Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas time in never, never land

December 21, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas has taken on a new twist for me and several others I know. Any mention of Christmas is now dutifully followed by the phrase "where the heck did this year go?"

And, just where did it go? I have no clue. Doesn't seem that long ago that I was celebrating Christmas with my entire family at my brother's house in Lawrence. But, it was a year ago, much like will happen with thoughts of last year's trip to Tulsa for New Year's Eve.

And, that's one of the many "of note" events during the year for me. I went to Tulsa again in October for the nuptials of my best friend. I never thought I'd do that. Say it with me one more time, never is a very long time.

That holds true, too, for the year in news for good ol' Baldwin City. If I had a dollar for every time I said, "I've never seen that happen here" this year, my Christmas presents this year would have probably all been gold.

First murder in Baldwin in decades. School district overspends to the tune of $300,000. Fire guts house after 911 dispatch misdirects call and fire hydrant fails. Superintendent accepts, then declines offer from Baldwin district. Numerous Baldwin Junction fatalities finally prompt Kansas Department of Transportation to put in four-way stop. (Key phrase, KDOT finally does something. That's news.) Convicted felon hired at Baldwin High School; assault in cafeteria; illegal prescription drug investigation; long-time principal ousted, etc., etc. And, then, of course, there were those elections. Ugh, let's not go there.

It wasn't all bad news, either, and the above list isn't all of it.

How about the 150th celebration at the Battle of Black Jack? That only happens once every 150 years, so you can't say it never happens. Or how about the feel-good story of the year when the Baldwin community rallied to save the Fourth of July celebration? Or maybe that designation could also go to the $10,000 raised at a chili feed for a victim of cancer.

Then there were the hirings of Patricia Long as the first-ever woman president at Baker University and Paul Dorathy hired as the Baldwin School District's new superintendent. I don't know, but I'll bet there has never been a complete changing of the guard at the top of Baldwin's educational elite in the same year. Never say never.

Also in the good news realm this year were the fabulous renovations at Baker's storied Liston Stadium which completed a revamping at the sports complex that can only be described as remarkable ... and wonderful. Next in line there would be the upgrades at the municipal pool which will finally -- or hopefully -- bring an end to the long-standing parking problems there. And, of course, the new playground equipment currently being added there, plus the much-needed cleaning out of the creek area there, will make that a top-quality park.

Lastly, no list of news in Baldwin has to include the agreement between the city and school district on the School Resource Officers. It was a contentious issue for years, but finally -- and I do mean finally very strongly -- rational minds prevailed. It's such an important position in our community, but some leaders on both sides wouldn't give in on petty items involved until this year. You can't say the city and district never agree anymore, thankfully. And, I honestly don't think that place -- you know, THAT place -- has frozen over as a result. But, you never know.

No, it's been a cram-packed year for news in the Baldwin community. So much so that adjustments will have to be made in the Signal's annual top news stories of the year feature at the end of the year. Steve Rottinghaus, director of public relations at Baker, made the comment to me that he'd certainly suggest that what all has happened at the Baldwin Junction this year should be in the Top Ten News Stories of 2006. I remarked to Steve that it would probably have to be the Top Twenty or even Top Twenty-five this year. Never say never.

With the ongoing war and other catastrophies all over the world, plus our own huge bout of bad news in our own community to go along with political madness, it's easy to adopt the philosophy of the best bumper sticker I've seen in awhile. It said:

"Just where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?"

It makes you wonder. But, let's also wonder if the New Year won't be totally different. I'm also prying myself out of that hand basket. I was wondering what the heck it was and where I was going. Let's never go there. Never.

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