Editor's Notes: It’s the Best of Nisqually in the Worst of Times

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Let’s not kid ourselves. The year 2020 has been a steaming pile of flaming garbage in most respects. 

Between a pandemic that has afflicted the health of close to 6 million people and killed 177,000 in the U.S. alone and the associated cratering of the economy, it does not feel like a time for celebration. 

Yet, the Nisqually Valley News is ready to do just that as we once again partner with the Yelm Chamber of Commerce for our annual Best of Nisqually awards and special section.

Call it a commercial break in your ongoing pandemic programming, a much needed one at that. 

This annual celebration of businesses, individuals and organizations comes at a time when many are struggling, whether it’s to put food on the table or keep the doors of a business open. 

We’ve seen establishments and residents pushed to the brink with no end in sight when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 and health officials’ attempts to beat it back with the blunt instruments of closures, masks and social distancing. 

So while in past years we’ve used Best of Nisqually as a vote of the people to celebrate excellence, this year we also make a nod to the perseverance of our friends and neighbors. 

Starting this week, the nomination phase has been opened for the contest. That means readers can visit http://bestofnisqually.com/ and put their favorite people and establishments in the running for dozens of categories, ranging from best restaurant and best bartender, to best new business or elected official, and almost everything in between. 

The nomination phase lasts through Sept. 3, at which point those entries with the most nominations will pass on to the voting phase of the contest. That’s when readers will choose between the top-three entries in each category. 

Winners have traditionally been announced at a gala event led by the Yelm Chamber of Commerce. With current restrictions on the size of gatherings in Thurston County, we’ll have to see what that looks like in a couple months, but rest assured there will be a celebration of some sort. As always, the winners and finalists will also be part of a special section in the NVN.

COVID-19 has led to the cancelation of most events, high school sports and much more, but it will not be stopping the Best of Nisqually. 

The contest isn’t perfect. Each year, we hear a handful of complaints about the lack of a specific category or the fact that folks can vote and nominate once a day from each of their devices rather than a more democratic one person, one vote system. Still, we think our system allows for maximum participation in a fun vote of the community’s favorites like few others could. 

And judging by all the “best of” plaques, certificates and signs I see hanging from the walls of businesses in the community, I think most agree that winning is something to be proud of. 

That’s really the foundation of the contest — pride in our community and a celebration of all of our favorites. 

It’s about lifting up the Best of Nisqually in the worst of times, and I hope you’ll join me in nominating, voting and taking part in a positive tradition in these challenging times. 

As your hometown newspaper, we’re proud to still be with you in 2020.

Best of luck to you all in the Best of Nisqually. 

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Eric Schwartz is regional executive editor for Nisqually Valley News, The Chronicle and The Reflector. He can be reached at eschwartz@yelmonline.com. 

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