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Jeff Whitten: Growing pained
editor's notes

In the immortal words of Grady Wilson from the classic TV sitcom Sanford and Son, “Great Googly Moogly.”

That’s scientific talk, of course, unless it’s written using ALL CAPS. Then it’s particularly important scientific talk that needs to be yelled, but never mind that.

In plain American it means “Bryan County is the fastest growing county in Georgia and the sixth fastest growing county in the United States of America and the 13th fastest growing county on planet Earth and the 19th fastest growing county in Star Trek Federation Space, etc.”

We know this is true real and not alternate Facebook fact © because the U.S. Census Bureau said Bryan County added about 14,000 residents over the last 10 years, giving it somewhere around 44,200 residents give or take. At any rate, all that growth translates into a 48-percent growth rate, whatever that means.

And whatever it means, I suspect a good chunk of that 48 percent wandered down here from GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY looking for Hilton Head and missed the exit off I-95.

By then they were too tired to turn around so they moved on in and invited all the relatives they could think of, and they came too. And so here we all are. Nose to nose and bumper to bumper with people whose male ancestors probably burnt down half of Georgia a while back On purpose.

Granted, not everybody is happy about it.

For years I have whinged – that’s British English for whining -- about growth and what it’s doing to this part of the world, and in my opinion mostly what it’s doing is knocking down trees and replacing them with people, which is screwing up traffic on roads and at boat ramps from Rincon to Pooler to Richmond Hill and back again.

It’s also forcing local school systems to add taxpayer funded schools all over the place, which means twice a day from August through May (that rhymes!) fleets of school buses compete with fleets of dump trucks to see who’s better at backing up traffic and making me late for things.

And if we don’t like it the rest of us can just lump it, or walk, or get a bike and pedal to work like they do in places where they don’t have cars and people throw shoes at their legislators for fun.

Which might be a good idea in Georgia, except most of us hereabouts don’t wear socks and need our shoes to keep our feet reasonably clean. Also, if you ride a bike you’re probably going to get run over by a dump truck, which kind of defeats the purpose of going somewhere so you might as well stay home and pretend you’re working remote.

What’s more, the local population explosion means don’t even try to go shopping on a weekend, or a weekday, or any other time of day. This because chances are the whole county got there before you did and they’ve already bought up all the good stuff and left you with the bad stuff, like biscuit and gravy flavored potato chips.

What’s more, the run on the necessities in life tends to happen with alarming regularity anymore, though it’s most common when someone on the Weather Channel or a local network starts pointing at a map and hyperventilating about cones of uncertainty and storm surges.

First, all the ramen and water and paper towels and toilet paper and beer go missing. Then you can’t buy gas. Then some large women in spandex and flip flops buy up all the propane and gas and ice and cat food, just in case things get ugly and cats take over the county.

Naturally, that’s a worse case scenario though stranger things have probably happened. Look at Atlanta.

And in the end you can’t blame folks for being prepared, especially since a good portion of South Bryan will be under two foot of water should a hurricane hit just right. In those circumstances, one might as well buy enough cans of beanie weenies to build a raft out of should one need to sail out of one’s subdivision to buy lottery tickets.

There is another angle to this population growth thing. Namely, what goes around goes around.

Eventually it’ll be some other poor small county’s turn to be in the cross hairs of growth, because Coastal Georgia will fill up to the gills and folks who can afford to will start leaving to find a place less crowded.

Kind of like it was here, once, not all that long ago.

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