Tuesday January 1, 2013

Another year has come and gone, and we are already looking ahead to what 2013 has to offer.

While not nearly as traumatic as 2011, this past year still had several news items that seemed to crop up time and time again; Local stories that had a connection to a "bigger" picture, whether that was a statewide or national issue. So, while we continue to compile our year in review content, which will publish this weekend, consider this a Top 10 things-to-keep-an-eye on list. Not necessarily resolutions, these are stories and/or concepts we think will continue to engage our attention for the next 12 months.

- With many inches of snow falling throughout the area in the past week, it's already looking to be a better winter tourism season than what we experienced last year. Add to that the recent effort by several area chambers of commerce - Brattleboro, Manchester and the Mountains and the Mount Snow Valley - pooling their efforts to promote winter tourism in southern Vermont through an ad campaign featuring a 5-second clip showing in Times Square and a advertisement in Horizons magazine. If we can get a few more storms this winter - preferably spaced out for those of us who still shovel our driveways - we're sure area restaurants, bed and breakfasts, ski resorts and other businesses will reap the rewards.

... speaking of money ...

- Brattleboro officials are still putting the finishing touches on the next fiscal budget, which has created quite the headache since voters approved renovations to the police and fire departments but passed on a sales tax increase which would have helped pay for the project.


Advertisement

Stories like this will play out around the state, as towns continue to struggle with less money and bigger projects that just can't be put off any longer.

... which brings us to ...

- Is an end to the recession in sight? Probably not, what with lawmakers still playing politics with the Fiscal Cliff. What we'd hope to see is continued rejuvenation in our county's downtowns. Whether it's long-standing local businesses continuing to serve the community, or new businesses popping up all around (of which there were several this past year), a vibrant local economy will continue to create jobs and keep us moving in the right direction, economically speaking.

... and while we're on the topic of recovery ...

- As local home- and property owners continue to cut through the red tape and get their lives back on track following Tropical Storm Irene and the subsequent flooding in August 2011, we can only hope that the standstill and sense of limbo being experienced by our friends and neighbors can come to an end. Vermont was able to dodge another storm-walloping this past year, as Superstorm Sandy stayed along the coastline, but we're still not back to 100 percent.

... on the subject of neighbors ...

- What a great reflection on Vermonters and, specifically to us, Windham County and the surrounding area. Residents continued to step up during the recent holiday rush, to raise money and/or donate to the many important causes local groups and organizations are tasked with assisting toward. From the Windham County Heat Fund to Project Feed the Thousands to the many local food pantries - the need is still there and continues to grow, and residents continue to respond. We would be remiss to not mention our own effort, the Reformer Christmas Stocking, which continues to slowly inch closer to its $90,000 goal. Thanks to everyone!

... Developing developments ...

- Broadband and cellular access continues to be an issue for Vermont as a whole. That's why it's a relief, in some ways, to see not one, but two new towers being discussed for the Newfane area. Add these to the continued effort by the Shumlin administration to make sure all corners of the state are "wired" for the future. We were also pleased to see the way in which AT&T interacted with residents as their project moved forward in Newfane ...

... which brings us to ...

- It will be interesting to see how the ongoing discussion about a possible wind farm continues in Windham (and in neighboring Grafton). Will lawmakers in the coming weeks set to discussion a possible moratorium on wind projects in the state, and what sort of affect will that have on the future of the "industry" in Vermont? Will that put the brakes on any discussion in Windham? What weight, if any, with Windham's town plan (which prohibits commercial wind ventures) have on the project? Our hope is that, if and when these talks resume, the company planning this possible venture is sure to involve town officials and residents (much like AT&T).

... and in educational news ...

- We'll continue to watch the Brooks House/college project move forward in downtown Brattleboro, where it's clear such a venture is sure to have a positive affect in and around Main Street.

... and while we're talking about Main Street ...

- What does the future hold for the River Garden? Will is be sold? Become something new and different from what organizers once imagined? Perhaps there's room for collaboration between the Brook House college plans and what's happening at the River Garden.

... and finally ...

- As we enter our 100th year as a daily newspaper, we aim to continue offering readers a daily snapshot of the local news of the day, in all of our various formats. Look for weekly reflections on our 100th anniversary, and something special planned for March.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!