This is one of my favorite weeks of the year....the edition in which we present our annual Valentine’s Day feature stories on local couples.

My job takes me to a lot of different places.....school board and city council meetings, high school sports, fire and police scenes to name a few, and includes routine duties such as writing obituaries and news briefs and police beats.

Not all the news is good news, obviously, as we all too often deal with difficult stories involving tragedy or loss.

Sometimes, too, the routine is pretty straightforward and mundane.

On the other hand, my job is sometimes immensely rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable....which is probably what keeps me coming back for more.

Our annual Valentine’s Day stories fall into that category.

Sitting in the homes of couples and listening to their stories about the lives they share is a wonderful, inspiring experience.

I’m a firm believer that everybody has a story to tell....and the three couples we feature this Valentine’s Day are certainly no exception.

Through the years, we’ve featured couples who have spent decades together, those who are just starting out, those who are starting over.....each relationship is unique in some way, and sharing their stories is our pleasure.

There are some common threads as well.

Successful couples are best friends.

They genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

They are committed to working through problems and disagreements that arise.

They know the art of compromise.....and recognize that when there is no middle ground that sometimes it is only fair to step back and defer to the other.

They recognize that, to be in a partnership one must be willing to be a partner....and to be equal partners.

They are devoted to each other but are also strong people in their own right, comfortable in their own skin.

Relationships are not always easy, but those who find true love are blessed.

We go through many chapters in our lives, or at least most of us do.

I have been young and single, young and married, a single adult and am now very happily married to Kat, the woman who changed my life when she tapped me on the shoulder at a dinner-dance more than 15 years ago.

Through that progression and those experiences.....

I am now a better person.

I am now a better husband.

I am now a better parent.

Of course, that’s not to say I’m anywhere close to perfect. I’m still a work in progress.....but aren’t we all?

We hope our readers enjoy the trio of Valentine’s Day features on these pages.....and that every day of the year we let those important in their lives know they are loved and cherished.

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Well.....the Fourth of July fireworks in Gustine could be quite interesting this year.

Due to the insurance concerns associated with hosting the fireworks show in the Gustine High stadium, organizers are looking at shooting off the fireworks from a city-owned soccer field to the west of campus (slightly less than half a mile away from the stadium).

Plans call for the stadium to still be used as a viewing area, since obviously not everybody can just park out on the edge of town to enjoy the show.

How well this all works out, if it proceeds as planned, remains to be seen.

I think everybody’s preference would be to continue shooting off the fireworks from the school baseball field just to the north of the GHS stadium, but that option pretty clearly seems to be off the table.

The soccer field alternative is going to provide a far different fireworks experience, but what’s the better plan under the circumstances?

The other thing out there is this: Raising money to pay for the fireworks has become more challenging each year, we’re told, and the committee which handles that is in need of some new blood.

The clear consensus at last week’s Gustine City Council meeting was that the fireworks show must continue.

It is a cherished West Side tradition, one which would be difficult to see go by the wayside....and one which if lost could probably never be revived.

So my thought is this.....let’s get through this July 4, see how the new fireworks show format works out, see how the fund-raising goes and see if more people are willing to pitch in to continue that tradition.

The future of Gustine’s July 4 fireworks show has been uncertain in recent years.

My thought is that we will have a much better idea after this Independence Day of what the future holds for Fourth of July fireworks in Gustine.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.