The new year brings new challenges for Winder and Barrow County.

There were some things accomplished during the past 12 months locally, but there are many more items which remain on the “wish list” for Barrow.

Here’s a look at a few: •Work continues in the downtown area of Winder. While workers have made progress, there doesn’t seem to have been much movement of late. Only a handful of workers have been seen, if any are seen at all, working lately.

The target date for completion is March, but it seems there is a long way to go before the project is complete.

It also remains to be seen just how much this project will help the traffic congestion in downtown Winder. Making things “look better” is nice, but we have a major traffic situation that has been ignored by various city officials for years, decades even.

That should be the No. 1 priority moving forward. A new sidewalk really doesn’t do much in that arena.

Also, there have been more businesses in the downtown area close lately. One has to wonder just how much a lack of parking, made worse by the ongoing streetscape work, contributed to these businesses closing their doors.

•The Barrow County Board of Education is currently in the process of beginning the search for a new superintendent. Like all searches of this nature, this is extremely important to the entire county.

The outgoing superintendent caused a good bit of divisiveness locally. While Wanda Creel had her supporters, many high-level education officials have left since she was hired. That’s not unusual per se. Any time a new superintendent is hired, there is going to be turnover. At times, the turnover was needed and was a good thing.

However, the BOE needs to work hard to find a superintendent to unite our local educators, not tear them apart. One of the finalists during the previous search was a local principal, who had the backing of many. It still seems strange this person was not selected and many people have offered varying reasons.

Hiring someone local is not always the best option. Just being local does not mean you are the best candidate for the job. However, it is known that at least one local educator is interested in the job. This person is a Barrow native and earned his education locally. That certainly should be considered when a new superintendent is named.

It should also be pointed out that if Creel has decided to go elsewhere, then it’s time for her to move on. An outgoing superintendent, regardless of who he or she is, should in no way have a hand in determining the next fiscal year’s budget. If no superintendent is in place, then allow the assistant superintendents, along with BOE members, to handle the new budget.

To use a sports analogy, you don’t allow a head football coach who has announced he is leaving for another job, to continue to recruit players for the following season. It doesn’t work that way. If you are leaving, then it’s time to leave.

Our BOE has a major decision on its hands. Hopefully, the new superintendent will be around for a lot longer than the current one has.

•The move to a county manager form of government has been anything but smooth sailing. Already one county manager has left town and the current one was hired despite being relieved of his duties from his previous place of employment.

The recent attempt to hire a new animal control director was also a complete disaster in all ways.

•Finally, let’s hope city officials find a better way to remove some pesky beavers instead of killing them. There are more effective — and humane — ways of handling this.

Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at cbridges@barrowjournal.com.

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