2007 is ending. How was the year for you? For me, this year has come and gone so quickly it feels as if time has sped up. As I look back at 2007 and this column, what I am most proud of is how varied the subjects have been.

One of the first columns I wrote was about smoke detectors. That column made a friend of mine immediately put two up in her apartment. She had survived two fires and this column was the final kick in the pants she needed to take care of something that can save a life. So as you’re nodding your head in agreement, please go out and replace the battery in your own smoke detector. If you don’t have one, please go and buy one and put it to work right away.

I wrote a column on littering. The amount of filth that this community generates on the street is more than we should tolerate. It only takes a moment to put trash in its proper receptacle. A lot of the trash is generated by those walking and eating. I hope 2008 can bring about an initiative that will get this community clean and keep it that way.

I wrote several columns on illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is now one of the “hot button” issues for candidates running for office, especially for president. It is an issue that our politicians seem unable to address or resolve. States such as Oklahoma and Arizona are the testing ground for new laws meant to restrict illegal aliens’ access to public services and benefits.

This column addressed the issue of problem items from China. We all have heard of the lead in toys (I hope many of you will test toys given to your children for Christmas to check on the lead content), but not many had heard of problems with fish. How many of you are aware that most fish comes from outside the USA? Many of us grew up watching movies that told of American farmers and how “America feeds the world.” Well that is no longer true. Many food products on our store shelves are coming from outside the country.

This column has and will continue to focus on the need for good black-owned businesses and the support of those businesses. We lack a locally owned shopping district and because of it, our business strips aren’t what they should be. I will continue to remind the community of the once-a-year events like Pre-Kwanzaa and the African Festivals of the Arts. Both are excellent venues for shopping with black-owned businesses. At the same time, I will stay on the case regarding the TIF (tax increment financing) districts that have been placed in our community and where those dollars are and are not going.

Crime continues to be another problem that we suffer from. The criminals range from the drug dealers on the street to those in the blue and white cars. This community shouldn’t tolerate either variety. We are still having too many killings, especially of our young people.

I am also proud that this column focused on cooking. I didn’t do it as often as I would like, but I have heard from several people who, after reading my column, decided they too would grind their own beef. It only takes an extra few minutes and is the best method I know of to avoid the problem of ecoli bacteria in hamburger. I also heard from several people about some of the recipes I had printed. My method of preparing canned biscuits has been a winner with everyone who tried it.

Lastly, the only way for me and everyone else involved with this paper to know if we’re doing a good job, or even a bad one, is for you to write this paper and let us know. Our Internet site for this paper, www.austinweeklynews.com lets you comment directly on a story or my column. As we start off the New Year, I hope many of you will take the time to write.

Belated Merry Christmas! Remember to celebrate Kwanzaa and have a safe and prosperous New Year.

And if you must fire a weapon for New Year’s Eve … please use blanks!

Contact: westside2day@yahoo.com