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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

What to do with the last column of the year? Should I look back at the past year or speculate about the year to come? In the past, I've done both, and I've copped out by doing neither.

I'm really copping out this time by writing this column, the last of the year, about the past year. Next week, the first of the New Year, the Rusty Saber will look ahead to what 1999 may have in store for us.

Retrospectives of the important news events of 1998 will be put together by newspapers, news magazines, TV and radio news organizations. I've never had a burning ambition to be like everybody else.

However, if I were going to pick the important national news story of the year, I suppose the Intern-gate or Monica-gate mess in Washington would have to top the list a sad commentary on the events of the year.

On the local scene, my choice for the most important story is the ongoing saga of plans for the drastic renovation of downtown Springfield and accompanying plans for the wildlife museum at Bass Pro Shops, brought about by the passage of the hotel-motel tax.

These interconnected projects will do more than anything else that occurred in 1998 to determine what Springfield will be like in the 21st century.

Rather than look back at the news events of the year, I am going to try to make this interactive by asking you Rusty Saber readers to do the looking back. Has 1998 been a good year for you? Only you can answer this question. In order to help you determine if you had a good year, with apologies to David Letterman, here are the Top 10 Ways to Tell If You Had a Good Year.

You know you had a good year if ...

10. You managed to keep at least one of your 1998 New Year's resolutions.

9. You are truly interested in the preservation of historic downtown Springfield, and have taken note of all the plans to do just that.

8. You drove for a full year in Springfield traffic and lived to tell about it.

7. You are a person who still likes to shop in locally owned stores where they know your name and offer personalized service and you found such stores.

6. Your neighborhood escaped invasion by a new commercial venture that would have drastically changed the nature of the neighborhood.

5. The river stayed away from your door and the storms passed over your roof.

4. Some needy people among us are better off than they were a year ago because you cared about them and did things to make their lives better.

3. The people around you are the people you want to be around.

2. Your family and friends think you are an OK person.

Drum roll please! The No. 1 way to tell if you had a good year:

1. You know you had a good year if every time you took your pulse, you had one meaning your name didn't appear even once in the obituaries.

Well, did you have a good year? I hope so.

Happy New Year!

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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