Art Cummings,

News-Times editor

First and foremost, I extend sincere personal wishes that 2011 will be a better year -- personally and professionally -- for residents of the seven-town Greater New Milford Spectrum area than 2010 was.

I hope peace and harmony will prevail in the public arena -- life is just too short for people to engage in partisan bickering and personal attacks.

I also hope residents of Greater New Milford will reach out and touch the lives of those less fortunate, and that the elderly, the infirm and the homeless are treated with respect and caring.

It is also my wish the economy will make a strong rally in this area and all across the country. So many of our neighbors and friends are struggling financially, and they can use a break.

From a policy perspective, I am hopeful 2011 will be the year that an individual will step up to the plate and take an aggressive leadership role toward solving New Milford's downtown traffic congestion problems.

Two long-awaited transportation projects -- the four-lane Route 7 from Brookfield to New Milford and the Grove Street/Route 67/Route 202 connector -- have been completed, and that is great.

But the streets in New Milford's wonderful, historic downtown are still too frequently clogged with traffic, and they will only become more congested as the years go by -- until a solution is found to take commuter and commercial traffic around the village center.

Mayor Pat Murphy is in the best position to exercise this critical leadership role, and I hope she is the one to take on the challenge.

Speaking of New Milford's downtown, I hope the town will continue to polish that jewel and will aggressively seek to attract businesses that will complement each other and enhance the downtown.

It is also my wish New Milford make 2011 the year in which charming old Bank Street is made a pedestrian street on more occasions than just the community's fall festival.

I firmly believe having Bank Street as a pedestrian district -- at least on weekends and perhaps for most of the summer -- would turn the area into a major calling card for New Milford.

Jacky Smith, News-Times managing editor:

As the economy in the Greater New Milford area continues its fragile recovery in 2011, I wish for a sense of security in the future for all. With hard work and ingenuity, the recovery can grow to prosperity.

Certainly the key ingredients already exist -- a strong business base, development opportunity and a skilled workforce -- in this region.

While we prepare for the immediate future, we should plan for the years and generations to come. My wish is for New Milford and the region to be steadfast in the commitment to preserve farmland, including the Davenport Farm for which, in part, New Milford will receive a state grant.

Of course there are problems to be solved, such as traffic congestion in the downtown area, but progress has hopefully been made with the realignment of Route 67 and Grove Street.

Though congestion remains as traffic crosses Veterans Memorial Bridge to Bridge Street, the monumental project should improve safety for motorists coming into downtown from the east.

Security, preservation and safety are wishes for 2011. More than that, though, I wish for all to experience enduring appreciation for the beauty and character of the area in which we live.

Norm Cummings, Spectrum editor:

Each new year brings promise, hope and opportunity for those of us who live in the Greater New Milford area. The New Year will be no different.

Right in step come stubborn problems left unsolved from the previous year, and unforeseen new challenges that blindside us at seemingly the worst possible times -- family issues, illness or the death of a loved one, loss of job, you name it.

We can count on facing some of those hurdles in 2011.

The 12 months to come will surely present a mixed bag, just as every year does... it's my wish for all of you that we can summon the inner strength and character to make life the best it can be for ourselves and those around us.

I am blessed to know and call friends many thousands of you in The Greater New Milford Spectrum. To you all, and to those I haven't yet had the pleasure to meet, I wish you plenty of promise, hope and opportunity in 2011.

To the teachers and coaches who dedicate your lives to open the eyes and nurture the minds of young people in the excellent schools of The Spectrum coverage area, I wish you perseverance and the tools you need to do your job to the best of your ability.

To the countless community volunteers, i.e. the firefighters, emergency crews, members of the many civic organizations, and so many others it's impossible to list you all, I wish happy returns many times over on the kindnesses and good deeds you bestow on your neighbors each day of the year.

To those who are struggling to find jobs, to make ends meet and to provide a happy and safe home for your children and yourselves, I wish you that special opportunity in 2011 that would provide a positive boost to your lives.

We all are lucky to live in such vibrant and beautiful communities as New Milford, Washington, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Sherman, Kent and Warren. Keep that thought in mind as you go about your everyday lives.

Remember to thank the policeman who offers you assistance. Take a moment to shake the hand of the doctor, nurse or social worker who likely has gone that extra mile to help you or one of your loved ones at a critical time in your life.

When you see an acquaintance while waiting in line at the post office or grocery store, brighten the moment by engaging in conversation.

If that acquaintance just happens to be me, and I don't seem to recognize you right away, don't be shy about re-introducing yourself. I tend to be in a hurry a lot these days but I always can find time for a chat.

With optimism in my heart for 2011, I wish you all a Happy New Year and plenty of reason to smile next time we cross paths!

Susan Tuz, Spectrum/News-Times reporter:

As 2011 begins I am looking to the budget season ahead for New Milford and wishing this year's will be less contentious than the last.

Teachers and administrators in the school system have made what I believe are reasonable concessions in light of the economic situation in both the town and the state.

As the New Milford Board of Education meets during the next two weeks, my hope is members will reflect on the economic climate. My wish for the town is that cool heads will prevail as budgets are decided on this year and the bitterness of 2010 will not be repeated.

