Woodruff Leaders Offer Their Views of 2020, Outlook for 2021
Compiled by Jeremy Handel and Nicole Collins, Staff Writers
With 2020 coming to a close, many are quick to say good riddance and step into 2021 with great optimism for a better year. Certainly, 2020 brought its share of difficulty. With the worst pandemic since the early 1900s, a social reckoning over racism, one of the most contentious Presidential elections in history, and an economy continuing to decline, it’s not hard to imagine why many are ready to bid this year adieu.
But, among the pain and suffering that was 2020, Woodruff also saw a number of successes and has a promising future moving into the new year. The Woodruff Times reached out to several leaders in town to get their perspective on the challenges and any successes of 2020, as well as their outlook for the coming year.
We asked these leaders to provide their responses to the following questions:
- 2020 was a challenging year for everyone. Aside from the obvious challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, please tell us what was the most challenging thing for Woodruff in 2020 and what was something positive?
- Looking ahead to the new year, we are on the verge of a vaccine that will hopefully put COVID behind us. Please tell us what you are most looking forward to for Woodruff in 2021.
- Given the extremely unusual year we have just had, what’s your new year’s resolution for our town?
Here are their responses.
- The COVID-19 pandemic and the state mandated shut down in March were obvious challenges, which were followed by increased unemployment, adjusting to hybrid/virtual school, and businesses having to adjust to new ways to provide their goods and services to customers. On the positive side, the city was able to maintain its operating budget and was still able to grow the housing market. The city was named the “#1 Up and Coming Housing Market” in South Carolina. We also saw several news businesses open and the “citizens, city and community leaders came together to pray for the community.”
- In 2021, I am looking forward to getting back to a newer form a normalcy. Bringing back a community that functions to meet the new citizens and business owners who have moved into the City of Woodruff in the last year. I am really looking forward to bringing back outdoor concerts, school activities, sporting events, and city-sponsored events.
- “As the Mayor of Woodruff, my New Year’s resolution for the city is to continue the positive relationship with city officials and businesses and continue to meet and support all the new and existing citizens of Woodruff.”
Dr. Rallie Liston, Superintendent
Spartanburg County School District Four
- “COVID has been such a crucial factor, as it affected grades, attendance, scheduling, and the like. The most positive aspect by far has been the response from our employees, students, and parents. Teamwork takes everyone pulling in the same direction. Our folks have worked together and risen to the occasion during this difficult period. I am not surprised. This is indicative of who we are as a community. I am most proud and appreciative of everyone.”
- “I am looking forward to normalcy again. Routines and procedures provide a platform for success in so many areas that relate to work, family, schools, church, etc. Yes, normalcy!”
- “I am so excited about the energy I see being created in our town. We can see the positive visual changes and additions to the business community. We know that we are expecting more than 2,000 new homes in D4 in a short period of time. This will continue to generate growth in the business community and will provide some exciting challenges for our schools! My hope is that we can embrace this growth together as a community and welcome new faces to Woodruff while clinging to our important traditions in our schools and community. We must all work to paddle the boat in the same direction, remembering that all that is Good comes from God.”
- “For the police department, there were two main challenges we faced during the pandemic. The first challenge was an adjustment to how we operate. In an attempt to protect our employees and citizens we adjusted our responses to handling non-priority or non-in progress calls over the telephone. This was done to limit unnecessary contact between police department staff and citizens. Although this was done to reduce the chances of exposure and/or contracting COVID-19, it was and continues to be a challenge for our staff as we have always enjoyed the face-to-face contact we get with our community members.
The second challenge we faced, given the restrictions placed upon us by the Governor’s Executive Orders, was the limitation in hosting functions such as the National Night Out event. This is a great event that we host each year which brings our staff and community members together in a positive environment and provides the youth within our community a safe and enjoyable event that is free to our community.
One thing I found that was a positive within our community during these trying times was how great they came together. The COVID-19 pandemic is something that was so unique and tried many citizens in different ways. Some citizens were without work, businesses had to close their doors, and children were transitioned to attending school at home versus the traditional face-to-face method of learning. With each of these challenges, our community stood strong and once some of the restrictions were lifted, community members were quick to support local businesses and get back into the community.”
- “Normalcy. Many people use the term ‘the new normal,’ and this is something I would like to see go away and have our community return to the ‘old normal.’ So many people within our community have had to make concessions and changes in their everyday life, I would like to see people have the chance to go back to the way things were.”
- “My new year’s resolution for our town is to personally get back into our community more. Given the many challenges we faced this year, I have had to spend more time in my office dealing with the administrative portion of my job, which kept me from getting out into the community and interacting with our citizens and businesses. I believe it is essential that not only my officers spend time in our community and interacting with businesses, but it is also something that I need to do as well. This allows me to maintain relationships with businesses and community members, and it also allows them to know who I am.”
