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Does it seem things are moving along a bit too rapidly? Maybe it’s the new year. After the slow climb up to the Christmas holiday season, after the first of a new year we seem to be speeding down the other side of the hill.

All of which leads to this — are you ready for some taxes?

That’s right, here we are at mid-January and many Americans are already gathering their receipts and other records necessary to successfully file a tax return for last year. There was so much chatter about the Republican tax-reform deal in Congress that many people may think those changes take effect with this year’s filing. Not so much. The big changes don’t kick in until you file next year for tax year 2018.

But there are things a person can do to prepare, and as usual, there’s nothing simple about filling out the perfect tax return.

Santa Ynez Valley taxpaying seniors are getting some welcome help from volunteer tax preparers at the Solvang Senior Center.

The group members are carefully trained by the IRS and state Franchise Tax Board, so they know their stuff.

Roses to these volunteers for the work they will do over the next couple of months. Preparing a 1040 return is no walk in the park.

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We’ve devoted an inordinate amount of space on this page in recent weeks to handing out bouquets of roses to ordinary people performing extraordinary duties in a series of local disasters.

First it was responders to the massive Thomas fire, which required nearly 10,000 heroes to go above and beyond in an attempt to save life and property in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

You simply cannot imagine the horror of a raging wildfire until you’ve come face to face with one of those monsters. But to not only face such an inferno, but race into its path to try to stop it takes a special kind of person.

The same can be said for responders to the deadly aftermath of the Thomas fire. The torrential rains earlier this week brought the remains of fire-ravaged back country down into the village of Montecito, killing and injury dozens of people in the early morning hours last Tuesday.

We simply cannot imagine the horror of sifting through the mud and debris that washed down from the hills, burying and otherwise destroying everything in its path, poking in the mud to hopefully find the remains of those who perished in that flooding.

We understand most of those professionals get paid to do their duty, but that does not diminish the tireless, thankless work they do.

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So, roses to all those — pros and regular citizens — who helped others after the mudslides.

We are thrilled to be able to recognize such heroism, but we just wish it wasn’t necessary quite so often.

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We’ve saved today’s final bouquet for the closer — to former Santa Maria Times writer/reporter Karen White, who coincidentally will be the final speaker today in the Santa Maria Historical Society’s Valley Speaks series.

Karen spent four decades covering the Central Coast for this newspaper, and will likely tell some of those stories in her presentation beginning at 11 a.m. this morning in Shepard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library.

Many folks perhaps do not know that Karen was among the first group of women admitted to Cal Poly-SLO in the mid-1950s. She also was among the first women employed at the Times. A pioneer, no matter how you look at it. And richly deserving a bouquet of nature’s finest.

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