As warned about last week, the fourth annual That Was the Year That Was 2015 could not capture 2015 in 800 or so words. (It will not take a third 800 or so words, however.)
Last week’s edition was mostly about politics and government, and government includes police. I do not know whether the 2015 crime numbers measured by Platteville police will be higher than the 2014 numbers (they have been on a downward trend the past few years). But a look through our Retrospect section of last week shows how often prominent crime occurs, ranging from Timmy Lansing Johnson Jr.’s 50-year sentence for reckless homicide to the standoff in Platteville Oct. 1 to the Christmas night armed robbery of Stop-N-Go. (And various lesser crimes such as Platteville’s periodic problems with public peeing, which reflect at minimum a lack of planning.)
Mother Nature commemorated the one-year anniversary of the June 2014 tornadoes six days early with, perhaps ironically, wind damage that was more widespread than the tornado damage. (To see three farms in a row on College Farm Road, with farm B containing farm A’s debris and farm C containing farm B’s debris was quite a sight.) At least last winter wasn’t as horrible as the previous winter, and this winter hasn’t, at least until Monday and our 12-inch-snowfall November day, really deserved the term “winter.” (Though apparently that is about to change.)
While this coming year will include Library Block construction (we hope) and votes for its across-Chestnut-Street neighbor the Pizza Block project, one big project completed fundraising this year — the Moving Platteville Outdoors trail, which apparently will be completed, including lighting, paving and other accouterments, faster than it will take the future Platteville-to-Belmont trail to be built. (The latter started earlier.) The MPO project featured significant government money, but also significant local (and, even better, non-local) fundraising and too many volunteers to list. There is perhaps a bit of irony in adding a lot of impermeable surface to the city in paving the trail, but permeable asphalt requires winning the lottery to be able to afford for that size project.
This year also included, within the pages of this newspaper, two different spellings of the editor’s last name, sort of — Prestegard for the three swimmers and performers in the house, and Prestegaard for Alison the freshman center for the Pioneer women’s basketball team. (I assume we’re related, since our last name once had two A’s in it; in some places my last name is also spelled with what’s called an “A-ring,” as in “Prestegård.” To bore readers even more: My — I mean our — last name means “priest’s farm” in Norwegian, so it’s half appropriate we live in a former rectory, though to be completely appropriate it should be outside the city limits. This column is as close as I will get to preaching, despite the letter to the editor I got six months after my introduction to Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino warning me about where my immortal soul was going. I suppose predicting I’m going to hell is different from being told to go to hell, though as a journalist I’m used to both.)
The past year included some great postseason basketball just outside this area, with Barneveld and Cuba City winning state girls basketball titles within two hours of each other, and Mineral Point going undefeated until running into 6-foot-10 Diamond Stone and Whitefish Bay Dominican in the state boys basketball tournament. A couple weeks later, the team Stone should have picked instead of Maryland, Wisconsin, exceeded its Final Four trip of the previous season and got all the way to the NCAA men’s basketball championship game. And then former UW–Platteville coach Bo Ryan, who wanted to be succeeded by Cobb’s, Iowa–Grant’s and UW–Platteville’s own Greg Gard, resigned in December to force UW to pick Gard. Meanwhile, Platteville High School graduate Paul Chryst proved he was a good choice to be the UW football coach, and his predecessor, Gary Andersen, was not.
The coming year is going to bring (oh, joy) presidential, U.S. Senate, Congressional and legislative campaigns, following municipal, school board and county board elections. It will also bring enough odious campaign commercials to make you want to throw that 60-inch LED TV you bought on Black Friday out the window. It will also include in April a referendum in Platteville to undo U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidated campaign spending regulations. (About which I will probably write later in this space.) This would be a good year for a Netflix subscription if you don’t have one already. (Among other things, Netflix includes all the Star Trek TV series, the 50th anniversary of the first of which is this September.)
As always, may your 2016 be better than your 2015. Which would be another way of Mr. Spock’s saying “Live long and prosper,” though 2016 will probably only seem long due to the aforementioned political commercials.