For students, most public employees and some in the private sector, this is the start of a three-day weekend.
The ski slopes beckon; there are some great movies in the theater and there may even be a football game of note on TV.
But what, if anything, will you do to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday on Monday? We hope you'll at least think about making it a day of service.
Our president, our governor and many others are urging people to look for ways to serve. Don't say you cannot find anything to do. There are lots of opportunities. A state website, www.CaliforniaVolunteers.org, offers some links. Here in Merced County, several agencies make good use of volunteers and can provide referrals. They include:
The United Way of Merced County, (209) 383-4242.
Building Healthy Communities, (209) 580-6746.
Catholic Charities, (209) 383-2494.
King was a rousing orator, and he's often quoted. We think this statement applies: "Life's persistent and most urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
A bill to bring safe water to poor places
It is bad enough that residents in poor San Joaquin Valley communities must buy bottled water because what comes from their taps is dirty and often unsafe.
But the state of California has made the situation worse by requiring these communities to negotiate a confusing bureaucratic maze to access grants and other funding to build or repair water infrastructure.
Judging by the jumble of rules, a skeptic might conclude that the state and its leaders really aren't interested in helping these residents -- many of them farmworkers who pick and tend the crops powering California's $38 billion a year agricultural industry.
Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, however, has been on a crusade to replace these third-world water systems, and Tuesday he introduced Assembly Bill 115, which would help disadvantaged communities get that most basic of needs -- clean drinking water.
Perea's bill allows multiple communities to apply for state funds as a single applicant. This is critical because small towns often don't have a water board or overseeing agency to shepherd requests through the system.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed seven bills into law in 2011 aimed at increasing access to safe drinking water. Last year, he signed legislation establishing that Californians have a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.
Brown and the Legislature now have an opportunity -- and a responsibility -- to turn words into action by supporting Perea's bill.