Year in Review: The Bulletin looks back on 2016 (January-February)

Published 9:55 pm Friday, December 23, 2016

Editor’s note: Over the next week, we will take a look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year.


Polk County’s unemployment rate rises slightly in November

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Polk County experienced a slight rise in unemployment rate in November 2015, reaching 5.1 percent according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The county had the 18th lowest unemployment rate in the state. Polk County’s unemployment rate has been on the rise since 2014.

Columbus records 58 percent fund balance for year-end 2015

The Town of Columbus’ year-end 2015 audit found the town in excellent financial state with a 58.2 percent fund balance off of $1.1 million in expenditures in the general fund. Carland & Andersen, Inc. conducted the audit and met with the town during their December 2015 meeting. Columbus’ total fund balance at the end of 2015 was $915,639, an increase of $46,090 from the previous fiscal year.

Miller named region’s 2015 Superintendent of the Year

Former superintendent Bill Miller was named the state’s western region’s top superintendent by the Western Region Education Service Alliance. Miller announced his retirement this year after 13 years of service, with Aaron Greene stepping up as superintendent beginning in the 2016 school year.

US 176 to remain closed through February

Travel between Tryon and Saluda on U.S. 176 was halted after a rockslide followed by a mudslide occurred near Pearson Falls Road, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, through at least February. The road reopened in March after three months of reconstruction.

Signs at Morris the horse banned in Tryon

Tryon Town Council made the motion to ban signs within 10 feet of Morris the horse in downtown Tryon during their January meeting. The historical marker for Morris the horse stands 11 feet from the statue, and town commissioners debated which signs to continue to allow near the statue including Bingo and Red Cross signs.

Winter storm Jonas dumps 7.3 inches on Tryon area

Winter Storm Jonas sent 7.3 inches of snow to the Tryon area and 40 inches in other areas of the East Coast, affecting an estimated 50 million people according to the National Weather Service. Polk County declared a state of emergency with shelters opening and I-26 and schools being temporarily shut down as the storm passed through.

Polk switches to state employee health plan for $271K minimum savings

The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved joining the state health plan for teachers and state employees, which saved the county $271,128. A new session law passed in June 2015 in North Carolina allowed local governments to enroll in the state employee health plan and the county officially joined the plan in March.

Chamber hosts annual volunteer awards dinner

The Foothills Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual awards dinner on January 26 at the Purple Onion in Saluda. Six award winners including Carl Wharton, Madelon Wallace, Dennis Nagle, Kim Karaman, John Vining and Susan Casey received accolades for their volunteer work in the community. Executive Director Janet Sciacca said the 2017 awards dinner would be hosted at Melrose Inn on January 31 at 6 p.m.

Polk County Commissioners look to sell Lake Adger

Polk County Commissioners began researching the surplus value of the lake and dam at Lake Adger with the potential of selling it. Commissioner Keith Holbert called the lake a “liability returning nothing” and said the lake is “a tax bearing drain.” The commissioners researched a failed deal with the Inman-Campobello Water District including 75 years worth of repairs to the dam at the lake.


Polk plans what some call “the water line to nowhere”

The Polk County Board of Commissioners seek bids to a water line from Sunny View School to the Polk/Rutherford county line. Commissioner Ray Gasperson did not agree, questioning the need for the water line and said he asked Lake Lure if they wanted to connect Polk County for water services. County residents Sky Conard and Pat Salomon opposed the water line, saying it would be too expensive for taxpayers.

Love Landrum campaign encourages input on the city’s future

As part of the Love Landrum campaign, chalkboard walls were set up in downtown Landrum asking people to describe what they love about the city. The project was part of the city’s development of the comprehensive plan for the next decade. Landrum held its first comprehensive plan meeting at Landrum Middle School in February.

Christine Taylor named executive director of Foothills Humane Society

Christine Taylor was named executive director of the Foothills Humane Society this year. Previously the director of a shelter in New Jersey for 14 years, Taylor became the full-time director in February after being hired on January 1.

Polk approves water line to county line for $570K

A contract with Steppe Construction to extend a water line from Sunny View School to the Polk County line and an extension on Ken Miller Road was approved by the Polk County Board of Commissioners. The contract was approved 4-2, with Shane Bradley and Ray Gasperson opposing.

Tryon banks 31.1 percent fund balance in 2015

The Town of Tryon ended fiscal year 2015 with a 31.1 percent fund balance of $514,822. The state requires an available fund balance of at least eight percent and most small governments had 20 percent or more available for spending.

Tryon Farmers Market moves to Harmon Field

Harmon Field became home to the Tryon Farmers Market after a request to move by the farmers market was approved by Tryon Town Council in February. The farmers market also moved to Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Town of Tryon receives historic district recognition from the National Park Service

The Town of Tryon received the distinction of being a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district includes both sides of North and South Trade Streets, the Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way between 98 N. and 55 S. Trade Streets, the rotary clock tower plaza and the Nina Simone plaza.