There are plenty of tough issues out there in the world. There's plenty of partisan gridlock - for example, there's no solution in sight for the poorly conceived automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester.
In Wisconsin, debate about the mining bill dominated the state's political week, and to no one's surprise, the bill passed in the Assembly Thursday in a 58-39 party-line vote - no bipartisanship whatsoever.
But there have been quite a number of stories this week that can only be described as great news. Here, to kick off the weekend, are stories that put a smile on our faces:
We care about all our law enforcement officers, of course, but we will admit to being especially glad to learn that one Wood County Sheriff's Department deputy returned to the job on Friday. Toro, the department's K-9 officer, went missing Sunday evening. The department put out alerts throughout central Wisconsin.
Dozens of people searched for him on Monday and Tuesday, and he was found Tuesday morning about half a mile from where he disappeared, eating from a deer carcass, not much the worse for wear from his days AWOL. Welcome back, Toro.
A hearty congratulations to the WIAA Division 1 state championship Wausau West High School wrestling team. The team on Saturday held off Kaukauna in Madison to win the title, a great achievement by a very strong wrestling program. Any individual wrestling match might be a solo affair, but all the team members must work together to develop their skills and test them against other schools' teams.
We give particular credit to West senior Joe Umlauf, who showed real character in comments contrasting Saturday's win with his attempt to win the individual state championship, which came up short. The team victory "is almost better than winning an individual title because you win that state title, but you also get to see everybody else (celebrate it)," Umlauf said. "You see your (teammates) all happy too, it's great. It's the best feeling."
We're proud of Umlauf and of all the athletes who competed.
While we're at it, congratulations to the Wausau East High School hockey team for being named academic state champions by the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association. There are a lot of values to youth involvement in athletics, and the old idea that sports involvement is in tension with academic excellence is constantly proven to be a myth. The Wausau East team's excellent 3.76 collective grade-point average is a great example of this, and another reason to be proud.
For the second time, Schofield's Greenheck Fan Corp. was named Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year in a competition with the state's largest corporations. Greenheck beat out 11 other companies in the "mega" category comprising the state's biggest firms. Greenheck last won the award in 2004.
Local residents know well the vital role Greenheck plays in the economy of north central Wisconsin, and it's great to see the firm honored by its business peers. The company, which makes ventilation equipment - sometimes on a massive scale - employs 2,500 people worldwide and 1,800 in north central Wisconsin.
It is kind of enough of winter, isn't it? It has been fun and all, but, well, you know. It was pleasing this week to see the sun for a change - and we can't say we were too broken up about the fact that the snowstorm that buried Minneapolis and Chicago this week spared Wausau much more than a few stray flakes.