Turning the page PDF E-mail

It’s been an emotional year in Hamilton County.
Retracing the ups, the downs, the good news and challenging developments of the past 12 months as we typically do for our annual Top 10 Stories of the year poll, it struck us that we’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster in 2013.
We asked approximately 50 people -- teachers, farmers, business men and women, youth, retirees and public officials -- what headlines stood out in the busy year that ends Tuesday at midnight. Their responses confirmed what we already knew. We’ve taken some hits as a community this year.
Unlike previous years, when the progressive nature and positive thinkers in our midst dominated the local headlines with stories of growth and innovation, this year we had more than our fair share of tragedy and challenges. In fact, half of the top 10 local stories had a negative connotation, which fortunately is the exception, not the norm.
The No. 1 story involved some angst along the way, but by the time the decision was made to go forward with building a new swimming pool it had to be considered a good news event. That facility will soon be a drawing card for young families and energetic, health-conscious folks looking for some fun and/or heat relief. The pool project had been talked about for as much as a decade, some recall, so the time had come to take the plunge.
The loss of any business is tough to take for a small-town economy, but when one of those closing its doors is one of two locally owned grocery store it really stings. We’re pleased to see how Mike and Pat Gibilisco and the staff at Super Foods moved forward in a merger with the Aurora Mall, but we can’t help but notice the changing retail/shopping landscape and its impact on rural communities.
You simply can’t put into words the sorrow and sense of loss the community felt with the death of two spirited individuals. Police Chief Godfrey Brokenrope and elementary teacher Lauren Akerson were taken before their time in tragic vehicle accidents and our prayers continue for their families, especially during what has to be a difficult holiday season. Sometimes there just are no answers as to why.
Many of the other top stories involved economic trends which will likely carry over to the new year. We’re blessed that ag-based growth continues to drive our economy, though we’re also befuddled as to how to stop Hamilton Manor’s financial drain on limited county resources.
Here’s hoping we put tragedy in our rear view mirror, focus on working together to help our community grow and have a happy, prosperous new year.
Kurt Johnson

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