- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


April 19

The Exponent Telegram on infant immunization:

First the good news: West Virginia leads the nation in terms of immunization rates for school-entry-age children - at 97 percent, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Now the bad: We’re last in immunizing those children ages 19-35 months, according to state health officials.

As this week is National Infant Immunization Week, it is an opportune time to spotlight this deficiency in hopes of creating more awareness of the importance of protecting our most vulnerable citizens from diseases that can have long-term health effects.

Currently, only about 63 percent of state infants ages 19-35 months are up to date on all immunizations, according to Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health and state health officer.

Gupta went on to say that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which children are supposed to receive around age 1, is one of the most absent.

While newborns are often vaccinated before leaving the hospital, there are follow-up shots, called boosters, that are often needed. Parents must keep abreast of their children’s needed vaccines, Gupta said.

“This is one of the ways to keep your son, daughter, grandchild protected, by making sure they complete their series of vaccinations,” he told the Gazette-Mail. “And it’s so critical. This is one more thing that will prevent that little life from going back to the hospital.”

While some may fear that the state’s rural location could hinder proper immunization, state officials have worked to eliminate that issue. Gupta pointed out there are more than 400 providers, ranging from doctors to health departments, that can provide vaccines.

The needed vaccines include those that combat diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, flu, measles, rotavirus, Haemophilus influenza type B, tetanus, mumps, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, polio, rubella and chickenpox.

The state also offers the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines at no cost to those who can’t afford them.

As we look toward a brighter, more prosperous West Virginia, we have to keep in mind that our future depends on our young people. And their success, and subsequently ours, hinges on providing a nurturing environment.

That starts with protecting newborns and infants from diseases that can leave them ill or worse. Parents, educators and child-care providers must do more to raise awareness - and more importantly make sure that awareness translates to positive action.




April 19

The Inter Mountain on cyber security:

On the same day a cyber security expert talked to the Elkins Rotary about ways to stay safe online, a man was sentenced for soliciting a minor by computer in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Both local headlines serve as reminders that cyberspace can be a minefield.

On one hand, we must constantly be aware of the threat of identity theft and other computer-related intrusions into our personal lives. And on the other hand, as parents, we must protect our children from those who would use technology as a tool of predation.

We live in an age when even the government is pilfering through our online interactions. Indeed, it seems to come from all angles at times.

The greatest among these concerns, of course, is how to keep children safe in the digital world. For children, especially teenagers, Internet devices are second nature. Smart phones are as common in school as chalk boards.

The problem is youths are often more desensitized to the dangers of instant communication. They may lack a certain sense of caution or realization their devices could be used to exploit them.

We are torn because we want to give them freedom to explore technology, after all it has much good to offer. At the same time, we must occasionally infringe upon those freedoms in order ensure they are using technology responsibly.

As Mi-Tec Computer Solutions and President and CEO Mike Gallogly told Elkins Rotarians, there always have been people out there waiting to take advantage of others. Technology is simply another tool in their toolbox.




April 19

The Intelligencer on improving parks with partnerships:

West Virginia state government is flat broke, in case you had not noticed. And state parks are far from at the top of the list for what little money can be found in Charleston.

So how is it that officials are touting an initiative to build 20 new luxury cottages at Stonewall Resort State Park? The first of them already is open at the recreational area in Lewis County. A total of five are to be built this year.

Stonewall Resort is among the newest of the state’s parks. It was established in 1990 and has grown steadily since then.

But lack of money for capital improvements at first seemed to be a barrier to satisfying demand for cottages at the park. Then officials hit upon the idea of a public-private partnership.

New cottages are being financed by private investors who agree to rent them to the public during much of the year. That benefits both the owners and the park, which attracts more visitors - who may pay to use other park facilities.

Public-private partnerships are still relatively new in the Mountain State, though they have been used on some highway projects. They allow government to get more done than if it had to rely solely on taxpayer funding.

The possibilities for public-private partnerships in state parks are virtually endless. Americans have a seemingly inexhaustible desire for recreation - and almost heaven West Virginia is an attractive location for it.

Stonewall Resort officials may have created a template that can be used to benefit other parks in ways not limited to lodging. State officials should explore the possibilities and maximize the benefits from public-private partnerships.



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