BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Daily News, Wahpeton, Aug. 18, 2014
How do we stop destructive driving?
We've all heard the stories and seen the results of more teens who were killed in automobile accidents.
The headlines and statistics point to a combustible combination of young drivers and fatal crashes. Sixteen-year-olds are involved almost six times more often in automobile accidents than drivers between the age of 30 and 59, according to the Institute for Highway Safety.
Do you know the spark plug for many of the fatal accidents these young drivers are involved in? Alcohol.
The Insurance Institute said alcohol is a major, major part of the problem and spikes continue to increase each year among teenage drivers.
Inexperienced and young drivers are asked to make quick decisions behind the wheel. As parents, we can only engage in so many "what if" scenarios with them before we allow them on the road. Experience definitely makes for better driving habits, but the alcohol factor makes for a dangerous and destructive scenario.
We hope our youth will abide by the rules of the road and we can offer them plenty of examples of all the bad things that can happen to them when they are out on the road.
There are questions that parents and guardians need to ask themselves before allowing their child to drive. How can I help my teenage driver - not drink and drive, text, become distracted or any other scenario while they are behind the wheel?
The simple answer is, keep talking, keep their attention and above all keep insisting they follow the rules of the road. Their safety can become the catalyst for better and more mature driving decisions. We need to take a stance and insist they not drink and drive, answer their phones or text behind the wheel and maybe then the statistics will travel the other way.
The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Aug. 21, 2014
A historic site that's worth saving
Wendy Ross, superintendent of the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, has been developing a battle plan.
It's a plan to save the site near Stanton for future generations.
The site is threatened by pocket gophers digging up the terrain, the Knife River eroding the area and advancing noxious weeds.
The threat to the priceless archaeological remnants and earth lodges is serious.
The eroding river inside the site's boundary threatens two county roads and one of those, with park property on both sides, is sole access to several private homes north of Stanton.
Ross plans to write the National Park Service's first-ever management plan that focuses specifically on archaeology, as opposed to general resource management.
She recently asked the public if it had any ideas. If all goes well, within three years she'll have a final record of decision and environmental impact statement.
The threats will be explained and ways to deal with them outlined.
Some possible solutions could be bank stabilization on the river and rerouting a county road, the restoration of native grasses to the village sites and no more mowing or use of herbicides. Gophers could be poisoned, or other means found to handle them.
Some of these would be drastic solutions for the park service.
Ross considers the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site sacred for preserving the last place of autonomy and abundance for the Mandan and Hidatsa and to some extent, the Arikara, who were displaced by smallpox and white settlement.
Ross wants to prioritize the most important sites and try to minimize the threats to the site.
It's certainly worth saving. It tells the story of the Indians and how they lived along the river — a life that was changed with the arrival of trappers and settlers.
Now nature could bring the final blow.
But Ross wants to get a jump on the problems and find ways to deal with the threats.
Ross wants to throw the proposals into one EIS and come up with a document that prioritizes the most important of the park's 68 archaeological sites and provides a way to be proactive instead of reactive.
Some of the proposals might be difficult to accept, but the alternative — the loss of the site — is unacceptable.
The historic site is a national treasure and hopefully Ross and others can maintain it for the future.
Minot Daily News, Minot, Aug. 20, 2014
A (still) growing concern
Another reminder of the seriousness of the national debt came earlier this summer, when foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities topped $6 trillion for the first time in history.
Any debt carries with it serious challenges. But when the United States owes money to foreign governments, there is the possibility some may use that indebtedness to pressure Washington over diplomatic and military policy. Of the $6 trillion in Treasury securities held by foreign entities, about $4.1 trillion involves other governments.
Expect the amount to continue growing by leaps and bounds unless Washington finds ways to reduce spending. That seems unlikely under President Barack Obama. When he took office, the national debt was just $10.6 trillion. It has skyrocketed to $17.6 trillion. Someone needs to apply the brakes.