Herald readers sharing their thoughts for 2012 are, clockwise from upper left: Carla Taylor, Calvin Malone, Wendy Phipps, Justin Hutter, Melanie Self and Ethan Williamson.

Long before it got here, 2012 had all the makings of an interesting year.

During the period of time designated by that number on the Gregorian calendar system, several noteworthy events will take place.

It’s a Summer Olympics year, as the Games of the 30th Olympiad are set for late July and early August in London, England.

It’s a presidential election year in the United States, with the big vote set for Tuesday, Nov. 6, preceded by the always wild and wacky months of primaries and campaigning.

There will be an extra day tacked on to the end of February.

And, or course, there’s that whole Mayan calendar deal.

But sports, politics, bonus time, and ending worlds not withstanding, 2012 is about to show what it’s made of, one way or another.

In this feature, some people from around the community share with Herald readers what their expectations are of the coming year.

Carla Taylor, director, Taylor Veterinary Clinic: “My expectations for 2012 in the agriculture industry is looking up. Cattle prices are better than they have been in years; cattle numbers are down, so therefore we see prices on the increase. Agriculture as a whole I think is looking up – we see in crop prices that grain prices are up. That, in total, makes it tougher on the cattle and beef industry, but the offset is the higher prices on the market for that. My main concern for 2012 and for future years is producing enough meat, vegetables and crops – not just to feed the United States, but the world. Exports for beef are up 15-percent from where they were in 2011 and 2010, so not only is our product staying here in the United States, it’s going abroad. Locally, I see the job market is something that is of major concern to people. We need more industry, we need more jobs, and we need some way to keep our young people here. The average age of the American farmer is now in their early 60s, and if we can’t keep young farmers coming on, we have a real problem in the agriculture industry. I would like to see something like a tech school or some way of keeping these kids here.”

Calvin Malone, agent, Farm Bureau Insurance: “My expectations for 2012 are filled with a lot of uncertainty. A lot of people are uncertain right now about having a job or finding a way to feed their family. In my day-to-day travels, I’ve found that that’s not just going on in rural Missouri, it’s happening across the board. But, a new year brings a new beginning and a lot of new hope for people. I expect the upcoming year to be filled with a lot of energy and optimism. With all the uncertainty, a few things are going to stay the same. Football fans are still going to debate the bowl system, baseball fans are not going to be happy with Albert Pujols, and democrats are going to defend President Obama while people on the right are going to bitterly oppose him. But morale has been low for so long, the only way I can see 2012 is up. Rural Missourians don’t put their faith in government, they put it in God, and I really look forward to seeing what the new year has to bring.”

Wendy Phipps, mailing department, Houston Herald: “First of all, I don’t think it’s going to end civilization, like the Mayan calendar would lead us to believe. But I do think it’s going to be a continuation of some real scary financial markets, political unrest, really bad crime rates and unemployment. Those things all kind of go together, and you know we didn’t get into this mess overnight so it isn’t going to go away that easily, either. However, I do think there are a couple of maybe positive spins that have come out of this. I think the American people in general are learning a bit how to tighten their belts, and that’s a good thing. And I also love this back-to-basics movement that’s going on – and not necessarily just rural, but in the cities, too, people are planting their own gardens and making their own clothes. I make my own soap – a lot of people do, believe it or not. I think that’s really neat because we’re learning how to take care of ourselves. People are also buying locally, like getting meat from your farmer instead of going to the store. That’s great for the economy, too, and those are the kinds of things that are eventually going to get us out of this. I think we need to quit letting politicians and big business tell us how to think, feel and act. I think we need to make those decisions ourselves. But I do think that with common sense, American ingenuity, and the grace of God, we’ll get out of this. And maybe by the end of 2012, we’ll be looking better than we are at the beginning.”

Ethan Williamson, senior, Houston High School: “My expectations for 2012 are that younger people in this community are going to continue to have a real movement go through them. Younger people – especially high schoolers and middle schoolers have become much more active in the community now than they have been in a few years. I think our community needs to have programs and things that can utilize that so we don’t lose it. It’s a really good thing to see high schoolers getting into basketball games more than they have been, and participating in the (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) that we have, which has grown exponentially. We have a lot of ambition, a lot of courage, and a lot of go-getterness in the community in our youth, but if we don’t have anything to put that into, they’ll find other ways that could be bad or could be good, or it could be lost altogether. As long as we find ways to keep young people like myself engaged and involved in the community, then I think Houston will continue to grow and prosper.”

Melanie Self, intake specialist, Texas County Food Pantry: “With what’s going on you kind of wonder if the stars are really going to align, and all the planets. Kind of scary there. But what’s even scarier is what our government is doing, which is nothing. I get to pay for that, and that upsets me. I vote these people in, and all they do is argue and don’t take care of anything, and we who they serve get to suffer. That’s infuriating to me. In the meantime, middle America is dwindling, and starving at the same time. People can’t even afford to buy food. I feel fortunate that I work at the Pantry because I can make some changes. I don’t know how much there is on a positive note; I’m so disgusted with the government, and I’m tired of paying the way for them to do nothing. It’s hard for me to think about putting my daughter through college, because there are no funds for that. They’re taking away grants, and it’s getting harder and harder for her to get a job, because she’s 17 and mommies are having to take those jobs because they have to support their families. I just hope that where I work I can help more people in the community, because (the numbers) continue to grow. I’d say since I’ve been here the number of clients we see has doubled – if not tripled – with helping them with their needs, being it heat, or water, or rent. People aren’t making it, and I think it’s going to get worse. I think there will be more riots in the streets. I’d love to see a revolution in this country; as it is America is for sale and it’s just being taken over without a single shot. Something’s got to change – it’s kind of a doom and gloom prospect. And I have grandkids, so it’s heartbreaking. I believe our forefathers were men of God, not the embarrassing representatives that we see on display in our living rooms on the evening news. This quote from John Adams states quite clearly the reason for our government today: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Justin Hutter, owner, Twist & Shake/Downtown Eatery: “I think in 2012, we’re going to have another snug year. I think it’s going to get better, but it’s going to be a slow process. I think we still have a year, maybe two years, of really snugging up a bit. I think businesses will survive it, they’ll just have to watch things a little more. I’d like to see more come to the downtown Houston area, but with things being snug, it’s hard for a business to start up and to survive in this economy. But I think they can, you just have to find the right niche and watch the expenses a bit. Some of the bigger businesses are starting to expand, and that will eventually help the small guys, as far as the trickle-down. I think another thing that would help is if we get more local landlords for the downtown buildings. They’ll tend to take more pride in the buildings and take better care of them. I think that will help downtown Houston, as far as bringing in more commerce, and kind of cleaning up downtown a bit. The quality of the downtown area would improve quite a bit with that.”

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