Raise your hand if you're happy this week is over. We agree. It's been a long one. Here are a few thoughts on some good news that occurred in the midst of all the horrific stuff and then a few numbers of note:
UC donation from famous dairywoman
Margo Souza, 74, of Turlock donated $1 million to UC Merced to establish a leadership center in her name in the university's office of student life.
Souza made a name for herself as the president and CEO of Turlock's Circle H Dairy Ranch Inc. She was successful in an industry that's typically dominated by men.
The pioneering dairywoman said helping students find their voice through leadership training is something that's very close to her heart. It was a college degree that opened doors for Souza, a Turlock native who spent 24 years as a nurse and 30 years in the dairy industry.
UC Merced officials said the donation will broaden the leadership programs already in place, while adding a new emphasis on entrepreneur training.
Batboy and friend proves unstoppable
She wasn't the only one doing something positive for others. Dallas Young, a 17-year-old senior at Merced High, has been doing it for his classmates and teammates since he hit campus.
Although he has Down syndrome, Dallas hasn't let that stop him from embracing every opportunity to participate in what high school has offered him. Nowhere is that more evident than on the baseball field, where he's in his third and final season as the Bears' extraordinary batboy.
As such, he not only picks up bats and returns them to the dugout, but he picks up teammates and coaches when they're down, doing everything a friend and fellow players is supposed to do -- and more.
He operates at warp speed, showing all those around him that a disability doesn't have to slow you down and doesn't define you. It's a lesson that's invaluable for all his high school classmates.
His inclusion in Merced High baseball is a credit to the school's coaches and administrators because they recognized the value of letting him participate. Too often the only thing that holds us back is each other. But not at Merced High and not Dallas.
His baseball career has been a home run and he's been a hit with other students as well, even being named Homecoming King. But he's more than an all-star batboy, he's an all-star person. Well done.
Finally, good list for Modesto, Merced
The jobless numbers of Stanislaus and Merced counties are still high, but they've dropped significantly. The website 247WallSt.com put out a list this week of the communities across the U.S. where unemployment has fallen the most. Modesto/Stanislaus County came in at No. 6, with a one-year drop of
2.1 percentage points, to 14.9 percent in February. Merced was No. 8 on the list, with a similar drop to 17.8 percent unemployment.
Madera County was No. 4. And because we know you're interested: No. 3 was Las Vegas and Nos. 2 and 1 were the Florida cities of Ocala and Palm Coast.
This website -- which claims to provide "insightful analysis and commentary for U.S. and global equity investors" -- puts together these lists using numbers from other organizations, in this case the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If a disaster hit here, would you be ready?
Thursday marked the 107th anniversary of the big San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed 80 percent of the city and killed an estimated 3,000 people. The anniversary prompted reminders from the Association of California Insurance Companies to: 1) Make sure you have earthquake coverage -- only 12 percent of California residents have purchased it -- and 2) make sure to have an emergency preparedness kit, with food, water and medications, and have a family evacuation and communication plan. The California Emergency Management Agency website, http:// myhazards.calema.ca.gov, provides suggestions. You also can type in your address and get recommendations how to prepare not only for an earthquake, but also for flood or fire. Good news for us: We don't have to prepare for a tsunami -- other than for the coastal people who would be fleeing one.