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Another year

We are at the dawn of another year—hopefully better than this closing year.

Yet 2009 can still go down as “a good year” in some circles.

A lot of adjectives could describe 2009—tumultuous and triumphant; bleak, yet promising.

2009 started on a very low note as far as the economy was concerned.

The nation’s recession was in full swing and Decatur County was about to see the worst with high unemployment, two local industries closing and several others cutting back.

The county’s unemployment has been in double-digits all year, but at least there’s a trend toward a lower unemployment rate. The rate spiked in June and July at 13 percent or above, but it’s now down just below 12 percent for the first time in six months.

More than $40 million was not spent in the county—money that had been projected to be spent never was, said Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby.

Local tax coffers suffered, but with prudent planning, the county, board of education and municipalities were able to maintain services for the most part, although they too suffered minor personnel cutbacks.

This year was the opening of the new Bainbridge High School, the largest public construction project in Decatur County. The project went extremely well, and citizens of Decatur County have an investment that will surely pay for itself in years to come.

Whatever happens in 2010, the lessons that are there to be learned from are numerous—can governments operate as prudently with money in the coffers as they have adjusted to with less in the coffers.

On the horizon, there is a lot of promise in Decatur County and 2010 may just be the year that our future is truly grasped and embraced.

The new high school and the mass re-organization of the school system was truly a triumph. These two achievements will speak volumes for us in years to come.

The county is home to two industries on the cutting edge of technology—DaniMer and Meredian. They are an exciting addition to our community, and we hope that their growth is a complement to our growth.

Speaking of growth … Decatur County is home to one of the fastest growing community colleges in the nation.

According to Community College Week, Bainbridge College is the 19th fastest growing community college in the nation—and the fastest in Georgia—with an enrollment between 2,500 to 4,999. According to the report, Bainbridge College experienced a 16.2 percent increase from the Fall 2007 enrollment of 2,661 to its Fall 2008 enrollment of 3,091 students.

With the building of the Student Wellness Center on BC’s campus, that growth will only continue, again complementing the future possibilities of Decatur County.

2009 may not have been the best year for Decatur County. But hold on to your hats, because 2010 may just be a break-through year.