We don't have closure entirely for the folks up the road in Warren County. But it's pretty close.
The story has been well-documented to this point. Voters, many of them driven by the prospect of Barack Obama as the first black president, flooded the small county's polls in 2008.
The result was a new school board majority of incompetent racists who set about destroying the county's fragile public school system - one that up until that point was finally beginning to emerge from its legacy of re-segregation and showing significant academic improvement.
In the midst of the new majority's destructive spree, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools stepped in and demanded that the erstwhile agents of "change" undo their damage, or the agency would revoke the school system's accreditation.
Among other things, loss of accreditation would have prevented any of the public school system's graduates from being eligible for the HOPE scholarship. In an impoverished county where there are far more lottery players than scholarship recipients, taking away access to those funds would have been devastating.
Maddeningly, such a loss would have been most damaging to the county's black residents - the very people who propelled the anti-white board members to power.
Fortunately, after a review panel made its recommendations, Gov. Sonny Perdue removed the three obstructionist members of the school board. Their replacements have joined other members in performing the system's business like adults.
As a result, word recently came down that SACS has decided to take its finger off the trigger, and won't execute the county school system's accreditation after all.
That also means Superintendent Carole Jean Carey - a Columbia County resident - can now take the retirement she delayed in April when it appeared the school system would fall apart.
She's not gone yet, though: They've decided to keep her as a "49 percenter," drawing her pension while still serving part-time as superintendent.
She's earned it. Her efforts, and those of a much-improved board, have ensured that the children of Warren County will be able to graduate from an accredited school and qualify for the HOPE scholarship.
That's a pretty good way for Carey to finish her career - and for Warren County to start a new year.
Speaking of ways to start the new year, readers might find the information on Page 2 of this issue useful.
We receive a lot of submissions for publication from many different people. It isn't feasible to expect all those different readers to send everything exactly the same way.
Even so, it would help those submitting items for publication, and help us print them, if as many people as possible could read those guidelines and send their items accordingly. It not only makes it easier for us, it also increases the likelihood that we'll publish items faster if we don't have to jump through hoops to shoehorn various file formats into our system.
Anyone with questions about getting something in the paper - whether it's an event announcement or a vacation photo - can just give me a call or send me a note, and I'll be happy to help.
What to drop?
And still speaking of the start to the new year, everyone is, of course, familiar with the iconic ball that drops at midnight in Times Square. Augusta has a golf ball, and I recently heard Mobile, Ala., drops a 12-foot Moon Pie. Seriously.
So I wondered: If Columbia County were to ring in the new year with some kind of symbol, what would it be? A sailboat from the county's logo? A John Deere tractor? A Club Car golf car?
We've got 363 days to figure it out, I suppose.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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