Out of My Mind 22

2010, the year that was

Each year as we look back at some of the top headlines thatmade up the front pages of this newspaper we see a diverse number of topicsover the year and 2010 was no exception.

Without a doubt the murder of Michelle Kitterman and thetrial, conviction and sentencing of four suspects in that murder, had the mostink devoted to it on this year’s front pages. It was a sad story all around forthe family and friends of the victim, as well as those who committed the crime.It certainly brought the most article comments to the stories on our website -though many of those comments we could not publish because the suspects had notyet been convicted.

In small town America we try to think of ourselves as moreimmune to things like murder, violence and heavy drug use and perhaps we are.When it does happen it tends to affect us all the more deeply because we knowthe victims and often times the culprits as neighbors and sometimes- evenmembers of our own families.

Moving inside the paper, it’s not surprisingly the economy,healthcare and our relatively new president seemed to weigh heaviest on theminds of those writing here on the opinion page. Maybe a few minds were changedone way or another by the writings of our staff and others that feel stronglyabout the direction our nation is going. And perhaps some readers were justreassured in their own convictions – either way, the Town Crier does it’s jobif it gives people a forum they want to participate in or just something to thinkabout.

Another story that was a big part of the news last year andfollowed the nationwide trend was the General Election. Local politics was bigin 2010 – we seemed to have more contested races for county offices than we hadseen in a number of years. Although unlike nationally in most cases it wasn’t achallenge to the incumbent. In Okanogan County’s case three of the incumbentswere retiring – County Commissioner Mary Lou Peterson, District Court JudgeDavid Edwards and Okanogan County Clerk Jackie Bradley.

One story that affected many of us over the last year wasthe continued softening of home prices, a trend that impacted the entirenation. It took a bit longer to be felt in the north Okanogan, especially afterthis area set record-breaking property evaluation numbers and for one shortyear knocked the Methow Valley off the top spot for new construction. Realestate agents we’ve spoken with say they had a terrible summer, but this fallthings started to turn around a little. There are deals out there, with somehomes more realistically priced then they had been just a couple years back -that is if you can get the financing to take advantage of these prices and theincredibly low interest rates.

Despite the economy in general, we reported in 2010 how thevoters in the north end approved replacement school levies in the Oroville andTonasket School Districts that asked higher dollar amounts than the outgoingtwo-year M&O Levies – in Oroville’s case twice as much. However, thoseincreases in property valuation in both districts made it so property ownerswould pay at the same rate per thousand they had in the previous levies.Another trend we watched involving the schools was the increase in studentenrollment, especially at Oroville, which seemed to have been locked in adownward spiral. With the state cutting back on school funding everywhere itcan and expecting school district’s to magically pick up the slack, having morestudents is a good thing as each FTE represents more basic education fundingfrom the state.

The year that was,2010, was an interesting news year, we can’t wait to see what stories andissues dominate 2011 and to bring them to our loyal readers.