Thumbs up to 2016. Some people say it was a good year. Other people say good riddance. We asked our audience how they would rate 2016. The ratings were more bad than good. The results: 34 percent of respondents picked the choice of “Ugh, it was pretty bad”; 22.4 percent picked “I mean, it was like any other year, really”; 18 percent picked “Worst year ever”; 14.4 percent said it was “Not too shabby, if I’m being honest”; and 11.2 percent went with “Great year. Just great.” We get it. An exceptionally divisive presidential election took a toll nationally, and that trickled down locally. Recent celebrity deaths have added to a year in which we lost Muhammad Ali, Prince, Arnold Palmer, John Glenn and many others. Hurricane Matthew goes down locally as the story of the year. Debris still is piled all over the area. But there was plenty of good news. In education, Francis Marion University opened its Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences and announced that it soon will offer its first doctoral degree, which will be in nursing. In business, downtown Florence continues to boom and Patheon announced it would take over Roche Carolina Inc.’s Florence facility. In Sports, four high school football teams from the Pee Dee played in state championship games, and one (Lake View) won. Perhaps it wasn’t the best year, but we think it’s being underrated.

Thumbs up to 2017. Happy New Year (almost)! It’s time for resolutions. Nothing wrong with the usuals, such as losing weight, exercising more, drinking less, sleeping more, etc. Nobody ever resolves to work more. We’d like to suggest a resolution that sounds so simple: Smile a lot. Laugh a little more. We see too many frowns all around us. Anger has become too common. You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself. Go to bed grateful for the good things that happened that day. Get out of bed with determination to influence others positively. Smiles can be contagious. Let’s all do our part to make 2017 better than 2016.

Thumbs down to drinking and driving. We’re not opposed to anyone going out tonight and having a good time while ringing in the new year. We’re not opposed to anybody enjoying a few adult beverages. But getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence not only is against the law, it’s dangerous and just plain stupid. Leave the keys in the hands of a designated driver, or call a cab. It is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Many people don’t realize how few drinks it takes to reach that level, and waiting an hour or two isn’t likely to change the level. So have fun tonight, but not too much fun. Be sensible. The best plan might be to stay home and watch the Clemson football game.

Thumbs up to the No. 2 Clemson football team. The Tigers are in the college football playoffs for the second consecutive year. If they defeat No. 3 Ohio State tonight in Glendale, Arizona, they will play again for the national championship. They fell 45-40 to Alabama last year in the championship game in the same stadium where they will play tonight. It could be a rematch. No. 1 Alabama meets No. 4 Washington at 3 p.m. today in Atlanta in the other semifinal game. The Crimson Tide is undefeated. Clemson’s only blemish is a loss to Pittsburgh. Some college football experts believe the Tigers are the only team capable of defeating Alabama. Dynamic quarterback Deshaun Watson is the reason why. Win or lose today, Clemson has had a great season. Dabo Swinney has emerged as one of college football’s best coaches. The Buckeyes are good, so there should be no chance of the Tigers looking ahead.

Thumbs up to radio station Sunny at 105.5 FM. That sentiment comes from reader Mary Ballentine of Florence. “The day after Thanksgiving, this station starts playing Christmas music 24/7 during the holidays,” she wrote. “All types of Christmas music, such as hymns, traditional, country and some rock & roll by popular recording artists past and present is played. It’s so nice having this music while decorating your home, baking Christmas goodies, traveling to the ball in traffic and riding around at night observing all the decorations. What a wonderful time of the year, and Sunny makes it better for everyone. Can’t wait until next year to enjoy their gift of music to the Pee Dee. Thank you, Sunny.”

Thumbs up, thumbs down is a regular feature of the Morning News and appears each Saturday on our Opinion page. We seek nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.

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