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Pioneer Viewpoints: A look back, a look ahead

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For journalists, the end of the year is all about lists. What were the biggest stories of the past year? Who were the newsmakers of 2013? What were the photos of the year?

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The end of the year is also about looking forward, whether with resolutions to do something in the upcoming 12 months, or in the case of journalists, predictions or ideas of what's to come in 2014.

With that in mind, here's a look back at some stories we covered in 2013, and a look forward to 2014:

• Annexation: Just when you thought you were safe on your knowledge of this complicated issue, in 2013, it would take another twist. Contentious meetings, lawsuits and legal maneuverings kept annexation in the news this past year, with no real resolution. Here's hoping 2014 brings some finality to the subject.

• Sanford Bemidji Medical Center: It was a year of transformation along Anne Street -- it seemed as if every month there was something "new" at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. From new centers for cardiology and orthopedics to robotic surgery systems to a hyperbaric center, the evolution of health care was on display in 2013. On the horizon, officials are looking to expand treatment of weight management and obesity issues, as well as continuing on a path to create an expanded cancer treatment center in Bemidji.

• South shore: A new hotel adjacent to the Sanford Center; a proposed apartment building project, the proposed new Lakeland Public Television building; the opening of the new DoubleTree hotel; cleaning up and developing a new beach; talks of a swimming pool and development of a new park; a survey of residents on south shore wishes; even the inquiries about opening a Zorbaz -- there was a lot of news for the south shore in 2013. As we enter a new year, expect continued movement on developing the area, as it is key to helping Bemidji grow.

• Sanford Center: The south shore development and the Sanford Center were intertwined in 2013, as many of the proponents of the projects above listed the facility as a catalyst for growth in the area. While there was no "bombshell" concerts in 2013 (and even a few cancellations), the Sanford Center maintained its standing as an important economic engine for the area. Already, the new year seems to be starting out right, with scheduled shows including The Band Perry and Chicago. Also, the addition of a new Indoor Football League team -- the Bemidji Axemen -- should bring more fans through the turnstiles.

• Carnegie Library: Supporters of saving and moving the Bemidji landmark made some progress in 2013, through private fundraising and working with local groups to advance their cause. State legislators, during an early November trip, seemed receptive to the idea of helping to fund the project, whether through bonding requests or legacy amendment funding. The saving of the Carnegie is a worthwhile cause and we hope it receives the funding in the upcoming legislative session.

• Homelessness: While no singular event stands out, this issue garnered more attention in 2013 -- and rightfully so, whether it was from the Pioneer or other media outlets. There now seems to be some movement in the community to better address this issue. We here at the Pioneer intend to keep reporting about this important issue in 2014.

• BSU and Northwest Technical College: In 2013, Bemidji State announced its "Imagine Tomorrow" campaign, a $35 million fundraising effort that will support a variety of initiatives. Soon after, organizers announced that $25.4 million already had been raised during the campaign's "quiet phase." BSU officials also announced a task force will be looking at all aspects of Northwest Technical College, which has seen declining enrollment the past few years. The importance of BSU and NTC to our quality of life, to our economy and to the area's overall future, can't be underestimated. We predict bold moves forward for both in 2014.

• Tourism: In 2013, Bemidji continued to be the center of attention for many events -- including the always-popular Dragonboat Festival, as well as the annual Vintage Car Show and Art in the Park. The Blue Ox Marathon debuted in 2013, with the number of entrants shattering what organizers had hoped for a turnout. Here's hoping for another strong turnout in 2014. And there's the new Winterfest on Lake Bemidji event slated for early February. Again, civic leaders and various event organizers should be commended for continuing to build a strong economic and quality of life draw for the community.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, rather just a sampling of important topics covered in 2013. What we do know is that there's never a shortage of news, and we look forward to more of the same in 2014.

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