Many of us stayed up late on a Sunday recently, taking to the cold to gaze up at the heavens Jan. 20 to see a stunning lunar event. A Super Blood Wolf Moon appeared that night as the moon entered total lunar eclipse. The Earth’s atmosphere filtered out blue light waves, granting the moon a reddish appearance.

It comes a little less than a year-and-a-half after the total solar eclipse that was visible in many parts of Wyoming. For some, these events are truly moving, as they have been throughout human history. Even given the progress of human civilization, we’re reminded of how small we are in the big picture. We’re part of a cosmos that was here before all of our worries and joys, and will continue after we’re all gone.

In the midst of that grand lunar event, there’s a lot on the minds of our friends and neighbors in Laramie and Albany County. Between a federal government shutdown, the state’s legislative session and any number of local happenings, our thoughts can easily become swept up in concern. Considering all that, we think it’s appropriate we grant ourselves a reprieve and reflect on some of the things we’re thankful for, as this board generally does on the last Sunday of each month.

So much of the good locally is done by our nonprofits, filling gaps where the private sector cannot, and with limited assistance from the government. United Way of Albany County is one of our leaders, funding 17 partner agencies and supporting many noble efforts. The agency is nearing its 2018 fundraising goal, and that’s always something to be thankful for. There’s still time to make a contribution for the year’s fundraiser if you haven’t yet.

It’s worth applauding one of our newest nonprofits, Family Promise, as it nears the end of its first year. Family Promise is an ambitious agency doing great work to benefit the less fortunate in our community, especially families with children. Cheers to all the people who make the work happen, and we’ll look forward to celebrating the agency’s future anniversaries.

We don’t want to imply that United Way and its partners are the only ones doing great work in the community. Many of our nonprofits worked through the government shutdown to help people left in a lurch. It’s over — at least until the middle of February — but we wanted to thank those who recognized the need. We hope Wyoming’s congressional delegates will do anything they can to make sure cooler heads prevail in the matter.

On the state level, it’s good to see lawmakers have so far rejected legislation that would limit so-called crossover primary voting in Wyoming. A Senate committee voted down the bill meant to restrict voter registration after primary candidates have filed. This legislation is unnecessary at best; it’s harmful at worst. Allowing the highest level of voter participation is the most important priority in elections, and those looking to limit that are wrong. Long-time Republican lawmaker Charlie Scott of Casper — certainly a stalwart conservative — is absolutely correct when he characterizes the legislation as a snake that ought to be killed.

It’s always a good thing to see our University of Wyoming students return with the beginning of a new semester. While Monday’s return isn’t associated with all the hullabaloo of the fall semester, it’s no less a welcome event. We hope the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee budget bill that includes a roughly 2 percent raise for UW employees will be approved by the chambers, as it will help move the university community back in the right direction. The staff and faculty deserve it for all the dedication they’ve shown in a time of budget cuts, and it helps Laramie and Albany County.

UW’s leaders are doing the right thing when it comes to finding a way to return the $2 million donation pledged to the university by convicted sexual offender Tony Cercy. After all the drama and suffering around Cercy’s trial and conviction, it is the right thing to say our community doesn’t want to be a benefactor of tainted money. It hurts to return that kind of money, but it’s just and proper.

On the K-12 level, it’s positive to see an improvement in Albany County’s graduation rate. Reaching the 95 percent graduation rate is a high bar for Albany County, but it’s right for public institutions to aim high. Efforts to reach students facing challenges to graduating are much appreciated and should continue to improve. We as a community fail if we cannot lift up those who face hurdles to achieving one of the best advantages community members can get entering adult life.

This week will see the fifth Tuesday of the month, which means it’s time for Laramie City Council ward meetings. Some wards, especially Ward 1, see better attendance than others, but we’d like to see Laramie citizens kick off 2019 by showing elected officials they will provide input and hold council members accountable for what they do or do not achieve on their own or at the behest of their constituents. It starts with showing an active interest and participating in open-ended public forums like these, so we urge community members to show up. It’s cliche, but if you don’t do that, don’t feel like you have a right to complain. We’re thankful these opportunities exist.

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