Imagine, you hold an envelope. You open it and take out a Christmas card. It is large, rectangular, of the usual sort, but on its cover is a painted landscape. It is a beautiful and peaceful scene on a cold, deep, clear midwinter night. Snow-covered foothills roll through the middle, bright white flecked with brown. Behind them, an abundance of mountain peaks, tree-covered spires and rocky crags stretch to the horizon. Below lies a sleepy village. Its streets are empty, at peace. Warm firelight shines from a few windows, smoke curls from chimneys. The village lies on the banks of great river, dark and cold, the deepest blue you can imagine. Above all, a single star shines far brighter than the rest.
Out falls a neatly folded letter. You open it, and read:
It’s been another busy year here at the Opinion Page. We had grist upon grist upon grist and opinions on opinions. You also had opinions on our opinions. We appreciated every word of encouragement, and every word of criticism. Really, we did.
Good thing we get along, because 2012 will be remembered as the Year of the Big Debt, the Big Vote and Big Smoke. It started with all of us standing on the precipice of bankruptcy. Talk about the fiscal cliff, we had one. It was all about Town Toyota Center, which is what we call the Regional Events Center now, thank heavens. Bear with us. There’s a happy ending.
You may remember, we borrowed $42 million to build the arena only to realize we had no idea how to pay it back. In January the region had defaulted on the debt, and we wrote praising local officials for working together to find a way out. We had no idea what that would be.
In February, we fretted over Wenatchee’s financial condition and wondered if it would become “a black hole in the region’s heart.” Then a plan emerged involving sales tax surcharges, to be put before the voters in April. “This is the last chance,” we said.
By March we were in crusade mode, a rarity for us, but this was really important. “Now it’s up to us,” we wrote. Our comment threads were scorching. In April we urged voters to agree to pay a 10-cent tax on a $100 purchase, “lest Wenatchee’s problems swallow us all.”
And the taxes were passed, with a heavy yes vote, and we were greatly relieved, proud of the voters who let common sense shine through, and the public officials who put their careers on the line to solve the problem. Negotiations ensued, agreements were made and the debt paid. Now Town Toyota Center is drawing crowds — go, Wild (a great season so far), Bill Cosby and we can’t wait for Cirque de Noel.
But wait, there’s more. Through the year we watched the joining of Central Washington Hospital and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, together a big deal made bigger. Mike Walker’s vision raised the Pybus Public Market. Chelan PUD grappled with its fiber optic troubles and Douglas PUD won a license for Wells Dam. Alcoa celebrated its 60th year in Wenatchee, as did the Wenatchee Youth Circus (great show, Guppo!).
Did we mention it was an election year? We surprised even ourselves by endorsing gay marriage and legalized marijuana.
Along the way we liked the beautiful new Music and Art Center at Wenatchee Valley College, Scout-A-Vista, the Wenatchee foothills, the Loop Trail, sockeye salmon, state parks, the cleanup of the Holden Mine tailings and construction at the Sen. George Sellar Bridge.
Early on, we were clairvoyant. In July we wrote “the next big fire” was coming. “Pause and take in the smell of inevitability,” we said. In September we wrote that there are “still too many trees,” and then days later came the crazy lightning, and flames and evacuations and firefighters from all over. And then the smoke, and smoke. The air cleared $24 million later.
We can see clearly now, the smoke is gone. This 2012 ends on a bright note, a feeling of optimism, that we are on the way back up and there isn’t much that can stop us. As usual, we end the year grateful that we live in the best place in the world, with the best readers in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Rufus, Cal and Tracy
The Editorial Board
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.