This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
At the end of the year Doug Schonert will have served Burleigh County for 24 years. As a county commissioner he’s been a strong voice for the rural areas. He’s proud of the highway department’s new headquarters and the work that’s been done to maintain county roads. Burleigh and Morton County combined their detention centers on his watch. Serving as a county commissioner requires a lot of hard work and Schonert should be commended.
At the “Life Beyond Breaking Even: Farm Economy Summit 2018” in Bismarck last week the harsh realities of farming were discussed. The highs and lows of farming and ranching not only result in financial stress, they create mental health issues. Farmers have the highest suicide rate of any occupation in the U.S., according to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who farm and ranch love their life in the outdoors. There’s something special about growing crops and raising livestock. You can see the progress you are making on a daily basis. When times are bad, however, it’s tough to watch crops die and livestock search for food. We need to understand the challenges facing those in agriculture and do what’s possible to help them.
State, city and school officials will be picking the minds of 250 six-graders over the next 10 weeks. They want to know what ideas the youngsters have for what the community will be like in the future. What kind of transportation, housing and other services should be available. Vision 2030 will seek comments from tomorrow’s leaders on what our future should be like. “The things that they can tell us will be very profound,” said Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary. It will be interesting to see the ideas the students come up with.
Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist and professor of climatological practice at North Dakota State University, has some bad news. He says last year’s drought could extend into this year. His outlook differs from the Climate Prediction Center, which sees a greater chance for wetter and colder than normal weather in February and March. So far the season-to-date snow deficit for Bismarck is 15.8 inches. "If last spring repeats, the accumulated impact of drought could result in even higher numbers this year," Akyuz said. We can only hope nature proves Akyuz wrong.
Harriett Skye changed the lives of many Native Americans during her career. She was the rare Native American who had her own TV show. She appeared on “Indian Country Today” on KFYR-TV from 1973 to 1984. North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis was excited as a youth to see someone other than a “Hollywood Indian” on TV. Skye edited a tribal newspaper, did public relations for United Tribes Technical College before becoming the college’s vice president of intertribal programs. She also served on the North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She recently died at 86 and she’ll be missed.