Jane Bubar wants to find more time to spend with her grandchildren, while Eugene Skibitsky hopes the economic hard times won’t affect the services in his town.

The Rev. John Gensel hopes that the common people of Israel and Palestine will have a greater voice, which he believes could bring about peace in the Middle East.

People in several River Valley towns reflected on the year about to pass as they pondered hopes and fears for 2009.

All found something to be thankful for during 2008.

“The new building that just opened. It’s a real dramatic thing for the whole town of Rumford,” said Bubar, spokeswoman for Rumford Hospital, referring to the recently dedicated John H. Welsh Building, a part of the hospital.

Cindy Decker, ticket manager at Black Mountain of Maine, is grateful for the snow that fell during the 2007-2008 ski season and is hoping for the same this season.

“We just had 22 inches. That was great,” she said.

She worries just a little, though, about her daughter, who will graduate from college in May.

“I hope she can find a job,” she said.

Gensel, pastor of the Dixfield Congregational Church, is thankful that the election is over and a new president has been chosen.

“We can continue with the democratic process of freedom, justice and peace,” he said.

Mexico and Rumford fire Chief Gary Wentzell had a great time at his family’s three-day reunion in August at Roxbury Pond.

As for 2009, he hopes Rumford begins to take steps to move forward and come together.

“If the town is going to improve, that’s the first step,” he said.

He also is concerned about the economy because so much depends on it.

“I have hopes that the Democrats will do more than the Republicans, but I’m also concerned about the accountability of the firms getting bailed out,” he said.

Skibitsky, newly appointed town manager of Dixfield, is thankful to be in his position.

“I have a supportive staff and I’m absolutely delighted by the welcome from the town,” he said.

But he has worries about an energy crisis as 2009 begins.

“I hope we don’t go back to driving too much (now that gas is cheaper). I hope we take the time to invest in alternative energy,” he said.

He also hopes Dixfield residents stay positive.

“We can put the re-val behind us and go into 2009. My hope is that we all think positive and keep an open mind when we go to town meeting. With the economy so bad, people are worried and sometimes they take it out on things they can control, like town expenses. That only hurts in the long run,” he said.

Wentzell shared the same fears.

“As bad as the economy is, I hope the different municipalities don’t make cuts that could be dangerous to people,” he said.

Gensel sees the biggest challenge ahead in Afghanistan and Iraq. He wants a resolution to the wars that carries fairness for the people of both countries.

Rumford Town Manager Len Greaney wrote a New Year’s resolution he hopes all people serving the town will adopt. He hopes elected and appointed people will not participate in accusations, innuendoes, half-truths or unsubstantiated rumors. He hopes people will spend time promoting the positive aspects of the town.

“If we can become a positive and influential force, we can do great things collectively. My largest challenge, as town manager, is to face any possibility of a paper mill downturn with optimism that we can continue to provide the important service levels at a predictable cost,” he said by e-mail. “I’m hopeful I can make a long list of accomplishments for the first half of 2009.”

Wentzell said his greatest hope for 2009 is that he’ll still be here.

“I’ll just keep going the way I’m going. I want to stay upbeat and not get down,” he said.


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