This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Bismarck and Mandan schools are using “share tables” in an effort to reduce waste in cafeterias. If students don’t want an item on their food tray they can leave it on the share table for any student who wants it. Mandan Public Schools donates some leftover food to Spirit of Life Roman Catholic Church in Mandan, which distributes the food to needy families in the community. The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages schools to use share tables to eliminate waste in the federal school lunch program. The USDA permits food to be donated to nonprofit organizations. The program not only reduces waste, it teaches students not to waste and it benefits the less fortunate. It’s a worthwhile program that hopefully more schools adopt.
A 6-year-old Bismarck boy was recently hit by a car while running with other children to a school bus. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The bus driver told police he had slowed down, turned his lights on and put out his stop arm, but the driver did not slow down. Police say they have received 46 reports of drivers not stopping for school buses since the 2017-18 school year began. In November, an 11-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle while crossing to a stopped school bus. Motorists going both directions must stop for school buses picking up students. If in doubt, the bus driver may be in the process of putting out his stop sign, so stop and wait. There’s no excuse for trying to hurry around a bus. Drivers must remember kids don’t always use the best judgment so they need to be extra cautious.
North Dakota communities are getting another tool to help with development. Gov. Doug Burgum announced last week that the North Dakota Department of Commerce will provide a Main Street Community Dashboard. The dashboard, part of the governor’s Main Street Initiative, will provide information that’s publicly available, but not always easy to find. The information can be used to help grow healthy, financially solvent communities. Local leaders should appreciate being able to access useful information without doing a lot of legwork.
The announcement that five boys are facing a variety of charges related to reports of sexual misconduct at the junior and senior high schools in the Richland 44 School District is disappointing. If the accusations are true, it’s the kind of behavior that can’t be tolerated. The charges involve hazing, sexual assault, felonious restraint and terrorizing. Some offenses occurred in Bismarck when the boys traveled for a school activity. Parents, schools, churches and other community leaders need to stress it’s everyone’s responsibility to behave in the correct manner. There needs to be zero tolerance for the kind of behavior alleged.
We know the nation has fewer farms and that many small towns are struggling to survive. That doesn’t mean rural areas have fewer people. Benjamin Winchester, an authority on rural populations and behaviors from the University of Minnesota Extension Service, said until about six years ago the number of people living in rural areas typically increased in recent decades. In 2010, about 59.5 million people lived in rural areas in the nation, an 11 percent increase from 53.6 million in 1970, according to Winchester. The rate of growth of cities grew faster than in rural areas. Thus, the percentage of people living in rural areas decreased from 26 percent to 19 percent in the four-decade period. So while the percentage was down, the number of people living in rural areas wasn’t necessarily down. It would indicate rural areas remain viable and aren’t dying.