A look back at 2021: What a year!

By Lynnette Hoffman

A look back at 2021: What a year!

Trying to recap 2021 is a task like none other. We are in the middle of the worst pandemic, we have a huge surge in inflation, a huge increase in the crime rate and people are still financially struggling. Many have lost loved ones. There are still mandates which people argue about today. We were able to finally leave the stages that were enforced and affected small businesses terribly. New businesses opened and the festivals went on. This was a year like none other.

COVID-19 is still here, now we are experiencing variants. There will be several COVID variants now, some have caused heavy losses and others are mainly acting like a cold. Getting into the debate of masks or no masks, vaccine or no vaccine is a daily occurrence for many. We saw people angry at those who do not wear a mask and we saw non mask wearers angry at those who do. The division on this subject is definitely one that is still causing issues with many today.

New businesses opened, only one closed. We saw the Country House open which now had Asian food including sushi. High Tail Tack opened on Jackson Hwy and Dr. Free moved her business to Toledo. Gee Cee's celebrated 35 years, under the same ownership. Lowe's opened their distribution center off the Mickelsen Parkway. One restaurant that had been an institution was Spiffy's, they closed due to fines because they chose not to follow the mandates. Another business that closed was Winlock Tire and Auto. One business had a fire that shook us all, Winlock Fibre, but we are glad to hear they are rebuilding.

Growth in our area has been huge. Toledo had a few new homes as so did Vader, but their city limits do not have the area that Winlock does for building. Napavine also got a few homes and an apartment complex is on the way.

We also had some exciting things, several cows went for strolls and as always, neighbors helped get them home. Remains were found in Winlock, but are still unidentified. The festivals this year had record numbers as everyone was excited to get out after being in their homes for so long. Senior Centers will start reopening after their soft openings. I met a young girl named Lawsyn Rovito who is dealing with kidney issues, she was an incredible young lady. The family started a non-profit to help other kids, Lewis County Renal Alliance. They have started helping other families.

The schools are back in person learning, several things have changed. Toledo is now teaching, inclusion, diversity and equality. I have not heard of other schools teaching what many consider CRT (Critical Race Theory). Winlock and Napavine have not included this curriculum, yet. Toledo is the first school in South County to teach this in the schools.

All sports teams did awesome, it was definitely a year for south county. We saw local teams go to state, what a wonderful event they will hold dear for the rest of their lives.

It was a year to never forget, so many changes have happened this year. We don't know what each year will bring. We take each year in stride, some affect us more than others. This will be a year that we will never forget.