Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Sometimes you get a clearer picture of things when you are on the outside looking in. Last year, we moved away from Polk County for family reasons after living there for 20 years. Though we love our new home, I’ve come to appreciate all the great things Polk County provides, which is especially significant given its small size relative to other N.C. counties.
For example, the local county government is led by an excellent county manager and county commissioners, dedicated to managing all the many details we citizens take for granted while navigating Polk County’s growth, all under the challenges of fiscal responsibility. Look at how TIEC has added to the area without changing Polk’s quality of life while complementing already existing assets like FENCE. And now they are shepherding in a YMCA. Wow!
Another asset of Polk County, that we don’t have in my new town, is the many citizen volunteer boards, where citizens willingly give their time to serve on advisory boards that provide the county with citizen input. It’s a great way for average folk to be involved; I miss that.
At a time when rural hospitals across the country are struggling, St. Luke’s Hospital is financially strong and continues to receive the highest quality rating for patient satisfaction of any hospital in a 100-mile radius, all while increasing the list of healthcare services they provide and the quality of the doctors, nurses and staff providing it. I hear stories all the time of 3+ hour waits at hospital emergency rooms. You’ll never have that problem at St. Luke’s. Having gone there a number of times for an emergency, I never waited more than a few minutes.
Thanks to an excellent school superintendent, and the superintendents who preceded him, Polk County Schools consistently rank first or second among all public schools in North Carolina. This is due in large part to a school board, administration and faculty who place the children’s education as their #1 priority. I know a young woman who grew up in rural Polk County and just received a scholarship to Georgetown Law School. That didn’t happen without a strong foundation in our public schools … and great parents. We should be as proud of Polk’s academic success as we are of their impressive volleyball state championship (way to go girls!).
Another great part of Polk County’s education system is the highly-rated Isothermal Community College, which serves Polk and Rutherford counties. Thanks to the excellent management of a large donation the college received years ago, students can attend ICC tuition-free. Whether you are looking for a 2-year associate degree that qualifies you for the growing number of high-paying trade-based careers, starting your 4-year college degree with the first two years at ICC tuition-free, or just improving your current job skills, ICC can help you get there. And their new president is adding programs and student-life activities that resemble a lot of what you experience at the 4-year universities.
I could go on, with things like a Christian-based culture led by some great local churches, the isothermal belt climate, the arts and culture of the quaint towns of Tryon and Saluda, the small-town-America activities like the Fabulous Fourth Celebration, Coon Dog Day, local parades and more. Suffice it to say, we miss Polk County, appreciate what a great place it is to live and look forward to the day we return there.