The upcoming year of 2020 hopefully will bring the "perfect vision" that we often use as a slang term.
As we approached the new century in 2000, I recall a community-based board who met to look to the future and hear comments and concerns from the various aspects of economic development that included business, education, recreation and the many other facets of life and living in Laurel County. We have seen the fruition of many of those ideas over the past 20 years as well as some pleasantly unexpected growth that has placed Laurel County as one of the hot spots in the state for its continued growth and prosperity.
We also use the adage that "hindsight is always 20/20," meaning that we learn from our past mistakes, misjudgments and failures to build toward a better tomorrow. London and Laurel County have excelled in doing just that - seeing what worked, what didn't, and always looking toward enhancing and improving our local community for the betterment of the residents who live, work and play here.
The past decade has brought many changes. After nine years away from my hometown newspaper, I rejoined the staff of The Sentinel Echo in January 2010. The past 10 years have been hectic, challenging and rewarding. While returning to the forefront of the news scene, I have been blessed to meet hundreds of wonderful people, renew acquaintances with past associates and enjoy some experiences that I never dreamed would include my participation.
My fourth granddaughter Autumn joined the family in 2010, with Brady marking the first grandson in 2014 and Waylon's birth in 2019. Granddaughters Sierra and Hannah completed high school in 2019, while Kynna began high school and Brady started kindergarten. There have been many losses of family members, high school and college classmates, community leaders and friends over the past 10 years, with many of those in 2019. But their contributions, personal and professional, will live on for those who loved them and their outlook on family and future will remain cherished.
There have been few changes in the leadership positions of our city and county leaders, proving that cooperation works wonders at the local level. We've seen the rise and fall of many businesses, two new industrial parks with the second necessitated by the prosperity of the Fariston park being filled and the recent sale of the first parcel in the Greer Industrial Park. The Kmart building that sat vacant for a couple of years is now thriving with Planet Fitness, Marshalls, Kohl's and Five Below - all of which were busy with Christmas shoppers this year.
London changed from a "moist" city to a full-fledged "wet" city over the past decade and a restaurant tax was instituted that continues to keep visitors coming to the area through its funding of local events. Many of the traditional events have profited from this tax, despite some ongoing complaints and concerns of its spending habits. Without that additional tax, London and Laurel County's role in the tourism and event regime would surely have suffered.
The foresight of our community leaders - elected, volunteer and appointed - have marked London as a place to be with its innovative offerings for both residents and visitors. Only through the cooperation and participation of the people of this community will that trend continue to prosper.
I hope that 2020 will be just the beginning of another successful decade for our community. Blessings to each of you and may you find peace and fulfillment in every aspect of your lives in this and every forthcoming year ahead!