A New Year, A new hope

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 30, 2003

New Year's Eve is always a time of reflection - looking back at what happened and what didn't, what things were accomplished and what things weren't.

There has to be more to this looking back than a few moments of fond reminiscing or casual regret. We must, to parapharase a famouse quote, learn from history in order not to repeat it. Looking back at our year, we see many wonderful events, from the opening a much-needed nursing home in Florala, to an Opp High School student's hour of fame on a national television show; from progress made in building better roads to the successes we have had in Iraq, fighting for freedom.

But these are the icing on a much larger cake, and what's under that frothy layer can be hard to digest. All of the sweetness and light of what went right cannot disguise for long the things that went wrong.

Alabama needs money. The educational system in this state is balancing on the edge of ruin. New industries are looking elsewhere while established industries are closing or moving. Something needs to be done.

We have already taken giant steps in that direction. The coming of the Hyundai plant and its second and third tier suppliers has been a boon, but it is the recovery of Micolas Mills that offers the most potential for our community. True, it will not operate on the scale of the automobile manufacturer, at least not yet, but it is the story behind the story that holds hope up like a beacon of light. Part of the Micolas Mills restructuring involves a serious commitment, not just from the outside buyers, with their international interests, but from local management - those who have placed their own careers and finances on the line to revive this much-needed industry and make it succeed.

It is that sort of commitment we need from everyone in Alabama, from the highest ranking in the state legislature to the newest kindergarten teacher, from the man who sells lightbulbs in a Mom and Pop store to the woman who controls millions in a massive franchise.

The new year is ours to take, and we will take it in stride and with great success if we work together. It is time to stop pointing fingers and robbing other's expense accounts. It is time to pool resources, those of money, talent, time and drive, to work together and create a newer, better Alabama in 2004.