What were your top stories of 2016?
If you’re a politics junkie, you’ll look back on 2016 as a year of upheaval. If you dote on celebrity gossip, you’ll think of 2016 as a year of mourning, the year we lost notables from Ali to Zsa Zsa.
But what will you, as a resident of eastern St. Mary Parish, remember about local goings-on this year?
We hope you’ll contribute your ideas for the top stories of 2016 by way of email (to the address in the byline above), on this column at our website (StMaryNow.com) or on our Facebook page (facebook.com/dailyreview).
Next week, we’ll publish a list of what we think — and we hope what you think — are the year’s top stories.
Just to prime the pump, here are some ideas:
—The story that seems to creep into so many other stories – the slump in oil prices, now in its third year. We’re starting to hear phrases like “$80 is the new $100,” a hint the industry doesn’t think a serious hike in prices is likely in the near term.
We’re sandwiched between two energy-dependent metro statistical areas that are among the top job-losers in the country. Lafayette has lost 9,400 jobs since the downturn began, and Houma-Thibodaux has seen 11,000 jobs disappear, according the Louisiana Workforce Development Commission.
Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, St. Mary had lost 4,687 jobs, about 17 percent of the September 2014 peak, by mid-2016.
We may see an ideological battle over the oil industry’s health. If you believe, as conservatives tend to believe, that President Barack Obama’s regulatory overreach is responsible for the industry’s weakness, then you’ll believe President-elect Donald Trump is in a position to help.
If you think energy companies depressed their own prices by making a reckless and highly leveraged rush into fracking, as liberals tend to feel, the solution will have to wait.
—Floods. St. Mary got off easy during the massive August floods that caused so much damage in South Louisiana. Our year started under another flood threat that didn’t quite materialize. But it did bring our new governor, John Bel Edwards, to the new Emergency Operations Center here with a pledge to find money for a permanent Bayou Chene flood control structure.
—Crime. Among the court-related stories this year, the Capital Management embezzlement case continued to wind its way through civil and criminal courts. Authorities say former employees may have helped themselves to tens of millions of dollars over the course of three decades.
—Levee improvements. While the story may seem like just a small-town bit of shovel-turning, the implications for Morgan City are far-reaching.
Improving and expanding the levee system may head off expensive build-up requirements and open land to residential development. And that could hasten the day when people won’t be able to say, as some have said for 30 years or more, that Morgan City is a place to work, not a place to live.
Those should get you started. We hope to hear from you. And we hope you have a merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year.
Bill Decker is the managing editor of The Daily Review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.