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2021 is chance to turn the page

A cynic might argue that anything would top 2020, but count us as bullish about 2021 in our community, state and nation.

COVID-19 vaccine distribution might not exactly be living up to the “warp speed” characterization by the federal government, but early signs are that doses will be available by summer to everybody who wants it, with health care workers off to a fast start. The partnership of pharmaceutical companies, governmental entities and couriers like FedEx and UPS to distribute the vaccine across the country has been impressive to watch.

Widespread immunization will be followed quickly, we predict, by a robust economic recovery that sees the jobless return to work and battered small businesses back to full speed. We commend the work of local, state and federal governments to date to prop up the economy while the virus continues to rage. Another round or two of relief might be needed in the first half of 2021, and we urge bipartisan cooperation to make it happen.

Here at home, 2021 brings the opportunity for elected leadership to permanently resolve a divisive issue or two and proactively address the growing tension between preservation and progress and between growth and quality of life.

The Board of Supervisors at long last will make a call on a permanent home for the Confederate monument at the old courthouse. Consensus seems to be emerging to follow the lead of Surry County and preserve the monument but move it to a cemetery or to private property where it can still be viewed by history buffs, descendants of Confederate veterans and other interested parties. If that is the decision and it helps heal racial wounds in the community, count us as enthusiastically supportive.

More elusive is the ongoing objective of balancing population and economic growth with a desire by many current residents to maintain the small-town charm and character that attracted them to Isle of Wight or, in the case of natives, kept them here.

Happy mediums are hard to find in hot-button debates like the development of Pierceville and a proposed housing development on the Mallory Scott Farm at Battery Park and Nike roads. No one wants Smithfield and Isle of Wight to become suburban in pace or character. Elected officials, who are charged with making tough decisions, can find the right balance, we believe, even if the outcomes on individual projects don’t make everyone entirely happy.