Patrick Graham is the owner of The Walton Tribune, The Covington News, The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville, Alabama), Times-Journal (Fort Payne, Alabama) and Jackson County Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama). He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

Facebook deal

Alan Verner, chairman of the JDA of Jasper, Morgan , Newton and Walton Counties welcomes Facebook on Wednesday at the Georgia State Capitol. Facebook’s Rachel Peterson (left) and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R.-Ga) listen as Verner tells of the company’s impact.

Believe it or not, folks, the New Year — 2019 — is upon us.

I turned 50 years old this year, and it seems the older I get the faster time goes by. I’m not sure why Father Time is in such a hurry. He can slow down if he’d like. I’m honestly not chasing him, much less interested in catching him.

Each year at this time I reflect back on my predictions for the year gone by. Let’s see how I fared in 2018.

Here we go:

• You’ll know it when you hear it — While we saw a lot of retail growth locally last year, I predicted the county’s partnership in regional industrial parks will pay off in early 2018. Boy did it ever. The project that started out as Morning Hornet became a Facebook data center for the Stanton Springs industrial park and the Joint Development Authority, of which Walton County is a partner. The official announcement came in March as local, state and company officials announced the $750 million project that will also generate 250 jobs long term. Total economic impact is expected to be $42 billion, which is why the Georgia Economic Developers Association recently recognized the data center as the Regional Deal of the Year. Kudos to Development Authority of Walton County Executive Director Shane Short, who was point on the project.

• Got her goats — I predicted a probation revocation/modification hearing scheduled for late January involving former mayoral candidate Sandra Shurling will bring her legal issues with the city to a close. Shurling and her goat woes were a big story at the time as there were a couple of different court dates on this issue following the election. However, Shurling volunteered to move from the city in order to render the matter moot and end the case. I think Shurling and all of us who followed the case are glad it’s behind her and it ended relatively quitely.

• Walton County’s a statewide political player — I think the outcome of the Republican primary and the race for governor bore this out. Gov.-elect Brian Kemp rallied from behind to beat Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the front runner, in a runoff to win the Republican nomination. Kemp overwhelmingly won Walton County in the runoff. Where was Kemp in the days before the general election? Right here in Walton County at a huge rally hosted by county GOP Chairman Roy Roberts Sr. You better believe Walton County was a political player statewide in 2018.

• Region 8 will hold key to title — I predicted the road to the AAA state football title will go through Region 8 with Monroe Area on the rise and the addition of Jefferson to the region. Monroe Area certainly did its part, going undefeated during the regular season and battling into the third round of the state playoffs. Remember coach Kevin Reach announcing “We are practicing on Thanksgiving.” How awesome was that? Monroe Area fell to Pierce County in the Elite 8, and Pierce County fell to eventual state champion Cedar Grove. So I’d argue Region 8 certainly had something to say about the title.

Looks like I batted 1.000 on my 2018 predictions. Check back in this space around this time next year and we’ll see if I did just as well with my 2019 predictions.

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