You don’t have to be a disappointed supporter of Hillary Clinton to have arrived at the notion that 2016 can’t end soon enough.
I mean, lots of us got there long before Nov. 8. Simply put, 2016 was, in many respects, a rough year, and not just because of the rancor of the election.
We needn’t revisit the particulars here. That’s for the news services, networks and major dailies. Let’s just say any year that begins and ends with relentless horror that elevated an unknown Syrian city — Aleppo — to nightmarish prominence, and still found time to accommodate the Orlando nightclub massacre, two mass killings by truck, and the deaths of Prince and Zsa Zsa Gabor is a year that will live in infamy.
Not unexpectedly, then, as if to hasten its exit, we have for weeks been awash in the business of mopping up 2016. People of the year have been declared. News events have been ranked. And, we’re up to our chins in forecasts about what 2017 will bring. (Breaking: CNBC projects Americans still will buy lots of trucks and SUVs.)
Ordinarily, I am second to none when it comes to reveling in expectation, what psychologists call “the joy of anticipation.”
This is why you never will find me lining up with those who complain about Christmas merchandise filling the shelves in the middle of September, or TV commercials for April’s Masters golf championship airing in January.
Both are terrific dates on my calendar, and I extract enormous pleasure from contemplating them. In fact, I’m going to pause right now and think about the banks of azaleas surrounding the 12th green and 13th tee at Augusta National’s Amen Corner. … OK, back to our regularly scheduled column.
The thing is, although it’s true 2016 packed no shortage of misery — for me, the year will forever be framed by the death of the Tampa Tribune, where I’d toiled nearly a quarter of a century until its abrupt termination May 3 — but, what the old Scottish philosophers said about ill winds applies equally to the year behind us. Close inspection finds some slight cheer amidst the tumult, including within the region served by The Laker and Lutz News.
Mike Wells, Pasco’s longtime property appraiser, retired, as scheduled, celebrating among friends and associates at the Champion’s Club clubhouse in early December.
Land O’ Lakes-based Richard Corcoran, meanwhile, has become Florida’s Speaker of the House, giving Pasco its second House speaker in two years (Wesley Chapel’s Will Weatherford turned it over in 2014), and, Corcoran’s pronouncements on crony capitalism, lobbyist activity and government transparency — all welcome — sent tremors across the state.
In Pasco, another can-do fellow with an agenda — Seven Oaks’ Mike Moore — was elected chairman of a county commission that, with the loss of Ted Schrader, will be looking for leadership.
Moore’s job will have to be easier than that of Pasco schools Superintendent Kurt Browning, who, even as the district races to complete new schools — including the jewel, Cypress Creek High, with a state-funded performing arts center — has been accused of unfairly tampering with attendance boundaries.
So, yes, we suffered losses in our region, although few were more keenly felt than that of Joe Hancock, forever 57, descendant of pioneers, farmer, philanthropist, family man and cycling enthusiast, knocked off his German Focus and into eternity on rolling Lake Iola Road in early May.
Those hills are God’s way of reminding us space must be honored, which is among the reasons folks in Pasco’s high country remain worried about what encroachments might be signaled by the rollout of the “Connected City” plan proposed by Metro Development, a massive project of homes and job centers east of Interstate 75 and south of State Road 52.
Although ground recently was broken on a staggering 7.5-acre lagoon slated to become the centerpiece of a $100 million residential community, Metro has yet to submit its final proposal involving about 96,000 new residents to county commissioners.
So, something else to anticipate in 2017. Need more? OK. Spokesman Kim Payne says the Florida Hospital ice center is only weeks from exiting its construction stage. Soon, only hockey players will need hard hats.
And finally, this upbeat note. Upbeat? Make that soaring. The results of the raffles involving Sherry Lee Steiert’s quilts are in, and San Antonio Rotarian Betty Burke has this to report: The drawing attracted $420. Through the miracle of matching funds — from various divisions of Rotary, plus the Gates Foundation — that $420 became $3,150, enough to purchase 5,250 polio vaccinations.
Y’all did that. In a certifiably terrible year, assorted acts of kindness, love and generosity stitched together to produce a quilt of human selflessness. Something to build on as we contemplate 2017.
Published December 28, 2016