Three days from now we’ll begin 2019. It looks like an interesting year.
We’ll see city elections and the rush of a new presidential election cycle. Some candidates have already been testing the waters for the latter, but the real flood comes next year.
There are construction projects we hope to see completed and others we hope to see get underway. Yes, they’re a headache. But they’re also needed to keep some basic needs up to date.
What’s our wish list? Let’s hope there’s progress at St. Joseph. For all Blackbird’s words, all it has to show right now is a half-demolished building. The current status only reinforces our previously stated concerns about whether the company can deliver on its promises.
We’d like to see the city get a better handle on the length of some work. The fact East Main Street remains torn up this winter is embarrassing. Similar delays with the proposed downtown streetscape project could be worse. While downtown has indisputably made progress in the past decade, it remains fragile. If the streetscape project drags on like some other projects have, it could slam on the brakes for downtown or, worse, put it into reverse.
The streetscape project is a risk, but a calculated one. We hope it goes well. The same goes for the runway reconstruction at the airport.
We hope the council elections bring out new ideas. Whether they result in new council members isn’t our point here. Vigorous but respectful debate can prompt new directions even for old hands. That kind of election has the potential to find new solutions for Ottumwa, whoever winds up winning.
We’ve said this before, but we’d like to see the state legislature step up when it comes to Iowa schools. There’s only so long you can hold allowable growth to just a percentage point without doing long-term damage.
The legislature also needs to find better funding for the judiciary. Our look at the state’s courts this summer underscored the need. Legislators must realize that the judiciary is not a department under its control but a coequal and essential branch of government. It must be funded accordingly.
This is shaping up as a critical year for Ottumwa schools. Open enrollment currently costs the district about 500 students. That’s more than a million dollars in funding that walks out. We see 2019 as a year in which the district’s administration and board needs to either find ways to begin turning things around, or consider making way for others with new ideas.
We hope farmers finally get a break. The deluge-or-drought rainfall of the past several years has been tough on crops. And the current trade disputes with China aren’t helping matters.
In the more immediate future, we hope you’ll celebrate 2019’s arrival safely. We know there will be a lot of alcohol involved. Drink safely. Make sure the driver hasn’t been drinking. We don’t want to begin the year covering a tragedy.
There’s a lot to look forward to in 2019. Each year begins with so much potential. Our best wishes go to our readers and to the community we serve. May 2019 be a year to remember for all the right reasons.