New Year A hearty farewell to 2011

Published 1:02 am Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good bye — or should we say good riddance — to 2011. Welcome, 2012. We have waited 365 long days and nights for your arrival.

The start of the New Year brings with it the hopes and dreams of an erased blackboard. Hope springs eternal when the calendar morphs from one year to the next.

Few in Warren County will forget the fear and unknowing as the Mighty Mississippi River began to swell its banks. Rumors ran amok as apocalyptic scenarios were played out on national and international media. When the river finally did crest at a record 57.1 feet — 14.1 feet above flood stage — on May 19, disaster for most had been avoided. Public and private entities sprang into action to keep the damage as minimal as possible. While we grieve for those who lost property, the fact that only one person died as a direct result of the rising waters was astounding.

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We certainly hope the efforts put forth to battle that flood will not be needed in 2012. We also are keenly aware that the river by its nature will do what it wants when it wants. Being prepared — and we are very prepared — will help keep catastrophic outcomes at bay.

The flood certainly dominated the local news scene in 2011, and we hope there is no repeat of that.

We would like to see some things moving forward into the new year. A new crop of elected officials throughout the county and in statewide offices will have their work cut out for them as the nation, states and municipalities grapple with uncertain economic times. Pitching grand plans in a time of economic distress can be unwise, but we wish for some action on a few hot-button issues around Warren County.

• Make a decision on the jail. The sheriff has said repeatedly that the jail in its current form is untenable. The more-than-100-year-old building is too small and too antiquated for today’s needs. A new jail will be an expensive proposition, but for at least the last 15 years each grand jury has recommended a new facility. Stop dithering and make a decision. Yay. Nay. Whatever. Just make a decision.

• The on-again, off-again saga of the recreational complex is vexing. The current rec facility, like the jail, is antiquated. Other towns our size and smaller have made a commitment to building a first-class recreation facility and they have gotten it done. For some reason, our leaders love to accept grand, pie-in-the-sky plans with few results. Again, figure something out and decide if Vicksburg will be a recreation destination or not. Our one big baseball tournament — the Governor’s Cup — eventually will have better offers from cities with better facilities. It would be a shame to lose that tournament, but how much longer can Halls Ferry Park handle it?

• Crime will be a huge challenge. The news pages of this newspaper are filled daily with robberies, burglaries, rapes and slayings. A collaborative law enforcement-public effort will be needed. The one thing that cannot be done is for the people to admit defeat and cower in fear. Take back the streets and neighborhoods from the thugs and slugs who sully this town’s name and reputation.

• Education must be improved on all levels. The local schools need to be a drawing point for the best and brightest. The city should not be a stopover for work, only to leave for areas with more complete schools.

More work will need to be done in 2012. There is a huge presidential election that will affect us all. But we must remember to act locally and tackle the problems that are affecting us most right here.

If we all come together to do that, 2012 could be a banner year in Warren County.

Happy New Year.