[ {"id":"d8ffd5c9-b82f-5e26-bf87-e02fec3c3cf6","type":"article","starttime":"1620489600","starttime_iso8601":"2021-05-08T10:00:00-06:00","priority":50,"sections":[{"mayors":"news/community/mayors"},{"provo":"news/local/central/provo"},{"columnists":"print-specific/columnists"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","featured":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Mayors of Utah Valley: Provo's continuing economic transformation","url":"http://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/mayors/article_d8ffd5c9-b82f-5e26-bf87-e02fec3c3cf6.html","permalink":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/mayors/mayors-of-utah-valley-provos-continuing-economic-transformation/article_d8ffd5c9-b82f-5e26-bf87-e02fec3c3cf6.html","canonical":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/mayors/mayors-of-utah-valley-provos-continuing-economic-transformation/article_d8ffd5c9-b82f-5e26-bf87-e02fec3c3cf6.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michelle Kaufusi\nProvo Mayor","prologue":"During my State of the City address, I unveiled four key areas of focus based on citizen feedback. Now known as the Provo Pillars, they become the foundation upon which we will continue to build our strong Provo community. The four Provo Pillars are Economic Vibrancy, Forward-Looking, Welcoming, and Safe & Sound.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["startup","provo city hall","economics","commerce","sociology","building industry","business","community","orem","redevelopment","tech"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b","description":"Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi says a few words before the demolition of the old Shopko store, which is being removed to make way for The Mix at River's Edge development. March 23, 2021.\u00a0","byline":"Courtesy","hireswidth":853,"hiresheight":1280,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/f5/8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b/6094c15aa9534.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"853","height":"1280","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/f5/8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b/6094c15aa8f86.image.jpg?resize=853%2C1280"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"150","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/f5/8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b/6094c15aa8f86.image.jpg?resize=100%2C150"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"450","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/f5/8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b/6094c15aa8f86.image.jpg?resize=300%2C450"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1537","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/f5/8f50995a-8298-55e1-92e6-5642d214c44b/6094c15aa8f86.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"d8ffd5c9-b82f-5e26-bf87-e02fec3c3cf6","body":"

During my State of the City address, I unveiled four key areas of focus based on citizen feedback.

Now known as the Provo Pillars, they become the foundation upon which we will continue to build our strong Provo community. The four Provo Pillars are Economic Vibrancy, Forward-Looking, Welcoming, and Safe & Sound.

Each month, we will be focusing on a Provo Pillar, with May being dedicated to the exciting economic momentum we are experiencing.

Thanks to the support of Provo citizens, construction on our new Provo City Hall is well underway! Once complete, our current Provo City Hall, built in 1974, will be demolished to make way for an exciting 4.5-acre city block redevelopment.

Reimagining downtown Provo

The redevelopment of our existing City Hall block is a forward-thinking, once-in-a-generation opportunity for Provo. It will bring long-term economic vibrancy to downtown Provo while complementing the new Provo City Hall.

\u201cVibrant\u201d means full of life, energy and enthusiasm \u2014 a perfect description for Provo\u2019s economy. With so much positive economic momentum, it is now easier to say what is NOT happening in Provo because we have projects bursting all over the city.

Creating exceptional places

A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued on May 5, 2020. Ultimately, McWhinney Development from Denver, Colorado, was selected for the upcoming transformation of our Provo City Hall block to become a strong economic driver and a community gathering place.

McWhinney is an active mixed-use real estate developer priding themselves on creating exceptional places for future generations, with one example being the historic Union Station redevelopment now affectionately known as \u201cDenver\u2019s Living Room.\u201d

Telling Provo\u2019s story

Development is at least a 50-year decision and that is why it must be done right! Provo\u2019s historic downtown is already an eclectic draw with 73 unique eating establishments representing culinary offerings from around the world. This redevelopment, with anticipated dining, boutique retail, residential, entertainment and social gathering spaces, will energize our community with even greater economic vibrancy.

McWhinney Development was largely chosen for its dedication and proven success telling a community\u2019s unique story in its development. To create a welcoming and desirable community space, they will begin a comprehensive community outreach to determine what this project should and should not be.

