Our Voice: We find silver lining in Tri-City home sales, polar plunge in Columbia Park, flu outbreak and more

We have much we can be grateful for. We have much we can complain about as well. But for today, let's focus on the positive side of things.

Flu now widespread

We're grateful for tissues and homemade chicken soup. It's flu season in Washington.

Although it's an annual and fairly routine event, flu season needs to be respected. It's more than a few aches and pains. It can be deadly.

If you get sick, take the right precautions to confine your germs and restore your health.

It's quite likely that you will be sick or someone in your family will catch the bug. Both scenarios are miserable.

We're also grateful for modern medicine. And, as a reminder, it's not too late to get a vaccine.

Polar Plunge

Last week, we marveled at a handful of people who dove into the Columbia River on New Year's Day wearing diving suits. Noon Saturday in Columbia Park, close to 1,000 people will be making that leap in all kinds of costumes -- most them will not be wearing diving gear.

It's true that almost as soon as they hit the water they will be climbing back out, but they still are getting wet.

It's guaranteed they are going to be cold -- so they must all have warm hearts.

People do some strange things in the name of fundraising, and our community's Polar Plunge for Special Olympics is right up there.

It's for a good cause.

Silver Star awarded

Some recognition is given almost immediately following a good deed. Other times, it takes years -- if it comes at all.

For Harold L. Choate, a Silver Star was awarded 68 years after the event and three years after his death. It brings to mind a couple of things we are grateful for.

We are grateful for people's selfless acts -- during war or peace. In this case, Choate's quick thinking likely saved the lives of the other men in his platoon.

And while it's lamentable that he was never aware of the award, we think it's admirable that it still was presented -- even if it had to be done posthumously. We like the concept of legacies.

We're thankful that peoples' good names and good deeds live on after they are gone.

Births that beat the odds

This week, Kadlec Regional Medical Center celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.

Those 30 years represent about 8,000 babies who got their start in life in the NICU.

Some of these babies may have survived without the extra help but many would not have.

In some cases, the mother's life also may have been jeopardized.

We're grateful, in general terms, for the excellent health care that is available to us in the Mid-Columbia and specifically for a nursery that has served so many families.

Babies and their families do better when they can get quality care close to home. When you have a sick child, it's comforting to have your support system nearby.

We're grateful for the donors who continue to help provide these services.

As our population continues to grow, so will that need.

Home sales

Even though the economy isn't what it once was, we are grateful for every little encouragement.

Homes sales grew by 2 percent last year, and that gives the local real estate agents optimism for the coming year.

That's good news for all of us.

We know the Tri-Cities is a great place to live. That secret must be getting out.

Reach builders

The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center continues its forward momentum. This week, it announced an architect and contractor team to build the first building.

This is a project that has been a long time coming -- with a few bumps in the road. So it's exciting to see some names announced and some dirt being moved.

We're longtime supporters of the project, and we're glad to see some outward signs of progress.

Gas prices should fall

Forecasters are expecting gas prices to come down this year. That's good news.

We don't want to sound ungrateful at the prospect of saving a little money on fuel, but it's hard to get too excited about what likely is to be the third-highest average we've ever had.

Prices will still be high, just not as high as they are now.

So we can be grateful, just not as grateful as we have been.