It was 390 years ago that 53 surviving Puritans in what would become Massachusetts gathered, with a number of neighboring Wampanoag Indians, to give thanks for having survived a brutal first year on a new continent, for a bountiful harvest that autumn of 1621 and for the assistance of those Indians in helping them survive.
Residents of the United States, circa 2011, generally have many more reasons to be thankful than did those early settlers we call Pilgrims. But, in a difficult economy, with our political leadership in a partisan standoff, our citizenry often just as bitterly divided, in a nation with too many homeless people, too much crime and far too many reports of abused and assaulted children, it’s often easy to see a bleak picture, not reasons to be grateful.
Still, there are plenty of reasons for people in western Colorado to be thankful this year. Here’s a list of some things for which we’re thankful today.
✔ The unemployment rate for Mesa County remained at 8.5 percent in October, the same as September. That’s still too high, but it’s a full percentage point below what it was a year ago and almost four points below the level reached at the peak of this recession.
The statewide unemployment rate also held steady in October at 7.7 percent, down from 8.4 percent a year ago. Additionally, the number of new jobless claims nationally have remained below 400,000 the past few weeks.
✔ The local housing market, while not exactly booming, has shown modest improvement this year. From January through October, Mesa County home sales have climbed 21 percent, compared to the same period in 2010. Average home prices are lower than they were a year ago, however.
✔ The Museum of Western Colorado received enough money from Mesa County to continue operating at the same level as it has been this year. The museum is curator of this community’s cultural heritage, and provides valuable programs and exhibits that add to the area’s vibrant cultural activities.
✔ The Mesa County commissioners had to make difficult decisions regarding a number of worthy community entities seeking financial assistance, including the museum. That is never an easy task. We should be thankful for all people who are willing to serve in elected or appointed positions — with municipalities, school districts, state government and special districts — to try to meet community needs, even in a tough economy. A willingness to serve, even when the rewards are small and criticism is abundant, is critical to our representative democracy.
✔ Regardless of what one thinks of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are thankful that our military personnel will soon be withdrawn from both dangerous locations as our military missions continue to wind down.
✔ We’re grateful that we live in a country where we are able to say what’s on our minds, publish various opinions in newspapers such as this, and worship how we please, without government interference or violent attacks from opposing groups.
✔ We’re also happy to live in western Colorado, with its wonderful scenery and abundant outdoor activities. Autumn is glorious.
✔ Finally, as always, we are thankful to have loyal readers and advertisers who make publication of The Daily Sentinel possible.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.