People in Bradley County, from city officials to the average working class citizen, are all taking a moment to reflect on the past, present and future of the world around them.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis was reminded of the classic line by Charles Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities” when he described 2011 in Bradley County.
“I describe 2011 as the best of times and the worst of times,” Davis said. “It all began with a foot of snow in January. Soon thereafter came the tornadoes of April 27. Then we had the floods around Labor Day. We had a lot of things that were not so good, but a lot of good came out of it.”
Davis said, “We saw the community come together to help each other — neighbor helping neighbor. When you look back on it, it’s been a pretty good year for a lot of people. Others lost their home that year. Some are still without homes. Some are moving into new homes. They’re all thankful to still be here. It’s definitely been a year that is best described as the best of times and the worst of times, in my opinion.
“We ended up 2011 with some good announcements about Amazon coming, Whirlpool rebuilding here and Wacker becoming a larger project. Amazon has become a reality. Whirlpool is built and is about to become a reality as they move into their new facility in 2012.
I recently toured Wacker and it’s coming along. It still has a ways to go but it’s a huge facility being built up there. So a lot of great things are going on today that make 2012 and 2013 really look great.”
Cleveland City Councilman Richard Banks said, “My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to work less and fish more!”
Banks said he realize that during this past year “we lost some good citizens here in Cleveland” and will consider ways to enjoy life more and express appreciation for his opportunity to serve.”
“I want to make sure that in 2012 we give thanks for everything we have in our community, in our state and in our country, and try to do the best we can to provide good services for the city of Cleveland,” he said.
Several local businesses are also increasing their services for the new year. Suk Son, owner of Cameron’s Restaurant in Cleveland, is keeping her doors open Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate her loyal customers. She said 2012 will be a year of hard work, which she enjoys.
Octavia Pugh, owner of Octavia Hair Salon in Cleveland, said she will be focusing on “pulling in more customers” for her business in 2012.
“I do a lot of Lee (University) students and I’ll be losing some customers who will be graduating in May of 2012,” she said. “So I’m hoping to gain more customers when the new semester starts. I have a $10 Tuesday for shampoo, blow dry and a flat iron or curl.”
Others in the community have a different agenda for 2012, one focused on less business and more pleasure.
Brother and sister Nathan and Jessica Quinley said they are starting the New Year in Barcelona, Spain.
“Jessica, myself and another sister of ours will be backpacking through Europe for 2 1/2 weeks going into the new year, Nathan said. “We’re going to be partying it up over there. My resolution for 2012 is just to have fun.”
Jessica will also be visiting Calcutta, India, in 2012. Lee University students Ariell Lastie, Jocelyn Williams and Kymia Johnson have other ideas for making 2012 memorable.
Williams said, “My fiancé and I plan to get married on Valentine’s Day.” Laughing, Johnson said, “And I plan on getting engaged by Valentine’s Day in 2012.”
Lastie said her plans are simply to enjoy herself throughout the new year.
Married couple Lori and Nathan Ross of Cleveland said 2012 will be about academic achievement as their daughter will be graduating from high school and Nathan looks to complete college at Cleveland State.
“We’re also working on our happy marriage and keeping things going,” said Nathan, who works at Bradley County Juvenile Court.
“We’ve raised four kids together,” Lori added. “We have two each, so we’ve raised four together. We have some good kids. They’re happy, healthy, doing well in school and staying out of trouble. We’re truly blessed.”
Whether it’s raising a family, starting a family, growing a business or welcoming new businesses to Bradley County, 2012 promises to be every bit as memorable as the last year.
Experts say economic growth will pick up modestly in 2012 — probably between 1.5 and 2 percent. The year-ending sales of 2011 indicate consumers are ready and willing to spend, and businesses are more disposed to hire — albeit cautiously.