The start of any new year presents a crossroads with views of the year ahead and the year that has just passed. Many of us look forward and see a vista of new opportunities awaiting us. It's a time for fresh starts and new resolve to make changes we never got around to the previous year. The new year is also a good time to look to the past, a chance to learn from our mistakes and take inventory of all the blessings we might have taken for granted during the day-to-day rush of life. Our family spent the first part of our celebration on Christmas morning by sharing what we were thankful for this past year and what we were looking forward to 2011. It's something new we tried at Mike's urging, and I think we all agreed to make it one of our new Christmas traditions.
This week, I took the opportunity to review last year's top news stories and create a list of achievements that made 2010 a rich year for the Barry County community. In a day and age when most of the national news we receive is negative, I thought it important to remind our readers that Cassville and other communities in the area are still thriving in these tough economic times and finding ways to prosper and grow despite the challenges. Listed below is my list of the most positive and inspiring news stories of 2010.
* Cassville is selected as one of the state's 2010 DREAM communities. The three-year grant program will provide expertise to jump start the revitalization of Cassville's historic downtown. A key to this effort is the newly formed Cassville Downtown Partnership, which is a positive addition to the community organizational infrastructure, providing strong volunteer leadership to oversee downtown growth.
* Crowder College is the state's enrollment growth leader in 2010. This marks the third year that Crowder College has led all Missouri community colleges when it comes to increases in student numbers. The Cassville Campus has contributed to that achievement with a 50 percent increase in total students.
* St. John's Hospital-Cassville broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot addition to the hospital, which will house a new St. John's Clinic and offer room to expand the medical staff serving the area. Plans for this addition came on the heels of the completion of another project at the hospital that involved construction of a new kitchen and cafeteria and updates to the hospital's lab, pharmacy and records and materials management departments.
* Barry County Drug Court received $375,000 in federal grant funding that will allow the highly successful program to expand over the next three years.
* The Barry County Museum hosted the Smithsonian Institute's Museum on Main Street New Harmonies exhibit. The program's six-week run was a huge success, offering loads of entertainment and increasing access and interest in our local museum.
* The Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce added a new event in 2010. For three Friday nights during the summer months, the square came alive with Friday Night Squared activities. The event was very popular and gave area residents a reason to come to Cassville to shop and be entertained. We hope the chamber will continue Friday Night Squared in 2011.
* Early Census figures released in July revealed that Barry County had grown by 5.5 percent, which is very good news. Cassville's population grew by 12.6 percent between 2000 and 2010.
* The Cassville Wildcat football team had another phenomenal year. The 2010 version of the Wildcats won Big 8 Conference and District titles and advanced to the state semi-final game. It was another great season for the football 'Cats and the Wildcat Nation swelled with pride at the accomplishments of these young football heroes.
As 2011 begins, I want to thank the Cassville Democrat staff for another outstanding year. It's a joy to work with each and every one of you. You are all professionals, and I hope this community is proud of the news product you put out each and every week. I also appreciate all of our loyal readers and advertisers who make this publication possible. Blessings to all in 2011.