Tonight we celebrate the year’s end with friends at Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd, enjoying good food and listening to the always-excellent music of Bernie Coveney, Chris Luster and other musicians who will join them on stage before Rob Neukirch’s restaurant closes for its annual sojourn for the month of January.

David and Gretchen St. Lawrence, our house guests for the past two weeks while they work earnestly at getting their new home on Silverleaf Lane ready for occupancy, will join us in ringing out the old year.

It is appropriate that we end the year with two of Floyd County’s newest residents. This has been a year of change not only for us but also for the area. Floyd, like many Blue Ridge mountain communities, continues to grow and faces the problems that come from such growth.

The town of Floyd starts the new year working on a revitalization project spurred by a $1 million grant from the Virginia Department of Community Development but that project faces challenges not only from the traditional squabbling that has hampered past efforts but from a concentrated campaign by a couple of gadfly newcomers who seem determined to throw down roadblocks to anything they don’t like.

There’s no doubt that 2006 brings challenges for all of us – old-timers and newcomers alike – who make the county our home. Floyd is a county in transition, that fork up the road can lead to success or failure and, at the moment, no one has an up-to-date map to tell us which road to take.

For many of us, it won’t be the first time our lives have come to such a fork. My life has taken many turns in the past 58 years while Amy and I have faced many challenges for the past 26 of those years.

But life is best lived when one looks towards the road ahead and not at the one traveled. While reflection on the past can serve its purpose, dwelling on what was is both time-consuming and counter-productive.

We’ve been there and done that. Now it is time to go there and do more.

Happy New Year.