Last year there were proud announcements, a series of celebratory stories, congratulatory decals, back-patting glee.
This year, nothing but crickets.
Why the silence? Why was a total lack of local fanfare when Money magazine recently released its annual ranking of the 100 best places in America to live?
It's because we aren't there. Evans, ranked 32nd last year, didn't make the list for 2006. At all.
In fact, no Georgia community made the list. Not even Peachtree City, which had a top-10 ranking last year.
Columbia County's government made the most of last year's ranking, including printing up little decals noting Evans' recognition and sticking them on county mailings.
Does all this mean Georgia, and especially Evans, are worse places to live than a year ago?
Of course not. Evans is still the heart of a wonderful community, even with the big-box development threatening to transform it into one mega shopping center and turn the gridlocked streets into parking lots.
Dropping off the list didn't appear to faze Columbia County Commission Chairman Cross, either. Putting the best face on it, he said he suspects the magazine was just sharing the love with other communities - and, possibly, seeking new advertising opportunities - by shaking up the rankings.
Whatever the case, Money says Evans is out. This year's best place to live, by the way, is Fort Collins, Colo. The new No. 32 is Wayne, N.J.
A leader departs
Le Grand Van Keuren ran just one countywide race, back in 1968, vying for a spot on Columbia County's first elected school board. Guy Fleming won that Harlem seat, serving for more than a decade.
Not long after that race, Van Keuren, a decorated World War II veteran, hardware-store owner, former Harlem City Council member and Harlem school board member soon made an abrupt turn from politics to the pulpit.
Having served for years as a leader at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Harlem, Van Keuren entered the seminary relatively late in life and became an Episcopal priest. After retiring from the ministry, Van Keuren moved to Brandon Wilde where he passed away July 21.
It's inspiring to hear about a man whose life was so dedicated to service that he could run the gamut from combat veteran, to politician, to priest. Van Keuren leaves a proud family for whom his life as a servant leader is a remarkable legacy.
May they be comforted by it, and may he rest in peace.
Carey goes to WaCo
WaCo will soon have a little Wolfpack.
Dewey Carey, a former assistant principal at Greenbrier High School - and before that, the long-time principal of Grovetown Elementary School - is the new principal of Washington County High School in Sandersville, Ga.
Carey, whose wife, Carole Jean, is superintendent of schools in Warren County, isn't going south to Sandersville alone. He's taking with him as assistant principal Henry Quinn, also a former Greenbrier assistant principal, and Judy Teasley, a former Greenbrier teacher.
Since leaving Greenbrier, Dewey has been a teacher in Cobb County, a teacher and coach in Wilkes County and principal of Madison County Middle School.
The only tough part has been the commute. He and Carole Jean continue to live in Appling, near where her parents - both of whom, incidentally, are retired educators - recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.)
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