Thomas Howard: Where will we go in 2020 and beyond?


It’s a brand new year, a brand new decade, and I’m excited to see where Mississippi will go. Already, there are stirrings of large-scale changes. There’s bipartisan support for expanding healthcare, hints of a gas tax raise, mumblings of paying teachers more and even whispers, though disgruntled, about giving more funding to mental health.

Will all those things happen? I doubt it, but I do get excited about hearing even the softest murmur of something other than the rainy-day fund. My rainy-day fund would be pretty sweet too if I only paid 80 percent of my bills.

New Year’s has to be my favorite holiday. It’s like everyone gets a fresh start, a chance to set new goals and try new things. I’m all for trying new things, failing a bit, learning, growing as a person. I try, and usually fail, to do it every day.

One thing I consistently fail at is being nicer to politicians, specifically Republicans. I’ll admit my personal ideology tends to lean toward the liberal side, but I do tend to agree with the Republican party on a lot of things. Budgeting for one; it’s a dumb idea to spend more than is coming in. Limited government is another.

Mississippi Republicans have a super majority in both the House and Senate, as well as control of all statewide offices, but that doesn’t mean I should get a free pass to harp on them. My first goal for 2020 is to be nicer to Republicans, and if the Mississippi Democrats ever manage to get off the ground again, I’ll work on being nicer to them too.

My second goal for the next 12 months is to connect more with Newton County. A community newspaper is only as good as its connection to the readers, and while I think we do a decent job of keeping folks informed, we could always do better.

Over the next year, what I’d really like to do is dive deep, go beyond what the county supervisors, aldermen or school trustees did this week and get a strong grasp on the why. The why drives journalism, and it’s one of the driving causes of me choosing newspapers as a career. Why is historical, cultural, occasionally legal and almost always ideological. And, it’s always interesting to find out.

My other goals aren’t quite as interesting. I’ve had a goal of starting a spring vegetable garden every year for about a decade. It never happened, but it’s staying on the list.

I’m also setting a personal goal for running 1,000 miles in 2020. It looks like I’ll wind up with about 717 for 2019, so another 300 or so doesn’t seem too far of a stretch. I probably need to get a new pair of shoes though.

Of course, the usual go to the gym more, eat healthy and read more books will get rolled over into 2020 as well, but don’t they always?

What are your goals for the new year? The new decade? Do you know how to grow vegetables? Can you teach me? Please?

Whatever your goals for 2020, good luck and welcome to a brand new year!

Thomas Howard is the managing editor of The Newton County Appeal. He can be reached at