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

Up

Smaller schools unable to fill a teaching position now have more options. The North Dakota Center for Distance Education is offering more courses online. There are 330 courses available, including Advanced Placement, credit-recovery courses and a variety of electives. Students in rural areas can now get classes offered in Bismarck and Fargo schools. Kids are very digital savvy and give the classes good reviews.

Down

The flu bug is biting early this year. The North Dakota Department of Health is reporting "higher than normal" influenza activity in the state. There have been 124 cases of influenza reported for the 2017-18 season, compared to 52 at the same time last season. It’s time for folks to get flu shots and to take precautions.

Up

The Century High School volleyball team defeated Jamestown for its third straight state title. They had to beat a tough Jamestown team for the crown. The Mandan Braves took third place at the tournament. And the University of Mary’s women’s cross country team took second at the nationals. Congratulations to the Patriots, Braves and Marauders.

Down

There’s confusion over a $3.92 million Fox Island flood protection project scheduled to begin next year. The levee to be constructed in the southwest Bismarck subdivision will not protect 22 property owners living in the area of Gallatin Loop, because their homes will be located outside of the dike. Officials say the homeowners opted out of the project when they voted, but the homeowners say they thought they were voting on an alternative. It would be best if all parties could sit down and try to resolve the issues.

Up

Washburn and Wimbledon have been selected for a new program intended to develop a quality of life strategy for rural communities. The towns will develop plans to go through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development's new Livable Communities program. If Washburn and Wimbledon complete the Livable Communities program, they will be recognized for their efforts and being leaders in quality of life development. It will be interesting to see what programs the two towns develop.

Down

 The Council of Economic Advisers has put some sobering numbers to the opioid crisis. The number of opioid-involved overdose deaths has risen by nearly one-third since 2013. Drug overdoses have become the top cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering traffic crashes or gun-related deaths. It’s possible that up to 24 percent of drug overdoses related to opioids are not reported, which could increase the estimated 2015 opioid overdose death toll to more than 40,000. Early estimates show that more than 64,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses in 2016, a rate of 175 deaths a day, according to the council. The CEA estimates the cost of the opioid crisis in 2015 to be $504 billion. Those numbers alone should be a call to action.

 Up

 A Jamestown boy, 9, has been proving for three years that one person can make a difference. Hoyt Paul has been collecting and donating food to the Community Action Region VI Food Pantry since 2015. He sends letters to neighbors informing them of the drive along with a reusable shopping bag. He sets a time and picks up the food. The drive has grown from 371 pounds of food the first year to 1,180 pounds this year. Along with his parents, Hoyt has demonstrated how one family can help their community.

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