Dane County also doesn't have any grand plans for the new year. County Executive Kathleen Falk says she has a lot of unfinished work to do, which is why she's running for re-election this spring.
"What I love about my job is taking problems and making things happen," says Falk. "That's what I don't want to walk away from."
Falk put $1.4 million in the county's 2009 budget to begin designing a manure digester project in the Waunakee area. The digester would convert manure on several dairy farms into energy, which could power the farms or be sold back to the electrical grid.
"We don't have the oil fields of Texas, but we've got something better - a renewable resource," says Falk. The county is working on a business model to decide how the digester will be run, either as a cooperative or by the county or some other entity.
"I just want to get that done," says Falk. "It's really exciting."
Falk included a request for funding for the manure digester in her wish list to the Obama administration, as part of the economic stimulus package. She also wants nearly $7 million in funding for road and infrastructure improvements. "He wants stuff that can be built" right away, says Falk, noting the county is ready to go on many construction projects.
In 2008, Falk launched several initiatives to combat alcohol abuse. "Misuse of alcohol is dragging us down," she says. "That's a job not done. That's another reason I'm running again."
The county expanded Project HUGS, which works with students to prevent alcohol abuse, into Sennett Middle School in Madison and River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton. And a coalition of business, health and community leaders will begin holding public meetings early in 2009 to come up with recommendations.
"It's exciting and energizing work," says Falk, "because we're tackling a really big problem."