Good luck getting a reservation for dinner tonight, if you haven’t already made it. And you better hurry if that last-minute piece of jewelry needs to be engraved.
Reservations? Jewelry? Don’t tell us you forgot about St. Valentine’s Day?
The 14th of February is set aside to celebrate sweethearts (kind of odd, considering the original St. Valentine died a martyr 1,745 years ago). It has become one of the biggest days of the year for restaurants, candy and jewelry stores. How big? According to WalletHub, which tracks credit card data, there will be $3.6 billion spent in restaurants and another $1.7 billion spent on candy (for dessert, presumably). For flowers, we’ll cough up another $2 billion. The big ticket, though, is jewelry: $4.8 billion. In all, we’ll spend $18.9 billion today.
No surprise, men spend more than women – $190 vs. $96, according to the National Retail Federation. We suspect that has more to do with the way we started this editorial. Perhaps those who forget until the last minute figure it’s better to go big than just pick up a card at the drug store. Good thinking.
But there’s another way to celebrate that, at least in the short term, costs very little. The stat folks say there will be 6 million proposals of marriage made today. Interesting, considering only 2.1 million marriages are performed each year. Have a piece of candy and draw your own conclusions.
Creating good readers a critical task
Stanislaus Reads has an important mission. The community-wide initiative wants to get kids reading proficiently by third grade. Why third grade? Because that’s the point when we switch from learning to read to reading to learn. We can’t overemphasize the importance of that moment. Kids who read well have more success in school, meaning they enjoy it more and they’re more likely to complete their educations. They’re more likely to stay out of trouble, too.
The Stanislaus Community Foundation is coordinating this effort and has scheduled its launch meeting for March 17 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Martin Peterson Center, 720 12th St. Stanislaus Reads is a collaboration among many, many groups and individuals spanning the entire county. But there’s always room for more. Call (209) 576-1608.
Significant investment in Valley’s future
Many bemoan the fact that so many of our brightest students feel compelled to leave the Valley to find opportunity. Few do anything about it.
The Maddy Institute, based at Fresno State but dedicated to improving the entire Central Valley, is challenging that dynamic. It’s offering two $56,000 scholarships to students who want to pursue graduate studies in public policy. There are two catches: Preference is being given to those who have been Maddy Fellows – a program that draws from the five public universities in the heart of the state (CSUs in Fresno, Stanislaus, Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo and UC Merced). Second, recipients must agree to work two years in the Valley. The application deadline is Feb. 27.
Maddy executive director Mark Keppler noted that in 10 years, “we could have potentially 20 outstanding public leaders working right here in the Valley” as city managers, city planners, doing economic development, etc. He said he knows of no other graduate opportunity of this significance and calls it an “incredible opportunity.”
We call it an incredible investment in our valley.