This week, many in the Chippewa Valley and around the world will raise their glasses and toast a new year and a new decade.
Many will offer up resolutions and goals, most of which will be forgotten well before Groundhog Day. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream, so here are a few things to hope for as we say goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020.
• That the Green Bay Packers can win at least one playoff game, thus making the cold month ahead feel just a little warmer and shorter. And not to be greedy, but it also would perk us up a bit if the Wisconsin Badgers could add another Rose Bowl trophy to their collection on Wednesday.
• That the Carson Park baseball stadium renovation gets funded and further enhances Eau Claire’s deserved reputation as a strong baseball town.
• That the momentum generated inside and outside the Pablo Center at the Confluence continues. Concerns that the beautiful new arts center would become a tax-draining white elephant splattered with red ink so far are unfounded. Let’s hope the creative programming and enthusiastic support for the arts continue to flourish.
• Speaking of downtown, let’s hope that Foxconn Technology Group fishes or cuts bait on its plans for an innovation center on the first floor of the Haymarket Landing building next to the Pablo. The space is too valuable and important to our downtown rebirth to continue to sit idle. If Foxconn won’t commit to making something happen at that site fairly soon, hopefully somebody else will.
• Let’s also hope that other idle properties in high-traffic areas find new owners soon. Hopefully, 2020 will be the year Hy-Vee starts moving on plans to build a grocery story/pharmacy at the long-idle Kmart location. It’s also hoped that someone … anyone … will come up with a plan for the vacant Shopko locations in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Such large, vacant stores and parking lots don’t impress visitors, or anyone else.
• The new year looks like an important one for two major Eau Claire projects: The Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex, and the Cannery District redevelopment. Let’s hope both projects move from the drawing board to shovels in the ground.
• That we don’t have a repeat of February 2019, when it snowed seemingly every day of the month, testing our physical and mental resolve.
• Speaking of mental resolve, we all should prepare ourselves for the nastiest political campaign in our lifetimes. That’s easy to predict, because each election cycle is nastier, more expensive and more worthless than the previous one.
As things heat up, please ask yourself how seriously we can take anyone promising us lower taxes and more stuff without simply loading trillions more onto our $22 trillion-plus national debt. And then ask yourself how such drivel demonstrates responsible leadership or exceptional intelligence.
• Let’s also hope that cries for moderation and independence so many of us yearn for in our leaders can somehow crawl out from under the hyper-partisanship and nastiness that now define our state and national politics. When almost half the country wants our president thrown out while roughly an equal number appear to idolize him, we have a divide that leaves independent voters feeling increasingly frustrated and voiceless.
• If the 2020 campaign is as nasty as expected, please make sure you have extra batteries on hand to reload your remote so the “mute” and “change channel” buttons don’t fail you at the worst possible times.
• That Congress revisits the idea that the federal government should be able to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. After all, don’t governments at all levels (as well as businesses and individuals) negotiate with private contractors through competitive bidding to get the best deal?
• That pollsters, telemarketers and “political action” groups lose our phone numbers. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
• And that in 2020 we never forget that despite all of the aforementioned problems and challenges, that some 100,000 people a month still show up on our southern border seeking a better life in America. That means we must be doing something right, and that we must work together to seek better if not always perfect solutions rather than fall victim to our worst instincts incessantly fueled by nasty rhetoric from extremists at both ends of the political spectrum.
Happy New Year!
Huebscher is a contributing columnist and former Leader-Telegram editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.