Daily Republic Editorial Board
Sadly, another fire was the talk of Mitchell recently. Last week, an early-morning fire completely destroyed a building at CHS Farmers Alliance in the western part of town. It was the second major fire to hit Mitchell this month, and the 13th structure fire in town this year. No one was injured in last week's incident, but we've seen more than our share of sad fire news this year. People have died. Main Street businesses have been forced to move locations.
We heard a lot of the same responses Tuesday afternoon when the person who purchased the winning $1 million Powerball ticket last month in Mitchell wasn't someone local. It seemed people were upset that a Mississippi man, John Chalk Jr., claimed the prize, rather than a local face with whom people could connect. Chalk, who declined media interviews on the winnings, was in South Dakota during his annual hunting trip with friends. Officials were unsure what type of game he was hunting, but it's likely he was in the state to chase pheasants.
HISSES to the rise in child abuse cases in South Dakota, which we chronicled recently. Our attention was drawn to the subject by a series of tragic and preventable child deaths in our area during the past few years. As we looked more deeply at the problem, we learned that about 1,400 children were victims of abuse and neglect in our state in 2010, the most recent year of available statistics. It's a problem that doesn't get much attention, but it should.
HISSES to a report of seven cases of a rare children's respiratory illness in the state. The virus can cause mild cold-like symptoms including runny noses, coughing and wheezing.
Mitchell has made great strides toward becoming a pedestrian-friendly city. A program of sidewalk construction undertaken by the city's Public Works Department and supported by the mayor and City Council has has added many new sidewalks to the city. Each year, the city selects an area to focus on. The approach has resulted in better pedestrian pathways to parks, schools and other public facilities.
Last month in an editorial, we asked the Mitchell Board of Education to proceed cautiously with a proposal to build a $13.5 million fine arts center. After the idea for a new center had been discussed generally for a long time, the specific plan seemed to congeal suddenly and take off without much public input or awareness. That's how it seemed to us, anyway, looking from the outside in. We realize there were probably many meetings of school officials at which the plan was formulated over an extended period of time. Still, public input is needed on a plan of such immense size and cost.
Does a low-income foreign woman who enters the country illegally deserve subsidized prenatal care for herself and her unborn child? It's a tough question. Some would argue that the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship belong exclusively to U.S. citizens, and people who enter the country illegally have no standing to obtain services or assistance from the government. On the other hand, any child born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen.
CHEERS to the community of Parkston, which is sprucing up its much-used baseball complex. The field, known as The Pond, is home to amateur, high school and Legion baseball, and like so many other small-town ballfields of today and yesteryear, it provides an important gathering place for the community. South Dakota's small-town summertime baseball tradition is one of the many things that makes this state great, and it's nice to see the tradition being strengthened in some places. HISSES to yet another criminal suspect who made the boneheaded choice of evading law enforcement at high speed.
Sioux Falls has a great downtown, but it wasn't always that way. One of the sparks that ignited the rebirth of downtown Sioux Falls was outdoor dining, and a major factor supporting the viability of outdoor dining is the opportunity to have an alcoholic drink with a meal. Why? Because downtowns are no longer places many people go to conduct daily business during their workday. That may have been the case 30 years ago, but it's not anymore.
CHEERS to Mayor Ken Tracy for deciding to demolish the former Veterans of Foreign Wars building sooner rather than later. The corner of First and Main, which should be a symbolic showplace for a city, has been an eyesore for nearly three years now, ever since barricades were put up around the Longhorn Bar when it was deemed an unsafe structure. The Longhorn has since been razed, and the VFW building was damaged in the process.