Today’s column is a potpourri of thoughts and happenings from the past few weeks.

Alan Alderman was a young boy when I was assigned to be a “home teacher” (as it was called then) to his family. I kept track of him through the years through his mother, Janet, who was a friend and co-worker at USU. A front-page section of the Deseret News on Aug. 29 titled “Crossing the Atlantic” gave me a wake-up jolt when I read the newspaper that morning. It was all about Alan.

The sub-heading said, “How this man with ALS made history and deepened his faith rowing across an ocean.” He did all this in December 2018. Alan and four others rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in 51 days, starting in the Canary Islands and ending in Antigua and Barbuda. Talk about determination and fortitude! An amazing story. I hope it turns into a book or a movie.

And speaking of “a movie,” we saw one recently that I highly recommend: “The Fighting Preacher.” True story, very well done.

Also, in this newspaper recently was a notice that my longtime friend Blythe Ahlstrom had died on Aug. 28. It was just a small notice that included a very brief note that a memorial service would be in the Logan East Stake chapel. Nothing at a funeral home, no further information. We attended the service, which included a special reading by some of his grandchildren, a beautiful musical number by a family living nearby, and remembrances by each of his four children. Short and sweet. (I told Jane, “That’s how I want mine to be when my time comes.”)

Blythe Ahlstrom was a major figure at Utah State for many, many years. He worked very closely with several different presidents and was behind the scenes in countless workings of a large institution of learning. He died at age 76.

I remember Blythe being involved in numerous “difficult” situations — being the mediator and leader in reaching satisfactory solutions. He was also a great teacher, and students learned much in his history courses. I will miss Blythe, his smile, and his wisdom.

On a happier note, my good friend and Logan businessman Russ Fjeldsted got in touch with me and suggested that Jane and I take a walk along the Logan River Nature Trail, which has been restored by Logan city and the Utah Conservation Program and involved the Cache County planner in a Trail Restoration Project. Russ was the chairman.

One afternoon we hopped in our car and went down to the “Island” part of Logan and saw the nature trail, between 100 North and Center Street. It was completed with volunteer help and donations for less than $20,000.

It’s amazing what neighbors can accomplish when they work together and get city help when needed. Our own Lundstrom Park is a great example of that. Volunteers planted that park and built a bowery near the church bordering the park, which is used all summer. A little-league ball field and playground were also citizen/city efforts.

Now, have you driven in downtown Logan, lately? New sidewalks, better lighting where needed, roads newly paved. The Emporium is now to be demolished and a public meeting will announce plans for the development to begin as early as next spring. Mayor Holly Daines informed me that the city is planning for “new housing, a public plaza, parking structure and more.” I know that Mayor Craig Peterson planned to build a new library there. The library seems to be a “shuffle board” guess of just where and when it will be built. I hope that happens before I die.

Stay tuned, lots of new things are happening in Logan city and the whole valley.

I’ve always been glad I came back to Utah and settled in Logan. This is where I’ll be for the rest of my days upon this earth.

One group that I’ve seen often in the past few weeks is composed of health care professionals — doctors, nurses, and technicians. For me, it’s so convenient that locations are just a mile or two down the road to the Budge Clinic/IHC health care units. Infusions, injections, and some “zapping” of skin cancers here and there, all help to keep me upright and mobile. The pharmacy “gang” at Lee’s knows us well and appreciates our patronage.

Between our home and Lee’s — where we shop most often for necessities — the scenery changes daily. Going down 1400 North we see many changes all around Kelly’s Foothill Mart and gas station/car wash. Some townhomes are scheduled to be built behind these establishments. Other townhomes are well under construction south of there, across the road from the Triads at USU. I don’t think they will be part of university housing, but hundreds of folks will live in these new areas.

Further down 1400 North will be a restaurant specializing in Chicago-style pizza. And further down, near the mall, workers are building the valley’s first “Culver’s” — a chain of burgers and sandwiches, etc., — which we have visited in trips to California and back East.

With all the housing growth in North Logan and Hyde Park, there are new developments in all directions. Last week we went to a granddaughter’s soccer game on a playing field near Greenville Elementary School and Green Canyon High School. It’s great to see the many sports buildings and athletic facilities around our valley. A healthy lifestyle makes a big difference in all ages. Jane swims most weekday mornings at the Sports Academy. I do floor exercises and walk on my treadmill upstairs, while listening to the news or a show on TV.

I had a good laugh recently when a friend sent me a note that said, “If my body is ever found on a jogging trail, just know that I was murdered somewhere else and dumped there!” He also added, “My decision-making skills closely resemble those of a squirrel when crossing the road.” Don’t worry, be happy!

Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at monson.jay@gmail.com