The McDuffie County Board of Education honored former McDuffie County School Superintendent Ed Grisham during its June meeting by naming the Physical Education/Athletic building at Thomson High School for him. It is a well-deserved recognition for Dr. Grisham.
I have to admit, and Dr. Grisham would concur, he and I had our disagreements about certain issues during his superintendency, but he never took them personally. I can bump into him around town, and he always seems genuinely glad to see me, and we usually enjoy a brief conversation about the topic of the day.
Despite whatever differences of opinion that I may have had with Dr. Grisham, I could always give him credit for this important fact. He was an outstanding steward of the public's money. He was smart with a budget and extraordinarily skillful at balancing priorities. He recognized the importance of athletics but knew that educating our children had to come first.
Dr. Grisham and I both came on board in McDuffie County in the summer of 1991. Quite frankly, the athletic facilities then in our school system were deplorable. I was glad to be here but at the same time shocked at the condition of the football stadium and gymnasium. There was no baseball field, softball field, track and only a token practice field. There were two tennis courts. The school was using Sweetwater Park but those fields were not on campus and to be honest, were somewhat raggedy.
Moving into the new high school in February 1992 helped alleviate part of the problem. The new school provided a nice new gymnasium but the weight room and locker room space was inadequate. There was plenty of outdoor space but the fences, dugouts, lighting, rest rooms; tennis courts, track, etc. were yet to come. I know because I worked in the middle of it.
The advent of the penny sales tax, or SPLOST, in our state became communities like ours' saving grace. Dr. Grisham could not exactly consider these funds a windfall because so much needed to be done. There were many facility needs beyond athletics and technology was moving into the forefront of education. He needed to build not only ball fields, locker rooms and a weight room, but also classrooms, and buy computers.
I personally feel that the key to Dr. Grisham's success in managing the money derived from SPLOST was patience. Not only patience on his part but in convincing all of the advocates espousing how this money should be spent to be patient. He was wise enough to recognize all of these improvements could not be made overnight.
Dr. Grisham developed a plan and stuck to it. He didn't make promises that he could not keep. Of course certain teams and groups had to also be patient and wait their turn and do without a while longer. As we look around at the facilities now, especially the Grisham athletic facility, we have to realize it was well worth the wait.
There are those that say it is appropriate that Grisham be so honored because they agree with me. There may be some that say he worried too much about sports and not enough about the schoolhouse. I can't imagine anyone saying that Grisham didn't care about athletics and does not deserve such an honor. I can think back to 1991 and see now that the proof is in the pudding.