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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Looking back -- and forward -- in new year

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's always a lesson in futility to look back over the past year and provide some community assessment based on the year's headlines.

But newspaper columnists do it anyway.

History won't judge 2011 as a banner year nor a dismal year for our community. But then again, it depends greatly on your personal perspective to make that judgment.

But one thing is certain: The historic flooding that struck the Midwest and resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime destruction of precious farmland in our region is without a doubt the major news story of the year for our region.

The flooding itself -- which included virtually all of our region -- was a devastating event. But the resulting intentional destruction of the Mississippi River levee in Mississippi and New Madrid counties put the flooding in an entirely new light. The impact on the hundreds of thousands of acres and the countless lives will be felt for years to come.

Like the ice storm here almost three years earlier, Mother Nature takes the top news spot again this year.

Sikeston High School sports took the spotlight on the gridiron and the basketball court. An undefeated basketball season will be the subject of coffee shop conversation for years to come.

This past year also saw our community continue the long journey out of the mortgage scam as more condemned homes came down and the slow march toward revitalizing damaged neighborhoods plodded along.

Two surprises for completely different reasons sent some shockwaves into Sikeston. The Malco Trio was shuttered for code violations after a proposed taxing district idea went down in flames. The Malco reopened but we'll likely remember this past year as the time when our "theater district" went black.

And toward the end of the year, the Sikeston Country Club shut its door after 73 years of operation. Citing financial issues and declining membership, the Club closed in December. There was discussion under way toward some new ownership scheme. But for now, the Country Club remains closed.

Also during this past year, the Sikeston Housing Authority moved into new offices while the new Department of Public Safety complex construction got under way. These two downtown offices -- combined with a new Board of Municipal Utilities building -- will help revitalize our downtown area.

The truth is, we all measure a year by our own personal experiences. Granted, we are part of a larger community and the changes within that community also impact our lives. But in the end, it's all personal.

The prospects for the coming year in Sikeston are optimistic. There's ample chatter on the jobs front and that always bodes well for a community. And since this new year is an election year, the political front should be more lively than usual.

Several long-term projects identified by the city's VISION committee will move toward implementation this year. That, too, bodes well on several counts.

All in all, we can look back on 2011 as a year of some positive developments and look forward to many more as this new year unfolds.

The key to a community's success will always be the active involvement of its citizens. That much is true year in and year out.

If Sikeston is to grow, if Sikeston is to reverse a long-standing trend of declining population, if Sikeston is to step into the future with solid plans for redevelopment and progress -- it will take the active involvement of you -- the citizen.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen