Paying attention to the news these days can make the world seem like an awfully scary place, especially during periods where it’s full of divisive rhetoric about racially-motivated shootings, secretive trade deals, and controversial Supreme Court decisions. What is being reported on a more local level doesn’t bring comfort either, as the wrecked state, county, and city economies should be enough to send all voters reeling. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that those we elect to make decisions on our behalf might not know exactly what they’re doing.

It may be challenging these days to avoid being pessimistic, especially for this naturally cynical newspaper reporter. Instead of simply seeing the glass as half-empty, my glass seems to be stuck inside of Mel’s Southside Tavern where I can’t even get to it. Still, with an upcoming holiday this weekend that will offer the chance to watch neighborhood children celebrate their patriotism by injuring themselves and damaging property with low-grade explosives, it is time to acknowledge that hope is still present in this community for those who want to look for it. As tempting as panic and worry might be, the news for local residents isn’t all bad. So, let’s put a temporary stop to expressions of the grief and panic that are all around us lately, and seek out the positive instead. For once, let’s celebrate the positive in our community.

Here is what is good about living in Chanute right now:

  • Our community has a world-class hospital and school district, despite our governor’s best efforts to ensure that this isn’t the case.
  • Chanute has well-maintained parks, the aquatic center, and the golf course to use for summertime enjoyment (at least until the next City Commission work session).
  • If the folly of local politicians makes these summertime entertainment venues unavailable to us, there will still be distraction available at fireworks tents, American Legion baseball games, city-sponsored fireworks displays, the art gallery, and the Safari Museum.
  • There are no annoying traffic jams anywhere here besides railroad crossings and the terrible intersection of Third and South Santa Fe.
  • There is very little crime in this area, as long as we don’t count the occasional arson, brick-throwing exhibitions, or torturous five-hour County Commission meetings.
  • The Chanute police department has the good sense to have its officers wear body cameras, which helps to protect us and them.
  • Plenty of people here care very much about the community and want what’s best for it. It would be nice if we were all just a bit more involved in our own town.
  • Even though heathens like me feel like we’ll turn into pillars of salt every time we walk into the place, the FireEscape is one of the town’s nicest entertainment venues and gives teenagers in the community a wholesome place to congregate.
  • The recording studio run by Cody Nichols and talented local bands that record there – like Subject 2 Change and Captains of Moderation – are providing Chanute with the beginnings of a good local music scene. Plus, there's the Annual Blues Blast on August 8 at the airport, which will feature three of the hottest girl-led blues bands in the Midwest this year.
  • There are various 5K races, marathons and triathlons in the immediate area this time of year that exist to remind us all of how out-of-shape we are.
  • Even though several of its key buildings seem like they could fall down at any minute, downtown Chanute is still a very pleasant place to walk around, have a drink, and enjoy a meal.
  • For those of us who occasionally get a little fed-up with the limited restaurant selection in this town, very good and inexpensive cafeteria food is available to the whole community at the hospital and the community college.
  • Chanute residents who see the positive merits of ideas like the city’s Fiber to the Home plan should soon have the chance to vote on it. (We do remember when our current City Commissioners got elected promising voters that this would happen, right?)
  • When they read about some recent decisions made by our elected officials, residents here can be assured that they at least have plenty of good, progressive, forward-thinking cities within a couple of hours drive.
  • Worthy non-profit groups like Tri-Valley, the hospital Foundation, and Autism Hope for Families repeatedly prove that people here try to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
  • There is a good, entertaining local newspaper to read over breakfast in the morning, which is one of the few habits left that hasn’t been labeled “bad” or “unhealthy” by medical professionals.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, Independence Day gifts, or additions to this list of good things about Chanute to brian@chanute.com.

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