Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012 — Another turbulent year for region

— Today we say farewell to the year that was 2012. It will be remembered as another difficult year for the region. A year of tragedy and shocking headlines, and a year of continued financial hardships and job losses. But it was also a year of triumphs and new beginnings.

• New tourism opportunities for the region with the long-awaited opening of the Pocahontas segment of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mercer County

• New leadership with a surprising Republican sweep of Mercer County

• Small, but nevertheless welcomed business growth, including Factory Connection in Princeton, Taco Bell in Bluefield, Va., and others.

• Ongoing efforts in Bluefield and Princeton to remove blight, and abandoned structures.

• The Reconnecting McDowell campaign aimed at helping to strengthen a school system now entering its 11th year of state control.

• And the contract signing for a new dental school in Bluefield, Va. — the first tenant of the new Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park

But it was also a year of great challenges. More than 164 jobs were lost with the closure of Kroger and Bluefield Beverage. And dozens more will soon be gone when the consolidation of Bluefield’s Mail Processing and Distribution Center begins this February. Hundreds of mining jobs were also lost across the region, and the hope of electing a new, pro-coal president, was crushed by the re-election of an incumbent who advocates green energy over abundantly available fossil fuels.

Also adding to the region’s 2012 woes was the powerful wind storm — called a derecho by the National Weather Service — that hit on the worse of all possible days. It was truly a miracle from God that no one was injured when the storm struck Bluefield on June 29.

Some how, some way, emergency responders across the region were able to safely evacuate Mitchell Stadium. Thousands were removed from the stadium without injury before the 80 mph wind gusts pounded the stage Eric Church and Jake Owen were to perform on. The destructive winds even moved a 5,000 pound wall that was beside the stage.

Of course we won’t miss all of the political fighting we saw in 2012. Let’s face it. We need a few months without an election to recover. And we need a Congress that is willing to compromise — and work together — instead of fighting like small school children. The ugly political gridlock of 2012 helped no one. It must not be allowed to continue into 2013.

Today, the final headlines of the year 2012 will be written.

And in these waning hours, we say good-bye to 2012. We also look to the future, and to the year 2013, with renewed promise and hope.

Happy New Year!

 

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