April 18, 2014

Murky crystal ball shows new things in new year

It’s that time of year again. It’s the time where media outlets reflect on the passage of time and attempt to predict things to come.
People in the media make a lot of lists at this time of year. There are always lists featuring the top 10 stories of the year coming to an end, and that’s always intermingled with the list of stories that didn’t make the top 10, but could have. Especially in television lists, and in particularly sports lists.
And entertainment media always have their lists of the year’s best-dressed celebrities, their lists of the year’s worst-dressed celebrities, best and worst actors, break-ups and even best rumors.
There are the lists of the year’s top films, best video games, best political decisions, worst political blunders, lists for just about everything, all of which means nothing except there is nothing else for reporters to write about, not enough news at this time of year for newspapers to fill their pages, or too much idle TV time for which stations must find something to broadcast.
End-of-the-year lists are easy, they fill space and time, and, for whatever the reasons, people seem to enjoy reading them and watching them. Maybe it’s because society has been trained not only to expect them, but also to look forward to them as if the year wouldn’t be complete if they were not published or broadcast.
This past year has been no different than any other.
It has been filled with a series of events, both good and bad, that we hope will be a solid foundation on which to begin 2013. Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill are facing many issues and decisions that not only will affect the coming year, but will impact local citizens for years to come.
The intermodal is a critical issue for all three communities. There are still important details to be worked out. Nothing will be set in stone until the rail yard starts taking its first deliveries.
Our crystal ball led us astray on when that would be. Several years ago, we were betting freights would be rolling into the Kansas City Logistics Hub by the end of 2009.
If economic conditions are ignored in our predictions, the stars are aligned for the rail project to be constructed and ready to take deliveries sometime in 2013.
Sadly, this isn’t field of dreams, and building it will not automatically signify growth. But conditions appear to have improved over the course of the last year, and things are looking up.
In the meantime, the challenges for county, city, state and school governing bodies will be to maintain a modicum of services while retaining as low a tax rate as possible.
Our hope is that governing body members will keep mom-and-pop businesses in mind as they grind out budgets for the upcoming year starting sometime this summer. Small businesses are the backbone of the country, and bad tax policies will drive them out.
Elected officials should be looking for ways to spur economic development from small business owners – those with fewer than 100 employees. They should be looking at ways to encourage hiring, because new jobs are what will rev our community’s economic engine.
At best, our crystal ball is murky on what the future holds. We hope for the best.

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