Usually a new year is brimming with optimism and the promise that we can mend our ways, learn from past mistakes and find ways to improve.
Such sentiments are a little subdued this year in the wake of the devastating natural disaster in Asia. It seems a little trite to focus on problems in our little corner of the world when hundreds of thousands of people are fighting hunger, homelessness and the threat of disease.
But we can't use that as an excuse to ignore several lingering issues that could impact our quality of life here in Moffat County. Our hope is that our elected officials and appointed representatives can find ways to resolve them in 2005.
C.O.M.A. -- The Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse task force seemingly formed overnight, but its members are a collection of go-getters and civic leaders who are committed to making a difference in Craig's war on drugs.
Right now there is a lot of support and enthusiasm for C.O.M.A's work, and our hope is that the group stays committed and formulates a long-term plan so that this important project remains productive and viable.
The library -- The Moffat County Library Board of Trustees suffered through its share of problems in 2004, ultimately losing a board member to infighting about the merits of a commissioner-mandated employee turnover study.
We hope that the board can complete the study, follow its recommendations and get back to the business of providing great service. The Library Board has proven to be a judicious spender and has built an impressive reserve fund. Unfortunately, board members have become embroiled in political battles with the Moffat County commissioners, which has made the library's reserve fund a pawn in a chess game.
We hope the library board can re-establish a good relationship with the commissioners, who then will allow them to work unimpeded and make the decisions they've been entrusted to make.
Recycling -- On a more positive note, we're excited about the City Council's plans to get a recycling program off the ground in Craig.
The city already is committed to the plan -- even though it's not very feasible economically -- because it's the right thing to do. Council members said it's an often-requested service and they wanted to give residents who want to recycle the opportunity to do so.
Our hope is that city residents recognize the value of recycling as something that's not only good for the environment but extends the life of the landfill. If the City Council is going to the expense to establish recycling points in the city, we hope residents will use them.
The jail -- Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead's staff has gotten mixed messages from the county commissioners about the jail inside the Public Safety Center.
At times they've been directed to house as many "paying customers" as possible. That is, inmates that other counties pay to have housed in Moffat County.
But when the jail is at or near capacity, jail officials have complained that it put their staff at risk. Commissioners have rejected requests for additional staff, saying it's incumbent on the jail staff to manage at safe levels.
We hope that the sheriff's office and the commissioners can arrive at some kind of compromise.
Commissioners have to decide that the jail is a money-maker and give the jail staff the resources it needs to house a large number of inmates. Or they have to stop demanding a profit margin from the operation. Last year, both sides started an encouraging dialogue that we hope continues in 2005.
The hospital -- The Memorial Hospital has empaneled an advisory committee to provide a recommendation on where to build the proposed partial-replacement hospital.
The committee is supposed to make a recommendation this month and our hope is that the Hospital Board can spring into action fairly quickly and begin construction on a project that has been more than two years in the making.
The Hospital Board had to deal with a cynical public on a number of issues in 2004. We hope that when construction begins, the hospital board enjoys more support for what has proven to be a thankless endeavor.
Natural resources partnerships -- The county's sage grouse working group has almost finished its plan, which is a great example of locals taking the lead on conservation issues. Similarly, members of the Northwest Colorado Stewardship are committed to giving the BLM input on the management of public lands in Northwest Colorado. We hope NWCOS is successful and we encourage similar partnerships between oil and gas and environmentalists, rather than going to court about every issue.