Change is good, we?re told. That was certainly true in regard to weather trends in Marion County during 2013. Drought was our No. 1 story the previous two years, so we?re thrilled to credit the return of rain for our top two stories in 2013. And we didn?t even mention its impact on our general disposition.
As always, we looked for other issues and events that shaped our corner of the world?both in the immediate and for the long term. We?ve given up protecting the future, but here?s our latest attempt to predict the past.
1. Bountiful harvests. With a record wheat group in summer followed by a strong fall harvest, it was a good year to be a farmer. And we simply can?t say this enough: What?s good for our farmers is good for all of Marion County.
2. Drought drowned. Measurable moisture in winter and spring, then a pretty good dousing of rain in early August, had folks proclaiming the death of our two-year drought. At the very least, it provided the growth fuel for our good harvests.
3. School enrollment. We knew we were in slow decline across the county, but when USD 410 suffered an unexpected loss of 52 students in a single summer, it was a wake-up call: We all caught a gloomy glimpse of our collective future if the trend continues.
4. Medical developments. Physicians came and went at both hospitals. The promise of a new hospital in Hills?boro went unfulfilled for yet another year. Mean?while, local health institutions officially agreed to promote health awareness, improve communication between agencies and provide more health resources for all citizens in Marion County. Then New?ton Medical Center opened a clinic in Hillsboro. So, what is the prognosis for health care in Marion County?
5. Recycling efforts. The county generated some good vibes with the launch of a single-stream recycling program to reduce trips to the landfill. Some communities are still trying to figure out how?or if?to get involved. The vibe feels good, but let?s be clear: ?Going green? in these parts still has more to do with saving money than saving the planet.
6. Hillsboro girls? athletics. Trojan success at the state level continued in 2013: a third-place finish in basketball, a third consecutive championship in volleyball, a gold medalist in cross country, plus individual medalists in tennis and track. The only sport not represented at state was an 18-5 softball team that missed a berth by one run.
7. City street projects. Hillsboro replaced some residential streets this summer and Marion resurfaced its Main Street in fall. The streets around here aren?t paved in gold, but new concrete and asphalt look pretty good, too.
8. Campus projects at Tabor College. We on the outside tend to evaluate our college by what we see, so we give Tabor high marks for the $2 million spent on campus improvements this summer. Then the college announced it?s raising $9 million to build a fine arts center. Based on the recent track record, we almost think it?s possible.
9. Concealed carry. Because no public entity in small counties can afford the personnel or electronic equipment needed to monitor whether someone is violating a ban on concealed weapons, the new state law requires that everybody be allowed to carry weapons inside. We hope we?re not shooting ourselves in the foot. Or worse.
10. Yardage record. Tabor College running back James Monroe Jr. broke a 40-year-old school record for career yardage this fall. Seeing his halftime hug from former record holder Rolland ?Bay? Lawrence, who went on to be come an NFL all-pro defensive back in 1977, was a magic moment for any longtime local sports fan.
May we all gain record yardage next year. ?DR