Our area faces several key issues and questions as the new year begins. Some will be new for 2011, others remain from previous years. Here are five of the issues that will unfold over the next 365 days.
Will your job search get easier?
The unemployment rate remains stuck in the teens, but there are signs of hope for the York County job market.
A water bottling company is considering Rock Hill for a plant that would employ 60 people.
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Winbro Group Technologies picked Rock Hill for a $10 million facility that will generate 25 new jobs in Waterford Industrial Park.
Tuscarora Yarns is expanding its Clover plant with 40 new workers over the next three years.
Other positive signs: Rock Hill's unemployment rate has dropped below 20 percent - 19.8 - for the first time in 17 months. And the unemployment rates for York, Chester and Lancaster counties were all lower in November than in November 2009.
Are you willing to pay for roads?
Tired of sitting in traffic? York County has a solution for you.
Voters will decide in June whether to approve $161 million in road construction projects with a third "Pennies for Progress" program. Voters initially approved the program in 1997 and extended it in 2003.
A "yes" vote would mean 53 miles of highway widening and safety improvements, plus 39 gravel road paving projects. A "yes" vote also would mean the current 1-cent sales tax for road improvements would be extended for seven years.
"Pennies for Progress is the greatest thing that has ever happened to York County," outgoing Councilman Joe Cox said last month.
Is Rock Hill ready for cycling?
Rock Hill wants to become a nationally recognized hub for amateur cycling.
Crews will soon build a 250-meter concrete velodrome, 1-milepaved road course, 7 miles of mountain bike trails, BMX and BMX Supercross tracks and a cyclocross course.
It's called the Cycling Center of the Carolinas, and the first venues should open by December at the Riverwalk development off North Cherry Road.
How will schools manage more budget cuts?
Each time school officials slashed jobs and cut programs during the last couple of years to keep up with shrinking state money, they expressed hope that things would turn around the next year.
Going into 2011, skies don't look any brighter. They might be darker.
The federal stimulus money that dampened the loss for two years runs out this summer. And South Carolina didn't qualify for $143 million in federal aid for schools because of drastic cuts in higher education spending. That leaves 2,600 teacher jobs on the line statewide, according to the S.C. Department of Education.
On top of that, legislators face a potential hole in the state's budget of $800 million for the fiscal year starting July 1, which could mean more cuts for schools.
It's too early to say how short districts in York, Chester and Lancaster counties could be. And it's unclear how districts would manage.
Most have curbed spending and sent employees on unpaid leave. Rock Hill and Fort Mill have cut programs and laid off employees.
Fort Mill officials have let Banks Trail Middle, a brand new campus, sit empty for a year because they couldn't afford to open it. They plan to partially open it for sixth and seventh graders in August. It's unclear whether potential cuts could kill that idea.
Who is our next football star?
2010 was an amazing year for high school football in Rock Hill.
Quarterback Justin Worley led Northwestern to a state title and became South Carolina's first Gatorade National Player of the Year.
A few miles away, South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the nation by Rivals.com and helped the Stallions reach the state championship game.
While Northwestern and South Pointe seek to continue their runs of dominance, the Rock Hill Bearcats must recover from a down season.