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November 26, 2014
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editorial

Reflections on 2013 and some wishes for the year ahead


Reviewing a year’s worth of editorials this week provided opportunity to reflect on some of the issues we at The River Reporter thought were important enough to take a position on and to share with our readers for their own consideration in 2013.

The review also prompted us to think about the year to come and what issues we’d like to see receive priority on people’s individual agendas, as well as on the region’s and the nation’s agendas. And so, here is our wish list for 2014. Feel free to share your wish list with us, too.

In 2014 we wish for:

More Sullivan County municipalities signing up to be Climate Smart Communities
(Editorial of February 14-20, 2013, “Climate Smart Community Pledge—emphasis on ‘community’”) “This initiative is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Signing the Climate Smart Community Pledge has the potential to bring financial benefits, both direct and indirect… The themes of ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ are becoming increasingly saleable, and could serve as the centerpiece of a new county identity. We could brand ourselves as a rural retreat that is no backwater, but a pioneer, working proactively to preserve open spaces and resources like its fisheries, recycling its resources, generating local energy, constructing zero-energy buildings and making innovations in energy-efficient, low-emission transportation.”

Greater investment in infrastructure
(February 7-13, “Infrastructure’s long economic shadow”): According to a new “study entitled “Failure to Act, “The results show that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on the nation's economy, negatively affecting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income and international competitiveness… Rural communities are at risk for being left behind in the decades ahead unless there is meaningful investment in our economic future. At a bare minimum, rural communities like ours need safe, reliable roads and bridges, clean air and water, enough electricity, enough jobs. We need investment in infrastructure if we are to have a good foundation for a bright economic future."
Update: Pennsylvania’s 2014 budget includes a large increase for transportation funding, including for roads and bridges.
A coordinated regional plan to bring broadband to the communities of the Upper Delaware River Region
(July 25-31, “A high-speed highway to a good rural future”) “We believe that without the concerted effort of government leaders, local business associations, school districts, health systems and others working together to bring universal broadband technology to our region, rural residents risk being relegated to some kind of economic dark ages. Very simply, we need to be able to compete with our city and suburban neighbors for jobs and economic development opportunities... Counties and municipalities that do not aggressively push for broadband now will end up playing catch-up to those with forward looking plans.”

Everyone using the Delaware River and its tributaries to wear a life jacket
(July 11-17, “Safe recreation on the river”) “Following on the heels of five drownings in 2011 in the Upper Delaware [River], 2012 thankfully saw zero such tragic accidents. Whether this is directly attributable to the significant water safety campaign, “Wear it,” initiated in 2012 by NPS [the National Park Service] and its community partners, the truth remains that an estimated 80% of drowning deaths can be prevented by wearing a lifejacket.”
Update: 2013 saw two drowning deaths in the Upper Delaware and one in the Lackwaxen River.

A really big turnout for The Weather Project
(August 15-21, “And now, for our local weather report”) NACL Theatre’s The Weather Project is a yearlong series of arts and science programs and just-plain-fun happenings about the weather. The project will culminate with a “massive outdoor spectacle” in August 2014. The River Reporter “salutes NACL Theatre and its partner, the Town of Highland and many other sponsors for their unique and creative way of bring a challenging subject to the public through the arts and community building activities.“

More residents and visitors to get to know and support our local farmers.
August 1–7, “A farm tale”) “Farming is not easy, but it’s a way of life, practiced by strong, hard-working, self-sufficient, proud people. And without them, where would we be? Farmers deserve our respect and admiration, and they get too little of it. Why? Because the vast majority of consumers are disconnected from farms and farmers, who are the source of all our food. Why should they care about what happens to farmers, if they don’t know any or understand something about life on a farm.”
The federal government to contribute its 20% share to the DRBC
(August 8-14, “Feds need to pay their promised share”) Letter from the UDC to Congress quoted in editorial: “’For 16 or the last 17 years, the federal government has failed to fund its apportionment of the Commission’s [DRBC’s] annual budge... The cumulative federal shortfall of nearly $11 million threatens to severely curtain the agency’s operational effectiveness.’’
Update: A bill that would address this is still pending before congress with differences between the House and Senate Bills still needing to be reconciled.

Public libraries to receive the funds they deserve
(December 5-11, “Libraries: too important to fail”) “In recent years, as state government has rolled back funding for Pennsylvania’s public libraries, these institutions have been forced to reduce hours, cut staff and freeze payroll, among various cutbacks… Before there were public libraries, book collections were the province of colleges and universities and of wealthy individuals—those who could afford to own private collections. Public libraries changed that. Public libraries are the great equalizer in a democracy. Access to information and knowledge must remain free and open to all. Libraries must remain adequately funded.”

Foods with Genetically Modified Organisms as ingredients to be labeled GMO.
(May 2-8, “Consumers’ choice—food labeling matters”) “We believe that knowing what is in our food is a right of every eater and that labeling products containing GMO ingredients is the minimum protection that consumers deserve. Americans want to know more, not less, about the food they eat… If industry is so sure GMO ingredients are safe, why are they afraid to list them on the label?”

A raise the minimum wage
(December 19-25, “Poverty wages”): “Last year, corporations, already fully recovered from the recession by 2010, reached all-time record high profits in the third quarter of 2012, while during the same quarter, workers’ wages dropped to a record low. It is time to invest in workers, who, if they were able to be more self-sufficient, would not need to turn so often for assistance from public funds… And there’s the rub: profitable corporations count on us, the taxpayers, to subsidize their lowest paid employees, so that stockholders and corporate executives can reap good earnings. We live under an economic system where the profits are privatized and the costs are socialized, i.e. society at large helps pick up the tab.