Patrick Graham is the owner of The Walton Tribune, The Covington News, The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville, Alabama), Times-Journal (Fort Payne, Alabama) and Jackson County Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama). He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

What, exactly, does one say to a year that started with (insert whatever term here you want to use to describe what transpired because I’m tired of arguing about it) at our nation’s Capitol and ends with a woman in federal custody after slapping a man on an airplane because he wasn’t wearing a mask while having a little something to eat and drink on a flight?

Hmmm, I don’t know. How about good riddance?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than 2020 — and at the time honestly why would you — along comes 2021 which promptly goes about the business of telling its predecessor, “Hold my beer.”

At the national level, there really doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to celebrate from 2021. Widening political divide, feckless leadership from the president and the party in power, COVID variants, vaccine mandates, mask mandates, new lockdowns, border crisis, botched withdrawal from Afghanistan — all taking place in between the two events we talked about at the beginning of this column.

Despite the trials and tribulations our nation has gone through during the 365 days of this year, we have been so fortunate here in Walton County.

Our local leadership has done a tremendous job in giving us the opportunity, to the greatest degree possible, to live a normal life. We are still able to operate our businesses and earn a livelihood. We don’t have to have vaccine passports or wear a mask to go out in public. And maybe most importantly, our children don’t have to either.

It’s not that way everywhere, folks. And I’m not just talking about other states like New York or California. There are plenty of communities in our great state that have taken a different path this year, and they are closer than you think, sacrificing freedom in the name of perceived safety, and their communities are worse for it.

Our community, however, continues to thrive despite the obstacles. Economic development projects that set new state records every time they are announced.

A bustling downtown business community that is set to be complemented by a significant new retail development just north of downtown.

Beautiful new housing going up everywhere to help with the growth coming now and coming with those economic development projects. Schools and school leaders second to none. Great health care options we’ve never had before.

We enjoy such a tremendous quality of life here, and we should all thank the the good Lord above we are afforded it.

Well, maybe 2021 wasn’t as bad as I thought, at least locally.

In fact, it gives me genuine optimism about what lies ahead for us here in 2022.

(1) comment


For myself, I don't call anyone a "leader" whose greatest accomplishment is going to be masterminding a secret deal to give millions in welfare to a supposedly-profitable billion-dollar company. It takes no skill, talent, or "leadership" to be the high bidder at an auction for a product you haven't seen.

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