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Don't let bad news get you down

By By BILL CRIST - Publisher
Many of us have found our lives in turmoil over the past several weeks. Our nation's war in Iraq, our state's growing financial crisis and a string of local stories that many of us would rather leave untold have left a dulling effect during a week that could have been so much more.
Looking outside the windows of the office, we could all see that flowers were blooming at their springtime fullest. Students returned to school from spring break, ready to enter the home stretch on this school year. Little League baseball was poised to kick off its season with opening ceremonies over the weekend. Those are great stories.
Many of us, though, found it easier to focus on the negative this week. That's a shame because so many wonderful things are going on in our community right now.
While not public events, over the next two weekends, both W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller will be holding their proms. Prom is a special time for high school students. For many of us, it's the first time we really have the opportunity to dress formally, renting our first tuxedo or searching for that perfect, unique prom dress. Proms have certainly changed over the years, and vary greatly from area to area.
When your senior class has over 700 students in it, a person may think they know everyone they will graduate with, but the reality is that's not often the case. For students that go to smaller schools, the opportunity to know all your classmates, growing up and spending time with them is something special. While the senior classes at Miller and Neal are certainly not the smallest in the state, their size does allow students a level of camaraderie that's missing in larger towns.
Even in the bad news, though, there is a silver lining to be found. Sometimes that lining is a little hard to polish down to, but it's usually there if a person is of the right frame of mind.
Agree or disagree with his approach, our governor is taking tangible, necessary steps to try and correct the financial picture in our state. He has outlined an aggressive plan to cut costs and expand revenues, while also focusing on changing the underlying problems that have plagued our state's government. Beginning Wednesday, The Standard, in conjunction with other newspapers managed by Boone Newspapers, Inc., will begin a series of articles detailing some of Gov. Bob Riley's strategy to address all three issues. Many of the suggestions will face stern resistance from groups that have long benefited under our state's antiquated constitution. Some of his plans may find their way into policy, some will not, but the effort being demonstrated is a sign of the leadership Riley promised to bring to Alabama on the campaign trail.
Even locally, a positive message can be taken from what many would consider bad news. Last Sunday, one local minister challenged his congregation to get more involved in the life of its church. Citing attendance and participation records, he told those at the service how important their roles in the church were, on many different levels. Another church found itself in the position of having to work through revelations of its sudden connection to a national story. Many members expressed shock, but those interviewed also pledged their support for a man so many referred to as a friend.
Spring is a season of renewal in nature as we see trees turning green and flowers blooming, and also for many of us personally. It can be a time for us to look forward to summer vacations, long days of sunshine and new beginnings. You don't have to look far to see the signs; it can be as simple as kids gathering to play ball on the corner lot or the azaleas blooming on every street corner around town. It's easy to let the bad news get you down, but especially now, it's a time to look ahead, at the opportunities that lie down the road.
be contacted via email at bill.crist@brewtonstandard.com