Builders and school officials say they're seeing signs of a demographic shift in Columbia County.
There have always been assumptions about which areas have money, and which have less; this shift seems more about age.
Younger families seem to be making their entry into Columbia County south and west. Older families, along with those of higher incomes, are populating the Martinez-Evans tip.
Here's one tiny indicator: Stevens Creek Elementary, the county's largest elementary school, "collapsed" one kindergarten class as school began - meaning the school dropped from eight kindergarten classes to seven.
Meanwhile, the newest elementary school, Cedar Ridge in Grovetown, planned to open with four kindergarten classes. As pupils continued to enroll during the summer, the school eventually opened with nine.
Money still plays a role, of course; younger families typically have less of it. It seems those young families increasingly are looking to the Grovetown area to get into the county and its school system.
Though only anecdotal, that explains why builders are seeing activity in some areas slowing down in Columbia County. Cheap land is gone except for rural areas, which have their own challenges, or Grovetown, which is booming.
All of this is meant to be somewhat precautionary. Qualifying for Grovetown's City Council and mayoral elections begins Monday.
Grovetown on Nov. 6 will hold elections for City Council seats currently held by David Daughtry and Dick Manion, and most importantly, Dennis Trudeau's mayoral post.
Trudeau is officially retiring from office. Council members Daughtry and George James plan to run for mayor, which would also create vacancies for their seats. Manion is seeking re-election.
The council and mayor together make up a five-member body. There is the potential that an entirely new majority could take over next year.
So, what effect would that have on Grovetown and its growth? Already, there are signs that gung-ho development and annexation are hitting occasional sour notes for the city and those at its edges.
The same headaches that have already driven Martinez-Evans residents nuts can't be far behind. It won't be long before we'll hear the same grumbling about traffic gridlock and tree destruction - and the rising housing cost for everyone who wants to live there.
Don't throw stones
So, a Columbia County bus driver missed seeing a Grovetown Elementary kindergartner sleeping (or hiding) on a bus last week, and after the driver finished her route, parked the bus and went in her home, the kid got out and wandered down the road until some nice folks picked him up.
Bad event with a happy ending, but the timing couldn't have been better. It came the day after an Augusta bus driver dropped off a kindergartner at an apartment complex where no parents were home (because the pupil wasn't supposed to have gotten on the bus in the first place).
It just shows that our system is no more immune from foul-ups than Augusta's, and we shouldn't be so quick to point fingers.
And it causes me to ask: Why aren't students counted? If 20 get on a bus, shouldn't we count 20 off?
It was sad to note the other day that BG's restaurant in Harlem is closing shop so the owner, Cindy Greenwell, can join her husband, Mike, in retirement.
I feel like one of the privileged few: As a participant in a county planning session, I was able to enjoy BG's final catered meal last week. The good news is that the restaurant will soon reopen with a new operator, Harlem native and veteran caterer Stacie Hart.
Best of luck to Cindy and her family in retirement.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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