A new year is at hand. In many ways we can all breathe a sigh of relief that 2009 is all but over. Locally, we’ve had our share of scandals during the past 12 months. The great thing about a new year, however, is there is always hope things will get better. We have some issues which need work during 2010 and I can only hope this will be the year for some of them.

As we prepare to turn the page into a new year and decade, let’s hope for at least some of the following:

•Some kind of relief to our ongoing traffic woes, especially in the downtown Winder area. One common sense solution would be for city officials to stop allowing new business after new business to open until something is done about traffic. At times, it is impossible to travel through the downtown Winder area because of the congestion. Don’t even mention if the train decides to roll through town going two miles per hour. City officials also need to make a full-court press in an effort to get an updated traffic light system and not continue to rely on the one that was good enough for 1970, but certainly is of no use now.

•A new requirement is needed for elected officials saying if you have not paid your taxes, then you are not eligible to hold office. Another common sense item in my book.

•The end of party designations for local elected officials. It shouldn’t matter if someone on the Board of Commissioners or the school board or the city council is a Republican or Democratic. If you are only voting for a candidate because he or she belongs to a certain party then you are a lazy voter. Look beyond party labels at what the candidate is actually saying and actually stands for. Don’t be lazy and go by party affiliation only.

•A study is needed into why there is so much crime in Barrow County. Week after week we publish multiple pages of crime news. It amazes me how many people are arrested locally in seven days time. This doesn’t include the numerous reports local law enforcement officials make. It doesn’t seem to matter what area of Barrow County you live in, crime is there. Is Barrow County the crime capital of Georgia? At times, it certainly seems like it. Let’s figure out some way to stop our “Crime City USA” tag.

•An order from the city for the owners of the crumbling Holly Hill Mall area to do something about making necessary improvements. With the exception of the area designated for the Barrow County Board of Education, most of the parking lot is one big pot hole. Many of the buildings in the mall are in need of upgrades. It’s not the people who run the businesses, because they don’t own the buildings. Holly Hill Mall, at one time a source of pride, has become an eyesore. The owner should not allowed to be “out of sight, out of mind.”

•I wish the Barrow County Board of Education wisdom in selecting a new superintendent. Departing superintendent Ron Saunders has been a strong leader for the local school system and he will be tough to replace. The choice for a new superintendent may very well be the most important decision any group of elected officials make during 2010. Saunders has set a high standard with his leadership and his replacement needs to be able to show that same level of leadership qualities.

•The realization by all local governing bodies that open government is always the best form.

Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at cbridges@barrowjournal.com.

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