We typically use this space for a thumbs up- thumbs down approach and then once a month to offer some numbers of interest. Today's theme is simply things to think about, based on news items from around our region and state. As always, readers are welcome to share their thoughts, either in a letter to the editor or on mercedsunstar.com, using the comment function.
After years of bad economic news for Merced County, some data surfaced this week that indicates things might finally be turning around. A report by the University of the Pacific Business Forecasting Center showed that while Merced's job growth was slow in 2012, it was steady and thankfully headed in the right direction. If it continues, it could reach pre-recession levels next year. As employers continue to discover what the valley has to offer in terms of land, government cooperation and improving infrastructure, numbers should only get better. With Merced housing values also on the rise, up 8 percent from 2011, it's time to exhale.
While we don't have a Super Bowl win to celebrate this year, we can still relish the World Series victory by the San Francisco Giants. You've still got a chance to see them in Merced County during a special appearance in Atwater. It turns out that Giants pitcher Sergio Romo has an aunt with kids in Atwater's Junior Giants program. Romo autographed and donated several items, including baseballs, gloves and hats, that'll be auctioned after the trophies are displayed. The proceeds will go toward the Atwater Junior Giants program. The trophies will be on display from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Atwater Community Center. The auction will start shortly thereafter. For those with money for bidding, they might walk away with more than a photo of the trophies.
A very important thing happened on a recent visit to UC Merced by area high school students: They realized they are cut out for university life. That critical and much-needed revelation occurred thanks to a program called "University for a Day at UC Merced." The program was developed by a group of teachers from all education levels, said Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute coordinator at UC Merced. The program began at Merced College as a way to show high school students what college life is like. These days a group of students from two local high schools visits UC Merced and Merced College every semester. This program peels back some of the mystery surrounding the pursuit of a higher education, demonstrating to these young people they're more capable than they think and clearly up to the task. It's an effort that's to be applauded for helping to create a higher education culture in Merced by show students that going to college is simply the next step in all their educations.
It might be interesting to take note of what shows up in your mailbox today. And do the same next Saturday and for the next several weeks. Then take note of how much of that mail goes directly into the trash. And of what remains, ask yourself, what hardship would this create for me if this hadn't arrived until Monday?
The U.S. Postal Service has proposed stopping Saturday residential delivery in August. According to a Gallup Poll last week, 63 percent of Americans were OK with that idea.