Nation\u2019s best performing city

Cities become an important facilitator of economic growth by providing necessary infrastructure and services. Knowing this, we were honored to take the top spot among this year\u2019s Best Performing Large Cities by the highly regarded Milken Institute. Of the honor, the Milken Institute said:

\u201cProvo ranked first in both one- and five-year job growth while also ranking highly in high-tech industries. It is a relatively new innovation center but offers high quality of life and amenities in the mountain region. With significantly lower costs than Silicon Valley, Provo-Orem has attracted such tech giants as Qualtrics, Vivint, and Smart Citizen.\u201d \u2014 Milken Institute

The report highlighted five success measures in which Provo is exceling:

\u2014 Job creation.

\u2014 Wage growth.

\u2014 High-tech expansion.

\u2014 Housing affordability.

\u2014 Household broadband access.

How to becoming a high-tech hub

According to Milken, \u201ca dynamic, concentrated high-tech sector is still very indicative of economic success, and cities with histories of innovation are more resilient to economic shocks.\u201d

Provo tech start-up Qualtrics made global headlines with its January 2021 initial public stock offering valued at over $20 billion, the largest IPO in Utah history \u2014 by far. Qualtrics remains committed to Provo City, having recently expanded its headquarters.

Provo\u2019s long-standing start-up culture

In 1874, the Startup family moved to Provo and started a candy business on 600 South. Today the building\u2019s smokestack still shows paint remnants of its \u201cStartup\u201d name, but it now ironically supports a rapidly growing tech startup culture, offering flexible workspace for upcoming entrepreneurs.

Join the conversation

We want every citizen to have a voice in our economic transformation by following ProvoConnect.com for updates and feedback opportunities.

Read more about this impressive honor from Milken Institute at https://milkeninstitute.org/reports/best-performing-cities-2021.

"}, {"id":"b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424","type":"article","starttime":"1620482400","starttime_iso8601":"2021-05-08T08:00:00-06:00","priority":50,"sections":[{"orem":"news/local/central/orem"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","featured":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Orem claims to have best water in Utah on tap","url":"http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/orem/article_b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424.html","permalink":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/orem/orem-claims-to-have-best-water-in-utah-on-tap/article_b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424.html","canonical":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/orem/orem-claims-to-have-best-water-in-utah-on-tap/article_b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Genelle Pugmire\nDaily Herald","prologue":"Thanks to people like Lane Gray and other Water Section personnel, Orem residents can turn on their water taps and get a drink of cool, clean water 24/7. Orem recently received its 2020 Consumer Confidence report on the drinking water. The city continues to make a big splash with the positive and glowing reports on its water.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["orem drinking water","orem 2020 consumer confidence report","lane gray","orem water section","don a. christiansen regional water treatment plant"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749","description":"Connor Knudsen, 13, of Orem, dives into the water after jumping from the diving board during an open plunge at the Scera Park Pool on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Orem. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald","byline":"Isaac Hale Daily Herald","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":1921,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/aa/faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749/5ed7101c42c94.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1799","height":"1152","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/aa/faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749/5ed7101c2deee.image.jpg?resize=1799%2C1152"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"64","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/aa/faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749/5ed7101c2deee.image.jpg?resize=100%2C64"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"192","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/aa/faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749/5ed7101c2deee.image.jpg?resize=300%2C192"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"656","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/aa/faac5a0e-0d10-5009-b040-956f1d219749/5ed7101c2deee.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C656"}}},{"id":"6fc70b02-888e-516d-a00d-000729fc3e56","description":"One of the water tanks providing drinking water storage for the City of Orem. The new proposed tank would be underground. Jan. 13, 2021.","byline":"Courtesy Orem city","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"800","height":"533","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/fc/6fc70b02-888e-516d-a00d-000729fc3e56/5fff72c88a509.image.jpg?resize=800%2C533"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/fc/6fc70b02-888e-516d-a00d-000729fc3e56/5fff72c88a509.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/fc/6fc70b02-888e-516d-a00d-000729fc3e56/5fff72c88a509.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/fc/6fc70b02-888e-516d-a00d-000729fc3e56/5fff72c88a509.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"b1bf3ea4-7475-5a88-8cfb-35a290cc0424","body":"

Thanks to people like Lane Gray and other Water Section personnel, Orem residents can turn on their water taps and get a drink of cool, clean water 24/7.

Orem recently received its 2020 Consumer Confidence report on the drinking water. The city continues to make a big splash with the positive and glowing reports on its water.

\u201cI\u2019d like to reassure the public that Orem has the best quality water in the nation, no, in the world,\u201d said Gray, Water Section manager.

