It’s time to turn the page after a tough year of conflict in 2019

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It’s time to turn the page in Hamilton County, hit the reset button and begin a new year with a renewed spirit of cooperation and trust.
While scanning the pages from January through December to compile a list for the 2019 Top 10 stories of the year poll, there was a noticeably different tone reflected in some of the year’s dominant headlines. We pride ourselves here on a progressive, cooperative, can-do mindset, and rightly so, though this year has been a struggle on several fronts.
Angst, frustration and lack of trust were apparent in numerous public meetings and hearings related to the ambulance transition, wind energy proposal and rural road conditions. Fallout from those discussions led to one successful recall election and three other attempted recall efforts at the county level. That combined list of stories and headlines was voted by local readers as three of the top four stories of the year, with No. 3 caused by Mother Nature in the form of spring flooding and heavy rains which sent another massive ripple of angst across our farms and communities.
It’s been a tough year, clearly, but the good news is that many of these issues have now been resolved. Local ambulance service is moving forward as a city-run, fire-based EMS department and the county has taken a stand against wind energy, though efforts to tighten regulations for commercial wind projects continue.
The one sensitive issue that could rise again in 2020 is road conditions, as many local and state officials agree that Nebraska will be in danger of more flooding and washed out roads in the months ahead. No one can control the weather, obviously, but we as a community can and should vow to work together as the new year begins.
Of all the headlines in 2019, recall elections were perhaps the most disturbing because of the message they send. One was successful, two failed for lack of signatures and one is still pending at year’s end.
Unlike our leaders in Washington, we, at the local level, should be able to agree to disagree on issues of the day and focus on finding solutions. If you feel like a change in government is needed, run for office and/or encourage someone you know and trust to throw their hat in the ring, then vote for change.
The recall format was created to address dire situations involving malfeasance or abuse of power, though unfortunately we’re seeing a growing trend statewide to target elected officials over policy disagreements. Only 177 people voted to remove Gregg Kremer from office, which was not a mandate, but rather a bold message from a small minority of upset citizens.
There is so much positive in our midst, with phenomenal natural resources, quality schools, top-notch health care and all the other spokes in the wheel that make our community great. Here’s hoping that the top stories in 2020 will reflect the true, proud, positive essence of a place we all know and love.
Kurt Johnson

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