Was life fine in 2009? All things considered, it was a pretty decent year for Marion County. It certainly could have been worse. As is our tradition in the final issue of the calendar year, we offer our list of ?Top 10? news stories for the past 12 months. As always, we consider the immediate impact of events, but measure them with an eye for the long-term effect as well. If that doesn?t work, we pick them out of a hat.
1. Budget woes. Easily the most pervasive challenge of 2009, tight budgets significantly affecting education (both public and private), city and county operations. On the public side, we?re guessing no one?s praying harder for a faster economic recovery than Gov. Mark Parkinson.
2. Good wheat and fall harvests. We could ask for no better Divine assistance for this county?s economy than that.
3. Turmoil in county government. Ongoing controversies involving the offices of appraiser, planning and zoning, and economic development created more drama this year than a season of ?Survivor.? But without the clever editing.
4. Completion of Joel A. Wiens Stadium. More than the facility itself, this project showed the potential for community development that can be achieved through creative cooperation and unflinching persistence. Congratulations, USD 410 and Tabor College?and all of us, for that matter.
5. Citizens jail advisory group. If nothing else, this courageous team of volunteers has proven that the best solution to a problem is clearer from the sidelines than it is in the trenches. Our hope is that their final recommendation to the county commissioners will be more streamlined than the official name they picked for themselves: Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforce?ment Center Committee.
6. Big developments for Hillsboro?s ?Big Three.? One auto dealer lost the official corporate blessing, yet endures; another not only escaped a corporate disconnect, but plans to build a new facility; the third found a creative way to raise more than $5,000 for the high school booster club amid an economic recession. Ain?t no clunkers in this bunch.
7. Second straight year of record enrollment at Tabor College. Once more, repeat after us: ?What?s good for Tabor College ultimately is good for Hillsboro and Marion County.?
8. All five Trojan spring sports programs represented at state. OK, the outcomes at state may not be so memorable, but the accomplishment was still unprecedented. Throw in six wrestling qualifiers in February, a basketball berth for the girls in March, and a volleyball berth, cross-country qualifier and a decent run in the football playoffs this fall, and it was a pretty good year for HHS sports fans.
9. Hillsboro?s 125th. It?s certainly a noteworthy milestone, but it may take another 125 years for this community to learn how to throw a party like its neighbors to the east. Lead on, Chinga?wassa Days planners.
10. High school sports leagues realign. Strange phenomenon. Seldom have so many shuffled so much for so little apparent gain. On the bright side, writing about the ?Central Kansas League? next year instead of the ?Mid-Central Activities Association? should save this newspaper about a gallon of ink per year.
In these challenging economic times, every penny counts. ?DR