UnUnfinished business of 2017 portends an important 2018

Much of the local news landscape for 2017 reads like unfinished business that we hope will be moved toward completion in 2018.

The region continued a tragic struggle with an opioid epidemic that was underscored in late June, when there were 51 overdoses over a two-day period.

A multi-faceted network has been set up in the community to educate people of all ages on the dangers of opioids and rehabilitate those afflicted. The results have been laudable, but steep challenges remain as 2018 dawns.

The year also was marked by soul-searching related to the way city government has operated in Williamsport for more than four decades. The navel-gazing culminated with the November election voter decision to institute two commissions studying different forms of government.

In 2018, those commissions will be recommending whether those alternatives should be pursued and, if so, what options should be put before voters for a decision.

The drive continued much of the year regarding development and revitalization of city neighborhoods and parks, highlighted by plans for the East Third Street/Old City Gateway development, the Park Avenue Neighborhood Revitalization Project and modernization of all city parks.

The coming year sets up as pivotal to all those initiatives.

There were some positives to 2017.

Local people were part of the heroic efforts to help those ravaged by hurricane-wrought flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The natural gas industry that has become a vital part of the region’s profile showed signs of increased activity following a few years of stagnancy, portending good economic news in 2018.

And the Little League World Series was highlighted by an unforgettable melding of its activities with the first Major League Little League Classic, a Major League Baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals attended by players and their families at Bowman Field. The day of the game included joint activities between the major leaguers and Little League players.

The preparation for the event included extensive renovations that modernized and improved several parts of historic Bowman Field.

And, in keeping with the theme, a second Major League Little League Classic is set for this August between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.