Locals look for fresh start in 2009

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 1, 2009

NATCHEZ — As the new year muscles its way onto the calendar, people around the Miss-Lou took a chance Wednesday to remember 2008.

Claude Hutchins, an Atmos Energy worker, said he’s looking forward to 2009, but not entirely disappointed with 2008.

Looking back at 2008, he was disappointed to see job loss all over the country.

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“That makes it hard for so many people,” he said of job loss and the economic downturn.

However, Hutchins was glad to see the war in Iraq “slow down.”

“That’s good — that’s less people getting killed.”

Even as he remembered having a good year personally, armed conflicts around the world were something that former Vidalia postmaster Jack Milligan noted about 2008 as well.

“I don’t think the world is at peace like it could be or should be,” Milligan said. “There is a good bit of unrest around the world.”

“But we have hope for the future on that.”

The year 2008 saw Adams County resident Sonya Stephens leave her job at Natchez Regional Medical Center, but “2008 was a really good year,” she said.

She also said she felt fortunate that she wasn’t impacted by any of the year’s multiple weather incidents.

It was those same natural disasters — from the Mississippi River flood, to Hurricane Gustav, the tornado in December — that led Natchez resident Willie J. Shepherd to decide that 2008 was not a good year. He also noted spiking gas prices and an economic recession as defining disasters.

But he said he hopes for a better year in 2009.

“Hopefully the economy will pick up,” Shepherd said.

Economic woes and weather-related calamities led Bettie L. Minor of Natchez to conclude that 2008 was not the best of years as well.

Minor recognizes, however, that it wasn’t a completely bad year, she said.

“There have been some positive things,” she said.

Gas prices falling back below $2 and the presidential election were not bad things.

But she said for the most part, 2008 has made her thankful for the turning of a new year.

“I’m willing to have a fresh new year,” she said.

Though others recognized them as important, it was the political inroads of 2008 that made it a great year for Vidalian Melvin Knight.

“What made my year great — Barack (Obama),” Knight said with a grin. “I thought it wasn’t going to happen.”

But while others might have looked back at 2008 with news-tinted lenses, Stephanie Scott’s year was defined by an unexpected miracle.

“I had my baby unexpectedly,” Scott said. “She was born at 1 pound 12 ounces Oct. 31, and when I took her home the day after Christmas, she weighed 4 pounds and nine-and-a-half ounces.”

Her daughter Ja’Leiyah Kelly, who turned 2-months-old on New Years Eve, wasn’t even due until January, so Scott is starting the New Year with a child she wouldn’t even have had yet.

“I am just blessed,” she said.