Much has been written and said about how negative the news was in Oregon and around the United States this past year, and our top 10 stories on the front page today for the most part repeat the same refrain.
Aside from the now-world-famous Swisters, who would probably both say this has been one of the best years of their lives, the top happenings in our estimation have generally revolved around job loss, death, controversy and tough times.
But just because the big impact stories all seem to have been colored with the same dark hue doesn't mean the year was a complete wash.
The Swisters, two women born in Heppner who found out they were switched at birth and were reunited with their biological families this year, got national attention for their compelling story. But a similar story cropped up this month when a California man found his biological brothers, including Hermiston's Richard Meeks, and spent Christmas with them.
Sgt. First Class Alan Humphrey III and his family also had a heart-warming holiday, when the National Guardsman stationed in Iraq surprised his wife and kids - and us - with a Christmas Eve homecoming. The EO had contacted the family the week before his surprise and had a nice story ready to go about the family staying in touch during the holiday, but when he showed up at his front door in Hermiston, we were able to tell the story of what was surely one of the best Christmases in Umatilla County.
And the good news extended beyond the holiday season. Through a year that will forever be associated with job loss and lean times, we saw many triumphs that make such a dim year more bearable.
It was a rough year for many businesses, and?Fleetwood's closure and laying off of 250 employees in Pendleton and?La Grande was surely the most resounding loss of jobs in the region, but as the year drew to a close neighboring Keystone RV took the opportunity to buy the abandoned lot and plant and plans to match or possibly even increase the number of jobs that were cut.
In Hermiston, DuPont finished building and began operating its Pioneer Hi-Bred corn processing plant. The August run didn't take long, but company officials expect to have more corn under contract by August 2010 and therefore increase production.
Also this year, Pendleton Grain Growers shipped 20 containers of wheat to the Orient, the first time less than a barge load had launched from the Port of Umatilla. PGG marketers expect growth in the shipments of containerized wheat because buyers can obtain smaller quantities of specific types of wheat, which bring a premium price.
And of course Airport Road in Pendleton, a project several decades in the works, finally got its last coat of tar and is open, connecting the airport's industrial lands with the Barnhart Road exit on I-84. When a new business does choose to move in, the work will have been worth it.
On an individual basis, we saw many stories that brightened our day as well.
We applauded Maggie?Armato, a Heppner High?School senior, for getting accepted to Harvard in the spring.
We celebrated with Peggi Crawn, a Pendleton woman, as she turned in a Powerball ticket worth $1 million in September.
And we felt the relief of Heppner's Tim and?Jean Collins as they watched their six-year-old son Roy nearly succumb to a case of the H1N1 virus, only to fight his way back to good health.
So here's hoping 2010 is a little brighter in Eastern Oregon, but also that we can remember the good things we've been blessed with this past year.