We are about to call it quits on 2017, so it is a good time to take stock and do a little reflecting on the highs and lows of the year as reflected by this local news organization.
Our area became notorious on a national scale on June 14. A home inspector who lived near Belleville West High School sold most of his possessions and went to the Washington, D.C., area to continue his protest against federal tax codes that benefited the rich. James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on congressmen practicing for a charity baseball game, including a local representative. He seriously wounded the roommate of another local congressman. Police killed the shooter and the national media descended on his widow.
We wish he’d been from someplace else.
Stories involving incredibly bad parents dominated the news. Tim and Amy Elkins, of New Douglas, allowed their nine children to live in a house choked with trash and animal waste until the mess forced most of them onto one bed. Their two-month-old baby boy, Matthew, suffocated on that grimy mattress.
Another case involved a 6-year-old girl found in a plastic tub in Centreville, several years after her death and after her parents moved to Las Vegas. Her siblings were confined to their house there and their mother forced into prostitution by their father.
And there was the Glen Carbon woman who shot her children’s father because she suspected he was having an affair. She set their house on fire, then drove into Silver Lake in Highland and drowned. Her baby was pulled from the lake by paramedics and saved. Their other children fled the burning house in their pajamas.
We wish we could have saved all those children from their parents.
Also dominating the news were some really good things.
Ozzy Osbourne came to sing “Bark at the Moon” and we all went outside to stare at the sun on Aug. 21 during the total solar eclipse. Late in 2016 we saw a repo man help an elderly Red Bud couple by buying back their car for them, but in 2017 we learned that he stayed in touch and kept helping them. Then he raised money to pay for the funeral of the elderly man. A heart surgeon on his way to an operation had a flat tire in East St. Louis, and the generous help he received drew national attention. A 6-year-old from Shiloh got to meet the second man to step on the moon, who predicted the boy might set foot on Mars.
There were some really lousy things that happened in 2017. There were some really inspirational things.
Our wish for this community is that when you weigh the events from your 2017, the moments of inspiration outweigh the others.