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Amid all the bad news in Las Vegas, don’t overlook the good

Gloomy rainy days like we had this week make me want to write about positive things that make me smile and realize there are plenty of good things in this community.

Not murders or trials or government silliness. Not redistricting, that’s for sure, or presidential politics. Just something that makes our lives better, or simply more enjoyable.

For instance, on Monday, groundbreaking will start on the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Sure it’s just a building, but it’s a building where the poor go for legal help without being jammed in like a box of cigars. The campaign to raise money for the $13 million cost of land and the building was a fundraising success despite starting in 2007 and struggling when the economy tanked. Some $8.5 million came from private donors, while $5.5 million was public money.

No longer will classes be held in a standing-room-only conference room. The 3,200 abused and neglected children in foster care will now all have an attorney representing their interests. There will be space to hire another 10 attorneys to help represent the more than 30,000 clients who couldn’t otherwise afford an attorney.

The new center is expected to open in late 2012 and will be next to the current office at 800 S. 8th Street.

Helping the poor with their legal problems, especially foreclosures, now that’s a good thing.

Want more good stuff?

The Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, formerly at Lorenzi Park, is finally going to open at the Springs Preserve on Oct. 28, a mere six years after it was once expected to open.

For more than two years, I’ve passed by the closed building, built at a cost of $51.5 million when times were better, and saw only an empty shell, crying out for exhibits that children and adults can enjoy.

The building couldn’t open without staff to run it, and the Legislature, after first saying no, finally decided to provide enough money so that it can be opened on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

What some see as a waste of money, I see as a sign Las Vegas is maturing and appreciating its historical roots.

With double the space, museum director David Millman said, there will be new exhibits as well as improved display of the existing exhibits. “We’ve included the entire state, not just Southern Nevada.” For instance, he wants Southern Nevadans to realize that Mark Twain had Northern Nevada ties.

There will be showgirls’ costumes and plenty of animals, which kids love. There’s even a touch of mob history. Would you like to see the sharp German scissors Bugsy Siegel gave as gifts to journalists? Or wonder why?

This museum is all about the state’s history, from the days of dirt and rocks to the Native Americans to the pioneers. It moves through the Hoover Dam days and the atomic testing years as well as the gambling years.

It’s free for children under 18, while adults must pay $9.95, which also gets them into the Springs Preserve.

An individual often lifts my spirits.

When Lionel, Sawyer & Collins attorney Cam Ferenbach was appointed U.S. magistrate judge, I smiled. This man of integrity starts work Tuesday.

Ferenbach is a decent guy who gives to the community and his profession in countless ways. He’s an all-around stand-up guy, whose family is involved in making the community better, who give us hope for the future.

For my own sanity, sometimes I need to ponder the right things this community does, instead of the wrong things, the stand-up folks instead of the miscreants, the generosity instead of the thievery, the foresight instead of the missed opportunities.

After all, if Las Vegas were all negative, why would I have stayed here all these years? I’m no masochist.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.

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