Still up in air at year’s end

  • Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012 10:30 p.m.

A theme emerges as the year comes to an end. From the federal “fiscal cliff” to the fate of a central office for the local schools, 2012 has culminated as a year of uncertainty.

Big decisions are hanging in the balance. As a nation, state and community, we have our work cut out for us in 2013.

First, let’s take a look at the year’s local accomplishments.

The Yadkin River Bridge has to be at the top of the list. The project is not complete, but already traffic flows so smoothly over the new structure that people may miss the fact that they’re crossing a river. Travelers no longer get the nervous feeling that comes with swerving onto a narrow structure with a precipitous fall on either side. Kudos to Gov. Bev Perdue and the Department of Transportation for tackling this project — without imposing tolls to fund it — and to contractor Flatiron-Lane for proceeding so efficiently.

Speaking of infrastructure, the opening of the county’s satellite jail and the move toward a merged, county-city 911 system also signal progress, something that seldom comes cheaply. The $6 million jail, which came in at about $165 per square foot, helped relieve overcrowding in the downtown jail. The 911 Center cost $168 per square foot, and merging operations involved rocky negotiations between the city and county. But coordinated services should benefit the entire community and, to everyone’s credit, officials worked it out.

The school system and county commissioners finally agreed to the construction of a school central office, more than two decades after the city and county systems merged. In a commitment letter signed in February, commissioners agreed to provide up to $6 million in unrestricted funding. The city joined the project by donating property and pledging to provide parking. But county elections and the rise of Jim Sides to chairman of the board of commissioners have thrown the project into doubt. Whether that is resolved will depend on leadership and open, face-to-face communication.

Politicians in Washington could use some of that, too — leadership and open communication. It is easier to be an obstructionist than to reach compromise with political opponents. So the country is left hanging on crucial issues like taxes and budget cuts. And the economy sputters along, with business leaders uncertain of what to expect.

There’s the paralysis of analysis — and then there’s plain old stubbornness. The American public is suffering uncertainty fatigue. Let’s hope 2013 brings answers and decisive action.

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