A little bit about a lot of things:

• Always amazed at this time of the year to look back over the previous 12 months.....2019 was a very busy year indeed, wasn’t it?

Our communities dealt with heart-breaking tragedy during the year past, of course, but there was also just a lot happening in general on the West Side, as it seems is always the case. Just the regular festivals, festas, parades, pageants, celebrations, etc. which take place each year seem to be never-ending....which of course is a wonderful thing and help make our communities the special places they are.

We offer a look back at a year in photos in this edition (with more to be found on our westsideconnect.com website), even as we start to prepare for the next 12 months.

What will 2020 hold? From all indications, this year will also be full....and hopefully prosperous and productive for our communities.

What will this year bring?

Well, that runs the gamut from completion of the new Gustine Middle School gym (huge for that school and community!) early in the year to the fate of a March bond election going to Newman-Crows Landing voters to progress in the city of Gustine on a number of projects that have been in the works to the election of school trustees, City Council members and mayors in November.

Bonita School will observe a milestone with the celebration of its 150th year, what the future holds for the July 4 fireworks show in Gustine will likely be a topic of discussion, and a big Orestimba reunion for classes of 1978 and prior years is being planned for October.

We should also have, I suspect, a much better idea by year’s end as to what is in store for West Side Community Ambulance. It wasn’t much more than a year ago that the provider’s existence was on the line due to staffing issues which threatened its ability to stay in compliance with its contract to operate, its management company served notice that it was leaving, etc. West Side seems to be in a much better place with its new (local) management team in place, but only time will tell how this all plays out.

That’s all on top of the routine (although not always so) council and school board meetings, high school sports coverage, community news, etc. which help fill our pages each week.

I have no doubt that 2020 will go down as an interesting (if not landmark) year on the national front as well.

Impeachment proceedings, the presidential election and so much more which shapes our deeply divided nation will continue to evolve through the course of 2020.

We need to figure out who we are and what we are about. We need to begin truly resolving issues surrounding health care and immigration and secure borders and homelessness and criminal justice and so much more, but do so in ways that are compassionate and fair yet also imbue common sense, accountability and personal responsibility.....all of which are traits ingrained in American values.

At a time when we need strong leadership, we need to stop being so busy fighting among each other that we accomplish nothing.

The path we are on, I fear, is not sustainable.

Will we make progress on any of those things in 2020, or ignore the fact that a deeply divided nation continues to fray while we devote our energy and attention to the partisan bickering and grandstanding of which both major political parties are guilty?

I am not optimistic about the answer to that question.

Yep, I think 2020 is going to be an extremely interesting 12 months to say the least.

Buckle up....because here we go!

• Wonderful tribute to Cpl. Ronil Singh last week on the anniversary of his death, as hundreds turned out for an emotional vigil Thursday evening in Newman. We were reminded that Ronil embraced that which is good, was a proud American who loved a community which loved him back, and that his life was testament that through hard work and dedication dreams can be achieved.

Ronil Singh’s life was cut far too short, but the legacy he leaves is powerful.

• This was a memorable bowl season for those of us with ties to the Hawkeye State, as Iowa and Iowa State each faced marquee opponents within a matter of hours last weekend. The Hawkeyes teed it up against USC and the Cyclones faced Notre Dame for the first time in school history.

I was in full couch potato mode.....although I have to say that I enjoyed Iowa’s dominant win over USC a heck of a lot more than the drubbing Iowa State took Saturday morning from a Notre Dame team that looked better in all aspects of the game (and the Cyclones did themselves no favors with costly miscues).

But it is what it is.....a new week and new year have arrived, and hope springs eternal for what future seasons may bring.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.