Editor’s note: The weekly “Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down” editorial offers opinions on highs and lows in the news.

Midwesterners — especially Wisconsinites — pride themselves on being able to handle everything winter throws at them.

The deep freeze in the Chippewa Valley this week that brought us temperatures as cold as 30 degrees below zero and wind chills of an outlandish -53 tested us all. That’s why we marvel at those who go out in such extremes because that’s what they do, it’s part of their working lives. Farmers like those in Leader-Telegram reporter Chris Vetter’s report shrug their shoulders when asked about working in the cold. They can’t take a day off. They can’t just leave their cows unattended to while they hunker down inside their toasty homes. Their chores don’t go away in sub-zero temperatures.

Eau Claire’s street workers deserve a shout-out for fixing the broken water main on Menomonie Street Wednesday morning. They battled the elements to make equipment work in temperatures most of us didn’t step out into unless we were forced. These people help keep our lives moving forward.

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The Eau Claire school board has met six times in a little more than two months to review the performance and discuss the contract of the district’s highest-paid employee — Superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck.

The deadline to extend her contract came and went this week without a word from the board. Will Hardebeck’s contract expire June 30 or will she be the superintendent for another year — or two years? We don’t know because the seven members of the school board aren’t saying.

District taxpayers have a right to know who will be leading the district and its 13,000 students into the future.

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Marvin Kauffman’s voice brings joy and fond memories each week to his fellow residents of St. Francis Apartments in Eau Claire.

At 90, Kauffman reads each Thursday to many people who have trouble doing so themselves because of their diminished eyesight. The 30-minute readings give the senior citizens a chance to reminisce about their days growing on a farm or some other life lesson from their youth.

“It takes away all the aches and pains and you’re just in a different world for half an hour,” 89-year-old Rose Bertram told the Leader-Telegram’s Samantha West. That’s exactly what Kauffman had in mind when he started the readings.

— Gary Johnson, editor