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Busy year draws to a close; elections and more lie ahead

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Troy almost two years.

Almost exactly two years ago, I excitedly agreed to join the staff of The Messenger and have not been disappointed in making the move to Pike County.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve covered everything from murder cases and missile roll-outs to candidates and the classroom.

As a reporter for the past 11 years, I’ve seen the bad and good of life and nothing has changed since coming here.

I’ve met some really wonderful people and have developed some good (at least, I think) professional working relationships with people in this community.

Since moving here, I adopted a cat, Comet, who recently celebrated his second birthday. He quickly made the adjustment into the terrible twos, then again, cats own their humans and don’t have to answer to anyone.

This past year brought me into the life of one wonderful girl who is my "little" through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pike County program. We’ve done so many things together ­ her first baseball game and visit to the ballet, plus working on math (which neither of us really likes) and laughing. Being Kayla’s big sister has been a wonderful experience for me and I can only hope she’s gotten as much out of it as I have.

I also added joining the Exchange Club of Troy, the United Way Board of Directors, Big Brothers Big Sisters Advisory Council and a few other odds and ends to my list of activities, as well as serving on the East Central Mental Health Board.

I covered expansions and accomplishments of those at Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations, who have such a major impact on, not only Pike County, but the entire nation, especially in these times of crisis.

Working with local leaders has been interesting. I wish, in some instances, these people had been more open about information, but that is something out of my control. For the most part, I’ve found officials willing to talk and for that I am grateful. When working with people, I’ve always told them "we need each other." Some realize that and, still some refuse to see it my way.

I’ve also watched this community come together to raise money for Relay for Life and the March of Dimes, which is a credit to the citizens and their caring behavior.

But, there’s always a downside.

Like everyone else, I watched the news non-stop on Sept. 11, finding it hard to believe people could hate so much.

During the year, I covered murder trials and wrote about those arrested for murders that occurred during the year.

On both the good and bad, local law enforcement officers have made a dent in the methamphetamine business by putting some manufacturers behind bars and shutting down their operations.

I’ve also watch Troy officials take a stand on cleaning up the community by eliminating delapidated buildings and warning litterbugs of the consequences.

And, of course, there was the education crisis, which took up a lot of ink during the year.

Thankfully, our elected leaders were able to put aside their political differences (for a change) and act as adults by finding a solution to the problem.

When Gov. Don Siegelman declared proration back in February, everyone was in an uproar and rightly so. The situation should never have come to that. Education leaders were pitted against one another and I’m really pleased to see the waters have calmed and hope our elected officials will remember this year when working on education budgets in the future.

There is no doubt we need tax reform on a statewide level and, in Pike County, we will have to do something to alleviate the overcrowding of the county jail before the feds tag us with mandates and it costs more than we could ever have imagined (to do it their way). Local schools and governments also need more money to continue improvements that make this the county we call "home."

So, now, as the hours of 2001 become memories, I wonder what is to come in 2002. (For one thing, I know it will be another election year and that’s always interesting.)

Beth Lakey is a staff writer at The Messenger.  

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