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A lot of ink and breath has been spent bemoaning the year 2020 and all it inflicted on us. On the global, national, state and local levels, it was indeed as unpleasant a year as any in most of our lifetimes.

Locally we shared in the miseries of the coronavirus pandemic. Face masks became a regular part of our wardrobes. Partying became off limits to the wise. Holiday celebrations were curtailed by the prudent.

The lives of our kids were disrupted like never before as school officials adopted a mix of online education and small face-to-face classes aimed at controlling spread of the virus. Montana State University soldiered through a shortened semester and coped with hundreds of infections among students and employees. Businesses were shuttered and jobs lost during a spring lockdown and stay-at-home order. As the year ended, those businesses still struggled with curtailed hours and depressed sales as the vulnerable continued to stay home.

And aggravating these virus-generated inconveniences were a mix of COVID deniers and protesters who stubbornly refused to take basic prevention measures recommended by the experts.

On top of all that, we endured the worst wildfire in area history in terms of property loss when a blaze raged up Bridger Canyon in September destroying 30 homes. And the local housing situation continued to worsen as median home prices shot through the roof making it all the more difficult for locals to get a foothold in the local economy.

Yes, it’s a relief to turn the calendar page on such a year of woe. But unfortunately, we don’t get a reset.

Vaccines that will quell the pandemic are on the horizon but still months away for most of us. In the meantime, the worst of it still likely lies ahead as a surge of infections from ill-advised holiday travel and the return of MSU students will send more to the hospital and strain our health care infrastructure. And tragically, there will be more loss of life. Only continued strict adherence to face masks, social distancing and regular hand-washing will help minimize the losses.

But if we are willing to endure these next weeks of inconvenience, a far better future lies ahead. By mid to late summer, life should have returned to some sense of normalcy and we can once ahead enjoy the amenities of living in southwest Montana to the fullest.

There is hope in the future. We just need to knuckle down for a little while longer to get there.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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