As the head-spinning year comes to a close, what we'd like to see happen in the new year

By Tony Ahern


2016 was certainly one for the ages, one which, for

many reasons, will be nice to see in the rearview mirror.

We endured a surreal election season and entered a new age where fake news and social media were more relevant than real news and traditional media. The guy on the corner stool at Fat Bobby's Beer Joint had a better read on the national pulse than did the CNN and Fox political pundits.

In August, we had Olympic gymnasts, runners and swimmers dazzle us with achievement in Brazil, while another swimmer embarrassed us with his own brand of fake news.

We lost American hero John Glenn, sports icons like Arnold Palmer, Gordie Howe, Pat Summitt and Muhammad Ali. And music, has there even been a year that more great ones passed? Bowie, Frey, Prince, Haggard, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, and bluegrass and jazz legends Ralph Stanley and Pete Fountain.

As the unforgettable — at times nearly unbearable and unimaginable — 2016 draws to a close, we prepare to launch into 2017. Here in this alcove of small town traditional media, we know the next year will certainly have its share of bad news. But as we prepare to pull up those shiny new, unscribbled upon desk calendars, what better time to throw out some hopes for some good news we'd love to report in 2017 ...

For Madras and Jefferson County:

More housing, and more people choosing to live in Madras and surrounding areas. For the 509-J School District to choose well when it comes to selecting a new superintendent. There's been a lot of progress during Rick Molitor's eight years, especially with facilities; may his replacement carry a similarly effective brush.

Steady growth for industry in Madras, and continued strength for its current industrial engines, like Bright Wood and KEITH's. But also more retail and service businesses in town; the new Grocery Outlet opening soon could be good inspiration.

For Warm Springs, good luck in its impending economic ventures as well, and inspired, stable leadership as the Nation endeavors to make a new post-natural resources-based financial future.

For Aug. 21 — eclipse day — to be unforgettable, for all the right reasons. Tons of happy people, pleased local businesses, and no major problems.

For our farmers, a year with plenty of snowpack and enough water to comfortably get through the season, frog agreement and all.

For our leaders in Salem and Washington:

A path that leads Oregon lawmakers to the additional $1.7 billion in revenue they need to keep the school year — and other things — intact. For Gov. Kate Brown: The willingness to tell her friends when they are wrong and the flexibility to reach out to her critics.

For incoming Secretary of State Dennis Richardson: The resolve to make good on his campaign promise to keep partisanship out of his new office.

Genuine cooperation on the part of state, regional, county and local leaders to reform the land-use planning process to allow reasonable residential and employment projects tailored to meet community needs.

For soon-to-be president Trump to have a first year that is at least half as great as he thinks it will be, and not half as bad as his detractors expect it will be. And for both political parties on the national level, the capacity to figure out who and what they are.

In the world of sports: at Madras High, a state title in soccer, a win in football, more participation all around. For Culver, more room in the trophy case for yet another state wrestling title, and some better luck come volleyball season.

For our pro baseball players, Jacoby Ellsbury and Darrell Ceciliani, stellar years on the diamond; for Ellsbury to get back to the all-star game, and Ceciliani to get a full season in the Majors.

For our professional basketball team up in Portland, a defensive-minded, tough, enforcer type of big man. (Does the name Maurice Lucas ring a bell?)

For the Ducks and Beavers, a simple good luck to all newcomers, including Oregon Ducks football coach Willie Taggart and Oregon State University athletic director Scott Barnes. Maybe throw in a Final Four appearance for the Ducks' hoop squad and an Oregon school in the College World Series.

But for sports, the biggest wish for 2017 is for us to come closer to realizing that these "epic battles" are indeed games, games that, at their best, showcase beauty, thrills, drama and excitement — elements of the best of what life brings — but games nonetheless. May their importance be kept in perspective.

The real game of importance, of course, is the game of life, and it's one we are all given the great opportunity to suit up for and play every day, not just when we're young and unbreakable. In 2017, may we all find our paths to repeated victory in that wonderful game.

This column is the opinion of the author, with some addition wishes for state government contributed by the Pamplin Media Group editorial team. Happy New Year!

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