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Looking ahead by looking behind

In "The Tempest," William Shakespeare observed that, "What's past is prologue." This means that many of the events of 2012 have set the stage for the coming year.

One of those events was the firing of Jorea Marple as the state superintendent of schools.

Marple deserved a more dignified end to her years of service as a teacher, principal and  administrator than the public spectacle of a ham-handed dismissal.

But under her leadership, the state Department of Education's response to a report calling for reform was lethargic to the point of obstructionism.

What West Virginia is doing is not working for students. Perhaps Marple's departure will trigger action on long-overdue reforms of personnel policy and other micromanagement by the Legislature.

For the sake of the next generation, let us hope so.

* * *

The summer derecho and the Sandy blizzard near Halloween, as well as the natural gas pipeline explosion in Sissonville, tested the state's emergency response efforts.

First responders, power crews, National Guardsmen and West Virginia Paving passed the test with flying colors. The state is forever indebted to those power crews who came from out of state to turn the lights (and air-conditioners) back on.

But the disasters also brought to the fore the infrastructure problems West Virginians face.

Modernizing the grids that bring natural gas, water and electricity to our homes will be costly.

But emergencies have a way of revealing what is really important in life. Heating and cooling turn out to be very, very important.

* * *

In May, Keith Judd drew 41 percent of the vote in the state's Democratic presidential primary from his prison cell in Texas. In November,

Democratic nominee Barack Obama failed to take a single county in West Virginia.

But Republicans captured 46 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates - the most since 1928.

As the Democratic Party nationally veers to the left, West Virginians are voting independent or Republican.

A healthy balance may return to the state after an absence of 80-plus years.

Surely, legislators will act accordingly next year.

* * *

The big news in Charleston was reinvestments in the Charleston Town Center Mall, the Charleston House and the Charleston Marriott Inn.

Under Mayor Danny Jones, the city has been very successful in attracting conventions and events to bring visitors - and fun - to the city.

Investors have noticed.

The mall is going upscale, which will make it easier to market the city to conventions - as will the increase in the quality and quantity of hotel space.

A popular saying these days is "Go big or go home."

Charleston is going big.

 


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