Houma, sweet Houma

One of The Times’ front-page stories this week concerns Houma’s ranking among the top 10 small cities in which to make a living. With all of the fire and brimstone talk coming out of Baton Rouge, the local economy stumbling in step with the oil-and-gas industry’s own swoon and the Saints missing the playoffs the last two years, some of you may be asking, “How, Sway?”

Well, we can go right back to that ranking for an answer. MoneyGeek looked at which cities with less than 100,000 residents were most affordable to live in, and a certain city along Bayou Terrebonne showed up among the cream of the crop.

The Houma region has made an effort to build affordable housing, with more coming soon for our seniors at the old Houma Elementary School.

Terrebonne Parish has made great progress over the last decade in terms of parish projects and quality-of-life improvements, such as new parks and a library system ranked among the Top 15 in the country, thank you very much.

Just two years ago, a research paper ranked Houma the second happiest city in the country! Sure, the jobs were bountiful, the prosperity plentiful as the oil market boomed. With depressed prices sweeping the market, work hours have been cut or, worse still, have become nonexistent, and the rest of the businesses reliant on that extra spending have felt the crunch as well.

However, that aforementioned affordability makes these tough times not as tough as they could be, giving the Houma-Terrebonne area the chance to stick it out until this economic tempest passes. We’ve seen darker clouds before; those who survived the ‘80s scoff at the current downturn, and the oily horror of Macondo wasn’t enough for us to throw in a white flag, either.

We know the oil economy will rebound; the world’s thirst for energy always brings it back. What Houma has done to stay affordable, in times of both prosperity and thrift, is enough to keep us around until the going gets good again. And what better place to ride out the storm than right here, where we have great food, a rich culture and welcoming people?

Sure beats waiting for wealth in a $3,000-per-month glorified closet in Brooklyn.

Louisiana officials got the raise; now it’s time to do better for the kids

Being a referee is hard work. No one in The Times’ newsroom would willingly sign up for the task of calling all of the prep football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and baseball/softball matches in our area for a given athletic season.

But with that said, Louisiana principals voted with a huge majority to give officials a pay raise at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Annual Convention this winter.

So with that in mind, it’s time for the referees to do better for the state’s kids.

Ellender was robbed a shot at overtime on Friday night. There’s no question about it. That game should have gone to overtime. Look, we get it. Human error is part of the game, but it’s tough to overcome an error at the worst possible time.

And it’s not the first time this happens.

In last year’s Class 4A State Championship game, a clock error cost former South Lafourche High School basketball coach Jay Carlin a shot at the title.

In that instance, the clock operator failed to start the clock on time, which gave Landry-Walker an extra half-second to get a game-winning layup.

It’s a tough job, but you guys signed up to do it.

If you wanted the raise, give the kids enhanced results. What we saw on Friday night isn’t good enough.