Daily Republic Editorial Board
We have a deep appreciation of bison, those symbols of the American West that have played such a prominent part in the history and culture of South Dakota. It's with great pride that we note South Dakota's leading role in the preservation of bison, which nearly went extinct. South Dakotans including Scotty Philip are credited with building the herds during the late 1800s and early 1900s that brought bison back from the brink, and in modern times South Dakota consistently ranks atop the list of bison-producing states.
HISSES to the decades-long, wrongheaded approach to crime that led South Dakota to have -- according to a report this week -- the 16th highest incarceration rate in the world, with no nations and only U.S. states above South Dakota on the list.
There seems little doubt that South Dakota's gas tax is about to increase. Mike Vehle, a Republican state senator from Mitchell, is chairman of a legislative summer study committee that is touring the state this month to talk about highway funding needs.
Congratulations, South Dakotans. You're wasting less money on gambling. That's bad news to some observers, since a big chunk of the money that South Dakotans lose while gambling goes to state government. Through June 14, the state's total take this year from video lottery, scratch tickets and lotto tickets was about $105.7 million.
CHEERS to Avera Queen of Peace for the progressive spirit exhibited in its long-term plan to relocate its campus to a location near Cabela's south of Interstate 90. Debates can be had about what location is best for the hospital and its affiliated facilities, and we are concerned about the effect that Mitchell's south-bound exodus continues to have on the downtown district. But we cannot fault, and really should praise, Avera for being forward-thinking and proactive.
Employees can wear jeans every Friday at The Daily Republic in exchange for $1, which goes into our Jeans for Charity Fund. Over the years, that fund has paid out thousands of dollars to local and area organizations and causes. Today, we'll conduct a special Jeans for Charity day, with larger donations encouraged for the Wessington Springs Tornado Relief Fund.
CHEERS to the people of Wessington Springs and their efforts to recover from a devastating tornado that struck the small town Wednesday. Out of the tragedy, many positive stories have emerged, including tales of heroism by local volunteers who drove through town warning about the oncoming storm, the lack of serious bodily harm that resulted from the heeding of those warnings, and the many instances of kindness being displayed every day during the aftermath of the destruction.
In a piece we published Monday, Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist, quoted the portion of the Gettysburg Address in which Abraham Lincoln called for increased devotion to winning the Civil War so that "these dead shall not have died in vain." Thomas used the Lincoln quotation to assert that if the United States does not somehow fix the worsening situation in Iraq, the American soldiers who died during and after the recent war in Iraq will have died in vain. We don't agree with a strictly literal interpretation of Lincoln's statement.
HISSES to the long waits veterans have been suffering at federal Veterans Affairs health care facilities. Last week, it was reported that 114 VA patients in South Dakota were waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them. It was also reported that veterans in South Dakota wait the longest in the Great Plains region for a mental health appointment. Political leaders are taking action to fix the problems, but the true test will be what happens after the headlines fade.
Mitchell has too often been a place where progressive ideas get rejected. We don't have a complete, historical list of city ballot issue results, but we know the recent success rate for ballot issues was dismal prior to June 3. Here's a quick summary of the city ballot issues we can recall over the last 10 years: • 2005: Voters rejected, 53-47 percent, a public funding package of up to $5.8 million for a proposed convention center at what was then called the Holiday Inn and is now the Ramada. • 2007: Voters rejected, 69-31 percent, a proposal to raise property taxes and build an arena alon