Sullivan Farm's success is another wish I hold for the town of New Milford. The Friends of Sullivan Farm, a not-for-profit that proposes to manage the 106-acre property's youth farming operation, appears to have given careful consideration to both the needs of the community and the farm's future.

If a lease agreement were to be successfully reached between the town and the Friends, I hope the farm would flourish under new management and Youth Agency involvement would continue without staffing and funding burdens the agency reports it now finds unwieldy.

My wish for Sherman is the new firehouse will open this spring as planned and emergency dispatches are improved with equipment to be installed there.

For Washington, my wish is the newly approved Wykeham University proves to be a boon to the town.

May Bridgewater have a year free of the political contention hounding it in recent years.

For Roxbury, Warren and Kent, my wishes are for prosperous years with your small-town charm remaining intact.

Deborah Rose, Spectrum writer/photographer:

There is much to celebrate and be thankful for as I welcome 2011.

Hope, love and a renewed focus on family are on my mind these days, in part because the past year was filled with such great family joy.

My husband and I watched with pride as our 2½-year-old continued to grow into an inquisitive, bright and tender young boy, and we welcomed our second child, a little girl, in November.

Our family also witnessed other joys -- such as the birth of a nephew and visits with siblings we hadn't seen in several years .

I can't help but think the new year will be just as prosperous and filled with lots of love.

Yet there are issues near and far that remain heavy on my heart. Perhaps 2011 will be the year some of these issues are addressed.

On a global scale, I pray world leaders will engage in open, honest and healthy conversations about the world's biggest challenges, such as terrorism and the threat of nuclear attack, and work diligently and peacefully toward solutions that nurture kindness, love and peace among all people.

I pray for an end to the hatred and misunderstanding that breeds among people.

Some of my wishes for the community are repeats of years' past because, unfortunately, they have yet to be fulfilled.

I'd love to see some of the empty downtown storefronts -- for example, the former CVS space on Main Street -- and throughout New Milford flourish with business; a permanent homeless shelter for those in need; a permanent fix to the pits in the railroad tracks on Bridge Street; and the restoration of passenger rail service to New Milford.

New this year is a wish for the replacement of the fallen trees at New Milford Hospital at the corner of East, Poplar and Elm streets.

The loss of the old trees brought better visibility to the hospital, but took away some of the charm and aesthetics to the anchor-corner property. It'd be nice to see the trees replaced so residents could watch them grow in the years to come.

I wish for increased attendance at local libraries, all of which offer numerous special programs and activities to all ages. After all, libraries aren't just for borrowing books, DVDs and other items.

I also wish for more support of the historical societies throughout the Greater New Milford area.

These non-profit organizations are filled with such rich history and provide educational opportunities for all ages. Exhibits and special programs are offered periodically at these museums. They're hidden gems!

On a personal level, I wish for all of us to keep things simple; live honestly with and for ourselves, as well as for the people with whom we're in contact; look inside ourselves to discover our gifts and, if we haven't already, put them to use; and let go of the unnecessary clutter in our lives.

Have a happy and healthy 2011.

Claire Burch, Spectrum editorial assistant:

A lot of changes could be made in the coming year but, for me, there is none as important as raising the school budget.

As a junior at New Milford High School, I have seen the effects of the decreased school budget on my own school and others.

One of the most disappointing changes in recent years has been the number of teachers who have been let go or have left the school district. The students in my school community tend to agree we have been very sad to see these teachers go.

The trend has been the new teachers, who frequently serve as our athletic coaches, club advisors, activity leaders, and some of the greatest minds at the schools, are let go.

As fewer teachers are available, class sizes have grown from around 25 students or less to 30 or more. Attention to detail has become very lax because keeping 30 students quieted down and on task for so long becomes nearly impossible.

The number of questions must be limited because teachers don't have enough time to get through them all. Tests, homework, projects and the like have been reduced because one teacher grading more than a hundred at a time is nearly impossible.

As a student, I feel stretched thin by so much chaos in schools created by the tighter budget. I can only imagine how the teachers feel.

On behalf of my own school and our town's schools, I hope the budget will be passed quickly this year.

Janine Toussaint, Spectrum office manager:

Well, folks, it's that time of year again when we all wish each other a great year.

A lot of us will probably wish for the usual stuff, hoping everyone has a healthy, happy and safe New Year, and hoping the economy will get better and people could find jobs.

Yeah, I want those things, too, but I also wish to see people be more considerate to each other.

Do you remember after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our country how nice everyone seemed to be?

People came together.

Shouldn't we be doing the same thing today, seeing there are so many hardships because of the economy and lack of jobs?

Some people have stopped doing the simple things like holding open a door for someone, or letting someone out in front of them in traffic.

It seems some people would rather run you over than let you cross the street. I see people going out of there way to beat someone for a parking spot, or blocking an intersection so they don't have to let someone out of a side street.

I see people run red lights almost every day, putting their life and others' at risk.

So, here are my New Year's resolutions. I'm hoping everyone else will do the same.

Stop completely at stop signs, don't run red lights, and let someone out in traffic every day.

Hold open a door for someone and smile about it.

When you pass someone on the sidewalk, don't look down, look up and say `hi.'

Those are just a few simple things we all can do everyday.

Just remember, it's the little things in life that count the most. It's that simple.

Happy New Year.