It's no wonder that people want to live and work here

A lot of our ink on Thankful Thursdays is dedicated to why the Mid-Columbia is a great place to live.

Today's column follows that pattern. And other people seem to agree with us.

Affordable homes

Benton County has been pegged as having the state's most affordable housing for first-time buyers. This honor reflects well on both the housing market and the job market.

For the most part, people can actually afford to live here. (Although the recent feature story on Olaf Kolzig's $2.9 million home for sale in Kennewick is evidence that there are homes in the Mid-Columbia that are out of reach for most of us.)

But the formula for determining affordability takes more into consideration than the price of real estate. It compares the cost of homes against workers' income.

So, a piece of this ranking also can be attributed to the many family wage jobs in the Tri-Cities. (Former NFL goalies excluded.)

It's a winning combination and we're grateful for it.

Meteor shower

The roughly 600 people who took advantage of LIGO's generous offer to view the meteor shower from the facility got a good show.

Actually, even without the Perseid's annual appearance, the show would have been good. LIGO is far enough from city lights that our night's sky is a beautiful sight on any clear evening.

The night was educational as well as beautiful, thanks to the Tri-City Astronomy Club volunteers who wandered among the crowd pointing out interesting things like the international space station. The lecture by Tri-City Herald astronomy columnist Roy Gephart attracted 200 people before the star gazing started.

We're fortunate to live in an area where science and education are valued.

Planetarium name

The name under consideration for the new planetarium at Columbia Basin College is a mouthful but it recognizes the two big donors.

And even though "Bechtel National Planetarium and Community Enrichment Foundation Theater" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, we're grateful to those donors for bringing the galaxy a little closer to Pasco -- whichever name is chosen.

Manhattan Project turns 70

This week the community reflected on what the Manhattan Project means to the Mid-Columbia. In all fairness, much of what makes our community desirable today got its start 70 years ago.

If it weren't for the massive effort to construct a nuclear bomb during World War II, we wouldn't now be a hub for energy research and environmental remediation.

We would not have the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which continues to attract some of the world's top scientists and researchers. And much of that of translates into energy, research, health care, education, tourism and other industries.

We're interested to see what kind of changes we'll have in the area when the 75th anniversary rolls around ... or the centennial.

Hope Solo inspires

Even if you don't care for soccer or the Olympics, you have to be excited about the U.S. Women's team bringing home the gold.

And you have to feel a little ownership about the hometown girl.

Congratulations to Hope Solo and her teammates.

Is it time for "Hope Boulevard" or "Solo Lane" somewhere in the Tri-Cities?