Staff Writer

The Estherville News is entering its 152nd year of publication. Because the past often defines the future, and because another year and another decade have come to life, the newsroom developed and collected 20 predictions for 2020.

1. Great performances

The Iowa Lakes Community College Estherville campus is putting the final touches on the Janice Lund Performing Arts Center, a project funded by a 2016 bond referendum that funded improvements at each of the college's five campuses. The project is scheduled for completion in mid-February, 2020.

2. Cold, snow, you know the drill

The Farmer's Almanac, predicting the weather for the past two centuries, predicts Iowa and the surrounding area will be frigid and snowy with a "polar coaster" winter ahead. Jerry Schnoor, co-director of the University of Iowa's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, said there is some hope Iowa will escape the polar vortex in 2020. His hope is supported by the fact that there is no El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. That's when surface water temperatures rise in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America and cause a weakened jet stream leading to the frigid temperatures. Instead, some experts predict a La Nina, which could lead to a larger than normal temperature swing between unusually warm and unusually cold.

The National Weather Service said there is a slightly above-average chance of higher-than-normal temperatures during January and February.

3. Here comes the springwaters

The snow will bring with it high waters in the spring. It's another familiar routine for those who live along the West Fork of the Des Moines River. National Weather Service Mark Fuchs said two other factors are concerning: saturated soil and the aforementioned wetter-than-normal winter snowfall.

4. Something to eat?

Food experts predict more green in our diets. Even in places like Emmet County, where often traditional, hearty Midwestern fare takes center stage, the pulled pork could make room for produce grown by regenerative farmers, who focus on soil health, and legumes and other plant food from cover crops could crop up in restaurant menus and specialties by home cooks across the nation.

5. Everyone works, and works hard

For perhaps the first time in history, Iowa's workforce is now employing people from five different generations. Workers in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, part of the Greatest Generation born in 1946 or before, don't want to retire and they are staying in the workforce along with Baby Boomers, born 1947-1964, Generation X, 1965-1981, Millennials, 1981-1996, and the oldest members of Generation Z, born 1997 and after, who are increasingly choosing time in the workforce before attending college, attending community college, part time classes, certifications that take months instead of years to attain, and situations besides full time attendance in college.

6. Get up and get moving

There is a war on sitting, and it's coming to your comfy chair. Not only do health experts predict a continuation of the running boom, in which previously lounge-loving individuals sign up for road races, reaching its peak at 19 million Americans signing up in 2013, Experts predict the plateau of new runners will turn around and more people will get their loved ones going. Gretchen Rubin, author of "That Happiness Project," said she expects people will become increasingly focused on trying to move more throughout the day. "Research shows our bodies aren't designed to be in one place for hours at a time. And of course, a short break is good for our brains," Rubin said.

7. Mindfulness will prove

it's more than a fad

Taking a pause. Paying attention to each breath. Restoring the mind in a sea of stress and the demands of life will all become more popular as many wellness experts say mindfulness and recovery are here to stay and are not just a fad.

8. More face time and less Face Time

The in-person meeting will come back, because while webinars are great, there's something missing in translation across the internet, and when you can't see and meet in person the people you're working with, the work becomes less personal. Screen fatigue may reach the point that more people will say, "Let's get out of this text and I'll call you," or "Can you meet me in 15 minutes?" More hugs, more smiles, more connection in real time may be the result.

9. Mindfulness and personal

connection will reduce cortisol

Few people argue that Americans are seriously stressed and paying for it with their health. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response. From recovery to meditation and mindfulness, to mental health days, a recovery focus and guilt-free slowing down will rush to the forefront for 2020, according to wellness experts.

10 More think, less drink

There's a term growing in popularity called sober curiosity. It's possible alcohol may be preventing people from living their best lives. Dry January is a month-long challenge that begins, well, now, and the curiosity comes from wondering what it's like to be tuned-in, instead of numb to the people and things in one's sphere of awareness.

11. More aware modern moms and dads

The good news: the background hum of endless episodes of kids' movies and shows may be moving to a back burner. The challenging news: mom and dad will have more direct involvement in their children's downtime. With the word out that hours of self-directed screen time, often watching videos or movies for hours, is not the greatest for kids, the old tradition of sitting down to watch a movie or show together is being replaced by a multi-player, bonding family gaming session. Tabletop games are also making a resurgence. And while role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons used to be the purview of people of a certain age, many parents are now dungeon masters with experience dating to the beginnings of companies like Wizards of the Coast, and families are rolling characters for everyone from kindergartener to curmudgeon.

