Challenges, opportunities await as new year nears

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

As the last hours and minutes of 2006 tick away, people have anopportunity to look back on the highs and lows of the past yearwhile also contemplating what 2007 will bring.

From a local, state and national perspective, 2007 promises tohave much in the way of news events and other happenings.

Politically, the new year will see current office holders andchallengers square off in elections for county and state officesranging from constable to the governor. Qualifying gets under wayTuesday.

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Also Tuesday, state lawmakers return to Jackson for the 2007legislative session.

Under the watchful eye of voters back home, lawmakers and Gov.Haley Barbour will endeavor to address a plethora of state issues,such as full funding for the Mississippi Adequate EducationProgram, the Wind Pool insurance program to help coastal residentsand reauthorization of the troubled state Department of Health.Also, several lawmakers have promised another round with thegovernor over a plan to raise the tax on cigarettes while loweringit on food.

On the national lawmaking front, a new Congress now underDemocratic leadership will convene later next month. Controllinggovernment spending, possibly increasing the minimum wage andworking out a solution to the ongoing Iraq saga are just a few ofthe challenges that await.

Closer to home, Lincoln County officials’ activities – to somedegree – will be influenced by the upcoming elections.Nevertheless, citizens can expect supervisors’ continued focus onroad and bridge work while also monitoring an appointedcommission’s efforts to improve and expand offerings at theMulti-Use Facility.

County, city and Chamber of Commerce leaders are looking forfurther development of the LinBrook Business Park.

Brookhaven aldermen late this year initiated annexationproceedings on the park property, to which local officials hope toable to supply with roads, water and sewer and other infrastructurenext year. The park project is a worthy one that could pay economicdevelopment dividends for this area for years to come.

Speaking of annexation, Brookhaven officials are alsoanticipating sometime in 2007 a state Supreme Court ruling on thecity expansion case that has pending for several years.

Should the expansion be approved, preparing for and providingservices to newly annexed citizens will rank high on city leaders’agenda. Further action on a Brookhaven Police Department relocationand a decision on creating a local historic district are amongother new year considerations.

Early in 2007, news events will not be the only items to capturethe public’s attention. The world of sports is sure to grab severalheadlines.

A new college football national champion will be crowned in alittle over a week. Then, the focus be will on professionalfootball playoffs, which will have one team near and dear to manypeople in Southwest Mississippi.

The New Orleans Saints will try to make its championship dreamscome true. A Super Bowl victory would truly make 2007 a happy newyear for the long-suffering team, its fans and its city -especially following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in2005.

Forecasters can look ahead and see many possibilities on the2007 horizon. The unexpected, though, is sure to find its way intothe public conscience and add more excitement to an eventfulyear.

Have a happy and safe new year.