Mid-Columbia is home to smart kids and adults

Everyone experiences struggles. Some more than others. We are not immune from them in the Mid-Columbia. But we can count on one of our greatest resources -- our people.

We often think of the river as a great asset, and it is, but this week, we're especially thinking about how the community's abundance of outstanding people make this a great place to live. Now and in the future.

Housing market

Yes, layoffs are coming at Hanford. Yes, there are houses in your neighborhood that seem to have been on the market for a long time.

But as a community, we still have it pretty good. One housing forecaster recently ranked the Tri-Cities as the second best metropolitan area in the nation for rebounding from the real estate crash. We'd say it helped to have avoided the housing bubble and subsequent crash in the first place.

While property values in many places are stagnating or even shrinking, home values in the Tri-Cities continue to appreciate. We're growing at a little slower pace, but we're still growing.

We know some people are out of work. We know that more people are going to be getting pink slips in the next little while.

But as tough as it is to lose a job, there are a lot worse places to be looking for work.

Engineers galore

We don't need the Bureau of Labor Statistics to tell us a ton of engineers live in the Tri-Cities. A person could figure that out by standing on George Washington Way or the bypass highway at quitting time.

Many of those cars pouring onto the roadway from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Hanford site are carrying engineers.

The bureau does give a more accurate number than estimates gleaned from watching Hanford traffic, and the government statisticians say that our concentration of engineers is more than three times the national average.

Engineers (and other high tech workers) are good for the Tri-Cities. These people often contribute their expertise to the community beyond the requirements of the job. Many volunteer to help with engineering projects in area schools and youth organizations.

They also tend to take home higher than average wages. So they contribute to a strong economy that helps the rest of us out.

And don't underestimate that high tech employees tend to attract high tech businesses. It's the progressive version of a vicious cycle.

One bright girl

Shalini Ramanan won a scholarship for "profoundly intelligent young people." Wow!

It's not just that she's attending Brown this year or that she has a trail of academic awards and honors that singles her out from a lot of young people. It's not even that as a high school student she figured out how turmeric can help fight cardiovascular disease.

It's that we can claim this "profoundly intelligent" as one of our own. We look forward to basking in the glow of a lot of hometown pride as we watch Ramanan's accomplishments in the coming years.

We know she's super smart and an extremely dedicated student, and on the outside chance that either trait can be traced to her exposure to turmeric that her mother gave her as a child, perhaps we could slip a little of the spice in everyone's milk, starting with members of the editorial board.

A bunch of smart kids

For the ninth consecutive year, Washington students' average score on the three major SAT exams (reading, writing and math) was the highest in the nation among states in which more than half of the eligible students took the tests, according to figures released by the College Board Tuesday.

Washington students scored 523 in reading, well above the national average 497. In math, the state average was 529 compared with 514. In writing, the numbers were 508 for Washington and 489 for the nation.

It's hard to balance this kind of news with reports of our high number of failing schools. We will have to give that more thought, but for today, congrats, kiddos.

Forward and back

Our web gurus have a pretty good idea of what our internet traffic looks like from day to day. So we can say with statistical certainty that a football game between local rivals draws a big internet crowd. But that's nothing compared with how many people looked at the photo gallery of the 9/11 event at Southridge on Sunday. (If you haven't seen it yet, check it out at www.tricityherald.com.)

The twisted girders from the World Trade Center's twin towers are a somber reminder of a frightening and heartbreaking day. Installing the artifact at Southridge is a reminder that the terrorists failed to dim our hopes for the future.

Kennewick's investment at Southridge is aimed toward brighter days.

Yes, we need to remember the past. But we also need to look forward. With hope.