- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Daily Republic, Mitchell, May 17, 2016

Slow and steady seems to be the approach taken to fix Lake Mitchell’s problems.

Prior to Saturday, there hasn’t been much accomplished to rid the algae-filled body of water other than a whole lot of discussions.

The meetings and planning are important. But it was good to finally see some progress be made at the lake itself.

On Saturday, volunteers planted cattails throughout the lake and along the Firesteel Creek. Again, it was progress. Something physically happened to improve Lake Mitchell.

Mayor Jerry Toomey says the problems at the lake are multi-faceted, and he’s right. So there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

But we’re excited that something was accomplished, and we’re impressed about 20 people - including the mayor - volunteered to help. That’s great. As we’ve pointed out before, Lake Mitchell impacts everyone in the city and we hope Mitchell’s residents realize its importance. Among its many uses are boating, hiking around its trails, fishing, and simply for viewing.

To help improve the quality of the lake for its many users, planting cattails is a good step that should provide nearly immediate results.

The west end of the lake already has full-grown cattails, which provide a great filter for the rest of the lake. As the Firesteel Creek flows into the lake on that side, it’s nice to have a mass of cattails to act as a blockade to any unwanted elements such as excess nutrients like phosphorus and fertilizer.

Aside from that, the cattails are great for fish habitat. Lake Mitchell, at certain times of the year, can be known as a strong fishery. But that’s typically in the spring when water is constantly flowing and clean. But it’s definitely not recognized statewide for its fishing opportunities like others. With the right changes to improve the lake’s fishery, imagine the tourism dollars that could flow into our local gas stations, retail stores and restaurants.

We were admittedly getting impatient to see some physical improvements to the lake because it seemed there was so much talk and no action. During his campaign, the mayor vowed to help fix the lake’s problems and it’s been a little less than a year since he took office.

Finally, we’ve seen some progress. Toomey was right along with the rest of the volunteers over the weekend helping the lake, which shows he’s willing to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

The project was absolutely a good start to fixing the lake and hopefully springboards more improvements in the future.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, May 17, 2016

GOOD: Bernie Sanders put Rapid City and western South Dakota on the political map for a few hours on Thursday. Whether you like him or not, it was exciting to see someone vying for the highest office in the land take the time to visit our state, which until now hasn’t been “feeling the Bern” or anything else during this electric campaign season. More than 2,000 people turned out to see Sanders in Rapid City and not all were there to cheer him on. As one young Trump supporter told a Journal reporter, “It’s … important to understand where everyone else is coming from and respect everyone else’s views.” Now, that’s democracy in action.

BAD: Is Facebook suppressing conservative news stories as Sen. John Thune asked in a letter he sent to the social media giant? If so, why should we all be concerned about it? Well, it’s about the truth. Facebook describes itself as merely a social media platform that serves as an unbiased gatekeeper of news featured in its trending news section, which uses algorithms to capture the hottest news at the moment. But we learned in recent days that this is not the case. It was reported last week that Facebook suppresses stories from conservative websites and about Facebook itself and “injects” and promotes more liberal stories. Facebook denies this, but acknowledges it has news “curators” who oversee the trending news feature on the site. If Facebook is vetting news, then it has failed to honestly describe what its employees are doing and what we are seeing.

UGLY: The transgender bathroom fight took an unfortunate turn Friday when the Obama Administration announced guidelines (tolerable) for schools to follow when dealing with this culturally divisive issue and then threatening to withhold federal funds for schools that don’t follow them (intolerable). While we should all strive to be respectful of the rights of others, the federal government should never threaten to take money from schools to change social policy. After all, it is taxpayer money and withholding it would likely harm every student in the district, including transgender students. There has to be a better way. The federal government, for example, could provide funds to better accommodate privacy concerns of all students who use locker rooms in schools. Instead, it becomes another chapter in our ongoing culture wars that only serve to divide the electorate and boost politicians’ war chests with special-interest money.


Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, May 18, 2016

First responders to disasters, crises and other high-stress scenarios need variety in their toolboxes.

They never know what they will need to help them solve problems in often high-stake and high-speed situations. And now community faith leaders are developing an expanded tool to help area law enforcement on the fly.

Law enforcement and area ministers are uniting in an effort to create a network of support through chaplains for first responders.

“Our desire is not to be an officer, but serve the community to provide expertise and stand alongside,” said the Rev. Jon Droege of Aberdeen Christian Fellowship. “We’re not going to be the savior, but we are going to be a team player.”

What a great idea.

Some first-responder agencies, such as Aberdeen Police and Fire and Rescue, have had chaplains in the past. However, this effort is to expand the number of chaplains and expand program to include other agencies, such as the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.

“There are seven or eight people in our (chaplain) training and a few pastors from other communities. We are open to any pastor that may be interested,” Aberdeen Police Capt. Eric Duven said. “I would say the biggest improvement is we are expanding the program to have a number of chaplains. We’ll have the resources when we need them - the expansion will be the biggest change in what we are doing.”

We in the general public often have no idea the stress most officers go through in dealing with the tragedies of others. The stress of those in need and their care can easily become the officers’ stress.

“Officers are just regular people and they have problems, struggles and challenges, so they’ll be there to assist them,” Aberdeen Police Chief Dave McNeil said of the chaplains.

McNeil has seen the benefits of a chaplain program firsthand, not only for his officers but for the community as well. “They are there for emotional support, in a nondenominational, nonreligious role.”

The chaplain program is hoping to develop several other roles along with its main focus of serving as a support system for first responders and their families:

- Help in delivering death notifications. “That was a serious part of the training, death and death notification. . It’s a critical component,” Droege said.

- Community members, since tragedies often can affect the whole as well as the few. “It’s like an earthquake. How far does the tremor affect?” Droege said.

-“And, the other rare side is, you might have people who have committed a crime that need some crisis support,” Droege said.

Chaplains are there to restore and set the course for the return to some sense of normalcy. And that road often can be a winding, treacherous and complex one.

We feel fortunate we have qualified people in our community willing to join first responders in these journeys. Tackling such difficult tasks with a friend in tow can make the weight they carry seem much lighter.

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