As we shake off what we hope are the last snowflakes of the lingering winter, we see a shining forecast ahead of us. Locals are looking up, stepping out, and working for a brighter future.

— TALKING THE TALK AND WALKING THE WALK: Many residents are putting in figurative and literal miles.

The 2019 Fun Run and Walk with the Badges raised awareness for victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The To Write Love on Her Arms Run For It 5K promoted the nonprofit organization that helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm and suicide.

Cowboy Donuts raised money for the Wyoming Breast Cancer Initiative. Purple lights lit up the streets of Rock Springs following the efforts of Jennifer Cash to educate people about sarcoidosis. The chronic disease is characterized by the buildup of immune system cells in organs and is often improperly diagnosed, according to Cash. She lives with the illness, having been given 10 years to live in 2014, and serves as an ambassador to spread the word and improve access to treatment.

Whether working in small groups or one-on-one, people are raising awareness, connecting people with support and fueling the innovations that will lead to more cures and assistance.

— RECYCLE, REDUCE, REUSE: The Ray Lovato Recycling Center lives to recycle again. The Recycling Center received enough public and financial support to make it to the end of the fiscal year. We think the former had an impact on the latter. People crammed into meetings to voice their desire to see recycling continue and expand.

The youth involvement is especially impressive. Elementary students are collecting items on behalf of the Recycling Center. High schoolers hosted fundraisers, and members of the Eco Club attended the Sweetwater County Solid Waste District No. 1 meeting. They see the value in the center and aren’t waiting to get involved in the debate.

A community that supports recycling has an eye on improvement and invests in the future. This improves the quality of life locally and is attractive to outside businesses looking to join the neighborhood.

— PUT IT OUT: The city of Rock Springs decided to treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco products. Similar to the way cigars or cigarettes sales are limited, vaping products can no longer be legally purchased by those under 18.

This is a positive step that updates the law to match today’s trends. Prior to the Rock Springs City Council’s final vote on the ordinance, teachers, students, counselors and law enforcement officers outlined the widespread use of e-cigarettes. Advances in technology are producing smaller vape pens that are easier to hide, and students are vaping on school grounds and even in the middle of class. It damages their focus and health, which leads to lower grades.

When it comes to punishing violators, the maximum penalties of six months imprisonment and a $750 fine will probably rarely be applied, but their existence demonstrates that the community takes the risks seriously and wants residents to make healthier choices.

— THE SKY’S THE LIMIT: The Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport keeps looking for new ways to expand and improve service. While it waits to hear if it will receive $11 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for a new commercial terminal, the Rock Springs City Council committed $800,000 for a new fuel tank farm. The airport will pay back the city through a tax on fuel sales.

Council members noted the funding was a no-brainer that will lead to economic benefits. The airport is one of the gateways to the community where visitors start forming their opinions on Sweetwater County. Upgrades to the terminal, the addition of exhibits, equipment improvements, free parking and continued good service help make good impressions.

Airlines have made it clear that when more people use an airport, more flights will be available. The regional airport already makes air travel cheaper and more convenient, and continued upgrades will lead to more options for fliers.

— MOVING BEYOND NO: While the Rocket City Racers have seen detours as members try to establish legal street races, their run isn’t over yet. Discussions with the Sweetwater County Fair Board may lead to races at the Sweetwater Events Complex in 2020. Events Complex staff and drivers are reviewing engineering and infrastructure requirements, along with free dates on the calendar. Many questions remain, but there’s still hope the racers will see the checkered flag.

Their unfinished journey provides a good example for others to follow. Even when the Rock Springs City Council voted against allowing a test drive on Stagecoach Boulevard, members suggested other options such as the Events Complex.

It’s easy for boards and councils to say, “No.” It’s harder to find alternatives, compromises and accommodations to provide desired services and amenities. Sticking with the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way status quo leaves us stuck in the past. Saying, “Yes,” or at least, “Maybe,” is the only way to race ahead.

— SELF-EDUCATION EXPANDS: What’s the best way to help students achieve? How can administrators equip teachers to aid students? How can we attract, retain and improve the best? Local educators are pondering the answers to these conundrums.

While the four-day school week for students proposal failed, we give Sweetwater County School District No. 1 credit for making an effort. Those at the district and college levels are exploring new solutions. In order to move forward, you need to set positive examples and adapt to change, and that’s what these leaders are trying to do.

Families can help by joining the debate at board meetings and forums as well as providing a solid foundation at home. If they help children develop good behavior and work ethic, it will be easier for pupils to reach higher levels.

Building a solid team is crucial. Dr. Anthony Muhammad, who met with Sweetwater No. 1 staff and students, warned people not to hitch themselves to the wrong person. He said if a person doesn’t make you better, that person is not for you. That’s good advice for youth, teachers, and the administrators charged with finding solutions to the big questions.

Leave behind the stubborn nags and mules. Pick a good partner, and you can ride off together into a glorious sunset.

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