Up front: Like baking, reporting on local government is equal parts art and science

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Covering the local government is a bit like baking the perfect cake or bread. It is a process and requires the right ingredients and is equal parts art and science.

As far as I can remember, I have enjoyed cooking and baking. And with Thanksgiving approaching, there are so many memories of learning how to make family recipes for cornbread stuffing, macaroni pie, lemon pound cake, and my favorite fall treat, the pumpkin bread.

As I learned how to prepare these recipes, I was taught the importance of taking my time, carefully measuring my ingredients, mixing everything to the proper consistency, and patiently waiting for the final product. I’ve also learned that each oven cooks at different rates, so I have to adjust my times according to the kitchen I’m in.

These lessons were easily carried over when I started covering the Mauldin, Simpsonville, Greer and Fountain Inn city council meetings. Just like all the growth we see happening around us, real progress only happens when the right conditions are right and even then you need to be careful.

Each municipality brings its own unique ingredients and flavors, from the business landscape and infrastructure needs to the makeup of its citizens and political climate.

As I follow the progress of each city administration, I try to adapt to the kitchen I find myself in and learn what is the important dish for each city.

For example, Mauldin seeks to change his identity from a dormitory community by establishing urban centers or light neighborhoods, including his downtown project. As the city navigates its changes, it is always adjusting its formula to be attractive to businesses and residents.

At Fountain Inn, the municipal government is focused on long-term planning as the small town grows into a larger city. For example, the city is fine-tuning its ordinances to manage business growth on the section of Highway 418 that connects I-385 to Main Street.

Simpsonville City Council has spent the summer responding to the growing need for downtown parking. Due to the popularity of Vaughn’s Warehouse and other businesses, visitors find it difficult to find parking. To help remedy this problem, the city entered into a lease for additional downtown parking with Temple Baptist Church and established several scheduled parking spaces on South Main Street.

And in Greer, the city is exploding as it annexed and welcomed new subdivisions and townhouse communities. City Council recently gave final approval to more than 200 proposed new townhouse units.

Like when I cook, every decision of city council at a meeting is an ingredient in the recipe. Votes determine what comes in. Changes to existing prescriptions are like finding a replacement ingredient when your pantry no longer has what you need.

And, like baking a cake for friends and family, the joy comes as much from the process as it does from the end product.

If you have any ideas, please email me at [email protected]


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