For quite some time, it has become customary in our newspaper to use the edition either right before or right after the New Year’s to take a look back at the ending year and recount some of the big stories that made headlines.

But 2020 is not like most years. In fact, we would be willing to argue that few years in recent history will be so impactful in shaping the years that come after that 2020 has been.

So, we’ve decided to take a different tactic in our New Year’s edition this year. Instead of simply taking a look at the big stories of the year, we wanted to talk with leaders in various areas of our community about what they see coming in the near future.

COVID-19, since March, has shaped the present and the future in ways unimagined as we closed the book on 2019 and entered 2020.

It’s not that there were no significant stories aside from COVID-19 in our communities. There were plenty. And we were there to cover them, but this is also one of those times when it’s necessary to not just look back but look forward.

Our region was already facing massive challenges, challenges to our economy that were resulting in big changes to our way of life. We are facing uncertain times in the political realm and also in our culture. These changes have ramifications being felt at the local, as well as national, level and beyond.

In order for our communities to come out the other side of this crisis better than we went in, we need to consider the various visions in different areas and also consider what our future can look like.

We’ve always believed that Central Appalachia holds much more promise and opportunity than many others would give it credit for. We know the people here. We know the beauty here. We know the possibility here.

So, this year, we offer you a look forward instead of just a look back. We’ll have plenty of time to consider the other stories and events that shaped 2020. But the future is not waiting, it’s coming along every day.

So we hope that these stories give you an idea or two, and maybe some hope that a better future’s just around the bend.

For now, do what you can, help prevent the further spread of COVID, keep yourself safe and work to maintain. But also keep an eye to the future, to the bright future we know we can have, and the opportunities we know will be there.

We hope these stories will serve as inspiration, as we understand what’s going on and that there are those in our communities who have an eye to the future, a future beyond COVID-19, a future for which we’re all ready, and a future which is coming.

It’s up to us to decide what that looks like. We can shape tomorrow today.

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