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story.lead_photo.caption Melinda Gassaway - File photo - Photo by The Sentinel-Record/File photo

The heat is on in the Spa City.

Well, at least when the sun peeks out before and after the daily downpours.

While many summer activities have been canceled or postponed, this is still a good time to enjoy the outdoors whenever possible.

And no matter the weather, reading a good book is always a perk-me-up pastime. Two of my recent "favs" are "28 Summers" by Elin Hilderbrand and "Swimming Lessons" by Mary Alice Monroe.

Speaking of reading, here is a big "Thumbs-up" to the Garland County Library for expanding digital access to its patrons by joining the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium.

Adam Webb, library director, explained that the merger will allow the library to increase its current 20,000 digital collection to as many as 50,000 new titles. Webb also noted that being part of the consortium will also significantly decrease the average wait times for books.

Thank you, Director Webb and Garland County Library board members for this forward-thinking decision.

By the same token, here is a "Thumbs-up" to the good news that plans to restore the former home of John Lee Webb, first president of the National Baptist Laymen and a highly influential leader in Hot Springs Black history, have received a big boost in the form of a $78,251 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

The historic home is being converted into a community center and museum of the city's Black history, thanks to efforts led by the local organization, People Helping Others Excel by Example.

Meanwhile, we send out a "Thumbs-up" to all of the bargain hunters who exercised due caution and consideration for others during last weekend's two-day yard sale in the Hamilton Park Subdivision.

According to one of the organizers of the six-family event, most of the people who came to browse and buy had on masks and took care to socially distance themselves from others.

Continuing on, here is a well-deserved "Thumbs-up" to The Salvation Army of Hot Springs for last month initiating a "Pathway of Hope" program to help families get out of poverty.

Components of the program -- which is free to any local family with children -- includes assisting parents to earn their GEDs and teaching families about budgeting and socialization. Funding is through private Salvation Army donors and National Park College is financially helping with the GED portion.

Many thanks to Captain Bradley Hargis and The Salvation Army of Hot Springs Board members for again connecting so positively with our community.

Finally, here is another "Thumbs-up" to all the people who continue to think of others during these difficult days. One example is my downstairs neighbor, Karen Overton, who gifted me with a lovely orange-red outdoor wreath because she was concerned the major renovation work she was having done in her condo might be bothersome to owners living in the same four-plex.

Even though we assured her that was not the case, Overton insisted on thanking us in advance for our patience and understanding.

Her thoughtfulness certainly brightened our little corner of the complex and the two-man crew was especially cordial.

The Thumbs Column appears in The Sentinel-Record the first and third Wednesday of each month. The newspaper welcomes readers' comments and suggestions, which should be submitted in writing with a name and home address for verification and contact purposes. This information is kept confidential.

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