Every year the California Assembly honors worthy veterans. This year, the local honoree was Mike Nichols.

We’re happy he got the honor and his cause, the Yuba Sutter Veterans Stand Down, got some recognition.

Nichols does a lot of the coordinating for the annual Stand Down and that directs a lot of aid and benefits to any and all veterans who show up. But he does something more, if less direct. He forwards the cause of veterans by making sure there are hundreds of other area residents, businesses and organizations involved ... and that means greater community awareness of veterans and veteran issues. He not only helps veterans, but helps all of those other people remain conscious of the fact that there are veterans in our community and many of them need a little assistance (not that all of those people wouldn’t honor veterans, anyway, but it sure doesn’t hurt for the entire community to be reminded).

Nichols, a Vietnam veteran, proudly noted in a story Wednesday that at last year’s Stand Down, there were 87 people who were homeless – more than half women (which, he said, is in line with the growing number of female veterans who are homeless at the national level). They helped about 50 of those folks get off the streets.

It’s a three-day August event. Last year they had just shy of a thousand veterans attend, as well as a couple hundred family members of veterans. Additionally, they had about 65 businesses and organizations attend and about 600 volunteers. That takes some major coordinating.

And they can always use more help. If you’re interested, go to www.yubasutterveteransstanddown.org or call 749-1036.

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Thumbs up: Every summer volunteers put on the iCan Bike Camp for a couple dozen or so folks, who, for some reason were unable to ride a bicycle -- it could be some disability, lack of opportunity,  fear, whatever. 

What comes of it isn’t just a new group of bicycle riders, but a bunch of people proud of themselves, more confident in their abilities, and a little more independent (not to mention a group of family members and friends bursting with pride).

It may seem like no big deal... riding a bike. But in a feature story about this past week’s bike camp, the mother of a young man who learned to ride explained it well: “I’m relieved that he has confidence now – I know it’ll help him socially and with other kids. I’ve tried to teach him before and it’s been tough because he’s got autism and a social anxiety disorder, so with all the people here it was tough the first day, but he’s doing great now.”

Good job, volunteers.

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Thumbs Up: And kudos to the volunteers who regularly make the climb up a 65-foot-tall tower to help keep a lookout for wildfire. We printed a story last week about Oregon Peak Lookout in Dobbins – one of numerous towers staffed by volunteers. Officials are looking for more people to help.

It’s a CalFire tower, but about 40 volunteers help out over two shifts. They’re thinking of adding a third shift.

Interested? Call Mary Battista at 713-6998.

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Ugh: Jerry was on a business trip and had to make a call in a small, North California town. He arrived the night before, got a hotel room and asked the woman at the desk where a good place was to get a burger and some beers and to while away the evening. She directed him to the tavern just down the street.

He went in and pulled up a stool at the bar and had a burger and ordered a beer. 

A little while later, a guy at the other end of the bar yelled, “87!” and everyone in the place had a good laugh. Jerry thought that was a little funny, but went back to his beer. About 15 minutes later, someone else from in back of the place yelled, “29!” and the whole place went crazy. Jerry was perplexed, but kept his mouth shut. In a little while, someone else yelled, “14!” and people were rolling on the floor laughing.

Jerry couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Hey, bartender, what’s the deal with people yelling numbers and everyone busting a gut?”

“Oh,” the bartender said, “you know ... it’s a really small town and we all know each other so well and you pretty much know all the jokes after a while, so over the years we numbered all the jokes and whenever someone feels like telling one, they just yell out the number.”

Jerry ordered another beer and thought about it.

Another beer later and he’d worked up his confidence and he yelled out, “72!”

And there was dead silence.

Jerry was embarrassed and thought he’d done something taboo and hung his head and when the bartender came around he apologized and asked what he’d done wrong.”

“Oh, you didn’t do anything wrong,” the bartender said, sympathetically, and he leaned over and said in a confidential tone: “Don’t feel bad, but, you know ... some people just can’t tell a joke.”

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