Happy New Year!
While the calendar gets a fresh start today, the remnants of the past 12 months will continue to play a big role in 2012.
Among the top of everyone's concerns is the economy, which is likely to putter along more like a go-cart than the Lamborghini we want.
Bill Bettwy cartoon
It's going to take more time to recuperate fully from the Great Recession and get back to the good times. And things like gasoline prices and worry about foreign debt - not to mention our nation's - will continue to be a drag on growth.
Locally, it seems the economy is doing better than nationally, a trend that's likely to continue. We might never reach the highs of some parts of the nation in the boon times; we also don't drop as much when things go bust. That's a good thing in times like these.
Not helpful, though, are the budget struggles from the state to school districts to municipalities that seem likely to linger for another year. It seems reasonable to expect 2012 will bring more difficulties as officials try to come up with spending plans for another year.
Because the easy cuts have been made, it will be more important than ever for residents to let their elected officials at all levels of government know what should be priorities and what they are willing to sacrifice to bring things in balance.
Speaking of government officials, the election will bring a spark to 2012, as politicians battle for control of the state and federal legislatures and the White House.
The elections will provide a needed boost in voter registration and participation. Unfortunately, it also will mean too many campaign commercials and recorded campaign calls. But there is a bright spot: That should be over Nov. 7.
Also expected to be completed this year are trials in homicide cases that have been hanging for quite a while.
As it stands now, testimony is scheduled to begin Jan. 17 in the Nicholas A. Horner case in Blair County and Jan. 24 in the Andrew J. Choros case in Cambria County.
Horner is accused of killing Scott Garlick, 19, and wounding Michele Petty, during an April 6, 2009, robbery at a Subway sandwich shop on 58th Street and then killing Raymond Williams, 64, while trying to make his escape.
Choros of Cresson is accused of fatally shooting his mother in their home after being charged with drunken driving.
Another trial that possibly could to go a jury this year involves John Gerholt, who is accused of shooting his estranged wife in November 2008 at the Everett McDonald's.
We hope for the families of the victims that these cases can be brought to trial in 2012 to allow for closure.
Another case we hope will be resolved this year is the child sexual-abuse allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky is facing 50 charges involving 10 boys.
This case has rocked Penn State and sullied its reputation and that of some top officials.
For the alleged victims, it's important to get to the truth about what happened so justice can be meted out. It's impossible to know how long that process will take, but we hope it is not unnecessarily drawn out so everyone can move forward.
New Year's brings hope. We hope 2012 will be better than 2011. Every year brings new challenges. We just hope when 2013 rolls around, we are not focusing on the same old things.