1.”As we end this year, I can’t help but be encouraged by the generosity of the people of Woodruff. I have seen people lend a hand, give a meal, and overall come together during a time of uncertainty with employment, education and what tomorrow may bring.”
2.”Like many others, I am looking forward to getting everything back to normal including face to face meetings. Hunter and I have discussed so many events we would like to have to bring the community and the Woodruff Area Council together.”
3.”My New Year’s resolution is to continue to do all I can to help others in our community in whatever capacity that may be. I continue to have a thankful heart and hope to bless others.”
- “Like most communities, Woodruff had to adapt to the uncertainty. Whether it was about worrying about your job, sending your kids to school, or your overall well-being, there were so many obstacles that could create unforeseen hardships. To me the biggest positive has been seeing our community’s creativity. Businesses are finding new ways to operate that may lead to permanent changes, teachers are mastering new technology, and we’re all learning new ways to communicate that will hopefully keep Woodruff connected.”
- “I can’t wait to start doing networking events with the Woodruff Area Council in-person. Leslie and I have a lot of fun ideas to get members of our community together and can’t wait until it’s safe enough to do so.”
- “I want to help carry forward the gratitude that this year has brought. I have such immense appreciation for the medical staff that work and live in our community, not to mention all of the people in Woodruff who have stepped up to help others despite the challenges.”
- “The most challenging for the Woodruff Community Center (WCC) was making sure that we continued our mission, services, and programs, while at the same time complying with COVID regulations. The most positive was our volunteers that went above and beyond expectations to see that we could continue being open and serving our community.”
- “Maybe, possibly doing some regrouping to see how we can better serve our community.”
- “To do our part to help people in our community to live healthier and empowered lives.”
- “I have lived here most of my life. My family has lived in this area since the 1700’s. During the early years, Woodruff grew and prospered. Textiles became king. When the textile industry collapsed, we lost our way. We were unprepared for change.
Our community was resistant to change. We don’t trust “outsiders”. We love traditions and customs. We like knowing our neighbors and the folks we buy things from. That’s a good thing. We need to welcome new businesses, residents and accept the diversity that comes with growth.
That being said, the most challenging thing for Woodruff to me seems to be accepting change and adapting to uncertainty with the addition of new businesses and people along with changes to old customs.
A positive outcome from 2020 was that our community found ways to address the need for community communication and lack of connection through public and private cooperation efforts to inform and bring people together to move the City forward- a work in progress.”
- “Being able to comfortably and safely invite folks into our community to tell and share stories and experiences, to laugh and hug and breathe together again.
- “To resolve to turn this unusual year into times that we can share and learn from. To turn 2021 into a year of shared stories and experiences that shows the warmth of our community while we grow responsibly for the benefit of all.”
- “Living in Spartanburg and not being familiar with the City’s needs I have no response to the first part of question one. The most positive thing in my opinion is the opportunity for growth and the publicity the City has received for new housing and development.”
- “I am looking forward to seeing the revitalization of the downtown area and new housing opportunities in the area. It would be great to see an overall spruce up of the City and upgrades to the existing homes in depressed areas and hope the development will be moderate and the City’s leaders managing the growth. I hope the leaders will do some preplanning to accommodate the growth and the City and community will not lose its small-town atmosphere. I think some growth is good but hope it would be moderate and not overwhelming as it has been in other parts of Spartanburg and Greenville Counties.
- “I hope Woodruff will thrive economically and return to the days of when both textile mills were operating in the city. As for as the soup kitchen, my resolution is doing anything necessary to continue to support the needs of the less fortunate in our community by providing a good meal. My resolution is to always speak positive about our city and community when giving the opportunity! The Soup Kitchen has been blessed with great support from individuals, churches and businesses, the community and I hope this will continue in 2021!”
- “I feel that the most challenging thing for Woodruff in 2020 has been adapting our daily methods of operation in order to accomplish our missions while keeping everyone safe from the virus. The positive thing that has come from this year is the increased creativity and cooperation between the soup kitchen and others, especially Helping Hands, as we have monitored the situations from day to day and adjusted to the circumstances. Due to COVID, both nonprofits had to close at different times, and we have helped one another take up the slack during these times in order to continue serving our people.”
- “In 2021 I look forward to having our Soup Kitchen patrons to dine in once again so they can experience the company of others as they break bread together. I look forward to Woodruff shopping, dining, attending festivals, and parades once again without the fear of contracting or spreading the virus. In reality, we will still need to protect one another from the virus for a large part of 2021. So, it is my hope that our community will stay the course and keep our guards up for the health and safety of our community.”
- “My New Year’s Resolution for Woodruff is to show love and support for one another as well as local businesses and nonprofits.”