This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Christmas Playpen has begun accepting toys and monetary donations to make Christmas brighter for many local families. It's a simple program: Toys can be dropped off at a storage bin at Dan's Supermarket, 835 S. Washington St., inmates at the Missouri River Correctional Center and the Dakota Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Center repair them and the Salvation Army distributes them to families. Items must be dropped off by Nov. 24 and will be distributed Dec. 12-15. Check donations can be made out to The Bismarck Tribune; checks and cash can be sent to: The Christmas Playpen c/o Cassidy Kraft, P.O. Box 5516, Bismarck, N.D. 58506. The program not only provides joy to the families but it's a positive experience for the inmates. It's a win for everyone involved.
It was disappointing to learn North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger lied when stopped by a Highway Patrol officer on Sept. 30. He told the officer he had “like one drink” three hours before being stopped and arrested for drunken driving. A preliminary breath test indicated his blood alcohol content was .208 percent, more than twice the legal limit. That, obviously, was the result of more than one drink. He will serve almost a year of unsupervised probation and pay $1,250 in fines and fees and obtain a chemical dependency evaluation. On a personal level he must decide whether to seek re-election. His arrest and guilty plea should make him less attractive to voters.
Pam Sharp has served North Dakota well in a job that wasn’t easy. She earned the respect of members of both parties. Sharp, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will retire Nov. 30 after more than three decades in state government. She’ll help with the transition since she has a lot of institutional knowledge. Sharp served as the office's deputy director and a budget analyst and before that worked in the tax department, auditor's office and state treasurer's office. She helped guide North Dakota through the oil boom and the slump that followed. She’s earned a happy retirement.
It’s always sad to lose part of our history. That’s what happened in Medora when high winds took the top off the “hanging tree” near the post office. The cottonwood has been around since the 1800s. The tree apparently wasn’t used to hang anyone, but it gained fame from a different kind of hanging. Medora residents angered by a verdict in a trial hanged the jury in effigy. Director John Ford suggested a couple of times in his movies about the Old West that when it comes down to fact and myth, go with the myth. The “hanging tree” is a great tale of the West, whether fact or myth.
Mandan High School students should be commended for raising money for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. The students have classmates from the island and were stunned to hear stories about the suffering of friends and relatives. Students decided to do something to raise money. Among their activities were a bake sale and a hat day. They raised $1,400 and the money is going to Puerto Rico through the American Red Cross. It’s efforts like this that make a difference.