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BRRR-UTAL! OK, we live in Wisconsin and we pride ourselves on being a hardy bunch, but we have to admit the polar vortex tested our mettle this past week with a one-two punch that started with a couple of hefty snows and then a plunge into subzero weather before we even had the plow-rows cleaned up.

The minus-55-degree wind chills managed to close schools, the county courthouse and numerous businesses, cause or contribute to two deaths in the county and even stop mail delivery for a couple of days — and that’s something that we don’t believe has happened here before. It’s hard to believe that only a week or so ago we were looking at bare lawns, open waters on inland lakes and wondering if we were ever going to see a little snow for sledding or skiing this winter. Now we have our answer — and we’ll be more than happy to see Racine area’s temperatures soar into the 40s this weekend.

One of the nice things about a spate of cold weather like this is that it reminds us of the good neighbors and professional service workers we have all around us who — despite the plunging temperatures — go about their work making our lives safer and better. Chief among them we would count the firefighters and paramedics who endured the ice and cold of the past few days to put out fires and tend the ill and injured and police officers and sheriff’s deputies who helped out drivers who slid into snowbanks or got caught up in accidents.

We would add to that the snowplow drivers, the tow truck operators, the utility workers and all sorts of other professionals who responded day and night to keep us safe and help us — and others out.

And a shout out to The Journal Times carriers, the vast majority of whom soldiered through the extreme conditions on Wednesday and Thursday to get papers to our subscribers.

“Most went over the top when the USPS did not even attempt delivery during daylight hours,” Publisher Mark Lewis said. “I personally could not be more proud of their effort and dedication, and the paper reached most points. This is something our customers expect and something our carriers should be proud of. Thanks to those who endured the cold to ensure our customers received the paper over these last several days.”

We were also heartened by the story in yesterday’s paper of the public response to the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization’s (HALO) plea for donations of hand warmers, outerwear, personal supplies and food as the shelter surpassed its capacity and filled its beds this week. The call for help on Facebook even brought in a donation of 160 sandwiches from Sebastian’s Restaurant on Douglas Avenue to feed shelter residents. That’s the Wisconsin spirit that warms us even on cold days.

Are you ready for some football? We suppose (but, we still think the New Orleans Saints got robbed). It’s Super Bowl LIII coming up this Sunday with the Los Angeles Rams facing the perennial New England Patriots in Atlanta.

Packer fans would probably have preferred a soul-testing venue like Lambeau Field in 1967 when the game-time temperature was minus 15 and the wind chill was minus 36. Yes, that was the famous “Ice Bowl” where the Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The refs mouths froze to their whistles on the first play and they had to shout out the end of plays after that.

The UW-La Crosse Marching Chiefs were supposed to take the field at half-time, but the woodwinds froze and the brass mouthpieces stuck to player’s lips and seven band members had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. This Sunday’s game in Atlanta will be played indoors at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s and rain — not a drop of which will touch the field. And they call this football? Packer fans will have to be content warming themselves in front of their television sets.

President Donald Trump has a penchant for deriding the media and pillorying newspapers and TV stations for peddling “fake news,” but he got a bit of good news this week with the reports that he had donated his salary for the third quarter of 2018 to the federal agency that researches alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. His donation of $100,000 to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism helps fulfill his campaign pledge to donate his salary to various federal departments and agencies. According to the news reports, it is also a personal issue for the president, whose older brother died in 1981 after struggling with alcoholism. That’s a fitting memorial.

“Get up, get outta here, gone!” While we’re buoyed by the Milwaukee Brewers’ surge in on-field performance this past baseball season, we’re giving sportscaster Bob Uecker’s trademark cheer this week to the projected end of the five-county 0.1 percent sales tax ordered by the state Legislature and Gov. Tommy Thompson that was used to help fund construction of Miller Park. News reports this week said the tax — which has raised more than $31 million and saddled each Racine County resident with an additional $11 per year in taxes, was originally supposed to expire in 2014.

Sales tax revenues declined and prolonged the tax, but the happy news its that it is now expected to go away later this year or early next. You can use that extra $11 to buy a beer and a half at the stadium.

It is perhaps fitting that the tax will end just as the stadium takes on a new corporate naming sponsor — and will no longer be called Miller Park.

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