>   By Tony Ahern
   What? Madras is going to have a roundabout?
   A roundabout on Grizzly Road? When I was a kid, we had a feedlot on Grizzly Road. A few years back, people raised all kinds of havoc over the city putting in street-dividing planters on C Street. What's going to happen when we put in some kind of yuppie-ized roundabout on the way to the dump?
   Tongue-in-cheek aside, the roundabout is one aspect of the imminent growth and evolution on east side of Madras. As you might have read, the city and Bean Foundation drew six applicants interested in playing ball on developing the 820 acres of Cascade view property on our town's eastern side. It's early in the process, too early to tell if the local entities and the developers can merge visions and dollars. But at this point, city officials are very excited.
   Those hoping for the positive growth of Madras should be excited as well.
   And for practice managing that roundabout, head over to Bend.
   I'm the last person they tell -- I guess because I battle the tendency to make things public -- but those in the know have been talking about major businesses and/or downtown improvements on the way. The city of Madras is going to have a vibrant, exciting 2005.
   While the city has been very pro-active, county government, meanwhile, has been flying somewhat under the radar in recent months. They've been digging through the implications of Measure 37, but aside from that, county government needs to take a hard look at what it wants to accomplish in 2005 and beyond. As a public sector entity, county officials should measure themselves, their vision and accomplishments, with that of the local school districts (major school renovation to update facilities and prepare for future growth at 590-J); the hospital district (recently completed expansion and improvements); and the city of Madras, which seems to have more iron in the fire than the city of Pittsburgh.
   I think our three county commissioners, combined, have the energy, desire, the commitment and the capacity, to provide quality leadership and progressive, positive policy. They have a very difficult job, often made more difficult by politics, personalities and agendas from every side. Their first two years together were very often rocky. In 2005, the commissioners should forget about the past, make a new start, and together, make a bigger impact.
   Soon the state government is likely to make its presence felt in Madras. If the Legislature gives its go-ahead on the prison project, we'll have the benefits of a couple years of a major construction project, then lifetimes of good-paying jobs ahead via a quiet industry a couple miles out of town.
   Some holiday wishes
   With the season upon us, and the fact that I've been a relatively good boy over the year (relative to what I don't know), I'd like to humbly ask for a few Christmas wishes:
   For Madras, for the spirit of renewal that took root in 2004 -- the public sector building projects; the partnering of public and private through the urban renewal district; and the private investment in business remodeling -- to continue to an even greater degree. And for some of those aforementioned rumors to come true.
   For the Tribes, I'd like to see them get their casino at Cascade Locks. It sounds like a done deal. I don't know how many tribal members will commute to the Gorge to work, so it might wind up being a net loss initially in employment. In the extended run, it will be a huge economic boon for Warm Springs. The primary wish, though, is for the tribes to invest much of the substantial wealth the casino will create into solving social ills on the reservation. I'm confident they will do just that. Success, however, won't be easy. But the Warm Springs people are proud and patient, and the resources that the casino will produce will be put to good use.
   For the war in Iraq to get over already, so we can focus on real threats to the United States, like China controlling our economy.
   For the Democratic party to find some defining themes to re-establish itself as a national party. The Republicans have already claimed God and patriotism, so it's going to have to be good. Maybe something in the line of the sun above and an amalgamation of NASCAR and football.
   On the personal side, how about a continued mild winter and an early spring; for the dog to continue sleeping on the floor; more time outside, in the woods or on a river, and less time inside, in the office and on the phone. If it's not asking too much, maybe another World Series title for the Red Sox and a Rose Bowl for the Ducks. Mostly, I'd like a year of gaining loved ones without losing any.
   To all our Pioneer readers everywhere, I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas.