Hopes for smoother new year in 2019

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, January 1, 2019

popular meme making the social media rounds in 2018 showed the late Chris Farley rolling head over heels down a mountainside, bouncing off of trees and boulders in a scene from the movie “Black Sheep.”

The footage was accompanied by the caption, “How my 2018 is going so far.”

That meme seemed to sum up the chaos many people felt in our world during the past year, which featured a roller-coaster stock market ride, a back and forth with North Korean Leader Kim Jung Un and plenty of weather and natural disaster events to keep us off balance throughout the year.

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We’ve finally made to the end of that bumpy ride and landed at the bottom of the 2018 mountainside.

Now, as we dust ourselves off and regain our balance, we are staring down the slope of 2019.

Hopefully, the ride will be much smoother this year than it was in the past year.

Not only was 2018 tough on the national and world stage, the year was tough here at home in the Miss-Lou, with a high murder rate in Natchez and Adams County spurred by turf wars among rival neighborhood gangs of youths and high unemployment.

Despite those negatives, however, the year also had some positive developments in the Miss-Lou that put us on firm footing as we begin to traverse the slopes of 2019.

Two new industries — Syrah Resources and Vidalia Denim — opened in Concordia Parish with the promise of bringing some 350-plus jobs to the area in the next year, and Delta Energy is now up and running in Adams County with the prospect of bringing more needed jobs.

Natchez also has a master plan in place to help us navigate our changing downtown landscape and maximize the tourism potential for Natchez.

Underlying all of that are “Opportunity Zone” designations for parts of Adams County, including downtown Natchez, and the industrial park in Concordia Parish.

The Opportunity Zone designations will make investment in the Miss-Lou more attractive for investors by offering capital gains tax incentives.

Hopefully, throughout the year, we will keep our sure footing as we traverse the mountainside of 2019 and any stumbles will be quickly corrected before we end up tumbling head over heels like Chris Farley again to the bottom of the cliff.

Keeping the sure footing, however, will require strong leadership to keep things in check.

For one, we will need to curtail the violence that has plagued Natchez and Adams County in recent years.

That will require keeping the issue on the forefront and not sweeping it under the rug.

Also, it will take a strong court system willing to bring the full force of the law on people who are caught committing violent crimes and seeing that the punishments are carried through.

Also, we will need to follow the master plan for downtown and check the progress as we go, utilizing not only Opportunity Zone designations but also for other recruitment and retention tools available as well to attract and maintain businesses and industries to the Miss-Lou.

So, lets start one step at a time and keep our footing as we go.

Here’s to hoping for a smooth traverse of the gentlest of slopes in 2019.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.