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EDITORIAL: We resolve

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opinion New Richmond, 54017

New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

As 2011 kicks into high gear, we pause to look back -- and look to the future. The following is a peek at the New Richmond News' resolutions for the past year and how the community scored in terms of following through. Later in our editorial, we have a 2012 resolution list.

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Looking back

• To wrap up the investigation and possible discipline process related to the New Richmond Police Department's alleged hostile work environment. No department can operate effectively with a cloud hanging over its head for an extended period of time.

Grade: D

While the investigation did eventually wrap up, it took way too long to complete. And then, after the City Council reprimanded the police chief, the council eventually rescinded the action due to issues with the disciplinary process followed.

• To work cooperatively to make the new community center project (in the current middle school building) a reality. Non-profit and community groups should all be given the chance to secure space in the facility, thus providing a central hub of activity near the city's downtown.

Grade: A

The New Richmond area community should be a model for other communities hoping to foster cooperation and progress. The Community Commons project, which became reality in the fall of 2011, is a shining example of what groups and community leaders can accomplish, even when the cards are stacked against them. The New Richmond School District is also to be commended for allowing the project to happen.

• To support job-creating entities with city tax dollars to help spur on the local economy. Much progress has been made, but now is not the time to rest on one's laurels. Added jobs will aways go to the communities that remain agressive with economic development efforts.

Grade: C+

If the grade was determined by effort alone, local officials and organizations did much to try and turn things around. While the local economy continued to struggle, there are signs that brighter times are ahead. Certainly the prospects of a new industry, Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc., in town is an optimistic sign for 2012 and beyond.

• To lobby Congress to make the new St. Croix River crossing a reality, despite recent court decisions that put the brakes on the project.

Grade: B+

Much was accomplished over the past 12 months as it relates to the proposed bridge project. But even though a bipartisan group of people lined up to back the project, it didn't stop the opponents from throwing a monkey wrench into the process again. Still, things look very promising for 2012.

• To secure robust Wisconsin legislative support for the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campus in New Richmond so that the institution can train area residents for the ever-changing job market. Expected cuts on the state level could mean tough choices for the local school.

Grade: B

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond completed an expansion and renovation project at the start of 2011, and then started planning for the next phase of their plans. So far, the support for the institution's efforts to train the future workforce has been positive.

• To encourage local legislators to follow through with promises that jobs will be the top priority in Madison in the 2011 and 2012 sessions. The best way to correct the state's economy is to increase the number of high-paying jobs in all regions of the state.

Grade: C

The message remained the same among Republicans, but the results were less than stellar. Despite legislative efforts to promote that Wisconsin is "Open For Business," job creation and business growth remained at a standstill. Some claim that turning the economic corner will take time. Will voters have the patience to wait much longer? The expected recall election in 2012 will tell the tale.

Looking ahead to 2012:

• The New Richmond City Council worked hard to develop a strategic plan for the next five years. Now the hard work of implementing the plan is ahead of them. The council should resolve to continue to keep a lid on taxes while promoting job and housing growth

• Boundary agreements between New Richmond and various township are getting closer to reality. With any luck, the first ground-breaking agreement (between the city and the Town of Star Prairie) will occur in the next few months. Everyone should resolve to see the process through to the end.

• Backers of a new bridge at Stillwater know that now is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator. Area residents should resolve to continue their lobbying of officials to finally get the bridge project moving.

• The New Richmond public library continues to seek a new hope. Local officials and residents should resolve to develop a realistic plan to get a new facility built, as the current building remains inadequate.

• As a new year begins, volunteers with New Richmond's Vitality Initiative continue to plan efforts to promote greater health and wellbeing of area residents. Everyone should resolve to be a part of the movement, taking steps to improve their individual health by eating better and becoming more active.

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