A look ahead at 2013

Dec 26, 2012

While nobody has a crystal ball to predict what the future holds, there will certainly be several issues that continue to grab headlines in the coming year. As the only newspaper providing comprehensive coverage of Haywood County happenings, we feel comfortable predicting there will be plenty of news on these fronts.

Education

Thanks to careful budgeting, Haywood County Schools have mitigated the impact of reduced funding, but Haywood’s own fiscal cliff will be reached by June 30 when the 2011-12 school budget ends. The board of education has spent much of its fund balance to continue existing staffing levels, and the federal grant funds allocated to school districts across the state for the Race to the Top effort will be gone. Education funding and quality of education will be the focus of both board of education and county commission meetings, events that are regularly reported in The Mountaineer.

In the classroom, changes are underway as the new core curriculum standards are implemented across multiple disciplines, and long-discussed reform measures have a good chance of being implemented under a Republican-controlled state government. There is even talk in Raleigh of rejecting the new core curriculum plan that's been adopted in 42 states, including ours.

Expect plenty of discussion on reducing regulations on charter schools, ensuring that state education funding follows the child and an added emphasis on career and technical training as a starting point.

At Haywood Community College level,  a protracted presidential search will come to an end and a new leader will offer his or her vision on how to best train area high school graduates for future employment. A state-of-the-art Creative Arts Center, constructed to the highest green building standards, will open in 2013 and has the potential to attract  new students and help them build promising careers in a field long-celebrated in the Appalachians.

War on pills

Abuse of prescription drugs has reached an epidemic level in Haywood, but luckily, there’s a network of local leaders who have armed themselves with the scary truth and are passionate about sharing it to reverse the damage being wreaked on our region. Law enforcement agencies and health advocates in the county have identified this as a top priority, as well it should be. Look for continued coverage of this issue.

Health care

Look for more stories on MedWest as a new CEO takes the helm, hospital leaders determine how a $10 million line of credit due to Carolinas HealthCare System will be satisfied, and the three-year agreement uniting medical facilities in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties is debated. Unlike the Haywood Regional Medical Center board, which is a public, nonprofit organization and must abide by the open meetings law, MedWest is a private, nonprofit organization, so the public may never know the inner debate that is bound to be intense.

The window to dissolve the affiliation is short, however, and the outcome will likely be known next year. There are national and state health care changes coming around the bend that are sure to have implications locally as well.

These are just a few of the known issues on the horizon in The Mountaineer for 2013. Each week brings a new set of developments,  as well as heartwarming stories and good news about people you know. To watch the issues unfold, layer by layer, don’t miss an issue.

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