Murray Bishoff: Looking back at 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The crystal ball had a pretty clear picture of what laid ahead in 2014. Both good and bad, we saw it this year.

As anticipated, Monett Main Street drove the downtown efforts and secured the historic district. Hiring the right firm to create the application and paying to have more classic buildings uncovered from siding, the Main Street board made successes happen. Hopes that more storefronts would be filled downtown didn't pan out, but bringing up the looks of a number of older buildings raises the general appearance -- and the prospects -- for the entire district.

Skylines changed with the FEMA storm shelter projects. Other than those, and the city's massive new water treatment plant, very little new construction set root in Monett this year. We hoped for better. At the same time, new hiring through Monett industries, even if through temporary agencies, will provide momentum that should push well into 2015.

The local economy picked up more than expected. It's funny that people still talk about difficult circumstances because of "the economy." In fact, conditions have improved to their best point in years. Those who continue hurting nonetheless have a point, because many employers have shifted more toward part-time positions. Without significantly more jobs coming to the area, those living on the edges have had little on which to gain a foothold.

The sense of foreboding voiced here a year ago about dropping the other shoe took shape in two ways: the disastrous sewer plant poisoning in Monett by the Tyson Foods amino acid dumping, and in the closing of the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon. With the sewer mess, the storm passed quickly, though the smell will be remembered for some time to come.

As for the rehabilitation center, the shift of political energy to save or repurposing the resource, the county's largest employer, represented untapped energy. Mt. Vernon city officials are still trying to salvage something from a candle that burned out in front of their eyes.

On the plus side, we made it through another year without a flood. The likelihood of Monett helping Lawrence County with its 911 system may spell a new season of cooperation and even suggest that political entities can work together. Even the Tyson Foods disaster may lead to the addition of new safeguards at the city's wastewater treatment plant that could head off a far worse catastrophe.

We had a great Christmas parade and a pretty good Fourth of July celebration. Weather proved generally favorable for crops and livestock.

We will likely look back for some time and say 2014 was a very good year.

Murray Bishoff has served readers of The Monett Times since 1988. He can be reached at times-news@monett-times.com, or 417-235-3135.

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