12. Every day take 20

Another time of respite from the crazy-busy world, Everyday Take 20 is a way to teach children self-care while nurturing their original thoughts and expressions of feelings. While in recent years, working parents reported spending about seven minutes of one-on-one time with their children in any given day, Everyday Take 20 is bringing families closer together by reminding parents to give their children 20 scheduled minutes to just sit and be and listen to them. This is predicted to cause improved behavior at school, improved mental health, improved connections (perhaps the thing all these trends could be wrapped up in) and a launch of many things getting better.

13. House becomes a home

Soaring showplaces are losing favor with home buyers. This could be a good thing for Estherville and other housing markets in which there are many slightly smaller, older homes. Mortgage rates are set to bump up to 3.88 percent by the end of 2020, and sales will drop at the higher end of the market where the bumps make a major difference. Homeownership will climb to 64.6 percent as the midsized market will grow due to homeowners demanding affordability. Millennials and much of Generation X are seeking more time for what they want out of life, and are less willing to work overtime just to afford a home they never see. Breaking that cycle will continue through the 2020s, according to George Ratiu, Realtor.com senior economist. Millennials will purchase fully half of all homes for sale in 2020. Employment growth and wage growth will put more people into homes than in the 2010s, Ratiu said.

14. Homebuyers will start now

Nicolas Bedo, also of Realtor.com, said while historically April kicks off the home shopping season, that kickoff has been pushed back and now shoppers who are strategically navigating a tight housing market begin in January. The affordable housing market, homes priced under $200,000, have shrunk by over 15 percent.

15. Kids' predictions from

40 years ago are a mixed bag

Kids were polled in 1980 with their predictions for 2020. Some predicted everyone would have identification microchips (some employers are beginning this task); others hoped robots would cook supper, make beds, and assist with other daily living needs (assistive technology does exist for much of this).

Kids predicted medical facilities would double in number or size to handle the aging population. They predicted robot sports coaches and umpires, so parents couldn't argue with the ump at their games.

One eighth grader said, "People with big investments will have more say in governing the nation through big-time politics."

Another said, "Teenagers will not find enough work because computers take control of every fast-food chain and gas station job in the world."

In education, several agreed that there might be a computer assigned to each student, and their work would be presented to them digitally.

16. Estherville will grow through

new ideas and new investments

Several new companies started in 2019, and others are on tap for 2020. A new mayor, new council members, and other new leaders seem ready to harness the opportunities seeking to locate in the community. No one company, no one employer, no one solution appears to have ever singularly saved a community, and with changes continuing in each successive year, it is difficult to imagine a restoration of local conditions from decades ago.

17. Estherville and Emmet County

will offer more things to do

In August, five travel bloggers descended on Emmet County to photograph and write about the area and its offerings for travelers, families on day trips, and others coming through or seeking a destination. The Estherville News staff heard many comments that the bloggers uncovered many opportunities locals don't often think of. On that seeming wave of positivity, more individuals and businesses will step forward and take on the mantra, "Just do it."

18. Area schools will continue to shine, work through challenges

The schools we cover: Estherville Lincoln Central, North Union and Graettinger-Terril, regularly send their best and brightest to state in academics, fine arts, and athletics. Andthey all face challenges due to their size, losing their superstars to graduation, and simply experiencing the ebb and flow of a school community's lifecycle. Our reporting has shown that as a rule, the leaders and educators at all the schools are continuously improving. Most citizens state the teachers and other staff at the schools are dedicated professionals who genuinely seek the best for students. In this area, the community will continue to post wins.

19. Community will continue to disagree and come together when it's important

The year 2019 was full of tragedy and triumph, overcoming and continuing struggle in many of the Estherville News stories. Some issues saw resolution. Other challenges will go on, because not every story ends in a neatly wrapped solution. Newsroom photos show large crowds for fundraising events and other opportunities to support people in need around the community. The clubs and groups and individuals who strive to make things better have demonstrated coming together for a good cause has made a difference.

20. The unpredictable always happens

The Estherville News found moments of surprise, of destruction, of dreams deferred, and of wonder throughout the newsroom's coverage of 2019. Human life will continue to take the newsroom and the community by surprise.


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