Editor's Note - Predictions for the new year

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By Tom McDonald

Of course this isn’t very creative — pundits far and wide love to spell out our future with the onset of each new year — but indulge me anyway, as I offer up some predictions of my own:

Weather will continue to be a big story in 2013 — internationally, nationally and locally. Across the nation, there will be lots of extreme weather events: killer tornadoes in the South, superstorms along the eastern coastlines and oppressive heat and drought all over. An angry god won’t be the cause of it all; the onset of climate change will.

Here in the Las Vegas area, we’ll be lucky to dodge that dreaded catastrophic wildfire in the Gallinas Canyon, but the drought won’t go away. Vegas is in Stage IV water restrictions right now; I expect that we’ll be in Stage V by summer’s end.

Also in the coming year, Las Vegas will be hard up for money to fix all the broken parts in our water system. Yes, I know the City Council just passed some hefty rate increases, but it won’t be enough. The city will have to react to more waterline breaks — perhaps not as bad as the one just fixed by the treatment plant, which drained us of a quarter million dollars and about a zillion gallons of water — as Peterson Dam continues to leak like a sieve and the Gallinas River gets drier and drier.

I doubt that the idea of a northeastern New Mexico regional approach to water and economic development will gain much traction, mainly because the city of Las Vegas won’t get on board.

Inside City Hall, however, I think the mayor and city councilors will get along better this year. It seems to be trending that way already.

I predict San Miguel County will come up with a strong ordinance that doesn’t ban fracking all-out but makes it so restrictive for oil-and-gas companies that they won’t drill anywhere nearby. They will, however, start setting up drilling operations on the far eastern side of the county.

Jim Fries, president for the past five years at Highlands University, might just retire next year. It depends on the regents and whether he feels there’s anything left undone on his end. I’m not sure he has the fire in his belly to start another project like the student center’s construction.

Once opened, however, the student center will be declared by nearly everybody as an outstanding addition to Highlands and its campus life — and will eventually be named after Fries.

Up at Luna Community College, any effort to get rid of Pete Campos will fall flat, and he’ll continue as president. He’ll also be elected, with no significant opposition, as president pro tem of the state Senate.

But he’ll help preside over an unproductive legislative session. An uncompromising Gov. Susana Martinez will come to loggerheads with the Democratic majority; Campos will be unable to build a consensus; and the House will be largely ineffective because of the absence of Ben Lujan’s leadership.

As for capital outlays, I’ll bet Las Vegas will fare better in 2013 than it did in 2012 — but it still won’t be enough to keep up with its water system infrastructure problems.

I’m afraid the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge will continue to dry up, and migratory waterfowl flight patterns will be disrupted. Moreover, ranching will continue to go downhill as water and hay shortages drive up the costs of raising just about anything.

On the brighter side of things, I think we’ll see the Castañeda Hotel breathe new life into New Town, and the Plaza Hotel will never miss a beat as a new owner takes over at the end of the year. As for the Las Vegas Train Robbers baseball team, it’ll have a strong first season, providing great entertainment, a revival in community spirit and an economic boost to the service industry all over town.

If I’m right about these predictions, I’ll let you know. If I’m wrong, let’s just forget I ever wrote this column in the first place.

Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or tmcdonald@lasvegasoptic.com.