My perspective - 2020 visions


By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

Neepawa Banner & Press

By the time people are reading this, the calendar will have rolled over to 2020. Because of closures at our printer and Canada Post, the Dec. 27 paper was printed the week before and the Banner office was semi-closed for the week of Christmas. Apart from some very big news— the discovery of a body and subsequent murder investigation— it’s been pretty quiet over the last week. This break gave everyone a well deserved chance to reflect on the year that passed and look ahead to the next one.

It seems like the 365 days that were in 2019 went by in the blink of an eye, though not without some struggle. It was a tough year for farmers and for many, the best part of 2019 was that it’s over. With so many parts of the ag industry impacted, the effects have spilled into other sectors of the economy. The overall impact going forward will depend not just on our local economies, but the international market into which we are so tied.

Despite some challenges, I’m optimistic about the coming year.  The latter part of 2019 was filled with many stories of businesses opening: the return of a furniture store to Neepawa’s downtown commercial area, the upcoming opening of a new rental equipment business and the redevelopment of the former CN property into much needed housing. There are a few more leads we’re working on and I know there will be more of these stories in the new year.

We covered a lot of stories in the 52 papers we published in 2019 and there are two big stories I expect we’ll see more of in the coming year. The first was the sale of HyLife, which includes the Neepawa-based HyLife Foods, to Thai-based Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF). As Neepawa’s major employer, what happens at the plant has a big impact on the community.

The second is the move from perpetual care at Neepawa’s Riverside Cemetery.  This was a divisive issue and the subject of much debate. Something had to change, the differential between the income from the Perpetual Care fund and the cost of providing the service was unsustainable.  There will be concern and anxiety when the flowers aren’t planted this spring, but for me, the success of the change will hinge on what the Town does instead of planting flowers on individual gravesites. If they can successfully create beautiful common areas to memorialize and pay tribute to those who rest in the cemetery, it will bring much more beauty to the town than cutting perpetual care service to the point that expenditures match income.  Seeing one or two sad flowers on a gravesite does little for the town, nor those for whom Riverside is their final resting place.

This past year, I was reminded of the importance of keeping your eyes open everywhere you go. On my way back to the office from running some errands over lunch, I came across someone working on some tricks and training exercises with their dog.  It turned into one the neatest pictures I took last year, and on my phone no less. It was a good reminder that opportunity is everywhere and it often doesn’t need any special tools, beyond the ability to see it.

As we start into the new year, I hope everyone has a few moments to reflect on their past year, make plans for the new one and find opportunity and growth.