Gray\u2019s confidence should not be overlooked. The Water Section personnel and treatment plant are heavily scrutinized to make sure the city is providing the very best quality and safe drinking water.

Orem uses a variety of sources to provide water to its residents and customers.

\u201cApproximately 60% of Orem\u2019s water comes from surface water sources, whereas 40% comes from ground water sources,\u201d according to Water Section personnel. \u201cSurface water sources include the Provo River, Deer Creek Reservoir and Jordanelle Reservoir.\u201d

All of Orem\u2019s surface water is treated (filtered and disinfected) at the Don A. Christiansen Regional Water Treatment Plant (DACRWTP), which is operated by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD).

\u201cOrem\u2019s ground water sources consist of nine deep wells located throughout the city. Wells pump from subterranean aquifers and provide 25% of Orem\u2019s water,\u201d according to Water Section reports. \u201cTwo mountain spring sources located in Provo Canyon contribute 15% of Orem\u2019s water. Ground water (wells and springs) is pure enough to not require treatment.\u201d

All of Orem\u2019s water, whether from surface or ground water, is blended together within the distribution system. In 2020, Orem produced over 9.2 billion gallons of clean, safe drinking water to its residents.

\u201cAs far as water quality, it remains constant from year to year,\u201d Gray said. \u201cIt is very high quality water and rivals any in the state.\u201d

While some people may be concerned about things like lead or copper in the water, Gray said they are well within the parameters set by the government.

\u201cMore than 1,460 drinking water samples were analyzed for bacteriological contamination in 2020,\u201d according to Water Section reports. \u201cNo bacteriological contamination was confirmed in these samples.\u201d

Additional sampling was performed for disinfection byproducts, nitrates, inorganics, metals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, radioactive materials, and other contaminants. Only trace amounts of contaminants identified in the consumer report were detected in Orem source water.

\u201cOrem drinking water meets or exceeds water quality standards set by the (United States Environmental Protection Agency) and the state of Utah,\u201d according to state sampling information.

Due to the high quality of Orem\u2019s water, the state of Utah and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have granted the City of Orem and the Don A. Christiansen Regional Water Treatment Plant exemptions that allow for a reduction in conducting some chemical testing less frequently.

\u201cThe City of Orem collects over 30 samples from taps in homes every three years as required by the EPA,\u201d Gray and crew reported. \u201cThe City of Orem has never had a violation of the lead and copper standards since the EPA required sampling began in 1992.\u201d

Improper usage, storage and disposal of chemicals or other substances could potentially contaminate the ground water and surface water sources.

Examples of such substances are fertilizers, pesticides, cleaning solvents, motor oil and fuels.

\u201cAll residents and property owners are encouraged to use best management practices when using and storing these substances. Proper storage, mixing, spill cleanup, watering and disposal procedures for chemicals are essential in protecting our environment, according to Gray.

Gray\u2019s hope is that residents will appreciate the water they have by using conservation measures, particularly during the late spring and summer months when water usage goes up with the temperatures.

\u201cBe wise, use what you need,\u201d Gray said. \u201c60% of our water is dumped on the ground in the form of irrigation.\u201d

Gray invited residents to embrace the color yellow perhaps more than deep green with their lawns.

The complete Drinking Water Source Protection Plan for the City of Orem is available for review at the Orem Public Works Department,1450 West 550 North in Orem, www.orem.org, or the Utah Division of Drinking Water website: https://deq.utah.gov/division-drinking-water.

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For all that Orem has and is, it is the city\u2019s park system that continues to bring residents outdoors and visitors into the city.

For years, city planners and City Council have held to the goal of having a park within a half mile of anyone who lives in Orem. And that is a lot of land to take care of.

Reed Price, Public Works Maintenance Division manager, and crews have a big job keeping the 22 city parks maintained and operating efficiently. They do everything from mowing and weeding to cleaning restrooms and clearing away garbage and debris.

The spring and summer months are particularly busy as the parks begin to open up from winter and playgrounds start getting used more.

\u201cWe have to get the sprinklers running, bathrooms open, drinking fountains on and add additional garbage cans,\u201d Price said.

But crews do much more than that, according to Reed. They have to groom and chalk mark the baseball fields, spruce up the cemetery and prepare for the Memorial Day onslaught of family and friends to have a nice place to visit deceased loved ones.

The urban forester has to trim and plant trees and mulch around existing trees in all the parks. The splash pad at Palisades Park needs to have the mechanics maintained, water turned on, chemicals stocked and pumps working.

