Thumbs down to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's governing board for not taking more aggressive action to rid our region of sooty air that is causing premature deaths and other health concerns. Soot levels this winter have been very unhealthy — even for people with no lung problems. Governing board members appear in radio and TV commercials imploring residents to do "one thing" to help clean the air. How about they do one thing to make the Valley a healthier place and ban fireplace burning? One more thing: Without better air, there is little hope for reversing the Valley's "brain drain."
Thumbs up to Fresno City Council Members Blong Xiong and Clint Olivier for their long efforts to get much-needed parks built. It is well chronicled that Fresno's park system ranks last among the 40 biggest cities in America. On Thursday, the City Council finally approved a $2.33 million contract to build Martin Ray Reilly Park at Chestnut Avenue and Highway 180 in Olivier's district. But it's still uncertain when the Universally Accessible Park — seven years on the drawing board — will get the green light in Xiong's district. Xiong, his constituents and disabled residents throughout the city deserve a ribbon-cutting soon on a park that could be a model for cities throughout the nation.
Thumbs up to Marine Corps League Detachment 14 and United Way of Fresno County for their collaborative efforts on the Toys for Tots campaign this holiday season. They distributed more than 87,000 new toys to needy children — an increase of 22,000 from 2012.