Our top 10 for 2006

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
As a new year closes in, we again recall the events from one more year that has passed us by so quickly-and try to evaluate the relative importance of what we’ve experienced. As we make out our annual top 10 list of top stories, we take into account not only the immediate impact of the events we’ve shared, but also their long-term impact on our future.

Here’s how we see 2006.

1. Water-quality wars. We all know the real enemy is blue-green algae, but sometimes the struggle to find an effective and cost-efficient plan to combat eco-terrorism at Marion Reservoir became a spirited battle in and of itself. Forget an exit strategy; we need a way to get started.

2. Weather woes. Maybe we weren’t as bad off as some parts of the state, but 2006 felt like a “drought year” to us. May our farmers be as resilient as last year’s wheat crop, and be blessed with a well-developed sense of dry humor. And keep praying: Only God can fix water-quantity issues.

3. Tabor’s gift. What’s good for Tabor College is good for Hillsboro and Marion County. We have 1.22 million reasons to like Joel Wiens, but it also took a lot of lower-profile friends to enable the college to complete its capital campaign this fall. As good as it is to have one friend with a million dollars, it’s wonderful to have a million friends with at least one dollar.

4. Economic developments. The county hires a full-time staff person, the Marion City Council plans to invest in a build-it-and-they-will-come strategy, and Hillsboro Development Corp. has a business incubation program…in the incubator. We’ve proven we can live long, but can we prosper?

5. Corrections about corrections. We all agree that Marion County needs a new jail, but after some initial idea skirmishes, we wait with baited breath to see what this mystery project will actually include and where the commissioners we’ll find the money to pay for it. Our question: Is robbing Peter to pay Paul a criminal offense?

6. Cool pools. The opening of the Family Aquatic Center was a triumph for Hillsboro, both in the achievement of getting it done and in the quality of the final product. Insiders suggest Marion can look forward to making a splash down the road. Word of advice: You might want to start figuring out your admissions policy sooner than later.

7. Public/private teamwork. We applaud the partnership being forged between USD 410 and Tabor College to upgrade athletic facilities. The path is paved with challenges, but it should take us much closer to common sense than we could have achieved going our separate ways.

8. Economic expansion. It’s been flying below the public radar, but significant building projects at Golden Heritage Foods LLC and Container Services Inc. this past year-plus ongoing good news emanating from a rejuvenated Hillsboro Industries-remind us that a big piece of “economic development” is cheering on the businesses we’ve already got.

9. Building momentum. To those industrial expansion projects add the completion of Parkside’s Park Homes, a new church building taking shape in the Prairie Pointe area, townhouses rising on the Tabor campus, concrete emerging in college parking lots and a new heli-pad at the airport-it’s been a big year for big brick-and-mortar projects in Hillsboro. As for the construction of new homes because of an influx of new residents…. Well, there’s always something to work on, isn’t there?

10. Football fever. For the community of Hillsboro, the high school football team’s deep run in the state playoffs was a great gift-unexpected, unprecedented and unbelievably fun. Congrats to the coaches and players.

May we all be blessed with more of those “un”-gifts in 2007. -DR

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