Price said that\u2019s not all. The playgrounds need inspecting and repairing, if needed, and all of the thousands of sprinkler heads need to be checked as they prepare to water the parks.

\u201cThere are 114 stations to control the (sprinkler) valves,\u201d Price added. \u201cPavilions must also be ready for reserved picnics and then cleaned after they are used for the next group.\u201d

Several parks have special amenities like pickleball, tennis, disc golf, futsal, softball and more. They all have to be prepared and cleaned.

But that\u2019s not all. The maintenance crews also mow the city lawn strips, berms, parkways and detention basins.

Taking care of all that is no walk in the park. And this year Price said they are in a bind because the normal seasonal hires aren\u2019t showing up.

\u201cRight now we have 15 seasonal employees, we should be at 30,\u201d Price said. \u201cWe\u2019re at half of where we\u2019d like to be at this point in the season. When fully staffed we need at least 50 seasonal employees.\u201d

Price says the problem is the competitive market, people are still not coming back to work and pay levels are increasing and the city must be competitive.

\u201cWe start seasonal employees at $12 an hour. Most seasonal employees work eight hours as day, five days a week,\u201d Price said. \u201cSome have variable hours but work a minimum of 26 hours a week.

People looking for work, who like to be outdoors, check the city web site at Orem.org/jobs. Price said he has a job for you.

Employees are typically assigned to a particular park or parks and are expected to keep them mowed and edged, watered and cleaned among all the other tasks.

In the busy summer months, garbage cans are often emptied more than once a day. And playgrounds like the All-Together Playground must be monitored.

Those who think they could enjoy this seasonal employment, Price said it\u2019s time to apply now.

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(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)","byline":"Rick Bowmer","hireswidth":5400,"hiresheight":3037,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/60/96069b8b-282e-5849-bbf3-46ac22d3f226/606fc60082d16.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"288","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/60/96069b8b-282e-5849-bbf3-46ac22d3f226/606fc6007d8b7.image.jpg?resize=512%2C288"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/60/96069b8b-282e-5849-bbf3-46ac22d3f226/606fc6007d8b7.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/60/96069b8b-282e-5849-bbf3-46ac22d3f226/606fc6007d8b7.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/60/96069b8b-282e-5849-bbf3-46ac22d3f226/606fc6007d8b7.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"67aadab0-8310-52ac-86e1-3c013784fafd","body":"

U.S. Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, is leading an effort to secure funding to prevent and mitigate wildfires in Utah and other Western states.

Curtis, co-chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, joined a handful of federal lawmakers in requesting funds that \u201ccould be used to increase the pace and scale of hazardous fuels management and forest restoration; improve ecosystem health; reduce the risk of severe flooding and erosion in forests after fire; protect critical watersheds; and bolster support for the wildland firefighting workforce,\u201d according to a Thursday press release.

In a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations, Curtis and six other members of Congress, including Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, requested \u201crobust funding to programs in the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that will support improved wildfire preparedness, mitigation, and response across the United States.\u201d

\u201c2020 was a historic wildfire year,\u201d wrote members of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, citing National Interagency Fire Center reports that U.S. wildfires burned over 10 million acres in 2020, the highest yearly total since accurate records began in 1983.

They continued, \u201cIn addition to the widespread economic toll of these fires, the direct death toll from the 2020 wildfire season is at least 43.\u201d

The letter also cites a policy brief from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, which estimates that wildfire smoke \u201cis likely responsible for 5,000 to 15,000 deaths in an average year in the U.S.\u201d and notes that \u201csmokier years like 2018 or 2020 will have a much higher death toll.\u201d

\u201cSuch a historic challenge requires a proportionate response,\u201d the congressmen wrote. \u201cWe implore you to provide robust funding to programs that help address the many wildfire preparedness, response, and recovery challenges our nation faces today.\u201d

The congressmen also urged the committee \u201cto consider both the short- and long-term causes of wildfire and to fund programs that support forest health \u2014 including investments in research being done at federal laboratories and research institutions across the country to ensure that the best available science is used in wildfire mitigation, response, and recovery, is a priority.\u201d

In a written statement, Curtis wrote that it \u201cis imperative that the federal government prepares to respond and recover after a wildfire starts,\u201d adding that \u201cequally important is our ability to prevent disasters in the first place.\u201d

Moore, who represents Utah\u2019s 1st Congressional District, wrote that conditions in Utah \u201cwill likely yield a difficult wildfire season this year, and it is imperative that we use our resources to alleviate the adverse impacts this will have on our lands and communities.\u201d

The proposal for funding to prevent wildfires in the Western U.S. comes after Utah had its most expensive wildfire season on record.

