To the Point for 12/29/2005

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REFLECTING ON THE PAST year, there have been a lot of things that have happened here in Switzerland County and around our state, nation, and world that have impacted each of us on many different levels.

But as we look back at 2005, I believe that one common thread has tied all of us together. It has crossed all sorts of generational and ethnic lines, and has drawn us closer as a community of human beings.

The weather.

On a local level, Switzerland County watched heavy rains fall in the spring when farmers were trying to get into their fields to plant.

School superintendent Tracy Caddell had many days of facing the unenviable task of trying to decide if county roads were safe for school bus travel; and Edd Cook and the Switzerland County Highway Department spent long hours in trucks trying to make sure that everyone was safe.

Summer here brought us steamy, hot weather; and at times we all wished for a little bit of that rain we had in the spring. Temperatures rose and no rain fell, and we wondered if there would ever be a break in the weather.

It came along with fall, as farmers tried to get back into their fields to harvest what crops they had left after the summer drought left its mark.

Rain came again, keeping farmers out of the fields, and leaving them to wonder if crops would rot before the ground was stable enough to take harvest equipment onto it.

Winter weather has come and gone and come again as 2005 comes to a close; and as I write this a person could make a case that Spring is here again, with nice temperatures and low humidity.

At the state level, Mother Nature showed her fury during the past year, tearing a path across the city of Evansville and other communities.

In our nation, the year 2005 will always be remembered for the utter devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast region of the country. As we look back at the hurricane and the following flooding, we see it as a terrible memory — but we should all be mindful that for millions of people, dealing with the aftermath of Katrina is a daily, ongoing event.

I spent some time in New Orleans in the summer of 2004, and my family and I stayed in a hotel near the Convention Center. We remember the area as one filled with the people and the atmosphere that makes the city a special one; but in the aftermath of Katrina, we watched vivid images of familiar places that were now the scene of devastating flooding and human tragedy.

With all of this going on, we tend to forget that the beginning of 2005 found our world dealing with the horrible tsunami that struck Thailand and other countries in the Far East.

As with Katrina, those people are still living with the disaster on a daily basis.

If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that — no matter on what level you look at — tragedy was met by the caring and compassion of the people of our community, our state, our country, and our world.

Billions of dollars have been donated to help with relief efforts, and other sources of charity have poured forth around the world.

No matter what the distance, all of this has left us mindful that we are all a community living together on this planet, and that our “neighbor” is sometimes a lot further away than we’ve ever thought.

Here’s hoping that 2006 brings you and your family peace and happiness and prosperity; and that the same spirit of community and survival will continue to draw us together.