Plainly, our wish in this space a year ago today for a Happy New Year for Robeson County was not granted.
The search for good-news stories from Robeson County to include in today’s Page 1A story was difficult, although it wasn’t totally unrewarded.
The decision by Steven Roberts Original Desserts and Ticklebelly Desserts of Denver, Colo., to pick Pembroke as the site for a bakery will put hundreds of Robesonians to work; Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s plans to build a new surgical unit is just more evidence of its evolution as a relevant regional medical center; and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke welcomed a chancellor with new ideas on how to confront the challenges that face that storied institution.
But 2011 in Robeson County will be remembered more for what we would prefer to forget.
The Lumbee Tribe couldn’t shoot straight, hogging the headlines during the first half of the year for all the wrong reasons, but mostly the misspending of federal dollars intended for housing. When the fog lifted, the chairman and tribal administrator had been ousted — and the path to federal recognition was lengthened. The tribe enters 2012 hopeful that new leadership can bring unity — and produce more positive headlines.
Mother Nature wasn’t motherly, whipping up the worst batch of tornadoes since 1984; although no one was killed, a lot of lives were disrupted and about $5 million worth of damage was done.
That was followed by a determined drought that ravaged local crops, robbing our farmers of tens of millions of dollars.
The statewide recession reduced revenues in Raleigh, forcing cuts that continue to threaten education on the local level, at the Public Schools of Robeson County, Robeson Community College and UNCP. Administrators were told to do as much or more but with less. No map was provided.
Politics, as always, was a mixed bag.
Voters in Maxton tossed out four incumbents, including the mayor, Pembroke’s board will have a new look, and in Fairmont, questions about the legitimacy of the election linger, with a failed candidate promising to keep appealing until all roads are blocked.
Lumberton native Mike McIntyre’s iron grip on the congressional District 7 seat was loosened by Republicans who won the right to redraw district lines. While court challenges are assured, if the districts as now drawn survive, Mcintyre will run in a district that includes just a sliver of Robeson County, and it’s anyone’s guess who will represent us — and how much sway this county will have in Washington, D.C.
2012 is here, and there are reasons to be hopeful: Most notably, there are signs that economy is improving, and there is no better fixer of problems than people going back to work.
With that in mind, and in the spirit of the holiday, we will say again, Happy New Year.