We know that we live in a great community with a bright future. Hearing four of Aiken County’s leaders tell us why reinforces what we already knew, and gives us more reason to be proud.
Wednesday afternoon, community leaders from all walks of life gathered at the USC Aiken Convocation Center for the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s State of Our Community annual meeting. County Council Chairman Ronnie Young, Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, School Superintendent Beth Everitt and Chamber Chairman Arthur “Buzz” Rich presented highlights of the accomplishments of the past year and plans for the future. The lists were long and impressive: new construction, striving for improvements, new businesses and investments, more and better communications with the public. These are things we know about, but hearing what can be accomplished in a year is inspirational.
Certainly the speakers focused on the positive, as they should in that setting. But they didn’t shy away from problems.
Cavanaugh opened his remarks by mentioning the shooting deaths of two Aiken Department of Public Safety’s officers in December and January. Those senseless killings galvanized the community, bringing people together and prompting discussions and action on problems we need to address – problems such as crime and poverty that can become generational.
Everitt had a long list of successes and new programs. But she isn’t satisfied the the B grade the school system received from a new state grading system. So, the district is putting plans in place to help turn that B into an A.
Young noted that Aiken County is fortunate to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, but it’s not a reason to celebrate, he said.
“I won’t be satisfied until every person in Aiken County that wants a job, has a job,” Young said.
It should be noted that the highlight of the annual meeting was a performance by the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus from Fort Bragg, N.C. This amazing group of soldier/singers was entertaining, and inspirational. Now we need to find a way to get them to come back to Aiken for another performance.