Tuesday was Election Day in our local municipalities.
Sadly, we are perhaps as divided as we have ever been in our choices of who should lead us in decisions affecting us all.
After months of campaigning and personal attacks, we know the results.
We also know that Friday night in Laurinburg was magical. The beautiful harvest moon and mild weather set the scene for the Richmond County/Scotland County football rivalry, long-anticipated and attended by perhaps 12,000 people. Parking was directed well, as people poured in from the two counties and from many other towns. There was a large reunion group, celebrating the first classes to attend the consolidated Scotland High School fifty years ago. There were early groups of tailgaters and orderly lines of people of all ages and races waiting in line for tickets. School staff members worked front gates, selling tickets and doing security screenings. Someone with an extra ticket gave it to a stranger in line.
The ROTC group solemnly honored flags; the band played the national anthem; the highland fling was performed while the band played Scotland the Brave. The digital scoreboard, so rare at a high school stadium, highlighted pictures: reunion members, senior football players with family members, senior band members with family, and cheerleaders. Volunteers sold 50/50 tickets to raise money for the band and other volunteers worked at the concession stand.
The game itself was one for the record books…passionately hard-fought on both sides, as mere teenagers from all over our county followed the leadership of dedicated coaches and worked together to win the game. Rumor has it that a private plane landed at Laurinburg/Maxton Airport to fly in a running-back coach from UGA, to witness for himself the amazing Zamir White. Our band, the “Pride of Scotland County,” performed their beautiful halftime show, showing us why they continue to garner awards at every band competition. The next day they even hosted a big competition at our own Pate Stadium.
In another part of the county, several days of “Insanitorium” had staged a haunted house at the old Wagram prison, raising over $40,000 through a combined effort of Scotland Parks and Recreation and Growing Change…an innovative group started by Laurinburg native Noran Sanford and gaining worldwide attention as a way to repurpose abandoned prisons, rescue at-risk youth, and teach sustainable farming. The haunted house project had volunteers from St. Andrews University and many other area schools and clubs. Growing Change also offered a Harvest Festival on Oct.r 28 and a reception and facility tour on Oct. 29. They have attracted and received offers of help from classes at MIT, NC State, and many others who are fascinated by the concept and want to join the team.
On Nov. 4 the huge team of hospital staff and community volunteers staged the annual Ritz dinner and dance on the grounds of Scotland Memorial Hospital. Scotland High and St. Andrews students parked cars, as people from all over the county entered the huge tent to enjoy the event. As impressive as the food and flowers are, the highlight of this event is always the money raised for the good of our whole county. Several hundreds of thousand dollars every year go to help with cancer treatment and transportation, free health screenings, and many more yearly events. It is simply miraculous for a county of our size and demographics.
We are in the midst of our United Way fundraising drive — funds used to support many important agencies in our county. Area churches have staged fall ingatherings with volunteers cooking for days. The semi-annual Optimist plate sale recently raised money once again for youth baseball and softball programs, all run by dedicated volunteers.
Saturday the chamber of commerce will have its annual oyster roast to raise funds for the positive contributions of the chamber; the event is run solely by volunteers from all over our county and from St. Andrews. Our community churches will come together for a community Thanksgiving service on Nov. 19, with Rev. Garland Pierce as our speaker.
We are not perfect. Our world and our country have so many huge problems that we are sometimes afraid to get up each morning and turn on the news. Our little community is not perfect. We have seen decline and huge changes, just as rural towns all over the United States have seen in recent decades; we are not alone in fighting the same problems. Technology, education, and employment opportunities are all changing at lightening speed. Solutions to challenges are not always evident or easy.
Now that we have heard the election results, I hope that we will be ready to unite. Each new day does indeed bring the promise of a clean slate.
I hope we are able to forgive the uncharacteristic tone of these last few months. I hope that we can move forward together to celebrate all that is good and to change all that is not good. We have caring people on every side of town and in each of the groups campaigning. We can learn to work together, as we have demonstrated time and time again.
Today is just one day in our history.
Ann Todd and her husband, Charles, served as co-chairs for the 2016-2017 Laurinburg Area Campaign for St. Andrews University. She lives in Laurinburg.