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Evans Middle School. Anyone interested in saving the old structures should attend.
Jackson helped rescue the columns once before, lending his stone expertise when they had to be moved away from the widening of Washington Road. And Blanchard grew up on a farm across the road. With these two on board, we know Columbia County's own "Stonehenge" is safe.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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