What a year

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As everyone does the last week of a year, I reflect on all that has happened during 2010.

I remember my grandfather saying when he was much older than I, that the biggest change from year to year was at how much faster they passed as you got older. Truer words were never spoken. 2010 was indeed a year to remember, or some might say to forget. The recession was officially over, but the pain of unemployment still was everywhere in Southwest Georgia and indeed the nation.

Georgia continued to lead the nation in failed banks, indicating how widespread the slowdown had touched our state. The construction boom that had fueled our growth over the past decade came to a screeching halt and has continued to struggle throughout 2010.

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The Hope Scholarship, funded by lottery sales, is also feeling the pinch as sales declined and enrollment increased. People out of work turned to education in increasing numbers, straining not only the Hope scholarship, but education budgets in general. It will be one of the real challenges for our state leadership in 2011.

Of course, decreasing revenues affected not only the state government, but the cities and counties as well. For two years in a row the state has had severe cutbacks as they struggled to maintain services with less income. Those cuts often get pushed down to the local level, whose own tax revenue is declining.

Our counties saw record increases in local property taxes, particularly related to the school systems, which have been largely cut to the bone in state funding the past few years. 2011 will bring additional challenges for our leadership in education funding at all levels.

The big story in Georgia might be the continuing growth of the GOP and the sweep of statewide offices by the Republican Party. The last state to convert from Blue to Red in the Deep South is now solidly Deep Red and likely to stay that way for generations.

Every statewide office, both U.S. Senators, and eight of 13 congressmen are now Republicans. An additional congressman added by the census results will certainly be Republican since the new lines will be drawn by the GOP.

The General Assembly maintained its solid Red makeup and then watched as 10 members changed party within weeks after the election, leaving the Democratic Party with huge ground to make up.

The mid-term elections nationally were also a big story and the Republicans retook the House of Representatives and made big gains in the Senate. The actions of the lame duck Congress may give us hope that there will be some bi-partisan legislation after January, but don’t hold your breath too long.

Technology continued to be a bright spot in the economy with Apple continuing to change the way we listen to music, talk and play. The iPad was wildly successful, following the iPhone and iPod. Smart phones do so much for us now that they seem to be permanently glued to our ears.

The dramatic rescue of the trapped miners in Chile caught the world’s attention as a seemingly impossible rescue unfolded worldwide on television. I still get goose bumps thinking about how for just a few moments the entire world seemed to rejoice in a common event.

I expect, however, that most of us measure a year with what happened to us personally. 2010 was the year that my nieces and nephews all excelled. Bailey was named All State in softball, with her younger sister, Addison, receiving honorable mention All-Region on the same team. Their brother, Davis, caught his first varsity touchdown pass while in the ninth grade.

My children all seemed to have a great year. They are healthy and happy and raising my grandchildren so I can spoil them.

My wife and I had a great time watching the incredible season the Auburn Tigers experienced. When your expectations are low, winning is even sweeter.

Our business continues to thrive in a bad economy and for that I am grateful. Our church built a beautiful new addition as people gave more than ever in tough times.

When it was all said and done, 2010 was a pretty good year despite the tough times. In the end, when you have your health and your family, there isn’t too much to complain about. However, we will continue to hope and pray for 2011 for those around us who look for better times in the coming year.

Happy New Year!