In Our Opinion --

As 2014 arrives, we can’t help but feel a rush of optimism. After all, there are signs of a strengthening economic recovery in our region, and there’s a buoyancy at the Moda Center as the Trail Blazers look to be the destiny team for the new year. Even the U.S. Congress has taken baby steps toward a more bipartisan approach to solving the nation’s most basic problems.

Still, we have plenty of issues to worry about as the new year unfolds, which brings us to our annual wish list for the coming year:

• For Newberg government: Find and hire a qualified candidate to fill the position of city manager.

• For Dundee: Complete construction of the long-awaited fire hall.

• For George Fox University: Prepare well for the return of football in the fall.

• For Relay for Life: A banner year that sees more teams and more money raised than ever before.

• For Special Olympics: A summer games that surpasses, if that’s possible, the heights to which this unique and endearing event has reached since being relocated to Newberg several years ago.

• For Intel: Good luck with the ongoing expansions in Hillsboro, which benefit the entire region and justify the tax breaks the chip maker is getting. We also hope the bright minds on their Hillsboro campuses can find a better way to connect with community members who are concerned about air quality.

• For Cover Oregon: 10,000 electric typewriters to help with all those paper applications.

• For the Oregon Legislature: The opportunity finally to build that new bridge.

• For Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber: A worthy opponent in either May or November. But on another topic, does the state’s next governor really want to stub his or her toe on some sort of sales tax proposal? It’s only been voted down nine times in Oregon already.

• For Oregon Lottery Director Jack Roberts: A backbone to enforce the Oregon Constitution’s ban on non-tribal casinos at faux delis that are mini-casinos and at street corners throughout the state.

• For voters: The wisdom to recognize that the Oregon Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage has been overtaken by the steady march of civil rights in this nation. Nineteen other states now recognize same-sex unions, and it’s time for Oregonians to repeal a ban that was put in place just 10 years ago.

• For Oregon State baseball: Another College World Series crown, confirming Pat Casey — who won national titles in 2006 and '07 — as the nation’s premier coach.

• And for all of us: In a year when voters will be asked to loosen marijuana laws and liquor purchases, how about less dependence on brain-numbing substances and a little more time spent exercising our minds and bodies in the wonders of Oregon’s outdoors.

It’s just a small suggestion.