Thanks so much to friends who sent thoughtful cards and messages these last few weeks. The wonderful dinners and desserts were so welcome, appreciated and truly heart felt.

Happy New Year. Whether your celebration included a festive evening of dining and dancing, or curling up with a good book by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate — it’s always exciting to begin a brand new year. Children will be looking forward to going back to school and seeing all their friends; our Western Oregon University students will be returning soon to get involved in their classes and activities; and we will all try to think of creative and interesting ways to get through the cold, rainy — and occasionally snowy —winter days.

A new year brings new opportunities for all of us to resolve to take good care of ourselves and our families. Some of us may choose to begin a healthy lifestyle change with morning walks, workouts at home or a health club, swimming classes, yoga and exercise groups at the Monmouth Senior Center. While the weather outside may not be very welcoming, we can find many good things to do to keep busy indoors to help chase those winter doldrums away. Volunteers are always welcomed at our schools, nursing homes and care facilities, Ella Curran Food Bank, Head Start and local service organizations.

Our Central High School Panthers are busy with swim meets, wrestling events and both boys’ and girls’ basketball games during January and February, with many events here in MI Town or not far away. Attending these winter sports programs are a great way to show support for our local athletes who are doing their best both in the classroom and in various sports activities.

Another good way to chase away the rainy-day blues is to pack up the family and visit either the Independence or Monmouth public libraries, where many good things are happening for MI Town residents of all ages. Friendly faces and good information about the latest in books and DVDs are available during library hours. My happy new year wish is that maybe this time next year our libraries will have the proper funding to be open seven days a week. What can we do to make that dream a reality?

How about giving the cook the night off and have dinner out at one of MI Town’s restaurants? Whether your preferences are for Mexican, Italian, Asian or American – you’ll find everything close to home, prepared and served by your friends and neighbors. Let’s all resolve to spend our money where our town is —and patronize our local businesses. Everybody wins, and that’s one New Year’s resolution we can easily keep.

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