Written by Don Ratzlaff Friday, 02 January 2009 04:16
Across the nation, 2008 was one long roller-coaster ride powered by fuel prices that reached record highs halfway through, then finished the year lower than they have been in four or five years. Throw in a long and wild election season with a plummeting economy at the end, and you couldn’t blame folks for adding Dramamine to their Christmas list this year.
Locally, the ride wasn’t as extreme, but we had our share of highs and lows, too. As is our tradition, we’ve considered the short-term and long-term impact of the events we encountered in 2008 and have come up with a list of our top 10 news stories for this crazy year.
1. Harvest highs. Strong yields for both wheat and fall crops, plus unheard of high prices for some of them, ignited economic hope for many people on and off the farm. But this year, thanks to petroleum-based products, input costs were at all-time highs, too, and the anticipated ripple of prosperity... sort of mellowed out. And the ride continues.
2. Tabor College centennial. A 100-year milestone comes around...well, very infrequently. Tabor celebrated well—and all of us joined in directly or vicariously since our futures are so intertwined. In his first year, President Jules Glanzer appears to be a timely gift for a new era.
3. Jail proposal fails. This one got the heart rate going. It was a bad idea exacerbated by bad implementation. Let’s all beg for clemency regarding the past and work together now to solve this jail problem wisely.
4. Brandt/USD 410 lawsuit. With the plaintiff and school district ending this legal agony with a financial settlement, we’re still not sure whether it turned out to be a landmark case that will open the door for creative partnerships in other small communities—or make them more leery to try it. But we’re pretty sure nobody here came out a winner in court.
5. Hospital purchase. The short-term upside is clear, given the promise of a new $10 million, state-of-the-art hospital coming to Hillsboro in the relatively near future. We want to believe in miracle cures, but forgive us if we keep a wary eye toward the long-term prognosis for hospital care here now that it’s no longer locally controlled.
6. Zebra mussels in Marion Reservoir. How could something so small portend such a big mess? By comparison, blue-green algae seems almost user-friendly now.
7. Butler launches a welding center in Hillsboro. How much of a direct economic benefit this endeavor will have over time remains to be seen. But the demonstration of collaboration between schools, city and private industry to get it up and running was priceless.
8. Kids Connection. This development wasn’t a headline grabber, but given the dearth of child care in Hillsboro in recent years, the start of this daycare center and preschool was a godsend for young families—as well as for a community that would like to see more of them settle in for the long term.
9. A boom in healthier habits. You gotta love any movement where big losers are actually big winners. Kudos to Greenhaw Pharmacy and Woods Wellness for getting so many of us off our backsides and into the game. The big test will be to see whether we can compete successfully over the long haul. The race to good health is a marathon, not a sprint.
10. Wendy’s opens. OK, this event may seem at first blush to be incongruous with No. 9, but it’s all about community pride, right? Besides, we hear they may have salads on the menu. Er, can anyone verify that rumor?
Here’s to a joyfully incongruous 2009. —DR