Of course it's been hot this week but then it's July and it's county fair time. Heat always seems to be part of that mix.
Fortunately, lower temperatures are in the forecast, which will make the fair more appealing for visitors and more fun for exhibitors and their animals.
As we start our roundup for this week, we can see lots of Thumbs Up for the army of people who make the fair what it is. Let's see, there are painters and photographers, picklers and pig farmers and ... well, you get the idea.
We applaud the fair for its new partnership with The Salvation Army to start the Christmas toy drive. On Thursday, fairgoers who donate two or more new toys will receive two carnival ride tickets.
Fair visitors always do a lot of walking. Those who own a smart phone can download an app from Kaiser Permanente and count their steps.
We do see a couple of Thumbs Down in the fair schedule. While it's great to have a performance by The Wiggles, a group aimed at 2- to 4-year- olds, scheduling their concert to start at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday means there will be a lot of tired and cranky little fans in the audience. And there are no nationally known Christian artists in the lineup, despite the popularity of previous concerts.
As a result of state budget cuts, the 2012 version of the fair is being presented without any state funds. Actually, we think that makes sense in these times. Counties need to support their own fairs, and we urge Stanislaus residents to support ours.
Overall, the fair board and staff have put together an appealing array of options. We hope people enjoy themselves and stay safe. The fair schedule is available at www.modbee.com or www.stancofair.com.
THUMBS DOWN: To West Park developer Gerry Kamilos, who likely will lose some of his critical support by failing to make good on the $2.75 million he promised to deposit with the county by July 10 to show he remains committed to the Crows Landing development. Even if Kamilos comes up with the money, county supervisors and other supporters including us will have some lingering doubts about whether he can get the environmental review completed by the end of January.
THUMBS UP: To Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, for successfully carrying legislation aimed at making it easier for veterans to find jobs when they leave the military. House Resolution 4155 is intended to allow veterans to use their military training and skills to satisfy training or certification requirements for federal licenses. President Barack Obama has praised the bill one of the rare few getting through the dysfunctional Congress so we expect he will sign it.
As our Washington, D.C., reporter Michael Doyle explained in a story in Friday's Bee, the only proposals that our federal representatives seem to be able to advance are modest in scope and targeted to help a group that all want to help, in this case veterans.
There's no way to estimate how many veterans will benefit from this legislation once it becomes law. Conceivably it will help veterans seeking jobs in aircraft or ship mechanics and communications fields, all of which have some sort of federal license requirements. States do the bulk of occupation licensing. Nonetheless, we applaud Denham for his bipartisan work on this proposal. An Air Force veteran, Denham has had a strong track record on veterans issues.
THUMBS DOWN: To the same Jeff Denham for participating with his fellow Republicans in that purely grandstanding vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. It was the 33rd House vote on repeal since the Republicans took control of the House and, predictably, the bill immediately was killed in the Democratically controlled Senate. We get it: The GOP doesn't like Obamacare; but we'd rather see our elected reps work productively. For instance, we sure hope there is movement on the farm bill and specifically the proposal within it to set a national standard for cage size for laying hens.
THUMBS UP (WITH A CAVEAT): To the city of Modesto for completion at long last of a new bus maintenance facility at Eighth and Washington streets. It provides parking and maintenance bays for the city's fleet of MAX buses. Federal and state sources paid about 90 percent of the $17.8 million price tag.
There's no doubt the facility was needed; the city had been using a 92-year-old former creamery. However, this project has been beset by problems lasting a decade. It took longer to get completed plans for the building than to the building and predictably, the price soared in tandem. In 1998, officials estimated that a replacement facility would cost about $9.5 million about half of what it ultimately cost.
THUMBS DOWN: To Forbes magazine, which loves to bash Modesto but can't read a photo caption. In its online report about nationwide auto theft, Forbes initially used a Bee photo of Sonora taken the day of the Amgen stage start there, but listed it as a Modesto location. Unless a major urban renewal project in Modesto included adding mountains, a Red Church and a replica Gold Rush-era town, they got it wrong. (In fairness, Forbes later changed the picture.)
THUMBS UP: To every entity that acted quickly to alert residents to the potential dangers of this week's heat and to offer cooling places, water and other assistance. We'll probably need all that again before the summer ends.