- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, April 24, 2014

SDHSAA right to look at transgender issue

Kudos to the South Dakota High School Activities Association for confronting the issue of transgender students head-on. It’s a controversial, confusing topic for parents and schools, but it is even more crippling for the students who feel misunderstood and alone. Inclusive language and actions by the SDHSAA as it relates to participation in school sports and activities is worth talking about.

Each of us likely has our own reaction to this issue, including, “How many kids is this a problem for? How many does it affect in South Dakota?”

While the number is likely small, it is hard to know for sure, as it is such a private, personal issue that remains in the shadows. A key number comes from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, which found that 41 percent of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Anything schools can do to lessen that chance is a positive step.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, April 21, 2014

Public dock plan reflects proper focus on access

The Mitchell City Council was scheduled to hear from the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee on Monday night about a proposed public dock program for the lake.

The program would allow boat owners who don’t live alongside the lake the opportunity to rent dock space, where they could leave their boat during the summer. It would save non-lakeshore residents from loading and unloading their boat dozens of times throughout the summer months.

We don’t know much about boating or public docks, so we’ll leave the specifics to the experts. But we do feel compelled to applaud the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee for continuing to push for expanded public access at the lake.

Lake Mitchell is within the Mitchell city limits and should be enjoyed by lakeside residents, non-lakeside residents and visitors alike. It’s a public resource.

Sadly, opportunities for public enjoyment of the lake were limited in past years.

That’s changed recently, thanks in part to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee, the members of which are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The mayor, City Council and the Mitchell Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department also have worked to improve public access at the lake, and volunteers have been important, too.

Examples of recent successes include a rehabilitated and expanded system of wooded, dirt trails stretching from the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village to the electrical substation near the corner of North Main Street and Cemetery Road; a revamped Public Beach with better sand, terracing and a renovated bath house; an expanded system of paved bike trails stretching around much of the lake; and much-needed renovations to the Camp Arroya public-use area.

Is the public dock plan a logical next step? Perhaps.

Whatever the fate of the dock proposal, we hope the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee and others continue pushing for public access. It’s the right thing to do, and it could also have a great side benefit: As more people participate in hiking, bicycling, fishing, skiing, sunbathing and other activities at the lake, public concern for the lake also will grow. That’ll make maintenance and improvement of facilities an easier sell.

It might even grow support for anti-algae efforts, but we’ll save that complex issue for another day.

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Daily Leader, Madison, April 15, 2014

Growing med school will be great for S.D.

The University of South Dakota Medical School will start growing next year, and we’re enthusiastic about the impact it will have on the state of South Dakota.

USD has the only medical school in the state and has been operating for more than a century. Generally, its emphasis is to educate family care physicians who will practice in South Dakota. More than 600 of its graduates currently practice in the state.

The med school currently admits 56 students per year and, beginning in 2015, will start admitting 11 more per year. The Lee Medical Building itself doubled in size during the last decade and is well positioned to take on more students.

And it appears as though South Dakota will need doctors: The South Dakota Department of Health estimates that there will be a need to expand the primary health care workforce by 13 to 17 percent, according to Dr. Mary Nettleman, the medical school’s dean. The growth in demand appears to be from the aging of the baby boomers and the expansion of health services through the Affordable Care Act.

We’ve seen many Madison students attend and graduate from the USD Medical School, and we’ve seen graduates of the school practice in Madison for many years. We’re excited about the expansion of the classes there.

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