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2016: Happy New Year, baby
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It’s Jan. 1, 2016.
That’s a date that seemed far in the future when science fiction gave us “2001, A Space Oddity.” It’s a lifetime beyond George Orwell’s dystopian “1984,” let alone 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II,” when Marty McFly  went forward in time to 2015 and saw a future with holograms and hoverboards.
Today, there are many predictions for the coming year. All we know is, there are opportunities and pitfalls ahead. Even if it is true that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon said, January is an ideal time to set goals.
If the goal is to get a high school diploma, Barton Community College’s Center for Adult Education will soon be starting its nine-week GED Preparation Class. The orientation session, which is a prerequisite for the course, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 11-15 at 1025 Main St. in Great Bend. Those interested can call 620-786-7560 or arrive on the first day of orientation.
If you already have a diploma, the college offers cultural events, courses for academic or personal enrichment, and programs designed for workforce training.
Want to work on public speaking or perhaps the stage? We know that the Great Bend Toastmasters will have a regular meeting schedule after the holidays: noon to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month (Jan. 14 and 28) in the basement meeting room at the Great Bend Public Library.  And Great Bend Community Theatre will hold auditions for “The Kitchen Witches,” a comedy by Caroline Smith, this Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. at the Crest Theater. For details (or a reading copy of the script) contact the director, K.B. Bell, at or call 620-793-0366.
The meetings or activities of local clubs, churches and support groups are periodically announced in the Great Bend Tribune, as are programs at the Senior Center or the Recreation Commission. There are also many boards and councils with meetings that are open to the public, and opportunities to serve or learn.
Recently, Barton County District Judge Ron Svaty commented that he wished more people would watch what goes on in the courtrooms. Most hearings are certainly open to the public.
Whether you have plans for 2016 or plan to not have a plan, the new year is here. As cartoonist Bill Waterson’s character Calvin said in the final Calvin and Hobbes strip, “(It’s) a new year ... a fresh clean start! A day full of possibilities! It’s a magical world, Hobbes, old buddy ... Let’s go exploring!”