Construction- and development-related stories likely will dominate the local headlines in 2009.
This year, Columbia County residents can expect the opening of a new school, some new stores for shoppers and a lot of changes for Chamblin Road.
The county's fifth high school, Grovetown High, opens in August.
Construction on the almost $40 million school near the corner of Chamblin and Baker Place roads started December 2007. It primarily will relieve overcrowding at Greenbrier and Harlem high schools.
In December, Grovetown High principal Penny Jackson announced Todd Booker and Rodney Holder as the school's athletic director and football coach, respectively. The remainder of the school's staff should be determined by summer.
In addition to Grovetown High, new construction projects on Chamblin Road that might start this year include a Georgia State Patrol post and new facilities for the county's Animal Care and Control office and Health Department. All the projects are part of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax package approved by voters in November.
Across Chamblin Road from Grovetown High, construction is planned this year for a new campus of Evans Christian Academy. The 16,300-square-foot school will cost about $1.6 million.
To help with the extra traffic that will be generated by these projects, a $2 million plan to extend William Few Parkway to Chamblin Road is in the works.
Site work and construction already have started on four new retail centers in the county: a Wal-Mart on Lewiston Road near Grovetown; a Publix-anchored shopping center at Riverwood Plantation; a Food Lion grocery store at Hereford Farm and Columbia roads; and a new shopping center on Furys Ferry Road anchored by a Food Lion.
A new Walgreen's, near a new Food Lion on Belair Road, is scheduled to open this year. Diners might be happy to know that a Chili's restaurant will open a new location on Evans Town Center Boulevard in Marshall Square in the coming months.
To help guide some of this development, the Columbia County Development Authority announced Monday that new Executive Director Troy Post will start Jan. 22. The former Bessemer, Ala., resident replaces Zack Daffin, who resigned last summer to start a banking career.
In Grovetown, residents can expect a new water tower, a new auto parts store and a new post office.
City Manager Shirley Beasley said that sometime in 2009 officials intend to replace the water tower on Robinson Avenue. Eventually, water lines in parts of the city also will be replaced, but probably not in the coming year, Beasley said.
O'Reilly Auto Parts should open a new store this year on Wrightsboro Road.
The post office on West Robinson Avenue will be replaced this year, likely in September, with a new location outside the city limits. Beasley said site preparation already has started for the new post office at the corner of Wrightsboro Road and John Deere Parkway.
Projects in Harlem this year include a new senior center, additions to City Hall and the renovation of a theater.
Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the state Community Affairs Division, city officials intend to build a senior center in Harlem City Park next to the Mary E. Sanders Community Center, Mayor Bobby Culpepper said.
Work on a government annex behind City Hall on North Louisville Street should be finished this year. Culpepper said the annex will bring all of the city's operations under one roof. Also, a fire station currently under construction on New Street should be ready soon.
Culpepper said city leaders hope to start renovations on the Columbia Theater on South Louisville Street this year as a part of downtown Harlem revitalization.
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