As we tiptoe to the end of 2016, holding our breath, hoping nothing else bad happens, we have to wonder whether we’ve angered the gods.
On the big stage we had horrific acts of terror and war mostly hurting the innocents. We had Putin-Trump-Hillary. We lost cultural icons such as Prince, Princess Leia and her mom, Muhammad Ali, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Nancy Reagan, Gene Wilder, Harper Lee and David Bowie, to name a few.
On the state level we had a second year without an Illinois budget, a bill backlog that hit $11 billion and a pension deficit that hit $131 billion. The Madigan Machine defeated the Independent Maps Amendment, blocked term limits and most other reforms.
On the local level we started 2016 with Granite City Steel idling 2,000 workers.
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Then we lost what should have been an obvious decision to put the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on plenty of free, secure land next to Scott Air Force Base. With it went 3,000 jobs and $1.75 billion in construction.
We saw too many accidental deaths on our roads and one in a Collinsville High School stairwell. We lost a brave police officer from our area who died in the line of duty, leaving a young widow and small son.
We saw endemic corruption in East St. Louis Township and smatterings in Pontoon Beach’s water district and in Collinsville. We saw our old friend vote fraud. We saw murder take 26 of our neighbors in East St. Louis and scores in Washington Park, including a pregnant woman.
A lot of bad things happened in 2016.
But then, we also had bad things such as New Year flooding and a major train derailment that devastated the landscape but spared our neighbors’ lives. We saw good Samaritans save homes from fire and Shiloh police officers prevent an electrocution.
We found major positives in our schools, with state and national recognitions for character and excellence. We handed out more than 10,000 high school diplomas. Our student athletes inspired, from a club-footed girl becoming a softball standout to a 37-year-old Green Beret going out for college football. We saw youngsters from East St. Louis again rise above the challenges to claim their eighth state football title.
We saw neighbors work and donate to help the less fortunate. We saw a repo man with a big heart help an elderly couple.
We saw the grace of that young policeman’s widow who made sure her loss helped someone else.
Yes, we’re glad to close the door on 2016. We hope for a happier new year in 2017. But we’re still grateful for the lessons in strength and character that the old year yielded.