COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - These are some great days in South Carolina, if the people who answer the phone at state agencies are to be believed. But was 2011 a great year in the Palmetto State?
It was certainly a year of major changes.
South Carolina got its new governor in eight years, and she was the first minority and woman to be elected to the state's highest office. Boeing opened its new plant in North Charleston, as the state waited to see if it transformed the Lowcountry the way BMW changed the Upstate nearly a generation ago.
Republican presidential candidates again found their way to restaurants and town halls as the state readied for another first-in-the-South primary.
There were personal tragedies, too, as a prosecutor accused a Pickens County woman of killing four family members, including 2 of her sons, for $700,000 in life insurance money. And the last gasps of an amazingly violent tornado season claimed three lives near Rock Hill.
But so many stories in South Carolina found their way back to Gov. Nikki Haley. She didn't begin her term timidly and showed no signs of backing down as 2011 came to an end.