Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson

Like any other year, 2010 had its share of ups and downs.

Depending on a person’s individual perspective, the year could well be called good or bad. Some might say that triumphs were outnumbered by pitfalls, while others might see things the other way around.

But to be sure, the year was full of challenges. Whether economic or social, global or regional, there was certainly no shortage of important issues to be faced by everyone. From world leaders to blue collar workers, from nations to families – all who shared life in 2010 felt the weight of its passing.

But as another year enters the books as history, looking ahead to what the next one holds is only natural.

In this feature, a randomly selected group of 12 people from vaious walks of life in Houston offer insight as to what they believe lies ahead. The Herald shares their views by documenting their statements, each of which begins with the words:

“I think 2011 will…”

Carl Watson, Texas County Sheriff, lifelong resident of Texas County.

“I think 2011 will be a good year. We need to remain optimistic; we have a lot of positive things going on in Texas County and around Houston and I think all of them will have a positive effect on the county. One wish for 2011 would be that we want it to be a healthy and prosperous year for families, for the sheriff’s department and for the citizens of Texas County.”

Steve Hutcheson, Houston Mayor, owner of Hutcheson Pharmacy in Houston, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will be a very optimistic year for the city of Houston. We have a lot of ongoing projects from 2010 that will continue, we have some infrastructure improvements and hopefully the development of an industrial park. I’m just very optimistic about the future of Houston.”

Carolyn Mills, Houston Herald pressroom worker, resident of Houston for five years.

“I think 2011 will be one of the most challenging years in our time. It’s going to call upon us to come up with some mutual adjustments – some compromises that we’re willing to make in order for this nation to move forward. Right now I believe the only people who are compromising – or are even willing to compromise – are the middle class people. There’s a chokehold somewhere where even the upper middle class aren’t willing to compromise. And I think that’s what this country was founded on, was compromise; our forefathers had to do it constantly. I don’t think we should make a lot of noise about being the one who has submitted or sacrificed. We all need to do that. But I’m very optimistic about it because I think we are headed in a better direction and I think it’s going to get better. I wish it would go a little faster – I’m sure everybody does.”

Jessica Hayes, Store manager of Russell Cellular in Houston, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will bring much deserved happiness and joy. Have faith and believe that all things are possible. Anything could happen in 2011. Take one day at a time and focus on the future. Don’t spend time worrying about what might have been; focus on what’s yet to come.”

Doug Walker, Collision repair center employee at Romines Motor Company in Houston, lifelong resident of Texas County.

“I think 2011 will bring hope and peace to some of the people in our community who are maybe jobless or have lost their home and are hurting. I just hope that if they reach out for our help that we can help them and try to make things positive for everyone this year.”

Sharon Horbyk, Executive Director of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, member of Houston School Board, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will be an exciting time to live in America and in Houston, Missouri. I think that within the past year people have had to look within themselves and look toward their faith to find the courage and the character they need to tighten their belts and face some hard times. I think as a result of that a lot of families and a lot of businesses have had to look at setting some different priorities. I think that will help us as families, business owners and employees to move into 2011 with a great attitude. I think a lot of great things will happen in 2011 here, as our community leaders focus on what is right and what’s good in Houston and the surrounding communities. Finally, as a woman of faith I believe that no matter what 2011 brings, there will always be good things with us and that good things will continue to happen here.”

Paul Beck, Store manager of Aaron’s in Houston, resident of Houston for two years, resident of Texas County for nine years.

“I think 2011 will bring opportunity to Texas County and the Houston area.”

Joyce Dunigan, Lunch counter worker at Forbes Pharmacy in Houston, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will be a great year for us. This past year we went through colon cancer, so this year means a lot more to us. And not just the material things – the things in life in general are more important to us now. I think you can make the new year what you want it to be. It can be doom and despair, or you can live one day at a time. I was raised in a different generation and I didn’t have as much and I appreciated things more so. My dad always told us if we couldn’t pay for something, we didn’t need it that bad. My kids today, I don’t think they have that. They want it now, and that’s why the credit card it the boss of their life. Of course, I do think that prices of food and gas and different things will be higher this year, but we can go back to the basics of having a good garden. That gives you good exercise and good tasting food. The gas prices – we need it to get to work, yes – and a lot of us are blessed to have a job – but we can find things more close to home and even in our backyard. We can play lots of games and even visit our kinfolk that we’ve neglected for a while. We have to cut back somewhere – that’s going to be harder on the younger generation. But if my glass is full or if it’s half empty, I’ve still got water in it and I’m blessed to have something to drink. I’m one of the blessed in that I’m going to be retiring next year. It probably won’t be full time because of the economy, and I’m working because of my insurance. But I’m looking forward to that time that I can pull away and not have to hit it so hard.”

Chantele Oteri, Employee at Memories in Stone in Houston, lifelong resident of Texas County.

“I think 2011 will be a better year in some ways. It will bring some new changes for the community and also personally in my life. That is what I look forward to the most in 2011.”

Lew Lewis, Store manager at Corner Express Shell Station in Houston, resident of Licking, resident of Texas County for 16 years.

“I think 2011 will be the year that the economy starts coming back. Wars will start to end, but new ones will start. Hopefully it will be a year that all of us figure out that we can’t overspend and we live within our means – and figure out that family is what binds us, whether they be close family or ones you’ve adopted in.”

Don Rust, City of Houston Fire Department fire chief, owner of Rust Utility in Houston, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will be a good year for the City of Houston Fire Department. We’ve got several grant applications out that are looking good for new equipment. The city fathers have always been very progressive as you can see with our fairly new equipment, and we continue to train to be able to be professionals to run this equipment. Our ISO 4 classification is an insurance classification and it saves approximately $300,000 a year for residents of Houston and keeps that money in town. Our sales tax on (a new) truck runs out in another five years. Hopefully we’ll be able to replace more equipment when the time comes.”

Omanez Fockler, Chairperson of the Texas County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, lifelong resident of Houston.

“I think 2011 will be varied in many areas of the lives of the citizens of our community and county. I think there will be a continuation of the struggles that are present; that doesn’t have to leave us hopeless – we always need to have hope. I believe it can provide opportunities in our community to come together and address some issues we’re all aware of. I believe we increasingly see the devastation that alcohol and drug abuse brings into our community. We can complain and talk about it, but it’s an opportunity for the leaders and the citizens of the community to come together and ask ‘how can we work with this?’ I include pastors, churches, law enforcement, social agencies and citizens. I believe if we come together in a unified effort, we can make a difference. I also know that there is always hope and we need to keep our focus on that. I always have hope because my world view is Biblically based and I believe that it always provides hope for people. Another thing I thought about was what is exciting that will happen next year. I’m excited about more improvements with health care in the hospital – being able to build a new core hospital that can upgrade the health care we’re providing to our citizens and improve our recruitment of new physicians to serve our citizens in the area. I’m excited about the prospect of having a private school in the area so people who desire those opportunities will have them. We’ll also have our public education; I think in our rural area that’s exciting. I also think we might be surprised at the end of 2011 of the positive things that will go on this coming year in the midst of down times in our nation and our community. As we work together, as we face adversity together and as we do this in a unified effort rather than an adversarial mode, I believe a lot can be accomplished in the year 2011.”

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