Using time of reflection to hope for future

Reflect upon your present blessings &8212; of which every man has many &8212; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Charles Dickens

Along with making New Year&8217;s resolutions and eating black-eyed peas, many of us will make reflecting on the past year for at least a small part of the next few days. There is something significant about turning the calendar to a new year that inspires thoughts of what has been, before we begin wondering what the coming year will bring.

Our community, as a whole, certainly has the opportunity to think back to events that impacted us both positively and negatively, many of which are chronicled as part of the &8220;Year in Review&8221; story package in this and next week&8217;s newspapers.

A few of the larger themes that leap from the pages in my perspective are:

-Our schools and their students, teachers, administrators and support personnel are wonderful but we need more classrooms. The opening of Chelsea Park Elementary, the construction of Helena&8217;s new Middle school and the passing of a statewide bond issue funneling some $29 million to schools in our county, were all dramatic steps in the right direction. These steps, however, did not fundamentally change the need for more classrooms.

-Access to high-quality medical care here in Shelby County is getting even more convenient. Shelby Baptist Medical Center continues growing with construction of its south tower, and community members are working to bring a free health clinic to the county.

-This environment is the only one we&8217;ve got. Failed air quality tests and water restrictions in our county should serve as alarm bells that we must take steps now to limit our impact on the environment, while conserving its limited resources.

-Finalization of plans for the Veterans&8217; National Cemetery to be located in Montevallo, adjacent to The American Village, solidifies what will become a revered treasure in our community and a final place of rest for many local members of the armed forces.

We are indeed blessed to call Shelby County home, the stories of the past year are sure indicators and give us each hope that the coming year holds even greater promise.

Here&8217;s hoping the New Year brings you and those you care for health, happiness and prosperity.