Gratitude for light, warmth, and water

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Thousands of people in our communities are counting their blessings for the return of power after the epic wind storm last week knocked out electricity far and wide.

Both Kootenai Electric and Avista crews have worked around the clock to restore service, with linemen becoming the unsung heroes of the season.

In an email conversation with Avista’s North Idaho Regional Business Manager Patty Shea, on an unrelated topic, she happened to mention she was back doing one of her early jobs during the crisis — dispatching. With thousands of customers in North Idaho and Spokane affected by the outage, the company was pressing everyone into service, even management, doing dispatching.

Patty started with then-Washington Water Power in 1979 at the age of 19 as executive secretary to the vice-president of gas supply. In her decades with the company, she’s been a street light technician, field engineer, a member of the re-engineering design team, and managed customer service call centers and human resources. She furthered her education with a BA and an MBA along the way, too.

It’s always fun to learn a little more about people we know in specific capacities, and Patty is truly a Renaissance woman.

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I love the first snow of the season and since moving here 50 years ago, my recollection is that it arrived on or very near Thanksgiving. When our daughters were young our Thanksgiving tradition was after dinner for everyone to come out into the street while Bert officially turned on the Christmas lights on the house. If there was a blanket of snow that made it extra special.

Now, with our children and grandchildren living in other states, I realize that the specialness of the Thanksgiving night lighting tradition wasn’t the snow or the twinkling lights and the oohs and aahs — it was family. Wishing you all good memories of traditions past or making new memories and new traditions surrounded by people you love.

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Big doings in Coeur d’Alene this weekend with the Christmas Parade and lighting on Friday night and the kickoff of Kootenai Health’s Festival of Trees events. I’m looking forward to a 12th year of emceeing my favorite Festival of Trees celebration with the North Idaho Eye Institute’s Senior Social on Saturday morning. And you’ll want to be sure to see Ellen Travolta’s "Christmas with Friends" musical revue at The Coeur d’Alene Resort during the season and Laura Little’s "Traditions of Christmas" show at the Kroc Center in December. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our little corner of the world!

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Why shop local? Local businesses pay local taxes, provide paychecks, donate and contribute to organizations and events throughout the year. If not for local businesses, who would be donating to the auctions, raffles, scholarships, grad night parties, senior centers, charitable causes, youth sports sponsorships etc., etc.? This Christmas season, let your gift giving pay it forward in our communities — SHOP LOCAL!

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy

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Happy birthday today to John Cocoran, Sue Thilo, Sue Servick, Kelly Westover, Buck Wilhelm, Mike Reagan and Babette Banducci.

Sharing a Thanksgiving birthday this year are Tom Torgerson, Marilyn Fisher and Sandy Osburn. On Friday, Sue Hutter, Ian Martin and Bob Eachon can find some great birthday sales.

Saturday birthdays belong to Katie King, Cody and Tristan Webb, Breanna Joyner (20!) and Judy Dahl. On Sunday, Amanda Hildebrant Robinson, Gary Ingram, Shirley Thagard, Carol Covell and Carol Ann Eachon will celebrate another year.

On Monday, Kevin Ekness, Larry Quimby, Carol Kreighbaum, Kevin Krieg and Cindy Scinto will mark their annual trip around the sun. The first day of December will find Chris Pappas (70!), Marge Chadderdon, Jay Bremner and Connie Price putting on their party hats.

Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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