Thumbs up to Kennewick city officials for giving Grace Clinic permission to start remodeling the former Benton Franklin Health District building on Canal Drive.
The clinic, which offers free medical, dental and mental health care to people with incomes below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, needs more space to serve a growing clientele.
But plans to take over the health district's old digs ran up against zoning restrictions on the property. Fortunately, Kennewick officials found a fast track around the regulatory hurdle.
They better be careful or they'll give bureaucrats a good name.
Thumbs up to Mid-Columbia athletes for providing the rest of us with an inspirational spring.
In recent weeks, Kamiakin earned team championships in baseball, softball and girls track; the Southridge boys and Hanford girls golf teams picked up team titles; and so did Connell High's softball team.
And at least 15 student athletes won individual state titles in track and field. We won't list them here, but you can read the Herald's article about these stars at TinyURL.com/TCH-Champions.
And it wasn't just the youngsters who inspired us this spring. Maron Wang, a 65-year-old Richland resident, won her age group at this year's Boston Marathon.
Wang finished the grueling 26-mile course in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 32 second, beating the other 46 runners in her group.
Even more amazing -- she started running only 10 years ago.
Trend for the better
Thumbs up to a changing trend that shows fewer parents exempting their children from school vaccinations.
About 4.5 percent of kindergartners for the 2011-12 school year had vaccination exemptions, according to the Washington Department of Health. That's a drop from 6 percent of kindergartners last school year and 6.2 percent in 2009-10.
The general use of vaccinations has saved countless children from a range of diseases -- diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.
But that progress was threatened by the growing number of parents choosing to forego the shots for their kids. The recent reversal in that trend is encouraging.
Let's get real
Thumbs down to the turn the state's gubernatorial race has taken. We're not sure whether to blame the media or the candidates for the recent emphasis on social issues, but we're eager to see the debate focus on the best way to fix the state's economy.
Frankly, it doesn't matter what Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna think about same-sex marriage. The issue will be decided by voters in November.
Abortion? At most, a state can make it more or less convenient to get one, but the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that access to abortion is a constitutional right. The court can change its ruling or the people can amend the Constitution, but a governor doesn't have much say.
Legalize marijuana? That will also be decided by state voters in November.
What we need to know is how we can ensure our children will receive an excellent education, how our colleges can be made affordable, how we'll keep our state parks open and our transportation system operational.
These are the kind of issues a governor can influence. Let's hope the rest of the campaign season focuses on them.
Thumbs down to Congress for what looks like a permanent state of gridlock.
Gov. Chris Gregoire recently turned the spotlight back toward congressional paralysis because of its inability to pass a basic highway bill.
Federal money for highways is set to dry up June 30, threatening to accelerate the deterioration of our transportation system.
If only that was all the damage likely to result from a Congress so embroiled in politics that party interests take precedence over the national interest.
The automatic spending cuts -- known as sequestration -- that kick in next year if Congress fails to produce a better plan, are frightening.
The Tri-Cities would weather the 10 percent reduction in spending at Hanford but not without some economic pain and a slowdown in crucial environmental cleanup activities.
But military leaders warn the additional cuts in defense spending would significantly weaken national security. There's no telling how long it would take the aerospace and shipbuilding industries to recover.
Cuts are needed, but they ought to be made with a reasoned, bipartisan approach, but that requires the sort of compromise Congress seems incapable of exercising.
The alternative is the indiscriminate slashing brought on by sequestration. That's no way to run a country.