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The Morleys pose for a selfie while skiing at Huff Hills Ski Area on April 7. From left are Lori, David, and twins, Matty and Mac.

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This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.

Up

An Atlanta family made a quick trip to North Dakota recently and they had a great time. David and Lori Morley along with their twin sons, Matty and Mac, 11, had visited all the states but North Dakota. They usually go skiing in North Carolina, but conditions ruined ski opportunities this year. So the family decided to try the slopes at Huff Hills. They loved the skiing and the chance to dine out in Bismarck. They were so impressed that they hope to come back. They sound like great ambassadors for the state.

Down

The problems at the Richland 44 School District are more than disappointing. Five male students are facing misdemeanor and felony charges involving sexual assault, restraint and terrorizing. Unfortunately, a report by a Minneapolis law firm hired by the school district to investigate the situation found the problems go back to 2015. The law firm also found that school leaders didn’t respond sufficiently to the issues at the school. Some of the kids were apparently involved in a “rape game.” Students shouldn’t have to live in fear when attending school. These problems need to be resolved now and school leaders need to be found who can bring the proper atmosphere back to the school.

Up

Many Bismarck-Mandan students are getting involved in competitive clay target shooting. There are nearly 180 Bismarck-Mandan youth in sixth grade through 12th grade involved, which is 13 percent of an entire state league. It’s a sport that requires a variety of skills and provides safety training. It’s also a competition that all kids can participate in.

Down

Farming is both stressful and hazardous. Farmers and ranchers have to worry about the weather, the price of crops and livestock. Their work can be dangerous as they use large equipment and handle livestock, often in confined places. So it shouldn’t be a total surprise that suicide among farmers and ranchers has been increasing. People working in farming, fishing and forestry were 3.4 times more likely than other American workers to commit suicide on the job, according to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So it’s important that family, friends and neighbors watch for the warning signs of suicide. Those who have concerns can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Up

The federal budget bill will provide help for farmers and ranchers hurt by the 2017 drought. The budget bill eliminates the funding cap on the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, which means producers should get assistance and shouldn’t have to wait as long to get it. The Farm Service Agency will begin paying producers with 2017 ELAP claims immediately. It was wise on the part of Congress to remove the cap.

Down

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the “Nation’s Report Card,” failed to impress many educators. The reading and math scores of fourth- and eighth-graders in North Dakota and across the nation showed little improvement. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the results point to the need to promote early learning and reading programs. At the same time, she said the state has initiatives in place to improve scores. Hopefully the next results will be more encouraging.

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