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Let's peer through the murky crystal ball at what '22 might bring, at some news highlights that are sure to greet us in the next year

Sure, we said it this time last year ... but the next 12 months have to be better, right?

We've all come to realize that making such assumptions is folly, that what we think, hope for and even expect for the future is not much more than a crapshoot.

But that won't stop us from peering through the murky crystal ball at what '22 might bring, at some news highlights that are sure to greet us in the next year.

January: Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting will put down his prosecutor's hat and pull on his judge's robe as he becomes an Oregon Circuit Court judge, serving Crook and Jefferson counties. With experience working as both a defense attorney and prosecutor in Jefferson County, then serving as Crook County's DA for a few years, Whiting comes to the job out of central casting. In this case, with her pick to fill the opening, Gov. Kate Brown did a great job. Whiting will have a long career serving the communities on the bench.

February: With All-State buying every third ad, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers face off with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. In the battle of insurance pitchmen, Rodgers and the Packers win, 42-37. Instead of Commissioner Roger Goodell handing off the Lombardi Trophy, it's Jake From State Farm doing the honors. Failing on the big stage for the second consecutive year, Mahomes is immediately replaced on the company's campaign by the LA Chargers' Justin Herbert.

March: The Crook County Cowgirls' basketball squad, which head into the new year ranked No. 2 in the 5A rankings, survives a dogfight with their IMC rivals from Ridgeview to win the league championship and advance to the state tournament. With a perfect mix of speed, height, size and the ability to make baskets, Coach Boback's squad becomes the darlings of the tourney and wins the state title in double overtime over Willamette.

April: Work will start on the new justice center, replacing a neglected block in downtown Prineville with a living monument to, well, justice — and the robust future of Prineville and Crook County. A few letters to the editor roll in from people protesting the project, noting that the old courthouse served the community well for more than a century, and is still fit and fine.

May: COVID numbers drop across the nation as temperatures and vaccinations rise. President Biden — just as he did last July — tells the nation that the pandemic is essentially over. He says masks are no longer necessary. "Ha," say a good many people. "They never were!" Others, who wore a mask regularly for the past two years and noticed they had nary a cold during that stretch, consider adding a mask to their permanent wardrobe. 

June: With "return to normal" fever sweeping the bustling Central Oregon region, the Crooked River Roundup has its biggest year ever. But, man, it is hot ...

July: The heat dome that invaded in 2021 makes a return visit. Four straight days of temps hovering around 110-degrees have half the people saying the end of the world is near, and the other half not worried much, just glad it's a "dry heat." Before the month's out, a local committee is formed to get a new indoor swimming pool facility built ASAP. They buy a series of full-page ads to promote the effort … (wait, now that's just crazy talk).

August: The huge winter snowfalls had the Ochocos lush and green in June. By August, the heat had turned it into a tinderbox. Everyone is nervous as fires erupt, again, throughout the state. But no fire over 100 acres occurs in Crook County — and all that snow in the winter allows Ochoco Irrigation District farmers to water all summer.

September: No one gave Prineville Mayor Jason Beebe any chance in his race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Ron Wyden. But polls in the state put the race within 10% … which causes the National Democratic Committee to drop $5 million into the Oregon race. Beebe, meanwhile, has spent $10,000. The Republican Party won't give him any money, but he gets a million in private donations following an energetic Fox News interview with firebrand host Sean Hannity.

October: Crook County sports is enjoying life at the 4A level. The squads sweep the Tri-Valley League championships in volleyball, football, and boys and girls cross country. The soccer teams even manage some wins. The highlight comes when the Cowgirls spike their way to the state championship in November.

November: A robust economy, a pandemic petering out, a general feeling of well-being gripping the country and a Jan. 6 Commission that has muddied the GOP brand has the Democrats thinking that all those pundits who said the GOP would take over both houses of Congress were clueless ... but they weren't. Even with the good times rolling, history — which nearly always sees the party in the White House lose Congressional seats — wins out, and so do the Republicans in November '22. The mid-term election campaigns are brutal nationwide, but they pale in comparison to what will be unleashed for the presidential cycle of 2024. 

December: Portland State University puts out it population study for 2022. Crook County, which was the second fastest growing county in Oregon in 2021, jumps to No. 1. It's official. The Roaring Twenties, 21st century style, have taken deep root in Crook County.

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