ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
As we prepare our annual “Year in Review” issue, the key question is: What events are significant enough to mention in a compilation of highlights? That’s difficult enough, but then try to narrow that list to the 10 most important news stories for the entire year. Each person would come up with a different list, no doubt, but here’s ours, based on our perception of immediate and long-term impact.
1. January ice storm. A classic tale of hardship (living without electricity-some folks for days) and heroism (those utility workers who fixed our power and communication lines). All of it dramatically reminded us just how good we have it on a normal day.
2. Tabor College football. Someday it won’t be news that the Bluejays have reached the pinnacle of excellence in the KCAC-assuming Coach Gardner sticks around. But we’re still pinching ourselves.
3. Flint Hills Industries buyout. The four partners who acquired the assets of Hillsboro Industries saved one of the our key businesses from self-destruction and have already made it a profitable enterprise again. How huge is that for small-town economic development?
4. HHS girls’ state track title. A squad of essentially six sophomores came home with a state title and four gold medals. Coach Boldt probably deserves another national coaching award.
5. HDC business-incubation center. We don’t quite understand how it will work, but the concept shows more potential for tangible success than does hiring a county eco-devo director.
6. Public swimming holes. The get-it-done attitude for financing a new aquatic center is why Hillsboro has a reputation for being progressive. But in the past few weeks, we wonder if school and city leaders in Marion have trumped that achievement with their relatively painless strategy for building a pool that accommodates year-round swimming.
7. Casino vote. This item would have been higher on the list if the prospect of putting a destination casino in our county was ever more than a Knight-time excursion through dreamland. It was an interesting sideshow, though.
8. New school-funding formula.We’re glad more state money made it easier for our schools to pay their bills, but forgive us for wondering if there’s a judge out there somewhere who can declare our ever-tightening household budgets unconstitutional, too.
9. Parkside Homes project. The philosophy of care behind it is refreshing and the financial commitment is inspiring. The day-to-day implementation of true “culture change” makes the prospect of growing older brighter for all of us.
10. Golden Heritage Foods relief effort. Thanks for modeling that a business is “successful” when it tries to improve the world, not just its bottom line. And thanks for giving our community a chance to tangibly express its desire to do the same.
Let’s do more of it in 2006.