To be fair, Lancaster deserves its respect

-A A +A
By Robert Howey

Fairness is one of the first lessons you learn in reporting. Give both sides.
The recent CNN story about Lancaster, on the heels of the S.C. Republican Primary Jan. 21, wasn’t a true reflection of our town.
Yes, we’ve been hit hard by the closing of Springs Industries here, but at the same time we’ve moved on. It hasn’t been easy as the sobering unemployment figures show, but we’ve pressed on. We’re grateful for what Springs did over the years to impact our city and county, but mindful that those days with Springs as a major player here are gone.
So be proud of the past, embrace the present and look to the future.
It’s in our blood. It’s our nature.
Those people quoted in the story had their right to voice opinions on the various issues, including who they want and don’t want to be in the White House with the November election.
Just as I’m writing this piece, so did those folks express their feelings.
Interwoven with their sentiments was a depiction of a Southern town with little hope.
Then, there was the accompanying video – “Open Mic.” The citizens’ various views are their sentiments, but the background music seemed something like a cross of a tune between “Deliverance,” or “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
Lancaster deserves better.
The article mentioned the well-known Wall of Fame in downtown Lancaster.
One of the figures, of course, is Andrew Jackson.
His example, a page out of history, says plenty about Lancaster. Jackson was a fighter throughout his life, and made his share of mistakes and enemies, but through it all he rose to the nation’s highest office.
Jackson became the first president from the frontier, humble beginnings to the national stage.
There’s mention of the courthouse, noting the Confederate monument out front, a landmark common to Southern towns. Little else positive was said of the area, but there’s plenty to say.
Those grounds, with the old and new courthouses, tell much about Lancaster. The old building, now restored after surviving a near-fatal fire, stands gallant reminding us that Lancaster is proud of its past and wanted the building to be around for generations.
The adjacent modern facility, a state-of the-art building, says Lancaster is progressive and is focused on its future. A stark contrast side-by-side, yet a true portrayal of Lancaster.
Those two major projects were done at a time when the local economy was struggling, but nonetheless, the job was completed because of its importance to our county – past, present and future.
That brings to mind another set of buildings within the city, the University of South Carolina Lancaster. No mention was made of the USCL campus in the CNN story.
USCL, one of the prettiest petals in the Red Rose City, also has a meager-to-major story.
It steadily branched from an old Lancaster home in 1959, to one of the top campuses in the University of South Carolina system. USCL, like Lancaster, has had its trials, most recent a former governor’s notion of closing the school, which riled its citizens to rally and soon perish Mark Sanford’s Capitol idea.
The school serves as a beacon of higher education here, providing many a chance to attend college when the opportunity might not otherwise exist.
At the same time, USCL’s role in the community is just as vital, from providing elementary students a chance to learn how to swim to helping people live with diabetes and heart-health issues.
Nearby is the corporate headquarters of Founders Federal Credit Union, one of the nation’s largest credit unions. Founders was originally established by Springs Mills’ Colonel Elliott White Springs. Its signature logo of the cotton bloom notes its early roots here, but again plays a key role in Lancaster’s present and future with a deep community commitment.
Then, there’s Springs Memorial, a modern hospital most any city of Lancaster’s size would love to have. Once again, Springs help make it possible, and it has endured to be a wonderful part of the community.
I could go on with more notable places, but the people– blue and white collar, black and white – make the difference in the Red Rose City.
Those notable buildings and many others aren’t what they are without the people, past, present and future.
They reflect forward-thinking folks in our past and present.
Any doubt about Lancaster’s future and I’ll harken back to the CNN story.
There was a mention of empty Main Street storefronts.
The building where CNN’s “Open Mic “ was held was a former popular drug store in its early life, but is a vibrant restaurant in downtown. It has survived. The irony is that people came here with a plan and vision for that building each time in its history.
Want more proof? All you have to do is go back to the day after the CNN story hit here.
We were stunned and somewhat staggered, but determined, like tough times before, to move on and make the best.
Before dusk the next day, the dawn of a campaign to rally Lancaster was on the horizon.
The sign was the sign draped across the Founders’ corporate office – “We Are Lancaster.”
Since then, I’ve seen more and more. How many? Well, to be fair – plenty.
Forbes Magazine hails Lancaster “as the most vulnerable place in America.”
Given Lancaster’s history, present and hope for the future, I offer a different tag, “the most venerable place in America.”