Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

THUMBS UP: To all our area veterans, we especially thank you this weekend as we mark Veterans Day and the anniversary of Armistice Day. We value your sacrifice and service. We encourage all to reach out and thank someone they know who has served in the U.S. military. Perhaps even take the time to ask them about their experiences, should they be willing to speak about them.

It is a particularly sober holiday, as our community mourns the death of mayor and Major Brent Taylor, who was killed one week ago in Afghanistan. His life impacted so many, and we will continue to mourn for how short a time that was, as well as for his family and children who remain here in North Ogden. We are proud to be American and to live in a community that cherishes and recognizes the value and sacrifice that comes from our veterans — living and dead. It was especially meaningful that Taylor’s last post on Facebook was about valuing the ability to vote and taking advantage of that opportunity regardless of whatever party you might affiliate with.

THUMBS UP: All those who mailed in their ballots and waited in lines at the libraries to cast ballots for the election this week should pat themselves on the back. Utah had great turnout for a midterm election, and it all goes toward make more educated decisions about the changes facing our community and state. Unlike other counties in Utah, northern Utah handled the flow and counting of ballots in a more superior way, and we appreciate that effort during such a crucial time.

THUMBS DOWN: It shouldn’t take voters’ efforts to get an issue listed on a ballot, voted on and approved — but Utahns took advantage of that right in order to find resolve on issues that Utah legislators have tiptoed around for the last several years. The passage of Proposition 2 and Proposition 3 speak to voters’ growing fatigue at state lawmakers’ failure to enact legislation addressing the need of availability of medical marijuana and Medicaid. Moving forward into the next legislative session, we hope lawmakers will honor the intent of voters this November and move to refine the state of medical marijuana and Medicaid in Utah but not strip it of what Utahns have voted on to be enacted. To act contrary would be to ignore and counter the wishes of constituents.

THUMBS DOWN: We hope you were able to read the four-part series “The Bear: Life and Death of a Western River” that has run in the Standard-Examiner each Sunday for the last month. The Bear River slowed to a trickle and stopped as it reached the Great Salt Lake in October and faces growing demands on it. We believe it’s important for Northern Utah residents to learn and pay attention to our precious, limited natural resources. The Bear is the lifeblood of so many — from fish and fowl, to agricultural farms, to residents, to the Great Salt Lake. We’d much rather be discussing the life of the river rather than discussing its death by drying up in the years to come.

“Bear River is such a critical life-giving source for people and wildlife — all along its path — and ultimately as the greatest source of water for Great Salt Lake,” said Marcelle Shoop, director of the Saline Lakes Program for the National Audubon Society, in the last article of the series.

We realize water conservation is complex, especially with Utah’s current water rights and laws. However, we commend those who have already implemented efficiencies in irrigation and established refuges for animals in the region. It’s unfortunate that places like the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge are understaffed and continue without consistent leadership; the areas they oversee and animals they protect cannot be replaced down the road after neglect has set in.

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