Other congressmen that signed the letter requesting federal funding included Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, Tom O\u2019Halleran, D-Arizona and Doug LaMalfa, R-California.

"}, {"id":"8c772a17-d0cf-5f78-b651-e03aa3579a56","type":"article","starttime":"1620417600","starttime_iso8601":"2021-05-07T14:00:00-06:00","priority":50,"sections":[{"community":"news/community"},{"columnists":"print-specific/columnists"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","featured":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Their Voice: A Mother's Day ode to special needs moms","url":"http://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/article_8c772a17-d0cf-5f78-b651-e03aa3579a56.html","permalink":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/their-voice-a-mothers-day-ode-to-special-needs-moms/article_8c772a17-d0cf-5f78-b651-e03aa3579a56.html","canonical":"https://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/their-voice-a-mothers-day-ode-to-special-needs-moms/article_8c772a17-d0cf-5f78-b651-e03aa3579a56.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Maya Angelou said about her mother, \u201cTo describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.\u201d I have learned that there is no mother with more \u201cperfect power\u201d or \u201churricane-like force\u201d than a mother of a child with special needs.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948","description":"Monica Villar","byline":"Courtesy","hireswidth":1200,"hiresheight":1500,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/85/f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948/6042a6d6dbb81.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1200","height":"1500","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/85/f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948/5f120feb2f2c1.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C1500"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"125","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/85/f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948/5f120feb2f2c1.image.jpg?resize=100%2C125"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"375","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/85/f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948/5f120feb2f2c1.image.jpg?resize=300%2C375"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1280","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/85/f85d2c18-fe02-5392-a10e-c63b71425948/5f120feb2f2c1.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1280"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"8c772a17-d0cf-5f78-b651-e03aa3579a56","body":"

Maya Angelou said about her mother, \u201cTo describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.\u201d

I have learned that there is no mother with more \u201cperfect power\u201d or \u201churricane-like force\u201d than a mother of a child with special needs.

To realize the perfect power of a special needs mom all one would have to do is look around at all of the special needs schools and Head Start programs and opportunities for special needs sports, art, music and dance that wouldn\u2019t be available today if not for the tenacity of a mother who could not find that service for her own child.

A special needs mom is a fighter, not because she wants to be but because she has learned that it takes extra effort to advocate for her disabled child or adult. She is resolute in her commitment to seek equality, inclusion and fairness for all. Special needs moms know how to openly celebrate every skill that is mastered and how to privately grieve those that aren\u2019t.

Special needs moms have learned to hope for the best when it comes to the future of their child or adult but do so with apprehension. She wants to see her loved one succeed at school, jobs, with relationships and independence but constantly worries about the number of things that can get in their way in a single day. She knows that the world still has a lot to learn about disabilities and can be a scary place at times. She worries about their day-to-day interactions and worries even more about what will happen to them when she is no longer around.

Sometimes a special needs mom seems stubborn, inflexible and unmoved, but in reality she is soft, kind and afraid. She knows more about her child\u2019s diagnosis and medications than most medical professionals. She is a walking journal who can recite what her child last ate, took medication, had a seizure or acted differently without referring to any written source.

A special needs mom has to do all of these things while knowing that she has other children to care for, sometimes a job to go to and all the same responsibilities in life as the rest of us. Many special needs moms want their child or adult to participate in the same religious, cultural, educational and community activities that we all enjoy but is often uncertain as to how they might respond to the noise, lights and energy of these events. It is often more of an effort than she and her family can undergo when trying to avoid these family outings wondering if there will be accommodations available for wheelchairs, brief changes, or just a place to step away to de-escalate. Special needs moms won\u2019t always ask for help but appreciate it when it comes more than the helper will ever know.

The most interesting thing about a special needs mom is that she doesn\u2019t have to be a birth mom to be all of these things. Sometimes she is a stepmom, grandmother, aunt, sibling, foster mom or adopted mom but in whatever form, she is diligent, resourceful and nurturing.

Like Maya Angelou\u2019s mom, these special needs moms, no matter how they became one, can be described as both forceful hurricanes or soothing rainbows depending on the circumstances. Happy Mother\u2019s Day to all moms, but I want to offer special recognition to all special needs moms.

"} ]