As families, students and friends gather for Thanksgiving this year, we at the Daily Herald wanted to acknowledge and mention the blessings that resonate and stand out to us this time of year.
Utah County's economic prosperity
With low unemployment percentages, and a growing landscape of businesses, Utah County has been fortunate in 2019 and in previous years to further in economic prosperity. From north in Lehi and Eagle Mountain, to down south in Spanish Fork, businesses are relocating here or expanding here.
This provides great opportunities for families and our large, young population seeking to stay and enjoy all the area has to offer.
Cities, counties and the state are tackling vaping
This year will be known as the year that began, in seriousness, in addressing greater restrictions on harmful vaping and e-cigarettes. Utah County cities lead the way in many ways for other areas of Utah to follow suit, banning access until age 21, and putting up other restrictions on flavors, accessibility and warnings.
While so many of the long-term effects are still unknown, health departments and the CDC are extremely concerned how it will affect the health of our youth and young adults who have latched onto the product at a time when traditional cigarettes were no longer popular.
No major wildfires
In 2018, the wildfires in southern Utah County threatened entire communities, livelihoods and lives of first responders. It was a frightening situation and one we're sure nearly everyone doesn't want to repeat.
This year, we were fortunate. But wildfires broke out elsewhere in Utah and across the West, and cities in Utah County were able to reach out in a helping hand to those communities in turn, all too familiar with the scary potential outcomes.
Snow plow operators
Last winter came with increased storms and snow, and kept city, county and state employees busy plowing so the rest of us could get to work, school and to the ski mountains.
This Thanksgiving, many will likely not get time to sit down and share a meal with their family and friends as they ensure the safety of our roads with the latest big storm. We're grateful there are those in our community willing to make that sacrifice so all of us can enjoy a better holiday. They don't get thanks enough, but we all greatly depend on them when the snow hits and accumulates.
The uplifting efforts of the youth
For some the holidays can be lonely and sad, whether it be from personal finance situation, lack of a home, death of a loved one, or the struggle with mental illness.
It makes us extremely grateful for children in Utah County who see sadness and seek to connect people. Just this week, students from Lumen Scholar Institute tied bracelets with the words "Reach Out" as part of a new program they've launched seeking to lower suicide rates, and make connections in order to avoid isolation. What an incredible idea and effort for such a huge problem they see fellow classmates and peers struggling with. As adults, we don't always have the answers right away, but our youth in Utah County are sharing constructive ideas to meet their problems.
Ban on conversion therapy
It's been a bumpy road since banning conversion therapy was proposed as a bill in the 2019 Legislature, and then failed. Since then there have been attempts to continue to push forth a ban on the controversial and damaging practice to Utah's LGBTQ youth.
This week, in a Thanksgiving miracle, Gov. Gary Herbert announced a rule that "would ban Utah therapists from subjecting LGBTQ minors to the practice that the American Psychological Association has said is not based in science and is harmful to mental health. The Utah rule proposal is set to go to a 30-day public comment period beginning Dec. 15 and take effect as soon as Jan. 22, Herbert said," in a report from the Associated Press.
We're thankful for the persistence in seeing this through, and we know it will help so many future children avoid the devastating consequences of undergoing this unethical practice.