As the old year ends and a new year dawns, newspaper readers are inundated with stories looking back, reviewing and ranking the most important events of the past year. In this space, we look ahead to events, that if they happen, would make the year 2002 as happy bowing out 12 months from now as it is bowing in today. Here's what we hope for:
War on terror: Unequivocal victory for the good guys without any more "September 11ths."
Economy: Complete recovery globally, nationally, locally.
Augusta: Starting with the easy stuff: Peace on earth. From there, a smarter leadership from the Augusta Commission, a firm commitment from the governor to locate one of the Georgia Cancer Coalition "centers of excellence" here, and progress on the initiative to create a biomedical/biotech research park in Augusta. More homes refurbished or built by the Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp. in the Laney-Walker area. More businesses locating in Augusta; a buyer for Regency Mall. And that Fort Gordon is spared during the next round of base closures.
Columbia County: A successful resolution to that nagging question: To consolidate or not to consolidate? A completed courthouse and jail; continued growth in housing and business development.
North Augusta: This city simply needs to continue doing in 2002 what it's been doing to transform itself into one of the most attractive tourist and business-friendly communities in South Carolina. Keep on track its ambitious public-private partnership riverfront development program.
Edgefield County: Accelerate plans to build an urgently needed new Strom Thurmond High School and to relocate it where it will help accommodate the rapidly growing Merriweather area. Success in recruiting industrial development.
Aiken County: Start work on the Bobby Jones Expressway. More business and residential growth; no more school board financial woes; continued improvement in public school students' test scores; hold down tuition increases at USC-Aiken.
City of Aiken: Many cities would like to have Aiken's problem - how to handle remarkable growth. But when you actually have to grapple with this kind of success, it can be difficult and contentious. We hope the city's "Smart Growth" goes forward smoothly and successfully.
Georgia General Assembly: The Department of Justice redraws the district voting maps so that they are fair and sane. That's all we ask for. Really.
South Carolina General Assembly:In what's shaping up as a hardship year, bipartisan cooperation between Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges and the Republican legislature in this election year on such contentious issues as prioritizing the budget, improving education and agreeing on how to spend lottery revenues.
Savannah River Site: A clean denouement on what to do with leftover plutonium being sent to SRS for reprocessing: Congressional approval to send the highly radioactive material to Yucca Mountain, Nev., for permanent storage. Let's get on with it. The Nevada site, which has been studied for decades to ensure safe enclosure, has been specifically designed for permanency.
Medical College of Georgia: All senior-level positions filled. Progress on the new facility master plan for MCG and the Veterans Administration Hospital. Continued growth of research in the targeted areas of heart, cancer, neurological diseases and other specialties.
University Hospital: Ongoing fiscal health for the hospital and continued excellence in patient care.
University of Georgia: The university wisely put aside its minority- and legacy-preference policies and now must redouble its efforts to recruit and retain minority students.
Augusta State University: Growing enrollment is President William Bloodworth's big challenge; the recession may drive more students back to the classroom.
Paine College: Continued progress in President Shirley A.R. Lewis' goals of improving recruitment and retention rates.