After months of the dreary, dusty hues of winter, green is sneaking back into the landscape. New sprouts are stretching skyward, and while we haven’t seen the last of the snow, warmer temperatures are around the corner. Of course, we didn’t have to wait for the arrival of spring to see new growth. We are excited by those who are taking advantage of existing opportunities and those creating new ones.

— AIRPORT NUMBERS TAKE FLIGHT: If recent headlines touting increased passenger numbers seem familiar, that’s because the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport has reported 26 consecutive months of growth through February. If airport patronage increases at the same rate, 2019 will set an all-time record for passenger numbers.

When it comes to the factors that are fueling the growth, the airport credited community support, increased capacity, cheaper airfares, free parking and industry-beating airline operational reliability. Recent upgrades continue to improve passenger experiences. The most recent example is an exhibit recreating part of the Fountain Club, along with famous Wyoming residents. Newly-arrived passengers can learn about Butch Cassidy and Calamity Jane, and then have their pictures taken together.

The more people use the airport, the more options there will be. Airport Manager Devon Brubaker noted flights won’t be added if the current service isn’t used. Since SkyWest Airlines added capacity, and customers have used it, discussions are in the works to add more flights. With good news like this, we’re happy to see things at the airport take off.

— ROOM TO GROW: Plans for a new residential subdivision can progress thanks to the Sweetwater County Commission’s decision to rezone land near the Rolling Green Country Club in Green River. We wish good luck to any developer working to provide a place for homes and businesses.

This project has potential. While you don’t want to count your chickens before the coops are built, let alone eggs are hatched, this bodes well for Green River. The community has long faced the challenge of being land-locked, and this development may provide an avenue for future expansion.

More projects like this, spearheaded by forward-thinking and business-minded people, are needed. We should support them and look for ways to encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

— THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN CONTINUES: Speaking of role models, the National Women’s History Alliance announced “Our History Our Strength” is the theme of the 2019 Year of the Woman. As part of that initiative, the Remember When Committee is honoring two women in each month of 2019. This puts a spotlight on local heroines whose contributions continue to enrich the community.

In March, Liz Strannigan and Rae Dell Bertonelli Varley joined the list of honorees that had already included Betty Dodd, Mary Louise Johnson, Barbara Jean Sweets and Kenilynn Zanetti. They serve as inspiration to others who can teach us much if we’d listen. Whether it involves standing up for change, persevering through hardships, running businesses and households, acting as leaders, or preserving history, their works should be lauded.

Eighteen more women will be recognized before the end of the year, and if you know of a woman who should be included in their number, you can pick up and submit a nomination form at Rock Springs Young At Heart. Nominees must be women 60 or older who are Sweetwater County residents and have a record of dedicating their lives to service of the community, family, career or church.

— GREAT PERFORMANCES: You don’t have to travel hundreds of miles down the interstate to see exceptional actors or singers. Sweetwater County played host to many talented entertainers.

From soul musicians to opera singers to thespians exploring the lighter and darker sides of stamp collecting, the Broadway Theater hosted many unique shows. The Live in the Lobby concert series continues to attract an eclectic collection of performers, and the Sweetwater Board of Cooperative Educational Services children’s choir took to the stage to open a special night at the opera featuring guest singers.

Then there’s the Actor’s Mission play “Mauritius,” in which rare stamps inspire dreams of a family legacy, a Holy Grail to be collected, a payout, a chance at revenge, and a ticket out. These varied visions come into conflict, as things often do when an item’s value soars far above what was originally printed on the front. The show gave the audience lots to think about.

Looking ahead, we’re ready for the Green River High School production of “Bright Star,” and Western Wyoming Community College’s musical “Into the Woods.” Performers from the latter gave a preview at the library, where children got to listen to songs and practice their princess rescuing technique. Be thankful tickets to these high-caliber shows are available so close to home.

— BEST OF THE BEST: This is the time of year when students start to bask in the spotlight. As winter sports wrapped up, several Sweetwater County teams and individuals earned postseason honors. We can brag about having extraordinary dancers, cheerleaders, speechmakers, debaters, track and fielders, and basketball players, in addition to coaches.

Practice pays off, though people don’t always see it. When you see a relay team blazing down the home stretch, a dance squad make the most of its one shot to wow the judges, or a last-second shot to win the game, you’re seeing the impact of hundreds of invested hours.

In addition to athletic achievers, academic-minded students are being rewarded. Once you reach spring break, the end of the school year is in sight, and scholarships are beginning to be announced. This is when the extra essay drafts, test prep, and intensive studies pay off. Kudos to those who put in the extra effort.

Photos of these top-notch students may not capture all the hours that led up to their crowning moment, but if you look at the smiles of the recipients, you may see a hint. Once you’re standing on the medal stand, or depositing the check that will cover next year’s tuition, it’s easier to recognize the value of hard work. This is a lesson we hope they apply as they continue their adventures.

This is the time to shake off the limitations of the past. As spring fights to usurp winter, we can follow these trailblazers who push boundaries and reveal new opportunities.

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