Several of the top 10 stories of 2012 will continue to be major issues for the Shoals in 2013.
As we take this opportunity on the calendar to glance back at the old and look forward to the new, it becomes clear that major issues of 2012 will continue into 2013.
Today’s edition of the TimesDaily includes a 12-page special section dedicated to the top local, state and national stories of last year as chosen by journalists.
Here are the top 10 stories we selected for the Shoals.
1. RegionalCare Partners announces the site for a new medical center in Florence.
2. A second Wal-Mart supercenter is planned for Florence, population about 40,000.
3. The Alabama Army National Guard 115th Expeditionary Signal Battalion returns from Afghanistan.
4. The Republican Party gains a foothold in the Shoals through local elections.
5. Navistar continues with plans for a vehicle production plant at Barton despite reported setbacks.
6. Wilson Dam Road construction resumes.
7. Shoals musicians continue to gain national attention and major awards.
8. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame experiences financial woes after the state of Alabama ends funding.
9. Bobby Wallace returns as head football coach at the University of North Alabama.
10. The Barton community mourns the losses from two fatal fires within a 24-hour span.
As the calendar turns to another year today, those top 10 stories include cause for both optimism and caution in 2013.
If plans come to fruition, a medical center should boost the area economy and give new life to east Florence. Replacing the aging Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital and expanding medical services in the Shoals are essential to improving life in the community.
The expansion of Wal-Mart in the Shoals market has been controversial because of its impact on residential neighborhoods and small businesses, but it indicates a corporate optimism about the local market. Along with the decision of Publix to enter the Shoals, the new Belle Foods brand here and the continuation of smaller grocers, local shoppers should benefit from better selection, quality and convenience.
The Wilson Dam Road widening project will provide a safer entrance and exit for the Shoals, but drivers should use caution during the construction phase as the presence of road crews and equipment add another element to a dangerous situation.
We expect the amazing success of local musicians to continue into the new year. Although officials of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame face a tremendous challenge, we urge them to continue working toward solving the funding problem and hope they can find new ways to promote the great Muscle Shoals music heritage.
Like 2012, the new year will hold fortune and misfortune, celebration and tragedy, victory and defeat, birth and death, war and peace.
As you embark on this new adventure, we wish you a happy New Year!