Looking Ahead to 2011

Much of this issue is devoted to looking back at 2010, but now is also the time to get a jump on what will be in the news in 2011. While the biggest news stories of each year are almost impossible to predict (that’s largely what makes them big news, after all), we can be fairly certain that stories about the following four topics will end up in the pages of the Pulse at some point next year.

1. Cuts. Governor-elect Scott Walker campaigned with rhetoric of smaller government and spending cuts. If he puts his words into action, cries will grow louder at all levels of government as they struggle to maintain popular programs and services with less money.

Infrastructure of all types could take a hit as well. Outgoing Governor Jim Doyle’s administration was generous in its funding for bike and pedestrian planning, grants for stormwater remediation, as well as development and enhancement of public waterfront. Those projects not only enhanced the county’s tourism product, but brought work to many local contractors.

If cuts come, don’t be surprised if we hear complaints from the business community as well.

2. Census results. The much-ballyhooed Census 2010 gave its first numbers to the President Dec. 21. Those will determine the breakdown of seats in the House of Representatives, but the most telling information will come from the details in the numbers as they’re parsed throughout 2011.

What will Door County’s aging trend look like? Will Sister Bay remain the oldest community in the state, as it was in 2000? Will the door-to-door count reveal unanticipated results for Door County’s heavily seasonal population? No doubt organizations and governments will fight to define what the numbers mean for a variety of issues.

3. Referendums. For the first time, Southern Door School District is expected to go to referendum for funding to maintain programming. That makes it five for five for Door County school districts. Will they see the same success that the four districts before them have had? They will be joined in going that route in April by Sevastopol.

Meanwhile, Baileys Harbor will take its town core extension proposal to its residents in a non-binding advisory referendum.

4. Tourism spending. The direction of tourism is always at the top of the news in Door County. In April the state’s Department of Tourism releases its county-by-county visitor expenditure numbers. Room tax returns have shown that lodging is up in 2010, but word on the street is that retailers haven’t seen the same bump. What will the numbers show? Will 2011 be the year that tourism spending bounces back?