Could have been better

Voters bolstered schools, but drought, fires, violence and politics marred the year

Some year-end roundups look like reruns of one a year ago. Not much has changed.

And then there are years like 2012.

Locally, two school districts passed bond issues and the third passed a mill-levy increase. In a county where strong anti-tax sentiment is often expressed, the broad support for schools was inspiring.

On the negative side of the ledger, several local nonprofit agencies have struggled to continue funding services. Most recently, the Cortez Cultural Center reluctantly let its director go.

One situation that hasn't changed much is ongoing contention over the San Juan National Forest's Boggy-Glade travel plan, as USFS personnel try to comply with a national mandate and many locals protest any restrictions on public use of the forest. The Rico-West Dolores plan comes next.

The Republican primary was hard fought, and Incumbent District Attorney Russell Wasley was defeated. In the November election, Larry Don Suckla, an unaffiliated candidate for county commissioner, triumphed over former commissioner Dewayne Findley, the GOP primary winner. Cortez business owner Keenan Ertel also will join the commission.

A new map of state house districts means that all of Montezuma County will now be represented by Don Coram, of Montrose, rather than someone from neighboring La Plata County.

Colorado voters approved the decriminalization of marijuana, putting the state at odds with the federal government and creating concerns about how pot will be taxed and negative consequences will be managed.

Nationwide, four trends dominated, with strong local implications.

Politics, certainly, is one. Voters re-elected a president who seemed to have given the GOP every opportunity to unseat him, and Democrats retained control of the Senate. Among other effects, that means Obamacare will go forward.

Closely related is the current gridlock over the "fiscal cliff" and, by extension, the economy. Washington's inability to move forward on fiscal issues is emblematic of its inability to make progress in any other area.

Violence as a prominent feature of the national news unfortunately continued unabated, with mass shootings of first-graders and teachers in Connecticut, Sikh worshippers in Wisconsin and moviegoers in Colorado, as well as many smaller incidents.

Finally, climate is a strong concern. Drought grips much of the country, and the snowpack so far this winter has not provided cause for optimism. Violent storms have caused billions of dollars' worth of destruction as well as deaths. Wildfires burned more than 9 million acres, including more than 10,000 acres locally in the Weber Fire.