More morning alarms are ringing in Sweetwater County homes. With summer vacation concluded, there are fewer opportunities to sleep in and more homework to be done, and students aren’t the only ones carrying extra responsibilities. With the Primary Election concluded, the final candidates and voters need to knuckle down to know the issues and stances. Elsewhere, we see economic investment bearing fruit. It takes a lot of labor to plant new businesses and keep deep-rooted establishments vibrant. We also see workers earning recognition for their efforts, and are excited about the opportunity to put more of the deserving in the spotlight.

SCHOOL DAYS: Classes are back in session. Even before school buses restarted their routes, many students returned to campus for fall practice. Young musicians and athletes came together to train. Even more can now be found practicing in the fields, rehearsal rooms, stages, pools, courts, weight rooms, and streets and hills.

While less visible, we know school district staff similarly mobilized. Classrooms, libraries, labs, cafeterias, offices and gyms don’t sit untouched between the end of one school year and the start of another. Extra time and effort are spent to create a welcoming environment to learn. Our kids benefit from their contributions.

This is demonstrated in ACT scores. The Wyoming Department of Education reported a “statistically insignificant” decrease of less than one-half point in 11th-grade test results, which means most students are still meeting goals and qualifying for the Hathaway Scholarship Program.

Eleventh-graders in Sweetwater County School District No. 1 had an average ACT composite score of 18.4, and their Sweetwater County School District No. 2 peers scored an average of 19. Hathaway requirements are 17 for the provisional level, 19 for the opportunity level, 21 for performance and 25 for honors, all of which reward students with money each semester to pay for higher education costs. We hope teachers and students strive to improve and score higher numbers that the state considers “significant” in the near future.

SEE YOU AT THE POLLS: The August election results have been certified, and we now know whose names will be printed on the final ballots. While slow to start, we noticed a spike in last-minute candidates signing up for nonpartisan races.

It doesn’t matter whether they registered on the first day or the last. We’re thankful for those who put themselves forward for consideration. Healthy competition is good and weeds out the less serious or unprepared, and gives the passionate chances to prove themselves.

Candidates need to define and refine positions, and we voters need to pay attention. Two months provides a limited window to test, question and consider our future leaders. For the democratic process to work, both sides must engage prior to Nov. 6.

GOOD BUSINESS, GOOD NEWS: We’re happy to read so many tales of fresh starts. Buildings left vacant are seeing new tenants. Familiar buildings are getting facelifts and expansions, such as the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport, which is exploring upgrades to its commercial facility on the heels of recent improvements to the general aviation hangar and terminal. Improved amenities may attract more passengers and flights.

New places are opening like Planet Fitness and Harbor Freight. It’s great to see places identify and meet needs. Even with increased competition from online storefronts, we think the best way to do business is to offer a good selection, have knowledgeable workers, and provide personalized services that competitors can’t.

Proof for this theory can be found in local businesses like Pat’s Auto Service. Multiple generations have followed a family tradition of excellence. The workers there are pursuing their dreams, and making it possible for customers to achieve their own. That’s a model we hope is replicated.

MEDICAL MARVELS: It’s a shame when people need treatment, but it’s good that those who provide it are honored among the best. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County earned the Hospital Quality Excellence Award for the second year in a row for its safe, patient-centered and cost-effective practices. Of the seven Wyoming hospitals that received the award, Memorial Hospital had the highest quality score.

Meanwhile, the Waldner Healing House offers lodging for those who travel to use the services of Memorial Hospital, the Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center or the medical office building. Future visitors will benefit from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades made by Vaughn’s Plumbing & Heating. Between improved air filtration, sheetrock repairs in the ceiling and the new option to control the temperature remotely with a cellphone, patients should feel more at home when away from home.

Then there’s the Castle Rock Hospital District, which is looking to build a new clinic. The cost of a new facility is only a little more expensive than renovating the building that was built in 1979, so board members decided a new building would better serve staff and patient needs.

In taking on this new debt, board members do not anticipate fees changes beyond regular adjustments. They believe they will be able to keep up with the times and trends without requiring extra funds or tax initiatives.

Considering the attitude of “you’re either moving ahead or falling behind,” our health care providers are taking extra steps to put us at the forefront of care.

FOCUSING ON HEROES: In the shadow of another anniversary of 9/11, we should be thankful for those who serve on the front lines of our communities. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical providers, dispatchers, and more wake up every day without knowing the dangerous challenges they may face. Despite this uncertainty, they go to work, do their best, and head home so they can do it again.

To give credit to these exceptional individuals, the Rocket-Miner is hosting A Salute to First Responders on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Sweetwater Events Complex. Free, family-friendly events will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. such as face painting, educational programs, fingerprinting, and food vendors. There will also be a ticketed banquet. Once doors open at 6 p.m., there will be raffles, giveaways, motivational speaker Dan Fraser, music by Wyoming Raised and an award presented to Sweetwater County’s first responder community hero. Additional details can be found at

A lot of good stuff is going on in Sweetwater County. Feel welcome to join us next weekend to celebrate it.

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