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Happy New Year's Eve, friends.

Thank you so much for sharing your time — your most precious gift — with me, whether it's a Tuesday or a Saturday morning or each weekday online.

This time a year ago, we all were hopeful that 2021 would be filled with more promise than the 2020 that made every human aware of a new, deadly and contagious virus and acutely familiar with where Wuhan, China, is located.

But by lots of measures, 2021 was every bit as bad.

The pandemic continued with a nasty variant, delta. Then another variant spurred another spike. We learned of variants that shared names with fraternities, airlines and heavy metal bands.

So here we are hoping for better — much better — and wondering how in the world it could continue to slide.

If 2021 was full of anything, it was full of the message that better days and times are never guaranteed.

With that, let's offer some happy new year wishes for some familiar names around the area.

For County Mayor Jim Coppinger, the peace that he's earned. There are a handful of jobs in our little corner of the world that should be measured in dog years. I wrote that when former Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy retired earlier this year, and he told me it's the truest thing I'd ever written. Coppinger's leadership of 11 years has taken us all through some serious roller coaster thrills and spills.

For Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, may your first full year in office deliver a home run in your pick for the city's next police chief. Kelly must replace an excellent chief, and considering the crime issues around our county's hub, we need a rock star's rock star.

That's never easy, especially when there have been whispers about pre-election "wink-winks" about certain boxes being checked in this hire. Go find the best man or woman and bring them here to clean up Chattanooga. We started our comeback by cleaning up our air. That comeback will need a comeback if we do not clean up our streets. And that's now on Kelly.

For Mickey McCamish, may he know how much what he does for veterans in our area and beyond means to his community. And for all the great causes and human interest organizations out there, may you find a champion like Mickey.

For Riverbend, great weather and a COVID dip. The overhaul of the long-standing summer music festival happened right before the pandemic made musical festivals petri dishes, so Riverbend is staring into the unknown and needs a really good showing this summer.

For Dr. Maggie Green and our pediatrician, Dr. Allen Coffman, and all of the weary medical professionals who continue to fight the good fight for the most glorious of causes — our health — may you see the light at the end of this never-ending tunnel. (And for all of us, may that light be the rising sun and not another variant train.)

For the mental health of us all, may we find the perspective, energy and purpose of the fifth grade girls on a basketball team I coach. Because Ray, Callie, Abney, Lucianne, Violet, Victoria, Helena, Gabby, Hadley and Ally have taught me more about the reasons we love sports than I have taught them about the sport.

For all of the subscribers of the Times Free Press, may your iPads be connected and may your patience with our transition be flush. And may you know that our appreciation of you is deep.

Bring it, 2022. We are more than ready for you.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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